When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

when-the-moon-was-ours-new-1When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
Published by Thomas Dunne on October 4, 2016
Genres: [Young Adult] Fantasy, Magical Realism, LGBTQ+
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher

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3.5 Stars, Completed September 25, 2016

– SPOILER free  –

When the Moon Was Ours is a magical realism tale that intricately weaves multicultural elements and LGBTQ+ themes by narrating a romance between two childhood friends. Miel, the mysterious girl found in the town’s water tower, has always been considered an outcast because the hem of her skirts are often a little damp and she has roses growing out of her wrist. Sam, also thought peculiar by the community for his deep olive tone skin and silent demeanor, is the boy that paints moons and hangs them in trees so that the town’s children can sleep with sweet dreams. Since the moment they met they’ve been totally inseparable; it’s only natural that when they grow up the platonic love they had as kids develops into something more. However, they aren’t able to earn their happily ever after immediately because the Bonner sisters, four beautiful girls rumored to be witches, have decided they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, and they’re prepared to reveal all of Miel’s secrets to the townspeople until she gives them up.

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More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

More Happy Final CoverMore Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Published by Soho Teen on June 2, 2015
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary, Science Fiction, LGBTQ+
Pages: 293
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Buddy Read With: Lois at My Midnight Musings

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4.5 Stars, Completed June 23, 2016

– read the bold text to avoid SPOILERS –

[That awful moment when you realize you scheduled a post unfinished… 😮 Yup, that actually happened with this book’s review early last week. For those that follow Xingsings via email, so sorry for the confusion! I guess you guys got a special glimpse of the process I take while composing a book review. Anyway, this is the official one for More Happy Than Not.]

It’s sort of funny how bad I am at skimming my friends’ reviews, because I totally missed the crucial memo about More Happy Than Not: it is a sad book, not a happy one as the title suggests. I dived into it totally assuming it would make me laugh more than cry. (I mean there is a smile on the original cover…) But, gosh, was I wrong.

Sometimes pain is so unmanageable that the idea of spending another day with it seems impossible. Other times pain acts as a compass to help you get through the messier tunnels of growing up. But the pain can only help you find happiness if you can remember it.

More Happy Than Not follows Aaron Soto, a guy with a smile-shaped scar on his wrist to remind him of a period of overwhelming grief and misery. This summer his supportive girlfriend, Genevieve, leaves him for art camp and he’s left all alone. Aaron then befriends the kid on the other block, Thomas. He finds that hanging out with Thomas brings him a sense of happiness different from Genevieve and his other friends, and he soon has to face what these newfound feelings mean. Aaron then considers turning to Leteo Institute’s cutting edge memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out (quite literally in the figurative sense), even if the consequence is forgetting who he truly is.

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The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

The Art of Being Normal

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson
Published by David Fickling Books on January 1, 2015
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary, LGBTQ+
Pages: 353
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley

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3.5 Stars, Completed June 17, 2016

– read bold text only to avoid SPOILERS –

“Who wants to be normal anyway? Fancy that on your gravestone. Here lies so-and-so. They were entirely normal.”

The Art of Being Normal shares a story about two people with very big secrets. Ever since grade school David Piper has been known as the school freak for writing, “I want to be a girl when I grow up.” But he’s had two best friends that have cheered and supported him throughout the years-that is until he becomes the third wheel when the two best friends decide to upgrade from being “friends” into “in a relationship.” Around the same time, Leo Denton, has just moved to David’s school. For Leo, all he craves for with this new institution is a chance to maintain an invisibility that he lacked at his last. Once the two meet, David and Leo are immediately drawn towards each other for unknown reasons, and they soon form a comfortable and sincere friendship.

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You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan

You Know Me WellYou Know Me Well by Nina LaCour & David Levithan
Published by St. Martin’s Press on June 7, 2016
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary, LGBTQ+
Pages: 256
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher

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3 Stars, Completed June 1, 2016

– SPOILER free –

Have you ever met a person and instantly just clicked? It’s funny how life works. People may have cross paths before but it’s not until a specific encounter before their lives may entwine. You Know Me Well embodies this puzzling but amazing entity called friendship so excellently.

