I Live in Many Worlds

I'm not one to talk about myself. I will say that I love to read and study languages. I have strong opinions about the things I read. Stick around if you'd like to hear them. :)

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

We Should All Be Feminists -  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a well-known feminist and I've been meaning to pick up some of her work for a while now. And I thought what better place to start than reading her written version of a TEDx Talk she gave back in 2012 which you could see right here.

 

First, I decided to watch the talk before diving into the written version. The talk she gave is engaging and funny and intriguing to say the least. I highly recommend you watch it before reading this book. Because, although this has the same speech she gave during her talk in 2012, a lot of the humor is lost when the reader is not fully aware of the intonation Adichie is using whilst presenting her speech. However, that's not to say it's not enjoyable if you decide to pick up the book. The book includes a bit more detail than her speech did and it's worth picking up for that alone. All I'm saying is you should definitely watch the speech first and then read the book.

 

All in all, I recommend you consume this fantastic talk in any form you can get your hands on. It's a perfect introduction as to why feminism is valuable in our society and how we should all strive to be better as humans. I highly enjoyed this read and I hope you will as well.

Cat Pictures Please by Naomi Kritzer

Cat Pictures Please - Naomi Kritzer

I first heard about this short story through a podcast. It sounded like a light story I would enjoy so I decided to give it a read. What I got was so much more than that. It's a story that follows an AI and its desire to help people improve their lives. That's the premise, anyway. As the reader, you get the feeling of what it's like to live in this world and it being what you make it and it's not always as simple as making it what you want it to be. Does that make sense?

 

Naomi Kritzer did a beautiful job in writing an engaging story about how difficult life can appear to be but how the solutions are sometimes easily overlooked. She had a way of making the heavy subject matter light with her sense of humor sprinkled throughout the story to make it easy for the reader to come to terms with the message of the story. Kritzer is a brilliant writer and I am looking forward to reading more of her work in the future.

 

If you love sci-fi stories about AIs, if you love stories about life, if you love stories about cats, then I highly recommend you read this one! I think you may find that you learn a bit of something about your own life in the end.

The Legend of Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Origins by Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon

The Legend of Wonder Woman - Renae De Liz

With the new Wonder Woman coming to theaters, I wanted to learn more about the woman in question. So when my partner and I saw this at the library, I brought it home to learn more about Diana of Themyscira before we went to see the new movie. And I am so glad I did! It brought a whole new perspective to who Diana is as a person.

 

First, I want to start off by saying the artwork is stunning! The colors are bright and beautiful and the character designs are flawless. I love how the women are drawn in this comic. All are diverse in skin tone and body type. I adore how the scenery is drawn. The action scenes are exciting to stare at. I just love seeing the story unfold with the beautiful art.

 

This is also an amazing starting point for anyone who is curious about Wonder Woman. It starts off with her childhood on Themyscira and slowly progresses to how she arrived on Earth. I love seeing how Diana grows from being a naive child to a morally just adult. I love seeing her fight through all her struggles and defending those she holds dear but never jeopardizing who she is as a person. I love seeing how complex and fun and downright scary she can be if push comes to shove. Basically, I love everything about her as a character and I cannot wait to learn more about her.

 

I also love the relationships she forms on Earth. Her friend, Etta Candy, is a real treat. She is smart, sassy, beautiful, talented, and has her own sense of badassery that's right on the level of Diana. I loved her so much that I couldn't wait to see her in the Wonder Woman film! (In the film, she is woefully underused which is a crime but a story for another time.) Aside from Diana, she is one of my favorite characters! And we also have Steve Trevor who is a soldier and someone Diana becomes quite fond of. I love their relationship because it's not one that undermines who they are. Diana never becomes a mushy love-sick puppy when she is not with him. She cares about him and wants him to be safe, but she focuses on what needs to be done before she engages in any romantic relationship she might want to have with him. And Steve respects her and supports her. Ah, it's just a great portrayal of what could be a great relationship.

 

With that being said, this is a great place to start your adventure in learning more about the superhero who has been getting a lot of buzz lately, If you can, read this first before you watch the movie. It will provide a lot more details about the characters and this world that the movie didn't have time to go into. I love both this comic and the movie so much, and highly recommend both if you love superhero movies!

White Trash Zombie Gone Wild (White Trash Zombie #5) by Diana Rowland

White Trash Zombie Gone Wild - Diana Rowland

And, finally, I am all caught up on this amazingly fun series. It took me longer to get to the fifth book only because life got in the way. Otherwise, I would have gotten to this one much sooner. Still, I am really glad I did get to this one because this installment fixed all of the problems I felt the last book had.

