a bookish dream world

i read and freak out about it

a bookish dream world

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I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi

It reminded Adeem of one of the poems his sister had shared with him once, one by Rumi. In the poem, Rumi banters with God over life’s usual philosophical questions: what to do with that pesky thing called a heart, where to focus one’s eyes, etcetera, etcetera. But when Rumi asks God what to do with his pain and sorrow, God tells him, “Stay with it. The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

tw : suicide attempt (in the past, not depicted), mental health issues, 

Some books just stick with you for reasons beyond your immediate comprehension. This is what happened with I Hope You Get This Message and I. Ever since I’ve finished it, it quietly sat in the back of my head. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the end of the world a little (dark, much ? a little but it’s not that bad) and thinking about how We as Humans hurt the Earth and how it’s eventually going to fight back and We (and the future generations) will (are) suffer(ing) from it greatly.

I Hope You Get This Message follows three characters, Adeem, Jesse and Cate as they experience essentially the end of the world. An entity known as Alma warns humans that they will terminate our existence in the next seven days. All hell breaks loose and our main characters try to navigate this announcement however they can.

Rishi’s writing is beautiful and fluid. It’s also full of little gems of wisdom (“Be kind, Adi. Life’s too exhausting as it is to hold on to anger so tightly.” OOF)

✨The characters 

💜Adeem

“It’s convenient to sit back and do nothing when everything goes to hell,” continued Adeem, only a little quieter. “People like him blame the problems we face on the natural order. Or God. Or a lack thereof. But the moment we sit back and do nothing while everything falls apart—that’s why we have problems in the first place. That’s why this is happening.” 

Adeem is Pakistani-American and so is the author ! Adeem goes after his sister who, after coming out to her religious Muslim family, ran from home (without saying goodbye to Adeem). I really felt Adeem’s struggle : while he is angry at his sister for running away and abandoning him, there’s also this part of him that wishes she had trusted him enough to know he wouldn’t have rejected her. I appreciated the way Rishi described sibling relationships because most of the time, they’re far from simple and I always love to read about it. 

💜Jesse

“The thing about wanting to die was that people always assume it’s the constant pain that gets to you, the pain that convinces you to do something, anything, to make it stop, and Jesse’s depression was painful at first, all sporadic tugs and pulls beneath his skull, like a stubborn specter that clung to his mind with sharp teeth.”

Jesse was my favorite character. His reaction to Alma is to pretend he built this machine that’s able to communicate with the “aliens” and this attracts a bunch of people desperate for just a little bit of hope. This opened my eyes about how much emotional baggage we carry as human beings and how easy, almost natural, it is for us to assume that everything is okay when really, everything is Really Not. Jesse’s relationship with his mom was beautiful and heartbreaking and I’ll talk more about him in the “themes” section. I really did love Jesse’s evolution/thought process throughout the book and I thought he was well-written and complex. 

💜Cate was probably the character I felt the “less” about. She didn’t strike me with her personality or her arc. Cate decides to leave her mom to go find her dad, whom she’s never met (which is a brave thing to do). Her resilience truly was something to admire but I can’t lie to you and say she will stick with me (unlike the book in its entirety for example). 

✨ Themes ✨

1) We are not our parents and other complex family intricacies. The reason why I loved Jesse so much is because of his relationship with his family but also his thought process when it came to his relationship with his dad. 

Sure, crows manipulated. Crows deceived. But crows also survived—it was their trickery that kept them alive.”

I felt Jesse’s anger and personal conflict. It reminded me that We Are Not Our Parents and that trauma needs to be dealt with because unfortunately, it doesn’t just go away

“But I don’t want you to keep pretending you’re okay. I don’t want you to keep downplaying the hurt you feel like you’re not even human. You keep it up—all these lies to yourself, to other people, and soon you’re not going to know who you are.”

Jesse is definitely a character that will stay with me for some time. 

2) Companionship is Important and it’s something fundamental that we gravitate towards. Finding friendship, and I mean Real, Unapologetic, True Friendship is rare. It’s not something that happens on a daily basis. This book reminded me why I love to read about friendships (and if you need to know anything about me, it’s that it’s my favorite thing and I literally cannot shut up about it). 

3) Hope is not Dumb, it’s Necessary. At some point in the book, Jesse is confronted with his utter rejection of Hope as a driving factor of humanity. 

“You wanna know why people believe in you? It’s because hope gives people something to hold on to. It makes them feel better. It gives them a reason to keep fighting. People need hope right now, Jesse. Desperately. And there’s nothing wrong with that.”

While on the one hand, I deeply understand Jesse’s point of view, I also truly believe that Hope Is Necessary. And to be completely honest with you, it’s with that type of dialogue that Rishi made me fall in love with her writing. Her way of putting things into perspective and moving me to the point of tears needs more recognition. 

