Serendipity Ten Romantic Tropes Transformed Book Review

Book Description

Love is in the air in this is a collection of stories inspired by romantic tropes and edited by #1 New York Times-bestselling author Marissa Meyer.

The secret admirer.
The fake relationship.
The matchmaker.


From stories of first love, unrequited love, love that surprises, love that’s been there all along, ten of the brightest and award-winning authors writing YA have taken on some of your favorite romantic tropes, embracing them and turning them on their heads. Readers will swoon for this collection of stories that celebrate love at its most humorous, inclusive, heart-expanding, and serendipitous.

Contributors include Elise Bryant, Elizabeth Eulberg, Leah Johnson, Anna-Marie McLemore, Marissa Meyer, Sandhya Menon, Julie Murphy, Caleb Roehrig, Sarah Winifred Searle, and Abigail Hing Wen. 

Review

Overall: I really liked the many narrators that are included throughout this audiobook as there was someone different reading each of the stories. The fact that a different narrator was used made it feel like these were all different stories as well as different characters. This is a great book for those looking for more diversity in romance stories in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality. I was so pleased to find that these stories had LGBTQ+ characters in them and their stories were happy stories where they also got to fall in love. I really enjoyed that these stories were not just all about romantic love but we also get to see love through friendships.

Bye Bye, Piper Berry by Julie Murphy

Trope: Fake Dating

I loved that this story gives us a fat protagonist who thinks that he isn’t deserving of love. I loved how his best friend points out how the reason someone wouldn’t be interested has nothing to do with his size but all to do with how he views himself and how he instantly assumes no one would be romantically interested in him. This was a cute story overall.

Anyone Else but You by Leah Johnson

Trope: Stranded Together

I really do love a good enemies-to-lovers story especially one that is set in academia so this one instantly got my attention. I liked that these two characters were so different from each other which caused the constant bickering.

The Idiom Algorithm by Abigail Hing Wen

Trope: Class Warfare

This story had so much in it that it would have done better as a full-length novel. I have read books that address the differences in class when being in a romantic relationship but they always end successfully for both parties. I was surprised to see this go differently and show the reality of classism for some people especially when their family gets involved.

Auld Acquaintance by Caleb Roehrig

Trope: The Best Friend Love Epiphany

This one I wasn’t too sold on and I kind of just had it playing in the background while not paying too much attention to it.

Shooting Stars by Marissa Meyer

Trope: One Bed

This was another one in which I wasn’t too sold on the love story. I love friends to lovers and a one-bed trope but this one passed through too many days for me to follow it. Due to me not being able to follow the story it really made it so that I wasn’t into the romance.

Keagan’s Heaven on Earth by Sarah Winifred Searle

This is told in storybook format and not included in the audiobook.

Zora in the Spotlight  by Elise Bryant

Trope: Grand Romantic Gesture

I really enjoyed this one but couldn’t find where the romance was supposed to be. I just liked that this one has our main character learning to let herself be loved and to love herself.

In a Blink of the Eye by Elizabeth Eulberg

Trope: Trapped in a Confined Space

This one was great because it was about romantic love but also friend love. I liked that we get to see our main character having had feelings for Tyler and get passed up for her best friend so she turns her feelings into hatred. I love seeing how she gets over that and they become friends because of how much Tyler loves his girlfriend and our main character loves her best friend.

Liberty by Anna-Marie McLemore

Trope: The Makeover

This was one of my favorites and not just because of the sapphic relationship but so much because of the main characters. I really enjoyed how this one points out how our main character feels like she doesn’t fit in because of her Latinx characteristics and then we see how Camilla doesn’t feel like she belongs because she is a Lesbian. It was great to see how their relationship develops over a short period of time and how that helps them learn to love themselves.

The Surprise Match by Sandhya Menon

Trope: Matchmaker

This one was just okay for me even if I felt bad for the character playing matchmaker as she puts everyone before her. This kind of tends to be a theme in a lot of these stories in which a friend is included.