 

At first, it still had the same tone and feel as the previous book and I thought I was not going to enjoy this at all. However, about a quarter of the way through, Angel's "stupidity" is questioned and she fixes what became a problem in the last book. From that moment on, I felt myself enjoying this book so much more! It carried the same tone as the first two books in the series did for me, which are my favorite books in the White Trash Zombie series, and I loved going through all the new mayhem and shenanigans that presented themselves.

 

Diana Rowland was able to bring her series around and make it fun again whereas the last book was mostly annoying. She has a way of just writing gruesome death and gore scenes as light and fun. Props to her for that! Angel Crawford is such a fun character to read about. I love seeing her grow from her mistakes. I love seeing her form these amazing relationships with equally amazing people in her life. This particular book showcased more of Dr. Nikas and I am 100% okay with that. He's a sweet, gentle, loving character and seeing more of him made this reader happy! I definitely love this series and cannot wait to read the next book in the series.

 

That's all I will say about this book. This being the fifth in the series, I can't say much without giving away major spoilers. But, if you've read the others, then definitely pick this one up. Especially if you had problems with the fourth book, this one improves after the first quarter of the book. I've been reading this series for a couple of weeks now and it saddens me that I have to now wait for the next book, but I am super excited for it and cannot wait until it is released! I highly recommend this series to anyone looking for a fun, diverse, highly engaging read about zombies. I hope you like it just as much as I have loved reading it.

How the White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back (White Trash Zombie, #4) by Diana Rowland

How the White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back - Diana Rowland

My journey through the White Trash Zombie series continues with the fourth installment called How the White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back. I'm going to start off by saying that I did not enjoy this book as much as I did the others. To me, this is definitely the weakest book in the series. With that being said, I did still enjoy reading this book.

 

Diana Rowland is still an incredible writer. She still has that same conversational style to her writing that I adore so much. I still feel like I am hearing a story from a close friend about her adventures and shenanigans. It's such a fun writing style that I cannot see myself ever getting tired of. Rowland's story this time around felt a bit forced, though. I felt like every bad thing that could happen, did happen. And, to me, that's just creating "tension" for no reason. Angel got shot and stabbed and almost raped and it felt too much. It just felt as if Rowland just wanted every horrible thing to happen in this book which made nothing feel authentic.

 

And speaking of Angel, she was a lot more careless and stupid in this book. I know she has the reputation of being a screw-up, but she was more so in this one than she was in the first book. For example, there's this one scene (I won't specify because of spoilers) where she outed someone as a zombie. Really? You know that you can't have a lot of people knowing about zombies and here you are just "casually" letting it slip. Not to mention she just kept telling other people about there being zombies because she "couldn't see another way." Pretty soon the whole world is going to know about zombies! 

 

Last thing I want to mention is the ending. Throughout the whole book we are getting hints that something is happening to Angel and I do not like the direction is going. It gives me the impression that the next book is going to focus on this aspect of Angel's life and depending on how it's handle, it could be really good or bad. I hope it's the former because as of right now, I am not too happy about it.

 

I know I made it sound like I did not enjoy this book, but I really did. I really like the fun tone to the whole series. I love all of the characters because they are all so loud and don't care what others think of them and I love everything about that. However, I do think that, as a reader, you should be able to critique the books you like. 

 

Do I recommend this book? Yeah! If you read all three previous books, then continue reading the series because it's so good and fun despite its flaws. It's still a very adult series. There's swear words, violence, gore, sexual assault, and drug use so keep that in mind when reading. But it really is worth the read, even if this particular book is not as strong as the others.

White Trash Zombie Apocalypse (White Trash Zombie, #3) by Diana Rowland

White Trash Zombie Apocalypse - Diana Rowland

Just finished another installment of the White Trash Zombie series and I am loving it. I plan to continue reading this series until I am fully caught up so the next few reviews will be about this series.

 

Diana Rowland is a talented writer. I love how she has an conversational tone to her books. I feel as if I'm talking to a friend as I read these books. It's definitely a writing style I appreciate tremendously. I started reading the first book because I was looking for something to ease my mind from what was going on around me, and I found a friend in these books.

 

Angel Crawford is an amazing character. She grows so much throughout the series and we see her grow the most in this book. She has so much self-respect and dreams for herself. We see her grow into a maturity when it comes to her father that as the reader, we are left rooting for her, hoping she succeeds in whatever she decides to do.

