Mini Reviews|#TBRJARRAT Wrap Up+Random Books (Queer Girls, Some Nonfiction and a Mediocre Contemporary)

I’ve read a lot of books recently but I don’t have any “strong” feelings towards them so here are some mini-reviews!

The first two (yes, only two) books I read for #TBRJARRAT.

 

StyleStyle by Chelsea M. Cameron

★3/5 Stars★

Review: If you like the enemies to lovers and the opposite attracts trope look no further because Style is here! This follows  “nerdy” Kyle who just wants to go to college and “cheerleader” Stella who is a closeted lesbian who looks forward to leaving home to wave her Pride Flag at a university. The two hate each other, but after being paired to do a project, they start to develop feelings…You know how it is. This was cute and fluffy but the writing was terrible and a tad bit cringy. The dialogue was choppy and full of cheese, but my heart still fluttered because I am a sucker for the enemies-to-lovers trope. There were also some discussions of sexuality and queer representation in media in which I thought was meaningful. Kyle also has a disability, and there are other queer characters in the story as well! If you can look past the terrible writing.

 

Lies My Girlfriend Told MeLies my Girlfriend told me by Julie Ann Pearson.

★2/5 stars★

Review: Honestly, I think Pearson and I will just never click, so I think this will be the last book I read by her. After Alix’s girlfriend, Swanne, dies of cardiac arrest, she looks into her old room to find some mementos but comes across a cell phone. What she sees on the cell phone is a bunch of lovey-dovey text messages by a mysterious L.T. aka Liliana. Alix texts Liliana, basically pretending to be Swanne and the drama ensues! I think this book was just not for me because I didn’t like the plot too much. It was all about lying and cheating, and everything would have been quickly resolved in Alix would just tell Liliana the truth. Throughout the entire book, Alix is like “omg I need to tell her but I won’t,” and as the reader, we know Liliana will eventually find out.  Since it took too long to reach the peak of the story when Liliana actually found out there was no time to really give a damn anymore because the book was almost over. Also, Liliana deserves better than Alix and Swanne in my opinion.

 

Here are some random books I recently finished

 

A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns by Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson

★3.5/5 Stars★

A Quick & Easy Guide to They/Them PronounsReview:  A good short reference book for those who want to learn more about gender pronouns! I thought I wouldn’t gain much from this, but I was pleasantly surprised. I learned that when asking for people’s pronouns, you shouldn’t say “what is your preferred pronouns” and I’m slapping myself for all the times I said that phrase. I like how the book doesn’t shame people who are still learning to adjust to nongendered language. I think it’s important for everybody to not misgendered individuals and it kind of sucks that society is taught to place a gender label on everything, including language. I love the duel point of view, especially the non-binary voice. I work at customer service, and I’m going to start using gender-neutral language the book suggests. I think this is a must read for EVERYONE, even schools because more children need to know how to use gender-neutral pronouns. I think workplaces should also incorporate this when training new employees as well.

 

Encyclopedia of Black Comics by Sheena C. Howard, Henry Louis Gates Jr., and Christopher J. Priest

★3.5/5 Stars★

Encyclopedia of Black Comics

Review: An astounding collection of Black comic book/graphic novel artist! It was exciting learning about all these black artists and how much their life experiences, including parental abandonment, lack of representation in media and flat out racism inspire them to create art. Like the title says, it’s an encyclopedia, so it read like a textbook. However, the drawings were absolutely gorgeous and made the read totally worth it. I also need to check out all these black artists because I didn’t know most of them! In media, we hardly hear or see black artists (people of color artists in general), so I think this book does a great job of uplifting these artists. My favorites were Vita Ayala, Jamie Broadnax, Julian Chambliss, and Afu Njoki Richardson! Their stories were empowering, and I google a lot of their pieces, and of course, it was mesmerizing. Overall, a solid collection that I think fans of diverse art might enjoy!

