✨ 2019 Reading Resolutions ✨

Y’all, 2018 has been a hell of a ride. But at least I read 67 books this year. That’s ten more than last year, which is pretty good, considering I haven’t even had time to breathe for the last twelve months. My goal was to average a book a week, so mission accomplished. And out of those 67, five were from my 2018 Reading Resolutions list! I enjoyed every one of them, and I am so excited for the 2019 batch. Without further ado, may I present:

Evangeline's 2019 Reading Resolutions

 

1. Holes by Louis Sachar

download.jpg

I’ve never read Holes. It’s come to my attention that I should read Holes.

2. Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju

42202063.jpg

This book looks like so much fun. I haven’t read many YA books which include drag–maybe two come to mind, and neither of them include the main character performing. Bonus points: I believe the MC is a drag king, which is wonderful, as people tend to overlook those. I’m super excited to get my hands on this book when it comes out.

3. American Street by Ibi Zoboi

30256109.jpg

Every time I see this cover I think of Akata Witch, one of my favorite books ever. Doesn’t it follow, then, that this book will be incredible? Oh, that’s not how things work, you say? Well, the magical realist tale of a Haitian immigrant to Detroit sounds pretty excellent on its own. I’m excited to finally read this one!

4. Everlasting Nora by Marie Miranda Cruz

37534886.jpg

This is a middle grade book that looks absolutely wonderful. Set in the Philippines, twelve-year-old Nora embarks on a quest to find her missing mother. It looks absolutely beautiful.

5. Once and Future by Amy Rose Capetta

36233085.jpg

Another 2019 release, and the one I’m most excited about. Queer King Arthur in space???? What more could you want???? Literally nothing!!!!

Here’s to 2019! Let’s fill it with love, action, hope, and books!

Book Review: Release

download.jpg

Release by Patrick Ness

Here it is, everyone: the last book off my 2018 Reading Resolutions list, and absolutely my favorite of the lot. It should be noted that I’m very proud of myself for finishing the list, as I didn’t finish the 2017 list (by one book, which I made up this year).

At Yallfest 2017, I had the incredible experience if hearing Patrick Ness talk about his new book, Release. Not only was every other word out of his mouth a profound statement of universal truth, but what he said about Release was so powerful. He wrote the book he needed in his youth, hoping that reading it would be an experience of undoing shame. The release of the reader, as well as Adam, the protagonist.

That’s a lot of weight to put on a book.

Release was inspired by Mrs. Dalloway and Judy Blume’s Forever. It’s a single day in the life of Adam Thorn, gay preacher’s kid facing a series of bombs dropped into his life. Because of its direct literary inspirations, this “to-read” entry was actually three books in one. I liked Mrs. Dalloway, I did not enjoy Forever, and I loved Release so much that I’ll probably re-read it in a month or so. Because it does what Ness said it would.

Release isn’t just one genre. It’s a unique entwining of contemporary and fantasy: the two sides of the story don’t touch until the last two pages or so. The fantastical takes place in two-page bursts between Adam’s story, but it is discursive rather than intrusive.

There were a lot of moments in this story that rang home, as a young queer person. One of the strongest occurs at the introduction of a rose which Adam sees at the store and buys, but not before thinking, “was that something he was allowed to do?”

Yeah, we’ve all been there.

It didn’t hurt my ability to resonate with this book that Adam is a runner, and so am I. A good portion of the book takes place during his seven-mile run, going through stages of anger, frustration, finally emptiness, and back to frustration at an interruption. I get it. And I truly loved Adam’s best friend and boyfriend, rich and complex characters in themselves, with friendship that felt real.

But where the book really earned its name for me is in Adam’s confrontation with his father. Without giving any more than that away, I’ll just say that this scene was cathartic. Imagine having a moment, a minute, where you throw discretion and caution and deference to the wind and speak your angry, intimate truth to whatever is holding you down in life. That’s this scene, and that’s this book. It is a release.

