TV review: The Young Pope

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Sometimes, I get little trials for a weekend of different networks. A couple of weeks ago, I got HBO. Like usual, I scrolled through what they have available to watch and I found this one. And I suddenly remembered that I had desperately wanted to watch it when it was airing and now I had the chance to watch it.

Boy was it fun.

It follows the story of Lenny, a man who becomes Pope Pius XIII. He was abandoned as a child at an orphanage, something that haunts him his whole life. Sister Mary is the nun who took care of him. She’s his most trusted advisor and a woman he sees as a mother.

The plot was a bit thin at times and I found it difficult to follow (probably because I was doing other things while watching it) but I still found it fun. The scenes were hilarious. The cinematography was great. The costumes were amazing. It really felt like I was in the older days where the pope really ran the world. Lenny/Pius was trying to get back to those days through his papacy.

And he’s doing it in style.

Legit, yo.

As I said, it was funny. I was cackling at the opening scene with Lenny’s first speech to the Catholic nation. Then, it was just a gorgeous show with rich scenes. I can’t picture anyone but Jude Law playing Lenny. Same with Diane Keaton as Sister Mary.

Her sleeping shirt.

While it’s not a show for everyone, I think it’s worth a try. There’s not a lot of sex in it, surprisingly, and it really follows the internal journey of Lenny. And his move in what many of us would see is a bad direction.



The “Me in Book Characters Tag”

In December and January, everyone we follow was doing this tag. Everyone. I (Caidyn) swear, it was almost every email we got that people we follow was doing this. So, I decided that we were going to do it since it actually looks fun. Really!

The rules:

  1. Thank the creators of the tag – Ash & Lo @ Windowsill Books!
  2. Thank whoever tagged you.
  3. List 5 book characters who you relate to most and explain why.
  4. Tag some friends.

We didn’t get tagged. We decided to tag ourselves in this one. So, Chantel can thank me and I can thank Chantel. Good.

And onto our book characters!
Caidyn will be in blue.
Chantel will be in purple.

1. Harry Potter from… well.

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Probably my favorite scene in the movies, even if this is my least favorite movie.

I’ve always really connected with Harry, tbh. People always say that main characters in books aren’t ones they can connect with because they’re too good or whatever. I understood him. I connected with him. His deep empathy despite everything connected with me. The struggles he went through connected with me. I mean, even his emotions connected with me.

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He was such a deep character that just got better as he grew up. Yet, I always loved — and, again, connected with how selfless he was. I try to be an extremely selfless person and he was always like me.

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This scene always makes me cry.

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Yes this can also be me. And Chantel is Hermione. Keeps me and my big head in check.


2. Basil Hallward from The Picture of Dorian Gray

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I think this is a harder one to explain, honestly. Basil Hallward is the man who painted the portrait that Dorian Gray sells his soul over. He’s the guy with the awesome bowtie in the picture. What I loved about him in the book was how odd he was and, also, how complex he was. He was so complex because of his infatuation with Dorian and the way he grows apart from him and his emotions about taking responsibility (opposite of Lord Wotton) for what happened.

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And, also, he’s a great example of Victorian homophobia with how editors made Wilde cut out Hallward’s admission at the end of the story that he loves Dorian. And is in love with him.

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Luckily, the movie backed us up with it.

3. Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice

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Yes. Mr. Darcy. I know, I know. He’s a huge dick and doesn’t understand people and can come off as super aloof, but I really understood him since he likes people not knowing him. He’s extremely awkward in every way and, well, I can be that way in person. I might come off as very confident online, but, deep down, I’m awkward in person and can come off as a bit of a dick sometimes.

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Yet, like me, he also feels so damn deeply.

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4. Shadow from American Gods

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I’ve written a few times about American Gods, but it’s one of my favorite books and Shadow is one of my favorite characters. He’s so enigmatic that it’s hard to pin down why I like him — I mean, his personality is so non-existent for most of the book, up until the end and then it’s all explained so nicely. I love him for his loyalty. I’m a loyal person. I’m loyal and would do anything for the people I care for. Have a fight, give money, donate whatever body part I don’t need. And Shadow is extremely loyal and keeps his promises, no matter how ridiculous it might seem to everyone else.

