Dani Jansen is a teacher and writer who lives in Montreal. She should probably be embarrassed to admit that she has performed as part of her school’s Glee Club for eight years. She should probably also be ashamed to tell people that she named her cats after punctuation symbols (Ampersand and Em-Dash, in case you’re curious).
Alison Green, desperate valedictorian-wannabe, agrees to produce her school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. That’s her first big mistake. The second is accidentally saying Yes to a date with her oldest friend, Jack, even though she’s crushing on Charlotte. Alison manages to stay positive, even when her best friend starts referring to the play as “Ye Olde Shakespearean Disaster.” Alison must cope with the misadventures that befall the play if she’s going to survive the year. She’ll also have to grapple with what it means to be “out” and what she might be willing to give up for love.
Pub Date: September 22, 2020
Two Finished Copies of The Year Shakespeare Ruined My Life. The giveaway ends on September 15th. Click here to enter.
Thank you to TBR and Beyond Tours for allowing me to be a part of this book tour, and thank you to Netgalley,and Second Story Press for the advanced reading copy so I could share my review with you all.
I was a bit worried about reading this one because of the focus on Shakespeare and knowing how much I am not a fan of him. I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed this book even if I’m unsure if this book resembles the Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night Dream.
Thoughts and Themes: I actually really enjoyed this book and liked the struggle that Alison has with being out but also being closeted. While she is out to her best friend and family, they are the only ones who know about this. I know one of the issues that people may have with this book is the lack of the use of the word lesbian but I felt that this is a choice that was made because of the main character.
I thought it was important that Alison never really referred to herself as a lesbian and just kept saying gay or referencing that she didn’t like men. I think that this really added to the complexity of her figuring out how to let others know and how her being unable to put the label on herself contributes to this.
Characters: In this book you get a range of characters and I thought that was great. I thought it was good to see that you had different races/ethnic groups represented through the different characters. I really like all of the characters that are introduced throughout the book and especially enjoy their interactions with each other. I liked the relationship that Alison has with her friends and how supportive they are of her in the thing that she enjoys.
Something else that I liked is the way that Alison has to deal with the mistakes that she makes with her friends and others. I like reading as she deals with this and grows as a person through these errors that she makes. I like how you get to see the complexity behind some of these characters anger towards Alison and how she doesn’t seem to always understand their anger.
Writing Style: This book is told in the perspective of Alison and you don’t really get to know anything from the others. I thought this was great because you get to see a lot of the things that are happening in her head as it is told in first person.
Aiden Thomas is a YA author with an MFA in Creative Writing. Originally from Oakland, California, they now make their home in Portland, OR. As a queer, trans, latinx, Aiden advocates strongly for diverse representation in all media. Aiden’s special talents include: quoting The Office, Harry Potter trivia, Jenga, finishing sentences with “is my FAVORITE”, and killing spiders. Aiden is notorious for not being able to guess the endings of books and movies, and organizes their bookshelves by color.
Their debut novel, CEMETERY BOYS, will be published June 9th, 2020.
Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.
When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.
However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie up some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.
Thank you to Hear Our Voices Book Tour for the opportunity to host the author interview on my page. I’m very excited to share with you all what I learned from the author and more reasons why you need to get this book now. Another big thank you to Aiden Thomas for the opportunity to get to know more about them and their debut novel.Well let’s not wait any longer and jump right into the Q & A portion of this interview.
For those who are meeting you for the first time what would you say are 3 “Good To Know” Facts About You?
I’m a Cancer sun, Leo rising! (I don’t actually know anything about astrology but whenever I tell folks they go, “that makes so much sense!” so I guess it’s important for getting to know me!)
I’m 5’11”! For some reason, people always expect me to be short but I’m actually pretty dang tall in person!
I’m totally obsessed with the anime Haikyuu!! and spend most of my time on Twitter looking at fanart.
What would you say are your 5 favorite books – and why?
“The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller because it has the most beautiful prose I have ever read!
“Labyrinth Lost” by Zoraida Cordova because that was the first time I saw my culture reflected in a book. It’s because of The Brooklyn Bruja series that I realized I could write a book like “Cemetery Boys!”
