Book Releases, Book Review, Books!, Signal Boost

Review: The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde

Hey all, Dani here.

Woohoo, it is time for another book review. Not only that, but today’s book is full of wonderfully diverse characters. I read Wilde’s debut novel, Queens of Geek, last year and I loved how awesome and geeky it was. In fact, the book made my top ten reads list for the first half of 2017. I can say that I am pleased that many of those characters make guest appearances in this novel, so you get to check back in and see how their lives are doing now, which is awesome.

Okay, let’s just get started before I start reviewing the book here in the intro section.

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Summary

A teen rockstar has to navigate family, love, coming out, and life in the spotlight after being labeled the latest celebrity trainwreck in Jen Wilde’s quirky and utterly relatable novel. 

As a rock star drummer in the hit band The Brightsiders, Emmy King’s life should be perfect. But there’s nothing the paparazzi love more than watching a celebrity crash and burn. When a night of partying lands Emmy in hospital and her girlfriend in jail, she’s branded the latest tabloid train wreck. 

Luckily, Emmy has her friends and bandmates, including the super-swoonworthy Alfie, to help her pick up the pieces of her life. She knows hooking up with a band member is exactly the kind of trouble she should be avoiding, and yet Emmy and Alfie Just. Keep. Kissing.

Will the inevitable fallout turn her into a clickbait scandal (again)? Or will she find the strength to stand on her own?

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

So I’m going to start this off by saying that much like Wilde’s debut novel, this is a great book for those trying to read more diversely, or those who want a good read during Pride month. Emmy is bisexual, and Alfie is genderqueer, and there is also a character discovering that they are bisexual, as well as a character who uses they/their pronouns.

There is a lot of drama and conflict in this book, not just a fun romance. Emmy has relationship drama and problems with her parents, not to mention all the paparazzi and the issues that creates.

I flew through this book. Honestly, like most of the books I read over Memorial Day weekend, I read this in two sittings–I took a break to sleep, I think. Honestly that weekend is sort of a blur to me now. I did a lot of reading and a lot of walking. But I enjoyed all of it, and I’m glad that I had this book to read with the stack of fantasy books I took with me. This was a nice contemporary read and I hope to read more like it in the future.

Anyway, the characters in this book are not perfect. They make mistakes and bad decisions, but they also learn and grow, and by the end I feel like Emmy actually is in a better place in her life.

Honestly if Jen Wilde wants to keep having characters from her books have cameos or guest appearances in future books, then I am perfectly fine with that. It would by nice to catch up with The Brightsiders and their friends again in the future.

Where to Buy

You can pick up a copy of this lovely book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore.

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Book Review, Books!, Signal Boost

Review: Ship It by Britta Lundin

Hey all, Dani here.

I love being a fangirl. I love going to comic conventions. And I love reading books that feature nerdy characters. So I was pretty excited when I heard about this book, because it seemed destined to become a favorite, like some other geek-centric reads I’ve enjoyed in the past couple years. Perhaps considering all that, I put too much pressure on this book to be amazing. It was good, but not my favorite.

Let’s just jump into the review.

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Summary

Claire is a sixteen-year-old fangirl obsessed with the show Demon Heart. Forest is an actor on Demon Heart who dreams of bigger roles. When the two meet at a local Comic-Con panel, it’s a dream come true for Claire. Until the Q&A, that is, when Forest laughs off Claire’s assertion that his character is gay. Claire is devastated. After all, every last word of her super-popular fanfic revolves around the romance between Forest’s character and his male frenemy. She can’t believe her hero turned out to be a closed-minded jerk. Forest is mostly confused that anyone would think his character is gay. Because he’s not. Definitely not.

Unfortunately for Demon Heart, when the video of the disastrous Q&A goes viral, the producers have a PR nightmare on their hands. In order to help bolster their image within the LGBTQ+ community-as well as with their fans-they hire Claire to join the cast for the rest of their publicity tour. What ensues is a series of colourful Comic-Con clashes between the fans and the show that lead Forest to question his assumptions about sexuality and help Claire come out of her shell. But how far will Claire go to make her ship canon? To what lengths will Forest go to stop her and protect his career? And will Claire ever get the guts to make a move on Tess, the very cute, extremely cool fanartist she keeps running into?

My Thoughts

Rating: 3.5 stars

First off, let me start by saying that I loved the difference between fans, like Claire and Tess are both huge fangirls of “Demon Heart,” but their philosophies about being fans are different. To me, this is great and realistic representation. I honestly have a friend who is that sort of intense fangirl that Claire is, which might explain why I had such issues with her as a character. She felt very real to me.

