Top 5 Women-Who-Love-Women Books

Happy Valentine’s Day, peeps! This week, we will continue with the love theme on our Top 5 Wednesday. I am going to be listing my top 5 women who love women books that I have read. My big warning here is that a) there may be spoilers ahead.

Let’s go.

5. A Great and Terrible Beauty by libba bray

I read this book ages ago, and so I don’t recall the details or character names, which is good. This means I cannot spoil the story. All I will say is that there’s a queer couple in the story. Unfortunately, it was revealed as a spoiler, but I’d say the author respected the characters and wrote them beautifully still.

4. Dreadnought by april daniels

I just wanted to include my favorite trans girl (so far. I am working on including more diversity in my reads). This book angered me quite a bit, because I connected with the main character on an emotional level. We may be quite differently placed on the LGBT+ spectrum, however, I empathized with her struggles to be taken seriously.*

*I read the first book from the library and did not get to the next one yet.

3. Born wicked by jessica spotswood

I have not read the final book in this trilogy yet, so I remain unaware of what will happen to the queer couple in the story. However, reading about them broke my heart. Yet, I remain passionate about them and my hope for their happy ending continues to live on. Furthermore, I enjoy this character’s family acceptance of her feelings towards this person. (Goodness, being spoiler-free is so hard). This is particularly a fresh image to be portrayed within the rather stifling setting.

2. The Upside of Unrequited by becky albertali

There are two queer couples in this story, and they are both wlw. I love the familial love in the main character’s life. It warms my heart to see happy families depicted in novels, particularly novels featuring queen characters.

And finally…

 1. Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

Featuring queer Latina girls attracted to the one and only Bay Bryar, this book is magic. McLemore is one of my absolute favorites. She writes with sensitivity and doting love toward her characters, her imagery, her themes, her plot. She honors her characters by offering a complex presentation of their lives. She writes so beautifully. This novel, being her latest, is my favorite one yet.

 

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Top Favorite Male/Male Ships

It’s the middle of the night leading into Wednesday, February 7th, and I am antsy. This week’s Top 5 Wednesday prompt is to share our favorite male/male ships. Now, this is not just cis gendered folks in male/male relationships, but also trans, pan, ace, bi, and so on.

5. Six of crows by leigh Bardugo (Jesper and Wylan)

Listen, Jesper and Wylan are the cutest that ever cute-ed. From my own understanding, I gathered that Jesper does not identify as gay. He loves dudes, but not only dudes. He and Wylan clash quite a bit at first, because Wylan is pure sunshine. And, let’s all be honest, Jesper has issues and he gambles a lot. He’s a mess. Yet, Wylan makes him smile.

So, I end up smiling.

“Maybe I liked your stupid face.”

I love them so much.

*Ugly crying*

4. carry on by Rainbow Rowell (simon/baz)

Everything I hoped for Draco and Harry to go through, I got out of this book. It was just perfection, from beginning to end, and I loved every second of Baz and Simon glaring at each other. That odd moment when the supposed fanfiction of a character ends up more satisfying than that darn epilogue.

Oh yes, I am throwing shade. I’m still not over the whole, “OH, she has red hair, so you know. They have to be together.”

Gag. Life does not have to a be nicely tied with a bow on top.

3. simon vs. the homo sapiens’ agenda by Becky Albertalli (simon/Blue)

The cuteness, the mystery, the sweet reveal of Blue’s identify: they all led to a brilliant book that just brings a smile to my face. Becky Albertalli writes beautiful characters who sound real and honest. And, man, do I hate Martin or what.

(Spoiler: I do hate him so much).

Besides, he is passionate about Harry Potter. What more can you ask for?

(The answer is NOTHING, OKAY?)

‘“What’s a dementor?”
I mean, I can’t even. “Nora, you are no longer my sister.”
“So it’s some Harry Potter thing,” she says.”’

2. the raven cycle by maggie stiefvater (adam parrish and ronan lynch)

Come on. Ronan, with his bad-boy image and sensitive earnestness, coupled with Adam who is such an ambitious boy coming from a rough home; they sound lovely together. They are so very different, and yet they sound so perfect for each other. I can see Gansey being their biggest ally and fangirl.

