The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

Trigger warning ahead: This books plot is based on a person taking her life and the after effects that happen to her family. It also deals with taboo of depression. If you have any history with suicide, please do not read this book or my review. Thank you. M.

About (Goodreads)

Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.

Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.

Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.

My Thoughts

Trigger warning ahead: This books plot is based on a person taking her life and the after effects that happen to her family. It also deals with taboo of depression. If you have any history with suicide, please do not read this book or my review. Thank you. M.

I’ve been looking for a book that I could finally mark less than 5 stars. This IS NOT it. This book is astounding. A debut novel by the author and she hit out of the book park (library?). Honest, raw, emotional. A roller coaster of emotions from beginning to end. From the very first sentence I was hooked. That is hard to do people! To engage your reader from the very beginning is sometimes SO damn difficult that some books don’t truly get their groove until mid chapter 1, maybe chapter 2.

I honestly think though that the character Leigh is what makes this book, which is great, since she’s the main character. Leigh is an emotional ball of fierce who is struggling like any child would with the sudden death of her mother. By going on this long journey of finding out how to find her mother again, she also learns about her long estranged grandparents, sees her father through new eyes, and learns so many new, sad, and wonderful things about her life, family, and most importantly, herself.

It takes true craft to have the reader also grieve with the character. I mean, I felt the emotions, not only for Leigh, the daughter; but also, for Dory, her mother. As someone who has depression and anxiety this story is relate-able. And that is where the author gets you. She made the story relate-able for almost everyone who reads it. Whether you have depression or some other form of mental illness, know someone who has, or maybe a close family member who has a mental illness, you can on some level feel the emotions from all characters. I think the topic of suicide and depression is such a heartbreaking yet relevant topic for today. The way Pan writes this story is exquisite and delves into how families deal with these issues. It really shows you that saying, “you never know what happens behind closed doors”. In this case, no one really knew what Dory was going through, no one noticed. It’s easy to hide behind a fake smile.

One of the quotes that really stuck with me from the book was

Depression, I opened my mouth to say, but the word refused to take shape. Why was it so hard to talk about this? Why did my mother’s condition feel like this big secret?

“She’s forgotten how to be happy,” I told him.

this conversation takes place between Axle and Leigh and it made me cry. It really is that difficult for some people to say, to understand, to deal with. Taboo. It’s a conversation people need to be able to have so they can help each other. Because mental health does affect everyone. I mean, depression comes with highs and lows. When you are in the low part, it takes A LOT to come up sometimes. And in order to get out, you NEED someone who can pull you up a little at a time.

One of the key aspects in this story also is art. Leigh is a very talented artist who expresses herself in what shade something makes her feel. “What color?” is said throughout the story and flashbacks between her and her best friend Axel. It’s such a different perspective on how to see things. Colors. They are everywhere but how often do we actually pay attention to what shade of blue, green, yellow, etc the thing/person/object/place is? We don’t. We move too fast. This book is a whirlwind yet the colours are extraordinary. It paints a new picture when specific colors are added to the mix. Leigh and Axle do a wonderful job of painting their pictures both separate and together. And y’all, you will want them together. They are precious.

I need to touch on the father. Leigh’s father is a hard working, intelligent, loving and caring man who truly does love and care for his family. The stories told about him and Dory are sweet. It makes you wonder how in the world he missed the signs? This book really conjurs up the questions people always have about suicide. Whose fault is it? Is it the families? Is the persons? I think survivors guilt is what most feel. I can’t know because I have never lost anyone close to me from suicide. I can only say from reading the book that it seemed like what Leigh was feeling until she found her answers in Taiwan visiting her grandparents. It’s really relieving to see that he does change and support Leigh in the end though. I think he realized that he needs her and supporting her and loving her is what he needs to do.

The journey in Taiwan that Leigh takes is so original, at least to me. It was a crazy roller coaster of ups and downs, and mental games. Leigh powers through memories and you’re taken on a walk down memory lane, but not just Leigh’s memories, everyone’s memories. Leigh’s, her dad’s, her grandma’s, her aunt, her father, all the important keys to her mother’s life that will hopefully end in Leigh finding the red bird.

I can relate to the part where Leigh complains about being told she’s exotic or asked, “What are you?”. My daughters are part Asian and I’ve been asked on occasion that question and been told that they look “so exotic”. My reply though is usually, “they’re not dancers.” My humor is either not appreciated or goes WAY over the person’s head.

Rating

🌠🌠🌠🌠🌠

Recommendation

I would recommend this book for high school literature classes,but as long as teachers announced the subject matter in advance; adult book clubs could also benefit from this subject matter.

