NetGalley Reads: In the Role of Brie Hutchens

NetGalley Reads: In the Role of Brie Hutchens

NetGalley (1).pngBefore you read this post, make sure you have read my post I Can Do Better  to know how and where to donate, get informed, support, and follow the Black Lives Matter movement and people from the Black community. Si hablas español, y especialmente si vives en Colombia, lee mi publicación Puedo hacer algo mejor para enterarte cómo puedes apoyar a la Comunidad afrocolombiana. 

Hello and happy Friday. I woke up early today after a very bad night, did my makeup inspired by the bisexual flag and now I’m here to tell you about a book you need to read, especially if you’re looking to read more queer books. I’m talking about In The Role of Brie Hutchens by Nicole Melleby, which was sent to me by Algonquin Books as part of a blog tour. I’d like to thank them, the author, and NetGalley for this opportunity.

I read this book between June 19th and June 22nd, 2020, and gave it four stars, but it’s more like a 4.5 rating. At the beginning of every chapter, we get these headers which are sort of like commentary in soap opera scenes. This makes sense as one progresses with the reading because Brie, the main character is obsessed with soap operas and wants to become an actress. She is thirteen years old and about to graduate middle school (is that even a thing?) and she wants to go to a performing arts high school, but her family is struggling with money, so Brie is not sure whether she could attend if she gets admitted.

There are many things I like about this novel, and even from the previous paragraph, you can sort of deduce some of them. I like Brie’s age because I think it makes the book attractive both for Middle Grade and Young Adult readers. To me, this would be great for someone who has outgrown Middle Grade and wants to start reading Young Adult. There are also so many layers to the story, like the fact that Brie’s parents are having financial issues because her dad had recently lost his job and is now working in Brie’s school. This also poses a conversation on the guilt and helplessness that children might feel when their parents are having problems of any sort.

Brie studies in a Catholic school and the depiction of her school life was spot-on. I should know because I studied in one and then worked at another. That means that I’ve been in Catholic schools for around sixteen years of my life. Religion is also an important aspect of this story because Brie is coming to terms with the fact that she likes women, but she is afraid and almost ashamed to tell her mom because she might not accept her. Brie even lies about this school event and her participation in it to hide the fact that she was looking at pictures of an actress online, all this so that her mom does not find out about what is going through Brie’s mind.

I have a lot more notes about this story, but I want you to read it first so that we can have a conversation in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

I’m Kind of Scared of Writing This Review

I’m Kind of Scared of Writing This Review

Before you read this post, make sure you have read my post I Can Do Better  to know how and where to donate, get informed, support, and follow the Black Lives Matter movement and people from the Black community. Si hablas español, y especialmente si vives en Colombia, lee mi publicación Puedo hacer algo mejor para enterarte cómo puedes apoyar a la Comunidad afrocolombiana. 

Hello and happy Wednesday. I absolutely despise disclaimers because I am a firm believer that we should be unapologetic about our opinions, especially if they’re related to something as unimportant as a book. Now, I say “unimportant” when compared to more controversial issues, considering that for me books are no more than a form of entertainment and that I am not really big on having passionate debates on a book. I’ll share my thoughts, for sure, but I don’t expect you to agree with me just like I don’t want you to expect me to agree with you. Basically, we’re all entitled to our opinion and I really don’t want my comments section to become a forum in which you try to convince me to like Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli because it is just not going to happen.

I read this book between July 17th and July 19th, 2019 and gave it two stars. Now, in this post, I’ll discuss both the book and the movie because I watched the movie before reading the novel and I think it might have negatively influenced my thoughts. I don’t know whether I wrote a separate review of it in the past, but whatever. Watching the movie meant that I already knew the plot beforehand. I knew in general what the story was about, and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing because by already having some information on the story and the characters, I read the book at a quicker pace, which is something I like, especially if I’m not liking what I’m reading. You already know that I didn’t like the book, but you should also know that the movie didn’t do it for me. I felt that, as time went by and I was able to process it and reflect upon it, I disliked it even more, and then of course after reading the book (how many times have I written the word ‘book’?) I felt that it missed the point on some key aspects.

I understand where the title change came from when the novel was adapted to a movie because the line “love, Simon” is present, but I think there was a bit of propaganda behind it as well. I mean, think about it, why would “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” be changed to a two-word title when we have “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” and nobody said “let’s change it to “Harry and the Goblet”? Is it maybe the word ‘Homo’? (trust me, I know how ridiculous that sounds, but what do I know? I’m a liberal feminist who wants all babies to be aborted or adopted by the gays). It could’ve also been the word “agenda” because we all know how that’s used around. I’m sure there are many theories going around, and if you know about them, share them with me.

