Mini Reviews|Short books by Black Authors!

Binti (Binti, #1)Binti by Nnedi Okarafor [Goodreads]

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Rating:⋆⋆⋆

Review: Overall, it was a nice, at time strangely humorous, read. Binti leaves her family to find something greater than her family already has planned for her. She got accepted into a highly acclaimed college, and throughout the short book, we follow her journey as she navigates prejudice and runs into some trouble with some vengeful aliens! For some reason, despite it being a rather short read, this took me FOREVER to finish! I don’t know why and I seem to be the only one, but this wasn’t a page turner for me. However, I did think Binti is a strong but flawed female character. I sympathized with her and understood why she wanted to leave her family in the first place. I might give the other books in this series a shot!

 

For EveryoneFor Everyone by Jason Reynolds [Goodreads]

Originally performed at the Kennedy Center for the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and later as a tribute to Walter Dean Myers, this stirring and inspirational poem is New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist Jason Reynolds’s rallying cry to the dreamers of the world.

Rating:⋆⋆⋆⋆

Review: Jason Reynolds is honestly such a gem. I decided to read this on audiobook since he narrates it and I could tell in his voice that he’s passionate and optimistic. Although the message is pretty basic, he inspires his readers and listeners to keep moving forward because that’s all you can do. I think I rated this book so high is because this came to me the right time. I recently dropped out of university, and I’m currently struggling through my summer courses. I feel overwhelmed, stress and sometimes I even question if college is the right fit for me. Reynolds words just wrapped around me and I may or may not shed a tear while listening. Again, yes the message is simple but one that I will keep remembering when I’m facing hindrances in my life.

 

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie[Goodreads]

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen SuggestionsA few years ago, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received a letter from a dear friend from childhood, asking her how to raise her baby girl as a feminist. Dear Ijeawele is Adichie’s letter of response. Here are fifteen invaluable suggestions–compelling, direct, wryly funny, and perceptive–for how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman.

Rating:⋆⋆⋆⋆

Review: Adichie is becoming one of my favorite authors! In this short, Adiche’s friend asks her how to raise a feminist daughter, so Adiche gives her 15 tips! She talks about gender roles and equality but also about how a feminist woman can navigate through a misogynistic society. Adiche really focuses on the caretaker to enforce their daughter to be independent, let them choose their own path and support them no matter what. Adiche received some backlash over her comments on trans women saying “trans women are trans women.” However, I personally believe that trans women are just women. I think Adiche was trying to say is that trans women have different experiences than cis women (which is true) and although it’s all part of feminism, we should treat both issues separately. I feel that both issues relate to one another (because again, gender is a social construct). I do wish Adiche were more inclusive to trans people in this but (just a simple “not all women have vaginas” type of statement) but overall a beautiful read.

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{Review} Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli| Realizing That Not All Authors are Perfect

31180248.jpgLeah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.
When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.
So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

TW: Biphobia (stereotypes), Racism, Bi/Sexuality Shaming

Note: swear words are in this review

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What?!??! Did I read the same book as everyone else?!?!

How did I go from giving Becky’s Albertalli’s books 4-5 stars from rating this an astounding 1.5 stars?!?!?

How come my most trusted reviewers rated this book so high?!?!?!

Ok, I liked the beginning, I really did. However, the book got progressively worse as the story continued. I never thought I would rate one of Becky Albertalli’s book so low. I thought she was becoming my queen for YA contemporary. I was even considering putting her as one of my favorite authors on Goodreads!!

But I was disappointed, angry and sad how this book turned out. It doesn’t even feel like Albertalli even wrote this.

I also thought I loved Leah. In my Goodreads update, I even said:

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But wow! What some shitty character development. I sat on this book for a couple of days, and I hated it even more.

TheBlackLit (5)

Let’s get this started. There will be some mild spoilers.

The Notorious Cliche Bi Love Triangle

Yes, there is a love triangle. Yes, it’s between a girl and a guy. No, I’m not surprised. Leah enters into some type of love triangle between Garrett and Abby. Right from the getgo, I already know that we’re supposed to be rooting for Abby. Therefore, there was LITERALLY no point of this stupid love triangle.