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A Thousand Questions by Saadia Faruqi Book Review

Book Description

Set against the backdrop of Karachi, Pakistan, Saadia Faruqi’s middle grade novel tells the story of two girls navigating a summer of change and family upheaval.

Mimi is not thrilled to be spending her summer in Karachi, Pakistan, with grandparents she’s never met. Secretly, she wishes to find her long-absent father, and plans to write to him in her beautiful new journal.

The cook’s daughter, Sakina, still hasn’t told her parents that she’ll be accepted to school only if she can improve her English test score—but then, how could her family possibly afford to lose the money she earns working with her Abba in a rich family’s kitchen?

Although the girls seem totally incompatible at first, as the summer goes on, Sakina and Mimi realize that they have plenty in common—and that they each need the other to get what they want most. 

Review

CW: Classism, Poverty, Chronic Illness (Diabetes), absent father, theft

Thoughts and Themes: I picked this one up at the library but it was taking a while for me to get into it so I tried it as an audiobook and really enjoyed it. I like that the audiobook has two distinct voices for each of the girls which makes it easier to tell them apart.

There was a lot that I really enjoyed about this book but my favorite are the scenes in which Sakina and Mimi are teaching each other about their culture. I love how Sakina is hesitant at first to allow Mimi into her world and how Mimi doesn’t understand why Sakina responded to her in a way she deemed rude. I liked when Sakina would ask Mimi things about America and Mimi got to explain what was familiar to her and felt like she belonged somewhere.

I also really enjoyed the moments in which Mimi realized how different Sakina’s life was from her and the different expectations that were put on each of them. I also like that both of the girls are keeping things from their families and they trust each other with this information. It was nice getting to see them talk each other through things that they were struggling with.

Characters: This book centers around our two main characters, Sakina and Mimi, and through them you get to meet several other characters in this book. You get to meet both of their families as well as some other people they interact with while they are both navigating Pakistan.

I really liked getting to know both of our main characters and liked reading as their friendship develops. I thought it was great that at first they both needed something from each other which is why they were speaking to each other but that develops into more. I thought it was great that Mimi felt like she could open up to Sakina and share her feelings with her.

I also do enjoy getting to know each of the girls apart from each other and getting to see them act their age when they are with each other. There are times in which the girls are interacting with adults that you forget that they are still kids because they have been forced to grow up quickly because of the struggles their families are going through. I liked getting to see them react like children though and get to see them allow each other feelings that were messy and complicated.

Writing Style: This book is told in the first person through the dual perspectives of Sakina and Mimi. Sakina is a girl who works for Mimi’s mother’s family in Pakistan and lives in poverty, and Mimi is an American girl who is visiting her rich grandparents in Pakistan. I really enjoyed getting the chance to see this story unfold through both of their perspectives because when you first start reading you think that they are so different from each other and come from two different worlds. It isn’t until you keep reading and get to see them interact that you realize that they have some things in common.

Author Information

Saadia Faruqi is a Pakistani American author, essayist and interfaith activist. She writes the children’s early reader series “Yasmin” published by Capstone and other books for children, including middle grade novels “A Place At The Table” (HMH/Clarion 2020) co-written with Laura Shovan, and “A Thousand Questions” (Harper Collins 2020). She has also written “Brick Walls: Tales of Hope & Courage from Pakistan” a short story collection for adults and teens. Saadia is editor-in-chief of Blue Minaret, a magazine for Muslim art, poetry and prose, and was featured in Oprah Magazine in 2017 as a woman making a difference in her community. She resides in Houston, TX with her husband and children.

Pussypedia by Zoe Mendelson and María Conejo (Illustrator) Book Review

Book Description

Written by the creators of the popular website, this rigorously fact-checked, accessible, and fully illustrated guide is essential for anyone with a pussy.

If the clitoris and penis are the same size on average, why is the word “small” in the definition of clitoris but strangely missing from the definition of penis? Sex probably doesn’t cause yeast infections? But racism probably does cause BV? Why is masturbating so awesome? How hairy are butt cracks . . . generally? Why is labiaplasty on a global astronomical rise? Does egg freezing really work? Should I stick an egg-shaped rock up there or nah?

