BR: Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens’ Agenda

Being stuck and sad makes reading, sleeping, eating, drinking, praying difficult. Everything is hard then. BUT, every once in a while, you get a ray of light out of nowhere. This ray for me was in Simon and Blue’s relationship. I have to admit that it took me a while to buckle down and read because things get to so dark that I can’t see my way out. I still don’t know how to find these silver linings. hilarious. He is also not dumb, impulsive, or silly. I was actually cheering him on.

Here’s one thing that didn’t change throughout the book and afterwards: I HATE MARTIN! A lot, okay? I just can’t sympathize because I can relate too much with Simon. Very much like him, I keep things to myself. I talk a lot, but I don’t ever share the private things. It’s too frightening to open up to anyone, really. So I related to a 17 year old. A lot. I still dislike Martin after his confessions. I don’t think they are justified at all. You can’t just ruin things for someone. I used to think this process was scary enough as it is, but there are so many more pressures presented in this book that just bewildered me even more. It’s good to be aware of consequences.

Oh, Blue, how I adore you. So sweet. I also adore, adore, adore Simon’s friends. They’re awesome people and I wish I had friends who connect with me on such a deep level. And, of course, the humor is just spot on. I can’t get over drunk cute Simon (or should we all call him ALEX!).

As it progressed, the story unfurled lots of great jokes and funny moments. I think there was a true balance between humor and seriousness. So many serious business times in the book, too, obviously.

Your Turn: Have you read any fun LGBT+ characters in YA Literature? Were they portrayed in a fair way? Share in the comments!

  ★QUESTIONS:Question #1: The Opening Ceremony: What book did you think had an incredible opening? I'll
  So, I bought The Disenchantments used and picked up my battered copy scared, because
While Snape is a fascinating character, he's by no means my favorite out of the

BR: Fangirl

It is kind of nice when the depression recedes enough for hope to peak through, like wild weeds in a poisonous garden festering. I don’t know how it happens, but at some point, things start looking up again. Perhaps, that is the power of fiction for me. Reading about someone else makes me forget what it’s like to be me (usually). And, yet, when I read Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, something very different happened: I read what it is like to be me. 

Cath is an eighteen year old college freshman and she has anxiety. Like, really bad anxiety. She can’t go to the cafeteria kind of anxiety. I have anxiety. She writes, and I try to write. Often, she spends her life in her head. I do that, maybe even more than she does. But, you get it, right? I found myself in her story. It is kind of weird that I experienced this deja vu with a much younger character. I’m almost thirty. I have been out of college for so long. Yet I was relating to Cath’s struggle to write, to express herself, to make friends, to get in relationships that are complex and scary. In fact, she goes on journeys I have never had the courage to experience.

As a fellow fangirl, I enjoyed her writing of Simon and Baz’s story. I fangirled at her work and her spirit.

Moreover, her relationship with her sister is powerful and moving. Wren is outgoing and often hard to reach. I have a sister like that. Like Cath, I find myself grasping and comparing and losing very regularly. It is a tough battle, because I am much older than said sibling. People tell me to get over it, to move on, but the OCD kicks in and I get stuck in destructive loops.

Oh my goodness, Nick, and how he used her, it hit so close to home. I have had this experience too many times in my life. There were moments when I had stood in the shadows to let someone take the credit for my my voice. It is practically like Ariel in Little Mermaid giving up her voice to get something else.

It’s a wonderfully written book. Funny, moving, charming, and honest: it sheds light on family, relationships, expression, art, fiction, reality, education, drinking…so many things in one work that it is sometimes overwhelming to read. I am so glad that I did read it, though, because it is one of my favorite things I have ever read. It has made me feel less strange. Yes, I am pretty weird, but maybe that is not such a bad thing. Feeling this way is a new experience and I think it’s for the better.

Please, do pick it up and check it out. Such a great book. OH, and read Carry On *afterwards.* Don’t be a dork like me and read them in the wrong order.

When I first heard of Me Before You, I was drawn to the cast. Emilia
While it is endearing,  My Big Fat Greek Wedding relies on stereotypes to communicate the difference
When I approached Since You've Been Gone, I slacked and hesitated. Then, one night, I

BR: Carry On, Rosebud Boy

Yesterday, I started reading Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On. Having read Eleanor and Park, and Attachments, and enjoying them to an extent, I had a feeling that I may at least like Carry On. I just finished it today. I know. One day! It is a record for me. I read slow and struggle often to focus. So, this is indicative of how great this story was. What a way to start a new year! The book is easily one of my favorites already.

