Take Your Medicine by Hannah Carmack

I received an ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

Take Your Medicine will be released on March 5th, 2018.




2/5 – This story is a loose retelling of Alice in Wonderland in which a girl named Alice or “Al” as she likes to be called, has vasovagal syncope which is a fainting disorder. A chance meeting in the woods leads her to some new friends and a cute f/f romance.

There were things I really enjoyed about this book. I loved that it was queer. I enjoyed the main character Al, I enjoyed Al’s love interest who went by “Rabbit”. I thought their romance was adorable even if a bit rushed. I enjoyed the relationship between Al and her mother as well as the Alabama setting. The writing was good and I was entertained throughout despite not being a huge Alice in Wonderland fan. I think this book had a lot of potential and it didn’t end up living up to it for me.

For one, I think it was too short and because of that I didn’t get quite as invested as I would’ve liked. The story ended rather abruptly and I was left wanting more. If it had been lengthened, I might have enjoyed more of a slow burn romance between Al and Rabbit and would’ve liked the conflict between Al and her mom to be dragged out more. Instead, it almost felt incomplete as if there was more to the story than what I read.

Secondly, there was something about the concept of the main character wanting to be cured that rubbed me the wrong way. She has vasovagal syncope and as a result, she faints whenever she is overwhelmed. This causes her to get injured a few times as it’s not always safe for her to be out on her own in case she faints. However, she is adamant about wanting to be cured that she seeks out two girls her age that claim to be witches in order to find a cure. Spoiler alert: she’s not cured. This is still a theme throughout the book until at the very end she decides that she doesn’t care if she’s cured. It would’ve been nice to see more conflict within her about this.

Lastly, I think my main issue with this book was the fact that there were random chapters in which the POV changed from Al to her mother Laura, then later to Rabbit. I felt this was completely unnecessary as the POV shifts came completely out of nowhere and took me out of the story. It’s one thing to have multiple POVs, but that was never established from the beginning. In the beginning, Al is our narrator and yet there are at least two random POV shifts that didn’t work for me.

Overall, I would’ve liked this more if it had been a bit longer and I had more time to get invested in the characters. I think it had potential, but instead, it left me wanting more out of it.


Would You Rather: A Memoir of Growing Up and Coming Out by Katie Heaney

Would You Rather cover



I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This has no influence on my rating. 

Would You Rather: A Memoir of Growing Up and Coming Out will be released on March 6th, 2018.

4/5 – This year, I wanted to read a non-fiction book by a queer author about being queer. This spoke out to me when I saw it on Netgalley because it was exactly what I was looking for. What I didn’t expect was to relate so strongly with the author’s experience in coming out later in life and finding out who she was at the age of twenty-eight.

Katie Heaney wrote a book called Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date and it was released in 2014. She references this book often in Would You Rather because, in it, she describes never having dated, being a virgin at twenty-five, and being attracted to men. At the time she wrote that book, she had not accepted that she was a lesbian. She might not have even known despite the signs she points out in Would You Rather.

It is fascinating to have two different books, written at two different points in your life that demonstrate how things can change over the course of just a few years. At twenty-five, she is single, straight, and a virgin and at twenty-eight she has a girlfriend, is a lesbian, and is no longer a virgin. I love how candid she is about talking about her journey in coming out to her friends and family and how at first she didn’t feel “gay enough” because she hadn’t ever dated a woman. I related to her story for a number of reasons, but I’m not as candid as she is. I don’t think I would ever write, let alone publish not just one but two books detailing my love life and sexuality. I admire Heaney greatly because of it. She talks about how she continued to get emails after her first book was released from young women who related to her story and I know she will get emails for Would You Rather for the same thing.

I thought the content of the book was great, I wasn’t too fond of the format. The book is described as a series of essays and sometimes the book flowed nicely and sometimes it didn’t. I would’ve liked if the book flowed all the way through and didn’t feel as if there were unrelated essays mixed in. That being said, I loved the essay about Heaney downloading and watching The L Word for the first time while she was studying abroad. There was even an essay where she talked about her anxiety and how she had been resistant to medication before accepting she needed it. Again, I really appreciated her openness throughout the memoir about her journey and I would highly recommend it.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid


5/5 – When I read We Are Okay, I said that I didn’t know if another book would ever make me feel so connected to a story. I felt this same connection to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and I can’t believe lightning in a bottle struck twice in one month.

This book made me happy, broke my heart, and left me speechless. In that order. Everything about this book and what happened felt like a true story. Taylor Jenkins Reid wrote characters that felt real. I loved Evelyn Hugo, I loved Celia St. James, I loved Harry Cameron. As Evelyn Hugo was telling the story of her life spanning decades, an epic, she was real. I could hear her voice and see her in my mind even though she didn’t exist. It felt like we were the ones sitting across from her listening to her tell her story, her truth. Not what was published in magazines and newspapers. She did what she had to gain wealth and fame, as she started from a Cuban girl from Hell’s Kitchen desperate to escape to Hollywood where she would ultimately become one of the biggest stars of her era. Not once did she regret the life she led. She was a woman who embraced her sexuality by using it to get what she wanted and openly enjoying it when it gave her pleasure. Once again, first-person perspective was done right, used effectively. It makes all of the bad examples stand out like a sore thumb.

It was an epic love story. This book is about a woman who fell in love with another woman. I’ve read multiple books about two women in love. This was different. It wasn’t two teenagers falling for each other, it was two women who weren’t allowed to be open about their love in the world they lived in and in the time they lived in. Evelyn Hugo is bisexual. It’s said multiple times on the page and she insists on the label because she has loved men and loved a woman. She doesn’t let anyone forget that she has done both.

