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What I'm Currently Reading (+ #TheReadingQuest Update) | August 2017

I used to do these posts all the time on my blog, and I'm one of those people that reads about five books at once. I'm going to try and do this monthly to show what I'm reading in what format and what I think of it so far! I'm thinking I'll post these on the second or third Friday of every month, but *shrug*
As for the Reading Quest, I haven't completed any of the challenges yet because I've been packing everything away for my move back to college and just haven't had the time. But I am reading four books that fit into three of the side-quests. (And I'm almost finished with my first book!)


  • THE GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE: No one has shut up about this book even since before it released. This fits into the Time Warp challenge since it takes place in the 1700s. I am loving this book. I only have about 120 pages left, so *fingers crossed* hopefully I can finish it today. This book is hilarious and heartbreaking and has a bisexual main character. It's simultaneously a fun romp through Europe while also bringing up very hard and timely issues (e.g. racism, homosexuality, and female roles in the 1700s).
  • WELCOME HOME: I actually started this before the challenge, and it doesn't really fit into any of the challenges. But this is an MG/YA anthology all about adoption that I've been reading a few stories out of each week. I'm really enjoying this, and I've been discovering so many new authors to read.  
  • THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY: This is the nonfiction book that I'm currently reading. This takes place during the construction of the World's Fair in Chicago, all about the main architects and also the serial killer H.H. Holmes. This is my Respawn book, and I'm reading the physical copy this time and really enjoying it. (Can you say that about a book about a serial killer? Well, I am.)
  • PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Look who is 20 years old and finally reading Jane Austen's most famous work. This is my Open World book. I'm less than 100 pages into this. So far my thoughts: Darcy's an ass and I low-key hate him & Elizabeth is a sassy little shit and I love her. I'm listening to this on audio, but I may have to switch over to a physical copy because I get so distracted while listening to it.

READING QUEST STATS


Character Class: Mage
Current Level: 1
Overall EXP: 10
Overall HP: 63

Total Pages Read: 534
Total Pages Remaining: 744

I could be doing better, but I'm not angry or upset with how I'm doing. My reading is definitely going to slow down since I start school next week, so my extreme catch-up during the summer is going to pay off. 

Are you participating in The Reading Quest? How are you doing so far? If not, what are you currently reading? Tell me down in comments!


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Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney Stevens | How Faith and Queer Meet

The author was very kind to send me this book upon request so I could read it and review it prior to release. All opinions and thoughts are my own. All quotes are subject to change and will be updated after release if different.



Everyone has that one book that they relate to above all others. It's their book. It feels like somehow the author knows the inner-workings of all their relationships and the innermost thoughts they've never shared with anyone.

For me, that's this book.

Let me give you a quick rundown of the story. This is a slice-of-life, character-driven story following this group of friends called the Hexagon (because that's what everyone calls a group of six friends, obvs) in a small town in Kentucky, but our main character is the preacher's rebellious daughter Billie McCaffrey. (If that sounds kind of like Footloose, it's because it's kind of like Footloose.)

Before I get to the review, I do want to address this quickly. I've seen quite a few reviews that say Billie is genderfluid, which I would say is inaccurate. She is a tomboy, she does question gender and what that means and why certain genders have certain roles in society, she does have male friends and has traditionally masculine hobbies and interests, she does have maybe romantic feelings for a girl, but she doesn't specifically question her own gender and the fact that she is a girl. It's actually made quite a point of that she is a girl. So, if you're going into this expecting a main character that's genderfluid, I would say this story isn't that, but it is a great examination of gender roles and stereotypes that exist.

But on the note of diversity, I would like to say that there is a demisexual character in this book, and I really appreciate the way he was represented and how his story fits into the narrative.
He liked girls too. And boys. And anyone that made him feel deeply. [...] Most people want puddles to splash around in; Thom wants souls where scuba diving is encouraged.

ANYWAY


I adored this book. I've never seen so much of myself and my life in every character and every place on every page. There was no one character that I saw and said That's me but there was a piece of me in every single character. So, for me, they're all "realistic" characters. They are all going through the things my friends and I went through our senior year in small town, church town, somewhere near Nashville, Tennessee. The Hexagon was my group of friends. The one that wanted more than anything to get out, the one that was only there by happenstance, the one that was born there and will die there, the one that wonders if they belong there.

