April 2022 To Be Read

These are only four of the books that I have planned this month that I for sure want/have to get through. In reality, there are more than four that I have planned for this month but we’ll see how many of those I can go through. April is another busy month for me as it’s my birthday month and I have a week of Disney planned for that.

Atonement Camp for Redemption by Evan J. Corbin 

Rick Harris finds himself back at a place he never thought he’d return—the Atonement Camp. With Marilyn now serving as camp director, Rick turns away from his empty home—and his equally vacant pursuits with headless online suiters—to accept a job teaching at the camp. With Garrett missing, Rick and his friends soon learn that there’s more to the jobs they were offered than they were led to believe.

Meanwhile, Missy Bottom seeks revenge against Rick and those who thwarted her plan: to invalidate the New Revelation and gain her esteemed Luminary membership. Caught in the middle of warring factions of Luminaries and camp spies, Rick and his friends struggle to uncover Missy’s plans while concealing their true purpose at camp from those who begin to suspect their teaching credentials are somewhat lacking.

Old enemies become allies as Rick and his friends are forced to choose between those who would seek to invalidate the New Revelation and sacrifice all the newfound LGBTQ freedoms that came with it, and those who would leverage the ancient teaching for retribution. Rick faces an equally intractable decision—whom does he truly love? And why? Rick soon learns that the answer to those questions may be the key to solving more than one problem.

It Helps with the Blues by Bryan Cebulski 

Jules leaves. Gabriel rages.
Estelle changes. Joshua hides.

In the aftermath of a classmate’s suicide, a boy embroils himself in a community of Midwestern teens, each doing what they can to cope as they stumble—together and apart—toward a life worth living

How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox

Biz knows how to float. She has her people, her posse, her mom and the twins. She has Grace. And she has her dad, who tells her about the little kid she was, who loves her so hard, and who shouldn’t be here but is. So Biz doesn’t tell anyone anything. Not about her dark, runaway thoughts, not about kissing Grace or noticing Jasper, the new boy. And she doesn’t tell anyone about her dad. Because her dad died when she was six. And Biz knows how to float, right there on the surface—normal okay regular fine.

But after what happens on the beach—first in the ocean, and then in the sand–the tethers that hold Biz steady come undone. Dad disappears, and with him, all comfort. It might be easier, better, sweeter to float all the way away? Or maybe stay a little longer, find her father, bring him back to her. Or maybe—maybe maybe maybe—there’s a third way Biz just can’t see yet.

Iron Widow (Iron Widow #1) by Xiran Jay Zhao 

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain.

When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​

To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed.

Dead Wednesday by Jerry Spinelli Book Review

Book Description

Worm Tarnauer has spent most of eighth grade living down to his nickname. He prefers to be out of sight, underground. He walked the world unseen. He’s happy to let his best friend, Eddie, lead the way and rule the day.

And this day–Dead Wednesday–is going to be awesome. The school thinks assigning each eighth grader the name of a teenager who died in the past year and having them don black shirts and become invisible will make them contemplate their own mortality. Yeah, sure. The kids know that being invisible to teachers really means you can get away with anything. It’s a day to go wild!

But Worm didn’t count on Becca Finch (17, car crash). Letting this girl into his head is about to change everything.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: When I read the description of this book I thought that this was an interesting way to try to teach children the importance of responsibility. I think the idea of dead Wednesday is great but not to instill fear in these students but to teach them why they need to be precautious and think twice about the dangerous things they may engage in while in high school.

Something that I liked about this book was the moment in which Becca shares her story of how she died. I thought Worm’s reaction to that was well-done and the build-up before she dies creates a lot of emotions for the reader. I think Worm getting to spend time with Becca and hear her story beyond what the card he got for Dead Wednesday made a big different in how that event impacted him. I think that this also shows the flaws in Dead Wednesday as the other kids are seeing it as a get away with everything day vs seeing that the “Wrappers” were actual people who had loved ones.

Characters: Throughout this book you get introduced to several characters through their interactions with the main character, Worm. You get to meet his best friend, several of his classmates, the girl that he is assigned for Dead Wednesday, Becca, and his family.