Another thing that bothered me was the token diverse love interest. I mean, yes, you have your gay character, and your black character and your Jewish character, and I think that representation was on point, but then you have the white gay guy’s love interest and he’s a black, half-Jewish gay guy? What? What that character did to me was pretty much forget about the seemingly authentic representation and diversity that I’d been given. And yes, I know there are black, half-Jewish gay teens out there, but seriously? Seriously?

I think that you’ve been able to appreciate the changes I’ve made in my reading. At least I’ve noticed that I am reading more intense contemporary YA fiction, even if there’s romance involved, and that my characters aren’t all white and straight. When reading about white and straight characters, I’m more critical about them than I was before because I understand that the world is a diverse one. This, however, has come with the knowledge that representation really occurs when I’m reading an own-voices novel. What I mean by this is that the author is actually part of an underrepresented group, like David Levithan or Nina LaCour, who write about gay and lesbian characters, respectively and Julie Murphy, who’s written novels featuring a fat main character. As cool as it is to see another book about a male gay teen, it wasn’t own-voices because Becky Albertalli is not a gay man. I just think that there are some really awesome authors who’ve come up with really awesome novels about male gay teens that we should give more recognition to, at least the same amount of hype as Simon got.

The story itself didn’t knock my socks off for many reasons. I didn’t think it was original at all. I think the coming-out plot is not for me because I want to see more queer characters who are out and about, you know? I want to see more of that person’s identity and story than their coming out. I’m not saying that’s not important or relevant or that these plots shouldn’t be written anymore, but that it’s not what I’m looking for and I’m grateful to have a wide selection of queer reads to choose from. The blackmailing thing and the online romance tropes have been done before, so I don’t feel like I was reading anything new.

I have so many more things to say, but I’m tired after a long day at work and I feel like I’ve ranted enough. Recommend me good queer reads please and thank you.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

 

I’ve Been Dying to Tell You About This

I’ve Been Dying to Tell You About This

 

 

Before you read this post, make sure you have read my post I Can Do Better  to know how and where to donate, get informed, support, and follow the Black Lives Matter movement and people from the Black community. Si hablas español, y especialmente si vives en Colombia, lee mi publicación Puedo hacer algo mejor para enterarte cómo puedes apoyar a la Comunidad afrocolombiana. 

Hello and happy Wednesday. For some beautiful reason, the universe and my TBR list have conspired to have me read pretty much only LGBTQ* novels for a few weeks now. I think that’s awesome because for me there are still many people who are unaware of the amount of amazing YA stories that are out (no pun intended) and that feature a main character who is not straight. I also believe that part of my “job” as a book blogger is to raise awareness of all those beautiful stories that have yet to be discovered.

You know that I am always late to the party, so maybe No One Needs to Know by Amanda Grace was a hit a few years ago and I totally missed it. I hope that was the case because I honestly don’t think I’d heard anyone talking about this book and I am not even sure how I found out about it. I’m glad that I did find it because after reading it between April 3rd and 4th, 2019, I gave it five stars.

One thing I loved about it was that it was told from multiple perspectives. Just by seeing the cover we can tell that there is some sort of hidden romance going on, and having the people involved tell their version makes the story more believable and it makes it richer. It also makes it seem more objective if that makes any sense because in a way we can confront what one character is saying by reading that same part of the story according to another character.

You know that I’m not really a fan of love triangles, but I had never read about one like this. Yes, I’ve read about triangles featuring two female characters and one male, but they are always about the two women “fighting” over the guy. This is an LGBTQ* story, so I guess you can figure out how this triangle works. (Hint: it involves a female-female romance). The main character’s love interest is also romantically involved with the main character’s brother, and just to clarify, yes, the main character is a woman. But we don’t get that sibling rivalry which I find annoying in YA because the main character and her brother are actually best friends. I know that this sounds like the biggest, most obnoxious trope of all, but the author had a way of twisting everything and make it healthy and positive, which sadly is rare for YA. Oh, there’s also hate-to-love, but again, it’s super sweet.

