Book review – I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman

Caidyn's review (1)

I Was Born for This


CW: transphobia, accidental outing, panic disorder and panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation, alcohol abuse, parental abandonment, talk about death of a loved one, and physical assault

This is my third book by Oseman and, happily, I loved it just as much as Radio Silence! I was hopeful that I would enjoy it because one of the MCs is a transman (which my heart always needs because there’s just not enough transman rep for my liking).

The story is kind of random. It reminded me of Radio Silence in that there was no real plot to it, just a lot of meandering until the climax was there. I think that’s because I’m not used to reading lots of contemporary. Fantasy and sci-fi typically have a very overt goal that they’re going towards while contemporary doesn’t necessarily need that.

In this, there are quite a few characters. The main ones are Angel/Fereshteh Rahimi and Jimmy Kaga-Ricci. Angel, which is her online name because Fereshteh means angel, absolutely adores a band, The Ark. She’s 18, just finished school, and is Muslim. Also, like Melanie pointed out in her review, I got major ace vibes from Angel. Then, there’s Jimmy. Jimmy is a biracial transman who has depression and anxiety. That makes things interesting since he’s the frontman of The Ark.

Also included in this is Juliet, Angel’s best friend; Bliss, Rowan’s secret girlfriend and the catalyst for Angel and Jimmy meeting; Rowan, cello player in The Ark; and Lister, the drummer. All of these characters are incredibly diverse. As I said, Angel is Muslim. Jimmy is Indian and Italian, a transman, and possibly queer. Bliss is Chinese and white, and queer. Rowan is Nigerian. Lister is queer. (When I say queer, it’s established they’re LGBTQ+, but I don’t know their exact identity with sexuality.)

I love Oseman for having all of these incredibly diverse characters, along with having fantastic mental health rep. It was beautiful to read very accurate depictions of anxiety and depression. I know that if I worked with teens for social work, I’d have a good list of books for them to read for bibliotherapy. This would be on there. (And, yes, bibliotherapy is one therapy that I want to use in my practice because I know how much books have helped me.)

One thing that I didn’t love about this book, though, is that it felt almost like a repeat of Radio Silence. There were very similar themes in it. A girl who has an obsession with some fandom. Ends up meeting and befriending a creator of the fandom. The creator has extreme depression and/or anxiety. It felt like a real repeat, but it was a lot better than Solitaire.

Overall, a very good book. Enjoyable to read, although it dealt with hard topics.

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Have you read this?
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Book review – Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Caidyn's review (1)



CW: anxiety, grief, loss of a loved one, violence, and forced institutionalization

Goodreads was being a butt with the picture for the Owlcrate edition, so I had to use my picture from Instagram. Oh well! I think it looks prettier like this.

In other news, I liked this a lot! I don’t know how much I have to say about it, but I did really enjoy it.

The story focuses around a world where books aren’t always what they seem. Some have the souls of humans in them and can transform into deadly creatures that kill people. And Elisabeth is an apprentice, training to become one of the people who protects those books. Except one night she finds that one of the books has transformed and killed the Director. She defeats the book only to find herself being punished.

Enter her adventure.

Elisabeth was such a dynamic character! I really enjoyed reading her transformation and all of that. She was badass and likable and nice and just great. She was really enjoyable.

Along the way she meets Nathanial Thorn, a sorcerer — and librarians hate sorcerers — who has a demon, Silas, tethered to him. When Nathanial dies, Silas will eat his soul and then go on to serve the next Thorn. If there is one, of course. She grudgingly likes them, then, of course, it becomes more. Nathanial is so much fun. I loved how cocky he was and that he was so open with his sexuality, honestly saying that he’s bisexual. Which was great.

The character that completely stole my heart, though, was Silas. He was just fun and I want more of the demon lore for this! He was endlessly fascinating, how human he was yet how other he was at the same time. I thought that Rogerson did a great job of balancing him as a character, making him likable and also terrifying when we were reminded as readers that he isn’t like us at all.