I really liked reading as the friendship between Becca and Worm develop even as we know that this couldn’t possibly last. I liked that Becca thought that she was there for him but then realizes that she’s there because she needs his help. I think that Becca was there for both of them, they needed each other’s permission to just be.

I also liked the friendship between Worm and his best friend, Eddie, and then when we get to see the contrast of that friendship to Worm and Becca, and even Worn and Monica. I think it was great to see how he considered Eddie his best friend but he was never really himself around him, and was always considering this kid’s interests and not his own.

Writing Style: This story is told with a third person narrator through Worm’s perspective. I liked that the whole story was through Worm’s perspective because of how young and innocent he is. There is a lot that the reader sees and knows before Worm comes to those realizations, and I love that aspect of this book. I love this aspect because it is meant for a younger audience so I think younger children will realize things when Worm does but adults will see further ahead.

Author Information

When Jerry Spinelli was a kid, he wanted to grow up to be either a cowboy or a baseball player. Lucky for us he became a writer instead.

He grew up in rural Pennsylvania and went to college at Gettysburg College and Johns Hopkins University. He has published more than 25 books and has six children and 16 grandchildren.
Jerry Spinelli began writing when he was 16 — not much older than the hero of his book Maniac Magee. After his high school football team won a big game, his classmates ran cheering through the streets — all except Spinelli, who went home and wrote a poem about the victory. When his poem was published in the local paper, Spinelli decided to become a writer instead of a major-league shortstop.

In most of his books, Spinelli writes about events and feelings from his own childhood. He also gets a lot of material from his seven adventurous kids! Spinelli and his wife, Eileen, also a children’s book author, live in Pennsylvania.

Nightbooks (2021) Movie Review

Streaming on: Netflix

Length: 1 hour and 43 minutes

Genre: Mystery, Family, and Suspense

Director: David Yarovesky

Writers: Mikki Daughtry(screenplay by), Tobias Iaconis(screenplay by), and J.A. White(based on the book by)

Stars: Winslow Fegley, Lidya Jewett, and Krysten Ritter

Follows Alex, a boy obsessed with scary stories who is imprisoned by an evil young witch in her contemporary New York City apartment.

If This Gets Out By Book Review

Book Information

Eighteen-year-olds Ruben Montez and Zach Knight are two members of the boy-band Saturday, one of the biggest acts in America. Along with their bandmates, Angel Phan and Jon Braxton, the four are teen heartbreakers in front of the cameras and best friends backstage. But privately, cracks are starting to form: their once-easy rapport is straining under the pressures of fame, and Ruben confides in Zach that he’s feeling smothered by management’s pressure to stay in the closet.

On a whirlwind tour through Europe, with both an unrelenting schedule and minimal supervision, Ruben and Zach come to rely on each other more and more, and their already close friendship evolves into a romance. But when they decide they’re ready to tell their fans and live freely, Zach and Ruben start to truly realize that they will never have the support of their management. How can they hold tight to each other when the whole world seems to want to come between them?

Review

CW: coming out, closeting, parental abuse, excessive drinking, substance abuse, psychological abuse, car accident

Thoughts and Themes: I had heard so many great things about this one on Booktok and Bookstagram so I was so happy to get access to it on Netgalley. I really enjoyed so much about this book and how there are so many different pieces to it. I loved the boy band aspect to it, the coming out story, the romance, and the friendships throughout this book.

There was so much in this book to examine which made there just so much to love about this book. I really enjoyed the romance in this book but also how that romance was complicated by Saturday’s management not allowing Ruben and Zach to be out. I thought that it was great to see what being out meant for both of them and how it meant different things for both of our characters. I also liked how management tried to make it seem that them coming out would affect the other band members and to have Angel and Jon disregard management’s concerns.

Something else that I really enjoyed in this book was the push back that you get from each of these characters with their parents as well as their management team. I thought it was great to see how these characters developed through the story as they first try to please everyone but then they realize that to be happy they have to do what is important to them.