The book is divided into parts. Each part represents a different husband but rarely is it about the husband. Some marriages were real, some were just for show. Evelyn is so open and honest about every single one. She does not skip over the ugly parts, nor does she push aside the wonderful parts. Her image has always been the woman who had seven husbands. Every time she divorced and remarried, it was headlining news. It’s how she was presented to everyone, but it was not who she was. Underneath those headlines are the complexity of her relationships and ultimately the actions she takes.

I think what I will take most from this book are the relationships. The word soulmate is thrown around multiple times in this book, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t believe in soulmates. Someone you would do anything for, do anything to protect them, to keep them in your life and someone who ultimately made you feel whole. Someone that time and distance couldn’t stop you from loving. It’s very powerful. The intimacy between people is powerful. In some ways, it’s beyond my comprehension and in other ways I understand. We would be incredibly lucky to find someone like that.

I knew early on in the book I was going to rate it five stars. I had a small doubt that something might happen which would ruin it for me, but it never came. At the end of the day, five stars is just a ranking. The book is going to stick with me and that means a lot more than how many stars I think it deserves. I didn’t let myself question or worry about what was going to happen next, I just read and let it all unfold before me.

It was incredibly difficult to put down this book every time I had to. This book is just incredible. I haven’t even talked about everything, and I don’t think I could if I wanted to. I don’t feel I can sum up everything I feel about this book. I will be thinking about this hours from now, days from now, weeks from now and maybe one day several years from now I will think about this book again. I want someone to have the same experience as I did, by going in knowing as little as possible. Here is all I can give you, Evelyn Hugo is a Cuban-American, bisexual goddess who is telling a reporter Monique about her life and career in Hollywood.

Once again, I have to ask to take this recommendation and my review with a grain of salt. I know what it’s like to read a hyped book and end up disappointed. Trust me, I know. I hope that as a reader you just dive right in, don’t worry about the hype or high expectations. Just get comfortable, pour yourself your favorite drink, and just read. Just listen to Evelyn Hugo tell you about her life.

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

beneath the sugar sky cover

This has to be one of my favorite covers of all time.



Every Heart a Doorway – 4 Stars

Down Among the Sticks and Bones – 5 Stars

This is a sequel that takes place after the events of Every Heart a Doorway, I left a link to the Goodreads page, but if you haven’t read Every Heart a Doorway you should read it before reading Beneath the Sugar Sky.

Beneath the Sugar Sky is the first most anticipated read of 2018 that I’ve read. If you want to see the full list, click here.

3/5 – Last year, I was introduced to the Wayward Children series. I really liked Every Heart a Doorway, loved Down Among the Sticks and Bones, and eagerly awaited Beneath the Sugar Sky. The third book follows a character named Cora. I think she is a good character, she was fat yet she subverted what people thought of her as a fat person. I love that. And she came from a world where she was a mermaid which gave me serious The Seafarer’s Kiss vibes. However, this was our first time meeting Cora, a new main character, despite there being multiple characters we had already met from Every Heart a Doorway in this book.  I didn’t have the same amount of time to connect with Cora and I think it affected my enjoyment of this book. Which was the same issue I had in Every Heart a Doorway.

One of the things that I didn’t think Every Heart a Doorway achieved was having a compelling main character in Nancy. Yes, she was asexual and I’m so happy for that rep, but I thought her presence as the main character left something lacking. The characters around her were so fully fleshed out and realized and yet there she was, so blah. The plot, despite being super dark, was so interesting and I loved it. I finished that book wanting to know about more worlds in future books and I wasn’t disappointed.

Down Among the Sticks and Bones was a prequel to Every Heart a Doorway, telling the story of Jack (short for Jacqueline) and Jill, identical twins. Not only did it introduce us to a dark world with vampires and mad scientists, but it had something to say about gender expectations and how damaging they can be. This book had a deeper message and I found it incredibly compelling. Jack and Jill were fascinating characters and the book just seemed very well put together.

Now, I’m not saying Beneath the Sugar Sky is bad or that I didn’t like it. I really liked it, you guys. We got more of Kade, which I will never, ever complain about. But I think he should’ve been the main character of this story. Instead, we got a brand new main character. The familiar characters should’ve been the main characters and I think that was my ultimate problem.

I wasn’t too keen on the plot, but it’s a fantasy story and there’s a whole lot of nonsense going on so it was fine. We actually see multiple worlds other than Earth in this book and I loved that. It just revolved around a character I had no investment in. The most compelling scene for me was between two characters from Every Heart a Doorway. It was the only time I felt something tug at me and it was so subtle. I hate to say it, but I was let down.

I have no idea if this is the last book in the series, but I really hope it isn’t. This series has endless possibilities and that’s what I’ve loved about it. Three different books, with completely different tones, and I just want more. I want to see more of Kade and Christopher and Jack and Jill, and hell even Nancy. This might not be possible given where some of these characters end up, but I just want it. I’ve grown attached to these characters (especially Kade if you haven’t noticed) and I love being able to spend a chunk of my day with them. At the end of the day, that’s why I keep reading and why I have an attachment to these books.

Also, there are a few illustrations in here that I fucking love. Seriously, I want them on my wall as art.

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

Difficult Women cover



3.5/5 – When I finished Bad Feminist last year, I knew I wanted to read more by Roxane Gay. Not every essay was great, but the ones that were blew me away. She is an excellent writer and my rating of this book reflects the average score of all the stories. Some were 5 stars, a few I gave 1 star. Like Bad Feminist, I feel like a few of the stories didn’t need to be included as they were along the same theme and also a few just didn’t fit at all. However, there are some fantastic stories in here that I hope everyone gets a chance to read. This wasn’t an easy read by any means, there is a lot of horrible things that happen to women in different stories. There is also sexual content in pretty much every story, which isn’t bad, I just wasn’t expecting it. I will be giving a breakdown of my thoughts on all of the stories in a short-ish paragraph so buckle in, this might be a long one.