There is still a shocking lack of accurate, accessible information about pussies and many esteemed medical sources seem to contradict each other. Pussypedia solves that with extensive reviews of peer-reviewed science that address old myths, confusing inconsistencies, and the influence of gender narratives on scientific research––always in simple, joyful language.  

Through over 30 chapters, Pussypedia not only gives the reader information, but teaches them how to read science, how to consider information in its context, and how to accept what we don’t know rather than search for conclusions. It also weaves in personal anecdotes from the authors and their friends––sometimes funny, sometimes sad, often cringe-worthy, and always extremely personal––to do away with shame and encourage curiosity, exploration, and agency.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: When this book first arrived at my doorstep I was a little bit worried about reading it. I decided to put a hold for the audiobook with the library so I could listen to it and follow along with the physical book. I’m really glad that I did this because I think this is a book everyone should read at least once regardless of if you own a Pussy or not.

From the intro of this book I was really pleased with the gender neutral language that they used and how they pointed out understanding that there wasn’t a gender/sex binary. I like how this book addresses Trans and Non-binary people rather than keeping them separate. I thought it was great that they brought up the disparities that Trans people face in the medical world and how they continue to say that there is more information needed regarding this population.

Writing Style: This book is separated into different sections that discuss different aspects of a pussy. In each of these sections there are different art pieces that are included which I think really add a lot to the book. I listened to it on audio and followed along with the physical book so that I could see the images and also see how things were separated within each chapter.

I really liked how the author of the book doesn’t pretend to know everything about each of the topics that are discussed in this book. I liked that the author interviewed other people if it was a topic that she felt someone else would know more than her. I also liked that other books and studies were referenced throughout the book so that facts could be double checked or someone could go to those resources to learn more.

Author Information

Journalist, information designer, content strategist. Her writing has appeared in Fast Company, WIRED, Hyperallergic, Slate, Next City, the LA Times. Her projects have been covered by The New York Times en Espanol, New York Magazine, CityLab, PBS, Univision, and Buzzfeed. Previous projects include official emojis for Mexico City, a data narrative about drones, and a civic-engagement platform for nihilist millennials. Mendelson studied at Barnard College in New York City.

You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao Book Review

Book Description

Seventeen-year-old Julie has her future all planned out—move out of her small town with her boyfriend Sam, attend college in the city, spend a summer in Japan. But then Sam dies. And everything changes.

Heartbroken, Julie skips his funeral, throws out his things, and tries everything to forget him and the tragic way he died. But a message Sam left behind in her yearbook forces back memories. Desperate to hear his voice one more time, Julie calls Sam’s cellphone just to listen to his voicemail.

And Sam picks up the phone.

In a miraculous turn of events, Julie’s been given a second chance at goodbye. The connection is temporary. But hearing Sam’s voice makes her fall for him all over again, and with each call it becomes harder to let him go. However, keeping her otherworldly calls with Sam a secret isn’t easy, especially when Julie witnesses the suffering Sam’s family is going through. Unable to stand by the sidelines and watch their shared loved ones in pain, Julie is torn between spilling the truth about her calls with Sam and risking their connection and losing him forever.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I kept starting this one and putting it down because of all the hype around it on booktok. I was also kind of worried that this one would make me cry and was waiting to get it on audiobook. I’m glad that I waited for this one on audio because I think it adds a whole other layer to the story.

Throughout this book something that I was always wondering was if all of this was in Julie’s head. I was wondering if any of this was really happening or if it was a dream, even after Julie shares with Mika about Sam, I still wondered if it was real.

The ending of this story just shattered my heart but I can’t tell you all about that or else it would ruin this whole story. It just closed really nicely and just was like a warm hug after putting you through the heartbreak of this whole book.

Characters: I loved each of the characters in this book as it is hard not to. You get to know our main character, Julie throughout the book as well as some of her friends through their interactions with her. You also get to briefly know Sam through Julie’s interactions with him.