Characters: In this book you are introduced to our main characters, Ruben and Zach as well as the other two band members, Angel and Jon. You also get to meet each of their families as well as some of the people who are involved in the band.

I loved getting to know each of the four band members both as themselves but also when they were with each other. I loved the romance that occurred between Ruben and Zach and how supportive the whole band was of this. I also really liked how their friendship develops into this romance and how they each push each other respectively to be better for themselves. I like that Ruben has had time to be out and figure out who he is but Zach has just come to the realization that he is bisexual. I liked the way that Ruben wanted to protect him from what the reality of being out meant but he also wanted Zach to stand up for what he wants.

I loved Angel as a character and all that he added to this story. I thought it was great that we got to see him struggle with the image others wanted him to project of himself and the person he wanted to be. I thought the storyline of him turning to drugs and alcohol was done well and that resolves itself nicely as well. I thought it was great to show how his friends played into getting him the help he needed when management wasn’t being very helpful.

Writing Style: This story is told in a dual perspective through the eyes of Ruben and Zach. I liked that we got both of their perspectives as they each have different thoughts as the story takes place. I like that we got to see Zach not knowing how to navigate his queer identity and Ruben just wanting to be allowed to embrace his queer identity publically. I thought it was also great to get both perspectives as they each have different relationships with the other members of the band.

Author Information

Sophie Gonzales writes young adult queer contemporary fiction with memorable characters, biting wit and endless heart.

She is the author of THE LAW OF INERTIA, ONLY MOSTLY DEVASTATED and PERFECT ON PAPER. IF THIS GETS (co-written with Cale Dietrich) is forthcoming in Fall 2021 from Wednesday Books / Macmillan.

When she isn’t writing, Sophie can be found ice skating, performing in musical theatre, and practicing the piano. She currently lives in Melbourne, Australia where she works as a psychologist.

She is represented by Molly Ker Hawn of The Bent Agency.

Cale Dietrich is a YA devotee, lifelong gamer, and tragic pop punk enthusiast. He was born in Perth, grew up on the Gold Coast, and now lives in Brisbane, Australia. His debut novel, The Love Interest, was named a 2018 Rainbow List Selection. He can be found on Twitter.

The Night When No One Had Sex by Kalena Miller Blog Tour Post

Thank You to TBR and Beyond Tours for having me on this blog tour for the book The Night When No One Had Sex by Kalena Miller. Check our the tour schedule here.

Book Description

The Night When No One Had Sex by Kalena Miller

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Publishing Date: September 7, 2021

Synopsis:

It’s the night of senior prom, and eighteen-year-old Julia has made a pact with her friends. (Yes, that kind of pact.) They have secured a secluded cabin in the woods, one night without parental supervision, and plenty of condoms. But as soon as they leave the dance, the pact begins to unravel. Alex’s grandmother is undergoing emergency surgery, and he and his date rush to the hospital. Zoe’s trying to figure out how she feels about getting off the waitlist at Yale–and how to tell her girlfriend. Madison’s chronic illness flares, holding her back once again from being a normal teenager. And Julia’s fantasy-themed role play gets her locked in a closet. Alternating between each character’s perspective and their ridiculous group chat, The Night When No One Had Sex finds a group of friends navigating the tenuous transition into adulthood and embracing the uncertainty of life after high school

Book Links

Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Book Depository ~ Indigo ~IndieBound

Review

Thoughts and Themes: As this book has four different point of views as well as four different couples, I will review each of those storylines separately and then review the book as a whole.

Zoe and Morgan

Zoe and Morgan have been together for a while now and are the only two of the group that have already had sex so this night should be no big difference to them. I really liked how this night goes for both of them and how they are both forced to confront their fears about the future. I like how they not only are forced to confront those fears but how they do this all together and help each other through those fears.

Julia and Kevin

These two made me laugh throughout this whole book and I loved reading their parts because of how funny it was. I loved how comfortable these two are with each other and how much they clearly love each other. I loved how all of this was Julia’s plan but nothing goes according to what she has planned.