Before I start, I am going to let everyone know about the potentially triggering content in this book and will have content warnings, if applicable, before each story. This book contains the following content: kidnapping, pedophilia, rape, domestic abuse, violence against women, mentions of incest, adultery, stillbirths, and death of a child. If there is anything I missed, I apologize.

I Will Follow You – 5/5

  • CW: kidnapping, pedophilia, rape
  • This is a story about two sisters who are inseparable after being kidnapped and held for six weeks when they were ten and eleven. They are incredibly close because they are the only two who knows what the other went through in that time. They stick together so that the other doesn’t have to be alone. Even if the narrator is unwilling to go Nevada so her sister can reunite with her husband she does. Kind of a heavy story to start out the collection, but at the core is this relationship between the sisters. A bond that won’t ever break and the knowledge that they will always protect each other.

Water, All Its Weight – 3/5

  • This story is gorgeous and is very effective when using figurative language. It’s the story of Bianca and how water, and as a result, mold follow her everywhere she goes and it ends up chasing away those who love her. I think it’s clear that the water and mold is a metaphor for something. Something that causes everyone to turn away from her despite her beauty. I couldn’t tell you what the metaphor represents. That’s why I liked this story but didn’t love it.

The Mark of Cain – 5/5

  • CW: Domestic abuse, adultery
  • So far, this has been my favorite story. The basic premise is a woman pretends not to notice when her husband, Caleb switches places with his twin, Jacob. She knows her husband well enough to know when his brother is there, not him. For me, this was taking the issue of domestic abuse and splitting the abuser into two people, literally. There is the abusive side and the kind, sweet side. The narrator loves Jacob more because he is kind and attentive while her husband Caleb is with another woman. I think this story was a great way to show the duality of an abusive person and why someone would stay in that situation. 

Difficult Women – 4/5

  • I liked this story as it broke down different “types” of women. Loose women, frigid women, crazy women, and mothers. These all conjure up assumptions or stereotypes about these kinds of women. We think we know exactly what a loose woman does, feels and looks like, her whole history. The truth is, we don’t know shit. These labels don’t mean anything and we cannot define a woman with one label. They are far more complicated than that and nobody bothers to take notice.


  • This story was very interesting to me because all of the characters lived in or worked in a gated community. The variety of women (and one man) and the various different voices was what made this story interesting. The women all had their own experiences and their own stories, whether it was the woman who led the Zumba classes, the newest addition to the neighborhood, or a couple obsessed with watching docs about fat people so they feel better about themselves. What I noticed were the majority, if not all of the stories told were from the perspective of outsiders. Those who didn’t fit in with the wealthy, white, skinny, beautiful, gated community. Some of the vignettes were told in first person perspective, some in third, it was really interesting overall to present these stories the way she did. I have never read a short story like this before and I thought it was well done.

La Negra Blanca – 3/5

  • CW: Rape
  • This was an interesting story. There is Sarah who goes to college during the day and strips at night because she has to pay for part of her education with money out of her pocket. She is biracial with a black mother and a white father, but she looks white. In that way, I connected with her. I too am biracial. This story revolves around a man, one of Sarah’s clients, who fetishize black women. He’s a disgusting, revolting character and he starts to become possessive of Sarah, despite her never indicating that she was interested. Quite the opposite actually. It’s not exactly the thing I wanted to read about. I thought it was a well-written story, but not my favorite by any means.

Baby Arm – 3/5

  • This story is from the perspective of a woman who is dating a guy mostly for the sex. She talks about her lack of interest in anything more until he brings her a fiberglass baby arm. I’m positive this story will be remembered for the fact that it has a female fight club. I think about the twisted relationships. The narrator and Gus, her sort of boyfriend and her relationship with Tate her best friend. I believe her and Tate created the female fight club and they have an interesting relationship. One which crosses the boundaries of what a friend is and yet still have boundaries they don’t cross. The story ends with Tate on speakerphone telling Gus to be rough with the narrator during sex and instructing him to do so. When the narrator orgasms she calls out her best friend’s name. Yeah, this one was weird. The fucked up relationships and the weird fiberglass baby parts made this story the weirdest so far.  

North Country – 4/5

  • CW: stillbirth, adultery
  • As I read this story, I came back to the title of this collection. Difficult Women. In this story, our narrator Kate has moved up north to Michigan. She is the only woman, the only black woman, in her department at the Michigan Institute of Technology. All of her colleagues hit on her. She is also recovering from her long-term boyfriend cheating on her and a stillbirth. It’s clear she is still in pain and isn’t quick to trust. She meets a man named Magnus, actually, he inserts himself into her life. The get closer and closer, but she continues keeping him at arm’s length until the point where he can’t deal with it anymore. Time passes in just a sentence sometimes, as the highlights are picked out for us to see. We notice the important things and skip over the everyday things. Not every man would’ve waited for Kate, not every man would’ve dealt with her stubbornness or unwillingness to move past sex. But Magnus does.

How – 3/5

  • CW: mentions/hints of sexual abuse, mentions/hints of incest, adultery
  • This story is about Hanna, who is dissatisfied with her life. She is the only one who works in a house full of her family. She works two jobs, pretends to be a student at Michigan Institute of Technology and enjoys the attention of the men there, and she is in love with her best friend who she plans on running away with. In this story, as well as a couple of others so far, Hanna is in love with her best friend Laura, but they don’t talk about it. I wish they would’ve. Clearly, her husband wasn’t the man she wanted to be with and she will be much happier with Laura, but they refuse to acknowledge their relationship. It’s a bit frustrating. I know this isn’t the main focus of the story. It’s Hanna’s dilemma in leaving her family behind. Her abusive father and her useless husband. The men in her life which have disappointed her and let her down. Overall, I couldn’t really get into it.

