Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

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5stars

“Anger is a gift. Remember that” She stood. “You gotta grasp on to it, hold it tight and use it as ammunition. You use that anger to get things done instead of just stewing in it.”

Title: Anger is a Gift
Author: Mark Oshiro
Number of pages: 463 (hardcover edition)
Good things about this book: This is such a powerful book exquisitely written.
Bad things about this book: Nothing. It has a side effect, though. It makes you furious.
Do I recommend it? Yes, to the world!
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

“We are angry. We are mourning. We are tired.”

I’m crushed, overwhelmed, filled with rage. This book is powerful, so true, and infuriating. It makes you feel powerless, a standby in a world you are told you should just accept, never fight, because it doesn’t have your back. To feel afraid to just go out to buy an apple, to run free on the street, to love, to just live, because there’s always going to be someone who will accuse you of being suspicious, thug looking, not a good person, and the world is not going to believe your innocence. Your skin is not light enough for you to be a good guy, it’s your fault you looked armed, the way you dress is gangster looking = YOU ARE WRONG, YOU ARE GUILTY, YOU ARE INFERIOR THAN ME. It’s tiring, this needs to stop!

I can’t begin to explain the rage I feel. I can’t begin to understand the rage the victims of police assaults might feel. The nerve of some people. Why are we living in a world that allows this? When is it going to stop? I can’t help shaking my head in disbelief, this reality sucks and the world is absurdly unreasonable. Stupid and ignorant people should become extinct and soon. This world needs a reset and a virus cleanse.

“It’s like they can’t avoid it,” said Kaisha. “We were literally there to protest against them using deadly force, so they responded with…deadly force. Incredible.”

I can’t give a personal opinion, because I am a Latina living in Italy and my skin is light enough to pass as white. The little town we moved to when I was 12 gave us a home, support, and friends. I don’t know the hate and intolerance Moss and his peers have to face every day of their lives. I don’t know how it is to feel unwanted in your own community because of the color of your skin, to be categorized as a bad seed with just a glance. The amount of racism I have faced in my life is merely a drop compare to the ocean Moss and his community faced in this powerful book.

The queer touch of the narration gave the book more power. Moss is a gay black boy, and his friends are all part of the lgbtqia+ community. It’s natural and calm the sensation you feel when he deals with his sexuality; he is out to everyone and, as much as it feels weird because he hasn’t done it before, he isn’t afraid to kiss another boy or hold hands with him in public. It’s refreshing because it’s part of their everyday lives. It’s part of who they all are and, yes, they all have different family situations, but they are all accepted and supported. The love they all have from their families, the love Moss has from his mother, is heartwarming. That’s the truest of loves, pure and simple. The love Wanda has for Moss transcends everything, IS everything.

“Moss wears his heart on his sleeve,” she said. “It’s one of his best features.”

Moss is one of the most adorable characters I have encounter in the few years I’ve been reading books. He suffers from panic attacks, sees a therapist, is trying to get better, to cope, to be happy. He has faced too many obstacles in his short life. He has seen too much death in such a short amount of time. Tragedy shouldn’t have to be his bread and butter. This boy deserves all the happiness he was deprived of. I just want him to be happy.

There’s no more left to be said. A lot of things happen in this book. A lot that will make you think, some more that will make angry, and quite a few that will make you cry. I cried a lot, from rage, frustration, and sadness. I still feel like crying. I was expecting this book to impact me, but I didn’t expect it to wreck me, break me to pieces. I think everyone should read this book, it’s written beautifully and it’s as brutal as it should be. Life is brutal, and we should stop being blind about it!

“You might be surprised at how unwilling people are to turn a critical eye on themselves.”

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A Tiny Piece of Something Greater by Jude Sierra

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5stars

“You are a normal person. We all are. We all have brains that work differently, that’s all. You guys have been handed challenges. But you are worthy of happiness and health and help.”

Title: A Tiny Piece of Something Greater
Author: Jude Sierra
Number of pages: 258 (paperback edition)
Good things about this book: It’s a very sweet book with a good portrayal of mental illness.
Bad things about this book: It’s hard to read. Read the trigger warnings first.
Do I recommend it? Yes, of course. It’s a story to be read by everyone.
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

Pretty intense. Read with an aching but hopeful heart. I cared for these characters and, even if I won’t know what choices they decide to make, I will know in my heart that they’ll be okay and living day after day. Together.

Books about mental illnesses are always very hard for me to read. Books like this are somewhat triggering but I can’t help but read them; I feel the need to know other point of views, to learn more, to be able to help myself and others with new information. It won’t ever be easy for me reading about someone struggling to keep themselves afloat. It won’t ever be easy for me reading about someone using unhealthy behavior.

