Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram ☆

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5starsplus

“You’re okay,” he murmured.
“No, I’m not.”
“I know.” He rubbed my back up and down. “It’s okay not to be okay.”

Title: Darius the Great Is Not Okay
Author: Adib Khorram
Number of pages: 320 (hardcover edition)
Good things about this book: I loved how calm and sweet this was, so very real!
Bad things about this book: Nothing.
Do I recommend it? Yes, I can’t recommend it enough.
Rate: 5+++/5 (it’s a favourite!)

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

I have never read a more relatable character than Darius. I loved this book with all my little heart. Feelings are overflowing. This is not an excessively sad book, it has sad parts but it’s a hopeful journey, and we get to see it through a very sweet boy’s eyes.

This story filled my heart with a bittersweet joy. I’m so glad I’ve read it. I’m happy, a sort of calm and quiet happiness.

I loved the quiet. Even if it sometimes made me think of sad things. Like whether anyone would miss me if I was dead.

Darius is bullied at school and it made me furious, not only because of the bullies but because of his dad telling him that if he was just more normal he wouldn’t have these kinds of problems. What kind of father tells that to a son? To a bullied son? To a bullied son who has also depression? He has a lot on his plate and he’s trying his best, he doesn’t need a father not being on his side.

Normally, I was thrilled to get pizza – it was pretty much the best dietary indiscretion ever – but I could feel Dad watching me at every bite, flaring his nostrils.

His dad infuriated me because he is exactly like my mother. Ever since I remember my mom has been obsessed with weight. I’m overweight, I have been this way, more or less, since I got my period at 9 years old. Pretty early, I know. Ever since that day I started getting curves and everything I ate stayed there with me. I have been thinner in the past, but it didn’t last, surely because I’m not supposed to be that way. I’m happy with how I am. I do care about my health and take care of myself, but this is my shape and people shouldn’t see that as bad or wrong.

Darius gained weight because of his medication, he really doesn’t have a problem with it. He has a problem with his father having a problem with it. Take that and add that he is going to Iran, her mother’s birth place, for the first time to meet his grandparents and relatives. Everything is overwhelming and different. Luckily, he meets Sohrab, a friend of his grandparents and they immediately click. They are destined to be friends. Great friends!

I liked that I could be silent with Sohrab.
That’s how I knew we really were going to be friends.

I love Darius and Sohrab together; they don’t get along all the time, they had a rough first outing together, but the nice thing about friends is that they can forgive you. Darius really needed someone like Sohrab, and I’m happy he got to meet him and bond with him. It helped him a lot. The subtlety of the LGBT theme was just right; I wasn’t disappointed it wasn’t more present, more told on page, because that’s just another way Darius was dealing with everything that’s been going on in his life. I liked how he just wasn’t ready to tell anyone, not even us, the readers.

Darius’ story was one of growth, family, friendship and understanding that is okay not be okay, but trying their best every single day. I loved this book, the way it built slowly, telling different stories that came together in the end. I loved it. I hope there are more books like this one out there, because as I needed this one, other people might need them in the future. I recommend it with all my heart.

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A Wish Upon the Stars by T.J. Klune ☆

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5starsplus

We turn to you, the boy we lost, your body now littered with scars. We know what your bravery cost, and for you we wish upon these stars.

Title: A Wish Upon the Stars
Author: T.J. Klune
Series: Tales From Verania #4
Number of pages: 450 (kindle edition)
Good things about this book: Everything. I’m telling you, EVERYTHING.
Bad things about this book: Nothing. It was hard to say goodbye but it also feels good.
Do I recommend it? Yes! Yes! Yes!
Rate: 5+++/5
☆: It made my “favourite books” list

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

BEWARE! This review will contain spoilers of the previous books and spoilers of this book because I must say things and the things I must say are spoilery.

This book deserves more than 5 stars and this series deserves at least a million stars. AT LEAST! I’ll say maybe 2 billion stars, maybe more. I have loved everything about it, everything: frustration and all. I have not loved a series as much as I’ve loved this one. Sure, you know how easily I give 5 stars to books but maybe it is because I read books I know I will like so the probability of a full star review is pretty high. I seem to know how to avoid books that make me mad but, alas, I have read a few that I wish I could forget completely but still haunt my everyday life. You know who you are, books, you know it and you should be ashamed of yourselves!