The world took a bit of time for me to sink into. I blame my mood when I was reading it. I was very distracted and just needed to read, even if I wasn’t completely paying attention to it. (Sorry, book. I do that because it’s my self-care.) I was still catching up and gathering everything towards the end because of that. My fault, I know, but I should have picked a different book to read like that.

I have a feeling that I’ll bump this one up to 4.5 or 5 stars when I eventually reread it. The story just took my breath away and I ended up loving all the characters. It took me a while to really like Elisabeth and Nathanial. As I said, I liked them but I needed to get to know them more. Luckily for me, the book is pretty long and I definitely had enough time to get to know them! They were wonderful and I know that the plot was fantastic.

Do yourself a favor and check this out! I already know I’ll be trying Rogerson’s debut novel because she’s an author I’ll be paying attention to more.

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Have you read this? What did you think?

Book review – I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver

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I Wish You All the Best


CW: transphobia, being kicked out, parental abuse, depression, anxiety and panic attacks, and isolation

This is one of those books that I had seen around, but wasn’t sure about. As y’all likely know by now, I’m not a huge fan of contemporary YA. It’s not a genre that I like very much because it’s usually romance and angst and, well, it annoys the hell out of me.

But, I loved this book.

Ben is nonbinary and they come out to their parents only for them to kick them out. They decide to go live with their sister, Hannah, who was also kicked out by their parents. She’s married to Thomas, a school teacher at a high school that Ben starts going to. There, Ben meets Nathan, a queer POC guy.

There were three main things in this book that blew me away. First, the wonderful diversity. There are two nonbinary characters, Ben and Mariam. Mariam is nonbinary and Muslim, wearing a hijab as a show of their faith. Then there’s Nathan. Nathan has friends that he introduces Ben to, who are also POC characters. I mean, I loved that this book took place in the south and that it showed so much diversity in it. That really caught me by surprise and I loved it.

Second, despite the subject matter, it wasn’t depressing. There were sad moments, of course, but it never was too much. It felt so accurate, likely because Deaver is nonbinary as well. For me, I kept relating it back to when I was a baby transman in high school. I could relate deeply with Ben and their choice not to come out to everyone. I was deeply in the closet and never came out to my high school as a whole because I didn’t want to be bullied or put myself at risk of harm since I live in a conservative area as well.

To go with the subject matter, I loved the therapy rep! It was just amazing because it highlighted how much therapy is important. My parents and I went to therapy a few times to make sure that everything was okay when we were going through this huge transition. I know it helped my parents more than me, but if the situation had been different I know it would have helped me as well.

Third, the relationship didn’t kill me!! Romance isn’t my thing in general, but the romance in this was amazing. It was so sweet and I loved how most of it was fostering a friendship. When most YA books have tons of instalove, it was so refreshing to see a realistic relationship develop and grow. It was just great and so refreshing for me as a reader. I always have a hard time getting behind relationships in books because, most of the time, they’re not fleshed out. This was perfectly fleshed out for little ole me.

Basically, if you want a terrific debut about nonbinary and other diverse characters, I highly recommend this book. I’m definitely going to have to get it for my shelf because I’m sure I’ll want to reread it.

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Have you read this? What did you think?
What contemporary YA books have you loved?

Book review – As I Descended by Robin Talley

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As I Descended


CW: ableism, drug use, drugging someone, outing, and death

Macbeth is my favorite of Shakespeare’s tragedies. While it’s not my absolute favorite play, I love how he wove the story and made it so entrancing even today. I’ve had this book on my radar for a while, but I never took the leap to try it until I saw it get recommended by Mackenzi Lee on her Instagram story.

It was great! Not perfect, but I thought it was very creative. Instead of medieval Scotland, we have a highly prestigious high school where everyone’s competing for the best grades and, therefore, the best college. I remember those people at my own non-prestigious high school — literally, it was one high school for two towns — so it gave me major flashbacks to my own senior year. I wasn’t in that group of overachievers, but I had classes with them.

Let me break down the characters and link them to the characters in the play, though. (And I thought what Talley did with the character names was super clever!)

