Posted in 2018, Fiction, LGBTQ, Romance, young adult

If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan

This is the second book of Sara Farizan that I’ve read. I wasn’t too impressed with the first one, but I gave this one a shot anyway. I’m glad I did because I thought it was great (at least in comparison with Tell Me How A Crush Should Feel).

In this book, we have Nasrin and Sahar keeping their love a secret because, in Iran, homosexuality is punishable by death.  But since they are best friends, no ones thinks any differently that these girls love hanging around each other.

Conflict: Sahar’s parents have arranged her to marry a man.

Solution: Nasrin attempts to try to change her gender (because being a transexual is legal in Iran, did not know that) so she could marry Sahar instead.

This books is funny, emotional, entertaining, slightly annoying (it’s not uncommon to be annoyed of a character when you are binge reading first person point of view.) but overall educational on the experiences of a teenage Iranian coming to terms with the injustice.

One thing I did like about this book is that both characters loved each other equally, although they showed it in different ways. There was no pity love. There was no “I’m better than you, and I can have anyone I want so you better be good to me (which is how I first thought Sahar’s character would be like).” Both character were committed to each other, but circumstances got in the way.

Posted in 2018, Fiction, LGBTQ

Minotaur by J.A. Rock

This book is very well written…but badly executed. I read it because, 1) I have a thing for bull drawings (see cover) and 2) it was featured in Pride’s month reading recommendation.

I personally felt as if it were two different books merged together. You have the book of the Rock Point home….and then you have the book of the Labyrinth. Both stood well alone, but combining them felt disappointing.

I would have settled for a longer book if it had better action. My guess is that the author originally wanted to make the labyrinth scene, but then fell in love with the back story and focused more on that than on the labyrinth itself.

The labyrinth, full of promise and spooky potential, was treated like a badly managed circus. It’s not that I have an issue that a complete amateur was able to survive the place, it’s that she didn’t even get hurt. Yes, she got tricked, but she, for the most part, suffered outside of the Labyrinth way more than she did inside. How then, can I be convinced that the Labyrinth is a scary place?

The flow of the second part of the book felt like those unnecessarily dramatic stories that you can read to children to scare them. This differs from the beginning which felt more young adult and self-actualization.  

Our protagonist, although a teenager, has the emotional mindset of a child. That’s probably what made her interesting. Child-like heart but adult-like brain (or at least she wanted to act adult, anyway).

The love interest isn’t really about love….but about need and want. That, however, inspired the best quotes!

The character development is uninteresting since regardless of the circumstances, they were all haunted by their pasts. The character relationships were well thought out though.

The Beast was probably the biggest disappointment. Maybe that was the point. To not give us such an obvious villain. Or clever yet, to instate that the real villain isn’t the Beast, but society. The Beast then, becoming relatable.

Favorite Quotes:

We are all a step away from goodness cracking  under our feet and collapsing us into villany.

Loss, violence, bullying, starvation, boredom, the promise of beauty or fame or sex–chances are there is something somewhere you’d turn wicked for. Innocence starts to look haggard with age, same as skin.

My tantrums, my rotten words, the joy my fists took in meeting flesh–those were to distract others from seeing all the spots the spear could go. Until one woman stripped me truly bare, and together we built an armor that rendered me both powerful and humble. It looked so right on me that seeing myself in it for the first time.

Rivulets of grief, sliding down their bones, blushes of it in their cheeks. They suffered because they were lonely in a way people seldom talk about, a way that affects grace and movement and dreams and memory.

Perhaps we believed that if we never acted like adults, we’d never be forced out into the wider world to confront the magnitude of our desolation.

Loneliness is like having a wound sewn shut with barbed thread. We close off the parts of ourselves that are open to others and pretend to embrace the privacy of our bodies–and yet we do the closing with something that will hurt every time we move. That will remind us of the secrets we’ve tried to stow away.

I didn’t give a shit about being pretty. Yet it’s hard sometimes, in a world that promises you the most basic treasures in exchange for being a looked-upon thing, not to wish your face had been a better construct.