My only con is that there were some editing issues. I’m not sure what I meant by that when I wrote it down because it’s been a while, but it doesn’t affect the story or make it any less powerful, so there’s that. If you have any recommendations for LGBTQ* books that you find underrated, tell me about them in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

Edelweiss Reads: Orpheus Girl

Edelweiss Reads: Orpheus Girl

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Before you read this post, make sure you have read my post I Can Do Better  to know how and where to donate, get informed, support, and follow the Black Lives Matter movement and people from the Black community. Si hablas español, y especialmente si vives en Colombia, lee mi publicación Puedo hacer algo mejor para enterarte cómo puedes apoyar a la Comunidad afrocolombiana. 

Hello and happy Friday. Today I’m reviewing Orpheus Girl by Brynne-Rebele Henry. This ARC was provided to me for reading and reviewing purposes so I would like to thank Edelweiss and the author for the opportunity.

I read this book between May 10th and May 11th, 2019, although I could have read it all in a single day, I just really didn’t want to binge read it, and gave it three stars. Again, I could have gone for a lower rating because this book was plain bad.

This story is about a lesbian girl who has a dysfunctional family life and lives with a very conservative and religious grandmother in a very conservative and religious town in Texas. Now the first thing that bothered me was the misuse of the word “queer.” At times it was used as an insult, and at others, it wasn’t. It’s fine if you find the word insulting and you don’t want to use it, but honestly, if that’s the case, remove it from your mental dictionary. I think in this novel it had an overall negative connotation, but since the main character identified as such, I couldn’t really tell.

I know by the title and the references thrown in throughout the book that this is based on Greek mythology, but I honestly had no idea about the myth of Orpheus. It would have been cool to have more context on the story. I could have done a Google research, but I didn’t feel compelled to.

The plot itself was nothing special. You have your two lesbian girls in an ultra-conservative town who get find out and then get sent to conversion camp. Yes, I’ve read versions of that same story, and I can recommend them to you right now because they’re way better than Orpheus Girl. You can read, for example, The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth or The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi. They aren’t exactly like Orpheus Girl, but the plot is similar enough and you’ll get more from these novels.

Another problem I had with this novel was the writing style. The main character is also the narrator, but she doesn’t talk like a teenager from a small town in the slightest. Even if she were well-read and super educated, which isn’t something I could have inferred from reading the novel (I only knew she liked mythology), the way she spoke was forced. When I think about the author, who’s like twenty years old, I think that even if she talked like that in real life, in the book it appears snobby and pretentious to me. She could have toned it down and made it more natural.

One of the notes I took was “I’m not impressed.” The plot and the writing were not original and didn’t attract my attention. I could have finished this novel in a single day and the reason why I didn’t was that I seriously could not think of spending three more hours reading it. I preferred to leave it for the next day. Look, I’ve read all sorts of love stories, and I think Orpheus Girl didn’t have a solid one. We get snapshots, moments when the main character and her love interest might have shown or expressed their love, but we didn’t have a clear beginning. I don’t know, other than spending a lot of time together, what caused them to fall in love.

Do you know any novels based on mythology that I could be interested in? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy Friday!

Love, Miss Camila

NetGalley Reads: My Ladybird Story

NetGalley Reads: My Ladybird Story

Before you read this post, make sure you have read my post I Can Do Better  to know how and where to donate, get informed, support, and follow the Black Lives Matter movement and people from the Black community. Si hablas español, y especialmente si vives en Colombia, lee mi publicación Puedo hacer algo mejor para enterarte cómo puedes apoyar a la Comunidad afrocolombiana. 

Hello and happy Friday. Today’s post is a review on My Ladybird Story by Magus Tor. This ARC was provided by NetGalley for reading and reviewing purposes, so I’d like to thank both NetGalley and the author. Let’s get started, shall we?

I read this book between April 1st and Aril 9th. It actually sort of ruined my average reading pace, as it took me so long to finish it. Let me just go ahead and say that I was super excited about this book, and I was hooked from the very first page. And then it all just fell apart, leading to the two-star rating I gave it.

My Ladybird Story starts with a guy in high school who is being bullied for being “weird,” which was a first for me. Something that really hooked me at first was that as the story progresses, we as readers are able to know how the main character feels, and we share those doubts with him. We doubt at first whether he might be gay, or what is “wrong” with him, as he puts it. Through these thinking processes, we come to realize that the main character might be trans. Again, that is a first for me, and I think there needs to be more representation in YA about trans youth.