“When the Moon Was Ours” by Anna-Marie MeLemore because it was the first time I read a book with a trans character (and the book itself is so beautiful).
“The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins because the pacing and action is so good! I must’ve read that series close to a dozen times at this point.
“I Hear the Sunspot” by Yuki Fumino which is technically a manga series, BUT it holds a very special and important piece of my heart! It’s a gay romance and one of the main characters is deaf. It’s the first time I saw deaf/H.O.H. representation in a book and it’s done so well! I recommend it to literally everyone.
Would you say that any of those books/authors inspired you to become a writer? If so, how? If not, what did inspire you to become a writer? They’ve all inspired parts of my writing, but I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was in elementary school! I’ve always had really vivid dreams, especially nightmares, so when I was little as we had to do journaling for class, I’d write them down like a story. Then as I grew up, reading great books made me want to write great books, so that’s what led me down the path of pursuing it as a life passion!
Tell us a little bit about Cemetery Boys and your inspiration behind the story? “Cemetery Boys” is a contemporary paranormal fantasy about a trans boy named Yadriel who is trying to prove to his family he’s a brujo. He decides, in order to do that, he’s going to summon the spirit of his cousin, Miguel, who died under mysterious circumstances and release him to the afterlife. Unfortunately, he ends up summoning the spirit of Julian Diaz, the resident bad boy of his high school. The two have to work together to find out what happened to Yadriel’s cousin and what happened to Julian’s friends the night he was killed. As they go about trying to solve these mysteries, Yadriel ends up developing feelings for Julian and that complicates everything. The inspiration for the premise actually came from a writing prompt I saw while scrolling through Tumblr! It said, “What would you do if you summoned a ghost and you couldn’t get rid of it?” and instead of the creepy scenarios that other folks were coming up with, my mind immediately went to, “And what if he was CUTE??” I also really wanted to write a book with a trans main character where it was less about being trans, or figuring out his identity. I wanted it to be a fun adventure where the main character just so happened to be trans.
Your story is set in East Los Angeles and takes place around the Day of the Dead. Why did you choose that as the setting for your book? I was born and raised in California and I decided to have “Cemetery Boys” take place there because the city is really a central place where so many different Latinx communities come together. I wanted to reflect that in the brujx — how they all have this magical Mesoamerican lineage, but they also come from different Latinx countries and pieces of those cultures are celebrated and make up the brujx community. I chose everything to center around Dia de Muertos because it’s my favorite holiday, but also because it all revolves around death and the afterlife, which perfectly aligned with the premise!
What was something about Cemetery Boys that you struggled to write or come up with? I’d say the research part of writing “Cemetery Boys” was surprisingly challenging. The Latinx diaspora made it really difficult for me to have definitive research. I wanted to incorporate different Mesoamerican cultures — Aztec, Maya and Inca — to really establish that brujx were around before and during the establishment of these cultures, that they have an ancient magic. The problem is that, due to colonization, indigenous Mesoamerican traditions and mythos have been destroyed or erased. Physical remnants of our history were widely destroyed, so we have to rely on oral tradition and try to decipher the few artefacts we do have access to, most of which have been stolen from us and put into museums. I was surprised by how difficult it really was to find research, but, if nothing else, it did give me room to be creative and make my own mythos for my brujx. And, luckily, there’s no shortage of death gods in Mesoamerican myths!
What would you say was the most surprising thing that you learned while writing your novel? Honestly, learning the ropes of the publishing industry was a big crash course! I had no idea what publishing was like before I sold my first book to Swoon Reads/Macmillan. I didn’t even have a Twitter! So writing “Cemetery Boys” taught me a lot about what publishing is. I’m also constantly surprised by how wonderful and supportive the writing community has been.
What do you hope your readers take away from reading Cemetery Boys? I really hope readers will find connection and feel seen when they read “Cemetery Boys”. I wanted to create a story for readers to connect with Yadriel on universal truths that are basic to the human experience, things like struggling to fit in, feeling accepted for who you are, and being loved. A lot of queer teens experience their first sense of belonging or affirmation with queer bloggers, YouTubers, Tiktokers and, of course, characters in books — like Yadriel. Even if they can’t talk to them personally, seeing people with their identities, seeing themselves reflected in books, or internet stars telling them they’re valid gives them a sense of community and comfort. I really hope Yadriel can be that for some folks.