 

My only complaint about this book, and it's a minor one that doesn't detract from my enjoyment of the book, is that I wanted to see her interact more with the characters that work of the coroner's office. In the previous two books, she established relationships with her co-workers Derrel, Nick, and Dr. Leblanc. However, we don't get to see them much in this book. In fact, she's hardly at the coroner's office at all. I missed that element of the book. Although, I didn't mind seeing her interact with new characters like Brian, a bodyguard who works for zombie mafia boss named Pietro, I still wanted to see her progressing and improving her older friendships. But like I said, it's not a problem that the focus this time around was not around the coroner's office and the workers therein. I just would have liked to see more of them.

 

In short, I really like this series. I love how action-packed it is, I love how conversational the writing is, I love the characters and how diverse the world is, I just love everything about this book series. If you haven't read this series yet, I highly encourage you to do so. It's a lot more enjoyable than I thought it would be and I am so glad that it is!

Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues (White Trash Zombie, #2) by Diana Rowland

Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues - Diana Rowland

After having finished My Life as A White Trash Zombie, I had to move on and read the next book. And I was not disappointed one bit! This one continues where we left off in the previous book. Angel is still working at the coroner's office and trying to get her life together. But of course, nothing is ever that simple. There's now an evil organization that is experimenting with the zombie virus to make super soldiers. Now Angel needs to figure out a way to stop these people whilst trying not to miss a meeting with her parole officer. Can't fight an evil corporation if you're stuck in jail, amirite?

 

Once again, I had so much fun reading this book. Diana Rowland just makes such great, fast, enjoyable reads that by the time you finish it, you're like, "Wait... that's it? But I want more!" I am just in love with this book series. I love the tone and the writing and the story. It's exactly what I was looking for after wanting to read something that was light but had enough meat in it that I felt I was enjoying my time.

 

The characters are still my favorite part of this story. Angel is still a precious darling that I want to find happiness. I love how she doesn't take anyone's bullshit. What I loved about her in this book specifically was how she demanded respect. She is fully aware that she does not have a good educational background and she doesn't have a career but that does not give people permission to disrespect her and she calls them out when they do. I love that commentary of the book. People come from all walks of life but they are still people. Treat them with respect.

 

Another aspect of this book that I really enjoyed was Angel's relationship with her father. In the first book, he was abusive towards her. He even beat her. But here, we see them working towards a better relationship. It's not easy and it's far from perfect but they are working towards a better one. That's not something you see a lot in fiction. Where people, as messed up as certain aspects of their lives are, they are working towards fixing it and making it better. It shows there are many layers to us all and though we've messed up along the way, that does not mean it's over.

 

I love this series, I've only read two so far but I am highly enjoying it. There's so many good things that Rowland touches on that need to be talked about more. I love how diverse her cast is! From different class backgrounds to different races to different sexualities. This book series, though it is about zombies, is also about so much more. Please go out and read it. The same warnings I gave of the first book apply here as well. Violence, gore, sexual assault, and alcohol/drug use are throughout the book, but if you can read about those things, then you should definitely check this series out. I think it's amazing and enjoyable and well-written. I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series and seeing what I think of them. Although, if the first two are any indication, I'm sure I'm going to love them.

My Life as a White Trash Zombie (White Trash Zombie, #1) by Diana Rowland

My Life as A White Trash Zombie - Diana Rowland

After reading a lot of heavy and hard-hitting books that were too close to home for the majority of this year, I wanted to read something light and fun. A couple of years ago, I heard about the White Trash Zombie books from Comic Book Girl 19 and she said they were really good books. She even modeled for the book covers, which is amazing btw. Anyway, seeing as how I wanted something light, I checked them out from the library and gave them a read. And, yes, CBG19 was right. These book are really good!

 

It follows a girl in her early twenties who is considered to be a "loser" by society. She has a drug and drinking problem and is not exactly the most reliable person on the planet. However, one day she wakes up in a hospital room without any recollection to how she got there and she is craving one thing that humans should not crave: brains. Now she needs to figure out what happened to her, how she ended up in the hospital, and who turned her into a zombie... without losing her humanity.

 

Diana Rowland has created a fun world with equally amazing characters. Her writing is so easy and well-done. I flew through this book. Now to mention she has a diverse cast of characters, White, Black, Asian, and Hispanic characters are shown throughout without being stereotypes. I am really impressed with how well Rowland has written all these characters and made them feel human (no pun intended). I literally have no complaints about this book whatsoever.

 

The main character, Angel Crawford, is such a smart, caring, and tough little zombie. I want her to find her way out of the situation Life so unfairly shoved her in, and I want her to find happiness. Derrell, Angel's partner working at the coroner's office, is so sweet and caring. He looks out for Angel and is almost a second father to her. Marcus Ivanov is a bit of a prude but he also cares about Angel and wants to help her in her endeavors. All of the side characters felt more like main characters since Rowland does a great job in developing them.