I liked how you got to see each of these characters deal with grief in their own ways. I thought it was great to see how grief shows itself differently for everyone. I also loved the way that we got to see Sam grieve the loss of his own life. I thought this was really important to the story because it allows all the other characters to mourn his life alongside him.

Writing Style: This story is told in first person through the perspective of Julia. I thought it was great to hear everything from her perspective because its like you are escaping into a world that Sam made just for Julie.

Author Information

Dustin Thao is a Vietnamese American writer based in New York City. He graduated from Amherst College with a B.A. in Political Science, and is currently in a PhD program at Northwestern University. He writes contemporary fiction, and his debut novel You’ve Reached Sam will be published November 2021 with Wednesday Books.

On The Hook Book Review

Book Description

“You know I’m coming. You’re dead already.”

Hector has always minded his own business, working hard to make his way to a better life someday. He’s the chess team champion, helps the family with his job at the grocery, and teaches his little sister to shoot hoops overhand.

Until Joey singles him out. Joey, whose older brother, Chavo, is head of the Discípulos gang, tells Hector that he’s going to kill him: maybe not today, or tomorrow, but someday. And Hector, frozen with fear, does nothing. From that day forward, Hector’s death is hanging over his head every time he leaves the house. He tries to fade into the shadows — to drop off Joey’s radar — to become no one.

But when a fight between Chavo and Hector’s brother Fili escalates, Hector is left with no choice but to take a stand.

The violent confrontation will take Hector places he never expected, including a reform school where he has to live side-by-side with his enemy, Joey. It’s up to Hector to choose whether he’s going to lose himself to revenge or get back to the hard work of living.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: This isn’t the type of book that I would normally pick up just based on the cover of it. I’m really glad that I got sent this book and decided to listen to it on audio because I really did enjoy this book. This book was heavy in everything that it covered but it was also really a great story.

I really enjoyed the pacing of this book as the beginning of it set up the background for the story and then suddenly there is a shift and the story changes not just in theme but also in the mood. I think this is a great book for middle school students and its great to start many different and difficult conversations.

Something else that I really enjoyed in this book was the villain because there is more than one villain in this book. There is obviously the villain that we all know in Joey but then there is the villain that Hector becomes to himself. In his ploy for revenge, Hector becomes a villain to himself and gets trapped lost in his feelings of anger and his need for revenge.

Something else that I really enjoyed about this book is the way that it shows how hard it is for BIPOC to get away from violence regardless of the life they lead. I thought it was great that we see how everyone constantly points out how Hector is a good student and a good son. I thought them constantly pointing this out but having others ignore it and even Hector forget this about himself added to the story and the pain that you feel for this family. This book shows how sometimes we have false perceptions of youth who end up incarcerated or in reform schools.

Characters: In this book you get introduced to several characters through their interactions with Hector. You get to meet some of Hector’s friends and family briefly, and then you get to meet Joey, and some of the people at Furmon Academy.

I really liked the different interactions that Hector has at Furmon Academy with all the different people that he gets to meet. I liked that we got to see a different side to hector through his time there and how different people change the course of actions that he takes. I thought it was great to see how the older generation had an impact on him and also the impact that this place was having on Joey.

Writing Style: This story is told in third person with the focus being on Hector. I liked that the narrator was telling us what was happening instead of hearing everything first hand from Hector. I think having the narrator see and tell all was a good way for this book to be told because we get to feel for each of the characters and not just Hector. I also think that this method allows the reader to take a step back though which sometimes isn’t always a good thing. I think its important that while this book is fictional, we remember that this is the life of many BIPOC youth.

Author Information

Francisco X. Stork was born in Mexico. He moved to El Paso Texas with his adoptive father and mother when he was nine. He attended Spring Hill College, Harvard University and Columbia Law School. He worked as an attorney for thirty-three years before retiring in 2015. He is married and has two grown children and four beautiful grandkids. He loves to discover new books and authors. His favorite books are those where the author’s soul touches his. He does not read reviews to his books so you should feel free to write whatever you want. Also, he is genuinely interested in learning about books and life from his friends on this site. He would love it if you find his books worthy to be read, but that’s not why he wants to be your friend.

Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now by Dana L. Davis

Book Description

I’ve got seven days to come clean to my new dad. Seven days to tell the truth…

For sixteen-year-old Tiffany Sly, life hasn’t been safe or normal for a while. Losing her mom to cancer has her a little bit traumatized and now she has to leave her hometown of Chicago to live with the biological dad she’s never known.

Anthony Stone is a rich man with four other daughters—and rules for every second of the day. Tiffany tries to make the best of things, but she doesn’t fit into her new luxurious, but super-strict, home—or get along with her standoffish sister London. The only thing that makes her new life even remotely bearable is the strange boy across the street. Marcus McKinney has had his own experiences with death, and the unexpected friendship that blossoms between them is the only thing that makes her feel grounded.

But Tiffany has a secret. Another man claims he’s Tiffany’s real dad—and she only has seven days before he shows up to demand a paternity test and the truth comes out. With her life about to fall apart all over again, Tiffany finds herself discovering unexpected truths about her father, her mother and herself, and realizing that maybe family is in the bonds you make—and that life means sometimes taking risks. 

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I’ve had this book sitting on my shelves for a bit so I was glad to finally get a chance to read it. I winded up listening to this one on audio and following along with the physical copy.

I really liked the narrator of this story as they were easy to listen to and there were different tones and voices for each of the characters. I found that the way this book was read really allowed you to get lost in this story.

Something else that I really enjoyed about this story is that it is one of few books that I have read that have a character that deals with anxiety. I liked the way that anxiety is portrayed in this story and how we not only see Tiffany’s response to it but we see other’s responses as well. I like that we get to see multiple responses to Tiffany being on medication for her anxiety and how she takes in each of those responses.

Characters: In this book you get introduced to several characters through their interactions with Tiffany. I liked listening as Tiffany develops different relationships with her father, step-mother, new sisters, and the students in her classes. I really liked seeing how different her new life was from the one she used to have and how she was adjusting to that.

I liked getting to see how Tiffany’s relationship with her dad changes over time and I liked seeing how that relationships shifts when someone else might be her father. I thought the character development that we see with the dad was great because you get to see who he was before Tiffany and how Tiffany entering his life has changed him for the better.

I also liked seeing the friendship between Marcus and Tiffany develop. I liked trying to figure out if there was a reason why her dad didn’t want her hanging out with the neighbors beyond the surface reasons that Tiffany had guessed at.

Writing Style: This story is told in first person through Tiffany’s perspective which I really enjoyed. I thought it was great that we were getting this story through her view as if an adult were telling the story it would be very different. I liked the way that Tiffany processed the things that were happening in her life and how she responded to each event.

Author Information

Dana L. Davis is a novelist and Hollywood actress with previous series regular roles as: Carmen Phillips on TNT’s Franklin and Bash and modern day mimic Monica Dawson on NBC’s cult series Heroes.

She currently stars on the animated series Star Vs. the Forces of Evil,Craig of the Creek, and She-Ra. Dana has guest-starred in over 20 prestigious primetime series, including 911,ScorpionCode Black, Grey’s Anatomy, and CSI. She made her film debut in Coach Carter with Samuel Jackson.

In addition to her work on screen, Dana has become a motivational speaker for teens. Her stirring assemblies empower and encourage youth, helping them to redefine what it means to win and lose.

Extremely versatile, Dana is a screenwriter and a trained Violist with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music from Loyola Marymount University. She volunteers for nonprofits like Empowering Lives International, an organization which provides training, resources, and encouragement to underprivileged East African children.

Dana also created her own nonprofit organization Culture For Kids, LA, an organization which gifts inner city children tickets and transportation to see performing arts shows around the Los Angeles area. 

