The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

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“I don’t just raise monsters. I am one.”

One of the best book recommendations I’ve received to date is Elise recommending me The Abyss Surrounds Us. Friends, I fell totally in love with this story and it surpassed every high expectation I had for it. The writing is addicting, the story is so unique, and this book holds my now favorite enemies to lovers, angst-filled relationship of all time. Oh, and it’s between two girl pirates. Sold yet? You should be. This book was a gift.

First off, this book is set in a future version of United States where most of the country is underwater. And the few that can afford to live on land are very wealthy and very privileged. All over the world there are floating cities, and children being born that have never stepped foot on solid land. And with all of this being said, ships, boats, and other water vessels are the main mode of transportation.

Cassandra Leung is a seventeen-year-old, Chinese girl who has grown up outside of LA, where her family raises Reckoners! Reckoners are lab-created, monster-like, animals that can be a terrapoid (turtle-like), cephalopoid (octopus-like), serpentoid (snake-like), and probably even more! And they are very needed by the ships on the open seas, whether it be cruise ships, cargo ships, or any and all in-between, because they need protection from pirates that dangerously sail in the same waters. Cas and her family ensure that these different types of Reckoners bond with their buyer’s vessels to protect them at all costs. And on each vessel, a Reckoner trainer must also go to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Cas has never went on a mission by herself before, but her parents are finally allowing her to prove herself alongside her terrapoid, Durga, who she has bonded with since she was a young girl. But Cas quickly finds out that maybe Durga isn’t healthy enough for the journey, but it’s a little too late once pirates are sighted.

“So not only have I been captured by pirates—I’ve had the misfortune of being taken in by theatrical ones.”

Pirate Queen, Santa Elena, and her crew quickly board and just as quickly take Cas prisoner once they see that she was in charge of the Reckoner for the ship. And that’s because they are currently hiding their own little secret that needs someone with the experience and training that only Cas has. (Also, I am so in love with Bao, my little vicious bun!)

“Bao is, without a doubt, the most dangerous thing in the NeoPacific. And he answers to me.”

This book actually got pretty dark in parts, so please use caution! Trigger and content warnings for violence against animals, animal death, animal cruelty (behind the scenes), kidnapping, captivity, thoughts of suicide, attempted suicide, talk of slavery, physical abuse, and violence.

And while Cas is forced to live on this new ship, she learns that maybe she isn’t so different than the people she’s been protected from her whole entire life. And, like I said above, this little book has one of the best w/w stories I’ve read in a long while. The angst, friends, the damn angst. It’s actual perfection! I was screaming, I was crying, I was living for it. And I totally get that this is a book about people doing stuff on ships, but like, I ship these two girls so much that it hurts. I need book two immediately. And obviously from what I said above, there is an uneven power dynamic, but that’s the beautiful thing about this relationship because it is always addressed, constantly.

“We’re two trapped girls with nothing but each other on a ship of people who’d be better off with us dead, and somehow on top of that we’ve managed to do the one thing we shouldn’t be able to do.”

And we get to see this beautiful journey, not only across the water, but inside of Cassandra’s heart and mind. She didn’t know the world before she finally got to see it. And now she’s seeing things that she is unsure that she can ignore. Cas becomes the very definition of a morally grey character, but seeing her walk the line, while also trying to do what is right, while also trying to balance her new feelings, it’s so good. So damn good! This is such a powerful little book that I loved reading from the very first to the very last page.

Emily Skrutskie has woven such an amazing story here. This was a complete joy to read. And I truly believe with my whole heart that this is one of the most underhyped books of all time. And I also believe that this is going to be the best book I’ll read all of 2018’s Pride! Friends, buy this, read this, love this, and come gush with me. Please, I’m begging you.

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Buddy read with May at Forever and Everly! ❤

Pride Flag Book Tag 🌈

This amazing tag was created by Common Spence and it is honestly the very best tag on Booktube! And I knew I couldn’t resist doing this during Pride this year! Also, Spencer is quickly becoming my favorite Booktuber, and you should all check them out! 🌈

❤ 1. Red (Life) – A book with a spirited protagonist totally proud of who they are. Someone who gives you LIFE!