However, I am happy that Leah is comfortable with the label and I’m also glad she was already out to her mom. I also understand how difficult it is to come out to friends, even though I already know they won’t think different of me. I appreciated ONLY THAT part of the book when it comes to bi rep.

Family

I enjoyed reading about Leah’s family because it was similar to my own growing up. I had to deal with my mom dating other men, and I reacted the same way Leah did. I do wish the relationship between Leah and her family was more developed.

Race

I’m glad that Leah’s friend, Morgan, was called out about her racist comment over Abby getting accepted to a university just because she’s black. However, while reading this, I kept wondering “why isn’t Abby as mad as Leah?” It felt weird and was borderline “white savior” which I HATE. I did appreciate Abby’s take on the situation, saying black people have to work twice as hard when it comes to education. I know that we were from Leah’s point of view, but I wish it were Abby that put Morgan in her place, as it would have been more impactful.

Abby’s Coming Out and Leah Being an ASSHOLE.

Going into this, I had no idea who Leah’s love interest was going to be so when it came apparent that it was going to be Abby, I was…confused? It’s just they had no foundation in the last book (only Leah being jealous of Abby), so this was RANDOM.

BUT, when Abby did come out Leah, I was LIVID. This was the scene that made me despise Leah SO MUCH. When Abby told Leah that she was “lowkey bi” and Leah was like “Nah, you’re either bi or not bi” I wanted to punch Leah in the throat. She made Abby feel ashamed. Abby is struggling with her sexuality and Leah, WHO SHOULD UNDERSTAND, makes Abby feel like shit for not knowing. The worst part? IT NEVER GETS RESOLVED AND NEVER MENTIONED AGAIN. I’m honestly shocked that Albertalli wrote this and I’m even more shocked that no one is talking about this scene?!?!?!

Oh, and Leah was not just an asshole to Abby but to Garrett as well. She lied to him multiple times (NEVER EVEN TELLING THE TRUTH IN THE END) and used him just to make herself look and feel good. She dragged him throughout the entire book even though she had NO INTEREST in him.

The Romance

The romance was a big blob of meh. I didn’t see the chemistry, the spark. You know why? BECAUSE THIS WAS TOTALLY RANDOM. In Simon Vs., we were supposed to root for Abby and Nick, and we did! They got together, their connection was well-established. Boom, it was good! Why ruin that?!?! This is coming from a person who loves F|F romances more than anything, but I like GOOD F|F romances, not forced. Abby loved Leah’s art, and that was it! Leah liked Abby’s looks, and that was it! That was their spark?!??! I felt like they were just thrown together for the hell of it and it was shown through the writing. There were a lot of flashbacks of their past relationship (because apparently, they had one) but I still couldn’t get believe they actually have feelings for one another.

“Throw Up”

I swear if Leah says that she’s going to throw up every time something terrible happens, I’M GOING TO THROW UP. She says this phrase way often that it grew super annoying.

The Ending/What’s the Point?

Sloppy. No resolution, no consequences for any character’s actions, nothing. The ending was too perfect and convenient, and it just made me angry!

Also, I’m a character-driven type of reader, so I don’t mind when there’s no plot. However, what the actual hell was the point of this book? There were no lessons taught (maybe becoming a manipulator, good liar, teaching teenagers that consequences don’t exist for your actions?!?!).

TheBlackLit (7)

I was excited for a new Becky A. especially one featuring a fat bi main character. I was deeply disappointed, the bi rep was mediocre, I was hurt over Abby’s coming out and overall, just left a horrible taste in my mouth.

There were no cute romantic moments, the humor was “offbeat,” and the characters became 2D.

I know some people are saying that this is an excellent book for F|F romances and for bi rep but let me tell you, there are WAAAAY better books out there.

However, if you found something worthwhile out of this book, good for you! I’m glad others can see some connection to the characters and/or story. However, personally, this book did not work for me, and I do not recommend.

I will still read anything by Albertalli, but I’ll pretend this book doesn’t exist.

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MINI RAMBLE-Y BOOK THOUGHTS #1|Peter Darling, I Was Born for This, Symptoms of Being Human and GEORGE

I don’t always have time to review every book so here are my very concise general thoughts on all the books I’ve read recently! 