“But isn’t that the point of hope? And faith, even? That you have it and you hold on to it and you protect it, even when it’s impossible? Isn’t that when you need hope the most? You can’t blame people for wanting to feel better.”“You know, the worst part of it all,” said Corbin, “isn’t that you were profiting off people’s hope. It’s that you look down on people for having any hope at all.” 

I feel like this book was emotionally violent for me on two different levels : 

✨ one is that it is really brutal : the reality of the matter IS that some kids have to grow up way too fast and that it’s so fucking unfair but it is what it is. While the three MCs are teenagers, this book is also a testimony that sometimes kids have to grow up too fast, and they have to face things they’re no ready to face that are yet inevitable. 

✨ two is that there’s an inherent softness to what Rishi is saying. There’s this quote in the book “remind the ones you love there’s something still worth fighting for” and it reminded me of Keanu Reeves (9:51) on Stephen Colbert. I don’t know how to put it into words eloquently so I’ll just shut up and ask you to read the book. 

My Only “Criticism”

I wish there had been more light-heartedness. Okay hear me out, yes it’s the end of the world (or at least the end of A World aka as we know it) BUT there was some serious potential to (for lack of better words) “lighten” the story a bit (maybe that’s just a personal preference and honestly the author did this very well at some point : “Man,” he choked. “Your body doesn’t give a shit about timing, does it? That’s why we’re in jail? Seriously? Did it not get the memo about the impending alien attack?” “Are you . . .” Cate blinked back her disbelief. “Adeem, are you asking me if my uterus knows about Alma?” )

ALSO I WANT TO FRAME THIS QUOTE :“What do you think we should do, just snooze our way through the freaking apocalypse?” (probably because it’s what I would do)

In Conclusion

I loved this comment about the end of the world and the inherently brief nature of humanity. The ending did not fully satisfy me (actually it didn’t satisfy me AT ALL) but I think it’s the reason I liked it (paradoxical, I know). I’m a sucker for looking at a book in its entirety and not just focusing on One Thing I Disliked. And with I Hope You Get This Message, I enjoyed it in its entirety, and its message. 

June TV Shows Recs (Aka My Current Watchlist) #1

June was a great month for watching TV shows. While the school year doesn’t give me all that much time to truly indulge in some careless binging time, I’m interning this month, meaning I don’t have any homework to do when I get home (thank God). When it comes to TV shows, I’m pretty open to watch anything and everything, there are no limits, no comfort zones. I’m willing to try it all. So this list is a bit all over the place. It’s not really recommendations (although I could absolutely do that if that’s something you’d be interested in) but I tried to implement a few “for lovers of” in my lists.

Recently Watched✨

1) The Haunting of Hill House Season 1 (4/5 stars)

Recommended for lovers of horror who also love to shed (more than) a couple tears.  Although this is a pretty scary TV show (I’d rate it at a 6.5/10, 10 being The Most Terrifying Tv Show To Ever Exist ?), it’s also a beautiful story about family and acceptance. There’s something about it that is heartbreaking yet hopeful and I really enjoyed it. 

2) Peaky Blinders Season 1 (3.5/5 stars)

 

Finally finished season 1 and while it was good, it didn’t blow my mind. That being said, I’m currently watching season 2 and it is truly Great. With Peaky, I feel like it’s the atmosphere and the characters that really do it for me. Some moments make me gasp and have me on the edge of my seat. Let’s see what the next season bring !

3) Killing Eve Season 2 (4/5 stars)

I’m rating Season 2 at 4/5 stars because if I compare it to Season 1 (5/5 stars), I didn’t like it as much. That being said, Killing Eve is a groundbreaking TV show with incredibly complex, layered female characters with a side of psychopathy and palpable tension, I’m in. Although like I said, I preferred Season 1 but Season 2 is NOT to be looked down on. Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh are honestly two of the greatest actresses of our generation and they should be treated and respected as such. I adore this show but I do wish it had ended a bit different because it felt a bit redundant.
 

4) The Society Season 1 (4/5 stars)

While the premise is interesting and compelling I feel like the execution lacks a bit. This TV show really has the potential to be That Bitch when it comes to plot and I do feel let down with season 1 (much like Under The Dome, for the sake of comparison). That being said, the characters’ behaviors are intriguing and this idea that they have to essentially emulate a new society in order to survive is inthralling, for sure. But let’s be real, the Only Reason I’m staying is called Grizz and that’s that on that (okay, I do adore Kathryn Newton too). About Grizz (because I wouldn’t be true to myself if I didn’t gush about him) : he just made me remember how much I stan Soft Boys (granted one of my most recent posts are my Top 5 Fave Male Characters in YA and I do admit they are ALL soft, no exceptions) but God, do I adore Grizz Visser. 

