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Everything You Need To Know About Reading Contemporary Poetry (with 40+ Recommendations)

Hi, galaxy travelers and book readers! Today is all about poetry, contemporary poetry to be exact. Have you been wanting to read poetry, especially contemporary poetry, but have no idea where to start or what books to read? Look no further, I’m here to help. Let’s start with the definition of poetry if you’re a newcomer to the subject.

Poetry is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language — such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre — to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic ostensible meaning (Wikipedia).

First of all, here are some quick facts that are good to remember about poetry. The thing about poetry is that it’s an art form you can consume in any way you like. There are poetry collections about love, about nature, self-growth and so much more. There are long poems, short poems, poems written in the form of a sonnet, haiku or in free verse. The possibilities when it comes to poetry are endless. What I personally love about poetry is the fact that I find them easy to read and that the really great ones have both inspired me and made me take a deeper look at myself and my life to relate to what is being said on the page. That’s why I prefer contemporary poetry over older poetry because it feels that much easier to relate to. Because of this, I have a couple of contemporary poetry collection recommendations for you all.

To make it easier to navigate the recommendations I’ve marked the books written by LGBTQIA+ authors with () and authors of color with (). I have marked my personal favorites with () and the free ones are marked with (ツ).

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The first six poetry collections I have to recommend you are,

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ARC Review of Bearly a Lady by Cassandra Khaw

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bearlyalady1.jpgBearly a Lady by Cassandra Khaw

Publication Date: July 18, 2017

Genres: Romance and Paranormal

Rating: sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5

Purchase here: Amazon

Synopsis: Zelda McCartney (almost) has it all: a badass superhero name, an awesome vampire roommate, and her dream job at a glossy fashion magazine (plus the clothes to prove it).

The only issue in Zelda’s almost-perfect life? The uncontrollable need to transform into a werebear once a month. Just when Zelda thinks things are finally turning around and she lands a hot date with Jake, her high school crush and alpha werewolf of Kensington, life gets complicated. Zelda receives an unusual work assignment from her fashionable boss: play bodyguard for devilishly charming fae nobleman Benedict (incidentally, her boss’s nephew) for two weeks.

Will Zelda be able to resist his charms long enough to get together with Jake? And will she want to? Because true love might have been waiting around the corner the whole time in the form of Janine, Zelda’s long-time crush and colleague. What’s a werebear to do?

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Thank you, Book Smugglers Publishing, for my eARC of Bearly a Lady by Cassandra Khaw and the chance to read and review the book early. 

I love Bearly a Lady and the main character Zelda McCartney. This book is funny, cute and sexy. It is impossible not to enjoy the characters and their banter, chemistry, and tension. I love the world Cassandra Khaw has created, with shapeshifters, vampires, and fae etc., and I want to see more of it. Seriously, give me more of both the main ship and the world. Not to forget, the book is also really feminist and calls out bullshit like no other. We deserve to see more of that, especially in romance.

“I breathe in. Calm. I am above all of this. I am a werebear. I am a goddess. I am a woman, large and in charge, a captain who is in control of her ship. This is nothing. I am above this.”

Zelda is a fat, bisexual werebear, a woman of color, and the most amazing book character ever. She works at Vogue and is a fashionista, which is honestly just the coolest. However, what makes her so amazing is the fact that she embraces herself and her body. Zelda’s confidence is incredible. To see a woman owning her body, her looks, her fashion sense and being “I’m a goddess” is so great because we need to tell women that that’s how you’re supposed to feel about yourself. You loving yourself is the most beautiful thing and I love it when we get to see female characters doing just that despite their insecurities, insecurities we all have. There is also, of course, Zelda’s love interest(s). Truly, there is only one that counts (squeals over them and their cuteness) but throughout the novella, we get to see Zelda with a couple of potential matches which makes the endgame that much sweeter. This is an f/f romance and I selfishly want more.

The ending, though sweet and happy, was way too short for my taste and that’s partly why I want a sequel. However, I also feel like a sequel is wanted because there are a lot of unanswered questions for me. At first, I wasn’t sure whether Janine was human or some supernatural being, and the whole mechanics of how humans interact with the supernatural beings and who is allowed to know and not know about their existence was really something I wanted to know more about.

“Long story short, cross-species romances are rare and occasionally fatal. Antelope and crocodile? Nope. Wolf and dog? Horrible, horrible idea.”

