They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

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5stars

I’ve spent years living safely to secure a longer life and look where that’s gotten me. I’m at the finish line, but I never ran the race.

Title: The Both Die at the End
Author: Adam Silvera
Good things about this book: It’s a Silvera book!
Bad things about this book: Well, the end that was spoiled in the title.
Do I recommend it? Yes, and if you haven’t, I also recommend his other two books!
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

“ARC by Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review”

The Silvera Experience is always one of a kind but my heart is still not used to it: it’s an experience of love, tears, and so many thoughts your brain may explode. I finished reading the book yesterday night and every time my mind is not busy it goes back to the book. It’s a terrifying concept the one introduced here with the calls telling you about your imminent death. It’s terrifying because once you know that it’s impossible to not think about it. Then you ask yourself: what am I going to do today before I die? Did I live my life right? Do I have regrets?

I’m shaken by how Adam Silvera can get to me with simple words. Simple words in a slightly different kind of world, not the one we live in right now but it’s so close to it that it scared the hell out of me. I couldn’t put it down once I started it and now I have my heart in my hands, tears in my eyes, and not a single idea of how to put it into words.

No matter how we choose to live, we both die at the end.

Mateo and Rufus receive a call, THE call, telling them this is the day they’re going to die. They don’t know when and how but they know it’s going to happen before midnight. They are very different people with very different lives but destiny is a funny lady and this dreadful news brings them together on the day their lives are going to end. The Last Friend app brings together people on their End Day that don’t have anyone to spend their day with or that don’t want the people they care about seeing them dying.

I loved how their weird friendship starts and slowly they share their feelings, their pasts, their fears, and they get to have a last glimpse of love. It’s not instant, it’s not forced; it is how it is. Two boys that are going to die, getting close enough to have one more regret about the life they’re leaving behind too soon: a great love story that could have been, a happy life they could have shared. Just thinking about it fills me with sadness and it makes me realize how it’s never too late and even when it’s too late, it is still worth it.

“Why can’t we have a chance?” I ask Rufus.
“A chance at what?” He’s looking around, taking pictures of the arena and the lines.
“A chance at another chance.” I say.

At first I thought that knowing about your death in some ways triggered a chain reaction that would get you to the death that was predicted. It all seemed plausible and I found myself thinking that maybe without knowing they would’ve done things differently and destiny could’ve been rewritten giving them a second chance, maybe also a third. Like your path is not set in stone and it could change.

As I read on, though, I realized that no matter what things you may decide to do on your End Day, death would still find you. You can’t escape death and you’re certainly not meeting death because of the choices you’re making that day: you’re just changing the journey, taking a different road, but the destination it’s still the same. You’re given a chance to say goodbye, to have closure, to tied loose ends, to try things you weren’t brave enough to try before, and I think that’s really scary yet somehow liberating. I don’t know what I would do if knew today was my last day alive: I would freak out, that’s for sure.

I wondered if it was possible to ask them not to tell you when you were going to die, that maybe it could be an option you decided not to have. Then again, without the phone call Rufus and Mateo would still be dead but they wouldn’t have met, and they wouldn’t have been the last rays of sunshine they’ve seen in this world that had them for such a short time.

I wasted time and missed fun because I cared about the wrong things.

Adam Silvera has confirmed himself once again one of my favourite authors and I think he’s going to be one for a very long time. I can’t recommend his books enough and this is not an exception. Go get yourself a Silvera book, you won’t regret it.

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The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

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5stars

“Love makes us such fools.”

Title: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
Author: Leslye Walton
Good things about this book: It is magical and so well-written.
Bad things about this book: Nothing.
Do I recommend it? Yes!
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

Perfect narration, lovely characters, a wonderful story told by an exceptional person. Felt like being in a world that was a mix of Amélie Poulain and Pushing Daisies. This book felt like all the colours, the brightest ones. It was enchanting and magical. I loved it all; I also loved how mad certain passages made me feel, at the way the scenes narrated made me navigate through my emotions. It was the perfect book, of the perfect length, for perfect summer afternoons. I read it slowly enjoying every bit of it.

The whole book is told by Ava Lavender: an exceptional girl born with a pair of extraordinary wings. Ava and her twin brother, Henry, are two peculiar children, each of them with something that make them stand up to the world, that make people see them as different. Ava with her wings and Henry with his silence and amazing map drawing skills.

The story, as much as it is about Ava, it is more about her family: her grandmother and mother’s adventures mainly. Ava recounts the story of her great-grandparents when they decided to move, with their four children, from a little town in France to Manhattan. It is a sad story about misunderstandings, love, lost love, pain and death. It seems that nothing goes right to the women of their family when it comes to love.