Peter DarlingPeter Darling by Austin Chant
TW: Suicide, Death, Some Homo/Trans phobia, Misgendering, non-accepting parents
OWNVOICES AUTHOR
Synopsis: Ten years ago, Peter Pan left Neverland to grow up, leaving behind his adolescent dreams of boyhood and resigning himself to life as Wendy Darling. Growing up, however, has only made him realize how inescapable his identity as a man is. But when he returns to Neverland, everything has changed: the Lost Boys have become men, and the war games they once played are now real and deadly. Even more shocking is the attraction Peter never knew he could feel for his old rival, Captain Hook—and the realization that he no longer knows which of them is the real villain.
My Rating: ⋆⋆⋆
RAMBLE-Y THOUGHTS: Neat Concept. Solid beginning, hopeful ending. Although it’s a retelling, the world building is still creative. Hook and Peter were engaging characters. Loved Tink in this version. Loved how Neverland is still a mystery. The middle dragged. Undeveloped side characters. Wished it was a bit longer.

 

Symptoms of Being HumanSymptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
TW: Anxiety, Homophobia+slurs, Transphobia+slurs, sexual assault, violence, non-accepting parents
OWNVOICES REVIEW—->here
Synopsis:Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.
My Rating: ⋆⋆⋆
RAMBLE-Y THOUGHTS: Informative and explained gender fluidity very nicely. Compelling and well developed side characters. Good discussions on whether marginalized groups should assimilate to satisfy status quo. Loved that we don’t discover Riley’s birth gender because it honestly doesn’t matter/isn’t anyone’s business. The antagonists of the book seemed a little cliche and the book dragged a bit.

 

I Was Born For ThisI Was Born For This by Alice Oseman
TW: Panic Attacks, Alcoholism,
OWNVOICES REVIEW—->MUSLIM REP
Synopsis: For Angel Rahimi, life is only about one thing: The Ark – a pop-rock trio of teenage boys who are currently taking the world by storm. Being part of The Ark’s fandom has given her everything – her friendships, her dreams, her place in the world.
Jimmy Kaga-Ricci owes everything to The Ark too. He’s their frontman – and playing in a band is all he’s ever dreamed of doing. It’s just a shame that recently everything in his life seems to have turned into a bit of a nightmare. Because that’s the problem with dreaming – eventually, inevitably, real life arrives with a wake-up call. And when Angel and Jimmy are unexpectedly thrust together, they will discover just how strange and surprising facing up to reality can be.
My Rating: ⋆⋆⋆½
RAMBLE-Y THOUGHTS: EXTREMELY relatable characters. Raw and authentic voices from both point of views. Queer+POC main characters+side characters. Friendship HEAVY. Deals with mental health in a mature way. Character driven. Promotes self-love and self-care. Although I liked it, I didn’t love it (underwhelming). The pace was slow, the ending was too fast and took forever for the two main characters to meet.

 
GeorgeGeorge by Alex Gino
TW: Misgendering, Bullying, bit of Transphobic comments, non-accepting parents
OWNVOICES AUTHOR
Synopsis: BE WHO YOU ARE.When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl. George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part… because she’s a boy. With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte – but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.
My Rating:⋆⋆⋆⋆
RAMBLE-Y THOUGHTS: Excellent pacing. George/Melissa was a delight to read about and deserves all the muffins in the world. Explains transgender well. The teacher annoyed me but I guess she was supposed to. Kelly was an amazing friend. Love that more trans middle grade is getting published. Promotes self-acceptance which is needed for middle grade. Important book today. Overall, heartwarming and adorable.

 

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{Review} Let’s Talk about Love by Claire Kann|Let’s Talk About This Adorable Read!

Let's Talk About LoveLet’s Talk About Love

Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting–working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating–no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.
But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).
When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood.

Before you continue on, I would like to highlight THIS OWNVOICES REVIEW. They can speak more for the Ace representation for this book (I can only speak for the black and queer rep).

