five brilliant reads of 2020 ft. queer magical books (part two)

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book review: holding up the universe by jennifer niven


Publisher: Penguin Books (UK)
Release date: October 4, 2016
Genres: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 400
Rating: 4 stars
Goodreads Blurb:

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for every possibility life has to offer. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

Continue reading “book review: holding up the universe by jennifer niven”

Beautiful People :: September Edition

beautiful people

Beautiful People is a writing link-up hosted by Sky and Cait and it’s designed to help writers get to know their characters. Sooo this is awkard but I kind-of may have forgotten to participate in last month’s Beautiful People. I intended to publish a post in the second half of the month but after the first week of August, I was working on smaller projects (poetry and short-stories) and then school started….so I never ended up working on my WIP or the blog post.

But the motivational “you should write every day” posts I was reading this morning finally got through to me and here I am! In case you’re wondering, I have written five chapters or 10K words so far (which is the farthest I’ve ever gotten so I think the fact that I still want to finish this book is a good sign). Also, The Good, The Bad, The Inbetween (still haven’t found a better or shorter title) is written from the perspective of two characters (Sindhu and Sara) so this post is going to feature both of them.


1. They’re in a crisis: who would they really like to see right now?

Probably each other. Sindhu and Sara have been through a lot of crazy shit together so I think that no matter what the nature of the crisis is, they’d want the other person to be there for them.

2. Are they easy to get along with?

To put it bluntly, Sara can be a bitch. She doesn’t try to be mean but she’s really blunt/outspoken and occassionally bossy. If you get on her good side, then she will stand up for you and be there for you and just be amazing to you (most of the time). But if you get on her bad side, she won’t hesitate to tell you how she feels. Sindhu is the easiest to get along with. She’s a people-pleaser and semi-shy/quiet around strangers. Sindhu always makes a concentrated effort to be nice.

3. Who was the last person they had a deep conversation with?

Right now..That would be each other. They play Truth or Dare and Sindhu ends up sharing some dirty secrets and agreeing to go to a gay bar (..I know, it’s getting pretty crazy.).

4. They’re in the middle of a huge crowd of people: how do they feel?

Sara doesn’t mind crowds but she finds it annoying when people invade her personal space. Sindhu, on the other hand, hates crowds. She’s a bit of an introvert so she doesn’t really like being surrounded by so many people.

5. Do they believe in luck or miracles?

Sindhu believes in luck and/or miracles…but Sara believes in making her own luck.

6. Do they like and get along with their neighbours?

Gah..I forgot about their neighbours! Well Sindhu doesn’t have neighbours because the flat next door is broken down and the owner hasn’t bothered getting it fixed (yet). Sara doesn’t really know or care about her neighbors. From my experience, most people living in a flat in Hong Kong, usually don’t care that much about their neighbours. I mean yes, we say hi in the elevator and exchange pleasantries but we don’t get up close and personal or spend time together. Obviously there are exceptions, but this has been my relationship with my neighbors in the seven-eight years I’ve lived in Hong Kong.

7. If they could travel anywhere in the world, where would they go?

Sara wants to go to the Maldives because something about beaches and resorts appeals to her. Sindhu wants to go to Italy. She doesn’t know why.

8. How do they feel about their body?

Sindhu is incredibly self-conscious. She can’t help over-analyzing herself no matter what she wears and she always nit-picks for flaws. Sara is a lot more confident because she exercises on the weekends and has a fit/toned body.

9. What is the cruellest thing someone has ever said to them? How did they react?

I don’t think I’ve gotten far enough into the book (yet) to answer this question – especially since Sara because she usually lets stuff just wash over her (she can be a bit self-centered). But in the first chapter, Sindhu remembers overhearing her mother implying that her best friend had suicide because he was gay. This is (so far) the cruellest thing she’s heard.

10. What’s the kindest thing someone has ever said to them? How did they react?

For Sindhu, it’s the moment when Sara tells her she forgives her and demands that Sindhu stop blaming herself for Shawn’s death/suicide. Sindhu reacts by saying she can’t move on. Once again, I’m not really sure about Sara. So far, the focus has been more on Sindhu because she is being abused by her mom and is trying to find her father (I still don’t know how she’s going to do that because the odds are pretty low, he’d be living in Hong Kong..).