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And also look at that face.

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He also looks almost constantly confused and that’s a big mood.


5. Ben Hanscomb from IT

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While, apparently, I’m an Aries like Eddie Kaspbrak, I always felt more attached to Ben. Maybe because, much like him, I’ve struggled with body image. While his was because of being overweight and that making him an easy target, for me it’s because I’m trans and it’s been an uphill battle getting used to my body. He also struggles with his courage and being accepted because he’s different, something I’ve also had to face myself.

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He’s also super awkward around people he finds cute.

1. Dobby from Harry Potter

Every Friday after I get off work, I’m usually texting Caidyn telling him how happy I am that it’s the end of the week and it goes something like this. 


It’s kind of become an inside joke between us. However, it’s recently occurred to me that I am indeed Dobby. 

Now, out of all the characters from Harry Potter, I would’ve loved to pick Hermione. Buuuuuuuuuuuuuut…

Hermione punches Draco

She is a goddess and I can’t even. 

I also considered Neville, buuuuuuuuut…



So, we circle back to Dobby whom I feel fits me better. For example, I’m short and have pointy ears (this will come up later). I would consider myself very loyal to my friends and I too long for freedom aka my weekends. 

And, I wear socks all the time. Seriously, except when I shower, I’m always wearing socks because my feet get cold. 

I am also fiercely protective of my friends and fight for them. Like this: 

And since Caidyn is Harry, I think this is fitting.

2. Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings

Is it a crime that I’ve never read the LOTR books? I really don’t care. I’ve seen the movies. Here’s the thing. Just like I see myself as a house elf, I also see myself as a Hobbit. I always have, always will. I’m short, have pointy ears, and love to eat. I may or may not have hairy feet. I want to move to New Zealand and live in Hobbiton in a hole the ground. That is #lyfegoals. So, why did I pick Samwise? Well…


Some gifs just sum me up perfectly. Like this one. 

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Now, that I think about it, I’m probably a combo of Sam and Pippin. 

3. Willow Rosenberg from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I know this tag specifies book characters, but here’s the thing. Buffy the Vampire Slayer has a comic series that continues on after the show ends, SO FIGHT ME. 

I watched Buffy when I was a teenager and I loved it. It’s one of my favorite shows of all time. I’m currently rewatching it and I’m loving every minute. Except for the spiders in the opening credits of seasons one and two. The fuck, man? 

ANYWAY, I always identified with Willow Rosenberg. Willow is Buffy’s best friend and an adorable, dorky, nerd who is loyal. I’m sensing a theme here. She’s also a badass witch, which I’m not but let’s throw that in there anyway. 

Here are three gifs which demonstrate how dorky and adorable Willow is. Alyson Hannigan is an American treasure. We don’t deserve her.

Willow being a dork

Willow waving

Willow no spanking

There are a few other reasons why I so closely identify with Willow Rosenberg. 

For one, she has an adorable kitten. 

willow catnip problem

Willow with miss kitty fantastico

I think this is too much cuteness for me to handle. 


willow kinda gay

Psh, “kinda gay” come on Willow, lesbi-honest. 

Okay, okay, before anyone jumps down my throat, I do not consider this a spoiler because sexuality isn’t a spoiler. I do not agree that revealing a character’s sexuality is a spoiler. Yes, Willow comes out as gay in the later seasons, HOWEVER, knowing there was an openly gay main character on this show is the reason I watched it in the first place. And guess what? Willow Rosenberg is far more than just her sexuality. She is a fiercely loyal, badass witch, and she also happens to come out as gay later in the series. 

She was the first openly gay character I can remember seeing on a network tv show, and I absolutely love her for it. 

So, if anyone had any technicalities with choosing Willow as a character. Well, let’s just say you won’t be happy with my last character. 

guilty willow

Sorry, not sorry.

4. Dustin from Stranger Things

Stranger Things is not a book and Dustin is not a book character, but I watch far more TV and movies than reading books. All those years when everyone was reading, I was watching TV. Hence why I have two TV characters on here. 