Currently Watching  ✨

  1. Euphoria because you better believe I will support Zendaya until I die. I don’t have a fully formed opinion yet. Euphoria is shocking in a way but it also feels realistic and not like a show trying to emulate high schoolers (hum hum every show I ever watched while in high school). 
  2. Peaky Blinders because Tommy gives me strong Kaz Brekker vibes and Liv @ StoriesForCoffee gushed about it on Twitter and I have to continue watching it.
  3. Mindhunter : lovers of true crime with an eerie atmosphere. If you want true crime, this is perfect for you. However, for me personally, I can only do one episode at a time (like one a week) because I find really dark and I’m not always in a good mindset to be watching something like this. 
  4. Friends : I watch Friends while eating breakfast and I truly do enjoy it. I never watched Friends in a linear way and I know this show has been hyped 5ever and everybody is tired of it and I get it. BUT, Friends is a nice reminder of what friendship is supposed to be like (loving, supportive and healthy) and I do adore the dynamics between the characters. That being said, I’m here for Chandler and Phoebe. 

To Be Watched✨

  1. Barry Season 1 because Bill Hader and there never was a clearer answer

  2. Suits Season 1 because I am a law student after all and I wanna not only live vicariously but also pretend my life will be as exciting as Harvey’s. 

  3. Big Little Lies Season 2 : for lovers of murder, women supporting women and Zoe Kravitz. Meryl Streep is part of the cast of season 2 and while she might not be everyone’s fave, I do admire her acting skills. 

 

What TV shows have you been watching ?
Do you have a favorite ? Let me know below ! 

June Wrap-Up And TBR + A Little Reading Update

A Little Reading Update, first ! 

June was not the best reading month which is disappointing to say the least. Even though this is still called Wrap-Up and TBR, I won’t be putting any specific books to read in my TBR. This year, I’ve come to realize more and more that I’m very much a mood reader and that TBR are a HUGE NO for me, they just don’t work. I feel like if I turn reading into somewhat of a chore, it’s pointless because it’s really not why I read. I’ve always read because 1) I wanted to 2) I love it.

I’ve had a little bit of a slump these last two months (even though I still am about 8-10 books ahead on my reading schedule) and I haven’t been enjoying anything as much as I wish I would. I maybe haven’t been in the right headspace and the last six months have been a little tough on my mental health and specifically my anxiety/stress but also just my relationship with myself. I’ve been in a dark mindset lately and I hate it so much because I truly have been getting better and better since I left high school (which is not to bash my HS experience, it was alright, I just personally wasn’t). So if I had One Thing to put in my July TBR, it would be to find the books that made me fall in love with reading in the first place. The summer is when I get the most reading done so I hope this year will be the case. 

Let’s get to the wrap-up !

Books Read :

Roundup : 8 books read in June 2019

⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎Stars : 0
⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎Stars : 4
⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎ Stars : 0
⭐︎⭐︎Stars : 2
⭐︎Star : 0 
DNF : 1

🌺Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson (4 stars) : Good book with a solid mystery, good writing, truly addictive (physically couldn’t put it down, i promise)

 

🌺Marriage for One by Ella Maise (2.75 stars) : this was really disappointing, you can check out my review if you wanna know the details !


🌺Ruckus by L.J. Shen (2 stars) : started out great but then went downhill, real quick.


🌺Always Human by Ari Walkingnorth (4 stars) : SO CUTE, I loved it. 

🌺The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman (4.5 stars) 

🌺I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi (4 stars) : I’m gonna have a review coming out soon for this one ! This was a big surprise and it really stuck with me.

🌺Finley by Ella Frank (DNF)

🌺Cress by Marissa Meyer (4 stars) : This installment is the first where I can confidently say I’m invested in the characters and the plot. They’re all much more fleshed-out and they were given proper agency where it felt like for example in Scarlet, we were kind of lost, searching around for meaning around this whole mission aka How To Deal With Levana (who btw, makes for a great villain but I wish she’d step up even more). I can honestly say that Meyer’s writing has improved a lot with this one. 

 

Currently Reading :

🌺Atonement by Ian McEwan : I’m SO excited to be reading this because I’ve heard so much about it 

🌺The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum : I’ve never read this as a child, only seen the movie which I loved so I’m giving it a shot ! 

🌺The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater : I have honestly no idea what to expect with The Raven King. I have literally zero expectations because I love this series a lot and if I start expecting things, I know that I will be disappointed and I’m NOT ABOUT THAT LIFE. 

🌺King Of Scars by Leigh Bardugo : I’ve put this one down simply because… I forgot about it. Ugh, I’m annoyed @ myself !!!

🌺Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare : It feels like I’ve been reading this one for ages but I’m excited to see where the story goes. I just wish I’d read this faster. 

What books did you read in June ? Let me know below ! 

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles #3) by Marissa Meyer

⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎⭐︎ 

“Maybe there isn’t such a thing as fate. Maybe it’s just the opportunities we’re given, and what we do with them. I’m beginning to think that maybe great, epic romances don’t just happen. We have to make them ourselves.”
 
Can you hear that ? That’s the sound of me being relieved because this book is All That. Finally, my expectations were met and it feels… so good. 
 
Cress is the third installment in the Lunar Chronicles, which is essentially a retelling of some iconic tales such as Cinderella or the Little Red Riding Hood. Cress is based off of Rapunzel. That being said, that’s where it stops being a retelling.
 
