They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

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ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

“You may be born into a family, but you walk into friendships. Some you’ll discover you should put behind you. Others are worth every risk.”

Hey, friends! I’m so sorry! I really wanted to love this, but this just wasn’t a book for me. I think some of the lines were so beautiful, and I love the overall message of living your life, every day, to the fullest, but I just could never connect with this story the way that I know so many of my friends have.

They Both Die at the End is a story about two boys, who live in a world where technology will let you know when you will die within twenty-four hours. And sadly, two boys just received the call that informed them. And throughout the book we get to see how their lives intertwine and come together for their last day.

Trigger and content warnings for loss of a parent, loss of a sibling, loss of a friend, depictions of grief and trauma, violence, abuse, talk of animal death, a terrorist attack/murder suicide, suicide attempt, talk of suicide, and a whole lot of talk about death.

“Death is inevitable for everyone and it’s absolute for me today.”

Things that may have been a factor of why I didn’t like this book:

➽ I don’t like “magic systems” that aren’t explained. I never have, and I never will. This reads exactly like a contemporary with one unknown fantasy element. Also, I think it’s kind of cruel that they don’t give people the option of not knowing. Even if medical staff always knew, I think that a person should be able to pick if they want to know when they are going to die. But yeah, I needed to know how or why they were able to predict these deaths. Even if the answer was “oh my gosh, an alien came down and gave us this machine” because even that would have been enough for me.

➽ I honestly hated the ending with Mateo. And, again, I just can’t suspend my disbelief enough that a boy that has been living his life in a paranoid state would do that. I just, I just can’t believe it. I know it is a beautiful message about how we all don’t know how we are going to die, and it could be something easy or something we would never expect. But, like, it just felt really unpleasant to read.

➽ I really didn’t like reading about how people use Death-Cast to try to hook up with people they know are dying, probably because then they don’t have to come out. I get that itthat would totally happen in our world, but it still made my stomach sick to think about. Especially towards super young adults like Mateo and Rufus.

➽ I do not read a lot of contemporary. But right before this book I read Radio Silence and Autoboyography, both of which I gave five glowing stars to. That would hurt any book that I had to read after them, and I feel so bad that TBDATE had to be that book.

➽ A booktuber did a vlog of them upset after reading because the title was real. Which, like, I’m probably being all kinds of petty, but the title was always most likely going to be real. But because of the way this book is told kind of questioning Death-Cast and seeing all the people it is impacting, I think I might have been hopeful and enjoyed this more, if I didn’t have it *spoiled* for me.

What I did really like about this book:

➽ The writing. Adam’s writing is lyrical, but also very fast paced. Even though I didn’t love this book, it never felt like a chore to read. And there were so many quotable lines throughout this novel.

➽ I also really liked the cute romance that started to brew between these boys. And I’m always here for LGBTQIAP romances! I loved that Mateo was gay and that Rufus was bisexual. I also loved that both boys were people of color; Rufus being Cuban-American and Mateo being Puerto Rican.

➽ I loved every scene with Mateo’s dad. Call me a masochist, what can I say? Those scenes were one of two that made me cry. (The other being with Rufus talked about what happened to his family.) And I am actually hard pressed to think of anything sadder than waking up and finding out your child is no longer with you. But these scenes were so beautiful and gave me all the feels in the world.

➽ I liked seeing the random people that were just living their day along side Mateo and Rufus. When I look back, I feel like it might have been a tiny bit pointless, but I still really enjoyed the glimpses and thought they were so unique. And it really helps enforce that everyone has so much going on inside them, and that you’ll never know what crosses a person is bearing merely by sitting next to them in a subway.

➽ The message about how we really should be living our lives to the fullest and try to not live it being scared to die. I feel really impacted by both of these themes. Probably TMI (like always), but my father had a really bad heart attack (STEMI) a few years ago where they didn’t think he was going to make it. I immediately flew home, and I still feel a little bad at how much of an uncontrollable, weeping, hot mess I was all through LAS, but he was awake by the time I landed in Flint. And I ended up taking off work and staying an entire month to help take care of him, just spend time with my dad and not take it for granted. And I will never forget how thankful I was, or that feeling, for the rest of my life. But I also developed really bad panic attacks and anxiety where I feel like I’m having a heart attack at least once a week, still, a few years later. I don’t even know what I’m trying to stay, other than I connected with both of these boys, the one thankful for even twenty-four more hours, and the one that is scared to leave his bedroom.