Yet again, we have another character who is loyal, nerdy, adorable, and maybe a bit awkward. 

Here, have some gifs. 

she's our friend and she's crazy

Fiercely loyal.

dustin yelling at the video game

Potty mouth.

dustin being adorable

Fucking adorable. 

we have her


And he also has great priorities. 

Not real nilla wafersdustin and the pudding

If there were ever a character that represented me, it’s a pre-teen boy. Goofy, dorky, adorable, and awkward. 

I hope you guys got a sense of who I am through these four characters. I think I kind of beat the message over the head, but you tell me.

dustin i love you

Who are you most like? Who do you think we are that we didn’t mention? Comment below!

Every Note Played by Lisa Genova

Every Note Played


Thanks to Netgalley for giving me this ARC in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my rating.

DNF at 57% – 2/5

I’m starting off with this: It’s not a bad book. I’m sure I would have given it two stars if I read it to the end. But, it was just a not for me book.

The focus was on a divorced couple. The wife, Karina, is a natural caretaker. The husband, Richard, is a world-renowned piano player (who is also an ass). Richard gets diagnosed with ALS. They have a lot of bad blood between them. He’s losing his ability to do what he loves, just as she’s failing to become her own person after a divorce.

And that’s it. I got over 50% into the book and that’s all that happened. Things happened between them in the past that caused their feelings, but it was only hinted at. Nothing was discussed.

While this is written beautifully — both the lyrical prose about their relationship and the frank picture of what’s happening to Richard — but it was boring. I got bored of reading the same sentences structured in different ways.

It just didn’t work for me.

Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Reign of the Fallen (Reign of the Fallen, #1)



After seeing a few mediocre reviews and some glowing ones, I decided to give it a go. I thought that, at most, I’d give it three stars. However, I wound up really liking it (and will bump it up to four stars on Goodreads) and I absolutely devoured it.

The plot was absolutely golden. A world where there’s a king who has reigned for hundreds of years, killed and brought back to life every few years by necromancers. If you see the Dead without their shroud, they turn into creatures, called Shades that will kill and eat people. Suddenly, there’s a spike in the amount of Shades and it’s a question of why and who.

It was so much fun and entertaining. I wanted to find out what would happen, even though I figured out the twist early and the ending wrapped up too neatly. It didn’t shock me like I wanted it to, but I still thought it was fun.

The characters were fun. A lot of the time, the MC, Odessa, got on my nerves, but then I could double back and remind myself that I could understand it. The side characters were just as fun, too. Evander was sweet. I loved Simeon, Danial, Jax, and Valoria. Meredy was a joy to read about since I really resonated with how she handles herself.

And the LGBTQ rep was great. In this world, there’s no discrimination based on sexual orientation (can’t say about gender identity, tbh). Odessa is bisexual. There’s a lesbian love interest for her. A gay couple is in there as well. It was fun and I really enjoyed it.

Yet, they were still just okay. I found them fun, yet it felt like they could use more building. They didn’t exactly jump off of the page for me and nestle in my heart like some. It just fell flat in the end, meaning I couldn’t get as attached as I wanted to. The villain was too much of a cliche. The side characters could have used more development. And I felt like Odessa changed too quickly, without there being much on the page to cover it.

Next, I liked that there was romance and that it didn’t consume the page. There was a definite plot that didn’t fall to the wayside. I really liked that since some authors get too caught up in a romance and forget the plot.

Yet, it still felt random and undeveloped because of that focus on the plot. There was a love triangle in this. And I don’t think it worked. Especially with how it felt thrown together without much development about why it was happening. For how long the book was, there wasn’t a lot of time spent on relationship development. It opens with Odessa being in a relationship with Evander and I never got attached to it, then there was added romance when the book could have done without it.

As I said, I found the plot fun and interesting. Yet, like I’ve hinted at with character development and relationship development, there was a problem with pacing. The book was nearly four hundred pages. While it went fast, it spent way too much time on Odessa’s inner development. It didn’t make me feel like the romances were believable or her ability to suddenly work through something that held her back for, about, a hundred pages would have happened like that.