Madison and Jake

As much as I wasn’t invested in this relationship as much as the rest of them, I still really liked seeing how things played out for them. I liked seeing the way that Madison navigates her relationship with Jake and what her needs are. I thought it was great that we got to see everyone telling Madison what she should want and what her needs are but she stands up against them because of what she wants.

Alex and Leah

This pairing was my favorite of the whole book and I loved how wholesome it all was. I liked seeing how Leah supports Alex through what is probably the scariest night of his life. I like that they don’t really know each other but spend this whole night learning about each other. I also like how we get to see Leah interacting with Alex’s family and love getting to see who these characters are when they are alone.

Overall

I loved the friendships between all of these characters and was laughing during the scenes that you get to see their interactions through the group text. I would’ve loved to see these characters interacting more with each other throughout the night.

I loved that this book was about fearing the unknown in so many different ways and the transition from being a teenager to being an adult. I remember being that age and then going to community college so I didn’t feel like a full adult yet until I left home a few years later. I remember trying to decide which college was the best choice for me and thinking about what leaving friends or friends leaving me meant for my future.

Characters: In this book you get introduced to four main characters, and their partners. I loved getting to learn more about each of the main characters as well as read about their relationships. I loved reading about the separate couples but also the relationships they had with the others in the group.

There were some moments in which some of the characters were frustrating me but then I reminded myself that these are teenagers and this was typical behavior for this age. I liked that this book has Sapphic representation as well as chronic illness representation (Lupus).

Writing Style: This book is told through four points of view in first person which I really enjoyed. I was a bit concerned that I would get confused between all of the points of view but they were all distinct enough that you are able to tell the difference between who is speaking. I liked that you got to see things from each of these perspectives because you got to be in the characters head but also follow along as they are figuring the night out.

Author Information

Kalena Miller grew up in College Station, TX with her mom, dad, and the most photographed hamster in history. After high school, she moved a thousand miles north to attend Carleton College, where she graduated summa cum laude with a BA in Religious Studies. After a brief stint working as a paraeducator in Seattle, Kalena decided she missed school too much, so she spent the next two years pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing at Hamline University.

Kalena currently lives in Hopkins, Minnesota with her husband, Kenny, and Toy Australian Shepherd, Toshley. She writes middle grade and young adult fiction and co-authors narrative nonfiction with her mom, Kathy Miller (check out her website here). She loves books that make her laugh and make her cry, preferably at the same time, and she firmly believes all quality novels should feature a cat.

Author Links

Website ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Goodreads~ Facebook

August 2021 TBR

Women and Other Monsters: Building a New Mythology by Jess Zimmerman

A fresh cultural analysis of female monsters from Greek mythology, and an invitation for all women to reclaim these stories as inspiration for a more wild, more “monstrous” version of feminism

The folklore that has shaped our dominant culture teems with frightening female creatures. In our language, in our stories (many written by men), we underline the idea that women who step out of bounds–who are angry or greedy or ambitious, who are overtly sexual or not sexy enough–aren’t just outside the norm. They’re unnatural. Monstrous. But maybe, the traits we’ve been told make us dangerous and undesirable are actually our greatest strengths.

Through fresh analysis of 11 female monsters, including Medusa, the Harpies, the Furies, and the Sphinx, Jess Zimmerman takes us on an illuminating feminist journey through mythology. She guides women (and others) to reexamine their relationships with traits like hunger, anger, ugliness, and ambition, teaching readers to embrace a new image of the female hero: one that looks a lot like a monster, with the agency and power to match.

Like Other Girls by Britta Lundin 

“What if I played football?” I ask. As soon as it’s out of my mouth, I feel stupid. Even suggesting it feels like I’ve overstepped some kind of invisible line we’ve all agreed not to discuss. We don’t talk about how Mara is different from other girls. We don’t talk about how Mara is gay but no one says so. But when I do stuff like this, I worry it gets harder for us all to ignore what’s right in front of us. I direct my gaze to Quinn. “What do you think?”
“I think it’s frickin’ genius,” he says.