Initial Thoughts

I was pleasantly surprised that this book was read as a Rom-Com! I thought the repetitive parenthesis and overall cheesiness of the book would bug me, but this honestly had me laughing out loud.  Alice’s thought process was just too cute to ignore, and it was fun to be in her head

This was also almost near perfect. I had everything I look for in a YA contemporary romance novel: cute romance, lively narrative, relatable characters and complicated home life. However, not all is perfect, but I will get to that part later.

Alice 

Our main character, Alice is black and identifies as biromantic asexual. She had a relationship with a woman at the beginning of the novel and but develops a new one with a man. She comes a long line of lawyers and her family continually puts a lot of pressure on her to continue that legacy. She works in a library, and it’s also the place where she meets Takumi who immediately catches her eye.

I loved Alice. She’s flawed, has an attitude that almost reflects my own and also develops nicely throughout the story. She’s already come out as asexual to her best friends but struggles with her asexuality when it comes to relationships and her family. Her ex-girlfriend dumped her because she thought Alice “hated” sex which is, unfortunately, a common misconception when it comes to asexuality.

I also liked our Alice being asexual wasn’t just a slapped on label. We get to learn more about Alice such as her love for online streaming and food (so me). We learn she has a cutie meter which is equally adorable and creative.

Asexual/Biromantic Rep

I won’t say if this was a good representation (again refer to the own voices review) but I will say it’s nice to see “Asexual” and “Biromantic” ON PAGE. No, it’s not implied, but Alice and several other characters actually use the label. Greysexual is also mentioned on the page! A Triple YES! The book also dives deep into the differences between arousal and attraction, which is too important when trying to explain asexuality. Misconceptions are also shot down, and stereotypes are never used.

Race

There wasn’t a lot of discussions about race in the book, but there were subtle racist comments about Alice that many black people, especially black women, have to face today. I don’t know why the phrase “you’re cute for a black girl” is still used as a pickup line! Alice doesn’t necessarily call them out on it, but she doesn’t blatantly ignore these comments either. The book also discusses how black folks have to work much harder in school and the workplace to be taken seriously in which I can attest to. Although my GPA is gogreatod, I always feel I have to prove myself, especially when I’m trying to get the respect of my peers and classmates. I appreciate seeing this struggle in book form since I sometimes I feel alone ( *sigh* there’s little to no black people where I live).

The Relationship

The relationship between Alice and Takumi was honestly adorable. Both were intrigued by each other from the start, but it was still slow burn. This book didn’t really have a plot, and it was more of the development of their relationship, but I did not care at all. I loved their dates, their dialogue, their facial expressions, just everything. However, at times, I felt they were a little too dependent on one another, but it wasn’t too bad.

The Friendships

Okay, in MY OPINION, I didn’t like Feenie or Ryan. I thought they were too petty when Alice started hanging out with Takumi more than them even though they ditch Alice all the time. I get the message that when you get into a relationship, you should never ditch your friends or forget about them but their fight was still tiresome. I felt like I was supposed to care about this subplot but all I didn’t???? BUT, I did like how Feenie and Ryan weren’t judgy with Alice being asexual, even though they already knew since the beginning. I can tell there is a deep bond between the trio and maybe I wish there were more chapters that really explained their friendship so I can further understand their connection.

Therapy

A positive therapy book is my favorite book, especially one that doesn’t have a main character with a mental illness. Alice seeks therapy to talk through her struggles with being asexual and how to be more open in general. Therapy is NORMALIZED in the book. I also love how her therapist doesn’t just “solve” the problems. The therapist isn’t always right, but Alice still considers his suggestions. Oh, the therapist is a man who is never seen in book form (or if he is, he is the “ineffective” therapist).

Final Thoughts

I heard the original draft was a mess when it came to the ace rep and the relationship between Alice and Takumi. I can say that initial draft problems didn’t enter the final draft (again can’t speak about the ace rep)! Even if you’re not black or identify as ace, you can take something from this book. It’s a heavy friendship book and also chronicles the struggles of college students.

Also, even though the writing takes getting used to, I thought it was always engaging, and the pace was excellent. The reason why I give a lot of contemporaries 3 stars is that they’re times where the story just drags, or I’m just flat out bored. With this one, I never felt such. I highly recommend, but again, I would refer to the biromantic rep review as they can offer more in detail about the representation.