There's not much plot to this book, but there is the ever-present fear that the Harvest Festival--the festival that's brought their town together for as long as all of them can remember--might be happening for the last time because it's main financial contributor just died.

Naturally, our main character and her friends want to save the Harvest Festival. On this journey, Billie tries to figure out who she is, who she loves, and how she fits into this town that is always judging her. She falls in love (??), kisses some friends, and figures out who she is.

One of my favorite thing about this book is its discussion on sexual fluidity. It's not always easy to figure out and it's not always a thing that makes sense to everyone. It's messy and it's okay if it takes a while to figure it out.
I think there's a place where love equals history and a place where love equals the a future and a place where love is just love and it doesn't go away no matter whether you get it back or not. Figuring out the difference--is impossible.
But my definite favorite thing about this book is the discussion of Christianity and queerness. It's never anything I've read before (and especially not in YA), and it was done so well. It discusses the difference between people's reactions and God's reaction and how they're not always the same thing. This book's existence means so much to me, and I hope it finds its way into so many queer, teen Christian hands so that they don't feel so alone.
I decided that church members would never tell me what to do again. (Jesus could have his say--I was a person of faith; I just wasn't a person of legalistic bullshit.) Those women threw stones over a football and a girl who girled differently from them. That's the real problem--not people leaving the church, not Christians acting like Pharisees, not making up rules that don't exist.

I've said this about a few books now, but expect to see this on a favorites list at the end of the year. I loved and adored this. So, go preorder it. Reserve and request it at your libraries, pick it up next week when it releases. Just go do it. You'll love it.


Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney Stevens
Other Novels: Faking Normal | The Lies About Truth
Published: 22 August 2017
Format - Length: ARC - 352 pages
Source: Author
Genre: YA Contemporary
Goodreads | My Goodreads Review
Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository
As the tomboy daughter of the town’s preacher, Billie McCaffrey has always struggled with fitting the mold of what everyone says she should be. She’d rather wear sweats, build furniture, and get into trouble with her solid group of friends: Woods, Mash, Davey, Fifty, and Janie Lee.

But when Janie Lee confesses to Billie that she’s in love with Woods, Billie’s filled with a nagging sadness as she realizes that she is also in love with Woods…and maybe with Janie Lee, too.

Always considered “one of the guys,” Billie doesn’t want anyone slapping a label on her sexuality before she can understand it herself. So she keeps her conflicting feelings to herself, for fear of ruining the group dynamic. Except it’s not just about keeping the peace, it’s about understanding love on her terms—this thing that has always been defined as a boy and a girl falling in love and living happily ever after. For Billie—a box-defying dynamo—it’s not that simple.

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Favorite Books of 2017 (So Far)


I've seen a few people do posts like this this and last year, and I prefer it to the Mid-Year Book Freak Out because I don't have to talk about books I didn't like. Also, I've read some fantastic books so far this year, and if this list is any indication, then making a single list at the end of the year will be near impossible.

Now, these aren't all books that released in 2017 (though many of them are), but rather books that I have read and loved so far this year. Also, these are in no particular order because I could not do that to my children.