 1 . the gentleman’s guide to vice and virtue by mackenzie lee (Monty/Percy)

This whole book is essentially a journey to owning one’s privilege, and recognizing how that privilege affects one’s perceptions and experiences. Monty learns a lot about the society he lives in, and the way his able-bodied, white, and rich status helps me be in an advantageous position. Compared to Felicity (my dear asexual soul sister) and Percy (who is biracial and deals with epilepsy. Fun fact: I get pseudo seizures, and it made me so happy to see a character in canon who deals with something I can relate to first hand). Their romance is perfection.

Honorable mention: Obviously Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood are kings in my world. But, I didn’t feel like they got enough attention to be considered main characters. Oh, but Cassandra Clare is doing much better with Kit and Ty.

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Top 5 Books I Disliked But Still Love Discussing

 

I am back with another Top 5 Wednesday. This week, the list centers on the books I disliked but enjoy(ed) discussing. Because these are books I am not too fond of, please do not be upset by this post. I am going to be very careful with how I phrase things, because I know how it feels when someone bashes a favorite book.

5. fire study by maria v. snyder

It often pains me to talk about this book, because the series felt strong in the beginning and slowly became not for me at all. I think of this show as a downward spiral for Valek, who was one of the most cunning Slytherin-y characters I had encountered. There was also the thing with Lief, who I never fully liked. It had such a powerful potential as it could have chronicled the rise of a woman’s ability and stature after being a victim of sexual abuse. If anything, the sexual abuse theme in these books was so promising.

4. The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heileg

I was curious to read this one, because, you know, biracial time-traveler is intriguing to me. Yet, I did not like the crew she worked with. Still, I like talking about this book because it showed a female character who was not socialized to behave in traditional feminine ways. That part made me happy. I just wish there was more of a challenge of these traditions, especially since Nix is from such a distinct culture (time travelers).

3. Timekeeper by Tara Sim

This book came highly praised, and I wanted to see what the fuss was about. To me, talking about this book highlights the murky waters of steampunk romances. I think it’s important to have LGBTQ+ representation in literature. However, I disagree with the erasure of cultural and social circumstances in the setting of a story.

2. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

A classic among retellings, this book is so hyped and loved. I often feel bad for not enjoying it the way others have. Nevertheless, I think we need to have a serious discussion about how women were treated in many classics. You are retelling the story. Perhaps you can flesh out these oppressed voices within literature. It is okay to have a more complicated story, one that stretches beyond the doomed lovers narrative. (Besides, I want to talk about unlikable characters, like Achilles and his lover, who I refer to as What’s His Face).

 1. The School for Good and evil by soman chainani

It started with a rather promising premise. Two girls, one seemingly good and the other seemingly evil, are sent to the school of opposite disciplines. Here’s what I like discussing: the way both girls were mistreated within the text and reduced to stereotypes of good and evil. I don’t know. In grad school, I took a class on evil, and so it’s something I like discussing.

 

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Top 5 Wednesday: Five Book Categories I Did Not Get To in 2017

 

 

Welcome to Top 5 Wednesday. In this week’s edition, I will cheat (as usual) and discuss book categories (with examples) rather than only five examples. Here, I will talk about the Five Book Categories I Did Not Get To in 2017.

5. Big book series

Listen, I am still a fetus reader in some ways, because I get genuinely intimidated by big books that aren’t Harry Potter. For instance, I had only read the first book of the Mistborn series. The silly part is that I enjoyed it. However, it remains daunting. Another example is Illuminae, which I only read towards the very end of the year. Name of the Wind also comes to mind.

4. big series, not necessarily big books

The Bone Season series, The Legacy of Kings series, and even shorter series set in the same world by Cinda Williams Chima are examples of this epic fail on my part. Again, I worry that I will get bored of the same world, as if you have to read all the books back to back. (My thought process is very complex, okay…Okay, yes, it is not that complex).

