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review SPOILER ALERT! 2020-05-22 04:16
Darling Rose Gold Review
Darling Rose Gold - Stephanie Wrobel

This book was such a disappointment .Was really looking forward to it since there are not alot of fiction books about munchausen by proxy, though maybe there are more and just not heard of them.I signed up for that aspect of it because even though it is something horrible that happens it is still in a strange way interesting to dig deeper into and read about. The first issue is that everyone ,and I mean everyone ,in this book is beyond unlikeable . For the most part I do not have a big issue with that.In fact there are quite a few books that I like or love that have horrible or just characters that are meant to be unlikeable. The difference in those cases is that those characters are written super well, which in this book they are unlikeable and not written well. I am all for making characters flawed but most of the characters here are just super terrible people with little to no redeeming qualities or shades of grey to their personality. I can give the book making her mother an awful person considering what the book is meant to be about but then it is oh no her mom is awful and her dad she has just meant again is secretly awful even though he started off wanting to get to know her and this is before Rose Gold gets all super damn creepy. I can sort of get not being ready to fully bring her into the family or want her on the family trip but just he seems to put up a wall to wanting to get to know her soon after finding her and just in the context of the book it is ummm then what was the damn point in going up to talk to her or seeking her out? Also for good measure her friend(s)are assholes too. Course that is not enough and her boss is awful as well because why the fuck not. Will get back to Rose Gold but yeah for the time being yeah she is awful too.


Second the book take a strange turn some what through where it becomes less focused on the issue of munchausen by proxy, and more a revenge plot. Again , if it was written well could be interesting but just it comes out of no where here and just for the character makes no damn sense in my opinion. This is when I get back to Rose Gold . Again I don't have an issue with the author wanting to make the story into a revenge plot. In many , many respects Rose Gold has a million reasons to want to get back at her mother. The issue is she goes way too far. Mostly for the fact that she stole a freaking baby, passed it on as her own and then framed her mother for doing the same crap again The main thing I feel with revenge plots in books and movies is that you root for the person getting the revenge . Maybe they are not always just . They do not have to be but for the most part feel the plot and character makes you feel they are right in their actions. Here though I can just not explain away or root for her when she stole a freaking child, explained it to be her own . Just it colors how I see her as a character. I don't cheer on her revenge plot no matter what she has been through and no longer feel at sorry for her. That just hate the narrative of those that have dealt with abuse in some way will either do the same as their abusers or worse.


In short, just was overly disappointed in this. The characters were overly poorly written, over unlikeable to the point I stopped enjoying reading about them . They did things that really did not make sense even in the context of the story. Will see if there are others books about similar issues.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2020-03-08 15:28
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Review
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Sáenz

I have been meaning to read this book and just books in general by this author. I put this one in particular off just because of all the praise I have heard surrounding it and just all the awards that covered the front of it. As much as I think awards for books that are great are awesome, I still want the book overall to stand on its own.


During the summary of Ari's Junior/Senior year , Dante moves to town. The boys quickly become best friends and during that summer learn more about themselves and the world around them. Overall I really enjoyed this . It was a cute coming of age story with lgbt main characters . Even though I really liked it and overall see why it is so heavily praised I didn't think it was perfect . In fact there were quite a few things that just didn't sit well with me and took the star rating down a bit.


Things I was not the biggest fan of :
1. The kiss: Maybe was just me but the first kiss really just did not set right with me. I was not a fan of Dante basically badgering his friend to kiss him. Ari said no and that should have been the end of it. Was also not a fan of the  the comment of how do you know you don't like kissing boys if you haven't tried. Just if this was said by a straight character to a gay one think people would be pissed because such things happen in real life and in every sort of media. And it is common for people to ask various lgb people how do they know what they are if they have not done x and it is offensive as all fuck. Just was really mad that this was something said by one of the characters at all. I also wished the kiss at the end had been "the first" Just to me this kiss sort of cheapens the effect of the one at the end. Just again someone can firmly know their sexuality whether they have or have not kissed people they are sexually attracted to or those they are not. Someone does not have to experiment to know for sure . If some people do that is more than ok too. It is more others, mostly straight people, telling them that they can't know til they do. 
2. Along with that: Ari's lie about the kiss: During that scene I didn't get the feeling he overall enjoyed it or was hiding feelings about it. In fact until closer to the end I really thought this was a book about Dante discovering he just prefers boys, overall dealing with those developing feelings and having his friend Ari grow to accept that his best friend is gay. I would love a book that deals with that though.  I am still happy that the two did have mutual feelings for one another but just I didn't get the vibe from the kiss moment that Ari was hiding the fact that he actual enjoyed it.
3. Ari's sit down with his parents: I have nothing against characters slowly coming to turns that they are gay or bi or any other sexuality, but prefer it is on their own turns. The whole sit down with his parents was was really uncomfortable to read and just to me at least makes it seem like if you deeply care for someone, risk you life for them that you must only be in love with them, which is total bullshit. In this case, it was the truth, but very much dislike that just because Ari saved Dante's life that he is thus in love with him instead of deeply loving him because he is his best friend. Loving someone does not go hand and hand with underlying romantic feelings.Platonic friendship love is a thing and the fact that the parents sort of jump to well he is in love with him seems rash. 