  • Maria = Macbeth. She is a bi Mexican teen who is nearly at the top of her class.
  • Lily = Lady Macbeth. She is a disabled lesbian teen (not out). She also has an addiction to pain pills.
  • Delilah = Duncan. She’s the queen bee of the school. Top of the class. Famous last name. Gets everything she wants because of who she is. Also drinks and does drugs occasionally. She and Maria are competitors and on the same sports team.
  • Brandon = Banquo. He’s gay and Maria’s best friend.
  • Mateo = Malcolm. He’s gay and not out to anyone outside of school. Also created a GSA for the school.

Those are, basically, the main characters of the story. Same with the play if you’ve read it. (And, if you haven’t, I highly recommend it. If Shakespeare isn’t your jam, try an audiobook. They tend to have a full cast and you really get to experience the play.)

I absolutely loved the intersectionality in this book. You have queer characters of color. You have queerness mixed with disability. And it was so much fun.

The whole story starts off with Maria, Lily, and Brandon deciding to break out an ouija board to fuck around after drinking some. Except, they reach spirits. Spirits who have information, in Spanish, for Maria that tells her the future and what she has to do to get what she wants. Aka, Delilah’s place.

From there, the story basically follows the play. As I said, I thought it was super clever and fun to read. No, it wasn’t perfect. But it was super enjoyable. I read over half of it while waiting on my flight to Portland — seven hour fucking layover after getting up at 3am to catch my first flight — and it was just a fantastic read. It definitely kept my attention.

The diverse cast and plot were the best parts of it for me. And, I know that I’ll be checking out more of Talley’s books from here on out because this first book I read by her impressed the hell out of me.

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Have you read this?
What did you think?
Do you have a favorite Shakespeare retelling?

Book review – George by Alex Gino

Caidyn's review (1)



CW: gender dysphoria, deadnaming, and bullying

I’m waayyyy late to this book.

You might ask why. I’m trans. I’m pretty open about that being a part of my life. So, why did I wait so long to read a book that’s being lauded as a heartfelt book about a transkid?

Because I’ve been burned many times by books that are labeled as that and about transpeople. Half of the time, it’s a sobfest of all the hard issues that transpeople face, including deadnaming, transphobia, bullying, outing, death, suicidal ideation, and extreme descriptions of gender dysphoria. Sometimes, it even misrepresents the people since the big authors who write these stories aren’t trans. They’re cis. All while trans authors are struggling to get their ownvoices works published.

Just once, I want a happy book with a transperson in it.

I finally have this book!

Now, I know the book is called “George” and that “George” is the MC’s birth name. But, she refers to herself as Melissa and that’s her chosen name. So, she’s Melissa in this review and always will be Melissa. Think of it as someone deciding not to call me Caidyn because that’s not my “real name”… even though legally it’s been changed to that and that’s the name I’ve lived in for years.

As basically all of you know, this book is about a transgirl and her coming out experience. Melissa desperately wants to play Charlotte in Charlotte’s Web. Her best friend is the super supportive and amazing Kelly. Her mom doesn’t quite get it and she has an older brother, Scott, who doesn’t know either.

And this is how she comes out to them and finally gets seen as the girl that she is.

It was incredibly sweet to read. As I said, there’s deadnaming in it (mainly because Melissa hasn’t told everyone the name she’s chosen) and definitely descriptions of gender dysphoria, but, overall, this was a happy book. It was a great book to read during Pride and I’m incredibly happy that it’s available for young kids to read and perhaps put a better name to what they’re feeling. It’s also easy to wrap your head around as a parent and an adult. It doesn’t dumb things down. It just makes it easier to understand.

This is one of those books that I wish that I’d had as a kid. Now, I never felt gender dysphoria as a child. I was pretty chill in myself. More friends that were boys than girls for a long time. My mom didn’t enforce any gender things on me, so I could play with what I wanted to. (I loved cars. I had a bff, Andy, in preschool and we’d play with them. I got bitten over a toy car there, too. Those were the days.) I also played dress-up and I’d fluidly go between male and female characters. One second I’d be playing Harry, then I’d go to Hermione, then I’d be Aladdin or Mogli.