After getting kicked off the basketball team for a fight that was absolutely totally not her fault (okay maybe a little her fault), Mara is dying to find a new sport to play to prove to her coach that she can be a team player. A lifelong football fan, Mara decides to hit the gridiron with her brother, Noah, and best friend, Quinn-and she turns out to be a natural. But joining the team sets off a chain of events in her small Oregon town-and within her family-that she never could have predicted.

Inspired by what they see as Mara’s political statement, four other girls join the team. Now Mara’s lumped in as one of the girls-one of the girls who can’t throw, can’t kick, and doesn’t know a fullback from a linebacker. Complicating matters is the fact that Valentina, Mara’s crush, is one of the new players, as is Carly, Mara’s nemesis-the girl Mara fought with when she was kicked off the basketball team. What results is a coming-of-age story that is at once tear-jerking and funny, thought-provoking and real, as Mara’s preconceived notions about gender, sports, sexuality, and friendship are turned upside down.

Britta Lundin’s sophomore novel will give readers all the feels, and make them stand up and cheer. 

Often, women try to avoid the feeling of monstrousness, of being grotesquely alien, by tamping down those qualities that we’re told fall outside the bounds of natural femininity. But monsters also get to do what other female characters–damsels, love interests, and even most heroines–do not. Monsters get to be complete, unrestrained, and larger than life. Today, women are becoming increasingly aware of the ways rules and socially constructed expectations have diminished us. After seeing where compliance gets us–harassed, shut out, and ruled by predators–women have never been more ready to become repellent, fearsome, and ravenous.

The Other Side of the Sky (The Other Side of the Sky #1) by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner 

New York Times bestselling author duo Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner have crafted a gripping tale of magic and logic, fate and choice, and a deadly love. Perfect for fans of Laini Taylor and Brandon Sanderson.

Prince North’s home is in the sky, in a gleaming city held aloft by intricate engines, powered by technology. Nimh is the living goddess of her people on the Surface, responsible for providing answers, direction—hope.

North’s and Nimh’s lives are entwined—though their hearts can never be. Linked by a terrifying prophecy and caught between duty and fate, they must choose between saving their people or succumbing to the bond that is forbidden between them.

How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland 

The Hating Game meets I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter in this irresistible romance starring a Mexican American teen who discovers love and profound truths about the universe when she spends her summer on a road trip across the country.

When her twin sister reaches social media stardom, Moon Fuentez accepts her fate as the ugly, unwanted sister hidden in the background, destined to be nothing more than her sister’s camerawoman. But this summer, Moon also takes a job as the “merch girl” on a tour bus full of beautiful influencers and her fate begins to shift in the best way possible.

Most notable is her bunkmate and new nemesis, Santiago Phillips, who is grumpy, combative, and also the hottest guy Moon has ever seen.

Moon is certain she hates Santiago and that he hates her back. But as chance and destiny (and maybe, probably, close proximity) bring the two of them in each other’s perpetual paths, Moon starts to wonder if that’s really true. She even starts to question her destiny as the unnoticed, unloved wallflower she always thought she was.

Could this summer change Moon’s life as she knows it?

Both Sides Now by Peyton Thomas 

Gilmore Girls meets Red, White and Royal Blue in this witty and warm-hearted novel about a trans teen finding his place in the world.

There’s only one thing standing between Finch Kelly and a full-blown case of high school senioritis: the National Speech & Debate Tournament. Taking home the gold would not only be the pinnacle of Finch’s debating career, but the perfect way to launch himself into his next chapter: college in Washington, D.C. and a history-making career as the first trans congressman. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, for starters, Finch could develop a teeny tiny crush on his very attractive, very taken, and very gay debate partner, Jonah. Never mind that Finch has never considered whether he’s interested in more than just girls.

And that dream of college in DC? Finch hasn’t exactly been accepted anywhere yet, let alone received the full-ride scholarship he’ll need to make this dream a reality.

Worst of all, though, is this year’s topic for Nationals: transgender rights. If he wants to cinch the gold, and get into college, Finch might have to argue against his own humanity.