I would recommend Bearly a Lady to everyone who loves romance and the paranormal. I love the fact that we get to see shapeshifters and vampires in an “everyday” environment and not in some sort of bubble where the rest of the world doesn’t seem to exist. If you’re craving a book that is sweet and hilarious and also nails the perfect blend of all things supernatural and fashion, look no further, Bearly a Lady is just for you.

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ARC Review of Fragile Chaos by Amber R. Duell

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fragilechaos1.jpgFragile Chaos by Amber R. Duell

Publication Date: July 11, 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Mythology, and Fantasy

Rating: sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5

Purchase here: Amazon

Synopsis: A GOD OF WAR SEEKING RESTORATION.

AN UNWILLING SACRIFICIAL BRIDE.

BETRAYAL THAT COULD DESTROY THEM BOTH.

“Every fiber of my being is woven from the rage of mortals.”

Theodric, the young God of War, has a talent for inciting conflict and bloodshed. After being stripped of his powers by his older brother, King of Gods, he sets out to instigate a mortal war to prove himself worthy of being restored to power.

“I loved Kisk once; it was my home… But that was before. This is now.”

Sixteen-year-old Cassia, like many in the modern era, believes gods and goddesses to be just a myth. Enemy to her country and an orphan of the war, she has no time for fairy tales. That’s until religious zealots from Theo’s sect offer her up as a sacrifice.

Can Cassia and Theo end the mortal war and return balance to the earth and heavens? Or, will their game of fate lead down a path of destruction, betrayal, and romance neither of them saw coming?

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Thank you so much, Amber R. Duell, for my eARC of Fragile Chaos and the chance to read and review your book early. I really appreciate the opportunity.

Fragile Chaos is a book I’m in love with and I’m so happy I had the opportunity to read this one early. It took me a while to get into the story but once I was in, there was no going back for me. The entire concept of Fragile Chaos intrigued me and while I was scared it wouldn’t deliver I can definitely say it did and then some. The story follows Theo, the God of War, and Cassia, a female sacrifice meant to become Theo’s bride. From their first scene, there is a clear connection between the two and the more you see of them, both individually and together, the more invested you become in their fates. If you are a fan of young adult books with strong mythical elements and romance that is fought for then Fragile Chaos is a must read.

“War is a captivating, magnetic disorder. And it’s mine. Only the God of War can decide when and how it ends, and right now I’m perfectly happy to let it rage on despite what my brother wants. He may be older, and the King of the Gods, but this is my decision.”

I love the mythology aspect of the story. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of Greek and Roman mythology. However, despite the similarities, the mythology present in Fragile Chaos is that of its own. In Fragile Chaos, there are six realms of the gods and goddesses and all of the gods are siblings. The siblings are Ebris, the King of the Gods; Drea, the Goddess of Life; Brisa, the Goddess of the Sea; Leander, the God of Death; Astra, the Goddess of Love, and lastly, Theodric, the God of War and the protagonist of the book. The thing about Fragile Chaos is that it feels new and different in comparison to a lot of other books I’ve read based on mythology. First of all, Fragile Chaos focuses on the God of War which I have never seen before. Moreover, the whole world that Amber R. Duell has created is intriguing, draws you in and makes you want to see more of it. I have always loved books that feature gods and goddesses and I’m really happy that Fragile Chaos managed to surprise me, which I didn’t think it’d do. Fragile Chaos is gritty and manages to keep you at the edge of your seat until the very end.

However, what made me really fall in love with Fragile Chaos is definitely the main characters. We have Theo, the God of War, who is misunderstood by his siblings and wants them to see him for who he is, and for them to trust his judgments. Then we have Cassia, who despite being all alone in the world is strong and never gives up without a fight. Both of them are headstrong and have a soft side to them not everyone gets to see and that is what makes them such interesting characters.

To see Theo and Cassia fall in love was seriously a pleasure. My heart was weak the entire time, especially during the moments when Theo turned soft in the presence of Cassia while at the same time everything was on fire between them. The tension between Theo and Cassia was electric, and their chemistry and the way they were around each other throughout the book will make you fangirl. Another aspect of their story that I love was the fact that their love didn’t come easy. They both struggled with their emotions for each other and that made their connection that much deeper in the end. Theo and Cassia made me root for them, fangirl over the way they looked at and thought about each other, and their kissing scenes had me squealing. I just love it when a book does that.