“How are you still alive?” Dimitri asked me.
“Sheer force of will,” I said cheerfully.

A Wish Upon the Stars is the fourth and last book of the Tales from Verania saga. I have read four magnificent books about a boy who happens to be a wizard apprentice and who, apparently, doesn’t know when to shut up. The things Sam says are things of beauty and perversion. Maybe more of perversion if I’m being honest and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sam is a magical boy with feelings and so much love to give. Sam is also a very sexual being and he will make sure you don’t have any doubts about it. I have read things that had made me gasp, laugh, cringe and also made me horny. Sam and I, we are alike. The only difference is that he has a hunk of a boyfriend while me, well, I’m single and the world has decided I will remain that way until the day I die.

The third book ended on a very sad note; Morgan was murdered and Ryan was badly hurt. Our Sam made the only decision he thought was right so he ran away to the Dark Woods to join the Great White and the other dragons to train. Eleven, I repeat, eleven months later he resurfaces from his “training camp”, disheveled and with bushy eyebrows, more powerful than ever, now a wizard, and more scared of facing the ones he left behind that the super villain who wants to consume him and kill them all.

“I promise you, when I was in the woods, looking up at the stars, there is nothing I wished for more than you.”

I was scared, too. San ran away leaving only letters not really explaining where he was going or for how long. Gary and Tiggy were super mad, Sam’s parents grounded him for eternity, Justin was uncharacteristically huggy, and Ryan was furious for very valid reasons. I would also be super mad if the love of my life went away who knows where for who knows how long telling me to wait patiently. How dare he leave me? That’s not okay. Luckily, Sam returned with more magic and Ryan has a kink for magic so things resolved quite quickly and quite steamily. I saw a side of Ryan I liked, a new side of him I like because I already liked him a lot.

“Lady Tina,” I said. “How unfortunate that you didn’t pass beyond the veil overnight. I expected more from you.”

Sam feels a bit left out in this new dynamic, having been almost a year away while the world kept going without him. Two of his arch-nemesis are now all lovey-dovey with his friends. Lady Tina DeSilva is second in command to Ryan and Sam hates it. I would hate it, too. She was the bane of his existence for the last books. Okay, she repented, had a change of heart, etc etc. But she did unnecessary things. I wouldn’t forget and forgive that easily.

“I had a vision you would say that,” Vadoma said, the bangles on her wrists knocking together. “I have many visions about everything you say. None of them are good.”

Then we have Vadoma, the one who put Ruv in our Sam’s way, maybe also contributing to the fall of Morgan. Yeah, she was sort of bewitched by Ruv, but still, she was rude and that’s not okay. You don’t get to be rude to Sam because he’s precious and needs protection.

“There were spiders when Dad showed me the first time,” he mumbled. “I don’t like spiders.”
“Ah,” I said wisely. “It’s a good thing you’ve got us, then, eh? And by us, I mean Ryan, because I also don’t like spiders, so he can go first and scare them all away and make sure we don’t get bitten and die.”

The book has one main mission and two side missions. The one super important mission is to use the dragons to kill Myrin, of course. The two side missions are to retrieve Gary’s horn and to save the King from the Castle’s dungeons where he’s kept captive. They do get the horn after saving the King and they meet Randall again, and guess what, he had the horn and the story of how he tracked is something else. Randall is a phenomenal character and I love him and his old hairy face! The “ceremony” of reattaching Gary’s horn is one I will never forget. I keep picturing Sam bad touching the horn while it leaked rainbow fluid, and then putting it on Gary and Gary sort of evolving, all majestic and posing and with his ego so much bigger than before you didn’t think it could be possible.

“Gary Matthias Pontificus Esmerelda Juanita Lopez Alabaster Kennedy the Fourth!”

Gary’s full name. I’m so glad we know it now!

I haven’t found the kind of comedy T.J. Klune writes with any other author. It’s overwhelming. I think you love it or you hate it, there’s no in-between. I love it with all my heart. He mixes hilarious moments with moments full of sentiment capable of breaking your heart and, trust me, your heart will certainly break. Mine broke so many times since book 1. I’ve lost count. He plays with your feelings but you hang in there because he is so clever, he knows it, and he’ll do the story justice and you won’t be mad at him (so much). He knows he’ll make you hate him a little bit and I know he grins evilly when no one is watching because he knows all will be forgiven by the end of the books. You magnificent manipulator! You have a special place in my heart.

