I Wish You All The Best: A Book Review

What a time to be alive, where fiction about Nonbinary people, has gone mainstream! In my wildest dreams, I never would have imagined it, to be honest. Here we are though, just a day shy of the whole first release week of I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver having taken place, and it has taken the internet by storm for all of the right reasons.

From the get go, it is made apparent that this book will be delving into subjects with emotional depth, as the story begins with the main character, Benjamin De Decker, being kicked out of their home for outing themself to their parents. From there, it becomes a narrative of healing for them, as they try to piece back together a life in shambles.

If you are looking for light-hearted, then I suggest searching elsewhere, because though there are humor laden exchanges and a romance between the MC and another character, which builds gradually throughout, this book is first and foremost about trauma and healing from it. With that being said, this was a harder read for me, but I am so grateful that this book exists. Years ago, as a Nonbinary teen, I would have benefited greatly from it, had it been available at that time.

As for the mechanics of the story, the character driven plot was done well. There was nuance and growth throughout, especially from Ben. Though their healing takes center-stage, Ben’s sister also transcends her original starting point, as does the love interest. Their motivations and facets are fleshed out to where I can see them being actual people. These three are the characters we see the most, so I feel it’s important to highlight those above the others. However, each person in the cast of characters was unique, and believable, which added layers to the story that would not have previously been there otherwise.

Overall, though a difficult read for anyone who can remotely relate to Ben on certain issues, this book is one of the best to come out of this release year. I am grateful to have read it, and I can only hope that the author will continue writing, as I look forward to their next work.

I rated this book on Goodreads 5/5 stars.

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On The Come Up: A Book Review

After the release of a fantastic debut with The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas continues to astound in the form of her latest novel, On The Come Up, in which Brianna Jackson, or Bri, is a 16-year-old girl who desires to become a famous rapper, like her father should have been before he died. She has the skills and the drive, but when people continue to misjudge her, issues arise which could make or break not only her career but her family as well. Throughout the novel, she questions what she will and will not do to make it because breaking is not an option.

No story can function without characters, and this one is no different of course. The main character of this novel was outspoken, and witty, which I loved. Bri did not allow life to happen to her. Instead, she made her life happen, for better or for worse. Unlike Starr, no one could mistake her for a wallflower, that is for sure. Her character was a delight, and her voice leaped off of the page. As for the other characters, I loved each one for what they brought to the table. Whether it be her family or friends, each person that surrounded Bri only added more depth to this novel.

The plot was intricate in that it weaved multiple layers together throughout, with each plot line that was tied in only strengthening the narrative. From representation of a recovering drug addict, to issues that I have only read about, such as gang violence, systematic poverty, and police brutality, Thomas has written another novel that addresses each of these, without sacrificing the main plot, which is Bri’s own narrative. Like the main character though, these are part of real people’s lives, and it’s great to see them spoken of in young adult novels like these, rather than glossed over as past ones have done.

Though it treads in its predecessor’s footsteps, Bri’s story is by no means a sideshow. Thomas’ sophomore novel is a book filled with hard truths, lessons learned, as well as lines that could make anyone laugh out loud. After completing it, I could not help but wonder when her next book would release, because this author has become one of my absolute favorites.

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

Disclaimer: I read this book of my own accord, and was in no way compensated for this review. All thoughts are my own.

I’ve Got My Outline, So Now What?

I’ve Got My Outline, So Now What?

The end of the first quarter of the year is approaching with haste, even though it feels like only yesterday we were putting the finishing touches on our resolutions for the year. My, how time does fly. So far this year, with writing at least, I’ve fared well. Between this blog and my other projects, I’ve accomplished a fair amount. As far as my novel goes, my outline is complete, and the first Camp NaNoWriMo session is just around the corner with only a few weeks away.

With the outline in hand, I’ve been researching in preparation to dive deep into the heads of the characters I plan to portray. For this novel and series in particular, I am not writing Own Voice, which is intimidating. There will be Own Voice rep in it, but it will not exclusively come from the main character, who is a far cry from who I am. Still, I adore this MC, as well as every other single one in this series, and so I plan to do right by each one of them.