People say there are two sides to every argument. But, as Finch is about to discover, some things–like who you are and who you love–are not up for debate.

Don’t Forget Us Here: Lost and Found at Guantanamo by Mansoor Adayfi

This moving, eye-opening memoir of an innocent man detained at Guantánamo Bay for fifteen years tells a story of humanity in the unlikeliest of places and an unprecedented look at life at Guantánamo.

At the age of 18, Mansoor Adayfi left his home in Yemen for a cultural mission to Afghanistan. He never returned. Kidnapped by warlords and then sold to the US after 9/11, he was disappeared to Guantánamo Bay, where he spent the next 14 years as Detainee #441.

Don’t Forget Us Here tells two coming-of-age stories in parallel: a makeshift island outpost becoming the world’s most notorious prison and an innocent young man emerging from its darkness. Arriving as a stubborn teenager, Mansoor survived the camp’s infamous interrogation program and became a feared and hardened resistance fighter leading prison riots and hunger strikes. With time though, he grew into the man nicknamed “Smiley Troublemaker”: a student, writer, advocate, and historian. While at Guantánamo, he wrote a series of manuscripts he sent as letters to his attorneys, which he then transformed into this vital chronicle, in collaboration with award-winning writer Antonio Aiello. With unexpected warmth and empathy, Mansoor unwinds a narrative of fighting for hope and survival in unimaginable circumstances, illuminating the limitlessness of the human spirit. And through his own story, he also tells Guantánamo’s story, offering an unprecedented window into one of the most secretive places on earth and the people—detainees and guards alike—who lived there with him. Twenty years after 9/11, Guantánamo remains open, and at a moment of due reckoning, Mansoor Adayfi helps us understand what actually happened there—both the horror and the beauty—a stunning record of an experience we cannot afford to forget.

Cazadora (Wolves of No World #2) by Romina Garber, Romina Russell

In Cazadora, the follow-up to Lobizona, Romina Garber continues to weave Argentine folklore and real-world issues into a haunting, fantastical, and romantic story that will reunite readers with Manu and her friends as they continue to fight for a better future.\

Living Beyond Borders: Stories About Growing Up Mexican in America by Margarita Longoria 

Twenty stand-alone short stories, essays, poems, and more from celebrated and award-winning authors make up this YA anthology that explores the Mexican American experience. With works by Francisco X. Stork, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, David Bowles, Rubén Degollado, e.E. Charlton-Trujillo, Diana López, Xavier Garza, Trinidad Gonzales, Alex Temblador, Aida Salazar, Lupe Ruiz-Flores, Sylvia Sanchez Garza, Dominic Carrillo, Angela Cervantes, Carolyn Dee Flores, René Saldaña Jr., Laura Perez, Justine Narro, Daniel García Ordáz, and Anna Meriano.

In this mixed-media collection of short stories, personal essays, poetry, and comics, this celebrated group of authors share the borders they have crossed, the struggles they have pushed through, and the two cultures they continue to navigate as Mexican American. Living Beyond Borders is at once an eye-opening, heart-wrenching, and hopeful love letter from the Mexican American community to today’s young readers.

The Mitchells VS The Machines (2021) Movie Review

Movie Description

Streaming on: Netflix

Length: 1 hour and 53 minutes

Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy

Directors: Michael Rianda andJeff Rowe

Writers: Michael Rianda, Jeff Rowe, and Alex Hirsch(story consultant)

Stars: Abbi Jacobson(voice)Danny McBride(voice) Maya Rudolph(voice)

A quirky, dysfunctional family’s road trip is upended when they find themselves in the middle of the robot apocalypse and suddenly become humanity’s unlikeliest last hope.

The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass Book Review

Author Information

Ryan Douglass was born and raised in Atlanta, where he currently resides, cooking pasta and playing records. He enjoys wood wick candles, falling asleep on airplanes, and advocating for stronger media representation for queer Black people.

Book Description

Get Out meets Danielle Vega in this YA horror where survival is not a guarantee.