She worried she couldn’t protect me from all the things that had hurt her: loss and fear, pain and love.
Most especially from love.

I really loved how things were told, the feeling you got of the surroundings really brought out all the magical realism of the story. How the natural elements were mixed up with magic, without being weird or exaggerated, was done perfectly. There’s so much magic in this book and it fits it like a glove. I wish I lived in Ava’s world with ghosts, wings, baked goods that could change your mood, a weird house and its marvelous inhabitants. They brought me joy and I read about theirs lives feeling like a friend.

She learned how to worry. She, who’d always thought love’s only companion was sorrow, learned that worry came hand in hand with love.

Ava Lavender is just a girl. Her mother, Vivian, is just a heartbroken woman. Her grandmother, Emilienne, is just a baker. They are “just” something until you stop looking at the surface without seeing how many layers of magic, kindness and strength there is inside each one of these women. They are the powerhouses of this book. They are what make you turn the pages anxious to know more, to see them get the ending they truly deserve.

I recommend this if you’re looking for a magical book but as much as it is a light and easy read, check the trigger warnings and if knowing everything you still want to give it go, then you have my full approval!

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Scythe by Neal Shusterman

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5stars

We are not the same being we once were.
So then, if we are no longer human, what are we?

Title: Scythe
Author: Neal Shusterman
Good things about this book: It is well written and it has a very original (and scary) plot.
Bad things about this book: When I bought it I thought it was a stand alone but it turns out it isn’t and I have to wait a lot for the sequel.
Do I recommend it? Yes yes yes!
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

This scared the hell out of me. Second book by Shusterman and second win for me, that’s for sure. He writes and takes you to an adventure, gets you hooked up into the story with amazing descriptions of a world, so vivid, you believe it exists yet you don’t want to live in it. It was scary because of its realness. This was such a compelling story and it had this depth in it that made me realize that no matter what will happen, our future won’t be nice. How is it that we are forever destined to ruin every good thing the world offers us?

People prophesized doom at the hands of a soulless machine. But apparently the machine had a purer soul than any human.

The Earth in this book has defeated diseases and death, and its society is run by the Thunderhead, an AI pure and just who helps everyone. Long story short, the world is great. But there’s only one problem: if people don’t die, there won’t be enough space for all of them to live, eat, to work. People in it “survives”: they take jobs that aren’t really necessary, go to school when they don’t really need it, have lots of children they don’t want to take care of. They are not truly living because when you are not afraid of mortality, poverty and hunger, then what really is your purpose?

Immortality has turned us all into cartoons.

That’s how the Scythedom was born. Scythes have the power to glean people, killing them definitely, taking them off a world where they are immortal and they can reset their age whenever they like. Scythes are human beings that are given a license to kill (and to grant 1 year immunity if they want to) without consequences, without laws forbidding it, with the world scared of them but at the same time charmed by them. Charmed by these people in colorful robes who can randomly select you to remove you from the world, adding your death to their annual quota of people that need to be killed in order to maintain balance in population.

Power comes infected with the only disease left to us: the virus called human nature.

Scythes’ actions are not ruled by the Thunderhead, who is always just and never makes mistakes, so they are flawed: they’re humans after all. There is corruption, favoritism, unnecessary cruelty, and people are unaware of all that. They just keep on living until one of those Scythes decides you can no longer keep doing that. Maybe the decision was truly random or maybe just maybe that scythe didn’t like you because you were too rich, too ugly or too fat. Are they punished for being biased and unjust? Not really.

To put oneself above all other laws is a fundamental recipe for disaster.

It was obvious that in a society with no more death or diseases and only one self governed institution that proclaims itself above all laws there’d be corruption. It makes me sick thinking how inevitable it was because, of course, they are humans and humans with power are dangerous. Give a group of people too much power over humanity and you’ll see how everything the Thunderhead worked so hard for crumbles, one little piece at a time.

This book is about two scythe apprentices, Citra and Rowan, and the different paths they take and are forced to take in the year of training before the last test that will proclaim them fit or unfit for the role. Following their mentor around, the lovely Honorable Scythe Faraday, will show them what lies behind the scenes of gleaning. Will they like what they see? Can they see themselves wearing the scythe robe and killing people? Will they ever lose their humanity and start enjoying it?

There’s so much to say about this book but none of the things I can say about it will make it justice. I wrote vaguely about what is the reality of the book and what is it about but, trust me, it is so much more than that. This book has lots of layers and without reading it you wouldn’t unravel it the right way, in the right order. I will end up spoiling the journey and this is a journey I took and recommend everyone to take.

