June wrap up

Welcome back to another of Phoenix’s wrap ups! I feel like the beginning of this month, I read very slowly, and then I read a lot of books at the end of the month, so that’s nice! Anyways, how??? is??? it??? already??? July???

I read 14 books this month, which is pretty good for me!

Can't Say It Went to Plan by Gabrielle Tozer
Project LIT Mountain Brook - O'Neal Library
Amazon.com: Ruinsong (9780374313357): Ember, Julia: Books
  • Can’t Say it Went to Plan by Gabrielle Tozer. This is actually an ARC that I finished at the very end of May but I didn’t have time to put it in my May wrap up so now it’s here. It wasn’t a bad book, however it was very slow at the beginning and I think I was just expecting something a little different ⭐⭐⭐
  • Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake. This book overall was pretty good, however the whole plot of the person leaving notes in Ivy’s locker, basically blackmailing her to come out was not good and not a good lesson. But – Ivy didn’t actually come out because of that blackmail, and other than that part, it was actually a really good book! ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Ruinsong by Julia Ember. You can see the few fantasy books beginning to get mixed back into my reading…overall this was a fine book, I mean it was a unique concept but also nothing special (that sounds so brutal, geez) and I enjoyed it but wasn’t over the moon about it. ⭐⭐⭐
Amazon.com: Can't Take That Away (9781547605309): Salvatore, Steven: Books
Amazon.com: Between Perfect and Real (9781419746017): Stoeve, Ray: Books
Amazon.com: May the Best Man Win (9781250625120): Ellor, ZR: Books
  • Can’t Take That Away by Steven Salvatore. I really enjoyed this book. I honestly love a lot of stories where it’s a group of friends helping the MC get something (especially queer groups of friends) and so this was really fun! ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve. I thought that this was a super awesome book, and it felt very different from any other book with a trans teen coming out to their parents. I thought that it was just told so well and just an amazing story overall. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • May the Best Man Win by Z. R. Ellor. This book was…interesting? I am honestly really conflicted on it. It had a cool plot and it was diverse but also…Jeremy, one of the MCs, was kinda a jerk? And the writing at times just wasn’t my favorite. However, Jeremy did acknowledge what the things he was doing were wrong and he was slowly getting better throughout the book, I think. ⭐⭐⭐
Amazon.com: Summer Bird Blue (9781481487757): Bowman, Akemi Dawn: Books
Amazon.com: Odd One Out (9781101939536): Stone, Nic: Books
Amazon.com: Starfish (9781481487726): Bowman, Akemi Dawn: Books
  • Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman. Okay, the first thing I wanna say: I expected to cry a lot more. People describe sobbing over this book and I was a little scared but…I didn’t? I’m not a very emotional reader anyways, so that might be part of it, but still. I expected to cry more. Also, can I just say, yes for aroace spec rep??? YES. It’s soooooo rare and if I were gonna cry, the parts that it was mentioned is where I would most likely cry. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Odd One Out by Nic Stone. This book was…I don’t know? Like I honestly don’t know my opinions on this book. On one hand, it kept me hooked and it was interesting but on the other hand…well my mind keeps going back to the unchallenged biphobia. ⭐⭐
  • Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman. Dawn Bownman’s writing is a masterpiece. This writing was seriously so amazing, and the book itself was amazing as well. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of the art at the end of the chapters. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Amazon.com: Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating (9781645672579):  Jaigirdar, Adiba: Books
Amazon.com: You're Welcome, Universe (9780399551413): Gardner, Whitney:  Books
Amazon.com: The Ones We're Meant to Find (9781250258564): He, Joan: Books
  • Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Abida Jaigirdar. This book was AMAZING. I really enjoyed The Henna Wars, which I read last month, but this one was 100% better, I loved it SO MUCH. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • You’re Welcome Universe by Whitney Gardner. I really enjoyed this book. I like how it really shows that graffiti is art because a lot of people just think it’s vandalism and don’t really appreciate it. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Ones We’re Meant to Find by Joan He. I…woah. I am thoroughly conflicted and confused about this book, that twist just sorta blew my mind? ⭐⭐⭐
Amazon.com: The Art of Running Away (9781631635779): Sabrina Kleckner: Books
Seafire by Natalie C. Parker: 9780451478825 | PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books
  • The Art of Running Away by Sabrina Kleckner. This was a really sweet and nice middle grade book and I enjoyed it immensly. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Seafire by Natalie Parker. This one took me a while to get through because fantasy slump but it was a fun one to come back to when I didn’t have anything else to read and I did overall enjoy it. ⭐⭐⭐