It started off confusing. There is very little background information, which is understandable because this book is supposed to be the final one in a series. So, it took me a bit of time to follow what was going on. I understand that this is kind of a take on Harry Potter but to me, Rowell’s work stands on its own, as a work that is unique. It offers a lot of insight on the Chosen One trope, on fantasy in general, and on relationships.

What I love is that the romance is sweet, but, sexuality is not something that runs the story, like many YA novels do.  Baz, at some point in the book, refers to his relationship with Simon as less erotic than he’d imagined it would be. I think that’s more realistic as far as relationships go. It is really nice that they both lose a lot throughout the book. Simon truly loses his magic, the Mage, Agatha. Rowell even makes him get into therapy, because this stuff is intense. It is not like he fell in love and then everything is rosy and perfect. Not at all. Romance is not the goal in life. It is an aspect of life. There are other things that come into play.

Overall, I thought it was a lovely book with complexity and an exploration of so many tropes in fiction. Give it a go, definitely!

  After reading the Raven Cycle, Maggie Stiefvater became one of the most interesting authors on my
I have been thinking a lot about how much things have changed for me over
When I approached Since You've Been Gone, I slacked and hesitated. Then, one night, I

BR: “Big Magic” and Creativity

I’m a fan of Eat, Pray, Love. Having listened to many of her speeches, I became a fan of Liz Gilbert. Naturally, I gravitated towards her new book Big Magic, which is a book about creativity and inspiration. It is such a wonderful book. I gave it five stars. I enjoyed it immensely. Let’s talk about it. It was awesome.

In this book, Liz Gilbert talks about her relationship with creativity and how she approaches it. I thought it was such a great reflection that taught me so much. I learned that creativity is something to be cultivated and fostered. It is part of our well-being. It is, in short, part of being okay. So, I need to be more creative. Write more, read more, dream more. I used to feel more, but I got scared of myself, of letting go of control. I think control is underrated, though.

Part of creativity, I have learned from Gilbert, is about taking chances and being brave enough to face fears. Old Grandfather Fear is part of the creative process, but he is to be faced and mostly ignored. He does not get to pick the snacks; he does not get to play the radio. He does not have control over us. At least, he should not be given the keys to the car. He can be part of the journey. But he should not given power over us.

Another thing I learned is that it is important to focus on being a trickster when it comes to creativity. Have fun. Don’t take it seriously. Don’t approach it as a sacred process. It is fun. It is supposed to be fun. And, I have forgotten this. I have been waiting for inspiration to strike, for a sense of beauty to come into my life. But, what if it is within me? What if I can be happy just creating images, poetry, blog posts, tweets, anything…I can express myself in so many ways. I have been defined by people as an artist. I have not seen myself as such because I thought of artists as martyrs, as holy people. I just want to create things every day. Express my fears, my dreams, thoughts. I think I should allow myself to do this daily, even if it is not perfect or “good.”

If you would like to learn more about ways to find creativity and inspiration, check out Big Magic. It is a beautiful, wonderful book. I cannot recommed it enough!

"The sun stopped shining for me is all. The whole story is: I am sad.
Some of you may know that I lived in Egypt in the 90s. I was
While I did enjoy The Final Empire novel, Brandon Sanderson completely blew me away with the sequel, The

BR: Depression and Art in Hold Still

“The sun stopped shining for me is all. The whole story is: I am sad. I am sad all the time and the sadness is so heavy that I can’t get away from it. Not ever.” –Nina LaCour, Hold Still.

Accuracy in the Complications 


It is very rare for an author to capture the pains of being suicidal and misunderstood. It is hard to convey this isolation, the desperate attempts to find glimmers of hope, the guilt for not being okay. Yet, LaCour achieves these feats with grace and honest understanding. It’s so matter of fact, this loneliness depression Ingrid has. There is no “justification” going on and I was so grateful for that, because mental illness is not something to reason with. It just exists and seeps the life out of you. Ingrid’s self-harm, her sadness, her despair: all are presented as valid. Caitlin never blames her friend for feeling this way. If anything, she mostly struggled with how she didn’t do anything to help, which is a powerful message to have in a book aimed at young adults. It’s interesting to read, because I was at this point before, and just taken to a hospital, so my life was spared. But, I remember the note-writing and the research. It is unfortunate that some people write about self-harm methods and techniques, about suicide ways. In a way, this book offers a suggestion: consider the impact you have on others since you don’t operate in a vacuum. 