A soldier-ish loyalty grew on me ivy-thick, and I started to feel less like an awkward angry child and more like a warrior, with followers and a destiny and a tortured soul.

Bad things, I thought, can’t hurt you if you pursue them with devotion.

I’d spent a fair portion of my life taking, but I could now see the appeal of doing the opposite. Could imagine that it was its own sort of power, to do murder on somebody’s heart with a gift.

That’s a little blunt

I think our wishes often get as muddled as dreams. In our wishes, people are their better selves and walls lose their permanence, and no matter how heavily we populate our fantasies with friends, with family, with lovers–we are ultimately in them alone.

I don’t know why it works this way–that we blame the one who shatters the illusion, rather than the illusion itself, or ourselves for buying into it.

Shame is perhaps both a form of self-pity and a form of loneliness. In the heat of embarrassment, it’s possible to believe you are the only one who has ever felt such guilt, such a profound understanding of what an impossibility evil thing the self is.

388073c6-914c-43fc-bda1-028dd50234cc-c2c6fc9d-a9ca-4363-8ef0-ed51522b6d12-v1 Love, love, love that one!

I didn’t want to be shy or delicate. I wanted to know what it was like to ravage a body with a misguided admiration for it. To know that skin got in the way of the truth of the person, and yet that truth, that soul, was untouchable, and so you had to settle for skin.

When you fall in love with someone, you fall in love not only with her face and eyes and heart, but with her vision of the world. Love leaves no room to stand back and pity another’s delusions. You share them. You join hands lying down and draw an arc across the sky and tell a story about what a cloud looks like, a story that becomes your shared truth.

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You can’t unleash an act of good to tame a tragedy.

It’s not that revenge has no place in the world. But we so often clamp our jaws around the things we think we want, while the real prizes escape between our teeth, slide down our necks in rivers and are lost in our skin.

I always thought loneliness must be a quiet thing. Up all night with frog sounds, wandering an empty room by day, resenting the sun squares on the floor. Guilt too seemed like it ought to be a silent kind of suffering. But what was going on inside me was a filthy and violent underground. Jeers and wagers and the sound of creature versus creature.

I do not want the truth gone from me. I do not want only stories. What stories do to heroes is edge out the things that make them bravest–their insecurities and wrongdoings, their trashing-tailed desire for self-preservation. The way they sharpen their love with a quiet, occasional contempt for the object of it. We paint heroes in broad strokes–nameable virtues and forgivable flaws. They brood, yes, but they are never paralyzed by self-loathing. They kill, but only monsters.

Courage without fear is simply recklessness.

I could have fucked her until our cries twined and drowned out the music of suffering.

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Miss Ridges had said once that reading meant nothing unless you could articulate what a story had given you. But I’d always disagreed–though I’d never found the words to argue. You didn’t have to be able to analyze to appreciate a story. You had only to be able to feel, deep in a place that didn’t deal in words, how that story was yours and everyone else’s too.

I don’t know which one I believe in.

“Violence starts as a discovery–of power, of ambition. Of a force that rests with its head against your heart. It is always there–a shadow, featureless. Until you turn a certain way, and the silhouette resolves itself. You see the nose, the lips, the curve of the shoulder. You see what you are capable of. You feel both the danger and the ordinariness of it. Because in the end, the blood comes out of each of us the same way. And one dead human, weighed against the world and the galaxy and everything beyond, means very little.” She paused. “Every act of violence is a disappointment before it even begins.”

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Overall, I don’t think I would recommend this book. The end doesn’t justify the means.

Featured image taken from: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25866851-minotaur

 

Posted in Non-Fiction, Self-help

The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman

Psychologists have concluded that the need to feel loved is a primary human emotional need.

Child psychologists affirm that every child has certain basic emotional needs that must be met if he is to be emotionally stable. Among those emotional needs, none is more basic than the need for love and affection, the need to sense that he or she belongs and is wanted. With an adequate supply of affection, the child will likely develop into a responsible adult. Without that love, he or she will be emotionally and socially challenged.