The Monthly Bingo is created by A Colorful Bibliophile and it is totally amazing, so please head over there and check it out! It’s such a fun thing to do and I hope you’ll join in on it!
Here’s what I’ve done for this month!

Despite not up to my normal level, I wrote a few more blog posts this month (more than last month, I mean, which wasn’t very hard to beat). All of these posts were super fun, though, and I really hope you check them out if you haven’t already because they’re some of my best yet (in my opinion).

This is my favorite post to date, I think it’s my most important post as well!
My first book review in a very long time–for an awesome book!

June goals:

  • Blog some more?
  • Hang out with my friends
  • Don’t think about school after it ends
  • Follow a few more blogs

July goals:

  • Write a pretty big chunk of my book
  • Do at least half of my summer work (don’t you dare leave it all for August)
  • Read 12 books
  • Catch up on book reviews on goodreads
  • Try to play some more softball (if your body doesn’t continue to get hurt in various ways)
  • School’s out! Yep, in June. My school goes a little longer than a lot of other peoples (though we don’t have school until September)
  • I started a new WIP! Don’t know if this is a good or bad idea because…I already have another WIP, but I’ve barely written any of this one anyways. I’m really excited for it though, because it actually has fake dating in it! I’m really looking forward to incorporating this into the plot since it seems like there are a LOT of fake dating books coming out recently and I wanted to write my own.
  • My team’s softball season ended. While I wasn’t able to play in the final games, given my injury, I still had a great time being on that team and I loved all my teammates. We ended up third (out of four teams) but it was still a really fun season, despite me being injured.
  • …More baseball stuff happened? Most of you have probably figured out that I’m a big baseball fan by now, but we’ve reached the halfway point of the season and things are going pretty well (depending on which team you root for haha. But then again, most of the things were expected. Except for…the Giants and the Red Sox?)

What was your June like? Have you read any of these books?
Thank you so much for stopping by and have a great July!

My 5 Favorite LGBTQ+ Books

Given that it is still pride month, I figured I would publish a list of my five favorite books with queer rep in them! I feel like I haven’t done a list post in a long while so I thought I’d start with this! I clearly don’t know what to say in my intros, given the blatant repetition, so I’m just going to hop right into this!
(I am now going through my books and wondering how the heck I’m going to be able to choose five)

Felix Ever After, by Kacen Callender

I have talked about this book before and I will continue to talk about this book because I very much love this book.
This book is all about exploring identity and who you are and it’s also just queer teens being happy. But it also explores a lot of important issues and a lot of unfortunate issues that black, trans, queer teens face.
When I picked this thing up, I did not at all expect it to be such a good book. I usually read fantasy back then (though now I’m in a realistic fiction kick) so I sort of just read it because it was there. But all the representation felt so natural and the book itself is just so well written and an excellent story that I loved it so much. Would 100% recommend to anyone looking for a book.

Loveless, by Alice Oseman

There are a lot of mixed reviews on this one but I loved this book and I would still recommend it to anyone. It’s okay if you didn’t like it, etc but…I did. Clearly.
I’d probably go into why it actually is a good book and defend it from other people’s views but given that this is where I’m supposed to say why I like this book not talk about why others don’t, I won’t.
Anyways. I loved this book because it had aroace rep, which is not often seen at all, and I thought this rep was great (though some people will say otherwise). But the thing I loved most about this book was the friendships. Georgia, the MC had AWESOME friends who totally stick with her through everything and I just loved seeing that so much since awesome friendships like that are so rare in books (you’ve heard me say that 1,000 times before, I bet).