The Lunar Chronicles are set in the future where the Earth is in conflict with Luna (the Moon) ruled by Queen Levana. While book 1 and 2 weren’t my favorite, book 3 is in my opinion completely different. The main problem I had with the past two was that the story wasn’t fleshed-out enough. The side characters ended up being less developed than the main and it made for a very unbalanced cast of characters. This installment is the first where I can confidently say I’m invested in the characters and the plot. They’re all much more fleshed-out and they were given proper agency where it felt like for example in Scarlet, we were kind of lost, searching around for meaning around this whole mission aka How To Deal With Levana (who btw, makes for a great villain but I wish she’d step up even more). I can honestly say that Meyer’s writing has improved a lot with this one. 
 
The characters
 
Cress is the main focus of this book. She’s a girl who’s been raised on a ship (a satellite maybe?) and is in charge of doing Levana’s dirty work (aka surrounding the Earth with Lunar ships while remaining undetected). Cress undergoes a lot of abuse at the hands of her “mistress” Sybil, the Queen’s right hand woman. She’s verbally and physically abused to make sure she doesn’t disobey her orders. While Cress started out as a very naive almost sheepish character, she grows into her own character with her own personality by the end of the book. She was a bit overshadowed by the main plot and the other characters but it didn’t feel disproportionate. Like I said, the story becomes much more fleshed-out so Cress’ personal struggles were implemented nicely with the rest of the plot. 
 
One thing I particularly enjoyed was the depiction of Cress’ anxiety and the way she deals with it, by imagining she is someone else.
 
Cinder : While I sometimes struggle with the Chosen One trope (i.e Cinder), it didn’t bother me that much in this book. I loved Cinder’s progression and how she finally starts to claim her title. “She didn’t think she’d ever felt so invested in her identity, and determined to claim her place. It was a strange feeling, bordering on pride.”
 
Thorne, YOU HAVE MY HEART BREAK IT IF YOU WANT. Cinder and Thorne’s relationship : A+, I Stan Friendship. Thorne truly is one of the Softest character in the Lunar Chronicles (ironic) and I love him so so much. His relationship with Cress, although somewhat very predictable, ended up being one of my favorite things about this book. Their relationship is 100% my favorite from the series. 
 
Iko : I Love Her. “In another life, we could have been sisters, and I feel it’s important to acknowledge that.” A blank stare. A blink, every six seconds. “But as it stands, I’m a part of an important mission right now, and I cannot be swayed from my goal by my sympathy for androids who are less advanced than myself.”
 
Winter is introduced as the niece (?) of Levana and I’m so excited to learn more about her (she gives off Nelly Crain vibes and it’s an understatement to say that I’m here for it). Her potential is infinite. 
 
“But you are crazy.” “I know.” She lifted a small box from the basket. “Do you know how I know?” Scarlet didn’t answer. “Because the palace walls have been bleeding for years, and no one else sees it.”
 
In Conclusion
 
What I admire the most about Marissa Meyer’s writing is the fact that she mastered this transition between book 2 and book 3 and lit back my interest in the story. Her ability to build up a plot is quite impressive : while it felt empty during book 1 and 2 (which does serve a purpose but I personally prefer to be literally thrown in and I’m too impatient for a slow build-up), book 3 reminds me of that little something that still made me enjoy book 1 and 2 but it’s also giving me So Much More. 
 
Have you read Cress ? What did you think ?
I’d love to hear your thoughts, tell me below ! 

Top 5 Favorite Male Characters in YA

While making this list, I think I discovered I might have “a type” which I would either called the Secretly Soft Boys or the Obviously Soft Boys. Either way, they’re all pretty soft.

Kaz Brekker : Not a surprise I know. After all, I am basic. Kaz is unlike any character I’ve met and I’ve rarely enjoyed a character arc as much as I’ve enjoyed reading about Kaz’s. Morally grey, unlikable, throws a guy overboard for hurting his crush, I’m in. I won’t gush about him any longer, he’s well aware.

Will Herondale : I could try and not put him on this list but I would be purely lying and I won’t do that so yeah.  His evolution throughout the series was great and he truly is a soft boy at heart and that’s what I’m here for.

Ronan Lynch : I hate that I love him. He’s provocative and twisted but he’s also… not. Even though he would beat me with his shoe for saying this, I again strongly believe he’s a secret softie even though it’s probably deeply DEEPLY hidden.

Daniel Jae Ho Bae : like I said in my review of The Sun Is Also A Star, Daniel seems like a part of my personality I can’t seem to escape. Daniel is hopeful and a dreamer. He’s a poet and what I like the most about him is that he’s not as naive as you could think. He still sees things as they are and that doesn’t stop him from being a hopeless romantic.

Carswell Thorne : The irony. Soft Captain Thorne. He’s charming and I’d definitely say he’s my “guilty pleasure” type favorite male character. I didn’t love Marissa Meyer’s writing until Cress. However, this third installment just has my whole ass heart and so does Captain Thorne.