Other

Please leave a comment, like, or follow me. I love feedback so long as you’re nice and it is helpful.

M.

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Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

About

Fangirl meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this funny and poignant coming-of-age novel from New York Times bestselling author Christina Lauren about two boys who fall in love in a writing class—one from a progressive family and the other from a conservative religious community.

Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.

But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.

It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.

My Thoughts

This book was so good, in fact, it was stupendous! It’s been a long while since I’ve read something that I just truly loved from beginning to end. This book is such a great story. The plot is great, the characters are amazing, and the situations are legit and actually could happen. There’s nothing really fantastical about this book. It’s all possible.

Tanner is my favorite character. He knows who he is, and lives his life by it. His parents love him and accept him too. His best friend Autumn, is so relatable. I swear I could be her if my best friend was a boy growing up. Cause I know I’d be in love with my best friend if he was like Tanner.

What the authors, (Christina Lauren is a pen name for 2 women who write together, they’re BFFs),did is genius. The title of the book is clearly explained, the love story is what we need in today’s society because representation matters in all forms, including sexuality.  I feel like they show a high school students true feelings about love and life and how damn confusing it is.

I honestly have had trouble coming up with words to express just how fantastic this book and how important it is for people to read this book. But not just this book, any book that has relationships that stray from the heterosexual genre. For those who don’t like these types, this book is a good place to start. It gently but genuinely shows you that love is love.

The LDS aspect was very intriguing to me. One of my best friends from college is Mormon and she helped me understand her religion more through our friendship. A lot of what was explained in the book I knew because of her. I do have to say though, as a parent my heart broke for Sebastian in the parts where his parents were making him question everything.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Recommended for middle and high school students; book clubs; anyone who may need a little love story; anyone wants to learn about a type of LGBTQ+ relationship; everyone.

You will not regret reading this book. And if you do, re-read it.

M.

Things I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik

About (Goodreads)

Things Chloe knew: Her sister, Ivy, was lonely. Ethan was a perfect match. Ethan’s brother, David, was an arrogant jerk.

Things Chloe should have known: Setups are complicated. Ivy can make her own decisions. David may be the only person who really gets Chloe.

Meet Chloe Mitchell, a popular Los Angeles girl who’s decided that her older sister, Ivy, who’s on the autism spectrum, could use a boyfriend. Chloe already has someone in mind: Ethan Fields, a sweet, movie-obsessed boy from Ivy’s special needs class.

Chloe would like to ignore Ethan’s brother, David, but she can’t—Ivy and Ethan aren’t comfortable going out on their own, so Chloe and David have to tag along. Soon Chloe, Ivy, David, and Ethan form a quirky and wholly lovable circle. And as the group bonds over frozen-yogurt dates and movie nights, Chloe is forced to confront her own romantic choices—and the realization that it’s okay to be a different kind of normal.

My Thoughts

I’m not sure what I expected going into this book, but it definitely wasn’t this absolutely amazingness!

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a book that drew me in so quickly. I was invested in the characters and what was happening. Chloe was such a strong female character and it made me love her. Her sister,Ivy, I thought was such a great and enlightening woman character. I haven’t read many books that center around autism and what it’s like for the siblings, and how the parents are and what the parents are like in the situation. I feel like in this case, the mother didn’t know what she was doing because Chloe had always done everything when it came to Ivy. You can see it and feel it. Chloe knows so much about Ivy and knows that eventually, Ivy needs to know how to do adult things. I think my favorite part is that you realize you truly never know what someone else is going through or what their home life is like. Chloe’s friends are the typical high school teens whose lives revolve around themselves. It’s normal. And yet, at the same time it is so frustrating that I wanted to punch James and Sarah in their faces. After Chloe and James’s breakup the way they talk to her is just aggravating. They truly don’t understand and don’t want to understand.

Something must be said for David. What a gem. Like yes, he’s the worst but he’s also the Best. His humour and sarcasm are life. When he and Chloe finally get along, it’s so worth the dialogue. Which, btw, is one of the BEST things about this entire book. The dialogue is amazing and just spouting with all the sass. I live for sassy dialogue and this book delivers.

I think this book would be a great tool for understanding autism in families. Also, in reference to families, this book shows the good,bad, and ugly of blended families. Step- parents often get a bad rap and while there is a heap of it in there, it also shows the presumptions made about step parents. More importantly, it shows how people with autism are smarter than most give them credit for and how irrational and uneducated some people can be about the topic.

I highly recommend this book to everyone but I think it would be beneficial for anyone who has ever had any contact with someone with autism. I feel like family members with autistic relatives could glean something from this read, some sort of truth.