When your spouse’s emotional love tank is full and he feels secure in your love, the whole world looks bright and your spouse will move out to reach his highest potential in life. But when the love tank is empty and he feels used but not loved, the whole world looks dark and he will likely never reach his potential for good in the world.

If that excerpt doesn’t encourage you to read this book, it might not be for you.

The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman has been recommended to me countless of times but I refused because I thought it would be boring.

I was wrong.

It is insightful and well written. It not only helps you define your love language, it helps you understand your partner’s and how to manage their love language.

If you are in a relationship, plan to be in a relationship…or want to form better relationships with friends, collegues and/or relatives…this book is a wonderful tool to use.

There is a test in the end where you can find out your language and I must say, I was somewhat surprised about my main language. I guess subsconsiously I knew what it was, but I assumed a different one. Now I know. Now I can express myself.

Now if you don’t already know, the languages are (in no particular order):

  1. Receiving Gifts
  2. Words of Affirmations
  3. Physical Touch
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Quality Time

I feel they are pretty self-explanatory on their own, but this book deepends the definitions and circumstances.

People tend to criticize their spouse most loudly in the area where they themselves have the deepest emotional need. Their criticism is an ineffective way of pleading for love. If we understand that, it may help us process their criticism in a more productive manner.

Guilty!

I am significant. Life has meaning. There is a higher purpose. I want to believe it, but I may not feel significant until someone expressed love to me.

See….it’s not about low self-esteem…it’s about a low love tank. This is probably one of the few self-help books that don’t say “everything you need is inside you” or “you just need to love yourself.” Chapman understands that we are a creature of community.

“Perhaps it would be helpful for us to distinguish between love as a feeling and love as an action.”

Now this is powerful because, if you were like me,  you tend to confuse the two. This book contains examples on what both look like.

Overall, this book will help you grow, if you stick to it, and you apply it to your life. However, it will require patience getting through because, like most self-help books, it gets repetitive!

Feature image was taken from the Goodreads page

 

Posted in 2018, Discworld, Fiction, terry pratchett

The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett

This book was wonderful with wit. Reminds me of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. It’s really hard to write a book review about it because I know that the Discworld is so detailed and I’ve only just read the beginning.

The book starts out with describing a turtle (whom I wish to learn about but it is not really mentioned in this book. We are then transferred into the world of the tourist, who originally communicated via punctuation (seriously though, what does an “!” sound like?). The tourist is taken into town where eventually he hires the services of the Wizard, that is when the fun begins. The Tourist is quite naive and ignorantly brave whereas the Wizard is extremely cynical and cowardly. They are the opposite of each other and both provide comic relief.

The footnotes make it feel like a textbook which makes this feel historical instead of fictional. Making Death a character is great! Scrofula is super cute, probably the funniest moment of the entire book (Even as I type it I know this is incorrect. Due to the recency effect, I believe that this is the funniest part, but I found myself thinking that same sentence over and over again)! Oh! And bringing back dragons but actually giving them an actual complicated history was well done.

Below are questions I’ve had during the book. I plan to read more of Discworld.

  • It’s a game?! With Fate? (Hahahahahahaha!!!!!)
  • Who is Octavo?
  • Do we ever find out more about Lady?

Favorite Quotes

“I used to be an exceptionally powerful wizard. My daughter poisoned me, of course. It is generally the accepted method of succession in our family”

I mean, come on! How funny is that!!!!!!

Ripples of paradox spread out across the sea of casualty.

Wow

Some pirates achieved immortality by great deeds of cruelty or derring-do. Some achieved immortality by amassing great wealth. But the captain had long ago decided that he would, on the whole, prefer to achieve immortality by not dying.

Logical.

But usually he didn’t bother the gods, and he hoped the gods wouldn’t bother him. Life was quite complicated enough.

