Hello friends,

Exciting news! My first YA novel – Out at Home – is now available on Amazon as an ebook!

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The book’s description is thus:
“This young adult novel combines gay themes with sports and high school relationships.

Caleb Hanson and his newly single mom pack up their car and drive from the only home he’s ever known in New York City to his uncle’s house in middle-of-nowhere Kentucky. In NYC, Caleb was the star pitcher of his high school’s baseball team and openly fooled around with his best friend, Jackson.

In Kentucky, Caleb opts to stay in the closet, but is forced to sit the bench because the Bullfrogs’ roster is already full. When Caleb is paired up with Danny Thompson, the team’s distractingly attractive catcher, to throw batting practice, Caleb realizes that being stuck in small-town America might have some perks after all.

Something clicks between the boys, though their newfound friendship is soon challenged when signs are misread and accusations are made. Caleb and Danny rely on each other to work through their insecurities and find themselves growing closer on and off the field. But will small-minded teammates and the pressures of being someone other people expect you to be be enough to break Caleb and Danny’s burgeoning relationship, or can their love of the game take them and the Bullfrogs to another State Championship?”

(I LOVE BASEBALL, OKAY?)

Here is the link to Amazon, should you want to give it a gander 🙂

Feel free to share the link with your friends, family, neighbors, bank tellers, etc!

And if you happen to read the book, I would be beyond appreciative if you could leave a comment/review on the Amazon page! Reviews and Word of Mouth are going to be the best way for the book to gain any sort of exposure. A huge Thank You to my family and friends who have already ordered the book. Even though I’m bonkers nervous for people I know to read it, I am wholly humbled by the love and support I have received so far. This is legitimately a dream come true for me.

I really loved writing this and have outlined a sequel should anyone ever be interested in it 🙂 In the meantime, I’m presently working on another YA book and am about 1/2 way done with that.

If you have any questions/comments/concerns, please let me know!

And if you are interested, here’s a link to the Facebook page I started for me and the book 🙂

Have a fantastic day!

-Katie

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Hello!

Here is that massive book post I promised you ages ago. (It’s been a crazy few weeks. My ebook should be available soon and I’m busy writing a second YA novel. I just finished the first part – about 80K words – and will start on Part 2 tomorrow. I’m very much in love with this book and working on it is really fulfilling, albeit emotionally taxing.)

And now, here are the books I’ve read…

Very Far Away from Anywhere Else – by Ursula K. LeGuin – God, by now I read this book about 3 months ago. I remember that the cover did not accurately represent the main characters and that I really loved the book, though I cannot for the life of me specifically remember why. The two leads were friends (as I recall) and I think there was some pressure to be more, but that wasn’t important to them. What was important was moving forward and finding something to be passionate about in life. She had her music. He had… well, shit… I don’t remember. But it was a good book, I swear!

The Shape of Things to Come – by Maud Casey – I’ve been reading a lot of YA books (since I’m writing YA books) but decided to deviate and read something about a 30something (because I’m 30). Wrong move, Kate. I was hoping this book would help me on my path to figuring out what to do with my life, but instead it just made me feel more confused and sad and depressed. I liked how it was written, but content-wise, this wasn’t the best thing for me to be reading at this odd juncture in my life.

The Geography of You and Me – by Jennifer E. Smith – I love Jennifer E. Smith’s writing style. Her stories are really very simple, but her characters are so layered and relatable and you just really want to see their journey through because you can’t help but care. And you want to know what happens, even though it’s pretty easy to figure it out on your own. This book was about two teens who meet one night during an epic blackout in NYC, only to be separated soon thereafter because of families moving and other unforeseeable circumstances. They keep in touch via postcards until they don’t. These are characters you root for because you want good things for them. And I will gladly read anything by Jennifer E. Smith. Always.

Dreams of Significant Girls – by Cristina Garcia – I thought this was a really interesting book. I loved how it followed the same three characters for three summers and showed how so much can really change over that period of time, especially when said characters came from such different backgrounds. It’s always fascinating to read about people who are stuck living with people they would rather not, but seeing how their relationships grow and shift was very fulfilling. Plus, the book was just super well written.