Who are your favorite male characters in YA ? Tell me below ! 

🌻Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2019

Credits to whoever started this tag, you’re great. 

1. BEST BOOK YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2019

OOH, that’s a great question. Two books so far : Unpregnant by Jenni Hendriks and Ted Caplan and The Wicked King by Holly Black. These two were not only beautifully written but also SO MUCH FUN to get through and I think that sometimes, I get a little bit too obsessed with achieving my reading goal that I forget how fun reading is when you’re plunged head first into the best fiction ever. 

2. BEST SEQUEL YOU’VE READ SO FAR IN 2019.

Oops I’m repeating myself (already) but The Wicked King by Holly Black. I’m relatively new to Holly’s writing but she’s never disappointed me and TWK was an absolute blast to read. 

3. NEW RELEASE YOU HAVEN’T READ YET, BUT WANT TO.

OOF. So many books, so little time, right ? Check out my Top 10 New Releases of 2019 here. If I had to pick one, it’d be…

4. MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE FOR THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR.

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo !!! It comes out on October 1st and I’m sooo excited. 

5. BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT.

6. BIGGEST SURPRISE.

Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout. I didn’t think I would enjoy her books as much as I did. Also, the Wall of Winnipeg and Me was an absolute treat to read. 

7. FAVORITE NEW AUTHOR (DEBUT OR NEW TO YOU).

Okay so I said Holly Black already but I also read the Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing style completely won me over. 

8. NEWEST FICTIONAL CRUSH.

Daemon Black from Obsidian, I said it. He’s stuck somewhere between being insufferable and really attractive.

9. NEWEST FAVORITE CHARACTER.

Louise Le Blanc from Serpent & Dove because she’s an Absolute Badass.

10. BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, for sure. Didn’t expect that ending to hit me like a train but it did. 

11. BOOK THAT MADE YOU HAPPY.

Unpregnant by Jenni and Ted and The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven. Although both of these are outside my comfort zone (I don’t tend to read contemporaries YA), I’m just so happy these books exist. 

12. FAVORITE BOOK TO FILM ADAPTATION YOU SAW THIS YEAR.

I haven’t seen any ! 

13. FAVORITE REVIEW YOU’VE WRITTEN THIS YEAR.

I really liked writing the review for Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin and The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven. I think it’s because I enjoyed the themes tackled in these books and even though I didn’t always enjoy EVERYTHING about it, they just resonated with me a lot. 

14. MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK YOU’VE BOUGHT SO FAR THIS YEAR (OR RECEIVED)

The Priory of the Orange Tree by  Samantha Shannon ! The book is huge but so pretty. And King Of Scars by Leigh Bardugo… ALL THAT GOLD. 

15. WHAT BOOKS DO YOU NEED TO READ BY THE END OF THE YEAR?

Ohhh so many books. I really want to finish a few series like Lux, The Raven Cycle, All For The Game, Vampire Academy etc. I also want to keep up with new releases which I know I will fail because I’m not very good at being organized. 

That’s it for today ! I know this is a pretty old tag and I think most people have done it ! What’s a great book you’ve read so far this year ? 


The Exact Opposite Of Okay by Laura Steven

“If only the entire world did not equate harmless fun with whoredom of the highest order.”

​Women don’t owe you anything. The Exact Opposite of Okay tells the story of high schooler Izzy O’Neill whose nudes “accidentally” leak. Its recipient being the son of a political figure, Izzy quickly gets thrown under a toxic and very public spotlight. The Exact Opposite of Okay has a diverse cast of characters which is always nice to read about (Indian rep, LGBT+ rep, disability rep, “non-traditional” family structure rep as Izzy is an orphan, raised by her grandmother)

First off, the writing was really good and so was the comedic timing. However, the constant use of brackets became redundant and quickly annoying. Although they did serve a purpose since the book is basically the sum of Izzy’s old blog posts, the brackets serve as “present day” Izzy’s commentary. They simply didn’t feel necessary in my opinion, even though they added a touch of “fantasy”. I also didn’t like the pace, either too slow or too fast.

The Characters

“Honestly, I swear I’m the only person in the universe who realizes how pointless life is. People act like mere existence is some beautiful gift, completely overlooking the fact that said existence is nothing but the result of a freak accident that occurred a cool 13.7 billion years ago.”

>> Izzy and Betty (her grandmother) : Izzy is being raised by her grandmother, who is a very upfront old woman and an absolute treat to read about. Izzy is absolutely hilarious (she writes skits) and well-spoken. Reading her character progression as she has to deal with the backlash of the sex scandals was insightful and a learning experience, to be honest. Izzy has strong opinions and she’s very smart. The discussions about abstinence, sex positivity, Teenagers Having Sex (the shock, right ?) and the lack of balance between male and female backlash in sex scandals were all very eloquent. I overall really loved reading Izzy’s inner monologues. “So, to summarize: two guys, one night, both highly enjoyable. Is there a TripAdvisor for one-night stands? If there was, I would definitely recommend both gentlemen to a friend.” I’m glad this book exists because it depicts realistic teenage behavior and I’m all for that. Yes, ladies and gents, teens have sex. Don’t gasp.

