AD – PR Product | 6 years ago I published my first blog post, a book review of Marzia Bisognin’s Dream House. So much has happened since then and just in the past year since I wrote my 5th Blogiversary Q&A, I have gone self-hosted, been able to write sponsored posts more frequently, started offering advertising on my blog, and reached a domain authority of 50.
I am extremely grateful for all the opportunities my blog has brought me and I want to thank everyone who has visited my blog over the years. To celebrate my 6th blogiversary (blog anniversary), I wanted to go back to where it all started. Lately, I have not been doing individual book reviews on my blog, but since my first post was a book review, I thought it would be fun to share short reviews of the books I have read in the past year.
Heartstopper Volume One and Heartstopper Volume Two by Alice Oseman
I read the eBook versions of both volume one and volume two of Heartstopper as I did not want to wait for the shipping of the physical books. In the next few weeks, I will be comparing the books to the Netflix series on my blog, but briefly, Heartstopper is a graphic novel series that follows Charlie, who was outed and bullied for being gay, and Nick, who is a rugby player. Both of them attend the Truham Grammar School for Boys, and after being placed in the same form group, they quickly become friends, and Charlie starts falling for Nick. I absolutely love the series, and the story is sweet and at times emotional. I also love the graphic novel style with the illustrations.
All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
All Boys Aren’t Blue are personal essays by George M. Johnson about his childhood, adolescence, and college years and the intersection between being black and being queer. Some of the essays include his experiences at school, his first crush, and joining a fraternity at college. The book covers topics such as gender, identity, microaggressions, racism, unconditional love, death, and the importance of having a support system including family/chosen family and brotherhood. I listened to the audiobook, which is narrated by the author, and I recommend it for allies and members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Love, Creekwood by Becky Albertalli
Before I begin, I have read the previous Simonverse books including Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, The Upside of Unrequited, and Leah on the Offbeat, so when I found out there was a novella, I was excited to check it out. Love, Creekwood is a novella that takes place after Leah on the Offbeat, and it consists of emails between Simon, Bram, Leah, and Abby during their first year at college. Simon is away for college in Philadelphia while Bram is at NYU, and a large part of the novella is about the challenges they face (especially for Simon) of a long-distance relationship. There are also emails between Leah and Abby who are actually roommates, but I did not really care for those because I never liked Leah as a character (I especially did not care for her in Leah on the Offbeat).
I did not like the email format of the novella because you miss out on events like Bram visiting Simon and you only learn a small part of what happened. I also listened to the audiobook, and it was nice that Simon, Bram, Leah, and Abby had different voice actors so you can easily tell who is the one writing the email, but there are several group chats with the 4 of them plus their friend group from Creekwood High so you have to listen to 10 different email addresses for a 5-word email. It was offputting and it seemed like at times the voices actors were annoyed at having to continuously read all the email addresses during those parts.
Even though it was nice knowing some of the events that happened after Leah on the Offbeat, I did not like the email format of the novella and I did not like that Leah was one of the main characters.
Asylum by Madeleine Roux
I bought Asylum years ago and I finally got around to reading it. Asylum is the first book in the Asylum series, and in the book, Dan Crawford is attending a summer college prep program, and his dorm happens to be the old asylum for the criminally insane. When he arrives, creepy events start happening and with the help of two of his friends at the program, he explores the secret past of the asylum.
The book is easy to read, and I wanted to know what was going on. There were definitely some creepy parts, so if you want to read an engaging creepy story, Asylum is worthwhile. However, I did not really connect to any of the characters. They were not unlikable, but there was not really anything that made them stand out. I also originally bought this book because it was compared to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, but I feel like there is no comparison. I personally think Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children is a better series. Also, I feel like the pictures did not really add to the story, and there were even pictures included that were not mentioned in the book. While Asylum was a creepy read, do not go in expecting it to be similar to a Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children book.
No Experience Required by Janet Quin-Harkin
I was gifted a copy of No Experience Required and it is the first book in the Heartbreak Cafe series. The book follows Deborah (Debbie) who comes from an upper-class family, and she never worked in her life. However, after her parents get divorced, her father moves away to be a writer while her mother decides to go back to college so she can later find a good job. Debbie needs money in order to pay for her car insurance and she ends up finding a job at Heartbreak Cafe. However, Joe, who is the cafe manager, doubts that Debbie will last a month working there.
Debbie is an unlikable character in the beginning because she is your typical spoiled and stuck-up rich kid. However, she gets a reality check and becomes more likable as the book goes on. Joe is the complete opposite of Debbie, and he has been working hard at his grandpa’s cafe, and he is your typical “bad boy”. I am a fan of the enemies-to-lovers trope so I enjoyed their banter and seeing their relationship grow. As far as side characters, Debbie’s friends are also unlikable because they are your stereotypical stuck-up rich kids, but I loved the support characters of the regulars at the cafe. I also loved the setting of the cafe on the beach, and the plot was enjoyable with seeing how Debbie managed with her first job.
No Experience Required was a fun book to read and I liked that Debbie grew as a character as the story progressed.
They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
They Both Die at the End is set in a world where an organization named Death-Cast calls people around midnight on the day they are going to die. On September 5th, both Mateo and Rufus receive the call that they are going to die, and the book follows them during their End Day. Both Mateo and Rufus join the app Last Friend, which is for Deckers (the people who are going to die) who are looking for a friend to spend their End Day with, and Mateo and Rufus end up connecting.
I liked both Mateo and Rufus as characters and I loved their relationship. Mateo is anxious, and he does not want to take any risks. At one point, he even considers not leaving his apartment, but with the help of Rufus, they are able to live their last day to the fullest. The plot is at times slow, but I liked seeing what they did during their End Day and what events they thought were worth their time. Also, throughout the book, it briefly follows other Deckers, but I do not think it took away from the story of Mateo and Rufus and most of the subplots did end up connecting to the main story.
You are never given an explanation of how Death-Cast works, but I do not think it is important in the bigger picture, but I think it would be interesting if there was a prologue that covered the backstory of Death-Cast. I listened to the audiobook, and I loved that Mateo and Rufus were voiced by different narrators, and I recommend listening to it. The book definitely makes you think about death and also if you would want to know when you are going to die, and what you would do if you had less than 24 hours to live.
Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
I have read several books by Jacqueline Woodson including Brown Girl Dreaming and Another Brooklyn, and I decided to listen to the audiobook for Harbor Me. Harbor Me follows a group of six kids who meet together every Friday afternoon for a weekly chat without any adults to listen. At first, there is awkwardness between the group, but slowly, they open up to each other and are able to talk about their feelings and fears including a parent in prison, a father taken by ICE, and racial profiling.
In the audiobook, each of the kids is voiced by a different narrator, and I liked being able to hear their stories and how they were able to grow together as a group. The book is written for middle schoolers, but everyone can read it because it covers topics of racism, immigration, deportation, bullying, and grief and shows that kids can experience stress and pressure in their lives. At the end of Harbor Me, Woodson is interviewed by her son about the book, and I think it is a great conclusion to the book.
Thrive by J.J. Eden
I was gifted a copy of Thrive by J.J. Eden, which is a collection of poetry about the beautiful chaos of life. The poems vary in length from 5 lines to a whole page, and each poem includes a black and white illustration, which I thought was a nice touch. Thrive is a wonderful collection of beautiful poems, and you can definitely find ones that resonate with you. I recommend Thrive if you enjoy reading poetry, and it is also great to pick up every now and then and read a few poems.