He tries to give his body over to the sounds of a great big earth around him, understanding that he is very small, a tiny piece of something greater, a small glimmer of either light or darkness, depending on his choices and will.

Reid suffers from an illness called cyclothymia that I have never heard of before. It was hard to read how he struggled in the past, is struggling with recovery in the present, and will struggle with it for the rest of his life. Reid is a magnificent boy who has a brain that works in a very peculiar way and it makes his life very difficult. He really tries his best. Reid touched my heart with his personality and the way he wants to be seen by the world, and by the amazing and handsome boy he starts crushing on, Joaquim.

Joaquim finds himself in it too deep and too soon with Reid. Reid is not an easy person to be with, but it won’t be a mental illness the cause for him to walk away from someone he can see himself building something concrete with. Why would he run away when things get difficult? He asks a lot of questions and is destined to make mistakes, but he is a very patient boy and his feelings are deep and real. He can’t run from them.

Reid doesn’t pray, but sometimes he likes to think that the energy he and the others put out into the world might make a small difference.

The portrayal of mental illness is done in detail, wonderfully, and painfully. Nothing graphic, nothing just to give us some drama. Things aren’t okay, and they’re explained in a way that you understand both how Reid is feeling and how Joaquim is elaborating the info he’s getting. It’s a painful process, but it’s liberating. Joaquim is seeing Reid for who he is; he is not his mental illness, he is a boy fighting to get better, who wants an adventurous life and to love and be loved. Reid and Joaquim were sweet and cheesy and adorable. All the kisses, the hugs, the little touches, they were all elements that made their love story, one to desire. I will never be loved like that and it makes me sad.

When I finished the book last night, I closed it and realized I wasn’t in the mood for anything else; I was left empty yet full, no space for anything more. I went to bed and waited to fall asleep recalling one of my many happy made-up scenarios, because I knew that if I started thinking about the book, I’ll stayed awake analyzing every single aspect of my life. I hope I’m not the only one that uses made-up fantasies to fall asleep in order to avoid falling into the endless stream of anxious thoughts about life.

I keep sighing thinking about Reid and Joaquim. Those boys stole my heart. I’m so glad I somehow found this little book and impulsively bought it. I knew my impulsiveness had more pros than cons!

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Anatomy of a Murderer by Tim Floreen

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4stars

“We humans like to think of ourselves as more rational than we are. We imagine we navigate through life using pure logic, but far more than we realize, we do things for illogical reasons and then bend our perception of reality to make our actions seem logical, at least to ourselves. It’s a trick of the brain, something we all do.”

Title: Anatomy of a Murderer
Author: Tim Floreen
Number of pages: 370 (paperback edition)
Good things about this book: It has pretty dark themes but I liked how they were portrayed.
Bad things about this book: Read the trigger warnings before starting it.
Do I recommend it? Yes, I do.
Rate: 4/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

Oh, how I wish I could just spoil the entire book and write every little thing that’s in my mind right now. I have a lot of thoughts, really a lot! When I picked it up, intrigued by the darkness it promised, I truly didn’t expect to read what I read. I found myself following Rem’s mind, influenced by his feelings and thoughts. Our brain is really powerful; it tricked me into believing things that should have been obvious from the start. Maybe I didn’t want to believe, maybe I just wanted to imagine how the story would turn out if things went my way.

This is not an easy book; it has many triggering moments and it surely isn’t for everyone. I got palpitations during a few scenes, nothing that made me close the book but, in those moments, I imagined how these scenes would look like to someone who has experienced school shootings and bullying. I can’t begin to imagine how traumatic it could be and how frightening it is to live in a country where everyone can brandish a gun and kill whoever they want.

In the past, I have always thought of American high schools as some sort of great experience I wish I could have done: proms, sports, science labs, the canteen, the friendships. I don’t remember at what point my eyes opened to the awful reality that that high school dream hides. The bullying, the way if you do sports you are deemed a king and you can do what you want with no consequences, the shootings, the suicides, the popular kids feeling like royalty. I started to fear it, to start seeing high school in the US as a place you went but you never knew if you’d come out unscathed or alive.

This book made me think of myself back when the idea I had of high school broke into a million pieces. I felt for Franklin, being an odd kid, targeted by bullies for how he looked, what he liked, and how he was in general. I tried to understand Rem and the way he thought he was protecting himself by not being the nice guy everyone thought he was. I really tried to see the reason Rem’s mother had for starting her brain experimentations in Franklin in the first place. I tried to give everything logic, my logic, and failed.