Memorable Quote: ” I am very loving, I cry at the end of romcom. My favorite movie is Splash. I want someone to give me flowers and take me on dates. I want to fall in love and wear a giant princess dress at my wedding. I want to have a happy ending, too, and all that other magical stuff. I want what books and TV and the world has promised me. It’s not fair that I should have to want sex to have it.”

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{Review} Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert|A Coming of Age Story with a Complex Sibling Relationship

 

25062038Little & Lion

When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn’t sure if she’ll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.

But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new…the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel’s disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and finda way to help her brother before he hurts himself–or worse.

TW/CW: Biphobia, Homophobia, Homophobic Slurs, Self Harm, Racism, Subtle Racism, Bipolar disorder, anxiety

Initial Thoughts

I really really REALLY wanted this to be a new favorite. Like a Black Jewish Bisexual main character? Like um please this is all over me. Although I enjoyed the story as a whole, there were some parts that “irked” me quite a bit. From tropes to some of the characters, I couldn’t justify some of the annoyingly gruesome characteristics of Little & Lion 

RACE

Though I will say again, I enjoyed the majority of the book. Colbert dives into race really well, challenging the stereotypes and subtle racism that black people have to endure every day of their lives. There are scenes where one character will say something that’s not okay, and another will call out and educate the person on why what they said is problematic. I also liked some of the family dynamics, especially between Suz and her “stepdad.” “Both may look quite different regarding their race, but they both still have unconditional love for one another. It reminds me of my relationship with my “stepdad.”

The Representation

The rep in this story is terrific. To start off, our main character, Suz, is a black, Jewish and bisexual. Her brother, Lionel, is diagnosed with bipolar II disorder and is also Jewish. One of Suz’s love interest, Emil is half black half Korean and also is hard of hearing. Her other love interest, Rafaela, is Latina and Pansexual. The list honestly goes on from there with even more side characters with different backgrounds and who are queer. For the most part, this was done beautifully, and none of these identities felt forced or used as a “check mark.” I’m glad more YA books are having more representation in their releases.

Bisexuality Mentioned on Page

OH PRAISE THE BOOK GODS, the actual word “Bisexual” was on page MULTIPLE TIMES. I also appreciated Suz’s internal and external thoughts when it came to bisexuality. Harmful stigmas around bisexuality were noted, and I was happy that our main character Suz shot down those perceptions in a heartbeat. I was also glad that when she was trying to figure out her sexuality, she mentions bisexuality because sometimes a character will go from “straight to gay” in which that trope alone promotes bi erasure. I will say there is one bi trope that I HATE the most but I will get to that later. Overall, from my personal experience, it’s a pretty good representation of bisexuality. Pansexual, lesbian, and gay were also specifically on the page.

Interracial Relationships+Families

I come from a VERY diverse family. We half black, white, Latinx, Dominicans, Filipinos, etc. in my family, so everyone is mainly mixed. For some reason, even in today’s progressive society, it’s still an exotic thing for some people. My mom almost got arrested because someone thought she kidnapped a black girl. Suz considers her mom’s boyfriend as her stepdad, so when she’s out in public with him, she still gets those shocking, weird, worrying stares from other people. The book also talks about merging of cultures and adopting other’s customs. It was nice seeing that topic discussed because it personally resonated with me to the core.

The relationship between Suz and Lionel was also nicely developed, and I could tell Suz was trying to do her best to protect Lionel. From her being upset with her friends who abandoned Lionel to trying to connect and understand his illness, there is an underlying deep emotional bond between the two. I kind of wish there were more flashbacks to fully understand their relationship but I still I loved seeing complex yet adoring sibling relationship. It shows that blood doesn’t matter.

The two love interest also comes from marginalized backgrounds which normalize interracial relationships. I feel like there aren’t enough interracial relationships between two nonwhite people, so it was incredibly refreshing to see multiple in this story.