“He reminds me of you,” he told Randall. “Stubborn. Indignant. Mouthy. He speaks before he thinks and is more likely to ignore my orders than to actually follow them.”
I would have objected, but that was pretty much all true.

I’m realizing I didn’t spoil much of the book so now I’m going to list my favourite parts so this will become a real spoilerful review:

1- Sam promising himself that he’ll find a boyfriend for Justin and us maybe getting in the future a book from Justin’s pov with his own romantic adventures
2- Ryan proposing like the cheesy boy he truly is and being all heart-eyes for Sam even when he was angry with him. But of course you can’t stay angry with Sam; have you look at him? He’s adorable.
3- Sam wooing the guards promising slutty things was beautiful and so cringe worthy I’m still thinking about how slutty he truly is. And I’m loving it. I loved every second of that scene. And I loved how jealous Ryan got because his man is loved by many. Too many!
4- Sam using the ability to change his and other people’s appearances to make Lady Tina the ugliest man in existence. It was hilarious! And he made Justin bald. Sam, why are you doing this to me? Tears, I had tears rolling down my face it was almost poetic.
5- Randall asking a little too many times if someone had a reason for Sam and Ryan not to get married got me laughing hard. Randall is precious and his story with Myrin was so sad; he deserved to be loved more, to be chosen over power, not to be left behind. Myrin, you suck.
6- Terry, Gary’s twin brother wanting Ryan to “ride him”, if you know what I mean!!
7- Morgan of Shadows. Morgan of freaking Shadows to complete the happy ending we truly deserved. We suffered so much and that was our reward.

With this list, this long and probably incomprehensible review gets to an end just like this series. I’m sad, of course, but I’m also happy because I don’t have to wonder if they’re okay and happy. I know they are. They will have bad days, they will have to face adversities, probably random kidnappings, but they will be victorious. They have each other, they have love and they are loved. There’s really nothing that puts a bigger smile on my face than seeing all of them, Sam, Ryan, Gary, Tiggy, Justin, Morgan, Randall, Sam’s parents, the King, be as happier as they can be in a world that wanted to put a destiny set in stone in their way. But stone crumbles, right? It sure did. Stone crumbled and if it didn’t, I was ready to magically teleport myself inside the book and punch it until it did. I was going to get my happy ending one way or the other.

“I’m in control of my own destiny. My path may have been set in stone, but stone crumbles, and sometimes we have to forge our own way through.”

Farewell Verania. You’ll be missed, and if we’re going to meet again I hope it’s not very far in the future. I can wait, though, because I know it’ll be worth it.

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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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Release by Patrick Ness ☆

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5starsplus

“Ain’t no shame in a broken heart.”

Title: Release
Author: Patrick Ness
Good things about this book: The way Ness writes is bewitching!
Bad things about this book: Nothing, at least for me. Check the trigger warnings before reading, though.
Do I recommend it? Yes, absolutely.
Rate: 5+++/5
☆: It made my “favourite books” list

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

I couldn’t put it down and this is the third Ness’s book that has done this to me. I loved it with all my heart; there is something in Ness’s books that resonates with my soul and I feel them embracing me and cuddling me. The magic touch, at first peculiar, settles into the narration almost unnoticed and unforced. All of this makes Release one hell of a book to read and treasure.

This is not the easiest of books, it is a book about life and the obstacles it throws at you; it gives you hope in a better future if you’re willing to fight for it. It is so hard to fight for something you don’t think you deserve because you’ve been “taught” that what you are goes against nature, against the will of a lord you think doesn’t really care how you live your life.

“Through prayer, everything is possible-“
“I don’t know, I’ve prayed for years to change your heart. Nothing’s happened so far.”

Adam Thorn doesn’t believe he deserves being loved. He grew up in a very religious family being the son that’s different in a way they don’t dare to say out loud. Adam is gay and his family thinks it’s merely a phase, they think what he feels is not real. How much realer can it be if it breaks his heart in a million pieces? Adam Thorn has loved and his broken heart is the result of it. Will he ever let go of the past and fight for a future worth living? Will he ever let go of the boy he gave his all to but apparently was never willing to give anything back?

Where on earth had this day come from? And where was it headed?

We follow Adam throughout one day of his life; one day that will change everything. He will wake up, run errands, exercise, go to work, help his father and say goodbye to the boy who broke his heart. It’s going to be a long day, a day of news that will test his mind and episodes that will test his heart. Today everything changes.