#16thingsithoughtweretrue – by Janet Gurtler – I had it in my head that I wasn’t going to like this book because I wasn’t too impressed by the plot summary. But then I found myself really caring about the roadtrip and the characters who weren’t the protagonist. This book seriously plot-twisted at the end and I remember audibly yelling, “NOOOOOOO.”

Adorkable – by Sarra Manning – I do fancy a good British book every now and again and was glad I pulled this one off the shelf at the library. Quirky girl snogs popular boy even though they kind of hate each other. But then they don’t. And it becomes a big to-do about independence and self-respect and identity and relationships and vulnerability whatnot. It was an entertaining read.

Franny and Zooey – by J.D. Salinger – I tried, you guys. I tried and I failed. I get that reading Salinger is supposed to rock my world, but I was not into this book at all. Perhaps I’m so far removed from the way of life depicted in this book that I just didn’t care. Or perhaps it was because I was having an off day when I read it. Either way, I sped through this just to be done with it. Go ahead and judge.

Divergent – by Veronica Roth – I had to see what everyone was talking about. I’m a little over dystopian books/franchises at this point but powered through. It’s not that I didn’t like Tris, she just is not among my favorite literary heroines as of late. Four, despite his obvious (read: purposeful) character flaws is a little too perfect. Too chaste. And, I could not wrap my head around how people thought it was weird or wrong to identify with more than one group. I did like the book better than the movie, though. For what it’s worth.

Eleanor & Park – by Raindow Rowell – My heart is gone. This book ripped it out of my chest, tore it in two and threw it in the Hudson River. (I read a lot of this book while sitting at the pier in between work.) I had heard really good things about this book and found they were all true. This was wonderfully written, devastatingly gut-wrenching and altogether feelings mangling. Eleanor reminded me so much of someone I once knew well and I wanted to reach through the pages and tell her that she deserves so much more out of life than what she was being handed by her shitty stepfather and terrible kids at school. Reading the ever-growing friendship/relationship between Eleanor and Park made my heart hurt. They ways they showed they cared for each other were precious gifts to the reader. Reading this book was so intimate because of how guarded Eleanor kept herself. And rightly so – holy shit that poor girl was not having an easy time out of existing in her circumstances. I loved this book. I loved Eleanor and Park. I hated how this book made me feel when I was done reading it. If I had my heart, it would still be hurting.

Insurgent – by Veronica Roth – Here we go. Round 2. Tris and Four and those other people are doing stuff because of the government and whatnot. Honestly, I don’t really remember the plot that much. (I’m writing this about 2 months after I finished reading the book. You can tell it obviously didn’t leave that big of an impression on me.) I read this because I had just finished Divergent and the library had it. I still didn’t see what the big deal about being Divergent was… like, of course people are going to identify with more than one character trait. (I could not suspend the disbelief needed to enjoy this series.)

Better off Friends – by Elizabeth Eulberg – I very much enjoyed this book. Set in Wisconsin, it’s about a girl who befriends the new boy from California and is set from 7th grade through most of high school. They are best friends and everyone just assumes they are together or will get together. They date other people and ultimately come to terms with what kind of relationship works best between them. Friendships between teenage boys and girls are a tricky thing and I thought this book captured the ebb and flow of that time in a person’s life rather well. So many emotions. So much angst. So many changes. Sometimes just being friends is the best option. Sometimes it’s not.

The Distance Between Us – by Kasie West – West’s covers are awful, but her books are easy to get through and somewhat enjoyable. This time around, the girl is kinda poor, the guy is super rich, and class-based struggles ensue. There’s more to it than that, obviously, but that’s the general gist of it. I’ve read another one of West’s books and do keep an eye out for her name on my library shelves. I know her books won’t challenge me, but they are entertaining.

One Man Guy – by Michael Barakiva – A teenage boy comes to terms with his sexuality amid a very religious and culturally-focused family. Set in NYC, he befriends another gay kid and they have adventures throughout the city. This was an easy read and though it didn’t leave a lasting impression on me I was glad I read it, if only to get another author’s perspective on the subject matter.

Boy Meets Boy – by David Levithan – The story of a gay boy who meets and falls for another gay boy with minimal drama. That’s really it – their town is accepting of LGBTQ people for the most part. Miscommunications are worked through. I mean, there are some characters who are not all for all-things LGBTQ, but on a whole this is pretty much a paint-by-numbers with regards to plot progression. It was still a good read. Not my favorite Levithan book, but I did like it.