THE LOVE TRIANGLE OH WHY aka the WORST BI TROPE EVER (honestly not a fan of the general love triangles too)

*sigh* Not everything can be perfect. We, unfortunately, have this annoying love triangle. There is a love triangle that involves {gasp} both a guy and a girl. The worst part of this was the girl is her brother’s love interest so yeah an ADDITIONAL love triangle. Then there’s another girl that Suz is also still hung up on back at her old school…A LOVE PENTAGON?!?! I knew about this going into the book, but if done right, this could have been decent and not annoying buuuuuut it was. The reason why I hate love triangles with a bi people involved is that it’s already hard to convince people we’re not in love with everyone, so the love triangle ordeal does not help our argument in any way. Also, bi people in love triangles are already overused and not needed.    

Relationships

I feel as though Lion and Rafaela being together was rushed and a little instalovey. It was like we were supposed to be anti-LionalxRafaela because they literally had no chemistry, like at all. I felt the only reason why they were put together was too “raise the stakes” or to piss off our main character, but it didn’t seem necessary. 

Then we have Suzette and Rafaela which in my opinion is…trash?!? I’m sorry, I feel like I should want them together but I did not like their relationship at all. This was also almost like insta-love too, and I didn’t see anything there other than their bond over their sexual identities. The party at the end just sealed the deal when it came to my overall feeling about their relationship (ew no I don’t like).

Suzette and Emil was the only relationship that I truly cared about. Emil deserves so much but gets so little. He was always patient with Suzette, cared for and respected her and overall, their relationship had a lot of potentials. When Suz accused him of something in the end that just rubbed me the wrong way.

I also was EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED with this ending when it came to these relationships. Felt like the whole story didn’t really matter.

Bipolar Disorder

The central conflict of the book is that Lionel decided to no longer take his medication for his Bipolar Disorder and only tells Suzette. It was interesting to see the disorder depicted in fiction, especially since I just finished my abnormal psych class and we talked in great detail about bipolar disorders. I already knew where the story was heading when Lionel decided he didn’t want to take his meds, it won’t end well because bipolar disorder is a lifelong battle and I too wish there was an easy solution. I wish there were the magic pill and boom you’re cured. I wish someone can go to one therapy session and feel amazing right after. I wish someone can go off the meds and not face any consequences. We, unfortunately, don’t live in this ideal world and Lionel has to come into terms this realization on his own.

However, a person is never just their disorder, and I felt Lionel was just that, his bipolar disorder. All we know is that he reads and he has bipolar disorder, and that’s basically it. I wish we knew more about him and his personality besides his disorder. A lot of mental illness stories struggle with this, and I felt this wasn’t any different. Who is Lionel? It felt like the reader was just waiting for him to blow up in the end which made me really uncomfortable. 

Final Thoughts

Even though it looks like I hated this book, I still believe it has some merit. No, it isn’t perfect. While listening to the audiobook, I couldn’t help myself but be excited that I saw myself throughout the book. Suz and I are both black and bisexual. Suz and I both come from mixed families. Suz and I love our mixed families. Suz and I both constantly have to defend our race and our sexuality. I can’t ignore the hopeful feelings this book brought me, despite its flaws.

So I’m giving this 3 stars with a grain of salt. I still recommend it, just know what you’re getting into.

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Bi Recommendations #1|Comic Book Convention + Futuristic World

I thought I would start a new series where I recommend 2-4 books that has bisexual main characters. I hope that I can convince more people to read these books, especially fellow bi people as we don’t get represented nearly enough! Not all the books I mentioned in the posts are perfect (plot, writing, character development, etc.) but the books I mention are going to be books that I personally believe write bi folks in a represented way.

Queens of GeekQueens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

INITIAL THOUGHTS: This was INCREDIBLY adorable.

TW/CW: Fatphobia, Biphobia

REPRESENTATION: Charlie: Chinese-Australian vlogger/actress who identifies as Bisexual, Taylor: Has autism spectrum disorder, anxiety, plus size, Varies of other characters who are poc, queer, mental+physical disabilities.

Themes: Issues that come up includes body positively, overcoming bisexuality/queer stereotypes, dealing with anxiety, trusting of friends and accepting who you are. The book also dives into change, especially transitioning from high school to college and how to cope with that change  Also, all the people who said problematic things were immediately challenged.