3. slower paced books

I think that, with the right attitude, I can enjoy a lot of books. Yet, I tend to hesitate if the story is kind of slow. For example, all Anna-Marie McLemore books had a certain flowery slow paced story lines. Don’t be fooled. I loved every single book of hers. So, who’s to say that I won’t enjoy Laini Taylor’s writing? (She’s one of the main authors I am intimidated by).  Rae Carson is another author I am genuinely afraid of her pacing because when I read the first book of hers, I struggled so much.

2. complicated fantasy worlds

Again with the Cinda Williams Chima books and the Brandon Sanderson stories. Sometimes, the pacing drags, and the magic system is complicated, with the occasional surprise thing that happens when you are not paying attention.

 1. multiple perspectives

Ahh. (Sorry, I have to scream for a bit, because I get scared of multiple perspectives in novels). What if I can’t tell the voices apart? Furthermore, what if I hate all the perspectives and want a minor character to be the one narrating the stuff in the story? This mainly scares me when it comes to Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes (everyone seems to hate Lucia).

 

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Top 5 Resolutions to Shape Up my Reading for 2018

 

This week’s top 5 Wednesday is all about resolutions. In other words, folks all over the blog-o-sphere will be discussing their bookish resolutions. For me, I am going to discuss my top 5 resolutions that (I hope) will shape up my reading for 2018. Let’s do this.

1. read at least two hours a day

My biggest problem is how much time I spend online. It took me a while to recognize this as an issue. The more I focus on other people’s lives, I get more anxious and slip into this arena of comparison. It’s like, “Oh wow, so and so read this many books so far. I am a failure,” and so on.

While I understand that the Internet helps me a lot, I also am trying to minimize my reliance on it because, you know, it is slowing me down in terms of reading (and getting things done, in general).

So, I am trying to get off the Internet earlier, and read at least two hours or more before bed time.

2. read more diversely and more critically

I know there is a surge to be reading from different diverse groups, and I like this movement. However, I think sometimes I don’t notice certain things when it comes to representation. Like, is it authentic? Is it catering to an “other” audience? What do some # ownvoices folks think of this representation?

In doing so, I would be exercising my critical thinking muscles, which have been mostly dormant because of my confidence issues. I worry that I am offending someone now that I have a blog. And, I admit that I get anxiety just thinking of any kind of backlash.

But, I am trying to get comfortable with the idea of conflict being part of life.

3. remembering that all things are problematic

I have to be mindful of this idea: anyone can find a work problematic based on their experiences. Getting comfortable with acknowledging the ways a work fails to incorporate a certain perspective doesn’t diminish my own appreciation of it.

As someone who has been trained in analysis of literature, I used to be more emotional in how I reacted to books, then I became too afraid to stray from the norm to avoid confrontation.

 

An open mind can guide my reading life to be less driven by fear, and more driven by thought and growth.

4. read more widely

Kind of different to number 2, I promise. I understand that reading diversely from popular literature’s growing batch is always going to be a thing for me, because…I like some of these stories. However, I would like to venture into classics again.

5. keep statistics on my reading

Emily was sharing her statistics of 2017, and I was so intrigued by it that I am going to give this a try in 2018. I want to keep track of what I read and how it relates to the world. Hopefully it will guide me to develop reading habits that reflect how I want to participate in the reading realm.

 

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Top 5 Books I’m Wishing For in 2018

This week marks the final days of December, 2017. As such, Top 5 Wednesday is all about our top 5 books we wish for. Here are some of the themes I want more of.

5. Minority groups in historical settings

Right now, I am reading A Madness so Discreet, and all I am thinking about is how rare it is to discuss mental health in a historical setting. Not only is it a shunned topic, it is also not often discussed in a complicated manner in young adult literature. I am not sure why this is the case. Why do some people assume that all those who read YA are not capable of complex discussions. It just needs to change.

I want it to go beyond just mental illness. Intersectional identities existed throughout history. Talk about queen people with mental illness in a historical setting. And, as much as I love steam punk, I want authentic narratives. My favorite discussion was definitely in The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. Definitely want more well-researched historical fiction in 2018.