What is your next project? What have you been working on recently? Right now I’m kind of dabbling in a bunch of different stuff! My second book is already ready to be published so I’ve been taking time to explore my writing and different genres I’m interested in. I’ve been working on a trans romcom, as well as a Maya myth retelling, and I’ve also got a dark fantasy idea that has to do with kids cursed by Aztec death gods! I’m going to have a lot of fun figuring out what my next book will be!
What advice do you have for aspiring writers? FINISH YOUR FIRST DRAFT! I feel like writers always ask for advice when it comes to improving their story, but you have to get that rough draft down before you can make it better. The hardest part is finishing that manuscript, and you can query or get published until you have a completed draft to work on!
Check out the rest of the stops on this book tour here.
Summary: Jeremy Ivester is a transgender man. Thirty years ago, his parents welcomed him into the world as what they thought was their daughter. As a child, he preferred the toys and games our society views as masculine. He kept his hair short and wore boys’ clothing. They called him a tomboy. That’s what he called himself.
By high school, when he showed no interest in flirting, his parents thought he might be lesbian. At twenty, he wondered if he was asexual. At twenty-three, he surgically removed his breasts. A year later, he began taking the hormones that would lower his voice and give him a beard—and he announced his new name and pronouns.
Once a Girl, Always a Boy is Jeremy’s journey from childhood through coming out as transgender and eventually emerging as an advocate for the transgender community. This is not only Jeremy’s story but also that of his family, told from multiple perspectives—those of the siblings who struggled to understand the brother they once saw as a sister, and of the parents who ultimately joined him in the battle against discrimination. This is a story of acceptance in a world not quite ready to accept.
Thoughts: Thank you to Booksparks for the advanced copy of the book in exchange for my review.
I’m always worried about reading memoirs about transgender people especially when they are not written by the transgender person. Sometimes these books make me angry because of the way the people in the story get treated or because of the transphobia that is included throughout by the person writing the story. I went into this one expecting that which is what I got but what I didn’t expect was to learn.
As someone who is transgender it was nice to watch Jeremy’s family struggle to understand him. I tend to get frustrated by my family not understanding my gender or sexual identity and seeing all of Jeremy’s family react and learn gave me a new perspective. It taught me to give people some time to learn, especially the people who I know are trying and to listen to why they’re struggling with things related to my gender and sexuality. While it did show me the other side of things there were moments that I just couldn’t deal with the transphobia from the family. There is one scene in particular with Jeremy and his older brother in which the brother and Jeremy are both not aware of how Jeremy identifies and his feelings are dismissed.
I think one of my favorite parts of this book was watching as Jeremy learned about himself and the sections that were written in his voice. It was also really nice to watch Jeremy learn about himself and come to terms with each of his identities. I was able to relate to so many moments that are included in this book and loved how much of his feelings are included. It was refreshing to see how his understanding of his identity was constantly shifting and how he slowly leaned into who he is. I loved that this story was centered on Jeremy’s adult years and how so many of his coming to terms with who he is and learning about himself happens in his late 20s. It made my journey as a non-binary transgender person feel normal and let me know that it was okay to not have the answers at my age.
This was a great book to be able to read during this stay at home order because it made me feel understood. This book uplifted me in moments that I was struggling with because living at home with a family who uses my legal name and misgenders me without having an escape from it gets rough. This book was a constant reminder that I decide my identity and even when others don’t see me that way my identity remains the same.
I really enjoyed how this book was written in multiple perspectives and you got sections from Jeremy, the mom, dad, and the siblings. It was great to see so many of the same scenes through different eyes.
I recommend this to those of you who have transgender family members or I recommend this to those of you who are parents of a transgender child. For those of you who are transgender, I would caution reading this, this book is about how the transgender person needs to have grace with others and give them time to comes to terms with who you are. I felt that so much of it was how Jeremy accepted his family rather than the other way around and that felt off to me.