Within the next few weeks, I will be inhaling more novels, information, and hopefully some rest, as I continue to plan for Camp NaNoWriMo. At this point, I would like to hit 50K if possible, or write until the manuscript is complete. Whether or not my time or life will allow that, will be better determined throughout the course of April. The minimum goal I plan to set is 30K though. I’d like to write at least 1K a day, and then if I need to, complete the manuscript in May. As of right now, that is where I’m at in the writing process of what will hopefully be my debut novel.

With that being said, throughout the course of April, some Friday writing posts will include updates on my progress throughout Camp NaNo, what I’m learning from it, etc.

So, that’s about it for today. This post is a bit more informal than what I normally write, but NaNoWriMo is just that, so I figured I’d follow suit.

If you’re reading this, are you participating in Camp NaNo? Have you heard of it? Let me know down below in the comments if you like. Thank you for reading!

Until next time,

T.J.

The Diviners: A Book Review

The Diviners: A Book Review

Small-town hellcat turned New York City flapper, Evangeline O’Neill introduces each reader to her world in Libba Bray’s novel The Diviners with equal amounts of spunk and quick wit. However, though she leads us in, throughout the story, those who choose to pick up this treat of a novel are given insight into not only her life but those of a host of other characters introduced within its pages. In short, I took pauses in my reading of this book only when necessary. Were I not held back by time constraints, I would have completed this tome in one sitting.

To give a little back story, our main heroine has been sent to New York City by her parents to live with her Uncle Will who is a bachelor, museum owner and professor to boot. Not long after Evangeline’s, or Evie’s arrival, a brutal murder kicks off Evie’s involvement in aiding her uncle and the police solve an investigation into who could have done it. Delving further, it becomes apparent at separate points to most involved, that this case is not a typical whodunnit, and that Evie’s supernatural power could be the key that is necessary to close this case.

As mentioned above, Evangeline is the star of the show in every sense of the word. Her character, though brash and outspoken, has a certain flair to her that cannot help but leap off of the page. Throughout my reading of this book, though I enjoyed every single character, she was the one who stole my heart. Not only is she the take-charge sort, but she also has depth, despite her less than desirable attributes, such as her inability to see past the next party at certain times, or her narrow-minded view of what she should be concerned with. She is by no means perfect, but no one person or character ever is.

With regards to the rest of the cast of characters, no matter how small or large a part they may have played, each one had a fully fleshed out persona which made them feel as if they were real people being written about. Diversity was woven in with ease, with little fanfare. Inasmuch, each held a significance to the story in some way, and although they may not seem to at certain portions throughout the book, eventually each loose thread is tied up, and their importance revealed.

Speaking of loose ends, as far as the technical aspects of storytelling – such as plot, world-building, and pacing – I felt each was executed well. Given that Mrs. Bray wrote from the perspective of an array of various characters throughout the course of this novel, I was impressed at how well she weaved their lives, stories, and character arcs together. Likewise, the world-building and plot were each intriguing enough to keep this reader engaged until the very last word.

Overall, I could not have asked for more from a YA Fantasy book. All of the elements of this story combined made for a fantastic novel. It was, as Evie says, “The cat’s meow.”

I rate this novel 5/5 stars.

The Song Of Achilles: A Book Review

The Song Of Achilles: A Book Review

The follies of boys and men begin this story and drive the narrative to the end. The Song Of Achilles by Madeline Miller is a tale of faults, loss, love, and meddling Greek gods. It centers on the life of Patroclus and his famous lover Achilles. With that being said, it goes without saying that the book in question will not end with our typical version of a happily ever after. Given the steady praise that this tale has received since being published in 2011, I figured that this book deserved a glance though. As seen from my perspective, it seemed that I was in the minority of those who read Young Adult who had not perused a copy. Still, I feel the need to voice my own opinions on this one, as it is a book that I enjoyed enough to consume voraciously until the end.