 

I really think this is a series more people should read. It's a light read, yes, but Rowland also showcases what it's like to live at home with an abusive father. She talks about rape not being the victim's fault and, seeing as how rape culture just loves blaming the victim, I think this is an important subject for people to read about. Please, go ahead and read this book. It's smart, funny, action-packed, and if you love zombies, there's plenty of that, too! There is violence, gore, talk of sexual abuse, and drug use so keep that in mind when reading this. Other than that, give this book a read! It's an enjoyable one.

Pull Me Under by Kelly Luce

Pull Me Under: A Novel - Kelly Luce

I heard about this book from Book of the Month. The premise sounded so intriguing to me. I love any book that has to do with Japan and Japanese culture so when I saw that this book dealt with what it's like being half-Japanese and what happens when a murder takes place within the country, I was intrigued. Unfortunately, the execution was poorly done.

 

I thought Kelly Luce had a beautiful writing style. I did like that her depictions of the area in Japan sounded beautiful. However, that's where my admiration ends. I has a problem with how she described Japanese people. Yes, I know that Japan is not some holy land with kind people all around. But Luce made it sound like the majority of people in Japan treated foreigners as less than human with maybe three people being the exception. Where as America treated Asians a lot more kindly. Which, if you know anything about history, you know that isn't the case. I just didn't like how Luce painted this picture of how America was somehow better than Japan. It left a disgusting taste in my mouth. No country is better than another. We have different ways of life and that's it. 

 

Another problem I had with the book was the main character. The story was promising enough when it focused on Chizuru Akitani, but when she moved to the States and changed her name to Rio Silvestri, the story took a dip. I found "Chizuru" and her struggles a lot more interesting than "Rio." Rio was a self-absorbed, dimwitted, exercised-obsessed woman. She forced what she wanted onto people and made so many stupid mistakes that a forty-year-old woman should know better about. Plus, I felt like a lot of the problems she faced in Japan as an adult happened because she wanted it to happen... then she has the nerve to complain about it the entire time. 

 

If the book had focused more on Chizuru and her past, I think I would have enjoyed this book more. If Luce didn't let her biases into the story about Japan being a certain way, I definitely would have enjoyed the book more. If the main character wasn't so self-absorbed and didn't make such stupid decisions, this book would have been amazing. But no. This book was one of the biggest disappointments I've read this year because I was so excited to read it. I really thought I was going to love this book.

 

If you're still curious about it, go ahead and give it a read. You may like it more than I did. There's sexual assault, bullying, murder, suicide, and child negligence so keep that in mind with picking up this book. Hopefully, you end enjoying it.

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Bone Gap - Laura Ruby

A couple of years back, I heard how unique and amazing Bone Gap was from a number of sources. I have always kept my eyes open to it and I always told myself that I should read it at some point. Well, as it always seems to happen, years went by and I still haven't read Bone Gap. Until now. And was a fantastically bizarre little book it was!

 

I want to start off by saying that if you want to hear this book then DON'T READ THE SYNOPSIS ON THE INSIDE FLAP OF THIS BOOK. In fact, don't read the synopsis anywhere. I read it and it gives away a major plot point of the book in the synopsis. You actually don't find out about this plot point until almost then end of the book... and any synopsis you read about this book gives it away from the very beginning. I hate when publishers do that. Yeah, you can still enjoy the book even if you know it... but I, personally, feel that knowing cheapens the book a bit. I still really enjoy this book and recommend reading it even if you do know the "plot point," but try to avoid finding out anything about this book at all costs.

 

I don't even want to tell you anything about this book because I feel like it's best going into this book blind. I will say that Laura Ruby has a beautifully writing style and world building. She blends the real world with the fantastical effortlessly and has you questioning your own sanity whilst doing it. It's been a long time where I felt my mind was being messed with so badly I had to really slow down and analyze what was real and what was not within this world. But at the same time I could not put this book down. I wanted to understand this world. I wanted to know what was happening with the characters. I wanted to know everything! Laura Ruby did a great job in writing this book and I cannot wait to read more of her work.

 

And that's all I will say about this book. The characters are really well-developed, the plot is engaging, the writing is gorgeous, and I want more! Please read this book. If you like magical realism, fantasy, contemporary, beautiful writing, and complex characters, then give this a read. There's bullying, violence, sexual assault, and swearing so keep that in mind when picking this up. Otherwise, the only other warning I have to reiterate is to not read any synopsis about it if you want to know as little about this book going in. Other than that, I hope you enjoy reading this book!

