The Red Scrolls of Magic (The Eldest Curses #1) by Cassandra Clare & Wesley Chu

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ARC given to me by my amazingly kind friend – Heather at Bookables!

“It’s a classic love story. I hit on him at a party, he asked me out, then we fought an epic magical battle between good and evil side by side, and now we need a vacation.”

The Red Scrolls of Magic is the story that Magnus and Alec always deserved. My two precious boys, both trying to live in a world that wants them to be something they’re not, but together they are able to find happiness; it’s too pure. There is a reason why they are so many people’s favorite OTP and ship of all time, and I think this brand-new installment is going to make so many people happy.

And this brand-new spin-off takes place during City of Fallen Angels, when most of the Shadowhunter universe believes The Mortal War to be over. I do recommend that you read at the very least Lady Midnight before picking this one up, because there are so many layers and elements that you just will not appreciate without knowing certain twists that are revealed in The Dark Artifices.

Magnus and Alec are off trying to be romantic in Paris together, finally going on their very first vacation together, but a good friend soon informs them that they could potentially be in grave danger. A cult, The Crimson Hand, and their sacred book (yeah, you guessed it), The Red Scrolls of Magic, and the sacrifices they are making in the name of the cult leader. But the thing is, many people, including the Spiral Council, think that Magnus not only started this cult back in the day, but also that he is still leading it. Magnus also is discovering that someone or something has possibly tampered with his memories, yet he feels like there might be some truth in him starting the cult many moons ago.

“Seek the children of demons. Love them as you love your lord. Do not let the children be alone.”

We get to see so much of Magnus’ past in this book, and so much of it is heartbreaking. I mean, if you have followed my reviews while I read everything by Cassandra Clare in 2018, you will know that Magnus has always been a favorite character of mine. But all the flashbacks in this book, in juxtaposition to the man we all know and love, it pulled at my heartstrings constantly while reading. Magnus Bane is a literary gift and I will thank all the higher powers for him and for Cassie Clare for creating him every single day.

And this story is broken up in three parts that I will summarize in three sentences:

Part I – City of Love (Paris)
– Romantic vacation quickly turns into a mission from Hell (factually).

Part II – City of Masks (Venice)
– Best party ever, and holy moly cameos from above (literally).

Part III – City of War (Rome)
– All the action, I’m living my best gay life, and the cliffhanger of all cliffhanger endings (truly).

“When was it decided that a warlock child is worth less than the children of the Angel?”

Like all the books in the Shadowhunter universe, bigotry and prejudices are at the forefront. How everyone looks at the Shadowhunters, who share blood with angels, is completely different than the Downworlders, especially Warlocks who share blood with Demons. And hatred will always breed the cruelest acts. The Shadowhunters and the Clave can be pretty closed minded over anyone who is deemed different, so Alec being gay AND dating a warlock is something that has shaken up many Shadowhunters.

But Alec, unconditionally loving himself and Magnus, has started something beautiful, and because of it, many other Shadowhunters are learning to love and accept themselves. Aline and Helen are major side character in this book, and we even get to see them meet for the very first time. Friends, I don’t even have words. Not only are Aline and Helen my favorite queer ship in the Shadowhunter world, they are probably my favorite sapphic ship of all-time. Seeing the Asian girl get the Fae girl of her dreams? It just does something to me every single time. Also, speaking of Shadowhunter cameos, Lily Chen is also in the story, and she is the Asian pansexual love of my life, so I was truly living my best life with the entire cast of characters in this book.

“He’d always assumed that storybook moments like these were meant for Jace, Isabelle, anyone but him. Yet here he was.”

But, to me, this book was all about forgiveness and how sometimes forgiving someone is the most powerful move you can possibly make. We are all more than the mistakes of our parents and people that did horrible things who happen to share our blood. Everyone wants to be loved, and everyone is deserving of love, and sometimes that comes in the form of forgiveness And sometimes, beyond anything else, we need to forgive ourselves for past mistakes that we’ve made. Who you are in this moment means way more than who you were growing up, or even who you were last year. Sometimes people really do deserve second chances, and I hope you give yourself all the chances in the world to become the person you want to be.