Requiem for a Glass Heart – 4/5

  • CW: adultery
  • This is definitely one of the more unique stories in this collection. It’s a story in which a flesh and blood man, falls for and marries a woman made of glass. Very odd, but I enjoyed it. I think it had more going on than just a man being married to a glass woman. He is referred to as a “stone-thrower” and yet he treats his wife so carefully and delicately. Afraid that she will break, but she doesn’t. It would probably take me a few more reads and a college course to unpack everything here, but on the whole, I enjoyed it.

In the Event of My Father’s Death – 2/5

  • CW: adultery
  • I found this story disappointing. The majority of the story, Stephanie the narrator is detailing her father’s affair with a woman named Theresa and how he would take her with him and they would spend the weekend there. That alone would’ve been a fine story, a three-star story at least. However, there are implications that Stephanie is a lesbian. Other than a “surprising twist” to the story, which hinted that Stephanie would start an affair with Theresa after he died, it didn’t add anything. It could’ve gone a lot further frankly and been more explicit. I wish it had. It would’ve been a lot more interesting than a story full of cliches.

Break All the Way Down – 4/5

  • CW: Violence against women, death of a child, adultery
  • I liked this story a lot. It wasn’t easy to read but it was an examination of grief and how a woman punishes herself for the death of her child. She has two men in her life, her husband and a man she’s with because he’ll hurt her. She refers to him as her boyfriend, but that is a loose word for what he is. Then an ex of her boyfriend leaves her child with Natasha, the narrator. We see that she visits her husband often despite refusing to come home for good. He’s a good, kind man who loves her and would never hit her. And yet, she continues punishing herself using an abusive man. It’s all very heartbreaking and while it’s not an easy read (none of these stories are), I liked the story overall and how some people seek out physical pain to cover up the emotional pain they are feeling.

Bad Priest – 2/5

  • This story wasn’t bad. I just didn’t care. I don’t care about a priest having an affair with a woman and feeling shame about it. I don’t care about that woman loving him despite how shitty he is to her. I just don’t care.

Open Marriage – 1/5

  • This story was the shortest so far. It is a husband and wife arguing about whether yogurt spoils, her husband brings up the idea of an open marriage, she encourages him because apparently, he couldn’t find a woman to fuck him in a million years, and then she eats the yogurt. That’s literally it. The husband wants an open marriage because of an article he reads and it seems unlikely he’ll follow through, but this story doesn’t explore the complications or nuances of open marriages. So, I find myself asking, what was the point?

A Pat – 1/5

  • If that last story annoyed me, this story made me throw up my hands in annoyance. This comes up over and over, but I don’t get the point. This collection is about difficult women, I’m aware of this, and the theme has been pretty apparent. Hell, it could be called Complicated Women because often I feel for these women. Not this one. We get two pages to get to know her as she introduces herself to a seemingly homeless man, takes him home, cooks for him, lets him shower, and has sex with him. He’s grateful. She, on the other hand, reminisces about her mother telling her to make friends with ugly and lonely people so she can feel better about herself. She doesn’t even know the man’s name, and I felt like she thought she was giving this man something special, herself. I don’t like the way this story came across because if there was a positive message here it was ruined by the last few lines.

Best Features – 4/5

  • This was a really strong story. It’s about Milly who is fat and because of that she settles for someone because she thinks she doesn’t deserve better. She always puts out because she feels she has to. This story hit me hard and I think there is a lot of truth to what she is writing. Something I didn’t feel in some of the earlier stories I didn’t enjoy. This story’s tone is that these are things Milly believes are the truth, maybe it is in some instances. We live in a culture that’s obsessed with beauty and has their own rules about what beauty is. Not everyone who is beautiful fits into those rules. Someone else’s weight has nothing to do with you. Believe it or not, there are more to fat people than just their weight.

Bone Density – 5/5

  • CW: adultery
  • I loved this story. Partly because it’s about a cheating husband, but his wife is cheating as well. In spite of him. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t bother her or hurt her because it does. She loves her husband and knows he loves her and yet he continues to cheat. He barely tries to hide it. Clearly, their marriage is worth something. It’s better than being alone. Things aren’t always black or white, good or bad, and while I don’t believe cheating is good, it’s not reason enough for her to leave him. This combined with the gorgeous imagery of winter and snow is why I enjoyed this story so much.

I Am a Knife – 3/5

  • CW: stillbirth
  • I really enjoyed the beginning of this story. I was really into it, again there was wintery, snowy imagery and an interesting relationship, but then it got grotesque with the imagery and I wasn’t a fan of that. Sex is also a huge theme in almost all of these stories and for me, it just didn’t land in this story. I understood it, but it involved themes she had already gone over before in other stories. Sex as a way to forget. Sex as a punishment. It would’ve been better if it wasn’t so similar to other stories and didn’t have the horrifying imagery.

The Sacrifice of Darkness – 3/5

  • This story starts off with a man who flew into the sun and as a result, the sun disappears. This isn’t the first story with magical realism elements in this collection, and I really did enjoy the story. It ends up being the story of a girl who falls in love and eventually marries that man’s son. The story is divided into parts, and really could’ve been two separate stories but I think of it this way, it’s the story of Hiram Hightower, his son Joshua, and his granddaughter. Three generations of a family that people wanted to wipe out because of Hiram’s actions in making the sun disappear. The world itself might be dark, but the lives of Joshua and his wife are brightened by their daughter Dawn.

Noble Things – 4/5

  • This story was an alternate future where America dissolved as the South successfully seceded and there was a second Civil War. The story revolved around a couple, the man Parker who wanted to stay in the South because it was home and the woman, Anna who wanted to leave so that they could be with their son again. They had sent him away so he didn’t learn the hate that was taught in Southern schools. I thought the concept of the story was interesting. It’s an interesting backdrop to set a story in and I liked it. The way it caused a strain on Parker and Anna’s marriage was interesting to see. Their dynamic was interesting as she was bold and loud and he wasn’t. I think this story was better than most and I liked it a lot.

