Tag: The Real Neat Blog Award

Thank you so much to Sara at The Bibliophagist for nominating me for the Real Neat Blog Award!

The guidelines for accepting the Real Neat Blog Award are simple:

  • Answer the seven questions posed to you
  • Gift 3 bloggers
  • Pose a further seven questions

Sara’s questions:

  1. What’s your favorite city to visit? New York City, hands down. I went there for the first time last year for Pride, and besides attending the parade, my family and I also went sightseeing. Though we didn’t get to every corner of the city, by foot in less than two days, we were able to see a lot that we would not have gotten to otherwise, if we had rented a car. We are planning to return for more sight seeing within the next few years.
  2. If someone gave you $50 and dropped you in a bookstore right now, what would you buy? I would either buy as many children’s books for my daughter as possible, or a collector’s edition of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas in both English and Spanish.
  3. What’s the best book you’ve read so far this year? If we’re talking about best book overall, as in well-executed prose, characters, plot, relationships, setting, etc. Then that would have to be The Diviners by Libba Bray, which I reviewed here. However, if we’re talking about what book elicited the most raw emotions, as well as included strong prose, then I would say Little Birds by Hannah Lee Kidder, which I reviewed here.
  4. What are some of your favorite book blogs? I actually do not frequent many book blogs, despite having one. I gravitate towards BookTube infinitely more, only because I can play it while doing other stuff. However, I do have a few still. — Almost, Almost , The Critiquing Chemist, Cheers to the Bookends, The Library Looter, and The Bibliophagist.
  5. What’s your favorite thing to order at a coffee shop? If I’m at Starbucks, then I’m prone to ordering the Mango Dragonfruit Refresher or a Mocha Frappuccino. However, if I go to a standalone café, then I will try whatever sounds good. I love Starbucks, but I also am a huge proponent for supporting small businesses.
  6. Which book do you recommend most often? That depends on whether I know what genre the person I am giving the recommendation to likes. If I know they’ll read YA, then The Hate U Give, Six of Crows, or The Diviners. If not, then I would say any of Jodi Picoult’s books. She is one of my all time favorite authors.
  7. Which fictional character do you wish you could hang out with for a day? I’ve never given any thought to this, but probably a character from Avatar: The Last Airbender, like Toph or Aang. Either that, or Ryder Wolfe from Port Lewis Witches by Brooklyn Ray.

My nominations: Alex Logan at Almost, Almost, Cheers to the Bookends, and The Critiquing Chemist.

My 7 Questions:

  1. If you could rewrite any book, what would you change, and why?
  2. If you could bring one element out of any story into our world, what would it be, and why?
  3. Is there any book that has changed your worldview dramatically? If so, what was it, and how did it impact you and your future actions?
  4. Would you rather visit the land of your favorite book, or have a chat with your favorite character?
  5. What inspired you to begin blogging about books?
  6. Do you have any favorite book bloggers?
  7. If you had to read one genre, and/or category (Middle Grade, Young Adult, New Adult, or Adult) for the rest of your life, which of these would you pick, and why?

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Gender Queer: A Memoir – A Book Review

I cannot express how elated I was to discover this graphic novel memoir on NetGalley. Reading the title felt like a beacon hailing me to shore, after a long, weary journey adrift at sea. Filled with equal amounts of excitement and apprehension, I downloaded it, hoping that it would live up to the expectations that roiled through me as I did.

Gender Queer: A Memoir is written and illustrated by a Nonbinary artist named Maia Kobabe, colored by Phoebe Kobabe. It follows eir journey through childhood up to present day where Kobabe has become confident in eir gender identity and expression. In accompaniment to the words, there are beautiful drawings that illustrate the peaks and pitfalls of being who e is.

As an AFAB, or Assigned Female At Birth, Nonbinary person myself, I deeply felt certain emotions that leapt off of each page in this book. Likewise, I believe that e exhibited all of the experiences well, so that even those who have not endured them, will understand. I will note though that I am not Asexual, nor do I use the same pronouns as the author. However, I did learn more about each aspect through this novel, so that in and of itself was an added bonus to picking it up.

I can say that without a doubt, I do recommend this work to everyone. If you’re questioning, or searching for Nonbinary or Genderqueer rep, then this is a wonderful one to choose. Likewise, if you’re wishing to be informed as an ally or learn of an experience outside of your own, then this novel can also be for you.

Overall, Gender Queer: A Memoir is a moving and well-illustrated graphic novel that I can see myself purchasing in the future to give to family members and friends. I feel this medium is the ideal one to tell the story that was presented. If any of this sounds up your alley in any way, then definitely consider buying a copy when it comes out on May 28th, 2019!

I rate this title 5/5 stars.

Disclaimer: I was given a free ARC of this title by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Unbroken: A Book Review

Given the trigger warnings and the fact that it is Erotica, I will be honest and say that I did not expect to enjoy Unbroken by Brooklyn Ray as much as the previous novel of this series. However, raw and real, this book is the sequel to Port Lewis Witches, Volume One that we all deserve.