Overall, I loved this with my whole heart. These characters, all the queerness, the themes, the story, the mysteries, the twists; it was all amazing, especially knowing everything we know from all the other books that have taken place after the events in this one. And if you love the Warlocks in this world, then this is truly going to be the book for you! This was just a wonderful addition to the Shadowhunter world, and I think so many people are going to love it. Also, with all the Shadow Market activity and cameos, I really can’t wait to read the last two short stories in Ghosts of the Shadow Market this June!

Please use caution reading the rest of this review if you have not read this book and all the series leading up to this book! And as always, I’m going to do a little mini character breakdown on my thoughts and feelings on all of the main characters in this book. Spoilers ahead!

“If only the world were a fairy tale, Nephilim.”

(Art by Cassandra Jean!)

Magnus Bane – Bi, Indonesian, High Warlock of Brooklyn. Magnus is truly going through some shit in this book, and my heart breaks for him. On top of everything, he is so scared to tell Alec who his real father is, and… my heart.

Alec Lightwood – Gay, Shadowhunter, willing to protect Magnus at all costs. Me and Alec honestly have a rocky Shadowhunter history together, but I truly have grown to love him so much, and I love his love for Magnus. Alec is unsure of so many things, but he is never unsure about his love for Magnus.

Aline Penhallow – Lesbian, Asian, Shadowhunter, love of my life.

Helen Blackthorn – Bi, Shadowhunter, half Fae, second love of my life.

Leon Verlac – Bi, Shadowhunter, annoying as fuck. And people are really going to dislike him because of the “I’m bi, so I want to sleep with everyone” stereotype.

“She has seen so many tragedies, and they both knew the worst tragedies were born of love.”

Tessa Gray – Seeing her and Magnus talk about their love for Shadowhunters? Fuck me up, fam. Few things are better in the Shadowhunter universe than Magnus and Tessa’s friendship.

Peng Fang – We meet this vampire and blood seller in the Paris Shadow Market and I seriously just want to know everything about it, because there is no way he isn’t going come more into play.

Izzy and Jace’s Phone Call – I had to list them with this character breakdown, because this phone call, and Simon trying to ask them for sex advice, was one of my favorite things in this book. The grapefruit suggestion almost took me out, honestly.

Johnny Rook – Be still, my heart. Johnny is normally at the LA Shadow Market, but he is at the Paris one and helps Magnus out a little bit. Also, I remember something that Johnny has in a TDA book and I can’t wait to see how he got his hands on this relic.

Shinyun Jung – Korean, has a history with the cult, and is traveling alongside Magnus and Alec.

Prince Adaon – The smile I had on my face when I saw this sweetheart at the party. Ah, I can’t wait for him to be king already and to let my poor baby Kieran live his best life. Ah, my sweet Unseelie Princes, I can’t.

Malcom Fade – My jaw dropped, friends. Dropped. The High Warlock of LA is for sure in this book and throws the best party I’ve ever read about. And we know all the shit he was up to in Lady Midnight, so I was honestly quaking.

Catarina Loss – Probably my favorite warlock (besides Magnus, obv) and I always smile over her, Magnus, and Ragnor Fell’s friendship. Give me a cameo from her in every Shadowhunter book, please.

Raphael Santiago – Ace/Asexual, Mexican, vampire. Friends, I can’t cry anymore, okay? I always love seeing Raphael and Magnus and their friendship, but seeing Raphael and Alec bond and become friends, in the Raphael way, it truly broke me. And I just keep thinking about their son, and… I honestly am crying more? Wow.

Lily Chen – My pansexual and Asian goddess. I would die for this woman and I want nothing more than for he to have her own full-length series. Also, seeing Helen and her kiss? Can officially confirm: Helen loves Asian women and I am truly living on cloud nine forever.

Hypatia Vex – Warlock, runs the London Shadow Market. Seriously, this book is a warlock wet dream.

Barnabas Hale – Warlock, LA Shadow Market runner, and always a treat to read about.

Asmodeus – I’ve been screaming since City of Heavenly Fire to learn more about Magnus’ dad, and this book truly delivered. Yet, we have so much more to learn, and I think the next book is going to be everything.

“If I’m a hero of war, so is he.”