The story is about two openly gay high schoolers that coincidently meet at a bar the first night of Pride week. They’ve had Calculus together for the last year, but neither of them have ever spoken to the other. But that fateful night, they, both troubled and wary of love, find an instant connection and solace in each other. Told in an alternating perspective by Nina LaCour and David Levithan, You Know Me Well refreshingly explores the a type of love that is often overlooked in YA literature: platonic love.

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A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

littlelifeA Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Published by Doubleday on March 10, 2015
Genres: [Adult] Literary Fiction, Contemporary
Pages: 720
Format: Audiobook –> Hardcover
Source: Audible –> Purchased

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5 Stars, Completed January 13, 2016

– SPOILER free  –

How do I even begin?

If you’ve read other reviews where readers said they enjoyed this book those reviewers are absolutely mad. This book intrigued, consumed, impressed, stunned, humbled, and perhaps even destroyed me, but it’s a stretch to say that I enjoyed it. A Little Life is the most depressingly bleak and disturbing book I have ever read. It’s one that leaves you at a loss for words, makes you sit there for a while thinking about what you’ve just read, and stimulates you to cry upon your awareness that this book, though fiction, has very real, nonfiction themes attached to it.

I just made a t-shirt using this graphic created by @littlelifebook. Source.

I made a shirt using this graphic by @littlelifebook. (I’ll be sharing photos of it on my Instagram soon!) Source.

Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life is an alternating present and past reflection of the lives of four friends that graduate from a prestigious New England college from their mid-twenties into their fifties. There is handsome Willem, a struggling actor hoping to make it big someday; JB, a confident and sometimes callous painter wanting entry to the distinctive art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a recognized firm; and brilliant, enigmatic Jude, a talented litigator only intimidating in court. Each yearn for their breakthrough into society and discovery of their place in life. It seems that early on, Jude is the only one that has settled into a successful, adult lifestyle. It’s also evident that he’s the centerpiece that anchors their friendship, but as the readers read and our cast ages, readers learn how Jude increasingly becomes a broken man unable to overcome the unspeakable trauma his mind and body has endured. Will love and friendship heal him or will he forever be haunted by these scars and demons of the past?

I could spend days discussing this book and it’s heartbreakingly beautiful qualities, from the quintessential flawed characters, captivating  writing, LGBTQ+ and ethnic diversity mentions, tasteful musical and art influences, to the New York City backdrop, but all of this would be meaningless to go into detail unless you’ve read this yourself. (Please message me if you have and would like to discuss it. I need a friend to vent my fictional woes!) So instead I’d like to focus on the key points that made this book so meaningful to me.

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Simon Versus the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

SimonVS_quote_NEWSimon Versus the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 7, 2015
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary, LGBTQ+
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed

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5 Stars, Completed April 24, 2015

– highlight to view SPOILERS –

This fantastic book was on my goodreads TBR shelf for a while now, but after seeing Justin fanboy (yes, I just made “fanboy” a verb) in his review I had to get a hold of a copy as soon as I could.

Simon Spier is a Harry Potter fanboy, music enthusiast, theater boy, and Oreo addict, but among these many characteristics, he’s also a closet gay. Simon has a quirky family and close group of friends, however the only person that knows his secret is his somewhat online boyfriend, Blue. He and Blue have been emailing each other for months after Blue’s post about loneliness on the school’s tumblr, Creeksecrets, an internet outlet used by the student body to post anonymous confessions and secrets. The book begins with Martin Addison logging on the school computer and accidentally discovering Simon’s sexual identity and his secret email correspondence with the careful Blue. Martin also screenshots the emails and blackmails Simon into helping Martin get together with Simon’s close friend, Abby. (I hope that wasn’t too confusing to follow…) From there several misunderstandings arise and Simon’s world is a pandemonium.

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