Without a doubt, I had to go with Evelyn from The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Evelyn has to overcome so much in her life, but she unapologetically loves herself and those around her. She is such a bi icon.

🧡 2. Orange (Healing) – A book that made you, as the reader, find a deeper meaning or catharsis in your own life.

Black Iris by Elliot Wake literally is the reason I discovered I was pansexual. Black Iris is still a catharsis for me to this day, and it will probably forever be. I have so much love for this book that completely changed my life and helped me understand sexual fluidity.

💛 3. Yellow (Sunshine) – A book that fills you with so much joy it could brighten even your darkest day.

This might be cheating, but I’m going to say the entire Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire, because just knowing a series like this exists brings me more joy than I have words to express. To everything queer representation, to all different types of bodies (shapes and abilities) representation, to mental health representation, to so much more, this series is a gift to the world. And I just received an ARC of book four and I am still in completely awe.

💚 4. Green (Nature) – A book that is set out of this world — a reality different to our own.

Inkmistress (Of Fire and Stars 0.5) by Audrey Coulthurst is set in a medieval-like world, that also happens to have lots of magic, people who can shapeshift, and even a dragon! It also features a beautiful bisexual main character.

💙 5. Blue (Peace) – A book where one of the characters finds peace with a difficult truth.

Without a doubt, I knew I had to pick We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson! Henry is a gay teenage boy, who is suffering with so much loss, while also trying to find peace with so many aspects of his life. And the journey was so beautiful to read.

💜 6. Purple (Spirit) – A book that deals with LGBT+ themes and religion.
I’m actually going to go with the short story “Love Spell” by Anna-Marie McLemore, that is in the Toil & Trouble anthology coming out this summer! It stars a trans boy who has devoted his life to God and the Catholic church, and a girl who the town thinks is a witch that doesn’t even deserve communion. And I promise you, it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read. This is about community, and prejudices, and family, and knowing your worth, and knowing when love is worth it. This story truly has stuck with me and will stay with me forever.

And consider ALL of you tagged, because this is the book tag that we all deserve! It’s actually perfect, and I hope you all do it! Also, feel free to comment below and let me know one of your favorite LGBTQIAP+ reads! I’m always looking to add to my TBR! And happy Pride and happy reading, loves! ❤🧡💛💚💙💜

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We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

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“We may not get to choose how we die, but we can choose how we live. The universe may forget us, but it doesn’t matter. Because we are the ants, and we’ll keep marching on.”

We Are the Ants is a really beautiful story about being a teenager, being gay, and not being accepted. This is a story about heartbreak, loss, grief, and trying to figure out who you are in the midst of it all. I’ll be honest, I didn’t love the start of this book, but I completely fell in love with the middle and end. And I totally understand why so many of my friends hail this as their favorite book of all time.

But the reason I’m giving this four stars is because the first part of this book felt just so vulgar. Like, maybe it’s because I’m a grown woman and I don’t want to read about teenage boners, but like the first part of this book just reads crude and bad. I was honestly scared I was going to end up hating this book. Which would have really surprised me, because Shaun David Hutchinson’s short story in the All Out Anthology was my favorite in the entire collection. It was so beautifully written, so lyrical, so immersive, so empowering. And luckily for me, I didn’t give up hope, because We Are the Ants ended up being all of those things, too.

“That’s the problem with memories: you can visit them, but you can’t live in them.”

This book stars a young boy named Henry who is grieving the loss of his boyfriend who recently committed suicide. His home situation isn’t great either, from a mom that is also unhappy, a brother that is abusive and making some big life changes, and a grandmother who can hardly remember his name. Also, Henry is the joke of his high school and has been dubbed “Space Boy” because he frequently gets abducted by aliens, regardless of who believes him or not.

We get to witness some of Henry’s alien abductions, but on one particular visit, he is given a choice to save the world or to leave it for impending destruction. Henry has 144 days to decide if the world is worth saving.

“If you knew the world was going to end, and you could press a button to prevent it, would you?”

This book does deal with so many heavy topics, so please use caution and make sure you are in the right mindset. Trigger and content warnings for attempted rape, sexual assault, outing, suicide, a lot of physical abuse, extreme bullying, homophobia, homophobic slurs, drug addiction, alcoholism, grief, depression, abandonment, loss of a loved one, talk of self-harm/cutting, and having a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.