>> Ajita : “It’s like when I talk about racism, I’m not asking for one single white person to wave their magic privilege wand and fix one single symptom. What I’m saying is that I want the systemic racism to not exist in the first place. I want a cure, not a Band-Aid.” She shrugs. “But a lot of rich white guys will never get that. They’ll always make it about them. And why wouldn’t they? Historically, it always has been about them.” Oof. Ajita is a Good Friend. No, scratch that, she’s a Great Friend. She’s supportive of Izzy, she’s not judgmental and open-minded. She’s so well-spoken and witty and intelligent and I loved her with all my heart. At some point, she’s accidentally outed by Izzy and I don’t know how I feel about that. I did enjoy that Izzy gave Ajita the space she needs to figure herself out and isn’t out to force her to make these realizations. The public outing was NOT necessary.

>> Danny AKA DIE IN A DUMPSTER : oof, okay let me try not to get too annoyed. Nah, never mind. Danny aka the personnification of “White Male Privilege And Entitlement” was insufferable and I will dive more into his character later on in this review. Danny was disrespectful, insistant, he didn’t care about Izzy’s feelings, only his own. Izzy says this at some point and I thought it was very relevant and well-said : “You really think being ‘Friend-Zoned’ is worse than finding out someone you thought valued you as a whole person just wanted to fuck you?” At the end of the day, Danny is NOT a good friend, and NOT a good person in general it’s revealed he’s the one who leaked the nudes

>> Token Love Interest and why they held no appeal to me
: So okay, this might be harsher than need be but it’s how I personally felt. There’s a potential love story between Izzy and a male character whose name I forgot and I didn’t like it. I feel like there’s a tendancy in YA to randomly throw in a love interest in the path of the main character. I felt like the love interest here served no purpose whatsoever.

The Themes

“A month ago, if you’d asked me what three things I wanted to be, I’d have said: funny, cool, well-liked. What do I want to be now? Bold. Fierce. Honest. A fighter. A revolutionary. A bitch. Because the way the world treats teenage girls—as sluts, as objects, as bitches—is not okay. It’s the exact opposite of okay.”

>> women’s claims on their own bodies : When are our bodies really our own ? When do they not belong to the world through an unfortunate revealing picture ? When does it not belong to a friend who deems his place in the so-called “friendzone” is unfair and consequently that he has a right to claim it ? At what precise moment do we go from prude to slut ? What’s the determining factor ? Where’s the line, the limit a woman shouldn’t cross? The Exact Opposite of Okay was a good reminder on two different levels : 1° the fact that as women we can and should claim back our bodies, 2° the male gaze can go fuck itself.

>> women’s bodies are NOT a political playground : Vaughan (i.e the recipient of the nude picture) is the son of a political figure. Said political figure uses Izzy’s nudes as a way to further his political agenda by promoting abstinence and inherently oppressing women by shaming them.

>> Slut-shaming and women’s sexuality : “Because here’s the thing: slut-shaming is not really about women’s sexuality. It is grounded in the belief that men have the right to assert themselves, and women do not.” SAY IT LOUDER. Her Mind ! Her Eloquency ! Her Brain And Brilliance !

“Our sexuality is a commodity, and thus the principles of supply and demand can be applied. If we’re sexy but untouchable, we’re in short supply. Demand goes up. And because demand goes up, the aforementioned old white man can charge more money for it. But if we give it away freely? If we actually have sex—and have the audacity to enjoy it? Supply is booming. Profit margins die. Old white men can’t make as much money, so they get out their sticks and beat us into slut-shamed remission. And the rest of the society buys into it. When you’re a young girl, your developing sexuality is a loaded weapon. You should polish it to a shine for the sake of the male gaze, but you shouldn’t seek any enjoyment from it yourself. Play with power, as long as you never claim it. Enact desire, as long as you don’t follow through. I call bullshit. “

>> constant objectification : The male entitlement and the male gaze are omnipresent and this book was a good reminder that it’s okay to tell dudes to fuck off. Izzy has an uncomfortable conversation with one of her teachers. It’s revealed in the course of that discussion that he has indeed seen the nudes. His reaction was disgusting but not far-fetched from what actually does constantly happens to women and girls.

>> Sorry to tell you but The Friendzone Is A Myth aka Izzy Did That aka Danny Can Die In A Dumpster Part 2.