Jake Livingston is one of the only Black kids at St. Clair Prep, one of the others being his infinitely more popular older brother. It’s hard enough fitting in but to make matters worse and definitely more complicated, Jake can see the dead. In fact he sees the dead around him all the time. Most are harmless. Stuck in their death loops as they relive their deaths over and over again, they don’t interact often with people. But then Jake meets Sawyer. A troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school last year before taking his own life. Now a powerful, vengeful ghost, he has plans for his afterlife–plans that include Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about ghosts and the rules to life itself go out the window as Sawyer begins haunting him and bodies turn up in his neighborhood. High school soon becomes a survival game–one Jake is not sure he’s going to win.

Review

Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Random House for the advanced reader’s copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Thoughts and Themes: I had only seen negative reviews on this book so I went into this one suspecting bad and I wish I had’t. I actually really enjoyed this book and the multiple things that were happening in the story. I usually don’t like for there to be many side plot lines because I worry that they will be left unresolved but I liked the side things happening in this story. I felt that the side things happening helped move the story forward and also allowed you to learn about the characters.

I liked how this book brought up the intersection of being Black and Gay and how that was very different than being just one or the other. I thought this was a important piece that was brought up. I can’t speak on the intersection of holding both of those identities so I suggest that you all read own voices reviews as well.

Something else that I enjoyed about this book was that there were moments in which I felt the characters were coming off the screen. I loved the scenes in which there are supernatural elements involved since I felt these features brought the book to life. It was like this book was a ghost in my own living room.

Characters: In this book you get introduced to quite a few characters through their interactions with Jake and through the journal entries that are provided from Sawyer. I liked the way that we get to meet the people who were in Sawyer’s life and get to understand Sawyer through the journal entries and not just his haunting of Jake.

Something that I really enjoyed about this book is that both Sawyer and Jake are gay males. I thought it was great to see how that identity played into their daily lives and also their interactions with each other. I thought that them both being gay added depth to the story and added more to the reason Sawyer was haunting Jake. I felt that this fact made Sawyer feel like he could relate with Jake, and slowly it felt like Jake was able to relate with Sawyer.

I also really enjoyed the brief romance that we got through this book between Jake and Allister. While the romance wasn’t front and center in this story, I liked the glimpses that we get of their relationship and how it develops.

Writing Style: This story is written in first person point of view through Jake’s perspective and it also includes some of the entries from Sawyer’s journal. I like that this book goes back and forth between Jake’s life and Sawyer’s journal entries. I liked getting to know who Sawyer was prior to the shooting and try to see why that event occurred. I also thought it was great to see that this journal was being read by Jake and it was informing him of why this ghost was now haunting him.

Impacted by Benji Carr Book Review

Author Information

As a child growing up in the South with cerebral palsy, Benji Carr developed an eye for the bizarre and quirky, which provided all of the stories he told his friends and family with a bit of flavor. Working as a journalist, storyteller and playwright, his work – whether the stories be personal tales of struggle and survival or fiction about cannibal lunch ladies, puppet romances, drag queen funerals, and perverted killer circus clowns – has been featured in The Guardian, ArtsATL and Pembroke Magazine. Onstage, his pieces have been presented at the Center for Puppetry Arts, Alliance Theatre, and as part of the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival in Manhattan. He lives in Atlanta and helps run the online literary magazine, Gutwrench Journal. Impacted is his first novel.

Book Description

With every trip he makes to the dentist, Wade’s pain only gets worse. His smile has faded. He’s clenching his jaw and grinding his teeth more, not because of bad oral hygiene or any mishaps in orthodontics. Wade’s teeth don’t need straightening out, but the rest of his life could use that kind of adjustment. Wade has fallen in love with handsome Dr. Emmett, and their office visits in the afternoon have become decidedly more personal than professional. And poor Wade is sure his girlfriend Jessa would punch him in the mouth if she found out.

After all, Jessa did just abandon her church and her family to be with him. And she did just have Wade’s baby. So their relationship has already caused enough gossip in the small Georgia town of Waverly.