My Personal Star Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Why YOU should read this: This was a highly entertaining read but it also delve into important discussions that I believe teenagers desperately need. One part that made me a little emotional was when Taylor saw herself in a comic because as an aspie, she doesn’t get represented nearly enough. That’s why I believe that more diverse books that has queer, persons of color, different religions, and persons with disability MAIN characters are needed, especially in YA. Many teenagers read YA to explore new worlds but also connect with character but only seeing one archetype (white, cis, able-body, etc) paints a problematic picture on who can be a hero or who can fall in love or who can be a problem solver.

Any Gripes: Cheesy writing+Dialogue. The parts where the important topics discussed weren’t consistent to the dialogue in terms of writing style.

Favorite Quotes

“Things that most people consider to be normal, daily parts of our life are the very things we fear and struggle with the most, and yet here we are, moving forward anyway. That’s not weak…we are the brave ones”

“I pull the plastic red handgun out of the holster and get ready. A selection of avatars appear, and I’m thrilled to see I’m one of them. Me. The geek-girl from the suburbs of Melbourne. The youngest daughter of Chinese immigrants. The only openly bi kid at school. The drama freak who makes vlogs in her bedroom. I’m the hero. Finally, I feel like the rest of the world is starting to see me the way I’ve always seen myself.”

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Not Your Sidekick (Sidekick Squad, #1)Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee

Welcome to Andover… where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef-up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, who Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.

INITIAL THOUGHTS: The swoon-worthy romance was top-notched

TW/CW: Racism, racial stereotyping

Representation: Jess: Biracial/ Vietnamese-Chinese American who identifies as bisexual. Other LGBT and POC side characters

Themes: Heroism vs. Villianism,  Invisibility of bi people especially n LGBT+ organizations, inclusiveness,  friendship, trusting of friends, biracial problems

My Personal Star Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Why YOU should read this: This books offers an unique cast of characters that you grow to love at the end. I also thought the world was cleverly written and  I thought the class system was easy to understand.  However, the romance is what really made this book shine for me. Jess and her love interest Abby were just the cutest and I love their scenes. I’m not going to lie, I would sometimes quickly scan a page until I see dialogue between them because they were just adorable. I also related to Jess a lot when it came to her LGBT club at school and how she felt excluded because she wasn’t considered “gay” enough. I also have those feelings so it was nice to know that I’m not completely alone when it comes to these organizations.

Any Gripes: This felt more middle grade than YA to me. The writing just seemed more juvenile but that might be because the world is kind of juvenile?!?! Also, this was pretty predicable in terms of some of the revealings and I’m really bad at predictions. I was unfortunately right on like all of them so there really wasn’t any shock value in this book for me.

Favorite Quotes

“Jess often feels as if she’s not Chinese enough in certain situations and not Vietnamese enough in others. It’s awkward when you’re not quite one but not quite the other.”

Have you read any of these books? Do you have any recommendations for books with bi representation? Let me know so I can check them out!

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{review}Keeping You a Secret by Julie Ann Peters|That’s it?!?!

272315Keeping You a Secret

With a steady boyfriend, the position of Student Council President, and a chance to go to an Ivy League college, high school life is just fine for Holland Jaeger. At least it seems to be. But when Cece Goddard comes to school, everything changes. Cece and Holland have undeniable feelings for each other, but how will others react to their developing relationship? This moving love story between two girls is a worthy successor to Nancy Garden’s classic young adult coming out novel, Annie on My Mind. With her characteristic humor and breezy style, Peters has captured the compelling emotions of My young love.

 

TW/CW HOMOPHOBIA, ACCEPTING PARENTS

Initial Thoughts

That’s it?!?!

 

Was the Plot Good?

This is your generic coming out story of a popular beloved high school girl with the equally popular boyfriend but then this new girl shows up and shakes the female protagonist world and discovers her true sexuality.  I understand this was published in 2005 but it just wasn’t engaging and I didn’t care what happens in the story because I already knew the ending. I was bored most of the time and I was close to DNFing the book.