Another important aspect I love in this book was the depictions of adults. First off, Henry’s mother is dealing with so many things, and so much heartache of her own, and she doesn’t hide it. I’m not saying everything she did was healthy, but it’s realistic and I think it’s something really important for more teens to read and see that they aren’t alone. High key, Ms. Faraci was my favorite character. I seriously loved that teacher and her honest advice that sometimes awful people do indeed succeed in the world, but it doesn’t mean that they will always be in your life. I also just loved seeing a teacher care about a student the way that she did with Henry. It was truly heartwarming and meant a lot to me.

Another really real and raw theme of the book is how we use other people to fill a void left by someone else. And how we will make excuses and justifications for the only person who is making us feel something, even if they are abusive and manipulative. This just really spoke to my soul, honestly.

I wouldn’t say that this book is about romance, but there is a romance element and let me climb up on the rooftops and scream that the love interest in this book is a Latinx Pansexual boy! You all, I was not expecting pan rep in this book, and even though the actual word is not on the page, my heart was so damn happy.

Overall, Shaun David Hutchinson has now impressed me twice in 2018 and I’m no longer going to sleep on his work. I think he’s so immensely talented, and all the elements that are a part of his stories are honestly life changing and saving. And I hope you all might consider picking up We Are the Ants and get blown away, too.

“Depression isn’t a war you win. It’s a battle you fight every day. You never stop, never get to rest. It’s one bloody fray after another.”

This story is truly holds such an important discussion about mental illness and how it is something that you have to always manage and keep up with, because it never goes away, no matter how many alien abductions happen. And I’m going to leave some numbers here:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
In a crisis, call their free and 24/ 7 U.S. hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Contact their Crisis Text Line: text TALK to 741-741
National Hopeline Network: / 1-800-442-HOPE (4673)
American Association of Suicidology:
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:
Suicide Prevention Resource Center:

Alliance of Hope for Suicide Survivors:
American Association of Suicidology survivors page:
Friends for Survival:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline survivors page:
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education:

Mental Health America:
National Alliance on Mental Illness:
National Institute of Mental Health:

Also, I found all of these resources from The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan, which is another amazing book that I completely recommend for anyone looking for more books that center around mental illness. And I’m obvious not a therapist, but my DMs will always be open for anyone who just needs a friend to talk to. You are deserving of love and happiness, sometimes it just takes a little while to find those things, but I promise you are worthy of them. And I promise that you matter.

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Buddy read with Alexis and Lily! ❤

Sunstone, Vol. 3 (Sunstone #3) by Stjepan Šejić

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Vol. 1: ★★★★★
Vol. 2: ★★★

This is such a gem of a graphic novel series. And even though I didn’t love this one as much as Volume One, I still really enjoyed this installment and completely recommend it to adults who are interested in the BDSM lifestyle. Seriously, this is filled with very mature themes and explicit sexual content, so use caution if that’s not something you’re looking for.

Especially since this volume really touches upon the misconceptions about BDSM and the stereotypes that people put on the community in general. Yet, this series heavily emphasizes the importance of safety, and trust, and acknowledges that there is a lot of shady shit and people out there. Especially people who are interested in the community without putting in any of the effort to be a good Dom or sub.

But this installment is mostly us seeing Ally and Lisa fall for each other and start to want more than to just be each other’s BDSM partner. Lisa and Ally got to know each other online for two months before they met up for a session, and now they have been seeing each other for three weeks. And they are starting to feel a lot for one another, but they are scared the other one might not have the same feelings. And neither want to hinder or hurt the relationship they have currently.

Again, I just adore this graphic novel series and I haven’t found anything else like it. The art is so sexy and beautiful, the color palette is perfection, and the depiction of two girls learning each other’s wants and needs in a BDSM relationship is spot on. Not that my experiences are greater or more “realistic” than anyone else’s, but in my humble opinion this is a very accurate depiction.

And if you’re looking for a cute Dom/sub relationship with a sweet romance, then I completely recommend this series with my whole entire heart. And I’m really looking forward to picking up Volume Four very shortly!

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