My greatest wish for humanity is not for peace or comfort or joy. It is that we all still die a little inside every time we witness the death of another. For only the pain of empathy will keep us human.

Experience their journey first hand. Fall in love with characters, and hate other characters. Cheer for them. Have your heart broken and wish you had nanites inside of you like them that’ll make you heal and calm yourself in no time. Be mad at the injustice. Be frustrated at how ugly humans can really be when they think only about themselves and their wellbeing. Be moved. Learn. Be ready for all of this can seem improbable but maybe it is not after all.

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[ARC] The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic by F.T. Lukens

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5stars

He walked out of the bathroom not at all ready to face whatever was waiting for him, but totally ready to fake it.

Title: The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic
Author: F.T. Lukens
Release date: September 7th 2017
Good things about this book: Myths, magic and great characters.
Bad things about this book: Nothing, this book is precious.
Do I recommend it? Yes, wait for its release and read it.
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

*ARC received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

I’m so happy I found this book. This book, THIS BOOK, made me so happy; it filled me with lots of giggles. Never underestimate a spontaneous giggle. I laughed so much out loud I freaked out my dog a little bit: he got worried about my safeness and came by my side to see if I was okay. I had so much fun reading it I want everyone to enjoy it as much as I did.

Bridger is a very sexually confused teenage boy looking for a job to pay for college. He is funny, very brave but as I said he is going through many difficulties that are going to put not few obstacles in our poor boy’s road to happiness. He found out he is bisexual and has a very obvious crush on his neighbor and high school football star, Leo. He is scared to come out, to be hated, left alone, so he plans to escape, to go far away for college. Oh boy, that idea was destined to failed from the beginning!

“I’m going to go be bisexual in my room. If that’s okay with you? Great? Great.”

Money for college means a job and Bridger lands the weirdest job he could find. He works for Pavel, the intermediary for myths of the state they live in. His job will be to assist Pavel in order to maintain the mythical world hidden from the human world. It seems something is disrupting the balance of things and Bridger’s job is going to be harder than anticipated. Pavel, who has a family made of pixies, a gorgeous werewolf and seemingly apathetic secretary, is a wonderful boss; he listens to Bridger, helps him out and gives useful advice right when he needed it. I think Pavel is magical and not only because he has magic; when he understands a pop reference he is so proud of himself and the most adorable man ever. You gotta love Pavel, he’s one of a kind!

“You have no idea the amount of research I have put into keeping up with the things you say.” Bridger smiled, despite everything.

Bridger finds himself dealing with feelings he can’t fully express and mythical creatures that need to be convinced to be elsewhere because they’re in places they shouldn’t be.

The Leo problem is only known to his best friend, Astrid; she tries to help him but if one is stubborn and more than a little afraid then there’s little she can do to make a difference. Leo (full name freaking LEONIDAS, as in this-is-Sparta Leonidas!) is adorable and he clearly flirts with Bridger every time he can; he has a crush on our boy but our boy is not ready and my heart hurt a little. I was so glad there wasn’t the dreaded misunderstanding or unnecessary love triangles but still, I was scared for them because they were so cute together and I wanted only good things for them like cuddles and many many kisses. It was the perfect romance, sweet, with a twist of mythical magic. I loved it!

“Well, if you’re going to go gay over someone, not a bad choice.”
“Astrid!” he whispered hotly. “For one, I still like girls. And two, keep your voice down!”
“Fine. If you are going to go bi, not a bad choice.”

For a moment I was genuinely scared because there were many things that could go wrong but I trusted the author to not break my heart. I was on edge until the very end and I loved loved loved how the story unfolded. It was a magnificent book and, I repeat myself, I am so happy I found it.

Go read it as soon as it comes out. It’s worth it!

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My Lady Jane: The Not Entirely True Story by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

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5stars

“Armies aren’t very good about carrying libraries with them. I can’t imagine why. We’d fight so much less if everyone would just sit down and read.”

Title: My Lady Jane: The Not Entirely True Story
Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
Good things about this book: It has different chapters from different points of views.
Bad things about this book: Nothing.
Do I recommend it? Yes!
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

I wanted something fun and fast to read and I couldn’t have chosen a better book that included all the elements I didn’t know I was looking for. Royals, a magical touch, history, and swords! Oh, I love swords! Give me a sword and you’ll make this lady warrior very happy!