One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva

One Man Guy - Michael Barakiva

I'm always on the lookout for cute LGBTQIAP+ books to read. I heard about One Man Guy a couple of years back but never got around to reading it. When my partner read it and told me that it was a cute read, I went looking for it at my library. I found it, read it, and agree. It is a cute book. However, I do have my problems with it.

 

The first being the writing. I am not in love with this writing style. It's almost too simplistic. To the point where I feel some sentences don't make sense. One sentence in chapter four reads, "He cheated his eyes open a sliver." Reading that is awkward. It doesn't flow well and you feel you need to reread it to make sure you didn't read it wrong. Barakiva did a great job in telling a coming-of-age story about an Armenian teenager discovering himself and his sexuality and I loved learning more about Armenian culture. but his writing style I just could not get behind. 

 

Another thing I had a problem with are the characters. Not so much the main character, Alek. He was sweet, kind, moral, and understanding. I liked him. But the object of his affection, Ethan, is another matter entirely. I didn't see the appeal to him. Seeing as how Alek liked him so much, I wanted to like him, too. And there were some things he did that I just was not a fan of. The way he talked about gay culture was a part of it. His use of the F-word rubbed me the wrong way. He said that if you're a part of that culture, it's okay to use such a word. And, yeah, okay, I get it, but I haven't met many people in the gay community who uses that word as if it were nothing. So it bothered me a bit. Another thing that upset me about Ethan was how he explained it's quite common for gay men to experiment with more than one person, even when they are already in a committed relationship. No. Just no. That's a harmful stereotype that's been perpetuated by our society. To say that gay men CHEAT on their partners is not only wrong but harmful. There are many gay couples who are in committed relationships and DON'T CHEAT ON EACH OTHER. As I've said in other reviews before, if you're in a polyamorous relationship, then it's fine if both partners involved are okay with having other partners. It's NOT okay to lump in every gay couple into being "experimental" with other partners without the other's consent! I did not like that Ethan was teaching Alek this terrible stigma about the gay community. And the last problem I had with Ethan was how misogynistic he was. He made comments when Alek didn't want to do something, he was acting like a girl. I didn't like how he treated Becky, Alek's best friend who is pretty awesome by the way, and thought of her immediately as "lesser" because she was a girl. It took her having to "prove herself" in order for him to show her respect. Just everything about his character was disgusting and I just didn't understand why Alek liked him so much.

 

An aspect that I did like about the book was getting to learn so much about Armenian culture. Especially the food! The food in this book sounds delicious. I've never had Armenian food before but I want to have some now! It was also interesting learning about the Armenian Genocide that happened in Turkey. That is a part of history I am not aware of. It was never taught to us in school, but I'm glad I know about it now. I love learning about history. Especially history that is different from my own culture.

 

Another aspect that bothered me, though, were how Alek's parents were. Oh, the hypocrisy with those two. And the fact that they complained about any little thing to the point where they didn't even want to drink water out of a plastic bottle, I was about to flip. Good thing they eased a tiny bit up towards the end. People like them upset me. DX

 

In short, I thought this book was good. I would recommend it to people who want to learn more about Armenian culture and food, who want to read a cute coming out story, and want a pretty quick read. Keep in mind that there are some homophobic slurs and racism towards Turkish people. These things are questioned and rebuked within the text and shows how it's not okay to do those things. The only thing not ever questioned is the sexism, which is a shame. Other than that, it's a good read so give it a shot if you're curious.

Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening by Marjorie M. Liu (Writer) and Sana Takeda (Artist)

Monstress Volume 1: Awakening - Marjorie M. Liu

So many people have been talking and raving about Monstress. I've heard so many good things about this comic that I immediately placed an order at my library so I could read it ASAP! ...only to wait for months and still not have them contact me to let me know when the comic will be in... only to find it on the shelves as if no one placed a hold on it at all! Ugh... no. No. It's fine. I'm not bitter. (I'm a little bit bitter.) Well, I finally was able to read it and I must say it is well worth the hype.

 

I almost don't want to tell you anything about it. I went in blind and I think that's the best way to go into it. You will appreciate the world more and the characters more. In this world there are humans, monsters, and half-breeds. Throughout the entire comic, you're able to see the mistreatment monsters receive for being "other" and how they're a people being oppressed. I love that this comic touches on inequality, racism, sexism, etc. I love that it's so expressive in the art and story! I will not tell you any more of the story because you HAVE to read it for yourself to fully enjoy it.

 

The artwork, however, I will talk about. Sana Takeda is incredibly talented. The art in this comic is one of the best artwork I have ever seen in any given comic. I am blown away by how stunning it is! It's detailed down to the very last lead in the forest scenes in this book. The colors are breathtaking! It's such a beautiful color palette with browns and greens and golds to match the "earthy" feeling to the story. I could go on and on about the art in this comic. It's just so beautiful!