Unbroken follows the story of Michael Gates, a travel blogger who is transplanted to Port Lewis by his parents’ collective insistence that he do something with his life. Tucking tail and escaping Arizona, he follows his sister Janice to Port Lewis, Washington where they find themselves renting a house with two other roommates; one human and one demon. That is not even the half of the strangeness that begins to infiltrate itself into their lives after arriving in Port Lewis.

Outside of Michael Gates, there is Victor Llewellyn, Michael’s sister Janice, and their roommate Corey, as well as the occasional appearance of other Port Lewis regulars introduced in book one. Those I felt were tastefully done, and did not feel shoe-horned in whatsoever. Regarding the new characters, I felt that each were well-written, with not a single one feeling hollow or incomplete.

Furthermore, I adored each of the characters that are added to this world with the addition of this book to the series, including the main character. Michael is by no means perfect, but his character arc of learning to accept himself and the love he deserves is poignant and harsh, but relatable. I connected with him in ways I was not sure I would upon first glance of the novel.

As for the world building in this book, given the genre, it did take a back seat. However, it was still woven in so that those who read the first book will learn more about the magic system and world that Ray has created. I did not feel like it was lacking in the slightest.

Overall, for those who enjoyed Unbroken’s predecessor, and can handle darker subject matter, I recommend this book. Though it may be heavier material, I believe it is tastefully done, and well worth the read.

I rate this book 5/5.

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this by NetGalley for free in exchange for an honest review.

Why Harry Potter Is No Longer Relevant To Me

There was a time period during my earlier youth when I was obsessed with Harry Potter, as were a large majority of children around my age at that point. It began around seven or eight, and lasted up until about 19 or so, for me. I fancied myself an aficionado on all things Harry Potter related, and indeed I was knowledgeable about it in a certain factual sense. However, until The Cursed Child came into existence, as well as the subsequent casting of an actress of color for Hermione, I did not realize how ignorant I had been up until then. After much thought and research, I will explain why this series does not stand the test of time for me.

At the time of inception of this seven book series, matters regarding the LGBTQIA+ community had only really became mainstream in recent years. The Stonewall Inn riots had been a turning point, but there was much ground to be made still in regard to national and international media in the U.S., and worldwide respectively. The Philosopher’s Stone, after all, was published by Bloomsbury in London just a scant three months after Ellen had announced that she was indeed gay, back in 1997. Harry Potter, at its core, is a children’s series that can be enjoyed by all ages. It is, however, a product of its time. One where those who were not what mainstream media expected them to be, would more than likely flop. Ellen’s show, after all, was cancelled shortly after her admission. While that seems a world away, as well as not that long ago, times have changed much since that pivotal year.

In recent years though, J.K. Rowling has been criticized for her lack of diversity in the books, which as an adult well into their 20s, is not lost on me. However, had it been brought up years beforehand, I would not have understood the condemnations properly for what they were, because as has been pointed out, it is not simply about lack of LGBTQIA+ diversity, but of all sorts of missing representation for a series that supposedly has people in it from all over the world.

Moving back to The Cursed Child – it opened in the same month, ironically, 19 years after the first book in the original series had been released. To long time fans, given the casting news it had been a shock to the system, as we all digested the newest lore and content that had been released, albeit knowing that it had not been Rowling who singlehandedly had penned it. While the actors and others who created the play, I have no qualms with, I do however, reserve a certain frustration with the original series author, Mrs. J.K. Rowling herself.

Why, you might ask? Well, it’s plain and simple. Her excuse of the political climate as a reason she did not create a single drop of LGBTQIA+ diversity in the series might have flown back then, but in this day, it is a lack luster one, bordering on insulting. The Cursed Child, which was released in 2016, easily could have been imbued with some of our community’s flair. Was it? Of course it wasn’t, because her ally ship only goes so far as her tweets.

Talk is cheap, they say, and she has done a hefty amount of that in recent years. Back when the series concluded, collectively, the fandom was heartbroken, as it had been a part of our lives for years. That, was understandable. However, if we had known then what we do now, I wish that we had bit the bullet, and thanked her, then moved on our merry way to other books that actually represent a larger portion of her reader base, rather than continuing to harp on the point of wanting more. I owe that time period in large part to what my favorite childhood author has done thus far publicly.

Bear in mind, that I do not believe an author must include LGBTQIA+ people or people of color, various religions, etc. in any work. However, I find it disturbing that given the diversity of the world, that one could wish to sideline or exclude these narratives all together, or add them in after the fact as an aside, rather than have canon text to back the claim up. In that same vein, professing that the only characters who are queer, happen to be a Nazi, and a deeply flawed man? It’s ludicrous, as well as a dangerous message to send to future questioning children, or those who are straight and viewing queer people through media, as well as their own lens. That is a topic for another day though.

So, where does that leave me, a parent, who wishes to pass on only the best of literature to my daughter, who is learning about the world around her, including history of those who came before us? While I have two choices, I can only condone one – shedding the attachments of my earlier years, in hope that I am able to find and boost works that show people of all kinds, rather than exclude them as so many other media forms have done before.