I’ll Be the One, by Lyla Lee

This book is basically a ray of sunshine.
Seriously, this thing is such an amazing book to read. Though it hits on a lot of hard topics and is super important for that, it’s also able to keep up a lot of fun and sweet moments. I really enjoyed this book just through and through and would highly encourage everyone to read it! There’s some awesome rep in it (MC and LI are both bi, there are two side characters in an F/F relationship) and it’s just such an amazing book.

Can’t Take That Away by Steven Salvatore

This is not a book that I have talked about on my blog at all, mainly because I just read it, but it was AWESOME. There were honestly a few parts that weren’t perfect but overall I really enjoyed this book. I loved to see all the friendships, especially, because it was super cool throughout the book to see how Carey slowly gains more and more friends who help them and they become closer with the friends that they have.

Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

This is another one that I read super recently and enjoyed. Just like a lot of the other books, there are some important discussions in it and also I learned a lot about HIV which is not something I knew ANYTHING about before and I’m glad this book is the one that I read to teach me about it because there is a lot of stigma around it and by reading this book to learn about it, I never fell into that stigma in the first place.
The main character’s sexuality is not the main focus of the book but throughout the book she is questioning and ends up figuring out her sexuality in the end, and also her two closest friends are both queer.

I have literally no idea how every single one of these books ended up being realistic fiction given that I barely read that genre until late April (though let it be known that I’d read two of these before then).

That’s all for this post! What are some of your favorite LGBTQ+ books? Have you read any of these books? Let me know what you think in the comments, I’d love to speak with you!
As always, stay safe and keep on reading!

Why aro/ace spec characters are so important in books

Happy pride month!
Hey, everyone! I’m back with another discussion post and I’m super excited for this one. As it’s pride month, I figured this would be a fitting post to write right now! This is a topic that is really personal and important to me and I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time. I hope I’m able to teach you all a little bit about this! Let’s get right into it.

I want to start by explaining what the aromantic and asexual spectrum is. The spectrum covers anyone who is not alloromantic or allosexual and, while there is no good way of describing the term allo, it basically means anyone who experiences attraction at a level which society seems to have dubbed ‘normal’. On the other end of the spectrum is aromantic and asexual, meaning someone who experiences no romantic or sexual attraction. More and more people are beginning to know of the words ‘aromantic’ and ‘asexual’ but the rest of the spectrum is still relatively unheard of. While I don’t want to turn this post into a dictionary, here’s a few aroace-spec identities and their meanings: (links go to the LGBTQA+ wiki pages)

  • Aroflux/aceflux: When someone’s sexuality fluctuates, however it usually stays on the aromantic spectrum. This means that they could feel entirely aromantic one day, somewhere in between another day, even sometimes feeling allo.
  • Demiromantic/demisexual: Someone who does not experience attraction until they form an emotional connection with the person. (does not mean that they’re attracted to everyone they experience the connection with – just that there’s the possibility)
  • Grayromantic/graysexual: someone who has experiences relating to being aromantic/asexual, including (but not limited to) experiencing attraction infrequently, experiencing attraction weakly and much more.
    Credit to LGBTQA+ wiki for parts of these definitions.

I highly suggest you check out these terms or the page for the aromantic spectrum or the asexual spectrum, which lists even more terms, if you are curious!

As some of you might know, I identify as grayromantic and asexual. However, I’d never even heard of the term grayromantic until less than a year ago. It was very confusing for me, before I’d heard of the term, because basically all of my friends had already figured out their sexualities, etc and I just…didn’t know. I had no idea how they seemed to know this, why I was so far behind. Even after I learned of the term for the first time, I was skeptical, simply because I’d never heard of it until that point. How could I be a sexuality that I’d only just heard of?
It took me even longer to realize I was asexual because of all the stereotypes that surround the sexuality–I had no idea what constituted as asexual and what didn’t and it made me not even consider that I could be ace until probably late December.

So, where am I going with this? How does this tie in with books?
Well, one thing that you might have noticed is that books have a bit of a blind spot when it comes to the aroace spectrum. There are very few books with aromantic or asexual characters, though there are certainly some, but when it comes to the rest of the spectrum, there is practically nothing. And honestly, I think this is why it took me so long to figure out my sexuality. I’d never heard of those words in my life, not even from books, where I’ve learned so many things. I’d never seen someone like myself in a book and that left me confused as to my sexuality.