Friendzone (noun) “a convenient social construct designed to comfort men who cannot cope with rejection.” Izzy’s best friend, Danny, has a crush on her and rather than understanding that NO means NO, he’d rather spend his time and money buying Izzy gifts in the hopes to buy her love and get the love he thinks he “deserves”. It says a lot about male behavior and about this unspoken dictatorship from the patriarchy projected onto women who are just supposed to accept men making the choices for them. “This wasn’t a display of romance and affection. It was a categoric ultimate rejection of his place in the Friend Zone. A thinly veiled assertion of male dominance. A statement: that his feelings and desires are more important than mine. It’s like he’s saying: “I don’t respect your decision not to want to fuck me, and I will manipulate the hell out of your emotions until you change your mind.” Argh. I’ve told him I don’t want a romantic relationship. Why isn’t that enough?”

>> How sex is dealt with in school : cue That Mean Girls Scene. “For some reason, our Bible-thumping English teacher and all-around abstinence champion Miss Castillo is the one delivering the talk. Because obviously in America the only thing we should be teaching our teens about sex is that they shouldn’t do it. Don’t have sex because you will get pregnant and die. That sort of thing. It’s working out soooo well for us.”

Laura Steven dealt with these various themes in such an eloquent way that it was impossible for me not to enjoy this book. Although I didn’t enjoy everything, I found it refreshing to read and I’m glad this book exists because it’s a necessary one.

Let Girls Be Angry (#3)

I. AM. TIRED. I am tired of societal norms forcing girls to fit into a mold that wasn’t realistically designed. A mold that was made for us to feel inadequate, a mold that shouldn’t exist. I’ve given a lot of thoughts lately about anger and how it’s portrayed in YA.

Anger : noun : a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong ; wrath ; ire. 

Getting into reading allowed me to  understand I was far from being alone in my anger.  I read about characters who faced problems after problems, who fell, got up again and kept going. I read about characters who stopped trying. I realized that my anger was valid. And so is yours. 

Why Portraying Angry Female Characters Is Important : 

I didn’t see myself until I read The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon and read about Natasha. She said :  “Psychiatrists tell you not to bottle up your feelings because they’ll eventually explode. They’re not wrong. I’ve been angry for months. It feels like I’ve been angry since the beginning of time.

Female characters didn’t hold any appeal if they were angry. Society’s double standards didn’t allow girls to be angry without labelling them as hysterical or unstable. Girls and women weren’t allowed to be angry to the same degree men were. Still aren’t to this day. 

Reading about angry female characters made me feel valid and as horrible as it is that I had to read about it in order to feel that way, that’s what it did for me.  From Natasha (The Sun Is Also A Star) to Eleven (Stranger Things), I understood I could be angry. 

Being Aware of One’s Privilege : 

Reading has broadened my horizons because it educated me. Behind every book, there’s an experience, a thing or several things that happened to you, and you harness that energy from what you felt, and you put that in a book. I only understood that my anger (as in the anger that is mine, the self I am) and your anger (as in the other’s anger, the self that I’m not) don’t benefit from the same treatment. While I can be angry to a degree, there are some women who can’t, women who will be treated with unspeakable disdain for expressing their pain and rage. 

Female rage is valid. Don’t silence other women who feel angry with sarcastic comments and questions like “Are you on your period?”. Women, some more than others, know about the weight of silence, about how sometimes we wish we could scream, scream until we broke or until our heart gave out. Women know about shutting up, about being afraid to speak up, about letting the Egotistical Macho Men ™ walk over us because it feels like if we said anything, we’d be looked down upon. I can only speak through my experiences and the ones I’ve witnessed. 

I want to keep reading about female characters being angry and proud and daring and ambitious because it’s real, because the women I look up to are like that. I want to keep reading because it helps me deal with the hard truths and it gives me courage. 

Below, I’m going to link articles I read about female anger in literature (YA or not) : 

What do you think ? Tell me below !

The Epic Reads Tag

I found this tag on the blog @ Adventures Of A Bookish Girl but it was originally created by Margot from Epic Reads

#1 IF YOU COULD INVITE ONE AUTHOR AND ONE OF THEIR FICTIONAL CHARACTERS TO LUNCH, WHO WOULD YOU INVITE AND WHAT WOULD YOU SERVE THEM?

At first, I was gonna say that I would invite Leigh Bardugo and Kaz Brekker (just to see them interact and have a conversation and I’d serve them waffles) but you know what ? I’d invite Stephenie Meyer and Bella Swan. It would potentially be hell for me (since Bella is pretty much me circa 2011 aka obsessed with vampires and angsty af) but I’d want Stephenie to be confronted to what she created.

#2 WHAT BOOK DO YOU WISH THE AUTHOR WOULD WRITE A PREQUEL FOR?

They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera ! I wish I knew why the world came to having Death-Cast and because I’m a lover of all-things chaos.

#3 WHICH TWO CHARACTERS (NOT FROM THE SAME BOOK) WOULD MAKE A GOOD COUPLE?

I HAVE BEEN THINKING ABOUT THIS FOR SO LONG AND I CANT COME UP WITH ANYTHING WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME.

#4 IF YOU RAN INTO YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR ON THE SUBWAY AND ONLY COULD SAY ONE SENTENCE TO THEM, WHO IS IT AND WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Leigh Bardugo and I would just say that I love her. I’m not good at speaking up when it comes to feelings so I probably wouldn’t be able to say anything else without collapsing.