Things I was on the fence about :
1. Why Ari's brother was in jail:This was a pretty big thing to the story and just thought the whole he was imprisoned because he beat up and killed someone who was either trans or someone who crossed dressed just feels really forced to me.
2. Gay relative that gay/bi character doesn't know about til later on in their life: Have no issue with other gay family members being people that gay/bi teen character especially can turn to or get support from them . Just have an issue of such people written in and being an overwritten plot point and them really having no other character development other than they are the secret lgbt relative for the main character to relate to in some way.They are not a person in their own right is what I have issues with . 
3. Relationship before "the relationship" is always awful: Again  it is just an overwritten plot point. This case think it was not trying to be that but just tired of the the trend of  all previous relationships before "the one" being written  as awful. People can enjoy the previous people they were with and still very much be in love with person they are with/marry/etc . In this case,think it was very much that Dante was trying to get with someone just because he was trying to be ok with just being friends with Ari when he really loved him. Again, though, the  main point still stands and again just tired of seeing past  relationships written in that sort of way.


Things I really enjoyed:
1. The characters felt like teens, talked about stuff teen would talked about and dealt with natural parts of growing up: Alot of books shy away from certain topics because it is written for teens or because parents of or adults in general don't like to deal with the fact that teens deal with certain things so it was nice to see that this book deals with topics like masturbation , which alot of teen books refuse say even happens. 
2. Being gay is part of an identity and not the only defining part of an identity:Again why the gay relative aspect bothered me because overall this book is very much about characters that happen to be gay and not only focused on being gay. Think books about the latter or very much needed, but it is nice when characters in any sort of book are people first and not just characters who only character trait is that they are gay. There is struggles with being Mexican-American, identity of being an only child and being worried of disappointing parents, struggling with family secrets that never get touched and talked about and the damage that does to all members of the family.


Again think this is an overall great Young adult novel that to me is about the journey of growing up and those characters just happen to be lgbt in some way. Think many young adults will find some part of themselves in Ari or Dante even if they are not lgbt . The book deals with heavy hitting topics such as homophobia, family trauma, grief, dealing with family secrets and coming to terms with family, being lgbt and just learning to love the things about yourself.


(spoiler show)
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text 2020-03-07 21:00
Reading progress update: I've read 70 out of 418 pages.
Kingdom of Souls - Rena Barron

Laying aside for a bit. Not bored but just noting having the desire to pick it up or read more than a chapter or two when I pick it up. Checked out the audio so will see if that helps when I get back to it. 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2020-03-07 17:12
Brave Face Review
Brave Face - Shaun David Hutchinson

Brave Face is a frank, honest and often times difficult to read memoir about not only the struggles of coming out during the 90's amidst such policies as Don't Ask Don't tell and the defense of marriage act , but is  also a young man struggling with depression. I have not read any of his fiction books but since they have been on my too be read pile for quite some time , thought it was only fitting to read something written about and by that author since I do plan to read his books in the future.  As stated before, this memoir is blunt, honest and very difficult to read at times. He does not shy away from difficult subject matter such as self hate and self harm, all of which the author has trigger warnings at the start of the book and later on as well. Will admit that the ending feels like way too much is crammed. I get that the bulk of the book is about him coming out and deal with depression as a teen but would have liked if some of his adult years of being out and proud but still suffering from depression was not all jammed packed at the end.  