When Wade tries to end the affair, the breakup takes a brutal turn, leaving Wade in a state of panic. His life is under threat. His secrets could be exposed, and his family may fall apart before he realizes what kind of person he wants to be.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: It took me a while to really get into this one and I made the mistake of looking at other people’s reviews in the middle of reading. I really didn’t see the humor in the story even if it was supposed to be dark humor. That being said, I did still enjoy the story that was told in this book.

I was a bit worried that the center would focus more on the relationship between Dr. Emett and Wade and I really didn’t want that. I was glad that we get to see more of Wade’s life with Jessa, Lydie, and his mom. I thought this was a good coming of age story as Wade figures out who he is and tries to cope with the mess he made, and then deal with being told he was abused.

Characters: In this book you get introduced to quite a few characters that all have different relationships with Wade. I really liked getting to know each of the characters that we meet and getting to see how their story comes together around Wade. There were some characters like the Reverand and Jessa which I was frustrated by and could’ve done with less of them.

I liked getting to see how much more of a mess Wade’s life gets with more people being introduced into the story. I thought it was great to see how these people play into his life and how they help him make sense of the things that have happened to him.

Writing Style: This story is told in third person with an knowing narrator as you read the story through jumping from one character to another. At first I really didn’t like that this book was going back and forth between characters and wished that we got more of Wade. As the book progressed, I understood the need to show us what was going on with the other characters to really tie them together and tie the loose pieces together.

Just Pretend by Tori Sharp Book Tour Post

I am so excited to get a chance to be a part of this book tour hosted by TBRandBeyondTours . Make sure you check out the rest of the posts that are a part of this tour by looking at the schedule for the tour found here. 

Author Information

Tori Sharp is a Seattle-based author-illustrator and swing and blues dancer with a BFA in sequential art from SCAD. You can find her online at http://www.noveltori.com and on Twitter @noveltori. Just Pretend is her debut graphic novel.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Book Description

Genre: Middle Grade Graphic Novel
Publishing date: May 18th, 2021

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Synopsis:

Fans of Real Friends and Be Prepared will love this energetic, affecting graphic memoir, in which a young girl uses her active imagination to navigate middle school as well as the fallout from her parents’ divorce. 

Tori has never lived in just one world.

Since her parents’ divorce, she’s lived in both her mom’s house and her dad’s new apartment. And in both places, no matter how hard she tries, her family still treats her like a little kid. Then there’s school, where friendships old and new are starting to feel more and more out of her hands.

Thankfully, she has books-and writing. And now the stories she makes up in her head just might save her when everything else around her—friendships, school, family—is falling apart.

Author Tori Sharp takes us with her on a journey through the many commonplace but complex issues of fractured families, as well as the beautiful fantasy narrative that helps her cope, gorgeously illustrated and full of magic, fairies, witches and lost and found friendships. 

Review

When I pick up graphic novels I have realized that I tend to pick up middle grade ones as the art style is cute and colorful. This one is great for younger readers who are in grades 5-8, and I think its a good one for adults to read as well. My review for this one will look a bit different since it is a graphic novel so there is different things to talk about.

There were so many things in the book that reminded me of being that age and just kind of dealing with the many adjustments that were happening. I like that the story wasn’t really linear and it was all over the place because it was very much like a 12 year old’s mind. I think that the characters were quite realistic, and the way the siblings acted with each other was fun to read. I liked how the siblings didn’t really get along but then there were also moments in which the sister was supporting Tori.

Something else that I really enjoyed about this book was the ending when the author shared some pieces about herself with us. I liked that we got to learn about the process in writing this story and also how the book is a lot of the memories that she has.

In this book there are several characters that are introduced to you as Tori interacts with them. You really get to know Tori’s family and her best friend through this book which was something that I enjoyed. I liked how real her parents were and how we got to see how their separation affected each of the children.

I really liked the art style of this story and liked the drastic change in reading the book and then going to the story that Tori was writing through this time. I really liked how this book uses writing as an escape from reality. I thought that was very real for a lot of people but especially for that age range. It reminded me of how much I used to write in middle school and early high school just to escape what was currently happening.