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(Feature Image taken from https://www.goodreads.com/book/photo/34497.The_Color_of_Magic)

Posted in 2018, Fiction, LGBTQ

The Ghost Network by Catie Disabato

I’m not really into mystery novels but this one was worth reading. If you read the description on Goodreads where it claims it’s “Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl for adults” you’d be perfectly misled. I read Fangirl and this is nothing like it. Fangirl is a love story by someone obsessed with fanfiction and has low self-esteem and doesn’t believe these cute guys can actually like her (there is more to the story than that….it’s also about her figuring out her writing style, it’s about her relationship with her twin and coming to trust her roommate. It’s about her relationship with her parents. But this blog isn’t about Fangirl so I won’t go into detail). Although the Ghost Network does contain characters who are experiencing a loving relationship, the story is about the Situationists (which apparently was (or is) a real group that originated in Europe led by a man named Guy Debord.

This story starts out with a disappearance of a girl named Caitlin Taer, whose body they never recovered from the sea even though her friends, Nick Berliner and girlfriend (see, love relationship) Regina Nix made it back to shore after their (stolen) boat was recked (I should also mention that they were drunk at that time). Taer’s disappearance was a lot less of a mystery because everyone was still too busy trying to figure out where Pop Sensation Molly Metropolis has disappeared to. Molly was at the height of her Pop Music career when she disappeared before a show. Her body was never recovered and no one knew of her whereabouts. The only comparison I can make to Fangirl is that, whereas Cath was working on improving her writing, Molly was working on improving her music. Well, I guess the other comparison I can make is that where Cath was obsessed with Simon and Baz fanfiction, Molly was obsessed with the Situationist.

Molly obsession got the point where she was trying to figure out what the New Situationists (a new group of Situationists that originated, although rumored to be dismantled after one of their members, Mary Helen Krauss [she is not actually French] was arrested for manslaughter after a domestic terrorist attack went wrong.  The original plan was that they were going to blow up parts of the Chicago Public Transit System after working hours. Just to take the extra step, they pulled the fire alarm to make sure any homeless or security guards got out. However, in Krauss’ section, there was a sleeping security guard that didn’t hear the alarm and therefore….boom goes the guard. Krauss was sentenced to 25 years of prison.) were up to.

Molly persisted on befriending Nick Berliner (a known New Situationist) in order to get more information. Nick refused at first, but Molly persisted. When Nick went to discuss this with his girlfriend, Krauss (he visited her every week), she asked him to bring her (Nick did not know at the time that Molly had already visited Krauss, but they kept that a secret from him). Krauss asked them to find out anything they could about what that NS was planning. That’s when they found out that the Situationists were trying to retrieve all archives of the Chicago Public Transit System, those that existed, those that were planned but never built, those that were rejected and those that were just thought up but never presented to the board. With that, came the Ghost Network.

Caitlin Taer was a reported and a huge Molly Metro fan, so when she found out that Molly disappeared, she wanted to be the one to take on the report. That’s when she learned that a former high school acquaintance of her, Regina Nix, worked closely with Molly. Taer’s editors said that if she can get an interview, she can have the story. Taer contacted Nix and Nix obliged. That’s slowly how their love relationship started. They developed a friendship and then it developed into more…and pretty soon they were living together. Nix was depressed and wasn’t as interested in finding Molly as Taer was. Taer thought about Molly almost all the time. When Nix was asked to clean Molly’s hotel room, she asked Taer to come along and that’s where they found her journal. That’s when Taer’s obsession fully blossomed. That’s also how they come to know about Nick Berliner (his number was written in her journal). Nix also told Taer that Molly always read about the Situationists. Eventually, they befriended Nick and tried to solve the mystery of “where is Molly Metropolis.”

The story is written by a fictional Catie Disabato who was given the work of her mentor, Cyrus Archer after a car accident. He was writing the book on Molly Metropolis and her disappearance. Catie further investigated the matter in order to finish the book and find out the truth. It reads like a report and is sprinkled with footnotes. My favorite part is all the uncertainties of identities….and the fact that there is a secret society. I love secrets so, it’s no wonder I enjoyed this book.