Rating

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Best for ages 13 and up; book clubs for both adults and school children in 7th grade and higher.

M.

Currently reading/TBR

Currently Reading:

  1. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
  2. The Librarian Aushwitz by Antonio Iturbe
  3. Things I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik
  4. The Next Always by Nora Roberts
  5. Sandry’s Book by Tamora Pierce

TBR

  1. Noah Can’t Even by Simon James Green
  2. Circe by Madeline Miller
  3. The Shape of Water by Guillermo Del Toro
  4. This is Me by Chrissy Metz

 

 

 

If you have any book suggestions please leave me a comment below!

M.

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

About book (Goodreads): Vivan Carter is fed up. Fed up with a school administration at her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment, and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

My Thoughts

Moxie is such a wonderful book! I can’t recommend it enough. Not only is it a good book for women of all ages, but also men.

You probably think I relate to this because I’m a woman. And while that may be true, it’s also because I went to high school. I went to a small high school but I know things. I also believe that these type of situations mentioned in the book: the dress code check, the bump n grab, etc, happen a lot more. I went to a school elementary thru high school where we wore uniforms but dress code checks still happened. Is that how you wear that skirt? Your skirt is too short., your bra strap is showing,  there was even a moment where socks were checked to make sure our ankles were covered. Our. ankles. So yes, this has always happened, even is small schools is random Mississippi.

Now, as a mother of two girls I am hyper aware of what goes on in schools. I’m frightened that something will happen to them and they won’t defend themselves, tell a teacher, or tell me or my husband. It’s something that even in my oldest daughter’s young age, I still worry about. We currently live abroad and the school thankfully is very vigilant of things bullying and such, but that worry stays in your gut.

Moxie is a book that helps show the world what feminism is truly about. It helps spread the word about a movement of equality. I know things happen to boys and men too. It’s about both sexes being treated fairly, and being believed and not just swept under the carpet. Vivian is such a great and believable character because she questions herself so much about what she is doing. She questions whether her big idea will help at all and doesn’t tell anyone in fear that she will get in trouble. As the studious, good girl type in high school, I was like man, that’s so me in high school. Her BFF, Claudia, is a good representation too. The relationship between Viv and Seth is great. It was a believable boyfriend and girlfriend scenario to me because not all boys are ass-holes, but most boys don’t understand.

I also would love to mention that the mom/daughter relationship portrayed is SO good. I also love that parents for all kids are present in different ways. All ethnicities are represented and some very relevant race issues are talked about. This book is so relevant for today’s society.

Stars

🌠🌠🌠🌠🌠

Recommended for

I would recommend this book for a literature classes in 7th thru 12th grades, and book clubs for adults too. You can glean so much information from today’s society and even society’s of the past- because this shit happens no matter what year we’re in.

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I hope you enjoyed my review of Moxie! Please leave comments, suggestions, likes for me. Follow me too!

M.

Favorite Harry Potter Fanfics

I know i said I would update last week but honestly, I forgot and was busy with birthday prep for my husband and my kids were sick. But, I’m back now and I’m gonna list my top 10 faves for you people who may be interested. Plus, I can always go back and reread cause some of these are just that good.

I’ve also been thinking of trying my hand at fanfic writing. But I dunno. If I do…I’ll probably do it here cause I don’t think anyone actually reads my blog lol

Top Ten Fave HP Fanfics (In no particular order)

  1. https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11700965/1/Blaise-Zabini-and-the-Difficulty-of-Existing
  2. https://www.fanfiction.net/s/7833160/1/Graveyard-Valentine (so good)
  3. https://www.fanfiction.net/s/3652530/1/Kissing-Lessons (one of my faves)
  4. https://www.fanfiction.net/s/2358572/1/Kissing-Lessons-for-the-Beginner
  5. https://www.fanfiction.net/community/The-Best-of-Fred-Hermione/110456/ (fremione for the win)
  6. https://www.fanfiction.net/community/Brilliant-Mischief/29970/ (some of the best Fred and Hermione)
  7. https://www.fanfiction.net/s/7249068/1/Lessons-in-Love (currently reading this one, soooo good)
  8. https://www.fanfiction.net/s/6532581/1/What-the-Room-Requires (draco and hermione)
  9. https://www.fanfiction.net/s/8191933/1/The-Five-Kisses-Of-Draco-Malfoy-And-Hermione-Grang (In my defense, Draco and Hermione make sense to me)
  10. https://www.fanfiction.net/community/Back-in-Time-With-the-Marauders/41444/ (ok so, I don’t like all the time turner fanfics but I do like Hermione with young Sirius.)

