february reads: broadening horizons

I've always been a person who likes to educate myself. I want to know things. I want to learn, even though the things that I learn may not be applicable to my life. another important thing for me over the past few months is that there is so much to the world that I don't know--about life, about people, about everything. I want to understand those things, or at least be able to look at life and not be held back by my own ignorance.

this all came to a finite point of realization for me when my psych class had a guess speaker from a sister college. this psych class is dealing with how to research and write papers about research, and this grad student who came and spoke to us was a sociology major who was researching trans youth and the issues that they find in the school environment. and after listening to them speak, I realized just how LITTLE I know about this subject. and that's why I made a point to read books that helped me understand this very different world a little more. I didn't have the time/brainspace to get read books with all the various sexuality and genders (let's be honest--there aren't enough books written with characters with that kind of variety) but I feel like this is a pretty decent sampling. and I'm excited to read more--not for review, but for my own enjoyment and education.

so without further ado, here are the books I read in february!

blurry photo, don't even care. *shrugs*

dante and aristotle discover the secrets of the universe

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be. (taken from goodreads)

dude. this book. I loved it.

can I just leave my review at that? no? okay.

well, first of all, the prose is GORGEOUS. I've never read writing that was so in your head and personal. I didn't quite "become" Ari, but that was the closest I'd ever been in a character's head. the weird thing was that I didn't feel like I belonged there. you're in Ari's head, but you're an outsider, and that juxtaposition is very, very weird to read. anger is one of my least favourite emotions, but Ari's anger was something that I felt in a very real way.

character-wise, as you might be able to tell already, I love Ari. he was down to earth in all the right ways, he had so many questions about the world that he was too afraid to ask, and his thoughts were very heavy. so heavy it hurt sometimes. I don't know if it's because he was the narrator and we saw so much of his mind on the page, but I didn't feel that connection with Dante. honestly, sometimes I found Dante very annoying. maybe it's because he's supposed to be the one that kind of wakes up Ari from his apathetic life, but he came across as kind of over the top and TOO bright, especially when you held him next to Ari? I know that's kind of the point of his character, and there's nothing wrong with that, but let's just put it this way: if I were to bump into Dante or someone with as much enthusiasm as he has, it would take me a LOOOONG time to get along with him.

the relationship between Dante and Ari was probably my favourite thing from this book, because it actually was a relationship. there was no insta-love here, no awkward "you're the only one for me," no "I love yous" in the first ten chapters. part of this is because Ari didn't really know how he felt about Dante for a while, but part of it is also because they acted like humans. they lived normal lives, their conflicts were extremely realistic, and their friendship that developed into a relationship was really beautiful to watch. I loved it. that's all I can say. I loved it.

if more books were written with romances like this, this would be my permanent expression

apart from my semi-dislike of Dante (which I don't really think is dislike? I don't know how to describe it? he just doesn't vibe well with me. *shrugs*) the only thing that really made me frustrated with this book was the dialogue. the conversations are the driving force of this book, along with Ari's thoughts, but half the time with the dialogue between Ari and Dante, I felt like an invisible person butting into their conversation. you know how it is when you're with two people who are super close and who know each other inside and out, and when they talk, it's like you cease to exist? that's what it felt like when Dante and Ari talked. and there's nothing wrong with that; it was just kind of disconcerting. once I got halfway through the book, that stopped being such an issue, though.

overall, I really loved ready this book, and when a rainy day rolls around, I'm definitely rereading it again. because it is the perfect rainy day book.

when the moon was ours

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.  (taken from goodreads)

to talk about this book is going to be practically impossible. mostly because it is so heady and beautiful and prose is so artistic that I feel like I need to read it five more times to understand all that it is saying, but also because I really loved it, even though it left me confused af. even though it may be confusing, this story is so intricate and well-written, and the words practically jump off the page. it is so vibrant in a gentle, soft way, and its message is very important.

this was the first book I ever read with a trans main character. I feel like I really learned a lot about this subject, because I literally knew nothing before this, and it made me very interested in reading more books with trans characters. this was the only book I didn't purposefully pick up because it was LGBTQ+. I had read The Weight of Feathers and ADORED IT, so I figured I should read this one too. I was not disappointed. it was also really interesting because, as I was reading this book, it was right when my psych class had the guest speaker whose research was focused on transgender children. it was just a really interesting coincidence, and I feel a little more educated.

the imagery and themes are so interesting. I lowkey want to write a paper on this, just because there are so many different avenues--like the Bonner sisters. what do they mean? Miel's roses--what do they signify in the broader scope of things. a lot of this book made me so sad and melancholy, even though I wouldn't classify it as a "sad" book? I don't really understand it, but it touched a soft and sad place in my heart, and I still feel that ache.

but parts of this book are so happy and beautiful I DON'T UNDERSTAND THESE FEELINGS