So! What’s up? How is your writing going? And what do you think is the hardest part about writing? AND most importantly, if you have writing-related pinterest boards like “character inspiration” – please tell me! I WILL FOLLOW YOU. 🙂

Book Review: Lying Out Loud by Kody Keplinger


Publisher: Scholastic

Release Date: April 28th 2015

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Rating: 3.5 stars

Goodreads Blurb:

Sonny Ardmore is an excellent liar. She lies about her dad being in prison. She lies about her mom kicking her out. And she lies about sneaking into her best friend’s house every night because she has nowhere else to go.

Amy Rush might be the only person Sonny shares everything with— secrets, clothes, even a nemesis named Ryder Cross.

Ryder’s the new kid at Hamilton High and everything Sonny and Amy can’t stand—a prep-school snob. But Ryder has a weakness: Amy. So when Ryder emails Amy asking her out, the friends see it as a prank opportunity not to be missed.

But without meaning to, Sonny ends up talking to Ryder all night online. And to her horror, she realizes that she might actually like him. Only there’s one small catch: he thinks he’s been talking to Amy. So Sonny comes up with an elaborate scheme to help Ryder realize that she’s the girl he’s really wanted all along. Can Sonny lie her way to the truth, or will all her lies end up costing her both Ryder and Amy?

My Review

Warning: There are spoilers! 

The book started off well but then it started to go downhill.. 

Sonny is this compulsive liar who ends up falling for Ryder Cross (the guy who she thought she can’t stand)..The only problem is that Ryder is into her best friend Amy. So of-course Sonny has to concoct millions more lies to get Ryder to like her but hate Amy. 

Maybe I expected too much of this book…but there’s basically no plot. (Sometimes this actually works out great but not in this book.) There just wasn’t enough happening and I got bored. The storyline was pretty predictable too but I stuck with it just to see if things would happen the way I thought they would…and they did.

Apart from Sonny, the rest of the characters weren’t really that great. (And Sonny isn’t likeable either.. but she is quirky and flawed so that’s something!) Ryder was annoying and assumed things too easily. His banter with Sonny was cute but their interactions in real life kind-of sucked and even when they were supposedly boyfriend/girlfriend, I still felt like it was very one-sided. Amy was kind-of spoiled and she couldn’t seem to stand up for herself. She annoyed me because she often fixated on her own problems when Sonny was freaking homeless because her mother abandoned her.

Amy and Sonny’s friendship was the best part of the book but of-course it got messed up because of Sonny’s lying and obsessive crush on Ryder. 

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BUT I’d still recommend this book because it was interesting and the premise is pretty original…so go read it and tell me what you think!!

Book Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli


Publisher: Penguin

Release Date: April 7th 2015

Genre: Contemporary, YA, Lgbt

Rating: 5 stars

Goodreads Blurb:

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

My Review

Lately it seems there are a lot more YA books that deal with lgbt and coming out but of the ones I’ve read so far, this one would definitely be in my top 10. It’s so incredibly cute and adorable that after reading it, I felt like I was just wrapped in this blanket of happiness. I, also, couldn’t stop thinking about Blue and Simon and just what an amazing ship they are! And let’s not forget oreos which I couldn’t stop craving.


To be honest, there isn’t actually much of a plot in this book but the fact that it’s very realistic and relatable is what made me love it so much. Even though Simon vs is really fluffy, it delves  into important themes like identity, and coming out/being lgbt). The best part is that Simon is portrayed as normal. The whole controversy surrounding the concept of being lgbt makes it easy to forget that we are all humans and feeling a certain a way about someone of your own gender doesn’t change that. In the book, Simon doesn’t stand out as this “other.” He feels like he’s different because he’s gay but at the same time he’s dealing with the same things an “average” (straight) teenager does.

Becky also addresses all the turmoil and controversy surrounding coming out about being gay to your friends and family. Even though Simon’s friends and family turn out to be very accepting, there is still this awkwardness Simon feels about sharing this part of himself with them. In fact, I feel like this book is very relevant to our generation because it explores all the issues related to coming out from the perspective of a truly adorable and likeable character.

I loved basically everything about this book….The writing style, dialogue, and emails exchanged between Simon and Blue were some of my favorite parts of the book. Nothing felt forced or unrealistic and the characters were very unique. The dynamics of Simon’s friend group are also really interesting and the way they all just fit together made me wish I could meet them all in real life.

So basically, go read this book! And then tweet me @inkylove16 and tell me what you think. 🙂