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review SPOILER ALERT! 2020-03-06 16:43
Like A Love Story Review
Like a Love Story - Abdi Nazemian

WARNING this review turns more into a rant and is super long mostly because I am super torn on this book. I started off really liking it and just am always excited to read new lgbtq+ especially from lgbt authors. There were some aspects, though, of the book that really make me want to scream. To the point that I picked up something else because I was pretty sure I was not going to like how it ended and certain plot points were still grinding my gears. 


I am going to try to start off positive because I didn't out right hate it but will be honest in saying the things that I did not like or  that did not sit well for me still sort of taint the enjoyment of the book as a whole. I might come back and change my rating to a two because omg are those certain points really bothering me  but for now will leave it at a three.   Nope, never mind those details bother me way too much. 


At the start I liked all the characters and I liked how  the overall story was going.Will admit and say I am not the biggest fan of books told from multiple perspectives. Sometimes they are amazing, but most times I end up enjoying on thread more than the other ones and the other points of view come off as a slog to get through. I thought the author dealt with a difficult time in Lgbt history with maturity and made it more about appreciation of people who lived as their true selves then focusing just on the amount of lives lost.  I liked that he dealt with the worries of coming out especially when doing was already difficult and challenging but also adding especially Reza's  cultural background, which since had he still being living in Iran when he came out could have meant a literately death sentence. I was also happy that he dealt with teen sex maturely. There was talk of using condoms and just safe sex in general, which seems to never even get mentioned in most adult books to be quite honest. Going in I was hesitant about the premise, though. I am not a fan of books whose plot is based on  dating someone no matter you sexuality only to not really be attracted to them, but instead be interested in someone else. I got it here because Reza was certain him being gay would be a disappointment, which for his mother it is and still is by the end of the book since most of the book his mother acts like it isn't true, to his family and was quite certain if he just dated a girl than maybe by some chance he could "turn" himself straight. So I get it. I still am not a fan, though, but I get it. I do like that the author does deal with the consequences of that , though. Things are not good after because what he does hurts everyone involved.


Now to what bothered me. The first is a minor story telling point then will get into the actual plot details that I didn't care for. The pacing really made me mad. I get that authors have to make time jumps  or else every book would be as long as say something like War and peace. I just think here the time jumps were jarring especially  after Art and Reza get together. One second we go from Art or Judy's perspective, can sadly not recall which, and then when get back to Reza's point of view with him and Art having been dating for months...And I am just..It felt lazy to me to just basically cut out those starting moments of a relationship since a big part of Reza's storyline is him being nervous of finally being out and coming to terms with not only being out , even if it is to a select group of people, but also having a boyfriend as well. Instead of being logical skips in time to move the story along it more felt like oh don't want to actual build to certain moments so will just skip ahead and get right to them. It was a annoying as all hell. 


Judy's character annoyed me the most and parts of her story line really really rubbed me the wrong way. Starting off I didn't think she was a bad character. I liked that she was depicted as a bigger girl who was still very much into to designing her own clothes, doesn't care what others may think of her and has a lot of self love even though her mom and other characters make passing remarks about her weight. It was all well and good til Saadi , Reza's aka one of the main character's stepbrother, makes various jabs at her weight , which ok he's an ass whatever it was bound to happen from someone but ..oh ..it got so much worse. Later on he starts flirting with her and writes off his comments about here weight as him really liking her . Going as far to say that most American girls are too skinny and he prefers a girl with meat on her bones or something like that. I sort of wanted to throw the book at that point. Guys being mean to girls while secretly liking them is beyond a trash concept. It's not cute . It's fucking trash.I will never get the oh he is just me to you because he likes you. Stop fucking telling young girls this fucking bullshit!! It pissed me off that the author thought to include it but tried to make it out as a positive thing. As a guy I am pissed when guys think this damn behavior is ok. But am more pissed that another queer guy that that straight guys treating women like this is fucking ok when it is not!Not only that Judy goes as far to basically help Saadi jack off , tell Art about it and instead of questioning her on it or being wtf he is basically praising her for getting with someone . I wanted to scream because I thought the author did a good job making her out to be a person that had alot of confidence and selflove and then just to be oh this sort of behavior is ok, which again it is garbage. I was really hoping she was going to slap him when he said that he actually liked her but no. I am glad that at the end they were not still together but damage is done . 