Then Again, Maybe I Won’t – by Judy Blume – I thought I had read every Judy Blume book when I was younger, but I never read this one. Maybe because its protagonist was a young man and when I was younger I kind of flocked to female characters. (Or biographies of people from various wars.) This was about a kid whose family becomes a little more well off than they used to be and how the new money affects them. It was basically a morality tale saying how you shouldn’t be a dick even though you’ve come into some money. I love Judy Blume, though. Forever and always.

The Beginning of Everything – by Robyn Schneider – I fell a little bit in love with this book and then it kind of threw me for a nasty loop when all the pieces came together. That being said, I would still totally recommend this because sometimes getting emotionally destroyed by a book is entirely satisfying (albeit rough on the feels). The main character was a tennis star at his school until his leg got smashed in a car accident. He quickly falls from the very top of the social food chain and goes through school limping to the beat of a new drummer, if you will. Plus there’s a mysterious new girl in town. That never ends well, does it? I’m keeping an eye out for other titles by Schneider in hopes of getting my heart ripped out again.

Boys Like You – by Juliana Stone – This book is about an NYC girl named Monroe who spends the summer down in Louisiana with her grandma after an unfortunate accident back home. She unwillingly befriends a local boy with a bad reputation and a super guilty conscious. Their relationship gets closer as they deal with their shit together and individually. I didn’t feel like this book covered much new ground with regard to the genre, but I get the appeal for a teenage audience (angst and a hot guy who plays guitar).

Winger – by Andrew Smith – This is a book about a 14-year-old junior who is in love with his 16-year-old junior best friend. Winger plays rugby, dorms with delinquints and has a hella intense year at school that involves drinking, injuries, love, death, cartoons and all sorts of coming-of-age plot that kind of just hits you in the feels. I very much enjoyed this book even though parts of it really made me sad. Smith’s writing style, though… I want to be able to absorb it just by clutching onto his books.

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist – by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan – I’ve seen this movie several times but never read the book even though this is one of my friend’s favorite books of all time. I saw it on the shelf at the library and grabbed it. I love David Levithan and will read anything with his name on it. I was glad I read this book and enjoyed it enough, but I think since I’m so in love with the movie and I saw that first, I’m going to favor the film adaptation. Sorry, but not really. Still read the book, though. For reals.

Bossypants – by Tina Fey – This was one of those books that made me laugh out loud when I was reading it in the park. To the point where I had to cover my mouth and try to disguise my laughter as a coughing fit lest I be judged. I love Tina Fey. She is one of my lady heroes and I will forever be indebted to her for her work on SNL, 30 Rock and Mean Girls. (And since I love her so much, I’m going to, from now on, pretend that I didn’t see Date Night or This is Where I Leave You.) Fey is a smart, strong woman who knows comedy well. She’s a great writer and she knows what works. I admire her candidness and appreciate her comedy and writing pointers. This was a great read. Between this and Mindy Kaling’s book, I feel like there are people out there who might just understand my weirdness.

Fangirl – by Rainbow Rowell – Okay. So this is all about fandom obsession. I’m on Tumblr. I’ve read stuff on fanfiction websites. (Hell, I even wrote a paper for my grad school internet ethics class about the legality of fanfiction.) But I’ve never been as far into fandom as Cath so I could not really sympathize with how far she dug herself into the fandom lifestyle. I get being a fan of someone/something to the point of decorating your room, wearing shirts, etc… But when you submit fanfiction for a college assignment – sorry, but that’s not acceptable. Fandom is great for fitting in with people online (or even in person), but that can’t be your only thing you have going for you. And I guess that’s what frustrated me most about this book. I wanted to reach through the pages and shake Cath a bit and tell her she needs to find a hobby. I’m a hermit who spends a bulk of her time reading and writing too, so there was definitely stuff I could relate to too. But on a whole, the book mostly frustrated me despite how much I liked how it was written.

Allegiant – by Veronica Roth – Finally. The last one. I breezed through the first two books and this one as well. I kind of felt obligated to finish out the trilogy even though I wasn’t entirely on board with it. But, I’m glad I read them all so now I get what the hype is about with regard to the movies. (I don’t agree with it, but I get it… there’s a difference.) I wasn’t that surprised by the ending, though I can see why so many people flipped out over it. Props to Roth for not shying away from doing something hard as opposed to appeasing the fans.