Everything that happened couldn’t have been avoided by Franklin not being a sociopath, by Rem being always nice, by Tor and Pete not being bullies, by Callie making less jokes, by Lydia stopping herself from saying a bad thing. If it wasn’t Franklin shooting Pete, that day a year in the past from when this book takes place, it could have been another kid, another day, with a gun they could have gotten easily. And that’s the problem. Not only we should try to treat people they way they deserve, the way we want to be treated, we should also understand that without the means to violence, with guns purchased online with few to zero background checks, maybe things wouldn’t go as awry as the do today. Violence wouldn’t end but maybe it would be easier to control, and people with ill intent would be easier to stop if instead of a gun or a rifle, they were armed with a knife.

I’m rambling because I’m scared. This isn’t fiction, this isn’t fantasy, this is real. These things happen all the time. They are happening so often that, even though I’m all the way here in Italy, I’m scared every morning when kids the other side of the ocean go to school, hoping they all make their way back home safe and sound.

This book was hard to read but I’m glad I did. I think it will make a very nice tv show or movie. It has all the elements needed to be great. I started reading this book expecting something entirely different from what I got, and, as rarely as it happens to me, I liked how things ended here more than how I wanted them to end in my head.

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Fence #7 by C.S. Pacat, Johanna the Mad & Joana Lafuente

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5stars

The idea of Aiden beating Seiji makes me mad. Not mad. Jealous.

Title: Fence
Author: C.S. Pacat (Author), Johanna the Mad (Illustrator), Joana Lafuente (Illustrator)
Series: Fence #7

Number of pages: 29 (kindle edition)
Good things about this book: More matches, super happy Nicholas and adorable friendships!
Bad things about this book: Nothing! I WANT MORE!
Do I recommend it? Always!
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

This volume was so fun to read. All those matches. Nicholas all smiles and hope. Grumpy Seiji back as strong as before, his weak façade left in that bathroom. Aiden and Harvard’s friendship. Adorable! I need to see more of them, a lot more of them! Will I reread the 7 volumes again, maybe tomorrow and also the day after tomorrow? Of-bloody-course I will! The wait is atrocious!

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Look at my boy Seiji! Look at his face!!!I love him!

I’m sensing an obvious crush from Bobby towards a certain broody prince, and, girl, I’m so sorry, but there’s nothing that’ll distract that boy from fencing. Certainly not you, and I’m not being mean but it’s so clear that Seiji will never see her that way. This crush is going to hurt, and I’m really sorry for Bobby because I know it was inevitable, the boy is dreamy, but it was a recipe for disaster from the very first blush.

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Nicholas is just a simple boy with not very simple dreams. But he tries his best!!

I have to be honest, though, I keep wondering when we’re going to see Nicholas and Seiji start seeing each other as more than roommates. It’s going to happen, right? They’re not really friends now, but there will be a time when a spark is going to start what I hope it’s going to be the most beautiful love story of the fencing world. While I wait, I’m enjoying the competition and the glares and pouts (from Seiji, mostly). It’s going to be epic, I know it!

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Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

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4stars

It’s too simple to hate the people who have doorways where you have walls.

Title: Noteworthy
Author: Riley Redgate
Number of pages: 400 (hardcover edition)
Good things about this book: A cappella and a lot of good feelings!!
Bad things about this book: I was hoping it to be centered more around the main character understanding her sexuality, and it wasn’t, really.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Rate: 4/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

It was pretty cute and it put me in such a singing mode that I had to put the book on pause to marathon the three Pitch Perfect movies. Big tears and big emotions after, I resumed where I stopped and read almost without breaks and I finished the book.

There were parts that left me with too many questions, but I’m not entirely bothered about it. I got a lot of She’s the Man vibes and I kind of loved it because that movie is just a lot of fun. This book wasn’t as fun and light as the movie, though, but the sentiment was the same; both girls cross dress to be able to do something that the world (read: the school) didn’t permit them to do, so they had to think outside the box and risk it all to fit in.

The world saw exactly what it wanted to see. Finally, it wanted to see me.

I was expecting this would turn out differently, romantically speaking. I’m happy but not super happy. When I picked the book, I read it was a queer book, so I chose it to read during Pride Month, it sounded perfect. Was it the kind of queer book I was expecting? No, it wasn’t. Did it have enough representation to be qualified as a queer book? Yes, it did. I just hoped the main character’s confusion about her sexuality was taken more into consideration and not just left there like an afterthought.

The Sharps were all magnificent boys and I loved seeing how committed they were to their singing, to always being a little bit better, to be there for each other. I loved the diversity and how the economic struggles were portraited here; how true it felt, how frustrating it made me feel seeing that no matter how much you want something, if you don’t have money, your options are so limited you just feel so powerless all signs point to you don’t having a place in the world. I understood Jordan’s frustration, her loneliness, her decision to just say “f*ck it” and just go for it.

The world wasn’t just made out of instants – it was made out of plans, too, and the ability to learn from your mistakes.