So, like many three star books, its strengths are also its weaknesses. Since I really did enjoy this, hence my 3.5 rating, I’m going to read book two. And I’m actually looking forward to it.

First Lines Friday

Where did February go?? It feels like the month just started and now we’re already on the last week of it.

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Caidyn will be in blue.
Chantel will be in purple.

Today, for the second time in my life, I killed King Wylding. Killing’s the easy part of the job, though. He never even bleeds when a sword runs through him. It’s what comes after that gets messy.

I think that a short one will be enough for today. If you all are friends or follow me on Goodreads, you’ll know that this is one of my current reads that I’ve really been enjoying. It’s YA and after reading a real dud, this one is really rocking my world and it’s exactly what I needed.

So, it is…

Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Reign of the Fallen (Reign of the Fallen, #1)

Initially, I was going to write some long spiel about this book, but I realized then that it would sort of ruin my review since, by the time this is published, I’ll be finished. (We do these somewhat early. Unless we forget. Which happens.) So, I’m just going to say that I really enjoyed this book. While it had some flaws to it, they didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the book and y’all will have to keep an eye out for my review!

August 25, 1991

Dear Friend,

I am writing to you because she said you would listen and understand and didn’t try to sleep with that person at that party even though you could have. Please don’t try to figure out who she is because then you might figure out who I am, and I really don’t want you to do that. I will call people by different names or generic names because I don’t want you to find me. I didn’t enclose a return address for the same reason. I mean nothing bad by this. Honest.

I just need to know that someone out there listens and understands and doesn’t try to sleep with people even if they could have. I need to know that these people exist.

This is an incredibly popular book and I think most people have read it. It’s one of those books that I think most people 20 and older have read because it was a book they read as a teenager in high school. I believe that’s where I first read it and I fell in love with it. While I haven’t read it in a long time, I would still highly recommend it because it’s a book that doesn’t shy away from trauma. You are going on a journey with the main character and that includes him figuring out things about himself that he might not have known. 

I think I’ve said too much. 

Anyway, if you haven’t guessed, I’m talking about…

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower European cover

Now, I don’t know where this cover is from because it’s not the original cover. However, I recently bought a copy of this book with this cover and it’s gorgeous. 

Like I said earlier, this is a really popular book and for good reason. It’s told in the form of letters which allows Charlie to tell his story. We never find out who he’s writing to, but it doesn’t matter. He needs to talk about the things he’s been through and how difficult it is being a teenager who feels lost. 

I also think that the movie adaptation is one of the best ever. The author actually wrote and directed the movie and it’s an amazing movie. Plus it has Emma Watson, so yes. 

This book is highly recommended from me and I do hope to re-read the book again sometime soon. 

Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kahn

Let's Talk About Love


DNF at 14% – 1/5

First thing’s first.

I am asexual. I’ve identified as such since I was about 15-16 (and I’m nearly 22 now). Sex doesn’t interest me that much. While I, personally, would never discount that I could find someone I want to do that with or would feel comfortable doing it with, I’m not interested in it.

And when I heard about this book, I was so excited. Finally, a book about asexuality while embracing that you can be attracted romantically to people. Last year, I read Tash Hearts Tolstoy and thought it was a really solid book. So, I was getting excited that there would be another one out there for teens figuring out their sexuality.

Yet, it reminded me more of Vanilla, minus it offending me to the core. It just made me sad.

From the first chapter, something felt off.

I thought that it was the writing at first. Instead of it being in first-person, it was in third and Kahn kept putting comments that were what Alice, the MC, was thinking. It made the page very cluttered and confusing. Just put them in the story. Or make it first-person. Or just make it omniscient. Either way, it grated on my nerves to the point where I couldn’t concentrate on the words.

Then, it kind of got odd with her ex-girlfriend. She was demonized for wanting a sexual relationship to feel fulfilled while Alice was asexual. Maybe, just maybe, Alice should have said something before entering the relationship with someone who, as the book says, is hyper-sexual? (I have issues with the use of that, especially with the judgy tone it was used with. Everyone has different libidos and it’s all okay.) I get Alice was nervous about telling someone, but if you want an open and honest relationship, you kind of have to say something about your needs.