Sadly, like I said, these internal debates that were so eye-catching for me at first get lost as the story progresses, and we read less and less of what the main character truly feels. The novel is divided into parts, so there is one for high school, one for college, and two for the life after college. For me, it was like each part was a separate book. I saw little connection between them, and for me, there wasn’t a cohesive flow.

There are several attempts of sexual assault, so if this is a topic you are sensitive about, do not read this book. Assault is handled in a very irresponsible way in this novel, with bits of victim-blaming and a recurring perpetrator who pretty much gets away with it. That’s not my kind of story.

I need to clarify that I know very little about transgender issues. I can only speak from my experience being a biological woman, and I think there might be differences between the way I think about womanhood and the way a transwoman does. I say this because as a feminist I do not agree with gender roles and stereotypical gendered behavior. In other words, to me, it’s not right to describe someone as acting feminine or masculine or to say that a specific attitude or behavior is manly or womanly.

Because My Ladybird Story is about a transwoman, the main character’s best friend gives her “lessons” on how to be a woman. These lessons consist of learning how to properly hold a beer bottle and to blot away tears when crying so that makeup doesn’t get smeared. Basically, the main character is being taught that being a woman means being weak and delicate, and I find that extremely messed up.

I think it’s key to have more works of literature that center around transgender people, but I would not recommend this book because I think it has structural flaws that send readers the wrong messages. If you know of books about this or any other LGBTQ* issue that needs more visibility, let me know about it in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

PS: Ann from Great New Reads sent me this tweet. If you’re interested, do participate.

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Yes Please!

Yes Please!

Before you read this post, make sure you have read my post I Can Do Better  to know how and where to donate, get informed, support, and follow the Black Lives Matter movement and people from the Black community. Si hablas español, y especialmente si vives en Colombia, lee mi publicación Puedo hacer algo mejor para enterarte cómo puedes apoyar a la Comunidad afrocolombiana. 

Hello and happy Wednesday. I am super happy to be reading novels that focus on LGBTQ* topics again. I guess re-inventing my TBR list worked because I am now back to reading more of what I like instead of what I feel that I have to read.

A book I really enjoyed and I think you will too is One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva. I read this between March 25th and March 28th, 2019 and gave it a four-star rating.

Like I said, there’s LGBTQ* representation, but this is not the only reason why I thought this book was awesome. The main character is Armenian-American, and I had not seen that in any YA novel I’d read. This is a novel about identity and understanding what makes you who you are. I love that it’s beyond the typical “coming out” story that some YA authors serve us. I also appreciate that nothing extraordinary happens, it’s just a novel about life, but those are the books I prefer.

I also have good news related to this book. There’s a sequel coming up, so we’ll get more of Alek and Ethan. I requested it on NetGalley, and I hope to get it. If not, it might take me a while to read and review this book, but if I remember to do so, I will.

What sequel are you very excited about? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love, Miss Camila

2019 Pride Makeup

2019 Pride Makeup

Before you read this post, make sure you have read my post I Can Do Better  to know how and where to donate, get informed, support, and follow the Black Lives Matter movement and people from the Black community. Si hablas español, y especialmente si vives en Colombia, lee mi publicación Puedo hacer algo mejor para enterarte cómo puedes apoyar a la Comunidad afrocolombiana. Hello, happy Monday and happy Pride month! If you know me, then you know I don’t really follow social rules or cues when it comes to my makeup. I do whatever I want whenever I want. That being said, there are some special dates when I go literally all out (pun intended) and create these extravagant, whimsical makeup looks. For a while now, I have put a lot of thought on my makeup for Pride, even if I don’t go out for the parades. Just wearing the makeup is an experience in and of itself. These are the steps I followed to achieve the look:

 

 

  1. Primer
  2. Concealer
  3. Stick contour
  4. Foundation
  5. Powder
  6. Eyebrows
  7. From the Proceed With Caution palette: Warning (outer corner) and Caution (Inner corner)
  8. From the Good Sport palette: Sista (lower lash line)
  9. From the Tetris Block Party palette: Line Clear (lower lash line)
  10. From the Wanderlust palette: Sea Salt (center of the lid)
  11. Purple pencil eyeliner
  12. Mascara
  13. Powder contour
  14. Bronzer
  15. Red blush
  16. Red highlighter
  17. Blue liquid lipstick (half of the mouth)
  18. Green liquid lipstick (half of the mouth)

Have you seen any Pride makeup looks this year? Share them with me in the comments. I need inspiration for 2020.

Happy Monday!

Love, Miss Camila