J.K. Rowling and the series of Harry Potter is not inherently bad, and I do still find value in it. Likewise, I did indeed learn from it, both what to do and what not to. However, given the lack of diversity across the board, it is one that I no longer care to uplift.

Blackathon Recap

I suppose I’ve learned my lesson regarding overzealous TBRs. To be honest, I set myself up for failure, because there were multiple books I had begun before the inception of that list. To say that I fell short of my expectations for this month is accurate. However, I did manage to pick up new titles that I genuinely enjoyed and still completed each of the challenges.

What I Did Read:

  1. Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert – You can find my review for this novel here. It’s safe to say though, I will be sure to read more of her work in the future.
  2. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #1 – I thoroughly adored this comic. When I reached the end of the first issue, I wanted more. I will definitely be purchasing more of this series in the future.
  3. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo – I had been anticipating this book since it was published. Despite the fact that the style is different from what I usually read, I still could not put it down until I completed it.
  4. On The Come Up by Angie Thomas – I tore through this book so quickly. As with The Hate U Give, I could not think or breathe properly until I read this book to the very last page. Another amazing novel by Angie Thomas! I’m eager to read her 3rd!
  5. Solo by Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess – This book was a last minute addition to my TBR for the month, but I really liked it. The story touches on some tough subject matter, but it is still unlike most I’ve read before. It was a surprise read, for sure!

What I Listened To:

  1.  “Cuz He’s Black” by Javon Johnson
  2. “Waiting” by Jasmine Mans, Alysia Harris, Jennah Bell
  3. What I’ve Learned by Aja Monet
  4. “Balaenoptera” by Joshua Bennett

Each poem was poignant and beautiful. I enjoyed my listening experience with each piece. I highly recommend picking up the aforementioned titles, as well as listening to all of these poems.

As for the novels which I did not get to, they are all books I have wanted to read, and I do plan to finish them all at some point this year, possibly even in March.

Thank you to our hosts for putting this together! It was a really enjoyable month, and I hope to do it again next year!

Nonbinary – Memoirs of Gender and Identity: A Book Review

On a stroke of luck, or perhaps owing to the fact that I have taken a more vocal approach to my gender identity on this blog, I was approved within hours of my request to read and review an ARC of Nonbinary – Memoirs of Gender and Identity, edited by Micah Rajunov and Scott Duane. A PDF version of this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.

This particular memoir includes pieces written by various genderqueer voices that highlight their experiences as gender-nonconforming individuals. The book’s compilations cover a wide range of enbies who hail from various races, ethnicities, backgrounds, and age groups. Separated into four sections, their individual experiences are presented to the reader in this format.

Reading through this book, I was overjoyed to find multiple other people who have experienced the highs and lows of being who we are. I was humbled as well to read the strife that other enbies had been through to reach the points where they are today. Though we are all bound together under the large umbrella that is non-binary, each of us has a journey all our own. I love the ways in which this collection effectively showcases that.

Each day, new conversations begin regarding gender identity, especially now in 2019. With the visibility of those like us becoming more prominent, I believe this is a book that everyone should read if they are seeking to begin their education on who we are. Though there is much ground to be made, this memoir collection is a testament to how far we’ve all come. I personally plan to recommend this non-fiction title to other non-binary individuals and cis-gendered people alike. As a genderqueer person myself, I love that this book allowed people like me to speak for themselves. I can only hope that those who do not understand will listen.

I rated this book a 5/5 stars on Goodreads.

On Finishing The Outline For My Novel In Progress

I conquered another vast landscape on my journey towards a published novel – I have completed my outline! Writing it and molding it to be what I needed took the better part of January, as well as the first few days of February. Minor adjustments will be made as necessary, but it is now finished.

Within the writing community, perhaps due to NaNoWriMo, there are a couple of popular adjectives floating around which describes what sort of writer one is. Some identify as “pantsers”, while others as “plotters”. At one time, I had been the former. After having gone through what I did in the last month or so, I can say that it will no longer be the case.

When I began forming the idea for the book that I will begin writing soon, I never imagined that I would have been able to have a fully-fledged outline written in the time that I did. For so long, it seemed that the trick to making it towards the next phase of creating a book involved magic, the sort that might have involved blood or sacrifice, and some sort of complicated knowledge that I was not in possession of. However, after having traversed to where I am now, I can confirm that I needed to do nothing more than write, and research, of course.

Outlining is a process, but a necessary one, in my humble opinion. Without it, plotlines or whole chunks of a novel can be put in the wrong spot, or will not be fleshed out properly. I would rather spare myself the pain of putting work into a story before writing it, than stressing about where to go next as I write. Was outlining all sunshine and rainbows? No, it was not. It was work, just like any other part of the process that is the creation of art. However, because I toiled with the bits I was less sure of and did end up changing or deleting all together, I no longer have to worry about doing that as I write the actual manuscript.

I still have much to learn, but I am grateful to have reached this point. It was not easy, but worth it. Now, on to the next portion of my journey to publishing – writing the book itself.