I think I’m more of a Tess type of fangirl. I love my shows/movies/etc and I am very passionate about them, but I’m not going to go to the lengths that Claire does trying to get my OTP to go canon.

That was my main problem with this book. Claire took things way too far, and honestly, to me this book shows the dark side of fandom. Yes, we all have our pairings for characters, canon or otherwise, and yes we all have ideas for plot points we would love to see become reality in our favorite shows or books. And there are some amazing fanfictions out there (as well as some just okay ones–but there is nothing wrong with that).

I should probably also mention that both Tess and Claire fall on the LGBTQIAP+ spectrum, though Claire hasn’t figured out her identifier really. At the beginning of the story Claire thinks of herself as straight, and she hates it when people assume that she is something else because of the way she dresses or acts or whatever. But then she gets super upset when one of the lead actors as well as the producers of “Demon Heart” don’t accept her theory that the two main characters are gay. She then goes on to write up all sorts of posts online and to try and push her belief/pairing on them, trying to get them to see that they should make this perceived gay context canon in the show.

And I guess that is realistic too, because so very many of us are hypocritical. Claire doesn’t like others assuming that she isn’t straight, but then turns around and tries to convince a group of others that two characters are gay.

This was an interesting book, and the concept certainly drew me in. It really does show how much social media can influence and affect a creative endeavor like making a television show. It also does a lot for exploring labels and perception (how we are perceived and how we perceive others). So I enjoyed it for that. I just feel like Claire became too much of an unlikeable protagonist for me to become a true fangirl of this book.

Where to Buy

You can pick up a copy of Ship It from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore.

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What I’m Reading (17)

Hey all, Dani here.

Well, here we are at the midpoint of yet another week, which means that it is time to talk about books…the books we’ve finished reading recently, the books we are currently reading, and the books we are hoping to start reading soon.

So, I haven’t actually finished any books in the last week, but that’s okay. The month is just getting started and I’m really enjoying my current reads, so I predict that next week’s post will be filled with lots of fun reading progress. Honestly, I guess that means we should just move on to the current reads section of this post and I can talk about where I am in my reading at the moment.

My current reads are: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland, The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara, and Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon. Hmm…I guess I was in a historical reading mood without really realizing it.

Dread Nation is doing a fine job of setting up this alternate history, where the dead started to rise and now there are actually young women who are trained in etiquette as well as combat, who are hired by wealthy families to serve and protect them. The main character is pretty good at the combat portion of the job, but struggles with the poise and etiquette stuff. I’m really enjoying it and look forward to seeing what sort of trouble she’s going to get herself into.

I just started The Unbinding of Mary Reade yesterday, but it is proving to be a very quick read. I am liking the dual timeline of the novel too, because we get to see more of Mary’s past, while also enjoying her current pirate adventures with Anne Bonny and Calico Jack.

Finally, I am still working on Dragonfly in Amber. I’m fine taking my time with this series. I know that if I sat down and put my mind to it, I could finish a book each weekend, but then I would completely catch up on the series and have to wait a few more years for the next installment. But, I would like to at least get myself caught up on the show, and I’m not letting myself watch season 2 until I’ve finished this book, so I probably need to spend a little more time reading this one.

As for what I’m hoping to start reading soon, I think my next read will probably be either The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli or A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. After all the historical fictions, I think I will need either a contemporary or a science fiction for a nice change of pace. This is especially true seeing as how I actually have two other historical fiction reads on my June TBR– The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee and And I Darken by Kiersten White.

I suppose that is all for today. I will be back soon with more bookish content. Until then, let me know what book(s) you’re reading right now.

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Review: Final Draft by Riley Redgate

Hey all, Dani here.

Okay, so first off, Happy Pride Month! Also, Happy GLBT Book Month. I try to read diversely through the year, but there are some months where I try to highlight those reads a bit more than other months. This is one of those months.

Also, it has been a little while since I last posted an ARC review on here. So, I should of course give a big thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me early access to this book. As always, I need to state that receiving a digital galley did not influence my rating or review at all.

Now that the disclaimers are out of the way, let’s jump into the review, shall we?

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Summary

The only sort of risk 18-year-old Laila Piedra enjoys is the peril she writes for the characters in her stories: epic sci-fi worlds full of quests, forbidden love, and robots. Her creative writing teacher has always told her she has a special talent. But three months before her graduation, he’s suddenly replaced—by Nadiya Nazarenko, a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist who is sadistically critical and perpetually unimpressed.
 