Strange Gods – 5/5

  • CW: gang rape, sexual harassment
  • The final story in this collection is probably the one with the most impact. It’s in second person, so the narrator is talking to “you” a man whose proposals she’s declined four times previously and he’s asked her a fifth time. The story goes on to detail the things she let men do to her treating her like she was low and a piece of meat. Then she tells the story of her first boyfriend named Steve and how he and his friends raped her after he led her to an abandoned cabin. For anyone who has read Bad Feminist knows this actually happened to Roxane Gay as she writes about it multiple times. I wasn’t expecting to see it pop up in one of her fictional stories but I’m not surprised. Writing is an outlet after all. I did think this story was really strong and with it being in second person perspective it felt like a letter. It was beautiful and heartbreaking and not easy to read, but it was probably one of the better stories out of all of them.


How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake

how to make a wish cover



5/5 – This book won’t be easy for me to talk about. It’s about a girl with a mother who isn’t a mother. It’s about a girl who had to grow up too fast. It’s about a girl making the decision to put herself first. This book hit me personally. It was well written and we need more books like this. More books with queer characters because one day a queer girl like me will read this and it will inspire her and she’ll be able to relate to it. The good and the bad. There is so much that this book did right and I’m going to lay it out there for you so that you will go read this book and hopefully love it.

Lemme just get this out there because this is important: THERE IS BISEXUAL REPRESENTATION ON THE PAGE. 

Dis good

How To Make a Wish surrounds the relationship between Grace and her mother Maggie. It’s always been the two of them since Grace’s father died when she was two. Her mother, not prepared to take on the responsibility of being a mother stops being a mother. Instead, she relies on Grace at a young age to take care of her. She’s an alcoholic and is incredibly selfish. Grace feels obligated to stand by her mother even when she hurts her and ultimately hurts others. As a result, Grace reconsiders her plans to go to college in New York, to be a pianist, because she cannot leave her mother behind. Because who knows what she would do without her. No matter how many times her mom disappoints her, she won’t let her go. 

This in itself is heartbreaking. What makes this story better, is Eva. A girl who has just lost her mother unexpectedly and finds comfort in Grace’s mom because she too has lost someone. From the moment they meet, Grace is drawn to Eva and eventually, a romance develops between them. Throughout the book, their relationship begins and stalls, they have ups and downs, but it always comes back to how they help each other cope.

For the record, I absolutely love them as characters and as a couple. Be still my fucking heart, these two are such a great couple. They are one of my favorite couples of all time because they are just so great and so sweet. Grace might not be the most likable character, she’s “prickly” and her unwillingness to cut ties with her mom is frustrating, but I understand her. It’s not easy to walk away from someone you love, especially your mother, so I understood the dilemma she was going through. Not everyone will. Eva is just fucking adorable. She’s funny, a bit weird, and has such a big heart. She sees that someone is hurting and she can’t help but be there for them. I thought the characters were well written and even the dialogue at times was well done. We talk a lot differently than we write and that’s often hard to get right.

I can see some people complain about insta-love or that the romance happens too quickly. I’m not sure about the exact time frame but it happens within the span of a month, I’d say. Here’s my argument against calling it insta-love. No “I love yous” are ever exchanged between them. We are in Grace’s head and while she does admit to possibly loving Eva, at least being able to love her, it’s never said out loud. The other thing is, they are both going through similar things. Eva’s lost her mom unexpectedly while Grace feels obligated and tethered to her mom, in that way she’s lost her mother as well. With each other, they are in their own world where those issues don’t matter. They are each other’s escape from those things. They allow each other to exist without being overwhelmed with grief or anger. To brush that off as insta-love takes away from their deep connection whether or not we understand it or experience it.

One more thing, one more reason I loved this book. You know how in almost all YA novels when there is a boy and a girl who are friends how they almost always become a thing? This does not happen in this book and I LIVE FOR IT. Luca is (as far as we know) straight. Grace is bisexual. They are best friends and have been for a long time. There is no romantic inclination between them, they even refer to each other as siblings. This is how things are in real life. Not every guy and girl are meant to be in a romance and it’s one of the more frustrating things about YA. However, this book throws that shit in the garbage and they both end up with someone other than each other. It’s all a girl can dream about.

I really loved this book. It had everything I loved in a book and none of the garbage that usually comes with YA. Go check it out if you haven’t because this book deserves all of the praise. It has a 4.2 rating on Goodreads and honestly, that’s too low. Can we please have more books like this?

Marshall gif

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

We Are Okay cover


5/5 – Reading is a deeply personal activity. It’s an author making a connection with the reader, or at least attempting to. As a result, books can be deeply personal to each reader. A book that someone adored can be a book someone hated. We all come to a story with our own individual stories. Sometimes they click and sometimes they don’t. The Book Thief, The Song of Achilles, A Monster Calls, these are all books that brought out a physical and emotional reaction in me. That in itself is rare for me. However, I didn’t click with those books like I did with We Are Okay and Marin, the main character. This book made me cry, this book made my body ache, but I saw myself in Marin’s thoughts, in her feelings, in her doubts, in her hesitations.

In On Writing, Stephen King is talking about writing whatever you want. You can write whatever you want, the possibilities are endless, as long as you get to the truth of what you are writing about. Nina LaCour got to the truth of what she was writing which was grief, loneliness, self-doubt, and betrayal. In the acknowledgments at the end of the book, she talks about the aftermath of her grandfather’s death and how it devastated her. Then her wife suggested she write about it and it turned into We Are Okay. Her pain is conveyed through Marin. 

This is a book about relationships. Marin’s relationship with her grandfather is distant but she fails to see that. Marin’s relationship with Mabel who is not only her best friend but the first girl she fell in love with. Marin’s relationship with herself and how she keeps everything to herself because she’s afraid of the thoughts that will rush out if she tells the truth. She runs away from anyone who has ever loved her. It’s so much easier to block out the world than to let people in. Being alone is easy. Then there is the idea of family. Even though she doesn’t have any more family, she refuses to accept offers of familial connection. Sometimes those people are more family than your real family, but she doesn’t realize it until they are there for her when she needs it.