Book Review: Not Your Sidekick

download.jpg

It’s the last month of the year and you know what that means: time to smash in all the books on my 2018 Reading Resolutions list that I ignored for the last 11 months! Actually, I did pretty good this year: only two left, including the rollicking Not Your Sidekick by CB Lee.

In Lee’s book, high school senior Jessica Tran is navigating life in a world of superheroes and supervillains, two of which include her parents. Giving up on her own powers manifesting, she takes an internship at her parents’ arch nemesis’ tech company, where her crush Abby also is also interning. Working for a villain, it’s not long before Jess starts noticing cracks in the hero/villain dichotomy their society is built on.

If you couldn’t tell, above everything, Not Your Sidekick is fun. It’s a superhero story in a post-post-apocalyptic world, in a United States that barely remembers the world before World War III…and what is remembered is quickly covered up. Going into it I didn’t know it was post-apocalyptic, and it slowed me down at first because that’s not my preferred genre, but I was quickly swept back up by a wonderful list of things:

  • Worldbuilding depth
  • Casually queer characters
  • Likeable heroine and side-characters
  • Hidden identity shenanigans 

Everything this book does well, however, could have been done even better with a little more length. It’s a NaNoWriMo baby pretty obviously (Lee even mentions it in the acknowledgements). I’m not dishing on NaNo, but for the narrative twists to feel authentic, I needed more build-up. I didn’t really buy that only Jess saw through an entire media/government scheme to control society, and so quickly and easily. The worldbuilding was strong, but with a longer story could have been immersive. And foreshadowing-wise, there wasn’t an identity twist that I didn’t see coming pretty early on.

All that aside, Not Your Sidekick does a lot of things really well. I appreciated its intersectionality, thinking about the dynamics of race and immigration in addition to queerness in this new world, and the glimpses of global politics were fascinating. I resonated with Jess’s experience with her school’s “Rainbow Allies” club: a close social group that seems inaccessible to Jess, though the president is trying to make it more inclusive. It was a great little inset into the story (and I sympathized with Jess even though I know that I have absolutely contributed to the same problem….).

I’ll definitely be picking up a copy of Not Your Villain soon, which continues the story from Jess’s friend Bell’s POV, a trans supervillain (or is he?!?) called Chameleon. And I’d recommend you, yes you, read Not Your Sidekick if you haven’t already!

🎶 bum bum bum buh da bum bum 🎶

It’s not news to anyone regularly around me, or even tangential to me, but I’ve been listening to Queen and exclusively Queen for the last three weeks or so. Bizarrely, it’s not really to do with the new movie, though I enjoyed it a lot. Naturally, when I thought about the topic of this week’s post, I could only think about Queen. Therefore, I present the (mostly) humorous assignment of YA lit to my favorite Queen songs, links to some very hilarious music videos included! I had so much fun making this.

Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy:The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee

Hey boy where’d you get it from
Hey boy where did you go?
I learned my passion in the good old fashioned school of loverboys

*AKA my all-time favorite Queen song PLEASE go listen to it if you haven’t

Crazy Little Thing Called Love: The Raven Cycle by Maggie Steifvater

This thing called love, I just can’t handle it
This thing called love, I must get round to it
I ain’t ready

We Will Rock You*: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Buddy you’re a young man hard man
Shouting in the street gonna take on the world some day

*By the way, can we revive this as a protest song please?

Killer Queen: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Dynamite with a laser beam
Guaranteed to blow your mind
Anytime

Under Pressure: Black Wings Beating by Alex London

It’s the terror of knowing what the world is about
Watching some good friends screaming
‘Let me out’

Dreamer’s Ball: Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Oh, take me, hold me
Remember what you told me
You’d meet me at the dreamer’s ball

Pain Is So Close to Pleasure*: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

And all I wanted was to start a new relation
So in love but love had a bad reaction
I was looking for some good old satisfaction

*😂😂😂