I just loved this book so much because there was a lot of love and embracing of those who are different--even if you didn't understand the difference, you still accepted it as something that should be respected and not erased. and have I mentioned how much I love the softness of the colors and yet the way that they are completely vivid at the same time? you really have to read this book to understand what I mean by this...I don't have the words to explain it. although if you're not a huge fan of writing that's not explicit and to the point, you might have a harder time with this one. my literal peeps will definitely have a harder time reading this book, but that's not a bad thing--because what's the point in reading if it doesn't challenge you just a lil bit?

history is all you left me

 When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.
To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.
If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life. (taken from goodreads)

*sighs heavily* I wanted to like this book. I really did. I've heard such good things about this author, but never really got around to reading his other books, so when this came out, I immediately got my hands on a copy. unfortunately, I just couldn't get into it. I didn't even finish it. I know, I know. DNF always leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but as I'm sort of reading according to a schedule for these reviews, the time that it would have taken me to get into it would have taken way too long. so that's frustrating.

I'm not really sure what it was that made it so hard for me to immerse myself in this book. maybe it was the back and forth future/past timelines. maybe it was because I felt a really strong age gap/disconnect with the characters? I'm noticing this more and more as I read YA as a slightly older person;  the maturity (or lack thereof) that certain characters exhibit becomes more cringey, whether its because I don't remember acting like that as a young teenager, or because I'm just turning into a crotchety old lady before my time. I think the perfect way to describe this lack of interest toward Griffin and Theo's story is this: it felt as though I were reading an extremely long fan-fiction of a ship that I didn't really care about or knew nothing about. and that's frustrating, because I wanted to care. this is a book about mental illness and grief, among other things, and I love books about those topics. I'm writing one. but I just couldn't get into it.

basically nothing could make me care about these characters and that really sucked.

lesson to be learned here, people? no matter how much you want to like a book, sometimes it just won't work.

things I did like about this book? number one, Griffin is totally an awesome name, and Theo is pretty great as well. those names were almost too good for me to put this book down. I also really loved how vivid the descriptions were. even though I didn't finish this book, one of the scenes that stands out in my memory is the very first scene of Theo and Griffin in the subway. that moment is so important, and the way it was described was so perfect--it took me back to all the times where I rode on a subway or an underground train. the slightly yellowed light, the press (or absence) of people, the sound of the train going through the tunnels...that scene alone resonated with me. and if that's the only thing out of this book that does, I'm okay with that, because it was really wonderful to read.

even though I didn't get to Griffin's 'downward spiral' as the blurb puts it, I did enjoy the descriptions of his OCD. now, I've never been diagnosed with OCD and that's one mental illness I'm not willing to judge about myself, but I get how Griffin describes his tendencies. I've always had preferences for certain sides, and although they're not focused on one side entirely like his are, I completely got how he felt. mine is probably because I am a creature of habit, but his is something a lot more, something completely serious. reading about a teenager with OCD that's not the traditional per se was really refreshing. 

did I enjoy this book this time? no. were there good things about it? yes. will I be trying it again at a later time? hopefully. I think I'm going to try reading some of Silvera's other books first, just to see if maybe it's not the story but the author's way of telling the story that's getting me, but I do want to try this book again. give me a few months. we'll see.

*dances awkwardly away having said my peace*

what are some books you read this month? I'm still taking genre suggestions, btw--I have a plan for next month, but other than that, I'm open to whatever ideas/recommendations y'all have! have you read any of these books? or what was the last book you read where you just didn't click? please tell me i'm not the only one.... *suffers in shame*


ooh! one last thing--if any of y'all have read a book with an ace protagonist, let me know? as you all know, Neil is asexual, but it is SAD how few books I've been able to find with an ace character at all. so give me all your recommendations. I NEED THEM.

please--share the love


Hope y'all have a fantastic week! mine is going to be spent crying over history papers and this doggone cold. 

*gifs are not mine* 

Comments

  1. These books are all "maybe" reads for me, so I loved hearing your thoughts!

    is thAT A HAIKYUU GIF? 10/10 USAGE.

    A few books I read in February are The King's Men by Nora Sakavic (SO FREAKING GOOD), Windwitch by Susan Dennard (sequel blues, sadly), and Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (surprisingly awesome!).

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

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    1. YES IT IS A HAIKYUU GIF!! I always try to include at least one in my blogposts because, let's be honest, all Haikyuu gifs are amazing. XD

      I've heard a lot about the All For the Game series before, and I think I'm going to have to check it out. so much buzz has got to mean something, right? :D

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  2. I have a few of these written down, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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    1. let me know if you do read any of them!

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  3. I loved this. i love that you are so read to learn and understand. honestly so many people are the opposite. so many close their minds off to anything that is not related to their own experiences. but there are so many other things out there. Im glad you're realizing that.

    I love it and you <3

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    1. <3 <3 <3 you said it, sister. my thoughts exactly. love you so much too! <3

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