➽ And since I just told you all the worst moment of my life, I will tell you another story about why this book did resonate with me. I’ve played World of Warcraft for over a decade, and a friend that I raided with for many, many years knew that he was dying because of cancer. We all had a little guild celebration for him before he quit, and after he (in game) mailed us so many of his prized wow possessions and wrote very kind letters attached. His wife let us know via Facebook when he passed away, and it broke me so very hard. But I will cherish that letter for the rest of my life, and my Darkmoon Rabbit that I named Davien (after him)!

Damn, friends, I think I got way too personal with those last paragraphs. Why am I like this? But overall, I am sad I didn’t love my first Adam Silvera book! But I’m going to keep reading his work(s) and hopefully fall in love. Again, I truly do connect with his writing style, so I have high hopes. I also just feel bad that I didn’t love this beloved book of so many of my friends. Also, you should check out their reviews, because I love them and this book meant a lot to them: May, Courtney, Lilly, Emma, Em, Sana, & Elise! You all know I hate writing “negative” reviews! So, I hope you all check out their reviews and celebrate them! Happy reading, loves!

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Buddy read with Courtney at Curly Book Owl, May at Forever and Everly, & Lily at Sprinkles of Dreams! ❤

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

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“…please just call me Radio. Radio Silence. I am, after all, only a voice on a radio, and there may not be anyone listening.”

Radio Silence is the best contemporary book I’ve ever read. Full stop. So, buckle in, because this is going to be a full-gush review, because this book was everything. And holy shit did it blow all my expectations out of the water.

I normally give a brief synopsis about the book I’m reviewing here, but Radio Silence almost feels too personal for me to even type this review, to be completely honest. But this is a book about a boy and girl and the different stages of their completely platonic friendship. We get to see them bond over a fandom, and we get to see them discover who they wish they could be.

Frances – Bisexual, biracial (Ethiopian and white), head girl at her high school, and an artist.
Aled – Gay, demisexual, creator of a up-and-coming podcast and Youtube channel.
Daniel – Gay, Korean immigrant, head boy at his high school.
Carys – Lesbian, Aled’s twin sister who has been missing for a while now.
Raine – Indian, selfless angel, who is probably queer, too.

And these five characters come together in this book and create something so beautiful that I don’t even have words for it. But this book can get pretty dark in certain places, so please use caution. Trigger and content warnings for talk of mental illness, implied depression, implied suicidal thinking, parental abuse, physical abuse, extreme invasions of privacy on social media and the internet, very hateful comments to a creator on the internet, and death of a pet.

“This hardly qualifies as a distress call anymore—by gods, if anyone was listening, I would have heard from you by now.”

First off, I want to talk about how people always hail Fangirl as the book they related to going into college, but I think Radio Silence does everything Fangirl does, but a million times better and more relatable. Both of these stories are about kids going into college, unsure of what they want out of life, both feeling like outcasts that can never truly be themselves. Both of these books even focus on fandoms and hidden identities. Hell, they even break up the mainstream story with stories from the fandom they love. The parallels are endless, and I’m not here to be negative about Fangirl, but I only thought that story was okay, where Radio Silence touched my heart and spoke to my soul.

We live in a world where our society puts so much pressure on kids to go to college. And I’m going to be really real with you all for a minute. My college? My parents picked. They knew before I was born I’d go to that college. My degree? My parents picked because science degrees get you jobs. The job I currently have? Because of that degree, not because of my wishes or wants. And I’m very privileged to have the education I have had, to go the college I went to, and to have the job that I currently have. But those core parts of my life were picked for me, and they have and will continue to impact my life forever. And that’s not just a reality for me, that’s a reality for so many people I know. And I’ve never read a book that confronts that the way Radio Silence does.

Radio Silence is a book about living your life for you. It’s okay to not know what you want, or who you even are, but you have to live your life for you. Society’s expectations, your parent’s expectations, your academic leader’s expectations, all of this can feel like the weight of the world on your shoulders. And it can be so heavy. Like, I promise, it feels so heavy sometimes still. But this is a love letter about making the weight not feel so heavy. And I swear to God, I turned the last page of this book and felt lighter. I truly believe books can have healing powers, and Radio Silence healed some of my wounds that I thought stopped bleeding years ago.

“I was going to be happy. Wasn’t I? I was. Uni, job, money, happiness. That’s what you do. That’s the formula. Everyone knows that. I knew that.”