Image result for throwing book out window gif


I was also not a fan of Judy's friend group after she learns that Reza is gay and her best friend lied to her . First, I get she would and needs to distance herself from the two of them. No matter what it is still a super shitty thing that Reza did to her. So I will give her that. The thing I do not understand though is that after that  she suddenly is friends with the popular people of her school. Ok..but said people in that group not only still taunt and tease her ex best friend , but beat him the hell up. So..I'm confused . Granted I get she is pissed at Art but why in all fuck would you be friends with people that were and still are , least some of them, massive homophobes? It makes no damn sense to me. Also, I am not quite sure why they would suddenly want to be her friend either. She has stood up and was best friends with the only out and proud person in the whole school but suddenly they are all welcoming to her ..just again it makes no sense.I get wanting and needing to expand your friend group but why are you friends that act that way?


Getting into that at one point in the book Judy is at a party, a party with the almost sex crap with Reza's stepbrother happens, but oh it gets worse. Being stupid teenagers they course play party games , which ok whatever . The thing that bothers me about this scene is sort of two fold. One two girls kiss during spin the bottle . Two straight girls mind you . Now I get that this happens and I get why it does .It bothers me that a queer author would feel the need to include it and yet during all the protests I can not recall one actual lesbian character. Not even among the feminists characters out in support for the gay men. It was like the author sort of forgot that lesbians exist, but thought hey lets include   pointless straight girl kiss. Also a petpeeve but am not a fan of Judy calling girls she is friends with her girlfriends. I get that for alot of people it is just something they call eachother and that no offence is intended to lesbians but it is still annoying. 


While I am again glad the author dealt maturely in regards to teen/young adult sex when alot of authors are like no fade to black or let's just not discuss it. Even so I was not a fan of some of how sex was discussed mainly on Art's insistence that Reza and him should be having sex by a certain point in the book. I am more than ok with Art being frustrated and wondering why Reza doesn't want to have sex with him, but again Reza just came out and given that this book takes place during the Aid's epidemic he is terrified.  They do talk about it but is more Art just telling Reza he can't get HIV/AIDs if neither have had sex with someone else that was positive, which is basically just don't worry about it and not helpful at all to getting to the root of Reza's fear.  The fact though I feel Art doesn't do much to really quell Reza's fears about it or really understand his fear. This wasn't Reza just being a bit nervous this was full blow everything he knew about being gay or gay sex was that he would get sick and die. A sad reality given the time. Had there been a more open conversation about Reza's fear and also Art's worry that Reza didn't want him, even if that was not true, it would have made more sense. That doesn't happen least not between the two of them. Art shares his worries to everyone but the boy he is dating and again pretty much is outright dismissive Reza's actual worry. 


Finally, I am not all that found of the ending. I am glad Reza has a husband and Judy is with someone other then Reza's stepbrother , not that we know anything about them. It was another instance of the time jump annoying me , but admit this one is maybe more just me not liking that massive of a time jump or least not caring for it here in this particular book . The other thing that bothered me about the ending was Art's ending. More due to the fact that the ending in general just feels a bit slapped together and rushed in my opinion. Art ends up HIV+ . How, no idea, which may bug me more than it should.There doesn't and I didn't want graphic detail but there is one line about him being positive and course talking about the medicine  there is and how it is not the death sentence that it once was. I am not sure how to phrase this correctly and I don't want to come off as offensive. The fact that Art is positive is not what bothers me it's that to me it feels like a throw away and just came across of well Art was the only other very openly gay and very very passionate about it  character and this is his fate. I am not saying that is what the author intended but since again there is no back story of he accidentally sleep with a guy without using protection or said protection failed  or what have you it just ...I don't know again not sure how to phrase it correctly. Art is also the only one that is alone or least it is applied that he is . So not only was there a conscious choice that Art would be Hiv+ but that of the three main characters he would be the only one alone. 


It is fine that Art is single and happy but to me the ending doesn't come off that way. It is fine that even though his friends are married he is not. That is all fine. I just find it odd that again the one out and proud gay character is the one to end up all along of the three main characters.He doesn't need a happily ever after . That is not what I am asking for just I find it odd that out of all the characters Art's ending feel again the most unsatisfactory. Maybe I am reading too much into it and will admit that may be the case.  Just will be honest and say it reads like if you are very openly gay you will wind up sick and alone , which throughout the rest of the book the author totally avoided so it was I guess why that ending for Art stood to me at least. 


The main take away is that I think starting off the book was great and I was glad that the author wanted to deal with a difficult time in lgbt history just some of his choices that rubbed me the wrong way. 

(spoiler show)
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