But, being trans wasn’t a thing that was talked about. I think the first time I was exposed to transpeople was when I was 13 — so, a few years before I came out to myself and my family — and in Thailand. A transwoman there was in a shop we were shopping in because we didn’t pack what we needed so we were buying jeans. She was gorgeous and I didn’t have a clue that she was trans. But my parents did and they told me later.

I didn’t grow up with it in the news. I didn’t grow up like these kids are. And, maybe, if I’d had this book or more exposure I’d have realized sooner. So, it makes me incredibly happy that this book exists for younger kids so they can have a name for how they’re feeling and expressing themselves. Also, it’s a great book for parents to use to introduce their kids to more diverse topics and to help their kids understand people who aren’t like them.

I’d definitely recommend this book to other people. It was just fantastic in so many ways — supportive friends, school environment, and, in the end, family — and it’s the happy trans book that I’ve been searching for.

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Have you read this? What did you think?
Do you have any other happy trans books you’d recommend?

Book review – Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

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Radio Silence


CW: parental abuse, animal abuse, suicidal ideation, depression, and cyberbullying

I’ll be straight up honest with y’all. (And, you’re thinking: Caidyn, when aren’t you??) But, I didn’t expect to like this book. I really didn’t. Yes, it’s queer. Yes, it’s got ace rep. Yes, it’s not very romantic.

But, here’s the thing, I don’t really read contemporary YA. Contemporary anything, really.

Yet, everyone kept telling me how amazing it was and that it’s just so great and blah blah blah. I finally decided to pick it up and give it a try since, you know, it’s Pride.

I really, really liked this book.

There’s only one con that I can think of and that’s that it really slowed down in the latter half of the book. I wasn’t a fan of how far it slowed down and that it got really depressing. Two characters dealing with depression and one having obvious suicidal thoughts. But, that’s it.

First, I loved the rep. The MC of this is Frances. She’s an Ethiopian-British bi girl struggling with school and what she wants to do.

Then, there’s Aled who’s definitely demisexual — demisexuality, for those who might not know, is a part of the asexual spectrum and is when someone only feels sexual attraction when they have a close bond with someone they’re romantically inclinded to — and questioning. I know some people say he’s demi and gay (as in, homoromantic, or only feeling romantically towards men), but it was never stated that he’s only into guys.

There are also wonderful side characters. Daniel, who’s a gay Korean immigrant. Carys, Aled’s sister and who’s lesbian. Raine, a friend of Frances and is an pan Indian woman.

Basically, the diversity was amazing. I loved how it was written and, honestly, the ace rep was perfect. It felt so accurate and I loved that romance just wasn’t the main point. I need more books like that, where romance isn’t a part of the story. It was in the background, but it wasn’t a huge thing.

And, I gotta love a questioning ace. I’ve been there and I felt the pain that Aled was going through as well. Just trying to figure out who the hell he is.

The plot is pretty basic. Frances loves this YouTube channel, Universe City, that’s basically like Welcome to the Night Vale. It’s her nerdy thing. But, Frances is, in a way, two people. She’s the person she is at school then she’s the person she is at home. And the split is slowly killing her. She became friends with Carys, but Carys ran away and only Frances knows why and blames herself for it.

Frances becomes friends with Aled, discovering his secrets, the good and the bad. I have to say, Aled was such a hard character to read. Mainly because I have his kind of coping skills. Something’s bothering me emotionally? Don’t talk about it. I have no problem telling someone when I don’t like what they’re physically doing, but I’m not good at confrontation on an emotional level. If that makes any sense. I usually wait until I can’t take it anymore and explode at the person. Which is, in a way, how Aled handles things.

This book was just so good on so many levels. I wish I could say more about the plot, but I’m worried that I’ll get into spoiler territory and ruin some of the reveals and different things. What I can say is that this book was excellent. It was such an enjoyable read and that I’ll definitely be reading Oseman more from now on.

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Have you read this? What did you think?
What Oseman book should I read next?

Unsolvedathon check-in #3

Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Top Ten Tuesday

We’re nearly done and y’all are nearly finished with me giving these updates! This week, I read two more of the books, putting me at 9/10! That means, one book left! I’m a bit excited, tbh. I’ve loved doing this readathon, but it’s been a lot of work. But, let’s get to my reviews of what I read.

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