Dana was raised in the Midwest and currently resides in Los Angeles with her 9-year-old daughter.

Dead Boy by Laurel Gale Book Review

Author Information

Laurel Gale writes books for children. Her middle grade novels include Dead Boy and Story Magic. She lives with her husband and their ferrets in Washington. In addition to writing, she enjoys hiking, playing board games, and reading. She loves animals and is easily distracted by squirrels. You can visit Laurel online at laurelgale.com or on Twitter at @laurel_gale.

Book Description

A darkly funny and literary debut novel about a dead boy named Crow who has a chance at friendship – and a chance at getting his life back

Just because you’re dead doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a life.

Crow Darlingson isn’t like other kids. He stinks. He’s got maggots. His body parts fall off at inopportune moments. (His mom always sews them back on, though.) And he hasn’t been able to sleep in years. Not since waking up from death.

But worse than the maggots is how lonely Crow feels. When Melody Plympton moves in next door, Crow can’t resist the chance to finally make a friend. With Melody around he may even have a shot at getting his life back from the mysterious wish-granting creature living in the park. But first there are tests to pass. And it will mean risking the only friend he’s had in years.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I found this book in the pile of books my cousins have and since it was the closest to me I started reading it. I was invested in the poor lonely main character from the first few pages so I rented the audiobook from the library.

This is a cute middle grade read that I think children ages 10+ would enjoy but its also a great story for adults to read. I really like how this book feels a lot like frankenweenie or monster house. I found that this book read like a middle grade horror story which isn’t too scary for children but includes a bit of the mystery that is fun to read.

Characters: Right from the start we feel bad for our main character because he’s dead but some how is still alive. I felt bad for him because his parents only want to protect him from everyone but he wants to get to live the life he has now been given. All Crow wants is the chance to make friends with other kids his age, and he gets that chance when he meets Melody.

Writing Style: This book is written in third person through the perspective of Crow. I really liked that the story was told through Crow’s perspective because it read like a middle schooler and you can feel his pain throughout the story. I also really liked how you could feel how lonely he felt through each scene and how he felt about his particular situation.

I listened to this one on audio and really enjoyed the narrator to the story. I liked how easy it was to listen to and follow along with. I liked that you could tell which character was the one speaking and how they each had a distinct tone.

Dash and Lily by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan Book Review

Author Information

Rachel grew up in the D.C. area and graduated from Barnard College with a B.A. in Political Science. She has written many YA novels, including three that she cowrote with her friend and colleague David Levithan. She lives and writes (when she’s not reading other people’s books, organizing her music library or looking for the best cappuccino) in New York City. 

David Levithan (born 1972) is an American children’s book editor and award-winning author. He published his first YA book, Boy Meets Boy, in 2003. Levithan is also the founding editor of PUSH, a Young Adult imprint of Scholastic Press.

Book Description

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: So I had this book sitting on my shelves but decided not to read it since it didn’t look like something I would be interested in. I then watched the tv series and loved it so I decided to return back to the book. I decided to listen to it on audio and this book was so similar to the TV show that I loved it.

I really liked how close the television show was to this book. The book was such a cute and easy read that I could listen to this one more than once. I want to read more of the books in this series to see if the tv show continues with those or what direction it goes in.

Characters: In this book you get introduced to Dash and Lily who are our main characters, and you briefly get to meet other people who are in their lives. I liked each of the characters that you meet in this book and thought it was great to see the people in Lily’s life support her.

I liked reading all the different interactions that both Dash and Lily have with the people who hold the notebook. I really liked the moment that Dash meets Lily’s aunt since that was really funny. There are so many moments in this book that are filled with humor and also moments that are just cute.

Writing Style: The story is told in two point of views, Dash and Lily, and in first person. I really enjoy how the story goes back and forth between these two characters so you can read as they chase one another. I liked reading as these two chase each other and reading both of their perspectives on what is happening.