Caitlin

This leads me to Caitlin, who was just reeling from the loss of her best friend. She is not annoying about it, but she is grieving and struggling to understand, which makes sense. I never was the friend who wanted to save a life. I was kind of too overwhelmed by my own self that I just didn’t ever read someone’s journals or see signs of a struggle, and that makes the book even more powerful because I could learn a thing or two from Caitlin. She’s empathic and brave. I love how she reaches out to Dylan repeatedly, and chooses her to be a friend. Choosing your friends is important as hell. It is so crucial to be in control of who gets to be in your life. It’s your life. Be careful who you pick. I like the role art plays in Caitlin’s life, because it truly brings her character to maturity and understanding. She processes her identity through Ingrid’s portraits of her. In a way, I wish I could have an Ingrid to show me who I am, because, seriously, mental illnesses can hijack your sense of self. People can be limiting, and simplistic. 

Ms. Delani


Ms. Delani hit very close home because I was once a teacher, and I remember the responsibility of the position. I remember looking for signs of trouble, I remember reaching out to people, and I remember being shut out many times. But, I can’t even imagine the loss of a student. That is so difficult to process, especially when they are so engaged and talented–they leave traces around your life for good. I like that she is portrayed as a pained person who uses photography to get through the pain of the vacancy. 


Photography, friendship, love, family, are all used as vehicles to cope with loss and pain, and I think that is a wonderfully inspiring thing to read. It’s also the hardest, most honest thing you can suggest to someone with mental illness. Reach out, throw yourself into something that helps you express the pain. For some, it is photography. Caitlin saw the world differently behind the lens. She gave Ingrid a home through the pictures (and through pictures, Ingrid did the same for her best friend). Maybe it is simply creating (the tree house was a great idea, too). I like Taylor being understanding and sweet. I like Dylan and Maddy. Not like, love, and I haven’t feel this full emotionally and mentally since
The Fault in Our Stars. 

  After reading the Raven Cycle, Maggie Stiefvater became one of the most interesting authors on my
I have been thinking a lot about how much things have changed for me over
When I approached Since You've Been Gone, I slacked and hesitated. Then, one night, I

BR: Humor and Darkness in The Demon’s Lexicon

I got introduced to Sarah Rees Brennan through Cassandra Clare online. I feel a connection with certain writers. It’s not always spot on, but with SRB, it certainly was. When I started reading The Demon’s Lexicon, I was hesitant, at first, because I wasn’t sure about the set up and then later on because I started to love the characters way too much. It was truly terrifying to see the curses moving from one person to the next, the talismans lost, and demons summoned. Even now, I am scared for these precious babies.

Relationships: One of the things that I have loved most about Brennan’s writing is the relationships she establishes. For instance, I enjoy the relationship between Alan and Nick, I find it fascinating to see the relationship between the Ryves brothers and Jaimie and Mae as well. I like the push and pull between Alan and Nick while they try to figure out who they are and their relationship with the magicians. Olivia was also interesting in a haunting way. I like that she knows herself and her place in the world. I was sad to see her go. Maybe she can come back somehow. I don’t know, combustion seems kind of permanent.

Humor: The humor matched the darkness of the story, which was pretty refreshing. It honestly made me laugh a lot, just to hear the characters say the things they said, particularly Nick and Jaimie. They’re kind of an odd pair to see together, and they have their differences, for sure, so it’s a blast to read their interactions.

Originality of the World: Another superb aspect of the story was the originality factor. I like that the world was so unique and functioned within rules the characters address early on. The dances summoning the demons were epic and exciting. I just love the whole market atmosphere. It sounds so lively and tricky. I’m hoping to see the characters back at the market setting and interacting with the people there, because that’s probably one of my favorite aspects of the story.

Overall:  If you like “darker” characters, more morally ambiguous, then you’ll probably like the characters here. Everyone has complex identities and they have mixed feelings about each other. You really can’t predict what’s going to happen in the story, which is awesome to experience but also very scary. I honestly couldn’t read the book for years because I was frightened of what could happen in the first installment. I have the next one ready to go now, and I am going to delve in. Hope you check out this lovely hilarious author and read her books, too!

I read Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close a few years ago and it moved me tremendously. So,
  One of my favorite aspects of the Harry Potter series is its symmetry. It is wonderful
When I approached Since You've Been Gone, I slacked and hesitated. Then, one night, I