The writing in this book is stunning. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to write such beautiful lines or connect a character’s story to a work of literature or a painting. Everything means something in We Are Okay. Every choice Nina LaCour makes is intentional. I think this book is strengthened by the fact that it’s told in the first person.

First person perspective doesn’t always work. It can leave a bad taste in my mouth with all of the shitty dystopian YA that used it constantly. But when it’s done well, it allows you to lose yourself in the character’s mind. In my opinion, this book wouldn’t have been as strong in the third person.

The book goes back and forth between the months leading up to Marin’s grandfather’s death and her subsequently running to New York where she is to start college. In the present day, her best friend Mabel is coming to visit. She longs to see her friend again and is anticipating the moment she leaves because then she will be alone again. As the story moves forward, we are getting closer and closer to the reason Marin ran away from California until it’s finally revealed late in the book. My attention was glued to the book because I wanted to know what went wrong in order to have Marin shut out her best friend.

I know that people aren’t going to feel as connected to this book as I did, so take my review with a grain of salt. I do think objectively, it’s a great book. It has a good rating. For me, it was something more than just a great book. It was a perfect book. I don’t know if another book will make me feel this way again anytime soon. It clicked perfectly with my personal story.

Peter Darling by Austin Chant

Peter Darling cover


4/5 – I’ve never been a fan of Peter Pan. I’ve seen the Disney movie maybe once and thought it was meh. That’s the Peter Pan I know and I wasn’t interested. However, a trans Peter Pan? Yeah, I’m interested in that. I also really enjoy short books, usually under 200 pages because despite being a slow reader I can usually finish them in one sitting.

In Austin Chant’s retelling of Peter Pan, Peter was born as Wendy Darling who is struggling to come to terms with his identity in the early 1900s. This is after his return to London from his initial trip to Neverland. Peter is trying to explain to his family that he is now Peter Darling and tries to make them understand, but they don’t. As a result, Peter calls upon Tinkerbell and runs off to Neverland where he can be the man he wants to be.

Peter strikes up his old rivalry with Captain Hook and rounds up the Lost Boys to join him. The Lost Boys are now young men as is Peter, and nothing is the same as when he first came to Neverland. Hook and the Lost Boys have been content with leaving each other alone in the last decade. When Peter shows up looking for a fight, he is the only one enthusiastic about it other than Hook, of course.

I’ll admit, I found it hard to like Peter at times. He was willing to pressure the Lost Boys into joining a fight that they weren’t interested in joining. He came off as hypocritical when he was angry with Hook because one of the Lost Boys was killed after he had three of Hook’s men killed without regret or thought. I often struggle to like characters who aren’t self-aware, if you did something bad at least own up to it, and sometimes I find characters aren’t called out for their hypocrisy.

For example, Jorg in the Broken Empire series knows he’s a horrible person. He never makes you believe otherwise. He’s self-aware and knows he’s evil. With that out of the way, I can focus on the other aspects of his character.

Peter’s hypocrisy is called out by Hook and I was so happy when that happened because I could start focusing on other parts of Peter. Here are two characters who, at one point, fit neatly into their roles as hero and villain but things are far more complicated than that. There’s a lot in this story that is completely different than the version of Peter Pan that I know of, a version Disney would never make, it’s darker, it’s gayer, and the hero of the story Peter is flawed. However, I can’t forget that Peter is running away from his family, desperately trying to forget the fact that they don’t accept him and force him to live as Wendy. No wonder he’s angry and looking for a fight.

I adored Hook, he was charming and funny and just everything I liked in a character. Even though, he was a “villain” he was there for a reason just like Peter was. Neverland, in this retelling, is a place you can run away to as a way of escaping the real world which all too often doesn’t accept those who are different. Specifically, those who are gay or trans. Again, I have no knowledge of the original Peter Pan story, but I really liked Chant’s interpretation of Neverland.

This book hit many boxes on my LGBTQ+ Bingo board such as:

  • Fantasy with an LGBTQ+ MC
  • Read a book from the perspective of a transman (Hook has a few perspective chapters, but it’s mainly Peter.)
  • Read an LGBTQ+ novella
  • Read an LGBTQ+ retelling
  • Read an LGBTQ+ book from an Own Voices author

Ultimately I chose it for the LGBTQ+ retelling because it’s a retelling with a trans Peter Pan who has a romance with Captain Hook. A romance that was completely different than what I expected. That’s a pretty great retelling. I’m really glad I read it and I’m glad it was the book I started out 2018 reading. 

Idyll Fears by Stephanie Gayle

Idyll Fears cover


I would like to thank Stephanie Gayle for sending me a copy of this novel. This has no effect on my review. 

4/5 – Idyll Fears is the second published Thomas Lynch novel, this series surrounds a small town police chief, Thomas Lynch. I already read (twice) the first novel Idyll Threats and reviewed it on the blog. He is one of my favorite characters. He’s gruff, grumpy, bristly, but he is a nice guy. Flawed but nice. Sometimes. Oh, and he’s also gay.

The fact that I’m reading a mystery series is a mystery itself. It’s not my favorite genre at all, but I will continue reading books about Thomas Lynch. First and foremost, Lynch is a cop. Even as a Police Chief, he is doing detective work. He loves his job and it shows. He’s also gay, but he doesn’t identify with that as much. Except when he sees an attractive man. At one point, a man he is interested in takes him to dinner with other gay men and women so that he could potentially have a community of similar individuals. Lynch gets upset about this and suddenly the man is no longer a love interest. I’ll admit, I was disappointed by how the character was brushed aside for a super attractive guy with a six-pack, but whatever. Lynch is a ho, I accept that about him.