It is truly just a wild ride to see baby Magnus and baby Alec at the start of their new relationship, figuring out what they both want, what works, and what doesn’t, to seeing them married, seeing them as fathers, seeing them get the life they deserve, even if the world around them is still in chaos. To just know Alec becomes Consul of the Clave and is going to change the world for all Downworlder children. Friends, I am weeping at the honor of getting to see Magnus and Alec’s lives together. What a blessing, truly. Also, because I know people are going to be using the search engine on my blog to find this information: yes, Alec and Magnus do have sex for the first time in this book, but yes, Cassie keeps it totally YA and fades to black it before it becomes not PG13. (Also, friendly reminder: cis women, don’t fetishize m/m sex, thanks!)

And I know I make a lot of jokes about Aline and Helen, but they truly make me happier than any other couple in all of these books. I had no idea that they were even going to be in this story, let alone letting us see them meet for the first time, and seeing Aline being the disaster gay she really is trying to ask Helen out. And with everything I said about Magnus and Alec and seeing them start out but knowing where their path leads in the future together, seeing Aline and Helen, and knowing all that they were forced to endure because of bigotry, it just takes everything to a whole other level.

Overall, I just loved this completely. I laughed out loud, I cried over so many cameos, I smiled from pure happiness at my OTPs starting out their relationships, and I always wanted more of everything. I can’t wait to get my hands on The Lost Book of the White, because I have a feeling that it’s going to be even better than this amazing series starter! Especially with that cliffhanger ending! Lord, hear my prayers.

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

Content and trigger warnings for violence, talk of past loss of a loved one, abandonment, talk of suicide in the past, past parental abuse (physical), torture, cult rituals, and war themes.

1.) City of Bones ★★★
2.) City of Ashes ★★
3.) City of Glass ★★★
1.) Clockwork Angel ★★★
4.) City of Fallen Angels
2.) Clockwork Prince ★★★★
5.) City of Lost Souls ★★★★
3.) Clockwork Princess ★★★★★
6.) City of Heavenly Fire ★★★★★
*.) The Bane Chronicles ★★★
*.) Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy ★★★
1.) Lady Midnight ★★★★★
2.) Lord of Shadows ★★★★
*.) Ghosts of the Shadow Market 8/10
3.) Queen of Air and Darkness ★★★★

 

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

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ARC provided by St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.

“Is it possible you willfully forgot about the biggest international event of the year because you don’t want to see your arch nemesis?”

I honestly do not think that any book has made me happier than Red, White & Royal Blue, ever. I laughed, I swooned, I cried, but, most importantly, I finished the last page and felt such a powerful amount of hope that transcends any amount of words that I could possibly string together for this review. This is easily the best debut novel I’ve ever read, and I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if it ends up being my favorite book of the entire year.

First off, in this story, the characters are living in a world where the President of the United States is a democratic woman who was elected after Obama, and her 2020 reelection is quickly approaching. And I just need to take a minute to… *cries forever*! But this book really focuses on two young men, who happen to be very much in the media’s spotlight 24/7, because of the families they were born into. Oh, and one of them happens to be the First Son of the President, and up until this point he thought he was straight, that is until he finally is forced to spend time with his arch nemesis. And I’ll be damned, but this book made me simultaneously believe in love and believe in America.

Alexander Gabriel Claremont-Diaz – The First Son, who is quickly realizing that he is bisexual, but slowly coming out to those he feels safe with. Alex is also biracial (Mexican and white) and (thanks to my beautiful friend Alienor) confirmed to have ADHD!

“Straight people, he thinks, probably don’t spend this much time convincing themselves they’re straight.”

Henry George Edward James Fox-Mountchristen-Windsor – A Prince of England, who is closeted gay to many in his family (and to all media), because he constantly feels the weight of the expectations placed on him by his family and his country.

“O, fathers of my bloodline! O, ye kings of olde! Take this crown from me, bury me in my ancestral soil. If only you had known the mighty work of thine loins would be undone by a gay heir who likes it when American boys with chin dimples are mean to him.”

Alex has followed Henry and his fame long before his mother became president. But at the start of this novel, both men officially meet, but quickly get into a very messy predicament at a royal wedding they were both attending, which ends up being a PR nightmare for both countries, but especially for Alex’s mom, who is up for reelection. So, they are both kind of forced to fake a friendship to appease the press to save face. But a fake friendship quickly turns to a romance, that leaves both men questioning what they are willing to risk, while the press is always watching.