Then, the ace rep felt… problematic. I’ve studied asexuality for my BA in psychology, along with having my personal experiences. Most studies have found that aces respond to pornography like sexual people. They just have no interest in doing it. Alice, however, apparently didn’t respond sexually at all, even when having sex.

It just… struck me as odd. As inaccurate. Now, I’m not saying there aren’t aces who honestly feel nothing down there, even when stimulated, but that’s not what studies have found on average.

I’m not saying that the statistics found in studies covers all ace experience. If you read this book and felt that it represented you perfectly, I am so happy for you! And I’m not being sarcastic either. I’m happy that you felt represented. However, I don’t think this covered all the nuances of asexuality that are out there.

It got weirder when Alice stated at one point she didn’t have any code or whatever for a shirtless guy. She’s biromantic. So. She doesn’t find a shirtless, ripped guy aesthetically pleasing? Then, a few chapters later, she has a freaking break down over some guy who looked cute to her? It just… it didn’t add up to me. You don’t have a response to someone shirtless but you lose your shit like a twelve-year-old over a cute guy.

It felt like it was perpetuating old stereotypes that aces don’t feel sexual pleasure when research says a lot of aces masturbate or are able to call someone who is hot really hot… without wanting to have sex. Speaking for myself here, I can look at people and say that they are really attractive, but that doesn’t mean I want to have sex.

Add on top of that annoying characters who I couldn’t connect to at all because they felt like children and a writing style and characters that got on my last nerves within 10 pages equals a very unhappy Caidyn.

It’s even worse since I really wanted to like this book. I would have pushed through it, but I could tell I’d end up in a slump if I did. It upset me to write this review, but I wanted to say something amid all the glowing responses. Again, if you felt represented, that’s amazing. Just that I didn’t and I’m really sad that I didn’t when I thought I would.

The Harry Potter Read

We’re gonna reread this series together.

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Okay, but seriously we’ve never read the books together and while Caidyn does a yearly reread, Chantel hasn’t read the final three in ages. We want to read them together and have a whole lot of fun while doing it. With a joint review for each because you know how much we love rambling, bickering, and expounding on things.

This is a rough timeline:

  • March: Sorcerer’s (bc we’re American), Chamber, Azkaban
  • April: Goblet
  • May: Phoenix
  • June: Half-Blood
  • July: Deathly Hallows

No. We’re not reading Cursed Child.

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Us after that book

We’re keeping *~pure~* with the series and keeping it as is.


What about you all? Will you join us or conduct your own re-read?

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Everything You Love Will Burn: Inside the Rebirth of White Nationalism in America by Vegas Tenold

Everything You Love Will Burn: Inside the Rebirth of White Nationalism in America



Thanks to NetGalley and Perseus Books for an advanced copy! This did not effect my rating.

Who would have thought this song would come around and be so prescient.

But, before jumping into the book, I want to give you an analogy. Do you remember when you were a kid and had “wars”? Wars, as in, epic battles of will between kids in your neighborhood. They were completely imagined factions and, when you look back on it, you laugh about how ridiculous you were. Sometimes, they were dangerous. At least for me when the kids had BB guns and could actually shoot at you. Still, it was laughable and hilarious and everything in it was completely imagined.

That’s what this book felt like. All of these white nationalists squabbling about imagined hurts and pains, both within themselves and outside, while they’re still on top. They’re poor, but they still have more privilege than others might who are poor and nonwhite.

I think Tenold hit the nail on the head when he said that the “forgotten whites” weren’t victims of a war against white people, but a general war on poverty and minorities where they got swept up (stated in the postscript).

More than anything, this book is a study of these feelings. You get introduced to so many hate groups, along with the history of the group and how they feel about other groups. In short, it’s a really good anthropological study of a niche group in America. Perhaps not so niche as you come to see with just how many groups there are.