“She collides against my chest. My breathing hitches. Each place her body touches mine feels as if it’s exploding. I push her away, stepping back at the same time, and drag in a breath.”

The one aspect of the story I think could have been written differently is the way Cassia’s skin color is described. She is clearly a woman of color, especially based on the book’s cover. However, in the book her skin color is described as tan and bronze. Tan is a very ambiguous word. Anyone can be tan no matter if your skin color is pink, beige, brown and black etc. and that’s why I thought her skin color could have been described better and therefore clarified. Two quotes from the book that highlights this issue are the following,

A girl in an oversized khaki jacket is sitting at the edge of the firelight’s glow. Shadows flicker over her tan skin, dancing in time to the flames. She can’t be more than sixteen. “Last roll,” she says.

and

My skin is almost as bronze as hers, my hair just as black, and if it weren’t for my blue eyes, I could easily pass as a fellow islander.

All in all, Fragile Chaos is a great young adult book about six gods and goddesses and the world they are a part of, for better and for worse. This book will make you fangirl and root for the protagonists until the very end. Theo and Cassia’s story has its ups and downs, nothing is ever easy for them, but their chemistry is amazing and you will want them to end up together despite all their flaws. If you love a good young adult romance, mythology, and a story with high stakes then you definitely need to read Fragile Chaos by Amber R. Duell.

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Cover Reveal for Ripped Pages by Maria Hollis

Hi everyone, welcome to another fun post I have for you today. I have a cover reveal for Maria Hollis’ next book Ripped Pages and both this cover and the synopsis just blows me away. An f/f Rapunzel retelling? This sounds too damn amazing. I cannot wait to get to read this thing. I know you’re waiting so without further ado here is the cover for Ripped Pages.

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Goodreads link

Release Date: TBA

Summary: Princess Valentina lives a reasonably comfortable life, but after her mother’s death, her father gets tired of taking care of her and locks her in a tower. She spends years on her own, talking to the birds on her windowsill, and reading books with adventures she will never experience. Her plans of running away are usually left for another day because she knows the vast forest surrounding her tower is too dangerous to cross alone.

Until one day, another girl passes by on her horse and Valentina wonders if she’s finally brave enough to seize her chance of freedom.


Ripped Pages is set to be released during the last months of 2017. The exact release date is still yet to be announced. In the meantime, you can read Maria’s other books The Melody of You and Me and The Paths We Choose. You can find her books on Goodreads and on Amazon. If you want to be caught up with all things Maria Hollis and her books you can also follow her on her twitter @_mhollis.

What do you think of the cover? Are you as excited for this book as I am?

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Review of Gravity by Juliann Rich

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gravity1.jpgGravity by Juliann Rich

Publication Date: November 15, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, LGBT, Contemporary, and Sports

Rating: sliceofcake5sliceofcake5

Purchase here: Amazon | The Book Depository

Synopsis: A shot at Olympic gold in ski jumping. It’s a dream that has been the exclusive property of male athletes. Until now.

For seventeen-year-old Ellie Engebretsen, the 2011 decision to include women’s ski jumping in the Olympics is a game changer. She’d love to bring home the gold for her father, a former Olympic competitor whose dreams were blown along with his knees on an ill-timed landing. But can she defy the pull of gravity that draws her to Kate Moreau, her biggest competition and the girl of her dreams?

How can Ellie soar through the air when all she feels like doing is falling hard?

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Thank you, Bold Strokes Books and NetGalley, for my eARC of Gravity and the chance to read and review it!

I have very conflicted feelings about Gravity. My expectations were mixed, some of my friends loved this book and others did not. However, in the end, I feel like this book was a bit subpar. It was nothing special except for the fact that it’s about sports, in particular, ski jumping, which was the best part of this book. I’ll talk more about that after I’ll deal with my biggest issue of the book. To understand my issues with the book I’ll have to divulge on events that transpired in first third (or so) of the book. This book is about Ellie, whose father is a former ski jumper and who now trains Ellie to get ready for the Olympics. Ellie is gay and likes girls and up until the beginning of the book, Ellie was together with and in love with a girl named Blair. However, a couple of days before the book starts Ellie gets the following text, a text Blair was meant to send to Geoffrey (a guy also in the ski jumping circle of people).

“I promise I’ll break up with Ellie tonight, Geoffrey. I hate sneaking around as much as you do.”