 

And the characters are great. The main character is Maika Halfwolf. She is bold, strong, a bit sassy, and loyal. She is not without flaws. She tends to be a longer and can be a bit stand-offish but, considering her circumstances, I don't blame her. She is a wonderful character that I cannot wait to get to know. There's also my favorite character, Ren. He's an intelligent, magical, smart-mouth, talking cat. Yes, a talking cat, and I love him. He serves as a guide for Maika and what she can do in order to save herself and her world. I adore him so much and many of the ladies in this comic/  There are so many strong female-characters and they are strong not because they are cruel, but because they have their own goals and ideas and they will fight until they see those goals become a reality. I really enjoyed seeing these women shown to be in leadership roles without falling into the "cruel woman" trope.

 

I highly, highly recommend this comic. If you like strong female leads, action, adventure, magic, and talking cats, then I highly recommend you read this comic. There is swearing, violence, gore, and talk of sexual abuse so keep that in mind when picking this up. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy reading this comic. I had quite a fun time being in this world for a while~

The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere by John Chu

The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere - John Chu

This year I wanted to change a few thing about my reading habits. I have always read a ton of books but not much else. Well, if you've been following me for some time now, you may have noticed I started reading more graphic novels, manga, and non-fiction books. Along with them, I've also wanted to read a few more short stories and I've read a couple that were part of series I was reading, but never a stand-alone short story. Well, today I've decided to change that! I decided to read The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere by John Chu. It's a short story that got a lot of buzz a few years back during the 2014 Hugo Awards and I wanted to see what the story was all about.

 

The story follows Matt, a Chinese biotech engineer, who lives in a world where if you lie, copious amounts of water rains down upon you. In this rain-filled world, Matt must spend a Christmas celebration with his family and work up the nerve to tell them he and his lover, Gus, plan on getting married. However, things become more complicated when his sister gets involved and refuses to let Matt have the chance to come out to his family. It's a hard-hitting tale most queer people must overcome with sci-fi elements thrown in.

 

I really enjoyed this story. John Chu has a very straightforward writing style. What I enjoyed most about it is how he incorporates his own language into the story. I don't read or understand Chinese, be it Mandarin or Cantonese, but I loved seeing Chu's language throughout the story. And he uses the language unapologetically. Mind you, he doesn't leave the reader hanging. You can figure out what the characters are saying either by the author giving you the translation right after the Chinese, or with enough context clues. I'm glad he decided to write his story in such a way.

 

The characters are all beautifully developed, complex characters! Matt is struggling with who he is as a person and not wanting to disappoint his family. He also is having a hard time admitting what he feels because of years of shame and guilt. His lover, Gus, is so loving and supportive but he, too, has his limits. He loves Matt and will do anything for him but also knows when he needs to give space to the one he loves. Matt's family also have many layers to them. I love Matt's mother so much for reasons I cannot describe because it's a HUGE spoiler to the short story but she is amazing! Michele, Matt's sister, is the only one that seems to have a problem with Matt being gay. It's mentioned multiple times throughout the story that she treats him poorly because she loves him and only wants what's best for him. But from the reader's point of view, she is selfish, cruel, and close-minded. One message that I took away from this short story is that, yes, you can love your family but if they are causing you harm, then a bit of separation is healthy for everyone involved. I love this short story.

 

If you love reading short stories about coming-of-age LGBTQIAP+/racially diverse characters with a sci-fi twist, then I highly recommend you give this one a read. The only downside to this story is that I, ironically, found it to be too short. If there were about five to six more paragraphs showing what happened after the last event, then I think it would have been a solid short story. As it is, it's a good story with a bit of an abrupt end. Still, I do recommend this short story. It's such a beautifully told tale about two men in love and the obstacles they must face just to be together.

Foxheart (Foxheart #1) by Claire Legrand

Foxheart - Claire Legrand, Jaime Zollars

I will start off by saying I did not finish this book. I read up to page 139 and decided this book was not for me. I was not enjoying it one bit and I don't believe you should continue reading a book if you're not fully immersed in the story. That being said, you might like this book so if you're interested in reading Foxheart then go ahead and read it! I truly hope you enjoy it. 

 

Foxheart is about a girl who is shunned by everyone around her because of how different she looks. She decides that the only way to survive this world is to make it her own. That's when she becomes a thief... until she witnesses the Wolf King destroying the convent where she is staying. When she escapes and realizes that she has powers of her own, she must learn to control them and collect the bones of the ancient race of witches so that she might one day destroy the Wolf King and bring peace to her land.