It was suspenseful but also extremely detailed. Whereas the book synopsis claims it’s about finding Molly Metropolis, I honestly say she was just a piece to the larger picture and this book is really about discovering the Situationists. She goes into complicated detail about the history and intentions and I still don’t think I fully understand this organization. But the mystery behind it is what makes it appealing. The idea of a new world is what made it exciting.

This is definitely not a book I would recommend to just anyone. This reminds me of a much more middle school version of what Atlas Shrugged was meant to be. An awareness of human perfection. A place where intellect rules over popularity and status.

The cool thing is that this book feels real. They have current celebrity references (like Miley Cirus and Jennifer Lawrence…even Christopher Nolan is thrown in there). And in the acknowledgments, she even thanks Caitlin Taer and Regina Nix; her created fictional characters as if they really did undergo this great adventure that helped her discover this new world (which in a way, they did).

If I haven’t lost you already, here are some of my favorite quotes.

If you know a place, he realized, it’s no longer a trap.

 

Very often, when you meet a person for the first time, their emotions are really turned off. Even people who are really open, I’m not just talking about closed-off people. Most of the time, people don’t show you thier heaviest, deepest emotions the first time you meet them. I mean, they don’t want to show you that vulnerable part of themselves and you don’t want to see it. You don’t want them to see yours either. There’s a social contract between people who have never met before, to be some diminished version of yourself.

 

Debord was interested in a sociological study performed by Chombar de Lauwe in 1952, where de Lauwe strove to show that the average Parisian doesn’t live in a neighborhood so much as a small swath of the city determined by her won habits and preferences.

 

Most people are ready to suffer, as long as it’s for the right reasons.

 

 

These quotes make you self-reflect, don’t you think?

If you know any books regarding secret societies or mystery worlds, please comment and let me know. I’m starting to realize that I appreciate those book a lot more than the fantasy books that used to help me escape. I know Jules Vernes has books with secret worlds. But I don’t know of any others.

Posted in Becky Albertalli, Fiction, LGBTQ

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Leah on the Offbeat was hilarious to read. Not because it was funny, but because I guess the plot before even reading the book. I remember texting my friend what I thought it should be after I read the synopsis. I can’t say what it is because of spoilers.

Anyway, happy feelings aside, this book was different than Simon Vs The Homosapien’s agenda because (besides it being from the point of view of Leah) it wasn’t as happy…or innocent. Unlike Simon liking Blue, Leah liking her crush posed complicated ethical dilemmas. Also, Leah was not the way she was described by Simon. In Simon, Leah was this easily angered friend…whereas here, she was just sensitive (and no wonder, she had to deal with a lot of obstacles).

Leah and the Offbeat also slightly connect to Albertalli’s other book “The Upside of Unrequited” but it is not necessary to read in order to know what is going on.

Because I can’t write more without disclosing spoilers, I will go straight to quotes.

It’s that girlfriend feeling again, not that I’ve ever been anyone’s girlfriend. But I imagine it feels like this. Like I’m this tiny precious wanted thing. I can’t decide if I feel gross about that, or if I only think I should feel gross about it.

This feeling….I have never read it in a book before so it was…cute.

There’s a tug in my chest. Because when Bram says Simon’s name, he pronounces every part of it. Like it’s worth being careful over. It’s really sweet and everything, how wow, I get so jealous sometimes. It’s obviously not just Simon and Bram. It’s couples in general. And it’s not about the kissing stuff. It’s just — imagine being Simon. Imagine going about your day knowing someone’s carrying you in their mind. That has to be the best part of being in love–the feeling of having a home in someone else’s brain.

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I think I hate the concept of needing space. What it really means is that the person’s mad at you, or hates you, or doesn’t give a shit about you. They just don’t want to admit it.

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I used to think boners literally pointed in the direction of the person you’re attracted to, like a compass. That would be helpful. Mortifying as fuck, but at least it would clarify things.