This book revolves around a missing boy. A missing boy with CIPA which stands for, Congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis. Basically, he cannot feel pain and in a snowy, cold winter this is an issue. There is a race against the clock early in the book to find him before he gets hypothermia. This is very exciting and is very tense. As the novel progresses the Idyll Police struggle to find out who had taken the boy. Honestly, I found this mystery and the reveal of the perpetrator more interesting than the first book’s mystery where it felt like the killer came out of nowhere. In this small town, the crime rate sure has risen since Thomas Lynch came around, something joked about in the book.

I have another character to gush over. Mrs. Dunsmore. She is Lynch’s sassy assistant who knows everything and doesn’t take shit from anyone. Especially not Lynch. The side characters who were introduced in the first book were much more fleshed out in this book, but the book is from Lynch’s perspective and he doesn’t always make an effort to know the people he works with. Throughout the book, Lynch thinks that Mrs. Dunsmore is homophobic because she’s wearing a crucifix. Let me tell you something, Lynch may be observant, but he does a lot of judging and jumps to conclusions. Sometimes this works for him and sometimes it doesn’t. Mrs. Dunsmore puts him in his place and I just love her for it. I was grinning the whole time. She is my favorite side character in the series. Even after she does a few kind things for him, he still thinks she hates him because he’s gay. Very presumptuous, Chief Lynch.

In the first book, Lynch comes out as gay and because it is a small town suddenly everyone knows. In this book, he experiences hate speech on his car and is getting threatening phone calls from some homophobic asshole. However, the second mystery isn’t cleared up at all by the end of the book. I’m thinking it’s going to continue in the next book, as it makes sense that they wouldn’t be concerned with who was doing it with a kid missing, but I thought it was odd that it wasn’t resolved or wrapped up.

Despite all that, I really enjoyed this second installment of Thomas Lynch’s legacy as a rough around the edges Police Chief who likes FBI agents with six packs. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, I am trash for one Thomas Lynch.



Even Stephanie Gayle approves.


Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

cover-bad feminist



3/5 – What? No, I haven’t been putting off this review! Okay, I have but let me tell you something, there are a lot of essays in this book. There is a lot to cover, but I’m not going to individually review every single essay like I had originally planned. I’m going to pick my favorite essays and talk about those. I could go on about every essay, but I would rather talk about the ones I enjoyed.

I finally decided to read this book after following Roxane Gay on Twitter, she does not bother with the haters and I enjoy her snark at those who take low shots at her. She doesn’t take shit from anyone, and she terrifies me.

This book was a combination of very personal essays and critiques of pop culture which included books, songs, movies, and TV shows. She talks about topics from rape culture, to privilege to trigger warnings. However, the essays could be repetitive at times because they weren’t all written and published at the same time. It’s a collection of essays that were published separately so the themes are very similar. However, despite being published in 2014 it feels like it was written in 2017 as we are still facing some of the issues she brings up throughout the book.

Peculiar Benefits 

Okay, I can see this essay being unpopular because of one word which is thrown around so much that it seems to have a negative connotation: privilege. Usually, this word is thrown around in conversations (or heated arguments) about racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and more. I’ve noticed (particularly on Twitter) that it can escalate the argument and then people get defensive.

However, this essay makes the point that we are all privileged. If you are reading this review right now, you are privileged because you have access to a computer or a phone with internet access. There are people in the world who don’t have that. I’m not saying this to throw this in your face, but internet access and electronics are something we take for granted because they are so common in America.

What about the places where they aren’t? What about the places that don’t have access to food and water? The point of privilege is not to make you feel guilty about being white, or straight, or a man, or cisgender it’s to (hopefully) create empathy for those who don’t have what you have. I think we all forget that sometimes during heated arguments.

I’ll get a little personal here. I’m queer and I use this umbrella term because even in my liberal city, I don’t want to come out as asexual and panromantic to everyone I meet. Even if people, where I live, are more familiar with those terms as someone who isn’t straight you find that you never stop coming out to people. You sometimes stay in the closet because it’s easier to let someone assume you are either straight or gay. That is a privilege straight people have because straight is the default sexuality. It’s in everything we consume as a culture, it’s what we see on the street, and yet you still see homophobic comments (by people who pretend they aren’t homophobic) about forcing gay characters in media. I can’t even go to a random article about a show I’m excited about without seeing these hurtful comments and they hurt. They really do. I have always searched for LGBTQ+ characters in books and movies and today, they are more prominent than ever, but the bigotry is still there.

Despite this, despite being half-black (with light skin), despite having a mental illness, despite having been homeless, I still have privilege and that’s okay. If we can acknowledge that everyone is not treated equally, I would hope we can get to a point where we can have a civil conversation about it and try and do better as a society.

If I was going to recommend an essay in this collection, it would be this one.

Typical First-Year Professor 

For those of you who don’t know, Roxane Gay is a college professor. At least she was at the time of writing this essay. This essay is a personal essay about her journey through her first year as a professor and the struggles she had. I wish I could say more about it, but I really enjoyed it. I found that the essays which had more personal elements were more enjoyable for me than the political essays and the critiques.

Girls, Girls, Girls 

Alrighty, I’ve got to be honest, when the show Girls first aired Lena Dunham was my hero. She created a show in which she was the director, writer, and star. That was huge and something I would’ve aspired to once upon a time. However, Lena Dunham has said so much stupid shit that by the time the final season of Girls was airing, I didn’t give one shit about the awful ending.

In this essay, Roxane Gay also talks about Lena Dunham and Girls, however, this book was published three years ago and I’m not sure the exact year this essay was written. She talks about Lena Dunham and Girls as an achievement. It’s a show where the main character who is not thin and also shows off her body as normal women do. I know that resonated with me. However, the show is incredibly flawed.