What has happened is that Blair has been cheating on Ellie with Geoffrey. Naturally, Ellie is heartbroken and mad which I totally understand. Getting cheated on is the worst and it’s not wrong to feel bad about it. What I dislike about Ellie’s reaction though is 1) her biphobia and 2) the fact that she called Blair a bitch (not to her face, but still). The first part is a real problem for me because while Blair being unfaithful and sleeping with someone other than Ellie is wrong (because they were in a committed relationship) that does not give Ellie the right the “claim” that Blair is a straight girl. The sexuality of Blair is never actually mentioned but we learn throughout the book that the feelings Blair had for Ellie were still real. The parts I found to be biphobic were,

“She still can’t and it would be almost funny, the way her eyes rove around the room until her gaze settles on Jack’s ass, if it didn’t hurt so damn much that even her eyes are off limits to me. To people not in the know, it probably looks like Blair hasn’t given up girls for good. Not by a long shot. But Blair knows and I know, the deep red that spreads across her face has nothing to do with Jack’s glutes and everything to do with her guilt.”

And

“What’s there to understand? Your text was pretty clear. You got sick of me. Or it was all a lie and you never loved me. Or you wanted something Geoffrey had that I didn’t.” I spit that last one in her face, because it was always good between us, that part. Better than good.

And

“It was the type of torment I was willing to endure back then, but only for Blair Caldwell. One year of walking around with a hard-on will do that to an otherwise sane woman. It’ll make her drive through impassable conditions. It’ll make her pretend she loves being dragged into store after store. It’ll make her strip on command in order to try on obscenely overpriced jeans in cramped dressing rooms in front of the girl of her dreams—the supremely uninterested and presumably straight girl of her dreams.”

I’ll be honest, maybe I read too much into it, but to me, it felt really wrong of Ellie to talk about Blair in that way. Blair cheating and presumably being bisexual (she is coded as a bisexual), but being called a straight girl because she is with someone of the opposite sex at the moment, can be seen to feed into a lot of negative stereotypes.

Moreover, I don’t have a problem with swearing, but I’ll admit that a woman calling another woman bitch really rubs me the wrong way which is why I, for example, had a problem with the following sentence.

“My Blair, my girl, the bitch who leapt into his arms like it was the easiest thing in the world.”

There was also a moment when the word slutty was used and I’m not really a fan of women (or anyone else for that matter) slut-shaming other women.

“Most days, I’m scoping out tourists, but all I see are silly girls or pouty girls or slutty girls. No one who could interest me enough to take my mind off Blair for one second.”

Despite my issues with Gravity I still really found the last half of so enjoyable. The main pairing, with their relationship in a large part built on lies which later on got exposed, towards the end really found each other and the truth together with shared dreams. That was very sweet. I really wish though that Ellie hadn’t lied so much to Kate and dealt with a lot of situations differently but that might just be me. The most interesting part about Gravity is that fact that it’s women in ski jumping. There is a lot of interesting trivia both in the book and afterward which teaches you about the fact that ski jumping is really misogynistic (which is called out in the book by the characters) and I loved that topic. I also loved the part about female ski jumpers being allies despite them also being competitors because of the misogynistic nature of the sport. In the Author’s Note: The Real Heroes in the end of the book it says the following,

“Though the Olympic barrier has been breached, the struggle to find equal footing continues. Currently women ski jumpers are allowed to compete in one event while their male counterparts compete in three.”

I really hope and wish we get to see more books about women in ski jumping because the sports sounds so amazing and I love seeing women taking their rightful place where men have tried to keep them away for so long. Big thumbs up for that. All in all, my feelings are mixed and I cannot give this book more than 2.5 stars. If you love f/f romances and sports, I say you can give this book a go but definitely be aware of the issues that exist in the book.

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BLOG TOUR Why I Loathe Sterling Lane (Review, Giveaway + Guest Post)

WhyILoatheSterlingLaneTour

Hi, readers and welcome to my blog post for the Why I Loathe Sterling Lane blog tour. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and cannot wait to share my review with you guys. Also, don’t miss a guest post by the author Ingrid Paulson in which she shares five rules to create the perfect prank. There’s also a giveaway, don’t miss it.