I do think that Radio Silence is a story about becoming who you want to be, even if you don’t know who that person is yet, but I also think it’s a story about living with mental illness. Obviously, I’m not going to pretend that my experience is the end all be all, but mental illnesses are something you have to live with and fight with constantly. Aled is such a realistic character, and his mental illness is something that I think is so relatable to so many younger people (I want to say millennials so badly) and this book is going to mean so much to so many people. I honestly wish I could put this book into every single high school senior’s hands. Because school isn’t for everyone, and college isn’t for everyone, but validity and acceptance are for everyone.

This book also shines a spotlight on how fucking toxic the internet, fandoms, and just human beings in general can be. The things people say to other people, especially the people they claim to idolize, not even thinking twice about how that’s another breathing, living, human being on the other side of the screen that is reading your hurtful words. You all, I could write an entire review on this part of Radio Silence alone. But instead I’m just going to encourage you to read this masterpiece of a book that realistically depicts it better than I ever could.

But my favorite thing about Radio Silence is probably how it is one, gigantic, love letter to art. All kinds of art, all mediums of art, but this book is truly a celebration of art everywhere. The world we live in constantly tells us how art should be a hobby, not a career, but when I sit back and think about the people who I admire most in the entire universe? Well, they are all artists. Instead of constantly belittling art and not encouraging ourselves to pursue it as a mainstream dream, Radio Silence comes along and makes you feel so hyped and excited to celebrate art and creators everywhere. This book is an honest to God gift to the world, I swear it.

My second favorite thing about Radio Silence was the depiction of friendships. The beautiful and light parts, the really ugly and dark parts, the comfortable parts, the hard parts, the selfish parts, the selfless parts, all the realistic parts. When I got a few percent into this book, I knew the author had to be around my age, because this book feels so real. I mean, every element of this book feels really real, but the friendship between France and Aled specifically felt really real to me. Frances and Aled’s friendship felt so much like me and a person I miss with all my heart’s friendship. But I wasn’t as good of a friend, like Frances was, but this book really made me wish that I would have been.

“People move on quicker than I can comprehend. People forget you within days, they take new pictures to put on Facebook and they don’t read your messages. They keep on moving forward and shove you to the side because you make more mistakes than you should.”

My third favorite thing about this book was Frances’ mother. Holy shit, talk about mom goals. Just thinking about how much better of a place this world would be if more parents were like Frances’! Especially when she is contrasted to Aled and Carys’ mom in this story. Unconditional love, support, and acceptance is such a powerful force, especially being wielded by a parent who has a child unsure of who they are. But that force can be just as powerful in the hands of good friends, too.

Overall, I don’t feel like I’m the same person after reading this book. And I know I will cherish it forever. This is easily the best book I’ve read for Pride this year, and easily one of the best books I’ve read in all of 2018. This book literally took a piece of my heart and I will never ask for it back. I can’t wait to read everything else that Alice Oseman creates.

“I wonder—if nobody is listening to my voice, am I making any sound at all?”

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Buddy read with Alexis at The Sloth Reader, May at Forever and Everly, & Lily at Sprinkles of Dreams! ❤

Heart of Thorns (Heart of Thorns, #1) by Bree Barton

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ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

“Once upon a time, in a castle carved of stone, a girl plotted murder.”

Hello, friends! This is going to be a hard one to review. I honestly feel like this is a solid 2.5 star read, but some aspects make me want to raise that rating and others make me want to lower it. I will say the end of this book is phenomenal. Like, easily the best part. And it was so good that I want to continue on. But the rest, especially the earlier sections, were some of the most predictable reading I’ve ever read.

Again, I’m super torn on this one. This book does tackle a lot of important themes, and I would say that the heart of this novel is honestly feminism. This book shines a spotlight on inequality between men and women, and how women in this world basically developed magic because it was the only way to somewhat counterbalance it.

“…men have found ever-new ways of oppressing women. Our bodies have been receptacles, both container and contained; our wombs soft and pliant for the children we were meant to bear our husbands, whether we wanted to or not. We have been restricted, silenced, and confined. This has been called many things—‘protection,’ ‘progress,’ even ‘love.’”

This book stars a young girl named Mia, who is getting ready to celebrate a marriage that her father has chosen for her. Mia is contemplating running away, so she won’t be forced to marry a prince that she barely knows. But Mia has a sick sister who she has to take into account, because she can’t bear to leave her. But her sister wants nothing more than to stay, safely tucked away in the castle, while hoping for her chance at love.

