Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Symptoms of Being Human

January - Books with white covers

When I saw the theme for this month I had to make my way to the library for both books because incidentally I have no books with white covers! I am so glad that I did! Because I found two that I think will be incredible. And the first one really was!

Riley is gender fluid, meaning that instead of waking up with the anatomy of a female and feeling like a girl, Riley has to take a moment to gauge where their gender dial is at the moment. Of course, this doesn't help much because Riley is not out as gender fluid and therefore cannot dress to their preference for the day. So this is the story of Riley switching schools, going through therapy, being the child of a conservative congressman, all while trying to navigate the very confusing path of gender fluidity. And this story is wonderful!

At the end of the book Jeff Garvin writes a note including statistics for trans and gender nonbinary people: how many are sexually harassed, how many commit suicide, how many have no access to helpful resources. This note is necessary because his character, Riley, has it relatively good, with help and support from numerous sources. Most in Riley's situation do not. And yet, even with having it good, Riley in no way has it easy.

Garvin does an incredible job of trying to nail down the symptoms and effects of a term that is just as fluid in how it effects individuals as it is for the day to day of those with it. There are many times when Riley described a panic attack that had me feeling in the moment of one of my own attacks, Garvin captures it so perfectly. This is an incredible debut for a man that has no personal experience with the things he describes in his book. It makes me excited to see what he tackles next!

So, this is when I say what point of view this books is written in and dissect how it effected my reading of the book. First person! I know, I know, for someone who hates first person so much I seem to find a lot of novels written in it! But this one, this one could not have been written in any other way! Because Riley is fluid, the reader cannot see Riley in any other way than how Riley sees Riley. Notice how earlier in my post I have to use they/them so that I do not assign a gender to Riley? Garvin avoids the pronoun issue by allowing Riley to tell the story. That coupled with the fact that only Riley can accurately portray everything they go through forces this book to be best done in first person. And it was wonderful that way! Maybe it helped that I could relate to Riley's punk attitude and made me love them from the first lines of the book!

I loved everything about this book! I was so excited to see it on the shelf and get to take a look into the world of a character set that is slowly finding its way into books these days. I love nontraditional characters. And I love that the number of novels are growing that can help those with less traditional problems. The best way for a teenager to feel safe is to show them others that feel the same way. Riley is an example of of trying to give more teenagers this safe space through understanding. It touches my heart to see the genre expanding in such a way! So, if you have more books along these lines, please send them my way! I would love to read more on subjects that I cannot understand first hand but want to understand for others. And if you haven't picked this one up but are willing to branch out of the norm, please do. This one was incredible! Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


I got so excited when I saw this book sitting on the shelf at the library. As a huge fan of the Bones series, I have been meaning to pick up one of Reichs' books for a while now, but have yet to come across the first in the Bones series at a time when I was able to read it. And here this one was right before the start of the final season of Bones! Serendipity! I even started reading it the day episode one of season 12 premiered.

But it was not what I was hoping for.

Mostly my issues stem around the fact that Reichs chose to write in first person. As my followers are well aware, I am not a big fan of first person, and the fact that Reichs nailed the teenage voice perfectly actually hindered my liking. While Tory is an incredibly smart and gifted young woman, she is not Temperance Brennan, a woman to whom I have always felt a connection. I did not feel as close to Tory. In fact, too often I found myself annoyed with her enough that I put the book down and purposefully found other things to do.

I really hate making it sound like I don't like Reichs, because that is not the case. I simply did not like this particular book. I didn't like the way she was forced to switch her voice to make up for the times when Tory was not present in the story, I felt it pulled me out of it. I was not fond of the way that she chose to alter the DNA of young teenagers because it is just the other side of science fiction that I was not expecting from Reichs.

In short I didn't like the book mainly for the fact that it was not Bones. So I am going to make sure that one of her Temperance Brennan books is next on my list to find so that I can give you a better review of Reichs' writing.

For this post, I will be updating it with how my friend enjoyed the book. She is a teacher of 7th/8th grade kids and will hopefully have better words for this series. Stay tuned for it! And if you have read this book and liked it, please speak up! Let me know what you thought so that I can be put in my place about her young adult series!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Truth About Alice

Jennifer Mathieu will be at the North Texas Tenn Book Festival in March! Since the festival is so early in the year I decided to start looking at the writers early on and was quick to discover this book I have been meaning to read for so long is on the list. Now I really want to find the book they are spotlighting and read that one because she is fantastic!

The Truth About Alice is about the power of rumor. From the very beginning the reader is told the truth of the situation: Alice is a slut and responsible for the star quarterback's death. This is what everyone in the small Texas town knows because someone told them. In this way the reader hears the details of the situation from the point of view of four different students at Healy High, people who knew Alice and saw parts of what happened. Only, they don't always tell the truth, and rumors spread like wildfire.

Mathieu captures perfectly the harmful impact of a rumor. Someone is a little upset, says something maybe they shouldn't, and suddenly a girl's life is ruined. This book reminded me strongly of Thirteen Reasons Why, so if you liked that one, I am sure you will enjoy this one. Now, things don't get as drastic, there is no suicide in this one, but looking at Alice as she is shunned and starts slipping away from herself, I could see things getting worse if one of the characters had not stepped up. Because this book is also a beautiful reminder of what the power of one person can do if they reach out. It is a great book!

I must point out that Mathieu is writing from the point of view of teenagers, something I have complained about in the past, but she does it wonderfully. Yes, three of the four main characters kind of tick me off, but as a person, not as a reader too annoyed by the voice of the narrators to read it. Mathieu does a great job of writing characters I loved to hate.

My only complaint was that with the way the stories are told it is a little hard to understand the timeline. When I first began I assumed that the events that sparked the rumors all occurred on one night. No. There were two distinct nights that led everyone to telling stories and many small events in between that spawned more. As the characters tell their sides of events all this becomes clear, but in the beginning it was rather confusing.

All in all the book was wonderful and I can't wait to pick up more of Mathieu's work and meet the woman to tell her how great her writing is! I hope you pick up the book as well!

A great way to start off the year of reading!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2017 Reading Plans

Well, I managed to leave last year's challenge in the dust! I read 83 books when my goal was only at 60. Of course, a lot of those were mangas which I will probably being staying away from for this new year since I have read the only interesting ones at the library branch I visit. I will however be finishing the Attack On Titan series as soon as I get a chance, so look for an update for those at some point.

I am going to be putting the bar at 60 once more for this year, and try to tackle more novels for the goal. I will also be going along with the themes set up by the book club my sister moderate once more, so look out for some weird patterns in my reading once more! I look forward to really expanding my base again as I try to meet each theme. As I did last year I will have the themes posted by the month in the right column of my page and my posts labeled. 2 books per theme!

Also on my plans is another of the Game of Thrones series, so be on the look out for that!

I believe that we are also changing up plans for the Texas Teen Book Festival, attending the North Texas one this year in Irving in March. If that is the plan, my update of new books from there will probably be used to fulfill some of the themes. We will just have to wait and see!

I hope everyone has a fun year full of books ahead of them!