Just because Girls was different than all the other shows on TV didn’t mean it was all inclusive. Gay points out that Lena Dunham stuck to her own experiences as a white, upper-class woman in her twenties. All of the main characters were white and if there were characters that were non-white they were love interests. (Spoilers for the last season of Girls coming up, if you care.) Hell, in the last season Hannah (Lena Dunham) sleeps with a guy named Paul-Louis who is portrayed by Riz Ahmed who is Pakistani. This was never addressed in relation to his character and when Hannah ends up choosing to raise the child on her own, it’s never once addressed that she’s raising a child who is biracial. What was the point of introducing a potentially interesting storyline which could address race and it doesn’t? (End spoilers)

One of the main points I took from this essay, was that when you are different you look for breadcrumbs. By that I mean, you’ll watch or read something problematic because you see yourself represented. We shouldn’t be starved for representation that we will consume anything that someone throws at us, but oftentimes we are.

The Careless Language of Sexual Violence 

TW: Rape 

This essay examines rape culture in a very powerful way. She details an article she read about a young girl who was gang-raped by several men. And yet, the article was talking about the ruined lives of the boys and men involved. This article and essay made me angry. I was thinking about that girl the entire time I was reading, and I couldn’t even imagine the pain she was in and would continue to carry with her for the rest of her life.

At times this essay is hard to read, it’s hard to fathom why someone would do something like this. Why someone would let this continue instead of stopping it. But it happened and we need to be angry when it does. We need to be angry at those who did wrong, not the victim. I see so much victim-blaming and it’s disgusting. Why are we blaming the person who was hurt by this? Why does someone’s clothing matter in this situation? Not to mention, women and men (cis and trans) are often not taken seriously when reporting rape. Why? Because justice isn’t always served.

You know Brock Turner? Who was caught in the act raping an unconscious woman, yeah he got six months in jail and served three. What about all the other instances that don’t make national news?

I would love to live in a world where convicted rapists get the maximum amount of time in prison. I don’t care if Brock Turner’s life is ruined, he ruined a woman’s life by raping her. I don’t know why it’s hard for people to see that.

What We Hunger For 

TW: Rape

Roxane Gay loves strong women, she specifically points out Katniss and her love for The Hunger Games. Then she details her own sexual assault which is all too similar to the girl whose story she mentioned in the previous essay. This very personal essay is heartbreaking and it made me angry that this happened. She was incredibly vulnerable in sharing her story. It wasn’t easy to get through, but I think it’s one worth reading and I will never forget it.

Some Jokes Are Funnier Than Others

This essay is about rape jokes. I’m just going to put it out there, I don’t find rape jokes funny at all. If you make a rape joke in front of me, go fuck yourself. However, comedians such as Daniel Tosh think it’s okay. Roxane Gay criticizes him for this but points out that his audience of (mostly) men do. She talks about how they were willing to cross boundaries with women because Tosh told them to. It’s disturbing how some people will do those things because they want to be seen by someone they admire.

I’ve heard many debates about comedians and what they can and cannot joke about, but here’s the thing. We have to recognize that we aren’t going to please everyone so you cater to your audience. With that logic, a comedian can joke about anything and everything. However, that doesn’t mean you aren’t an asshole. When Dave Chappelle makes a transphobic joke, I’m not going to watch his shit, but he has enough of an audience that a joke like that doesn’t ruin his reputation. I’m not okay with casual jokes which feature, sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, or rape. We are heading into 2018 and it’s no longer okay to say those things. So stop it.

Beyond the Struggle Narrative 

Have you ever seen 12 Years a Slave? I have and it’s very hard to watch. It’s based on a true account of a free man named Solomon Northup who is then captured and sold into slavery. The way slaves are treated is brutal and likely accurate. The movie is powerful and disturbing and I never want to see it again. One of the biggest draws of this movie was the fact that it was written and directed by two black men, John Ridley and Steve McQueen respectively. In the essays leading up to this one, Roxane Gay criticizes both The Help and Django Unchained because they were created by white writers.

I would like to make a note here. I personally have no issue with writers writing about things they unfamiliar with. I have done it myself. What is important is to do your research. Make sure it is authentic. Otherwise, it just comes off as exploitative. Alright, moving on.

However, Roxane Gay does not praise this movie. She criticises the movie for not moving past the slave narrative. Black people have more experiences than just slavery or segregation and yet we rarely see movies specifically with primarily black casts about anything else. If you are thinking of Tyler Perry, don’t worry there is an essay about him and his movies too. I found her perspective curious because 12 Years a Slave was considered one of the best movies of that year. Was it because of the slave narrative? I won’t deny it was a technically well-done movie, but what if the story was different?

Last year, I heard rumblings about a movie featuring a young black man that deals with his sexuality. The movie features three parts of his life when he is a boy, when he is a teenager, and when he’s an adult. It is directed by a black man and based off a play written by a black man. The movie features a black cast. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m talking about Moonlight. I saw this movie in theaters and loved it. It’s harsh, it’s beautiful, and features the experience of Chiron throughout his life as he discovers he is gay in a world that won’t allow him to be gay. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone said this movie is overhyped. It won best picture last year at the Oscars and is critically lauded. What I hope isn’t overlooked, is how important this movie is. How important this story is. It’s beyond the slave narrative. It’s just as raw and accurate as 12 Years a Slave (maybe not as brutal) and we need more stories like this. I’d be curious to see what Roxane Gay’s thoughts were on Moonlight, but I was unable to find any article or essay by her on the subject.

In Conclusion

This book is called Bad Feminist and a lot of these essays were written with a feminist perspective, but it wasn’t limited to that. It was written from the perspective of a woman of color, of a rape survivor, of someone who is not skinny, among other things. I believe some of the essays in this book should be read, all of the ones I’ve talked about in this review are worth reading the whole book. They were the ones that made me think and the ones that have stuck with me most. I would like to read more voices of those who are different from me and voices of those who I disagree with on things. Bad Feminist is just as important now and we need more voices like this in the world we live in.