I have to admit that I didn’t know all the events that happened in British history. What I know comes from TV shows and movies. Until I was 12 I lived in Ecuador so I studied a little bit of South American history, but afterwards I moved to Italy so I studied mainly Italian history and the parts involving the British royals were only a few pages. I did know about Bloody Mary and Mary Queen of Scots but no much else. It was fun getting to know more about King Edward VI and Lady Jane even with all the not very truthful facts.

He thought he finally understood the Meaning of Life now, the Great Secret, which he’d boiled down to this:
Life is short, and then you die.

Edward is sick, poisoned by evil people in the palace plotting to take the throne of England from him, and on his deathbed (but not really) he appointed Jane as his successor. Jane, all books and flaming red hair, is unmarried and that needs to change. He gets engaged to Gifford (call him G, please), son of his majesty’s loyal advisor. There’s just one little thing they didn’t tell Jane about his husband to be; he is an edian and he turns into a horse!

I loved the edian twist of the story. People who could turn into animals? Oh yeah! I wonder what kind of animal I’d be; I’m thinking a dragon or a beautiful swan but maybe I’d turned into a turtle or, better, a sloth. At least I don’t think I’d turned into an ass or a skunk like someone I read about.

“Wow, Father. Fertile and well-vetted? You make it sound so very romantic.”

Gifford and Jane started their married life in a very weird way but they get close through misadventures and love was in the air and stays in the air until the obvious happily ever after. Not spoilers here, it says from the very beginning that this story will give poor Jane (and her luckily still attached head) the happy ending she clearly deserved. Young love, the misunderstandings, the stares, the little touches; I’m a romantic at heart and I loved that nothing was too cheesy. The perfect amount of cheese was involved.

Edward, King of England, and spoiled virgin boy, is kind of a star in this book. You may think he is weak but instead he turns out to be everything you probably didn’t think about him at first. Long live King Edward! Edward’s chapters with his inner monologues about how he fancied Gracie were adorable. I think Edward deserves all the love he can get. All the love! Long live King Edward!

All the characters are great and funny but the real hero of the book is our dear Jane. Jane with her books, her synonyms, her determination to not be the woman of the situation, her courage, and her big heart. I love Jane, and no, her red hair was in no way weird.

The poor book. It didn’t deserve to be hurt just because Jane had to get married.

A fun book for history lovers and fantasy lovers; a book that has a little bit of everything and will make you smile. How can someone refuse a book that brings you joy? You can’t.

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More Than This by Patrick Ness ☆

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5starsplus

“I wanted so badly for there to be more. I ached for there to be more than my crappy little life.” He shakes his head. “And there was more. I just couldn’t see it.”

Title: More Than This
Author: Patrick Ness
Good things about this book: I loved everything!
Bad things about this book: Not sure it was the right choice for this book but I would have loved an epilogue.
Do I recommend it? Yes, read it.
Rate: 5+++/5
☆: It made my “favourite books” list

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

There’s this peculiarity in Patrick Ness’ books that I genuinely love and cherish and no matter what I’m experiencing, they resonate with me, with my soul, and I end up thinking about them almost every single day, carrying them deep within my heart. I just love them so much it hurts.

It’s now been two days since I finished the book and more than often I have found myself staring into nothing, thinking about the truth about what I read, the deepness of what’s been told, the fear I got realizing that that future might not be so unlikely. It scared the hell out of me.

Seth drowns, we read his inner monologue while drowning, how he feels, what is happening to his body. We know he drowns but then he wakes up in a deserted city, wearing nothing but bandages, he is disoriented; yet he is alive. How? Why?

“He’s died, and woken up in his own, personal hell.”

I had many theories about where Seth was. Theories I was proud of thinking, theories worth of being turned into TV shows or even movies. Sadly I wasn’t right but the different outcome surprised me for the better. I would have never thought of that and that was kind of perfect. I love being surprised. I also love predicable outcomes so it’s pretty easy to please me.

I loved Seth and I liked Regine and Tomasz a lot. Main character and sidekicks on point, together in this weird environment they are trying to figure out and survive into. The questions Seth asked himself were questions I was asking, the doubts he was having were the same I was having; I was one with the book, a part of it. There was no end to the guessing, to what the hell was that place and what were they supposed to do. It was fun how at the beginning Seth just thought he was in hell and that was it, he was just going to go with it and be okay with it. Then everything happens and nothing is as before.

“We take random events and we put them together in a pattern so we can comfort ourselves with a story, no matter how much of it obviously isn’t true.”