“First, you’ve been, like, Draco Malfoy–level obsessed with Henry for years—do not interrupt me—and since the royal wedding, you’ve gotten his phone number and used it not to set up any appearances but instead to long-distance flirt with him all day every day.”

I also wanted to make sure that I stated in my review that the author is queer (I believe they ID as bisexual, like Alex!) And even though Alex and Henry are obviously queer in their m/m relationship, this book also has such a beautiful and full cast of diverse side characters! I’m completely willing to give my life for June, Nora, Pez, and Bea, right this very second.

Like, I absolutely loved the side characters in this book. Also, you all know that I am always here for strong sibling relationships, and this book has that in spades! Alex’s family in general was everything to me; both of his parents being so supportive and always putting him (and his pace) first really meant a lot to me and makes me so soft just thinking about it. Seriously, this book is found family and blood family goals.

The banter and one-liners were perfection. This author completely understands what it is like to speak and text in your twenties, and they have mastered the craft to perfection. I was either cackling like a banshee or clutching my pearls with heart eyes during all of Alex and Henry’s exchanges. Also, since there is an ocean in-between these two, they correspond a lot of the time through emails, all of which added five years to my life.

Speaking of those emails, the romance in this is just truly a tier above the rest! The dynamic that Henry and Alex are forced into, and then the new dynamics they are forced to overcome, makes for something that you can’t help but root for with everything in your soul. Also, they are truly polar opposites with their personalities, but seeing them together truly feels like you are witnessing soulmates interact. I hate to say this but, your OTP could never.

And obviously because of the setup of this novel, this book does not shy away from US politics, and you should for sure know that going in. But the most tears I shed in this book was when Alex talked about what he felt like to be a biracial kid, and how America truly is a melting pot of immigrants and how that is something beautiful, and should be celebrated, not shamed and something that people consider to be a crime.

This is a book about two men, both in their early- twenties, discovering what they want for their lives and for their countries. Both for themselves and together. In a world that is cruelly unaccepting to anyone who isn’t white and straight, or who are just deemed different. They find friendship, they find love, and they find their voices. And to this Filipino American, pansexual, whose grandparents are both immigrants, who a lot of times really struggles to find their own voice, it meant the world to me. I’ll carry this book with me forever and always.

Overall, this book was just everything I’ve ever wanted. Put your library holds and preorders in now, because I know that so many readers are not only going to fall in love with this tale, but it is going to be one of their favorites for the rest of their lives. I promise you, it is truly that good, and this truly feels like a once in a lifetime book. Casey McQuiston has created something that is going to mean so much to so many readers, and this book is going to bring so much joy to our much-needed world. I’m just forever thankful that I was able to escape into it for a little while, while doing everything I can to make my country’s 2020 and on just as hopeful.

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

Content and Trigger Warnings for homophobia (always in a negative light), talk of racism in media, anxiety depiction, talk of cancer (pancreatic) in the past, talk of past loss of a loved one, talk of past drug use, talk of attempted sexual assault (very briefly) in the past from a very minor side character, and (in my opinion) outing. Also, this is a New Adult novel, so there are many sexual scenes throughout this book, even though they are fade to black for the most part!

❤ I also gush about this in my February Wrap Up on BookTube!

Buddy Read with Kerri from Kerri The Book Belle! ❤

❤ I also read this for Contemporary-a-thon!

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! ❤

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

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“A God worthy of your eternal love wouldn’t judge you for who you love while you’re here.”

Friends, I only picked this book up because it was on sale this month on Audible, even though I can never focus on audiobooks. I only started listening, because I decided to spend last night playing video games with my best friend. I only clicked play because he was telling me about his latest audiobook. I honestly believe with whole heart that the stars aligned to make me read this book, and I will be forever thankful because this is one of the best books I’ve ever read in my entire life.

This is a story about a boy named Tanner, who is bisexual, but not fully out because his parents moved to Utah and are living in a place where almost everyone is Mormon. And Tanner’s best friend, Autumn, convinces (or begs) him to join this writing class, where they have to write, edit, and turn in a book, before the end of the semester. A boy from the previous year, named Sebastian, actually got the book that he turned in published! So, he is back, working as a TA, helping other kids write their books.