Happy Accidents – by Jane Lynch – I love memoirs that don’t just paint a rosy picture of what it’s like to be rich and famous these days. It turns out Lynch wasn’t the nicest person ever, nor did she ever have it super easy as she tried to launch her acting career. I liked reading about her struggles with coming out, trying to get featured more in her early days in comedy, and how hard work and a lot of luck played a major part in getting her where she is today. I did find it awkward to read all about how she met her wife because they are now divorced and that’s sad. I’ve seen a lot of her films. A Mighty Wind will always be my favorite. Those New Main Street Singers are awesome.

100 Sideways Miles – by Andrew Smith – I will read anything Andrew Smith writes. So when I saw this title on the shelf, I grabbed it and debated between flying through it or taking my time to savor Smith’s writing style (which I envy like whoa). Smith is such a great storyteller and I love the relationships he forms between his characters. He writes teenage male friendships so well. And I loved how this book measured passing time using distance the Earth travels around the son. (The title refers to five seconds – or the amount of time it took for a dead horse to fall off a truck on a bridge and onto him and his mom below.) Even the most far-fetched aspects of this book are still believable because the narrator is just so damn convincing and likable. Thank you, Andrew Smith.

If You Find Me – by Emily Murdoch – Wow. I was not expecting to like this book as much as I did, but then again you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, are you? (BUT I DO! I TOTALLY DO! ALL THE TIME!) This book was about two girls (15 and 8, I believe) who live in the woods with their mother ever since they were little. Their mom leaves them and the older girl’s biological father and a social worker come find them. The girls have to acclimate back into society in their new living situation (which includes a stepmom and stepsister) and going to school. Of course some serious shit went down in the woods, but the girls persevered because survival was all they’d ever known. Good book. And now I’m on the lookout for other titles by Murdoch.

The Book Thief – by Markus Zusak – I not so secretly am fascinated by stories (fictional or not) set during the World Wars, especially WWII. I was unaware that this book was written from Death’s perspective (that’s not a spoiler – it’s easy to get that right off the bat when Death speaks about taking people’s souls…), but found that to be a really intriguing POV. I knew the title character was a little girl (I saw the movie trailer, though have yet to see the movie) and figured this book would break my heart. That’s a bit of an understatement. Death gives you some of the bigger, more gut-wrenching plot points ahead of time but the blows are still just as big and painful. This was a long book (500+ pages) with very, very tiny font. I was still able to get through it in a few days because it was such a good read even though it made me sad. I very much recommend this book.

Hope Was Here – by Joan Bauer – This was a super quick read about a girl named Hope (nee Tulip) who lived with her aunt. They moved around working at various diners in various states. This book was about their latest move to middle of nowhere Wisconsin (which I could relate to, as I used to live in Minnesota). Though I never worked at a diner, I caught on quick to the lingo and could empathize with the customer service woes (I worked at Macy’s. I get it.) Hope was a straight-laced girl with a crush on a good guy and the gumption to fight for what was right even though she got the short end of the stick in big ways throughout her life. I liked this enough that if I come across any more of Bauer’s books at the library, I’d give them a whirl.

King Dork – by Frank Portman – This book had a bunch of blurbs on the covers and inside boasting how hilarious it was. I realized halfway through the book that almost all of said blurbs were written by dudes. The book had its charming moments and I did laugh out loud a couple times, but I’m sure it would have had a bigger impact on me if I were a 15-year-old boy. Thomas (aka Chi-Mo, aka Moe) was likable enough and I did feel bad that he was at the bottom of the social food chain. There was a lot of plot (a LOT of plot) and at times I felt like there was too much going on, but it wasn’t impossible to keep straight and if you thought about it, you could see how most of the plot twists came to be/kind of made sense.

So, yeah! If you’ve got any book recommendations, please let me know!

Hello Internet friends,

I know I owe you a ginormous post about all the books I’ve been reading. That’s on my to-do list, I swear.

However, I wanted to share some exciting news with you. My first book is being published as an ebook!