He starts his day going to buy flowers his mother will certainly hate, and then running to clear his mind thinking how everything he does is never and will never be enough. He wants to go away and be himself but at the same time he is struggling to find some kind of peace in a home that has conditions for you to be worth being in it.

He can’t evade and find peace at work either with a boss sexual harassing him who knows pretty well how these accusations will go away easily; after all, who will believe a 17-year-old gay boy saying his boss touches him inappropriately? Here comes the frustration, the realization that a teenage boy is helpless, unable to reach for help because the world has this unbelievably twisted conviction that teenagers can only say lies and you should never believe them.

“They’re your parents. They’re meant to love you because. Never in spite.”

Adam finds his peace with Angela, his best friend. She is a tough girl and she is there for him whenever he needs it. Her family is different, open minded and kind, a safe refuge when he needs to get away from his cruel reality. Angela and Adam are a wonderful duo, ready to take the world head high. Their flashbacks show how incredible their friendship is.

“I’m always gay?”
“In every universe.”
“That makes sense. Are you always short?”
“Except in the universes where I’m Beyoncé.”
“In some universes, we’re all Beyoncé.”

I was so happy about Angela because at this point in the book I was ready to fight everyone who was in the way of my big blonde guy and his happiness. Adam deserves the world and I was more than ready to give it to him. Letting go is hard, painful, but once it’s done you’re free to live and start again. Our brain is one hell of an instrument: it tortures us when it decides on its own accord to fish memories you wanted hidden. Mastering the cohabitation with your bad memories is the way to keep them at bay and not letting them hurt you ever again. They are there, you sense them, but they don’t control you; you don’t allow them to do it.

Will Adam be ready to let go? This day will decide it; it will decide his fate.

While we follow Adam on the day his life is going to change forever, a spirit called by one single, an apparently innocent, action will leave the safety of her home to answer questions she doesn’t even know were asked. The magical realism, very similar to the one in the other Ness’ favourite of mine “The Rest of Us Just Live Here”, can seem out of place but you need to let it flow, no questions asked. It’s a parallel quest, seemingly unrelated, to our Adam’s journey, that will set in motion the end of the world, as we know it.

This book left me shaken. I related to parts of the book and sympathize with everything else. I was frustrated and angry, I wanted to scream, I wanted to cry but I also wanted to have hope and believe that maybe the world doesn’t really hate us the way we sometimes think. That maybe we can build ourselves a safe heaven in the midst of our not so very perfect lives.

I loved Release and it confirmed my love for Patrick Ness and the way he writes. It’s a hit or miss in my opinion and I understand when the story doesn’t reach everyone the way it reached me. Nonetheless, it is a story worth reading.

“Never pass up the chance to be kissing someone. It’s the worst kind of regret.”

firmablog

Know Not Why by Hannah Johnson ☆

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“In the back of my head, in some distant unaffected place, I wonder why it is that I like looking at this guy so much. The simple act of directing your eyes at somebody else shouldn’t be all-consuming, should it? That seems weird. Impractical.”

Title: Know Not Why
Author: Hannah Johnson
Why you should read this book: Because it is one of the funniest and sweetest book I have read in a while.

Summary from Goodreads:

Howie gets a job at Artie Kraft’s Arts ‘N Crafts hoping to score with his lady coworkers. After all, girls love a sensitive guy, and what’s more sensitive than dedicating your life to selling yarn and … stuff? (Okay, so maybe it’d be a good idea to actually learn what one sells at an arts ‘n crafts store.) But things don’t go exactly according to plan. Coworker #1 is Cora: tiny, much-pierced, and way too fierce to screw with in any sense. Coworker #2 is Kristy: blonde, bubbly, unattainable perfection. And Coworker #3 is, well, Arthur. It goes without saying that he’s not an option. Right?
… Right?
Yeah, Howie’s life just got straight up confusing.
Pun intended.

“You know, I don’t think it’s worth it to deny yourself happiness just so you can stay faithful to the person you think you’ve become.”

I couldn’t put it down, I loved this book so much, I want to recommend it to the world but then I get a little territorial and I want to keep it to myself forever. Leave me alone with my feelings, ok?