“It opens with a boy and a girl, a dare, and crumbs on a bed. But where it really begins is with a double take and the words “His smile ruins me.”

Trigger and content warnings for homophobic slur(s), talk of conversion therapy, and shitty parents that aren’t accepting of their children.

Also, full disclosure and all that, I connected very easily to Tanner. I knew, early in high school, that I wasn’t straight. And my parents aren’t as amazing as Tanners, but they were always supportive and accepting and let me know that they will love me regardless of who I chose to love. Yet, I can connect a tiny bit with Sebastian because God, and the Catholic church, have always been a big part of my life. I have never known a life like Sebastian’s, but I remember how scared I was to come out to certain members of my childhood church. More like, “hey, this is my girlfriend” while letting them deal with the information whatever way pleased them. But I’ve never had anyone from church tell me that my feelings, or wants, or the integral parts of who I am, were wrong. And to this day I still consider myself Catholic, and I still believe that God loves me regardless of who I love. Also, here is your friendly reminder in case you need it: Whatever higher power you believe in loves you regardless of who you choose to love. And you are valid and worthy of love, no matter who you choose to give your heart to.

So, reading Sebastian’s life just broke my heart over and over and over. I’ll also be honest, I don’t have any Mormon/LDS friends. I know all the terrible stereotypes, but this book is the only book I’ve even read that stars a Mormon character. So, even though I didn’t have a lot of knowledge about the Mormon church going into this book, I actually feel like this book actually taught me a bit about their beliefs and values. And I actually really appreciated and liked seeing the glimpses, even if it was hard at times. And I also think the authors wrote this book in a very respectful way towards the religion.

“You have so much space in your heart for your church, but does it have space for you?”

Tanner’s parents are my favorite parents of all literature. Goals, completely goals, in every sense of the word. And just seeing the juxtaposition between Tanner and Sebastian’s parents, it’s heartbreaking. To see how a child can thrive when they are accepted to embrace who they are. Then to see a child feel worthless, and wrong, and to actually pray to be different. You all, I don’t have words. And as much as I want to give a copy of this to every kid that is questioning their feelings, I wish I could put this in the hands of every single person who is even thinking of becoming a parent. But I will say that the only negative thing I can think about in this book is that Tanner’s parents are so amazing and supportive, but they still moved him to a place where he had to go back into the closet. Even if it was just for a few years, it still doesn’t feel too great when you think about that without the other amazing aspects of this story coming in to play.

When people have recommended this book to me they would always use words like “cute” and “sweet”, but I honestly cried while listening to at least half of this book. This book tore me a part, ripped me open, completely broke me, and then somehow put me back together, stitched me up, and completely healed me. Reading this book was a cathartic experience, without question.

But the romance is so good. And you will become so easily invested with these two boys who want nothing more than to love each other unapologetically. And even though I cried through most of this book, some of these tears were from pure happiness. These authors are romances writers, and it really shines throughout the novel and makes you ship these two so damn hard.

I also really loved that Tanner is bisexual (even though I think he could be pansexual, if he wanted that label), and it is constantly talked about how he has had relationships with different genders and emphasized that just because this book is a romance between two boys, Tanner is not gay. I really appreciated it. I also loved how thoughtful Tanner was with not outing Sebastian, and the important spotlight that these authors shined on how you shouldn’t out or discuss anyone’s sexuality, regardless of the relationship you have with them.

“Kissing boys feels good. Kissing girls feels good. But something tells me kissing Sebastian would be like a sparkler falling in the middle of a field of dry grass.”

This book also puts friendship, and how important it is to be open, communicative, and accepting in those friendships, in the spotlight. I loved Autumn so much, and her relationship with Tanner was a joy to read about. Friendships can be so confusing, and even messy at times, but unconditional love will forever and always be the most powerful force on the planet.

Overall, I read this in one day. I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t put it down. I still can’t stop thinking about it. This book is honestly perfection in my eyes. And I wish I could put it in the hands of every single kid who is questioning who they are and who they love. I will cherish this book forever. And I’m sorry if this review is a little all over the place, but this book truly means more to me than I have words for. This is seriously a masterpiece.

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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! ❤