Since this was published in 2005, it definitely seemed outdated such as the homophobia graffiti, lockers, slashing tires, the language in general. Although this stuff may still happened, it just seemed extreme. Though, this could be because I live in a bluer than the sky state and that shit would never been tolerated here.

 

Engaging characters?

Holland was very 2 dimensional and her thoughts were a tad bit questionable.

I felt Cece’s character was just centered around her sexuality and nothing else. Everytime she’s on page, she’s wearing a new gay pride shirt and we are told constantly about her sexuality. I don’t know if this is done to contrast her from the closeted Holland or what but it grew annoying as the reader. It strained the character development because we didn’t really get to know Cece apart from her sexuality (even at her performance because it was mostly Holland gawking at Cece).

I didn’t understand Holland’s mom because her logic never made sense to me. She kicked Holland out, then was like no baby come home but come back home straight please and when Holland refused she said leave but then she was like nevermind come back home. Also Holland’s mom went through a lot of BS in her life yet she’s still holds oppressive ideas????

All the other characters seemed forgettable, I forgot Holland’s sister’s name oops!

 

Relationship

I was disappointed with this relationship. I was expecting something adorable and enduring. However, the relationship seemed unnatural and a little unhealthy. I liked how it was one of those slow burn relationship since those bring light into my ever so cold world but once they proclaim their attraction towards one another, BOOM INSTA-LOVE. “I love you” was said after 5 minutes into the official relationship, alright okay.

This relationship also made me feel icky because Cece told Holland how she followed her to/in school. work, home, dates with Seth and Holland is like “OH SHE LIKES ME YAY” Like no, she’s stalking you. Cece in general was manipulated and I just couldn’t ship them at all. I didn’t really care if they were going to last till the end because they were just MEH and again it was a little bit toxic.

Messages/Themes

 Alright let’s get started

Bi rep: I’m bi myself so when I see the actual word “bisexual” on page, I get a little excited. However, I do wish this was delved into a bit more because Holland dismissed the idea so fast.

Coming out: Being a coming out story, this topic was apparent throughout the story.  There’s no right way to come out, even if someone says otherwise. Though, I could have not done the whole “someone else pushes me out of the closet” trope but you get what you get. Even though Holland’s was a little extreme, these stories are important. That being said, I still haven’t come out to my family (friends know though) so reading this and having basically having the same type of family members as Holland, this scared the shit out of me.

Cheating: Holland kissed Cece while still in a relationship with Seth. So yes, Holland cheated on Seth even though she was going to break up with him the next chapter. It’s pretty easy to break up with Seth BEFORE she kissed Cece but nope this happened because SUSPENSE.

Girl Hate: Holland hates all the girls in the story except Cece and maybe her irrelevant friend Leah. There was so much slut shaming and unnecessary hate. Holland literally imagined her killing on a character because she was talking to Cece. Holland just hated all girls (even her “friends”)

Homophobia: I don’t know what Peters was trying to accomplish when depicting homophobia. We have Kirsten, the typical homophobic of the story. When she said homophobic things, no one really called her out on it. Holland would just get mad and complain about it but like, I don’t know SAY SOMETHING?!?! Even at the end, Holland still never said anything. Kirsten probably thinks her homophobic beliefs are valid because no one told her why she’s wrong, like NO ONE. I understand that someone might be scared/anxious to go against someone like that but there was no redemption arc for Holland or Cece or Kirsten. Even with everything else when the guys try to “convert” Cece. Holland was like “go away” and that was it. Like okay?!?! Nothing was accomplished and that’s what annoyed me. HOWEVER, I will give props to the novel for giving resources on what a teenager should do if they have overly unaccepting parents (clinics, homes, etc).

 

Would I recommend?

Yes and no. Some people say that closeted people should read this but I’m going to say maybe no?!!?!? Or yes?!?! I don’t know. As one who is basically half in and half out of the closet, this book made me put one foot back in the closet.

Final Thoughts

So yeah, I just feel like this wasn’t for me. I couldn’t identify with any of the characters, the plot was meh, and I just had problems with it overall.

There are better f/f romance out there and I encourage you to read those and perhaps pass on this one. OR not, maybe someone might gain something from the book but I gained absolutely nothing.

 

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