This was my fourth book by Patrick Ness and I can say without doubt that, for me, he is a genius. His stories are contemporary mixed with fantasy or sci-fi. He is an excellent writer and the way he incorporates everyday issues with fantasy elements it’s flawless. The themes he writes about are hard yet he presents them in a way it’s easy for everyone to understand, to relate to the characters; I know I want to fight more, I want to let my voice be heard, I want to change the world even if I do it starting from my little environments.

It doesn’t matter how little you can do, if you fight for what you believe, if you want to see change, if you want the world to be a great place to live for everyone, then don’t give up before starting because “what difference my voice can make?”.

“There’s always beauty,” Seth murmurs. “If you know where to look.”

Reading books by Patrick Ness makes me want to be a better person for me and for whoever doesn’t have it easy in life. Because everyone deserves to be free to be who they are without being afraid to be harmed, physically or emotionally, because of it. Because you shouldn’t be afraid to seek help if you have mental illness and you feel the world slipping through your fingers. Because you shouldn’t feel the obligation to be strong by yourself and that it’s okay to be weak and ask for a hand. Because we shouldn’t allow anyone to deny us the happiness we know we deserve. There is more than struggle out there; there is more than fear; there is more than what we think it’s unchangeable.

There is more than this and we need to fight to find it.

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If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

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4stars

I thought about how every person could hold two truths inside of them, how impossible it felt sometimes to have your insides and outsides aligned.

Title: If I Was Your Girl
Author: Meredith Russo
Good things about this book: Amanda is a delightful and strong character!
Bad things about this book: Nothing bad just but check for triggers before reading.
Do I recommend it? I do!
Rate: 4/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

This is a very difficult book to review because I will never understand what it means to be Amanda. I will never be in her position; to have the same fears she has, to not being able to be a 100% true to the people she knows and to herself. At the end of the book there is the note from the author explaining how it must be viewed, either if you are trans like Amanda or if you identify with the gender you were born with.

In the note the author writes about how she simplified the struggles Amanda has to face to made us understand her better without asking ourselves too many questions; can people tell she is trans? No, because she is very feminine. Will people see she is trans by mistake while entering the bathroom unannounced? No, because she could afford a surgery most people wouldn’t be able to pay. Will they see her as a girl even after knowing she wasn’t born with the body of one? Read the book and find out.

“You can have anything,” she said, “once you admit you deserve it.”

I know trans people but knowing them and seeing them transitioning doesn’t mean you understand everything they’re going through and what they are feeling. I can only be myself and see them how they want to be seen, how they are on the inside that they want to be seen also on the outside. So one day he is a guy’s name and the next day she is a girl and she stays a girl, so what? They tell me they have a new name, new pronoun to use and that’s that. From my part, I can’t see why it has to be hard.

People frustrate me. They give hate to the wrong people for no reasonable motive; they spend so much energy hating something so simply to understand with a little effort. Sometimes I think they want to be scared of something so badly to feel better with themselves that they don’t care to see they are “scared” for absolutely no reason. For example I can’t stop being angry for the “bathroom issue” and I smile every time a place doesn’t have different bathrooms for different genders. Little steps. Maybe too little sometimes.

We have three bathrooms at work. One is on the first floor and everyone can go because there is no sign on the door. The other two were mistakenly decorated with the male and female symbol on the door and if the male one is occupied, the male coworkers wait instead of going inside the other one. A simple sticker on the door plays so hard with their minds they are willingly waiting hours to pee instead of putting their masculinity in danger going inside the girl’s bathroom. The reason I’ve been told? “It feels weird, it’s for girls.” How dumb is that? It’s the exact same bathroom as the other two, only with a sticker on the door. A stinking sticker with zero value, zero utility.

This book made me see things differently, not only because it takes place in the USA and I live in Italy so many things don’t happen here or I simply failed to look closer. I don’t go out much so I only have three places to compare experiences: my workplace, my house and the LGBTIQA+ community I’m a member of. I don’t really know the real world and even if I had struggles growing up, being an immigrant latina in a white country, I have to say I’m privileged enough to have lived my life peacefully. That’s how it has to be for everyone else and we will keep fighting, we will keep marching, keep doing whatever we can, even if small, to make the world a better place for every single person living in it.

I realized, I wasn’t sorry I existed anymore. I deserved to live. I deserved to find love. I knew now—I believed, now—that I deserved to be loved.

I’m sorry I didn’t talk about the book, mainly to avoid spoilers also because some books need to be experienced without insights, but rest assured I liked it and I recommend it. It is hard, it is triggering (so, beware), it isn’t for everyone but if you want a book that gives you a point of view you are missing and you want to understand then this is a book you have to read.

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