All links go to my full Goodreads reviews if you want more detail about my thoughts!
  • FAKING NORMAL: This is definitely a book that I would never have picked up because there's a person on the cover, and nothing about it is particularly striking. But I got to listen to Courtney Stevens talk on a panel at SEYA-fest in March and immediately went to buy her book. This is an honest and raw depiction of how one girl handles the time after being raped. 
  • WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI: I'm sure 99% of you have heard all the great and wonderful praise about this book, but it's all true. It's kind of ridiculous, but it's basically a Bollywood movie in a book so it's ridiculous by nature but also extremely heartwarming. 
  • THE UPSIDE OF UNREQUITED: Another one that so many people have read and loved this year, but it really is that good. For me, it was so amazing to see Albertalli's writing improve, but I also adored how she connected this book to her previous one. It's almost Matson-like and it's probably one of my favorite things that contemporary authors can do.
  • A CONJURING OF LIGHT: I was pretty skeptical going into this final book in the Shades of Magic trilogy because I was not a huge fan of the second book. But I adored how Schwab concluded this series and wrapped up everyone's character arcs. I loved this.
  • MARCH, BOOKS ONE AND TWO: If there is one (or two, technicalities) book that I would tell every single person to read, it would be this one. 
  • RADIO SILENCE: Now, I said that these were in no particular order, which is true about all the books except this one. If I had to pick a singular favorite book of the year at this point, I would tell you Radio Silence. This book is phenomenal. 
  • SLEEPING GIANTS: I only gave this book 3.5 stars, but this book was still one of my favorite reads (and listens--pick up the audiobook if you can) this year. (Clearly, it's on the list.)
  • GIANT DAYS, VOL. 4: Definitely my favorite volume of this comic series so far. It's also just one of my favorite comics out on the market right now. I can only tell y'all to read this so many times.
  • EXIT WEST: Just an amazing, amazing book. It's a refugee novel with magical elements and it's done absolutely wonderfully. This is a short book, less than 250 pages, and absolutely flies by. 
What have been some of your favorite reads so far this year? Have you read any of these? Are they on your TBR? Tell me down in comments!


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The Reading Quest | Sign-Up

Hosted by Read at Midnight | Art by Read Think Ponder | August 13th through September 10th | Info

So, Aentee kept teasing these gorgeous graphics on her Twitter, so when this was finally posted in full, I was immediately drafting my TBR. I don't think I'm going to read all these books. This is the month (30 days over two months, whatever) that I'm moving back to school and starting my junior year, so #stress. I also tried to include as many ARCs and big books and books that I own for this challenge in a half-hearted attempt to join in multiple readathons.


MY MAYBE TBR

(Because I am notoriously terrible at sticking to a TBR pile.)

I flip-flopped between Mage and Knight for ages, but I ended up settling on MAGE because it aligned better with the ARCs that I have as well as some of my top priority TBR books. Also, magic and fantasy is 80% of what I want to read always.

        

Mage Path:
  • A book with a one-word title: Artemis by Andy Weir
  • A book that contains magic: Wild Beauty by Anna Marie McLemore (this is magical realism, so I won't really be sure until I read it how much actual magic is in it so this may change to Power & Magic: The Queer Witch Comic Anthology)
  • A book based on mythology: The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
  • A book set in a different world: Siege & Storm by Leigh Bardugo
  • The first book in a series: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

      
    

Side Quests:
  • Potions - a book concocted by 2+ authors: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
  • Multiplayer - buddy read a book: I have not planned anything for this, and let's be real, the amount of books I'm assuming I'll read in the first month of school is laughable already.
  • Grind - a 500+ page book: The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon
  • Time Warp - a book set in either the past or the future: The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee
  • Open World - read whatever you want: this will be whatever I manage to read that's not one of these books
  • Respawn - read a book you previously DNFed: (okay, so I might cheat a bit on this one because when I DNF books, they're done for good, so I might use a book I started and just never finished? is that cheating?) tentatively, this is Cress by Marissa Meyer, but it's looking like this won't actually happen
  • Expansion - read a companion novel or short story: This Night So Dark by Amie Kaufman & Megan Spooner
  • Mini-Game - read a graphic novel, novella, or poem collection: I'm assuming this includes comics as well? Either way, this will probably be March, book three by John Lewis
  • Animal Companion - book referencing an animal on the cover: Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
Are you going to try and participate in this? What path are you choosing? What books are you wanting to read? Tell me down in comments!


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Hiatus Catch-Up | Recently in Reading #3

"Recently in Reading" is a feature on my blog that I created myself, although I did adapt it from the Goodreads Tag and made it into a feature that I could do semi-regularly on my blog!

If you saw my recent post, then you know that I've kind of disappeared from the blogging community the last few months. Part of me missed it, and part of me was relieved to be taking a break. But, now I'm back and I wanted to catch you all up on the things I've been reading and loving during my break!