I’ve been sending query letters out to literary agents over the past few months and so far they’ve all passed with very gracious rejection letters. However, an online publishing company expressed interest in my query letter and then asked to see a completed manuscript… AND THEN SAID THEY WANTED TO PUBLISH MY BOOK AS AN EBOOK!

So, I’m finishing up some edits, working on a cover design and setting up various author pages. If all goes well, the ebook will be released in about two months, maybe less. And of course I will post out to everything once it is available.

I’ve been pretty hush hush about the actual subject of the book as I’ve been working on it (because people can steal ideas … that’s a terrible thing, but it happens). But, I can say that it’s a YA book and it’s about high school baseball.

I’m looking forward to sharing the rest of this process with everyone. In the meantime, I’m going to finish editing this book and write some more of the other book I’m working on… (Yes, I’m still writing! I’m 30 chapters into a completely different YA book, which is presently titled “College Book” because I have no idea what it should be called. Alas. But I’m in love with this book and I can’t wait to finish writing it!)

WRITING! IT’S THE BEST!

Have a fantastic weekend 🙂

Wow. It’s been a while since I last posted about the books I’ve read and I’ve read a bunch more since then. Even though I want to be getting back to the book I’m writing (I’m in the middle of re-writing/editing a second book and just started writing a brand spanking new book that I really wasn’t planning on writing but the words just started flowing… so, lots of writing the past few weeks!), here’s what I’ve been reading:

Dairy Queen – by Catherine Gilbert Murdock – A high school girl who grew up in a football-loving family and works on her family’s cow farm is coerced into training a rival team’s player. He’s a jerk at first, but of course they start to like each other. She then decides to try out for her own high school’s football team without telling him. I’m all for girl power when it comes to hard work and overcoming obstacles, but this book was predictable and a bit cheesetastic.

Debutante Hill – by Lois Duncan – Written in the 1950s, this “aw shucks” and “gee” filled book is about a rich high school girl who is upset that her dad forbids her from partaking in all the debutante events that one of her peer’s mom’s starts up. There is a definite rich kids vs. poor kids aspect to the story, as the protagonist agrees to go out with Dirk, a boy from the other side of the tracks (even though she’s totally seeing a rich guy who just went off to college). I liked Dirk a lot and really felt for his character throughout. He wasn’t a bad guy, just misunderstood and overlooked. I enjoyed this book for what it was worth and always appreciate it when a rich kid gets a reality check.

Unbreak My Heart – by Melissa Walker – This book is about a high school girl on a summer-long boat trip with her family and how she deals with a fallout with her BFF and befriends/crushes on a boy who is taking a boat-trip with his dad. The cover for this book is awful (as I’ve found most YA covers are) and I was embarrassed to be seen holding this book even though the story itself actually wasn’t half bad. I thought the protagonist was selfish, but most high school girls are. (I would know… I was one once.)

Catalyst – by Laurie Halse Anderson – Talk about a dramatic turn for the worst. Geez. I did like this book, as I like LHA’s writing style for the most part. Another selfish high school girl, but this time it’s one who was determined to get into the one and only college she applied to and be an overachieving perfect person. Her odd friendship (that’s too strong of a word, but I can’t think of anything better) with the troubled girl from school whose house burned down was really interesting and I thought this book went to a lot of dark places. I would recommend this, for sure.

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period – by Gennifer Choldenko – Um, so I was the completely wrong demographic for this book. (I mean, I am for all YA books, lets be real, but this book should have been labeled Middle Grade, as it was for younger middle schoolers at best.) If you are at a 5th grade reading level and want to read about a chubby white girl befriending a black boy and then them finding out they have more in common than they think, than go right ahead and read this. It was sadly an epic waste of my time even though it was well written.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight – by Jennifer Smith – I love stories that are mostly set over 24 hours because it gives you a crash course in who these people are and whether they are compatible with each other as they are forced to be by each other’s side practically the whole time. (I’m writing a script about something similar, so this helped a lot in that regard.) I’m a huge fan of Smith and will gladly read any of her books. This was cute, funny, sad and just overall very enjoyable (albeit so far-fetched… I mean, stuff like this doesn’t really happen to m/any people). This was a quick, lovely read and I very much recommend it.