While I enjoyed the overall storyline, I wasn’t a fan of the romance. I loved the characters involved in the various scenarios, but it just didn’t seem convincing. The love looked a little weird, it was missing the spark, and it left me wanting to feel more. I think that we needed more emotions and less actions for it to feel true. And, as I said before, the sexuality situation was just forgotten. It was a fun read, not light but not over dramatic, and it gave me a little insight into the magnificent world of a cappella!

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Inside Darkness by Hudson Lin

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4stars

Title: Inside Darkness
Author: Hudson Lin
Number of pages: 269 (kindle edition)
Good things about this book: A lot of emotions in just a few pages. Intense.
Bad things about this book: Too many emotions to handle, at least for me.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Rate: 4/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

Arc from NetGalley

I know I’m late! I’ve had this arc for quite some time but I read the summary very fast and only after been approved I realized it was about mental health. I wasn’t in the mood because my mental health is conditioned by what I watch/read so I wanted only bubbly, fluffy, easy books about good feelings, sunshine and rainbows. So days went by and I didn’t start it.

The day it was published I ordered me to read it, and I did, and I liked it. It was hard and it triggered me a little, but all in all it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. I actually enjoyed it, even if I read it as fast as I could just to get it over with.

I struggled a lot because the feelings in it were so strong, so deep, and they were like a giant boulder crushing my chest. It was a wild ride, very important and insightful. I learned things I don’t think I’ve ever questioned about. The world is a harsh place and, as much as we like to face it head up, it comes and leaves scars so deep it’s hard to cope.

I’m a bit shaken because this is not entirely a happy story, but it has happy moments and so much hope. When the world seems to be dragging you into the deepest abyss, there can be a ray of sunshine that’ll help us keep the darkness at bay. Whatever it may be, there’s hope about finding it and that’s worth being in this world a little longer. Just to see the light at the end of the darkest of tunnels.

The characters were well written and relatable, old enough to have day by day issues similar to mine. Once in a while it’s refreshing reading about adults not having a precise clue about what to do with their lives and being as human and fragile as I feel most of the time.

Long story short, this book was hopeful and core-shaking, it gave me anxiety, palpitations and a mild panic attack. But in the end, the little smile on my face was reward enough to deem this book worth the time it took me to read it.

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Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron

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3stars

Title: Out of the Blue
Author: Sophie Cameron
Number of pages: 279 (paperback edition)
Good things about this book: A lot of potential and it reads easily.
Bad things about this book: Too many answers left unanswered.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Rate: 3/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

It was a cute little book. I was expecting a bit more, though. I kept expecting something more to happen and it didn’t. Maybe it’s just me but I felt something missing. Maybe I have to be the one filling in the blanks. Maybe it’s a lesson as to how sometimes it’s better not to know everything. Whatever it was, I still liked it a lot, the mystery elements surrounding the Beings and Jaya’s mission to hide and heal one.

Have you watched The Leftovers? One day a lot of people just vanishes, no explanations given, no explanations found. This book is a little bit like that. One day the Beings (angels) start falling from the sky; skin that shines like metal, blood the color of gold, big broken wings. They fall and they die because of the impact. And people, seeing as they are the usual stupid human beings, start cults, sell the feathers online for a lot, become not fascinated but obsessed. They see what they want to see.

Our main character, Jaya, and maybe a few others, are curious about the real mystery. Not when are they going to fall, but why are they falling. What is happening wherever they come from that it’s causing them to fall? They are not things to be sold, dissected and sold to be studied. They are humanoids, they have feelings, they bleed, so why are people treating them like objects to be earn money from? I hate them all; Jaya’s father, his obsessions, the Standing Fallen and their dumb believes, and the followers. So many “souvenirs”, restaurants, merchandise, depicting dead angels. Why? Because it sells, they gain money from it. It’s atrocious but so likely that it made me twice as mad.

A being that doesn’t die because of the impact falls right in front of Jaya while she takes her dog out for a walk. From that day, it’s just days spent feeding the female looking being, trying to keep her safe, healing her broken wing, and getting her back where she came from. There’s no final goal but that. I guess I just thought more things were going to be solved. Call me mad, but I was hoping the being, Teacake, was going to sense sickness and cure it. I hoped she was going to draw the place she came from, give some insight. I don’t know, I just feel that we were left with more questions.

Yes, I know, Jaya was having a lot of grieving issues due to her mother’s recent death and her girlfriend leaving, and this was also a journey for her to find some peace inside and out. But the beings were so important to the story that I was hoping they would’ve been of more relevance to the solving of all the little issues present in the story. Maybe I just went in with the wrong kind of expectations.

I would’ve loved an epilogue: I still think that some things were missing and maybe an epilogue would’ve helped. Cute book, though. A fast read.

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