Sasha Masha by Agnes Borinsky Book Review

Author Information

Agnes Borinsky is a writer from Baltimore, now living in Los Angeles. She mostly writes

essays and plays, and has collaborated on all sorts of projects in basements, backyards, gardens, circus tents, classrooms, bars, and theaters. Sasha Masha is her first novel.

Book Description

Alex feels like he is in the wrong body. His skin feels strange against his bones. And then comes Tracy, who thinks he’s adorably awkward, who wants to kiss him, who makes him feel like a Real Boy. But it is not quite enough. Something is missing.

As Alex grapples with his identity, he finds himself trying on dresses and swiping on lipstick in the quiet of his bedroom. He meets Andre, a gay boy who is beautiful and unafraid to be who he is. Slowly, Alex begins to realize: maybe his name isn’t Alex at all. Maybe it’s Sasha Masha.

Review

Thank you to Libro.Fm for the advanced listening copy of this book so that I could review it. It took me a while to start this one because I wanted to follow along with the ebook but that was taking too long to get to me. I found that there is no need to follow along with this one as it is an easy listen to.

Thoughts and Themes: I listened to this book on audio and thought that it was a great book to listen to. This book is a coming of age story that focuses on gender identity and sexuality.

This book has a lot packed in to such a short book and it is mostly character driven rather than plot driven. I really liked how we get to see what Sasha Masha is thinking and how much of his figuring out who he is is done through internal dialogue.

What I really liked about this story is how unclear everything is for Sasha Masha, this makes the character read as a teenager which I find important in a coming of age story. I thought it was realistic to see his struggles as he thinks about being trans and how that would affect him and his relationships with his parents and friends.

The ending of this book felt unfinished and honestly I really liked that. I felt that the story was saying Sasha Masha’s journey is unfinished so the ending is open ended. I think its important to show that this journey can be ongoing and doesn’t have to end at any point in time.

Characters: Through this book you are introduced to several characters through their interactions with Sasha Masha. I really liked seeing that Sasha Masha has a supportive friend group through the whole story even if a few people struggle with coming to terms with who he is.

I liked that we get to see Sasha Masha dating Tracy and how that figures into him figuring out who he is. I thought that him figuring that out along with how that played into his relationship was an interesting aspect to add to this story.

Writing Style: This story is told in first person through Sasha Masha’s point of view and often through internal dialogue. I think its important that we are mostly inside of Sasha Masha’s head because it leaves us with the same confusion that he is going through.

April 2021 TBR

My reading list this month is a little bit ambitious but some of these I’m already halfway through so hopefully I can complete them this month. I’m also hoping to take a few days off work to read as a break for my birthday, you know before I start school again this fall.

The Forest of Stolen Girls by June Hur

After her father vanishes while investigating the disappearance of 13 young women, a teen returns to her secretive hometown to pick up the trail in this second YA historical mystery from the author of The Silence of Bones.

Hwani’s family has never been the same since she and her younger sister went missing and were later found unconscious in the forest, near a gruesome crime scene. The only thing they remember: Their captor wore a painted-white mask.

To escape the haunting memories of this incident, the family flees their hometown. Years later, Detective Min—Hwani’s father—learns that thirteen girls have recently disappeared under similar circumstances, and so he returns to their hometown to investigate… only to vanish as well.

Determined to find her father and solve the case that tore their family apart, Hwani returns home to pick up the trail. As she digs into the secrets of the small village—and reconnects with her now estranged sister—Hwani comes to realize that the answer lies within her own buried memories of what happened in the forest all those years ago. 

What’s Not to Love by Emily Wibberley , Austin Siegemund-Broka 

Since high school began, Alison Sanger and Ethan Molloy have competed on almost everything. AP classes, the school paper, community service, it never ends. If Alison could avoid Ethan until graduation, she would. Except, naturally, for two over-achieving seniors with their sights on valedictorian and Harvard, they share all the same classes and extracurriculars. So when their school’s principal assigns them the task of co-planning a previous class’s ten-year reunion, with the promise of a recommendation for Harvard if they do, Ethan and Alison are willing to endure one more activity together if it means beating the other out of the lead.