 

Perfect HarmonyPerfect Harmony by Emily Albright

★2/5 Stars★

Review: Perfect Harmony had a lot of potential, but it became your usual cliche young adult contemporary. Pippa is the leading cellist in her high school, but things start to shake up when Declan transfers to her school and claims he’s going to take her seat.  They fall in love but then other people love them, love triangle, blah blah blah. The romance was flat; the love triangle seemed unnecessary. I usually don’t entirely mind them, but this was annoyed me to the moon because it was an overlapping one, so it was the center of the overall story. There was a lot of convenience scenarios, such as the jock so happens to like Pippa when Declan, the actual love interest transfers. We all know what happens in the end and I honestly was just bored with the entire story. Before Pippa started to like Declan, the second love interest, Noah, was a decent guy but change when Pippa began to question her feelings for Declan (the typical love triangle formula). I also grew annoyed with the “princess” nickname, even though Pippa did nothing “princess”- like. I mean, she’s described as a full out band nerd, so the nickname was just awkward and distracted the romance. (yes I get Pippa didn’t like it but still). As you might predict, the writing also suffered, it was just too cheesy. The reason why I’m giving this two stars and not one is that although the romance between Pippa and Declan felt a little cliche, I thought that as a whole, they were good for one another and was developed pretty well. Netherless, I did not enjoy reading this one, and it just wasn’t for me.

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[review]Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neil|A Beautiful Graphic Novel with an Even More Beautiful Message

Thank you to NetGalley for providing an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

Continue reading “[review]Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neil|A Beautiful Graphic Novel with an Even More Beautiful Message”

{Review}Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture|Raw and Haunting

Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape CultureIn this valuable and revealing anthology, cultural critic and bestselling author Roxane Gay collects original and previously published pieces that address what it means to live in a world where women have to measure the harassment, violence, and aggression they face, and where they are “routinely second-guessed, blown off, discredited, denigrated, besmirched, belittled, patronized, mocked, shamed, gaslit, insulted, bullied” for speaking out. Contributions include essays from established and up-and-coming writers, performers, and critics, including actors Ally Sheedy and Gabrielle Union and writers Amy Jo Burns, Lyz Lenz, Claire Schwartz, and Bob Shacochis. Covering a wide range of topics and experiences, from an exploration of the rape epidemic embedded in the refugee crisis to first-person accounts of child molestation, this collection is often deeply personal and is always unflinchingly honest. Like Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to MeNot That Bad will resonate with every reader, saying “something in totality that we cannot say alone.”

TRIGGER WARNINGS: RAPE, SEXUAL ASSAULT, LGBT+ SLURS, PTSD

TheBlackLit (5)

At least you’re alive, at least you weren’t drugged, at least you were asleep, at least it was your boyfriend.

I don’t know why people are continually belittling the experiences of assault. This book challenges people beliefs that what rape and sexual assault victims went through isn’t that bad.

Well, it is that bad.

Not That Bad explores Rape Culture in the U.S. Within this anthology, we are in the lens of many individuals, many of them who are of color, different genders, in the LGBT+ spectrum, have/had a disability, and other backgrounds as well.

This collection was extraordinary. I listened to this on audiobook, and so I got to hear every single individual tell their story which I thought adds an authentic touch to the short story collection.

Although all these stories are vastly different from one another, all of them share this underlying theme that their experiences were not that bad.

People say that getting catcalled on the sidewalk is not that bad,

getting slapped in the butt by a complete stranger is not that bad,

getting drunk and waking up the next morning naked and thinking oh it was just a one night stand but realizing later in life it was actual rape not that bad,

your boyfriend forces you to have sex, not that bad.

What we haven’t realized is that our repetitive thoughts of saying “it’s not that bad” contributes rape culture. Our constant desire to compare the experiences of rape/sexual assault victims is something that we as a society needs to stop because every experience is it is that bad.

More people need to understand that normalizing something simple as catcalling in the streets is contributing to rape culture.

Listening to these experiences made me think about how we define rape and how we deal with rape victims. The book explores the agonizing and victim blaming questions that are asked during integration. The writing is stunning, the imagery is vivid, and their stories are as raw as it can be. You will feel their longlasting pain from their words and empathize with these victims and survivors greatly.

The book examines the politics, the legal jargon, and the socialization surrounding rape culture. We listen to the stories of individuals who didn’t realize what they experience is rape, who felt that the assault was there fault and those who tried to seek justice.