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Why I Loathe Sterling Lane by Ingrid Paulson

Publication Date: June 6, 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, and Romance

Rating: sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5

Purchase here: Amazon | Book Depository | B&N | KoboiBooks

Synopsis: Per her 537 rules, Harper Campbell keeps her life tidy—academically and socially. But the moment Sterling Lane transfers into her tiny boarding school, her twin brother gets swept up in Sterling’s pranks and schemes and nearly gets expelled. Harper knows it’s Sterling’s fault, and to protect her brother, she vows to take him down. As she exposes his endless school violations, he keeps striking back, framing her for his own infractions. Worst of all, he’s charmed the administration into thinking he’s harmless, and only Harper sees him for the troublemaker he absolutely is.

As she breaks rule after precious rule in her battle of wits against Sterling and tension between them hits a boiling point, she’s horrified to discover that perhaps the two of them aren’t so different. And maybe she doesn’t entirely hate him after all. Teaming up with Sterling to save her brother might be the only way to keep from breaking the most important rule—protecting Cole.

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Thank you so much, Entangled Teen, for my advanced review copy of Why I Loathe Sterling Lane by Ingrid Paulson!

Why I Loathe Sterling Lane is a book that really surprised me. I did not expect to feel as invested in this book and the main characters as I was. However, it did take me a while to get there. Why I Loathe Sterling Lane is about Harper, her twin brother Cole, and Sterling, the new guy at their boarding school. Harper and Sterling are opposites and quickly become rivals, constantly trying to up one on the other through masterful pranks. Things get pretty wild. However, despite this, they decide to cooperate to help Cole get out of the trouble he’s gotten himself into. I really liked Why I Loathe Sterling Lane a lot because it brought something new. The way the book is structured is unique because the chapters aren’t named chapter 1, chapter 2, etc. but instead, the chapter headings are reasons why Harper loathes Sterling. They really make you anticipate every time a new chapter begins. It was awesome.

“I’m glad you found someone to stroke your already sizable ego. But I think you’ll find I’m not susceptible to your games.”

“You know, that almost sounds like a challenge.” There was a quiet menace in his voice that made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end.

The best part about Why I Loathe Sterling Lane is definitely the fact that it’s the trope hate to love. The masterful pranks are amazing, the chemistry and tension between Harper and Sterling is legendary, and the banter is on fire. I love it when rivals/enemies turn into lovers. It’s one of the best tropes out there. I also liked how in the beginning Harper was very much alone, her only friend her twin brother Cole. However, as the events of the book progressed Harper went more and more out of her comfort zone and did things she never had before. I really love the friendship that developed between Harper and Kendall. I also love the sibling dynamics in this book. The fact that Harper would do anything for her brother is just beautiful. I love it when characters have each other’s backs. More of this in Young Adult books, yes, please.

Even if I ended up loving Why I Loathe Sterling Lane I have to say that the first half of the book did not impress me. It took me about 50 % of the book to get invested in the characters and the story. Also, some of the character’s actions were at times infuriating. I definitely wish the dynamics between the characters and more of their motives had been clearer from the start since that would have improved the first half of the book. Nonetheless, it really did turn around and the second half was truly magnificent. Another downside was the fact that the words crazy and lunatic were used once which was really unnecessary.

Why I Loathe Sterling Lane is perfect for young adult readers who love a good hate to love story. They will fall in love with the banter, the pranks, and the ship. I know I did. There are amazing sibling vibes in this one, lovely friendships and a rivalry between the two main characters that will blow you away. It is very electric. If all of that is your thing, you definitely need to check Why I Loathe Sterling Lane out.

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Friendship, Fiction, and Coming Out by Marie Landry {A Pride Month Guest Post}

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I started selectively coming out about eleven years ago. I pretty much always knew I wasn’t ‘straight’, but I didn’t know what to call myself, largely because I grew up in a time when calling someone ‘gay’ was considered the funniest/best insult by a lot of people, and I didn’t really know any labels beyond gay and lesbian. For a long time, I figured it would be a part of me I kept mostly to myself, but when I started dating a girl, I knew I needed the people closest to me to know about this side of my life and this important person I loved.

The first person I came out to was my friend Meghan. I don’t remember how I told her. I can’t remember the exact words. I honestly don’t even remember if I did it in person or on MSN Messenger (showing my age here, haha). What I do remember is one of the next times I saw her, she gave me a book: Bottle Rocket Hearts by Zoe Whittall. Meghan was always lending me books – books that often ended up being favourites, like The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo. When she gave me Bottle Rocket Hearts, a book about 18-year-old Eve, a French-Canadian lesbian, I was grateful, but I don’t think I got her true intentions. I was excited because the book is set in Canada and there are so few books set in my beloved homeland.