Mia’s father is a renowned hunter of Gwyrach, which are woman who are believed to be witches, who are said to be able to stop a man’s heart just by laying their hands on their skin. They are also said to have powers to enthrall those around them and make them do their bidding. So, in this world, all women are forced to wear gloves, and it is considered unthinkable to be seen without them.

But this story is truly about Mia’s mother, who was killed when Mia was very young, and found dead with not a mark upon her skin. Heart of Thorns truly centers on Mia trying to figure out who killed her mother, and why they chose to do so. And Mia is able to finally leave the castle and hope to search for clues once her wedding day ends with a murder attempt.

Together, Mia, and the promised prince that she knew barely anything about, go on an adventure where they find out a lot not only about Mia’s mother, but about the entire corrupt world they live in. And Mia finds out who she really is, and what she can really become, only if she chooses to embrace and love what she is, instead of hating it because of what she’s grown up learning.

Trigger and content warnings for talk of illness, graphic depictions of dead bodies and parts from those dead bodies, physical abuse, assault, sexual assault (unwanted touching), war themes, torture, violence in general, cruel death of an animal, a lot of blood visuals, murder, and too many rape attempts and talk of past rape attempts.

“We were hunted and killed for thousands of years, long before we had magic. We are magicians because of our suffering. A woman’s body can survive only so much abuse before our very blood and bones rise up in revolt.”

So, the promised prince’s name is Quin, and he honestly was my favorite character in the entire book. Not only is he bisexual, he is just kind, and caring, and thoughtful, and empathic. He also really loves dogs, and this is another very important quality that I personally look for in people. And speaking about more sexual representation, Mia’s mom was for sure not straight and was in a relationship with another woman. There is also a big side character that is gay. There is also a little bit of disability representation in this book, from another character that I really liked. Again, this book does have a lot of good, it just also has a lot of predictability.

Sometimes while reading, I felt like this was maybe a middle grade book. Because the writing is well done, but the clues are so glaringly obvious it makes for a poor reading experience. Hence why the end was so amazing, because it actually has twist after twist that I didn’t see coming. But I’ll be honest, the first 75% of this book is somewhat boring to read. At least, it was for me.

“Magic is born in the margins. It is nurtured among the vulnerable and broken. It is our bodies crying out for justice, seeking to right centuries of wrongs.”

Again, I still think this is a really good start to something that could be amazing. Between the feministic themes, to the bonds of sisterhood, to the lengths we are willing to go for the ones we love, I want more from this world, these characters, and this author. Also, this is Bree Barton’s debut novel, so I’m going to cut her a little slack for the predictability. And I honestly am excited to continue on with this series.


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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Buddy read with Jules at JA Ironside! ❤

 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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“I spent half my time loving her and the other half hiding how much I loved her.”

This is one of the best books I’ve ever had the privilege to read. It is probably in the top five for best books I’ve ever read in my entire life. I have been looking for a book like this my entire life, and no combination of words I’m about to type, and you’re about to read, is going to do this masterpiece justice. But I will say that Gabby, Joce, Amelie, and Elyse were all right, and I’m so happy I listened to them, because this book is worth every single ounce of hype.

And when I say that this book is lifechanging, I truly mean it. This book is sold as a historical romance, where you learn about a fictional, famous, old Hollywood actress and all her marriages. What you get is a book that stars a bisexual, Cuban woman who was never allowed to talk about the love of her life; her wife. And when I say I cried during this book, I truly mean that I probably need to buy a new copy because I was the biggest mess you’ve ever seen.

“And it will be the tragedy of my life that I cannot love you enough to make you mine. That you cannot be loved enough to be anyone’s.”

On top of this being a powerful book about race, sexuality, misogyny, and having to conform to societies norms, the true meaning I took from this book is that life is short, so damn short, and we shouldn’t spend it pretending to be something we aren’t. And we shouldn’t spend it doing anything less than loving the people who are worthy and deserving of our love.

“I didn’t need boys in order to feel good. And that realization gave me great power.”

We follow Evelyn from the very start; losing her mother very young, her body developing very quickly, noticing others noticing her developing body, marrying a man so she can leave the dead-end city she grew up in, so she can become something more. Evelyn is unapologetic with her actions, and it is one of the most empowering things I’ve ever read. She plays so many more parts than the roles she is cast in. And Evelyn learns really quickly how to play each and every man she is forced to interact with, and she quickly learns what she can gain from each and every one of them, too.