But with all this extra time spent in each other’s company, their rivalry begins to feel closer to friendship. And as tension between them builds, Alison fights the growing realization that the only thing she wants more than winning…is Ethan.

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko 

Nothing is more important than loyalty. But what if you’ve sworn to protect the one you were born to destroy?

Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood. That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong somewhere. But The Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn—but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself? 

Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders

A thrilling adventure set against an intergalactic war with international bestselling author Charlie Jane Anders at the helm in her YA debut—think Star Wars meets Doctor Who, and buckle your seatbelts.

Tina has always known her destiny is outside the norm—after all, she is the human clone of the most brilliant alien commander in all the galaxies (even if the rest of the world is still deciding whether aliens exist). But she is tired of waiting for her life to begin.

And then it does—and maybe Tina should have been more prepared. At least she has a crew around her that she can trust—and her best friend at her side. Now, they just have to save the world.

Better, Not Bitter: Living on Purpose in the Pursuit of Racial Justice by Yusef Salaam 

This inspirational memoir serves as a call to action from prison reform activist Yusef Salaam, of the Exonerated Five, that will inspire us all to turn our stories into tools for change in the pursuit of racial justice.

They didn’t know who they had.

So begins Yusef Salaam telling his story. No one’s life is the sum of the worst things that happened to them, and during Yusef Salaam’s seven years of wrongful incarceration as one of the Central Park Five, he grew from child to man, and gained a spiritual perspective on life. Yusef learned that we’re all “born on purpose, with a purpose.” Despite having confronted the racist heart of America while being “run over by the spiked wheels of injustice,” Yusef channeled his energy and pain into something positive, not just for himself but for other marginalized people and communities.

Better Not Bitter is the first time that one of the now Exonerated Five is telling his individual story, in his own words. Yusef writes his narrative: growing up Black in central Harlem in the ’80s, being raised by a strong, fierce mother and grandmother, his years of incarceration, his reentry, and exoneration. Yusef connects these stories to lessons and principles he learned that gave him the power to survive through the worst of life’s experiences. He inspires readers to accept their own path, to understand their own sense of purpose. With his intimate personal insights, Yusef unpacks the systems built and designed for profit and the oppression of Black and Brown people. He inspires readers to channel their fury into action, and through the spiritual, to turn that anger and trauma into a constructive force that lives alongside accountability and mobilizes change.

This memoir is an inspiring story that grew out of one of the gravest miscarriages of justice, one that not only speaks to a moment in time or the rage-filled present, but reflects a 400-year history of a nation’s inability to be held accountable for its sins. Yusef Salaam’s message is vital for our times, a motivating resource for enacting change. Better, Not Bitter has the power to soothe, inspire and transform. It is a galvanizing call to action.

The Half Orphan’s Handbook by Joan F. Smith 

It’s been three months since Lila lost her father to suicide. Since then, she’s learned to protect herself from pain by following two unbreakable rules:

1. The only people who can truly hurt you are the ones you love. Therefore, love no one.

2. Stay away from liars. Liars are the worst.

But when Lila’s mother sends her to a summer-long grief camp, it’s suddenly harder for Lila to follow these rules. Potential new friends and an unexpected crush threaten to drag her back into life for the first time since her dad’s death.

On top of everything, there’s more about what happened that Lila doesn’t know, and facing the truth about her family will be the hardest part of learning how a broken heart can love again.

Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi 

Jayne Baek is barely getting by. She shuffles through fashion school, saddled with a deadbeat boyfriend, clout-chasing friends, and a wretched eating disorder that she’s not fully ready to confront. But that’s New York City, right? At least she isn’t in Texas anymore, and is finally living in a city that feels right for her.

On the other hand, her sister June is dazzlingly rich with a high-flying finance job and a massive apartment. Unlike Jayne, June has never struggled a day in her life. Until she’s diagnosed with uterine cancer.

Suddenly, these estranged sisters who have nothing in common are living together. Because sisterly obligations are kind of important when one of you is dying.