It wasn’t until a few years ago, as I found the LGBTQ+ community on Twitter and heard about people’s experiences with coming out that the significance of Meghan’s gift really hit me. It wasn’t just that she was giving me a book she thought I would like. It was her way of saying ‘I love you, I support you, I’m here for you’. I cried when I realized, and I still get teary at times when I think about it. She was the perfect first person to come out to; I couldn’t have asked for a better experience, or a better friend.

Meghan’s thoughtful gift got me thinking about what book I would give a friend who came out to me, or was newly out. I’ve read a lot of LGBTQ+ books, but there are a specific few that come to mind.

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Review of Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata

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Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata

Publication Date: June 10, 2017

Genres: Romance, Contemporary, and Adult

Rating: sliceofcake5

Synopsis: Ruby Santos knew exactly what she was getting herself into when she signed up to write a soldier overseas.

The guidelines were simple: one letter or email a week for the length of his or her deployment. Care packages were optional.

Been there, done that. She thought she knew what to expect. What she didn’t count on was falling in love with the guy.

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Disclaimer: I’m not Filipino but I’ve consulted with a friend, who is a Filipino-American book blogger, about the issues I had with this book. 

I really wanted to love Dear Aaron, I really did. The plot and premise of the book check off a lot of boxes for me when it comes to things I want to find in romance novels. Slowburn romance, online friendships, and just general cuteness. The couple did make me mushy and that is why I’m all the more disappointed that Dear Aaron is really disrespectful and problematic. I really won’t recommend this book to anyone based on the comments made in this book, which will be discussed in more detail later.

To summarize the book is essentially about Ruby Santos and Aaron Hall who start emailing and texting while Aaron is deployed in Iraq. They get to know each other and become very close. It is a pen pals-to-friends-to-lovers story with a strong element of the legitimacy of online friendships.

The main character, Ruby Santos, is Filipino which we find out about 9 % into the novel when Aaron and Ruby are emailing each other. What is written is the following,

“The only reason my parents moved here (Texas) was because of my mom’s family. My dad hated living here. He says the humidity reminded him too much of the Philippines when he was a kid.”

The fact that Ruby is Filipino is only ever mentioned in one other scene, which is where things get really disrespectful. At this point in the novel Ruby and Aaron have met up, are on vacation together and are out having dinner together with a couple of Aaron’s friends. They are ordering food and Aaron’s friend orders frog legs. This spurred a discussion about food, in which Ruby started telling the friends about Filipino cuisine that her dad eats.

“I’ve had cow tongue a few times. That was good actually—” “Cow tongue?” that was Brittany. “Yeah. They sell it all over the place in Houston. I’ve had dinuguan—” “What’s that?” Max asked. I scrunched up my nose, remembering eating that way too clearly. “It’s a Filipino dish that my dad made me try. Its pig intestines, kidneys, lungs, heart, and the snout cooked in its blood—” At least four of them said a variation of “eww” that made me grin. “I know. My dad claimed it was dessert, like pudding. He loves it. I can’t eat pudding anymore because of that, no matter what color it is.” “I’m not going to be able to eat pudding anymore after that….” Mindy trailed off. “That’s not the worst,” I started to say before I shut my mouth.

That was one part of the scene, soon thereafter another Filipino dish is discussed.

“I’ve never tried it, but my dad has a bunch of times—” “What is it?” Max asked. “It’s called balut. I’ve watched him eat it and I didn’t gag, and I’m pretty proud of myself for it—” “What is it?” “Jesus, Max, give her a second,” Aaron chimed in, his big hands resting on the table. I squeezed my fingers between my thighs and just got it over with. “It’s a duck embryo in its shell.” Four sets of eyeballs blinked.

After that, the friends have awful reactions and it’s described as “Four different people made dry-heaving and gagging sounds.” It is also made clear that everyone thinks this is gross, including the main character Ruby who claims that she and her siblings have never tried it and claims nothing grosses her father out food wise. This was all very disrespectful. I cannot imagine being Filipino, thinking this book represents you and then having their cuisine treated like this. It was cheap and lazy both in the way the author shows that the main character is Filipino and how somehow this is how the main character connects with Aaron’s friends. It could have been done in literally any other way which would have been less problematic and hurtful. However, my problems don’t end there. Later on, during the same scene, when Ruby and one of Aaron’s friends are alone they continue the discussion in which the following was said,

“You can’t really tell you’re Filipino, except for the shape of your eyes.” She blinked. “That sounds really racist. I’m sorry. Mindy’s been rubbing off on me this week.” I snorted. “I get it. My mom has really red hair and she’s super pale. I got a weird mix of both of them. No one can ever tell what I am.”