The story in question begins with young Patroclus in a kingdom that would one day become his by birthright, or at least that is what was planned out for him until a miscalculated judgment of his own ousts him from his position as the prince, forcing him to be taken in by another land – the Kingdom of Phthia. It is there that his life begins in earnest.

For those familiar with Greek mythology, this book does hold closely to previously published works regarding the mythos. I am not an expert on that subject. However, I did recognize certain storylines as I read along. Coupled with the love story woven through the pages of this fictional take on a particular section of Greek lore, it is likely that romance readers and lovers of that genre alike might enjoy this tome.

In the hands of any other writer, this novel would not have been done justice. The author proved that with each sentence further that I read. The prose and Miller’s seemingly endless knowledge of this world are what pulled me into the story alone, but the emotions evoked within me courtesy of the writing, as well as the characters themselves, are what held my attention throughout.

I will say though, despite my love for this book, it does not come without its warnings. As this deals with Greek mythology, which undiluted includes stories that showcase the worst traits of the human race, I feel I must point out that this book is graphic. Within the pages, there are idealizations of suicide and death, descriptive violence, along with mentions of and full out rape. For younger readers of Young Adult, or those who may be unable to handle reading about these specific topics, please tread with caution.

With that being said, I must conclude that overall this book is worth the recognition that it has received. A bold retelling of what have been deemed classics in regards to Greek mythology, Madeline Miller does a fantastic job of weaving a story together that has fleshed out characters, faults, and heart.

I gave this story 5/5 stars on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: All opinions stated in this review are my own. I did not receive compensation of any sort for this review.

The Elysian Prophecy: A Book Review

The Elysian Prophecy: A Book Review

The beginning of The Elysian Project by Vivien Reis finds the two main characters, Abigail and Benjamin Cole, wrestling with how their mother’s illness affects their lives and family as a whole while attempting to maintain their separate existences as normal teenagers. A series of events leads each sibling to metaphorically brush the fringe of a fantasy world that neither was aware existed up until ignorance was no longer an option. Thereafter Abi and Ben become ensnared into Elysia’s current timeline in their own ways.Β 

The buildup that leads to each sibling’s involvement with Elysia is written well. At least 40 percent of the book dwells in the non-magical world though, so that can be a drawback for some who were hoping to see more fantasy in this first installment of the series. However, in this blogger’s humble opinion, Mrs. Reis did an excellent job of incorporating fantasy into the fictional reality, which puts readers on track to mentally propel into the unknown.

With that being said, concerning the magic system and world building, both were executed well. The author managed to deftly weave in a combination of imagery and information that plunged me into her novel with little struggle. She incorporated new information throughout the novel without unleashing copious amounts all at once, which made for a better reading experience.Β 

As for the characters, I loved each one for what they brought to the novel, especially the main characters. With the story switching between different points of view, I discovered each to have their own merits. However, I must mention that I adored the great sibling bond that Abi and Ben shared. I felt that their whole family dynamic was portrayed realistically, as well. Outside of them, Gran was a hoot, as was Cora. As a side note, after mentioning those characters, I also feel the need to say that I loved the strong female characters in this book. Lastly, with regard to the lesser mentioned characters, and those who came in along the way, they were also written well, I believe.

There is little romance to speak of, but the one that was developed throughout the book, I am neutral on. It is not something I had expected, given the subject matter, but it was not terrible either. For those who enjoy a romance story within all books they read, it should please them, as it was a healthy one, at least.Β 

That being said, there were a few minor discrepancies and errors I found throughout the book. Certain parts made me read back and double check what I had consumed before. Also, for a YA, certain scenes were much more graphic than I had expected them to be. There are torture scenes that younger readers should be aware of. However, this by no means made my reading experience any less enjoyable.Β 

Overall, I found this story to be one that was not what I had expected at all, but it was better for it. The characters and the new worlds that the reader explores are intriguing. I cannot wait to read the second book, whenever it comes out!

I rated this book 4/5 stars on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: All opinions are my own. I do not receive payment or other rewards for posting this review.Β