4. magical realism

Your home girl here loves a lot of magical realism. Basically, it feels like a good stepping stone between fantasy and contemporary fiction. There’s this je ne sais quoi factor to it. It’s like being in Neverland but not being totally sure of what is happening. Anna Marie McLemore is basically the leader on my boards of magical realism tallies. I adored her work (read all of it this year and the year past). So, here’s what I’d like: queer identities, minorities, disabled people in magical realism tales. Write about how awesome these characters are. Make them varied and complex, and messy. The messier, the better.

3. raw discussions of society as it stands

Part of the charm of stories lies in their potential social commentaries. The Hate U Give offered so much nuance and direct correlations from the text to the news.  It shed light on what it is like to live in such a disadvantaged position in the social structure of American communities.

While it felt rushed, a similar discussion was in The Sun is Also a Star. Yoon discussed the multi-faceted nature of being an American. She explores the dimensions of first love, heartbreak, hope, and loss.

Sometimes, I feel like we want social justice to be discussed in contemporaries, but we don’t see the power of symbolism. This Savage Song and its sequel had such an impact on myself as a person, because I was shaken by the way Schwab examined cruelty and humanity. What if your acts had a physical manifestation as a result? Something bold and strong, and it tracks you down?

2. genre mash up

The beauty of stories also is in the way they can be presented. I think that we need to start freshening things up. Try different ways of telling a story. Like Illuminae comes to mind. I enjoyed the way its authors included such a vast exploration of genre and story telling methods. They worked well for me, and I am looking forward to continue with stories like this.

Another mash up I really enjoyed is in Rebel Belle. It is the clash between a contemporary and a fight/action tale that really made the story memorable. Sometimes, you just need to read something amusing and different. What I am trying to say is that authors could perhaps try meshing various commonly used genres to get something completely different and unique.

 1. open ended conclusions

My favorite ending was the one in The Raven King, and I just want stories with inconclusive conclusions. You don’t have to spoon-feed me an ending. I can come up with my own assumptions about what happened to the characters after the main conflict is resolved–if it is resolved at all.

In other words, I want authors to treat readers as the intelligent people that they are. Nobody needs all stories to have a nicely wrapped up bow atop the ending. Totally fine with vagueness, too. Like, “Did this person live or no?” I think, in doing so, the stories become more about us and less about a dictated spelled-out series of actions. The coolest thing is when you read a story, and your understanding of what happened changes completely over time.

Just a thought.

 

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Top 5 Characters on the Naughty List

Look at me going back a week just to use this Top 5 Wednesday topic. Before I get into the discussion and list, let me tell you that the link to this Goodreads group is right here. Once you click on the link, you’ll be able to see the topics and the moderators of Top 5 Wednesday.

5.dr. heedson from a madness so discreet by mindy mcginnis

I understand that medicine wasn’t as good as it is now (and even now, horrible things happen to mentally ill patients). However, this doctor was an absolute abomination to all medical professionals in all the lands, across time periods. He was just a horrific person, and I am not even done with the book yet, but goodness…he lacks understanding, compassion, and kindness that I find to be necessary for a physician to understand those who experience mental illness.

4. maura from born wicked by jessica spotswood

Now, granted, their society would deem the whole family to be on the naughty list (I mean, that would be the least of their worries, but okay). Maura, though, trusts Elena readily and actively seeks approval from her while breaking the rule Cate has set for their family. Sounds like Santa would not be pleased by either sister. Tess would be on the good list for sure, though.

3. Jessamyn Lovelace from the infernal devices by cassandra clare

Nope. I try to think of her as a complicated person. Even then, I still dislike her and would put her on the naught list. Please,Santa, do not send her any parasols or whatever it is she likes, because she gives Will and the gang such a hard time.

2. hailey from the hate u give by angie thomas

Oh, she makes me so angry. Santa doesn’t like racist people.

 1. micah bayar from the demon king by cinda williams chima

The things he does in this book are upsetting, okay? I don’t like what he and his father end up doing to the Queen and to her Heir. Heck no. Whatever, Raisa, I don’t care how “cute” he may be. To me, he will always be a creepy and frightening fellow. Do not like him. So, please, Santa, put him on the bad list for me.