This is racist and isn’t called out anywhere in the book, in fact as you can read the main character just brushes it off. In a lot of ways, it feels like the main character being Filipino is just added there as an extra bonus. The representation is lazy, superficial, disrespectful and potentially harmful. Moreover, other issues I had with Dear Aaron is the ableist language used. The words crazy and insane were used multiple times. I particularly did not like the following two sentences “You guys either like the crazy or need a new radar” and “Because she’s a crazy person.” There are more examples similar to these two (I searched and the word crazy is used 58 times).

All in all, I say be aware of all of these issues before thinking about buying this book. I had high hopes, especially since the author’s other books are very hyped up among friends and the general romance community. I’d say read reviews and check out her other books instead of this one. Dear Aaron left me disappointed and in need of a romance novel with a similar premise because damn this had so much potential. Someone out there, give us the diverse online friends to real life friends to lovers story we all deserve. I’ll drop all of my coins on it.

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Review of The Secrets I Keep by Alex Casso

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The Secrets I Keep by Alex Casso

Publication Date: May 23, 2017

Genres: Poetry and Abuse

Rating: sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5

Purchase here: Amazon

Synopsis: The Secrets I Keep is a poetry collection about mental illness, as well as child abuse and the lingering effects it has. Through it, Alex Casso bares their soul and proves that, despite everything, they are a force to be reckoned with.

About the author: Alex Casso is a bi aroace-spec and nonbinary SFF author and poet. They spend most of their time playing videogames or listening to podcasts like The Adventure Zone and MBMBaM. They’re also a baby DM for an amazing D&D group and enjoy making their players suffer (in all of the best ways).

You can find them on Twitter and Patreon!galaxyreview

Thank you so much, Alex Casso, for my copy of The Secrets I Keep. I really appreciate you sending it to me!

The Secrets I Keep is a beautiful poetry collection with 24 poems about abuse and mental illness. This collection is a fast read with poems that will really capture your attention. It’s a collection that’s heart touching and empowering. The poetry collection tells a story about surviving abuse and the strength that exists within the survive. The style of the poems in The Secrets I Keep is one I love and my two favorite poems from the collection are the following.

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I recommend this collection if you want to read a poetry collection that is easy to read, deals with a serious topic that’s also very important. The Secrets I Keep is a raw collection that will grab you and hold you tight, take you through a journey and end on a note that is fresh and hopeful.

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Review of Cold Sober by Theresa Sopko (Poetry Collection)

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coldsober1.jpgCold Sober by Theresa Sopko

Publication Date: April 21, 2017

Genres: Poetry and Love Poems

Rating: sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5sliceofcake5

Purchase here: Amazon

Synopsis: A girl with no plan to fall in love realizes there is no choice in the matter.

Cold Sober is a delicate and organic collection of poems that chart the journey from skepticism to fulfillment. With the genuine tone of somebody discovering love and navigating a relationship for the first time, it is impossible not to feel the surprising wonder as you turn each page. Sopko’s words are a slowly blooming bud, taking readers from apprehension and distance to trust and intimacy. Cold Sober asks all of the questions, addresses all of the fears, and acknowledges all of the beauty within the perfect storm that is falling in love.

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Thank you to the author, Theresa Sopko, for my review copy of Cold Sober to read and review!

Cold Sober is a beautiful poetry collection about love and everything related to it from beginning to end. I really love that we were taken on a journey in this collection and how it really came full circle with the last poem referring back to the first one in a really beautiful way. The poetry collection Cold Sober is filled with imagery that is clear and to the point and I think if you’re someone who likes simpler poetry this collection is really recommended. There were several poems that spoke to me, but two of my favorites are PET PEEVE and IN TONGUES. However, there were truly a lot of gems in this collection.

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The more poetry I read the more I enjoy the wide range of different poems and poetry collections that exist. Cold Sober is about love, the feeling of expectations in the beginning of a relationship, and intimacy. The purest form of love, where everything is electric even when two people are barely touching each other. I really appreciated that. If you want to read about love, Cold Sober is an excellent choice.

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