Y'all, y'all. You need to read this book. You must, must read it. I've written up a brief review on Goodreads, but basically, this is a magical realism book that takes place in an unnamed war-torn country (similar to Pakistan) but in this form of our world, there are these doors that lead to different places around the world. It's the story of two immigrants, Saeed and Nadia, and how they leave and how they adjust to where they wind up.



You know me, always reading too many books at once. This time around, we have an interesting mix. All very different. I'm as confused as you are by this mix. (I think Lara Jean is just so sickly sweet that I needed something murderous. Weird? Probably.)


So there have been a lot of books that have happened upon my eye during my hiatus, but these six are some of the ones I'm most excited for:

  • THE SECRET OF PLATFORM 13: This is not a new book. It's nearly 25 years old, and it's actually very similar to Harry Potter. Platform 13 at King's Cross Station has a secret door underneath that appears only once every nine years. Then there's something about a prince that was moved from one world to the other. Adventures ensue. There's magic and wizards. It sounds great.
  • LOVE, HATE & OTHER FILTERS: This debut releases January 2018 and it's an #OwnVoices story about an Indian-American Muslim girl who is forced to confront Islamophobia when a suicide bomber strikes in America and he happens to have the same last name. People are suddenly looking at her family completely differently, now with much more hatred, much more fear. I needed this yesterday.
  • MIDNIGHT AT THE ELECTRIC: I've never read a Jodi Lynn Anderson book, but I've heard praise through the roof recently about this one. This takes place in three different timelines--2065, 1934, and 1919--and it follows these three ladies and how their lives intertwine.
  • MOXIE: Things that intrigue me: 1) The UK cover. Look how pretty this is. 2) Amy Freakin' Poehler has blurbed this. 3) Girl fights sexist behavior in her high school by starting a feminist zine, inspired by her mother's behavior in the 90's.
  • ARTEMIS: I GOT APPROVED FOR THIS ON NETGALLEY. *deep breath* Anyway, Andy Weir's second book releases November 14th, 2017 and it's basically a heist story that takes place on the moon. I'm super excited.
  • SPEAK EASY, SPEAK LOVE: This is a retelling of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. That's all I need to know. That's all I want to know. It's my favorite Shakespeare play. This releases September 19th, 2017.


  • BLOODLINE: I love Star Wars. I love Leia Organa. I love politics. This is all of the above, and I currently have it out from my library and want to read it ASAP.
  • THE BACKSTAGERS, VOL. 1: Another library book. This is a new comic that Noelle Stevenson has given her stamp of approval. Similar to Lumberjanes, this is a group of boys that have to deal with supernatural shit while working backstage (get it? *nudge nudge*) at their school's theater. This checks all my boxes. So excited.
  • DRESS CODES FOR SMALL TOWNS: This releases August 22nd, but I have an ARC and want to read/review this before it releases. I love Courtney Stevens, and this is supposed to be a wonderful story that follows the queer daughter of a preacher in a small town. I relate to this so much it's not even funny.





LOOK. AT. THAT. FRENCH. EDITION. OF. SIX. OF. CROWS.

OH. MY. GOD. IT'S. GORGEOUS.

So, Emma @ Awkwordly Emma went to the great and terrifying North (that's right, Canada) and got a bunch of lovely things and said she'd send me a surprise in the mail. I could not stop yelling for about ten minutes. It's one of the most beautiful things I own. Who cares if I can't read French? (Also, doesn't it look so wonderful with all my other SOC things? *flails*)



Hopefully nothing. However, I did just order The Underground Railroad from Book Depository to support the Booktube-a-Thon. It'll take like a month to get here, I'm sure. Or get lost.




In an effort not to repeat myself with Exit West, I'm going to pick my new favorite YA book, which is When Dimple Met Rishi. I will link my review here for you to read in full. Additionally, I got to meet Sandhya at a tour stop and she is so lovely and wonderful. It was a joy to meet her in person. (Also, inside tip from the author herself: Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi is the movie to watch if you loved Dimple. They are so similar, and it's a fantastic film.)


And that's it! I'm so happy to be back blogging! If you want to see more of the books I bought recently, you can check out my last post here. Also, tell me down in the comments a recent favorite book/bookish thing!


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