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Let your guts hand out. I don’t even get that. Why would anyone want to live like that? Why would anyone want to live like that? Like it isn’t bad enough I’m always one breath away from falling apart. I’m supposed to fall apart under a spotlight?
It’s too much. And I don’t want to embrace the suck. I want things to not suck. And I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

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“Do I want to love him enough that leaving him would wreck me? Yeah”

*speechless*

 

 

Posted in 2018, Fiction

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

I remember watching The Golden Compass movie when it first came out (before reading the book) and I thought it was soooooo boring!!! Now after reading the book, I understand why. The actors did a terrible portraying the fictional characters. The actors, themselves are usually good but in this movie, the only believable characters were the animals.

Therefore, it took a while for me to find the motivation to read it. If it wasn’t for a pen pal making a pack to read it together, I probably wouldn’t have opened it, regardless of how many people told me it was a wonderful read.

Now that I have read it, I agree with it. It’s fantastically detailed and filled with imagination. This was the first part of a 3 part series of His Dark Materials.

The details, in the beginning, made the story feel slow at first, but after our protagonist’s adventure began, it was hard to put down. I would definitely recommend it if you are a fan of the fantasy genre.

There was a moment in the book where the author really described a fearful event. To us, it would be a normal event but in the book, the occurrence is so unbelievable that I remember my eyes going wide. That is how you can tell a book is good. When you start feeling what the characters are feeling.

Here are some of my favorite quotes (spoilers below):

“Nothing will hold my hand, Margaret, save only judgement. If I stay my hand in the North, it will only be to strike the harder in the South. To strike a day too soon is as bad as striking a hundred miles off. To be sure, there’s a warm passion behind what you say. But if you give in to that passion,friends, you’re doing what I always warned you agin: you’re a placing the satisfaction of your own feelings. Our feelings don’t matter. If we rescue the kids but we can’t punish the Gobblers, we’ve done the main task. But if we aim to punish the Gobblers first and by doing so lose the chance of rescuing kids, we’ve failed.”

That’s why John Faa makes a great trusting leader. He commenced by saying when the times comes, he will because his heart is not soft, but it will be under judgment and not passion.

Being a practiced liar doesn’t mean you have a powerful imagination. Many good liars have no imagination at all; it’s that which gives their lies such wide-eyed conviction.

Hahaha, it’s an honest quote.

“Well, that seems kinda precipitate. Seems to me a man should have a choice whether to take up arms or not.”
“We have no more choice in that than in whether or not to be born.”

I feel like that’s life. You don’t get a choice on which war you get thrown in, you just get thrown and you have to do the best you can.

“There wasn’t really and Adam and Eve? The Cassington Scholar told me it was just a kind of fairy tale.”
“The Cassington Scholarship is traditionally given to a freethinker; it’s his function to challenge the faith of the Scholars. Naturally he’d say that. But think of Adam and Eve like an imaginary number, like the square root of minus one; you can never see any concrete proof that it exists, but if you include it in your equations, you can calculate all manner of things that couldn’t be imagined without it.”

Here they are talking about Dust. That when Adam and Eve ate the apple, their Daemons turned into one form instead of changing about like a child’s do. The twist here is that Dust started forming because the Lord said “for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” as in, you will be filled with Dust (another cool argument is that someone argues that returning to the ground is God’s way of admitting his own nature to be partly sinful). Dust in the book is an elementary particle that surrounds kids after puberty. It is themed as original sin. One sentence that really struck was when he mentioned: “There was a physical proof that something happened when innocence changed into experience.”

I really like that the book focuses on the importance of Dust. In my opinion, it’s a metaphor for finding yourself. Lyria doesn’t want to grow up, and her pursuit of understanding Dust is her way of trying to figure out where she belongs. The people who inform her about Dust are ironically her parents. Given that Dust is proof when “innocent changed into experience,” it’s interesting to know that the more she knows about Dust (herself, her life…her place in the scheme of life), the more she is losing her innocence.

We’ve heard them all talk about Dust, and they’re so afraid of it, and you know what? We believed them, even though wecould see that what they were doing was wicked and evil and wrong…We thought Dust must be bad too, ebcause they were grown up and they said so. But what if it isn’t? What if it’s [good]?”

I love that logic 🙂