 

From the beginning of the book, I did not like the writing style. It's extremely juvenile. Whilst I understand this is a middle-grade novel, I don't feel you should ever write in a way where you're talking down to your readers no matter how young they are. Children are intelligent individuals and will be able to sense when they are being treated as if they are dumb. The way Legrand approaches a subject, explaining to death, as if the reader couldn't figure out what was happening in the scene is demeaning. 

 

Also, the characters acted foolishly every single time. Yes, they're children, but a few of the actions taken were just stupid because "they're children." For example, one of the characters, Anastazia, warns both children, Quicksilver and Sly Boots, that they mustn't tell other witches what they are up to because witches like to hurt and kill one another. Then the boy, Sly Boots, runs off and tells the first pack of witches he see, putting his group in danger. Now that was stupid enough. And it could be explained "Oh, he's a child. He didn't know any better." Fair enough. But what about the scene immediately following that? Where Quicksilver cloaks them to hide from the witches and then Anastazia, an old woman, laughs at a comment one of the other witches make, alerting the witches that they were indeed in the area hiding. And that's not the only time she messes up either! Later, when talking with the witches, she nearly let slip that she can travel through time which is a type of forbidden magic! She's the oldest of the group and she was making stupid decisions left and right! I was never one to fall in love with stories where the characters made dumb decisions in order to "further" the plot. It's lazy writing.

 

In fact, throughout reading these 139 pages, I was just bored. I was bored with the writing. I was bored with the plot. I was bored with the characters. I was not enjoying it at all. Every aspect of this book was mediocre to me. And it's a shame because I saw the potential. I was looking forward to seeing how these characters were going to stop the villain, The Wolf King... until I saw how much of a caricature he was and how dumb the "heroes" acted. It was just a disappointment.

 

That being said, if you're still intrigued by the premise then, by all means, read this book. Just because I didn't like it doesn't mean you won't. I do think it's a very easy read so you could read it in one sitting despite its size. So give it a try. As for me, I was not a fan and will not be reading the rest of this series.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad (Oprah's Book Club): A Novel - Colson Whitehead

Every so often, BookTube host the Diverseathon and I try to participate whenever I get a chance. However, this last time, I could not participate for life got in the way. But I still wanted to read the group book club pick which is The Underground Railroad. Yes, I'm getting to it extremely late but I finally read it and I'm so glad I did!

 

The book takes place during the 1800s in America when slavery was rampant. It follows a slave named Cora and her journey to escape from her slave owner through the legendary Underground Railroad. Only in this version of America, the Underground Railroad is an actual physical railroad running through the underground of the American continent. The story is moving, breathtaking, painful, and horrifying. It was a difficult read but I loved reading about it.

 

I want to start out by saying Colson Whitehead has one of the most beautifully, intelligent writing styles. I am in awe with how rich he paints the scene for the reader. I haven't read such a gorgeous writing style since Catherynne M. Valente so it pleases me greatly to see Whitehead has a similar style. He did a lot of research into the time period, using the same language that people used back in the 1800s. Sometimes I even had to look up some phrases because I am not familiar with such terminology and any book that has me looking up info so I can learn and better understand a story is a great book. And his story hurt me in many ways. It's not easy reading about the atrocities that took place during America's slavery period. Whitehead does not shy away from describing every dark, twisted, sick abuse. It shocks the reader. It educates the reader. It sets out what it must in order to tell the stories and the horrors many black people had to face. The racism, the hatred, the discrimination just because of the color of their skin. He tells his story through the main character, Cora.

 

Cora is strong, brave, sassy, and hard-working. We follow her from when she is a child to adulthood. And her life is a difficult one. From being born a slave, from being abused by her slave owners and fellow slaves, to running away to trying to find freedom. Her tale is a gruesome one... but not without hope.

 

I won't speak anymore about the story or the other characters. This is a book you must experience for yourself. It's such a beautifully written story, taking the reader on a terrible journey many black people had no choice but to take. It shows you the horrible nature in which black people had to live through. How racism defined everything the did or did not do. The story is harrowing and depressing, much like any story about slavery is. But with the way Whitehead writes it, you appreciate how well-crafted a story like this came to be.

 

I highly recommend you read this book. If you want to read a literary masterpiece about an actually existing Underground Railroad, then give this a read. Keep in mind that there is sexual abuse, rape, murder, body mutilation, body dismemberment, racism, and horrifying imagery. If you are not comfortable reading about those subjects, please refrain from reading this book. Otherwise, I think you should read this book. To enjoy the writing. To educate yourself. To never forget the atrocities that took place in America. It's a fantastic read and I'm looking forward to reading more from Colson Whitehead.

Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

Allegedly - Tiffany D. Jackson

When I first heard about this book, I was intrigued. Allegedly is about a black girl named Mary who was convicted of killing a three-month-old white baby when she was only nine-years-old. The story follows her life of imprisonment to when she is sixteen-years-old and gets pregnant herself. Now she must prove to the criminal justice system that she is a capable loving mother so they won't take her child away from her to put him in foster care. 

 

That premise alone was so enticing to me. I wanted to see how Tiffany D. Jackson was going to cover the subject of race, especially when it comes to a serious topic such as murder and the justice system. I wanted to know what happened to Mary when she was young that ended up with a baby being killed. I was interested in finding out so, naturally, when I saw this book at my library, I decided to bring it home... and I was utterly disappointed.

 

Let's start with the only positive comment I have for this book. The writing. Jackson clearly has talent. She was able to weave a story about a girl and the unfairness of her trial because of her race. And that, I feel, makes this story an interesting one. I managed to read this book in one sitting because it was an engaging read. Her writing is strong and I can see her improving as time goes on and I hope she does continue to write.

 

Now on to things I did not like about this book. Most of them having to do with the perpetuation of stigmas. The main one being of mental illness. There's already the belief that anyone with a mental illness will become murderers at some point. That stereotype is not only false but it's dangerous. For the one who has a mental illness and the people who surround them. Mental illness is something many people must live with, but with therapy and (sometimes) medication, they can live happy and healthy lives. What this book mentions is that mental illness gets you into trouble. You end up hurting maybe even killing people. Especially the people you love. And I do not agree with that sentiment. As I've said, there are many people living with a mental illness that are able to live happy lives. And I understand that the characters in this book have harsh lives, I do. But almost all the characters in this book have a mental disorder and they all end up wanting to hurt someone. Not one person with a mental illness in this book is shown to be a good person. They are all "crazy." That is harmful representation. It uses a stigma that's already well ingrained into our society and further enhances that stigma without challenging it one bit.

 

Another problem I have with the book is the fat-shaming. Every time someone that was slightly overweight, the main character had to call them disgusting. She mentioned that how she couldn't understand why people wouldn't change their diet if they were over two hundred pounds. And there are other times when she just says really nasty things when it came to people's weight. There's also quite a bit of homophobic slurs spread throughout the book in reference to one of the girls who stays at the group home with Mary. The worst part about these two horrendous actions is that it is never challenged within the text. Much like with mental illness, the book further adds to the notion that people who are fat or people who are gay are disgusting. That they are going to "rot in hell." And not once does the main character or another character question it. Meaning they agree with such toxic sentiments.

 

Last thing I want to cover is how there were a lot of unnecessary scenes throughout the book. One is the mutilation of a cat. Why? Why kill the cat? Especially if you're not going to do anything with it. We don't even find out who killed the cat. It's just there to be there. The cat-killing scene served no purpose to the plot whatsoever. I guess it was there just to show that the girls in the group home are "crazy." Another thing that was unnecessary is introducing Sarah, making her to be Mary's (only) friend, just to take that away. Because Mary doesn't have enough to deal with, let's add "crazy" best friend to that list. Oh, and the fact that Mary's only solace is in a man's arms? Really? A man that helped his friends rape a girl? A man who cheats on her? A man who claims he loves her but does everything to contradict that? Not to mention he shows signs of being abusive. There are times when he and Mary get in an argument and he forcefully grabs her and pushes her against walls. But is that ever challenge? No. Mary LIKES that he's being forceful with her. She even says so in the text! So not only does this book maintain the ideas that mental illness, fat-shaming, and homophobia are okay, it's also advocating for abusive relationships. All these aspects are what really ruin the book for me.

 

There's so many things that I don't like about this book. Everything that I mention are the main reasons why this book rubbed me the wrong way. I could go into further details, especially when it comes to Mary because she's another reason why this book didn't work for me, but that will reveal some things about the ending that I don't want to spoil in case you still want to read the book. I will just say that the negatives outshine the positive.

 

If you still want to read this book, go ahead. Like I said, the writing is actually pretty good. Just remember there's rape, strong language, murder, violence to every degree manageable, fat-shaming, homophobia, and domestic abuse. If you're okay with reading about those things, then give this book a read. I hope it enjoy it a lot more than I did.

Currently reading

Brave Story
Miyuki Miyabe, Alexander O. Smith
The Little Friend
Donna Tartt
Silence of the Lambs
Thomas Harris
Japanese Hiragana & Katakana for Beginners: First Steps to Mastering the Japanese Writing System (CD-ROM Included)
Timothy G. Stout