Let me explain…

I like Hermione with Harry or Draco or Fred best. I like Ron in the movies. I like the actor who plays Ron. I don’t like the way he is in the books. I NEVER understood why Hermione ended up with him of all men in the books. They would drive each other insane! Granted, Hermione and Draco would also. But in the event that Draco was covering his true feelings for her so he wouldn’t die…I could see them together.

Harry makes most sense because they’re bff’s. And they have that thing where they can just look at each other and talk no words.

Fred…well..he’s one of the twins and they are just so cute. So..other than reasoning I guess..opposites attract.

 

Tell me what ya think! Do  you have any other ones you like? I’m looking for my favorite Draco and Hermione one. I couldn’t find it atm so I’ll post an update with it.

XOXO

M.

Update

I’ve been gone a bit longer than I thought I would. I’ve been reading but not really books. I’ve been reading fanfic. Harry Potter fanfic. I’ve decided to make a blog post about my favorites and share them with you so if you’re interested in that kinda thing you can read some.

I think I’ve found some really great ones. My favorites are ones where Ron and Hermione are NOT a couple. #sorrynotsorry

So the next blog post should be a list of my top fanfics for y’all to peruse if you so choose. I should post it mid next week some time.

 

XoXo

M

City of Glass (Mortal Instruments #3) by Cassandra Clare

About (Goodreads)
To save her mother’s life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters — never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns thaod hat Jace does not want her there, and her best friend, Simon, has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.

As Clary uncovers more about her family’s past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he’s willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City — whatever the cost?

Love is a mortal sin and the secrets of the past prove deadly as Clary and Jace face down Valentine in the final installment of the New York Times bestselling The Mortal Instruments.

My Thoughts
Where to begin? I love this series so much that it’s overwhelming. I honestly haven’t found a series I’ve loved so much since Harry Potter. And I LOVE HARRY POTTER! It’s a fierce love and passion. That being said, let’s continue…

I think what made me roll my eyes hard is the Clave. Why do the Shadowhunters trust so blindly to people who clearly have been corupt for years? This time isn’t the first. The other Inquisitor was a badass bitch who was ridden with vengence, this new one is a two faced piece of shit who had everyone fooled. Why won’t you learn Shadowhunters!!

Things I’m glad about:

  1. Jace and Clary aren’t related in the biological sense. But them having angel blood has to mean something? I don’t know what but it has to be something. Pure angel blood but still human. There’s something…
  2.  Sebastian the crazy dies and Jace is the one to kill the psycho. It says a lot about a person when they’re crazier than their crazy father/creator. Pure evil Sebatian is, or the real Jonathan. How weird is it that he KNEW who Clary was the whole time and STILL kissed her. Like WTF?! I mean, demon blood I suppose could make you want weird crazy shit like that I guess. Ick. I’m just glad that Jace killed the mofo. Or did he?
  3. Valentine. Man, this guy. Summons an angel and thinks the angel has to do his bidding. The balls. I find it incredible he lived this long. But I’m even happier he dies. Like seriously, dead as a door nail. But I don’t understand why they gave him a Shadowhunter funeral? He was bat shit crazy and they did the whole thing. Someone needs to explain that to me. Why would they waste their time on someone who tried to wipe out their race?
  4. Simon and Isabelle? Ok. I knew it was gonna happen but also Maia? Vampire hotness must be gold.
  5. I think what I like most about being 3 books in is that Clary has stopped her poor pitiful me thing. She has become a Shadowhunter. She’s brave, strong, independent, and a problem solver. Yes, she needs more training- she can’t always rely on her runes but she’s a badass. The way she kills Valentine. Priceless.
  6. The most romantic scene I’ve ever read is her asking for the angel to resurrect Jace. That’s all she wants. She can literally ask the Angel for A.N.Y.T.H.I.N.G. and she only wants Jace. I pretty sure I swooned. Like usually the male character is all here’s my romantic gesture, but this was so much more. The love in that moment was so overpowering.

I do need to brush up on my biblical readings though. The amount of references to Old and New Testaments makes me reconsider if I learned anything in my 12 years at a Catholic school. I think I’m mostly referring to the rune Clary places on Simon’s head. Cain and Able. The one story most everyone knows and remembers. 7-fold death if you attempt to kill Simon. Goodness. I’ll say this, Cassandra Clare is a bad ass writer to create such a world and vision like she has.

One last thing…Luke and Clary’s mom. Finally.

5 out of 5 stars. (Did you expect anything less?)