At first, Nazarenko’s eccentric assignments seem absurd. But before long, Laila grows obsessed with gaining the woman’s approval. Soon Laila is pushing herself far from her comfort zone, discovering the psychedelic highs and perilous lows of nightlife, temporary flings, and instability. Dr. Nazarenko has led Laila to believe that she must choose between perfection and sanity—but rejecting her all-powerful mentor may be the only way for Laila to thrive.

My Thoughts

Rating: 4 stars

As a reader and a writer, the concept of this book definitely intrigued me. Plus, I read Noteworthy by Redgate last year and enjoyed it, so I was excited to read another of her novels.

I related to Laila pretty easily in the beginning. She had a group of friends, the typical relationship with her parents and her sister, and she had a teacher/mentor who greatly supported her and her writing endeavors.

Then comes the incident that leads to her teacher no longer being able to teach, and he is replaced by an award winning novelist who–honestly–doesn’t have any clue how to really teach. This is where I started to dislike the book, but not through any fault of the author. I didn’t like the spiral that Laila falls into as she tries to impress her new mentor. She pushes away her friends and gets so wrapped up in trying to perfect her writing that she starts to lose herself.

Now, for where this books fits in to GLBT Book Month. It is not really a main focus or in the spotlight, but Laila does for a time pursue a relationship with one of her best friends, who just happens to be a female. And actually, I liked that it was just something that happened more in the background to the writing obsession. It normalizes the relationship, which is excellent, because there is nothing odd about any romantic relationship options.

So, pretty much, my lowering of the rating for this book is because Laila’s unhealthy spiral into overly obsessed writing and editing. I thought it was well written and executed, but it also made it a little more difficult for me to enjoy reading the book. I had to set this one aside a few times before I was finally able to finish it.

Where to Buy

You can pre-order this book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore. It will be released very soon, on June 12th.

Book Releases, Book Review, Books!, Reading Challenge, Recommendations, Signal Boost

GLBT Book Month is coming!

Hey all, Dani here.

What I love about the online book community, about so many of you amazing readers/reviewers/bloggers/vloggers, is that we have seen this increase in the past couple of years of a desire to read more diversely and to expand our reading habits. We try books outside of our preferred genres and we try books with characters we might not have otherwise picked up on our own. We read more books about different cultures or races and certainly we have seen more books coming out with main characters who are POCs or who have a different gender or sexual identity. And that is great. I love that we can expand our world by taking in the stories of people who are different from us (or the same as us).

It is fantastic, and so once again, I plan on for the most part, focusing my reviews in June to GLBT book month, and highlighting reads that have characters and/or authors who fall on the LGBTQIAP+ spectrum. GLBT Book Month started in the early 1990s as National Lesbian and Gay Book Month. Starting in 2015, the American Library Association branded it as GLBT Book Month, though honestly that name doesn’t quite do the month justice as it excludes many in the community.

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The main point is that it is a celebration of the authors and writings that reflect the lives and experiences of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. I expand that out to aesexual, pansexual, intersex, queer, those who are questioning their identity, and more.

Right now I have two books that I have read in May where I am setting up the reviews to be released in June, as they feature characters who are questioning their sexuality and I think they will be great stories to highlight for GLBT Book Month. And I have a few other books already planned for my June TBR that should also be in the spotlight a bit more.

If you are looking for books that fall on the LGBTQIAP+ spectrum, you can always look up the Rainbow Book List, or the Over the Rainbow Books. There are a lot of great suggestions and recommendations there. I made a recommendations post of my own last year, so you can check that out as well if you’re interested.

Now, to make sure we are all on the same page with my June blog posts, I will still be doing my Manga Mondays review posts, and my What I’m Reading posts on Wednesdays. You’ll just find that at least one day a week–probably Fridays–I’ll be posting reviews for GLBT Book Month reads. I know the reviews for Ship It and Final Draft will be coming on Tuesday June 5th and Friday June 8th.

Other books I’m hoping to get to in the month of June include:

Of course, I will also take any recommendations from all of you wonderful book friends for books that also fit in this amazing and diverse category of reads.

And I do believe that is all I have to say for today. Have you read any great LGBTQIAP+ books this year? Are you planning on reading some in June? Let me know in the comments. Have a fantastic weekend everyone, and I’ll be back soon with more bookish content.