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Top 5 Literary and Stylistic Choices that Upset Me

 

 

For this week’s Top 5 Wednesday, the prompt mentions things that irk us as readers. I decided to discuss things that bothered me enough to conside unhauling a book (I tend to just pass them on to my siblings, in case I regret the choice). Here are some of my pet peeves in terms of literary and stylistic choices. Some spoilers ahead.  PS: I hope no one is offended by my opinions. My goal is not to bash anything, but simply to express my annoyance.

5. monster’s point of view

Examples: Our Dark Duet, A Conjuring of Light* (didn’t think of unhauling the books, but I was really irritated by both of them in these “monologues”) 

Often used as a way to hype up the conflict between good and evil, showing a “mysterious monster’s” point of view is often italicized. It is also frequently fragmented and hard to follow. In some ways, it reminds me of Harry hearing Nagini and Voldemort talking to each other. I don’t like that. Just narrate the story the way you always have. Unless the villain/monstrous thing is actually a three-dimensional nuanced character, I don’t really care for the “pure evil” narrative. I could go on and on about this, but in short: I don’t believe anything is “pure evil.”

4. mental illness as a spoiler

Example: Every Last Word 

This one, I definitely unhauled it, because it was like, “Surprise! Another mental illness was at hand here.” We have enough stories about how confusing mental illness can be for a person. What I want is people who already know their diagnosis navigating their paths through life. A good example of this is Turtles All the Way Down. 

3. pretty girl shaming

Example: The School for Good and Evil 

Nope. Stop assuming that girls who care about their appearance are shallow and silly. You can be a multi-faceted person with different interests. Besides, caring about one’s appearance is not a reflection on one’s morality or intelligence. Stop pitting women against each other.

2. unnecessary and surprise flashbacks

Example: The Lies of Locke Lamora 

Don’t jump around the text for no reason. Oh, it makes me so mad that this way of establishing characters’ back-story was used. Ugh, no. I barely could keep up with the main plot, and then all these flashbacks were used to help add dimension to the characters. Let me tell you, there are much clearer ways to narrate such aspects of a character. I felt like I was listening to a drunk man while reading this story, to be quite honest. Hint: not a good thing.

 1. characters who use inappropriate nicknames

Example: The Girl in the Steel Corset , Hush Hush 

They just met, and a day or two later, he’s calling her “sweetheart.” And, it’s not like Han Solo, where it is used sarcastically.  Heck, even Lea did not act amused by his nicknames. I just wish stories did not skip important boundaries being established. Look, I am sure people can fall in love while respecting each others’ space. Don’t call people things that are not appropriate for how close you really are. Stop making it okay for people to use terms of endearment without consent. This leads me to another issue: stop glamorizing or romanticizing sexual violence (example: Twilight). I don’t care that he’s a vampire. If she’s covered in bruises, that was not really a love scene.

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Wishful Thinking about TBR Authors I’d Like To Emulate

 

 

As we bid November adieu, I am following the prompt for Top 5 Wednesday’s last one for the month. The topic is the authors I wish I could write like (or be like). Because I talk a lot about books I am reading or have already read, I want to share some of the authors I have not read anything from yet. Surprise! Also, for whatever reason, this list is only featuring women. Whoops.

5. morgan rhodes

I am stupidly pumped for Falling Kingdoms. Perhaps this is a foolish feeling, but I have a good feeling about it. Part of my reasons for liking Morgan Rhodes is because of how she approaches fans. From what I hear, she doesn’t treat her readers as though they’re immature. Her characters sound complex, the relationships slow building and real, and I am here for this.

Besides, I am noticing a lot of trends with fantasy writers, and Rhodes doesn’t seem to be copying anyone. I genuinely think all that “Young Adult Game of Thrones” is just marketing oversimplification.  I want to be like her just for the gutsy take on a complicated story format while still making it accessible to readers. I mean, the chances of me ever reading a George R.R. Martin are nonexistent, because of the content. Rhodes’ text seems more approachable.