#5 WHAT BOOK MADE YOU A READER AND WHY?

Okay, give credit where credit is due and all that, right ? So Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. Twilight tends to come up quite often in my head and I’m not ashamed of having loved it as much as I did when the series came out. I’m forever thankful to that series because it truly is the one that got me into reading and I probably wouldn’t be the same without it. Even though I have no clue what attracted me to the characters (no, I mean it, I’m at a loss), I respect my past choices.

#6 YOUR BOOKSHELF JUST CAUGHT FIRE. SHOW THE BOOK YOU’D SAVE.

Oh fuck. I’m saving my Kindle, there I said it. Fine, yes, this is cheating but honestly there are no old editions on my bookshelves and my life is worth more (am I getting to deep about this ? who cares ?) My Kindle has it all I’m keeping it.

#7 WHICH DYSTOPIAN WORLD WOULD YOU WANT TO LIVE IN IF YOU HAD TO CHOOSE ONE? WHY?

Oof. Truth be told, probably none of them because they are all deeply messed up.

#8 WHAT IS YOUR MOST EPIC READ OF ALL TIME?

1984 by George Orwell : this book…. wow, what can I say ? Even though it’s far from being a favorite, I just love that it stuck with me and made me question so much. I love books that just keep on floating in your head and 1984 did that for me.

The Wall Of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata

Aiden Graves : 60% muscles, 20% shrugs, 20% being An Absolute Softie

Vanessa Mazur : 20% repressing her anger by counting, 20% planning ways to murder Aiden, 20% starring at Aiden’s ass, 30% getting out of toxic familial relationships and Becoming, 10% A Secret Softie.

TW : domestic abuse, unhealthy and abusive familial relationships

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me is about Vanessa Mazur, the assistant to football player, Aiden Graves. Due to an expiring visa, Aiden asks Vanessa to marry him, so he can become an American citizen. One thing leading to another, they get married and progressively develop feelings for each other.

I loved The Wall of Winnipeg and Me and it was much better than what I expected. First of all, I absolutely loved Vanessa’s personality and inner monologues. The writing was good and fluid, and I think Mariana Zapata did an amazing job at portraying Vanessa’s evolution and her inner struggles. I also wanna add, this could’ve been smuttier and we were denied something we deserved but I’m not mad because I really enjoyed the story. Even though this story was around 600 pages, it absolutely did not felt like it.

“Life was all about choices. You chose what to make out of what you had. And I wasn’t going to let it make me its bitch.”

The characters

✔︎Vanessa is a strong lead and a great main character.  She’s had quite a traumatic childhood, living with an absent mother and abusive sisters. She’s managed to make a life for herself and get out of toxic relationships. At the beginning, she plans to quit her job to pursue her dreams and I overall really enjoyed reading about her. Vanessa was funny, angry (in her own words) and knows a scary amount about committing crimes which I adored.

✔︎Aiden Graves could, to put it simply, “get it” and I’ll repeat it LOUD and CLEAR. That being said, for the first half of the book, this dude had the emotional range of a wooden spoon. I liked his evolution and how he lets himself be emotionally vulnerable with Vanessa.

✔︎I wish we had seen way more of Diana or Zac because these two characters seemed beautiful and had so much potential, had we gotten the opportunity to get to know them more.

Usually, I like to downplay my reviews of contemporary romances by adding that I have a dead cold heart that nothing will melt but that logic becomes inherently flawed with this book. I also apparently am an Absolute Sucker for fake marriage leading to real love. That trope will end me. But I think that more than that, it’s the Healthy Relationship portrayed that ended up winning me over.

“Because fuck it, what was life if you didn’t live it and make the most out of it? What was life without loving someone who cared about you a lot more than he cared about anyone else? That was my truth.”

Themes

Books dealing with complex familial relationships are sooo important. The hypothesis that because family is blood it should be put on a pedestal is imo flawed and I loved that this book showed that you can choose your family, which is what Vanessa did.

Healthy relationship and communication : the reason why I stan Vanessa and Aiden is because they allowed each other to be vulnerable with each other, and actually communicate about what they were feelings. I really liked Aiden for this.

Accepting/Embracing your anger and Getting Out : this is linked to the first theme but I’d like to dive deeper. I’m really passionate about family relationships and I want to promote nothing but Healthy Ones. Unfortunately, most families aren’t perfect and I’d go as far as say they are Fucked Up (obviously not all of them). I admired Vanessa for getting out of this toxic relationship she had with her mother and her sister, Susie. I was truly surprised to see this theme be implemented in the story and I think it goes to show I have been a terrible judge of character when it comes to Contemporary Romances and I’m Sorry. I loved reading about Vanessa’s relationship with Diana and I truly wished we had seen more of the latter because she seemed amazing.

That’s it for today ! 
Have you read The Wall of Winnipeg and Me ?
What did you think ? 

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