You’re taken in by a foreigner who decided to write this book about America’s white nationalism. He doesn’t give his opinion on it. He just presents these people as they are, along with what they believe. I found it very enlightening, just like I found Hillbilly Elegy enlightening. I was exposed to something I usually wouldn’t by someone who knows the culture well. And I wouldn’t have read something written by a white nationalist either, just because I wouldn’t want to read their hate and vitriol.

Along with that, this book was about Matthew Heimbach.

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He’s a relatively normal looking man. A poor man with a budding family, one who just wants to succeed in the world.

Yet, he’s a white nationalist. He wants white people to have their own area and it to be ethnically homogenous. This book also follows him since he’s Tenold’s in with the groups. Heimbach wants to join the groups together and politicize the alt-right. And this book isn’t just an explanation of white nationalism in America, but also showing how he further radicalized and became the “hard right”.

While this book might be short, it covers a lot of ground. It was probably scarier than most of the horror books I’ve read recently. It’s an eye-opening and frightening book that is human.

House of Names by Colm Tóibín

House of Names



I said this in a First Lines Friday a while ago, but this author is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. Now that I’ve read three of his books, I really think he’s a fantastic author.

But this book is very different than what I’ve read of his thus far. It takes place in Ancient Greece, piggybacking off of a myth that many are familiar with. The Illiad showed the murder/sacrifice of Agamemnon’s daughter, Iphigenia, to start the wind. It recounts that story from the perspective of her mother, Clytemnestra, along with her siblings, Electra and Orestes.

What I found most amazing about this story was how it seamlessly told the aftermath (also recounted in mythology) of this death, and Toibin did so through those three very different perspectives. The mourning mother who wants nothing but revenge. The confused brother who was too young to understand. The sister who was left behind and only heard rumors, left to make her mind up about what happened.

More than that, it shows how we can all be haunted by the past, the echoes of other people running up and down the halls, full of things you wish you hadn’t done to them. I found it beautiful, despite it being full of murder and death sparked by a father’s decision and a mother’s choice following it.

First Lines Friday

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Chantel will be in purple.
Caidyn will be in blue.

The end of our final winter break seems almost like the beginning of a victory lap. We’re seven semesters into our high school career, with one last – token, honestly – semester to go. I want to celebrate like your average guy: with some private time and a few mindless hours down the Youtube rabbit hole. Unfortunately, neither of those things is going to happen. 

Because, from across her bed, Autumn is glaring at me, waiting for me to explain myself. 

Okay, this is a book I have been wanting to read since I heard about it. For some reason it’s one that I’ve never picked up despite having it checked out from the library for at least a few months. Every time I look at it I want to read it, but that hasn’t translated to any actual reading. Actually, today is the first day I opened it up and read anything out of it, the first lines that is. 

So what book am I ashamed to admit I haven’t read yet?

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

Autoboyography cover

I am hoping to start this book really soon because it’s a queer book from last year I still haven’t gotten to. I don’t hear this one talked about very often but I’ve heard good things from what I have heard. 

The moth makes Evie laugh. It lands on her bare forearm and she brushes her index finger lightly across the brown and gray waves that color its wings. “Hello, gorgeous,” she tells the moth. It lifts away. Upward, upward, and upward the moth goes, and is swallowed by a slice of the sun tangled amid the glossy green leaves twenty feet above Evie’s place among the roots on the ground.

That was pretty, wasn’t it? I wanted to do the whole opening passage, which was around half a page, but I decided it was a teensy bit too long and I’m feeling lazy this fine afternoon, so I’m not. You can have the first paragraph.

This is by one of my favorite authors, one he co-wrote with a relative. He’s a prolific horror writer. I mean, I think that should be more than enough hints for you all.

It is…

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King

Sleeping Beauties

I got this book as an add-on through Book of the Month a while back. (I’m not even going to try to look exactly when it was.) But, it’s gorgeous and tops out at a little over 700 pages. A proper tome. Now, I love Stephen King. I can probably name the duds I’ve had from him on one hand.

And, this book is no different. I’m only 80 pages into it and it’s fantastic. The crafting of it is gorgeous, something I have more of an appreciation for thanks to reading On Writing. Characters are fun, the plot is super interesting, and I can’t believe how much I just wanted to read it and curl up with it for a long night.