Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

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“A map of us. It’s years in the making, and it’s messy and convoluted, some of it even tragic. But I wouldn’t change the route, because we walked it together, even when we were apart. And the best part about it is that it’s unfinished. Uncertainty isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes it can even be filled with extraordinary potential.”

Best YA Contemporary I’ve read all year? Yes. Best YA Contemporary I’ve read ever? Perhaps. From the beautiful romance, to the masterful different family dynamic depictions, to just having a story that made me smile on almost every page. Friends, this made my heart so very happy, and now I just want to read any and everything that Jenn Bennett has written and will write.

Basically, this is a story about two families, who live right next to each other, who also have places of business right next to each other. One family is two sapphic women and their son, who own a sex shop, unapologetically. And the other family owns some sort of health medical practice, where the father is embarrassed to be so close to a sex shop, while the mother and daughter do not care in the slightest. The families used to be close with one another, but a secret falling out has led to them not speaking at all. But, friends, I promise you, this is the best boy next door story I’ve read maybe ever.

Zorie – Obsessed with all things astronomy, and even though she has been isolating herself from her old friends, when she gets the opportunity to go glamping with them, she takes it as an opportunity to shoot the stars and accepts. Zorie is also dealing with a probable secret that her father has been harboring, when she unexpectedly gets some of his mail.

Lennon – Biracial, nerdy, and so very into hiking and camping. And because of a sudden unexpected turn of events, he is also going on the glamping trip, even though him and Zorie haven’t spoken as friends in a long while.

You all probably see where this is going, but what I didn’t see coming is them getting lost in the woods and becoming somewhat dependent on one another to survive. I for sure wouldn’t say this is a survival story, but there are some high risks that really kept me on the edge of my seat.

But obviously romance blooms and I couldn’t get enough of this story. I was honestly swooning, and the chemistry between these two characters was utter perfection while also being so damn believable. Also, this book was so sex positive! And I was completely living for it! Normalize healthy and consensual sex in YA, thank you! And thank you Jen Bennett, because she totally delivered in Starry Eyes.

I also want to touch upon Zorie’s relationship with her stepmother, because it was truly the best adoption relationship I’ve ever read in all my years. Joy was honestly the best side character; she’s Korean, she’s kind, and she’s the mother of my dreams, honestly. No spoilers, but when she told Zorie that she was the reason…. I cried so hard. Blood will only ever just be blood, and blood has nothing to do with who you claim as your parent, and this book honestly is five stars alone because of Joy and Zorie’s relationship. Again, my heart is so very full.

Overall, this book really just brought me so much bliss. It touched upon so many hard-hitting topics, the relationship dynamics were so expertly done, the family (both blood and found) was beyond words perfect, and the romance still has me weak in the knees. Seriously, I know I made this joke 102 times on Booktube, but I want to buy a tent and a rainstorm with Park Jimin. Okay. Pick up this book. Love you all, bye.

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Content and Trigger Warnings: Ophidiophobia (fear of snakes), loss of a parents in the past, infidelity of a side character, talk of suicide, homophobia (always in a negative light), and grief depiction.

You Must Not Miss by Katrina Leno

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ARC given to me by my amazingly kind friend – Kayla! at Books & Blends!

“You felt so deeply, and for so long, that your very sadness grew limbs and walked away from you. You have moved mountains, Magpie Lewis, and you are only just getting started.”

Katrina Leno is truly a gift to this world, and I’m not sure what the world has done to deserve her, her words, or her stories, but I’m forever thankful. You Must Not Miss is a masterful expose on rape culture and the things that everyone is willing to do instead of believing girls. And this is one of the best things I’ve read all year.

You Must Not Miss is a story about a girl named Magpie who is a sophomore in high school, lives in a small town called Father in New England, and whose life has drastically changed in the past three months. The abandonment in this book actually hurts my soul to think about, but basically Magpie first found her father cheating, and then something horrible happened to her, and then her father left, and then her best friend left, and finally her sister left. Magpie is now living alone with her mother, who is an alcoholic and unwilling to contribute anything to the household. And, friends, Magpie’s grief tries to be so silent, but you will be unable to hear anything other than its loudness, and it’s one of the most heartbreaking reads I’ve endured.

“Last summer her sister had been home, her father had been discreet, her mother had been sober…”

But when Magpie discovers a portal to a new world called Near, where she controls what happens to everyone, she starts to carve out a little bit of her own happiness. And she even finds a new friend, named Hither, who helps her learn about this new world and the abilities at her fingertips.

Yet, we also get to see Magpie’s reality, trying to go to a high school where people hate her, and trying to navigate the halls to ignore someone who was her best friend for all her life. Someone who she loved unconditionally. Someone who knows the truth and refuses to believe her. But we also get to meet some of Magpie’s new friends who have also been ostracized; Clare, who is carrying her own grief, Brianna, who was humiliated once over something natural that she couldn’t control, Luke, who is bisexual, and even the start of a something more than friendship with a trans boy named Ben.