This is not mainly a romance lgbtq m/m book. This book is about self-realization, about how to come to terms with what you are, with understanding what makes you happy and go forward head high. I love that there’s a little bit of everything, not much drama, not much tears, pure love, joy and happiness. You know what I also loved about this book? That the characters weren’t too young. Arthur is 26 years old while Howie is 22. Arthur is closer to my age and that makes me a little happy.

“Oh, Artie. You’re handkerchiefing me?”
“It’s a Kleenex,” he protests.
“Still.” I grin at him. “You classy gent.”

Howie is the main character of this book, he is 22 years old, goes to community college, english major, lives at home with her mother, has a twin brother who is much more everything than he is. He has 2 best friends and a mission to get laid soon. What can he do to get that result? He decided to get a job at a local arts and crafts shop where he is sure cute girls work. He has no idea what is really going to happen once he starts working there, it will be an enlightening experience that will change his life forever, for the best. Oh boy, if you knew, if you knew!

“Please, boytoy mine. I live large. And fast. Always.”

Howie is seriously hilarious, he invents and uses complex words, his inner monologues about random stuff are the best, he is constantly making me laugh like there’s no tomorrow. He starts working in the arts and crafts shop only to get a girl. He has no idea who he is going to get: our dear, fabulous, smirk-enthusiast Arthur Kraft Jr., the boss and a few years older than Howie. Something that I don’t want to reveal happens and Howie is confused. He has never had luck with girls, he thought there was something wrong with him but now he is thinking that maybe he has always being in denial about his sexuality and now he wants to find out what he feels.

“He gives me a slight smile. I simultaneously want to, like, build shrines to it and punch it off his face. It’s complicated.”

I loved that the road for this discovery isn’t “traumatic”, he understands there is nothing to do about how he feels about Arthur, he likes him a lot so they start dating without further ado. Their story is often on the background because that’s not what the story is about but their relationship is adorable, simple and I’m sure it will go on and on forever, happily ever after. Howie has to deal with telling the people he knows about this epiphany about himself. He doesn’t want to ruin what he has with his friends, his mother and his brother even if he lives elsewhere and they barely talk.

This is what he thinks about Arthur after he told him he was having corndogs for breakfast:
But I’ve got a crazy old bastard trying to force-feed me citrus in the name of my own health, and that? That’s not something I’d trade.

From reading the book I know for sure that his friends, Amber and Mitch, are going to be ok with it but he is just not ready to face them with this news. He wants to have two lives, the one he already have with his friends and mom believing he’s straight and horny about girls, and the other life in the shop with his new friends Kristy and Cora and his handsome boyfriend Arthur. He will lie a lot, those lies will be revealed, tears will be shed, hugs will be given, punch will be thrown, but things will untangle smoothly and that’s exactly what I wanted in a story. Pure happiness, little to no drama!

“You look like you’re about to start playing the world’s saddest song on its tiniest little violin,” Arthur informs me. “And then hug a kitten, and paint a rainbow, and watch Titanic whilst weeping profusely.”

Arthur is the best, I loved him from the very beginning, so composed and a little bit of a nerd. He and Howie are opposites and that makes them special together. Howie drinks coffee with 5 bags of sugar, Arthur drinks only tea, Howie listens to popular music, Arthur listens only to classical music and plays the piano, Howie eats unhealthy fast food, Arthur cooks his own healthy meals. Arthur is very patient and that’s what Howie needed during this period of realization. Those two are meant for each other.

“It’s an upholstered footstool–”
“A footstool? You paid five hundred bucks for a stool…for feet?”
“It was a very good deal. It’s antique–”
“You really are gay, aren’t you?”
“Really? This is what confirms it? Not all the sex that I could have sworn you were present for, but a piece of furniture–”

This is Arthur at McDonald’s for the very first and probable the last time and if you don’t think this is adorable then you are wrong and you can get out:
Arthur stares at the menu the way a time-traveling seventeenth century Puritan would watch a Lady Gaga music video. *I love you, Arthur*

Howie teasing Arthur gives me life and it’s honestly one of the best things about this book. I won’t deny nor confirm that will read this again sooner than later.

“You didn’t like Mamma Mia?” I ask, feeling like I just got kicked.
“I’m not even really sure what it is,” Arthur replies, frowning thoughtfully.
Useless bastard.

Do I recommend it? Yes, yes and yes.
Rate: 5+++/5
☆: It made my “favourite books” list

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