This is why I think that we need more books with aroace-spec characters and just more diverse characters in general. There are so many people out there who get their knowledge from books or who turn to books to escape the actual world, and if someone is not able to see themselves in a book, it can hurt, if they know who they are already. If they don’t know who they are, it can leave them confused. Maybe I’m putting too much faith in books by asking them to teach me who I am, but I want to be able to put that faith in books. I want books to represent me, and I want books to represent everyone else who’s felt underrepresented in literature. Even if your story of a greyromantic superhero with a strong group of friends helps one person feel represented, or one person understand who they are, that’s enough. That makes a difference.

I cannot count the number of times I’ve seen tiny little aphobic things in books. Things that authors don’t even realize are aphobic, because maybe they’ve never even heard of the spectrum. Or maybe there’s something that suggests the main character is on the aroace spectrum but it’s never addressed–because the author doesn’t even know their character is on the spectrum. One quick example of this is when a character doesn’t get their first crush until they’re 17 or 18. I don’t know why authors do this, but my best guess would be that it makes it more interesting for the character to be navigating through a first crush, through these feelings for the first time. I know that the author does not intend for this to be this way, but it does feel rather disheartening for me, at least, to read these books.

Here’s a few books with aroace-spec characters that I have read and enjoyed! Almost all of these books have aroace characters. However, they’re all amazing books that I’d highly encourage you to check out!

Amazon.com: Summer Bird Blue (9781481487757): Bowman, Akemi Dawn: Books
Amazon.com: The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (Montague Siblings,  2) (9780062795328): Lee, Mackenzi: Books
  • Dread Nation by Justina Ireland. The main character, whose POV this entire book is from, is actually bi, but Katherine, the other MC, is aroace. There was a great friendship in this book between Jane and Katherine (enemies to friends) and overall I really enjoyed this
  • Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman. I just read this book, finishing it less than a month ago, but it was really enjoyable! The main focus is more on grief, however the main character Rumi is somewhere on the aroace spectrum and it is explored at points in the book.
  • The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee. This book is actually technically the second in a series, and the MC is the sister of the MC of book 1, but honestly you could probably read this without reading the first one. There were some parts that were a little weird, mostly with the plot, and the fact that Felicity is aroace is not actually mentioned, simply implied, given that it’s set in the 1700s (or 1800s, I’m bad at time please forgive me).
Rick: Gino, Alex: 9781338048100: Amazon.com: Books
  • The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow. The MC of this book is demi and it’s a very good book overall. I was at first really nervous to read this because the premise sounds…super weird…but it was an awesome book!
  • Rick by Alex Gino. This is a middle grade book and a bit of a companion novel to the book George, but you definitely don’t need to read George to read Rick. It’s a book about a 10 or 11 year old who is questioning throughout the book and eventually decides he’s aroace. It’s a super sweet book and well written for middle grade readers, while still being enjoyable for those who read YA as well!
  • Loveless by Alice Oseman. There are a lot of mixed reviews on Loveless, specifically how the MC, Georgia’s experience is shown throughout the book. I, personally, loved it, though, and would encourage others to read it as well!

I was imagining this post to be longer but the words will not come so I will end here. I just wanted to let you know, that my comments and my email and my goodreads PMs are always open if you want to know more or if you are questioning. Seriously, do not be afraid to reach out to me about it, even if you are just writing a book character and want to make sure you get it correct (in reality, I will feel extremely honored that you went to me for this and also extremely happy that you care enough about this to ask me). Also I will forever love you if you have a WIP with an aroace spec character*. It doesn’t need to be a major character. Just a character. (or if you have a published book, I’ll love you for that as well).
*Obviously, there’s a few restrictions to my love….the character has to be represented well and also your book can’t be discriminatory in any way to ANY of your characters, you know, stuff like that.
Thank you all so, so, much for reading. Like I said before, this is a very important topic to me so it means a lot that you’d take the time to read this. I hope that you learned something and that you enjoyed this post.