This story is told from two different timelines and two different points of view. One from Monique Grant, who is a biracial (white and African-American) woman who is going through a fresh divorce and trying to make something of herself in the journalism field. And her life changes the day her editor tells her how Evelyn Hugo is demanding her, and only her, to write something for her.

“Heartbreak is loss. Divorce is a piece of paper.”

The other timeline(s) are all the different times in Evelyn’s life, and the different seven husbands that she had, while she is recounting the events that lead her to be telling Monique this story. Evelyn has lived a very full life, and is in her late seventies now, and is finally ready to talk about her life. But the entire book we are guessing why she has chosen only Monique for this job.

“Make them pay you what they would pay a white man.”

If you guys have been following my reviews, you’ll probably know that I talk about found family and how important it is to me a lot, but The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is the epitome of how beautiful a found family can be. Evelyn and Harry’s friendship in this was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read in my entire reading life.

“When you write the ending, Monique, make sure the reader understands that all I was ever really looking for was family. Make sure it’s clear that I found it. Make sure they know that I am heartbroken without it.”

And the romance? The true romance in this book is the most romantic thing I have ever read in my entire life. And you guys know I’ve read a ton of romances, but they are all lesser to this. Every single one of them can’t compare with the romance in this book. I feel like every time I’ve used the word “perfect” to describe something that wasn’t the romance in this book, then I used the word wrong.

“Please never forget that the sun rises and sets with your smile. At least to me it does. You’re the only thing on this planet worth worshipping.”

How many Evelyn and Celias are there in the world? How many are still playing the role that Evelyn was forced to play? I cry for every single person who must hide who they are, and who they want to love. And this book talks about many big things in queer history; from the Stonewall riots to the disgusting Reagan administration, but life still isn’t anywhere close to equal in 2018. The prejudices, the discrimination, the virus/syndrome blaming, the looks I’ve experienced holding a girl’s hand while walking into a restaurant? Those are still in 2018, in the United States, but people act like none of those things exists because marriage is legalized, begrudgingly. I’m not writing this review to get on my soapbox, but I promise, we have a lot more work to do. And this book, this book lit a fire under me.

I personally identify as pansexual, but I felt like the bisexual rep in this was a tier above anything my eyes have ever seen. Seeing Evelyn love all the parts of her, and all the different parts of her love, was something so awe-inspiring. I am still so overwhelmed with feelings, but if you identify as bi or pan, this is a love letter to you, I promise.

“I was a lesbian when she loved me and a straight woman when she hated me.”

This book also focuses a huge importance on motherhood throughout the entirety of this book, and then I read the acknowledgement and started weeping all over again. Taylor Jenkins Reid was able to evoke the strongest emotions from me, and I just pray that things will be different for the generation of kids being raised right now.

This was the first thing I’ve read by Taylor Jenkins Reid, but I will buy every single new thing she produces. The writing was so lyrical and addicting. I mean, I have a quote between almost every paragraph. This whole book deserves to be highlighted. The characters, well, my mind has now forever imagined that these are real people now, so there is that. The topics, themes, and discussions are beyond important. This book just makes me feel so passionately. This book is one of the most empowering pieces of literature I’ve ever consumed. And I am not the same person I was before this book.

“I told her every single day that her life had been the world’s greatest gift to me, that I believed I was put on earth not to make movies or wear emerald-green gowns and wave at crowds but to be her mother.”

If you guys ever take a recommendation from me; please have it be The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Please, I’m actually begging you. I promise, this book is lifechanging, and I equally promise you that this book changed mine. There is magic between these four-hundred-pages. Pure magic. This story is addicting, enthralling, and so important. And if you’re an Evelyn, in 2018, I see you, but I hope it doesn’t take you as long as it took her to be happy. This will forever be one of the best books of my life, and I’ll cherish it forever.

“People think that intimacy is about sex. But intimacy is about truth. When you realize you can tell someone your truth, when you can show yourself to them, when you stand in front of them bare and their response is “You’re safe with me”—that’s intimacy.”

Trigger/Content Warnings: death of a loved one, death of a child, talk of suicide, unhealthy dieting, underage sex with an adult, abortion, talk of miscarriage, a lot of physical abuse, cheating, dunk driving, and homophobic slurs.

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Buddy read with May & Alexis! ❤