My full trigger warnings will be at the end of this review, but I am going to talk about sexual assault in this review, so please use caution and make sure you are in the right head-space before reading any further.

“I’ve thought an awful lot about how many times a girl has to say no before a guy really believes her.”

This book is a big fuck you to rape culture and I was living for every single word on every single page. People don’t even want to believe girls when they know it’s the truth, and that’s the saddest fact of them all. Sexual abuse and rape culture are normalized every single day, and every time some ignorant person talks about how much the victim drank, what the victim wore, what position the victim put themselves in, even how many times the victim said yes before saying no. When none of that matters, rape is rape, regardless of any light you want to shine on it to make excuses you use to try to put the blame on the victim. And, again, this only helps to normalize the horrible things people are justifying doing because powerful people prove that they are able to get away with committing these horrible acts over and over again. And it’s just going to continue if we don’t commit to breaking these horrible cycles.

There is just so much good in this story, and it’s heartbreaking, truly, but it’s such a real heartbreak that so many of us will experience, while so many of us wish for our own Near to escape into. While talking to my friend Madalyn, she said that Summer of Salt is a quiet book about rape culture, where You Must Not Miss is an extremely loud take on, and that’s honestly the most perfect sentence in the world to describe these two books that I gave five stars to. Because sometimes you need to yell when you live in a world that does everything to prove over and over again that it doesn’t want to believe you.

Lastly, this story, and the way it is told, also is loosely inspired by “One for Sorrow”, and a genius interpretation that Katrina Leno gave us of it. From the title, to the chapter headers, to secrets that are never to be told. Like, I stan a creative genius who renders me speechless, because holy shit did Katrina Leno execute it perfectly.

“If she has learned anything in life, it was that you could always do without people. You could always find a way to do without them.”

Overall, I’m going to be really honest with you; this ending is a wild one. I can see a lot of people loving it completely, and some not liking it at all. This book has so many speculative elements, and I adored it with the sum of my being, but I know that that isn’t for everyone. But this book just meant the world to me, and it was so powerful, and so thought-provoking. Truly, me and my friends spent hours talking about the ending of this book, and it just made me cherish the book even more. And I promise, I’ll carry this story and Magpie in my heart forever.

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

Content and trigger warnings for talk of suicide, bullying, talk of past cheating, underage drinking, alcoholism, abandonment, talk of rape, talk of date rape, semi graphic oral rape, abusive friendships, abusive parents, and anxiety attacks.

Buddy read with Jane! ❤

 

CONTEMPORARY-A-THON 2018 TBR

Hey, friends! I know this post is going up a little late, but I just wanted to make sure that I put up what I plan on reading for Contemporaryathon 2018! Plus, maybe talk a little bit about some of the contemporary books that are very near and dear to my heart! 💖

This amazing readathon is being held by a couple of people who I am so very lucky to call my friends: Pages and Penschelseadolling reads, & myreadingisodd! And all of their channels have their TBRs and some amazing contemporary recommendations that I for sure think are so very worth checking out! 💕

There are seven challenges and even though most of my books fit into numerous challenges, I’m still going to really try to read seven books this week! So, here are the seven books that I plan on reading, that fit each of the challenges, and some recommendations that I’ve personally read, loved, and think fit the challenges, too!


➽ 1. Read a contemporary with orange on the cover.
Giant Days, Vol. 1 by John Allison & Lissa Treiman

➽ Books I Recommend
Geekerella |Long Shot| I Was Born for This


➽ 2. Read a contemporary that’s dark, taboo or spooky
Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

➽ Books I Recommend
Black Iris | Mud Vein | Corrupt


➽ 3. Read a diverse contemporary
The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

➽ Books I Recommend
The Kiss Quotient | Echo After Echo | The Astonishing Color of After


➽ 4. Read a contemporary in a non-traditional format
Check, Please!: #Hockey (Check, Please! #1-2) by Ngozi Ukazu

➽ Books I Recommend
Fence | Honor Girl | Snotgirl


➽ 5. Read a contemporary with your initials on the cover
Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

➽ Books I Recommend (for MP)
Ramona BlueThe Mystery of Hollow Places | Intercepted


➽ 6. Read a contemporary by a new to you author
Pride by Ibi Zoboi

(I can’t really recommend who is new to you, I’m sorry!)


➽ 7. Read a five star prediction contemporary
Fight or Flight by Samantha Young

➽ Books I Recommend (My All-Time Favs)
THUG | Radio Silence | The Simple Wild



Okay, friends! I think that’s it! Are you participating in this readathon? I hope you are! And if so, let me know what you plan on reading! Or if you’d like to buddy read any of these with me and some friends! Happy reading, loves! 💖

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