It’s an influential book that more people need to read. It’s good that more people are stepping forward about their rape stories and even better that rapist are facing the consequences of their actions. However, many are still in higher power who have yet been met the repercussion for these horrific acts.

TheBlackLit (7)

This collection will haunt your mind and gnaw at your thoughts for weeks. You will look at rape culture in a new light, becoming angry with where we are in this world. And you and I should be angry.

If you are not sensitive to these topics, I urge you to listen to the audiobook, Not that Bad. 

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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:

Screenshot 2018-07-01 at 10.26.31 PM.png

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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June Wrap Up|Pride Month|YA/Middle Grade

What a month!

TheBlackLitQueen’s Personal Pride TBR

Considering I started summer classes in the middle of the month, I actually didn’t do that bad! I completed 7 out of the 10 challenges I set myself!

  1. Read a Non-Fiction book by a Trans Author
  2. Read a Fantasy/Thriller/Mystery book featuring a bisexual main character
  3. Read a book featuring an LGBTQIA+ Black main character (with this category, I would like to read multiple)
  4. Read a middle grade featuring an LGBTQIA+ main character
  5. Read an OWN-VOICES LGBTQIA+ book (easy!)
  6. Read a book with a genderfluid/ nonbinary main character
  7. Read an LGBTQIA+ Classic
  8. Read a Romance with a Trans main character
  9. Read a Fantasy book featuring a queer MC
  10. Read a book featuring a person/author who is left out of the “LGBT” (Asexual, Intersex, Demisexual, etc.)

Gone girl by Gillian Flynn (4)

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My Favorite: “Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann (4 Stars)–>Review

My Least Favorite: Leah on the Offbeat (1 star)—->Review to come

Gone girl by Gillian Flynn (2)

I don’t have many goals in terms of reading. However, I woud like to read at least one book a week, since I will be busy with summer school and work!

 

What did you read June?

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LGBTQIA+/Queer Book Resources! #2

Another round of LGBTQIA resources! Thanks again to those who read, liked and commented on my first post in this series! I hope I can help others find more books through these posts (helps me discover more books and creators as well!). Here are some more resources to check out!

Blogs

bibookishbabe: I’m obsessed with this blog! You’ll find anything LGBTQIA+/Diverse related book content on this blog. If you are a list fanatic, this blog is for you! Check their “About” —–{here}

Black Lesbian Literary Collective: If you are looking for Black queer women authors, this blog site is what you are looking for. They then push black queer authors and also encourages the reader to submit their own work. A definite must follow!

transbookreviews: Another blog that I think everyone should follow. Just like what their blog title implies, they review books with trans MC+Authors! One thing that is interesting about their reviews is that in every review, it has both a trans and cis perspective+rating. They average out both ratings, giving an overall score out of 10. I highly recommend checking the whole blog out because it’s absolutely STUNNING!

YouTube

Things Lucy Reads: Although she hasn’t posted in a couple of months, I still love love LOVE this channel. She’s hilarious, (sometimes) sarcastic and I love the way she talks about books (eloquent and well thought out discussions)! She also introduces me to many books I haven’t heard of so I often rewatch a lot of her videos. I recommend this and this video!

Rogan Shannon: Rogan is incredible! He’s a fellow bi (also identifies as queer/pan) and is deaf! Like the rest, he promotes queer books but also has impressive videos on sign language and non-book queer content. My favorite videos are here and here!

Kathy Trithardt: Another Gem! I love her weekly entertainment videos because she always has something new to introduce, not just books! This may sound strange, but I like the way she summarizes books. She makes the watcher excited and overall is a fantastic channel. Check this and this video out!

Other

A Reading List for a New Generation of Gay Men: The title says it all!

100 Best Lesbian Fiction & Memoir Books Of All Time: Need some more queer lady books? You might find something new on this list!

Read These 8 Works of Intersex Fiction Right Now: There is not enough intersex representation in books, period. This list may be small but mighty. I want to read every book on this list because all of these sound so good! Check it out!

Let me know any other resources that I should add to the next round!

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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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