4. gail carriger

My experience with a popular steampunk novel (The Girl in the Steel Corset) was ill-fated. Now, my approach to this genre is tinged with wariness. But, I have a really good feeling about Gail Carriger, just by looking at her interviews on YouTube. Her books’ covers are gorgeous, too. And, I want to be like her: creative, charming, and committed to a genre that feels authentic to who I am as a person.

3. Cathrynne m. valente

All I read about her books is how inventive and strange they are. In particular, I am thinking of Deathless, which baffled many people. I have heard of her newest book, one involving the Bronte sisters, and even that one garnered much confusion. And, listen, that is awesome, because I think complex texts like hers allow for personal soul-searching with the book. You start to see yourself in the story, rather than follow the “right” interpretation. What a cool thing to elicit in a reader’s mind.

2. sabaa tahir

Being a woman of color in the writing world sounds intimidating. Sabaa Tahir carries herself with such grace and confidence. I don’t follow writers on Twitter (or social media in general), but, from what I’ve seen, her tweets are hilarious and poignant. Furthermore, her books take on an manifesting an uncommon inspiration (Ancient Rome!).

 1. angie thomas

As of the time of writing this post, I have not officially started reading Thomas’ The Hate You Give. So, she obviously makes the cut. I am in awe of how necessary and brave the story itself is. It’s hard to speak out and share experiences; naturally, I admire Angie Thomas for doing so with grace and kindness. Besides, she really calls people out on their crap, which is amazing.

 

Honorable mentions

Roshani Chokshi, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Marie Lu.

 

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Top 5 Books I am Grateful that I Read This Year

 

 

Welcome to Top 5 Wednesday, a meme based on a Goodreads group. In this group, there are topics generated for the book community to list their top 5. This week, I will be listing the top 5 books I am grateful that I read this year.

5. the sun is also a star by nicola yoon

It was not a perfect book, but it highlighted things that I worried about as an immigrant coming to the states. Concerns about identity, stereotypes, and belonging all sprang up in this book in a sensitive and yet honest way.

4. Not a drop to drink by mindy mcginnis

This book posits really difficult moral questions in an intense yet simple way. I am grateful for Lynn and her mother, Lucy, and Mr. Stebbs. They brought forth a tough discussion on compassion in trying times. In no way was this story idealistic in its approach to these choices we have to make. And, yes, we aren’t in a post-apocalyptic world (debatable honestly). But, I will say that we still have to make a choice about the kind of people we want to be in the face of adversity and difficulty.

3. A Monster calls by patrick ness

Call me entirely too romantic, but I find myself thinking of this story often. It’s about letting go of people, releasing connections we once thought were necessary. It’s about the loss of innocence in the face of death. Most importantly, it about speaking your truth and facing yourself. Being honest with yourself in terms of troubles, pain, and frustrations. I love this book. So grateful that I have read it this year.

2. more happy than not by adam silvera

This book made me see my complicated relationship with my past. Like, I sometimes assume that things were much better before I sought help. Erasure of the past, if it ever is an option, is something I wish for often as well. And, this book showed me that time and events have a complicated relationship with the development of a person. Also: consequences of radical actions (like erasing a past) are beyond the scheme of what one assumes to be possible and predictable.

 

 1.  turtles all the way down by john green 

Ah, jeez. I am so in love with this story. It really spoke to me about relationships (friendships) and mental illness, particularly anxiety and depersonalization (both of which I have officially been diagnosed with). The story is moving and funny, sad and hopeful all at once. There are references to spirals, which is something my mom always points out to me in my behaviors.

And, I just keep thinking of this quote from this book, a book written by my favorite author:

“The thing about a spiral is, if you follow it inward, it never actually ends. It just keeps tightening, infinitely.”

This is an accurate description of these spirals I get into. I’m thankful for finding representation in this book, and for feeling understood.

Happy Valentine's Day, peeps! This week, we will continue with the love theme on our
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  I am back with another Top 5 Wednesday. This week, the list centers on