Subway Love – by Nora Raleigh Baskin – Nope. Just no. I was not a huge fan of the writing style or the plot once I got going. (A girl from the 70s and a boy from the present meet/interact/fall in love on a subway car that somehow lets them transcend time.) Each chapter had the same grainy picture at the beginning of it, which was credited to being from a Wikipedia page. Really? I sped through the second half of it so I could return it to the library as soon as humanly possible. While I respect the author for getting her work published, this book was unfortunately not for me. At all.

Pieces – by Chris Lynch – A boy’s brother dies and some of his organs are donated to other people. The boy then meets up with some of the recipients and questions what his relationship is/should be with these people who now house a piece of his brother. I thought the book was headed a different direction than it ended up going. I didn’t not like it, but I wanted more.

The Darlings in Love – by Melissa Kantor – I had a problem with the protagonists being 14 because their problems seemed more fitting to 16-18 year olds. The BFF-ness of it all was fine, but I don’t think that 14-year-olds can properly grasp the concept of being in love with someone. Like, crushes and whatnot, sure. But end-all-be-all relationships and love does not happen when you’re 14. (Did you see what happened to Romeo and Juliet? Wait till you’re older and actually understand, kids.)

The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin – by Josh Berk – I liked that this book had a deaf protagonist who was friends with a nerdy polite kid, and that they solved a crime together. But I thought some of the word choices were silly. I’m not really a fan of silly. But, I get that this book is aimed at younger boys and younger boys seem to eat silly up. So, there you have it.

Everybody Sees the Ants – by A.S. King – This book has been staring me in the face for months and I finally checked it out. I regret not reading it sooner because it was just such a satisfying read. I think I’ve read 3 or 4 of King’s books so far and this was certainly my favorite. It’s about a boy who gets picked on a lot and his parents are worried he’s going to harm himself, so his mom takes him on a three-week vacation to visit his relatives. He keeps having dreams about rescuing his POW grandfather and then wakes up holding weird items from said dreams. He befriends a girl while on vacation and learns a lot about himself and his family. It’s just a really good book and I’m definitely not doing it justice.

Project Sweet Life – by Brent Hartinger – A super quick read about three friends and a summer of shenanigans as they tried to avoid getting summer jobs (but still trying to make money). I like Hartinger’s writing style, having read one of his books before. This book was good, but I won’t need to read it again.

Grand & Humble – by Brent Hartinger – Oh my god, I’m only just now getting the second meaning of the title as I’m writing this out and I read this book two weeks ago. DAMN, SON. This was the first book in a long while where I was actually super caught off guard by the plot twist. I thought I knew what was going on, but I totally did not. It’s about two high school boys and how their lives are eerily similar even though they have nothing and everything to do with each other. I’m describing it poorly, but it was a good read. Man, I feel so stupid for not getting the title sooner. (An accident happens at the junction of Grand & Humble, but there is totally another meaning behind it… oh my god.)

The Burn Journals – by Brent Runyon – This is a first person account told years after the fact about a 14-yr-old boy who set himself on fire in a suicide attempt (that he immediately regretted) and the physical, emotional and mental recovery he went through. Runyon is a phenomenal storyteller and I am so grateful that he shared his story like this. What a horrible, horrible thing to go through… but he did get through it. And it took a lot of work, and seemed very painful on a lot of levels. This book will stay with me, that’s for sure.

The Miracle Stealer – by Neil Connelly – A girl’s younger brother is seen as miracle worker in their small community and she thinks that they are using him. She tries to protect him, but some bad stuff goes down. I’m not a super religious person and I don’t really buy into the belief that some people are tools of God, so I could see where this girl was coming from. The book was okay, but I had a hard time believing that the kind of mom this book depicts would name her daughter “Anderson.” I know that’s a petty complaint, but it took me out of the story several times.

New Kid – by Tim Green – I yanked this book off the shelf at the library because it was about a boy playing baseball. While on vacation, I leant it to a friend and she read it before I did, saying I was going to hate the ending. And she was right – what a terrible ending. Geez. This was another book in the YA section that should have been labeled Middle Grade. Basically, this kid and his dad move around a lot because the dad’s job has kind of forced them into hiding. And his dad has a habit of making them move when the kid is literally in the middle of a baseball game. Sigh. It’s not great. And then the terrible ending happens.

Wintergirls – by Laurie Halse Anderson – This book is about a high school girl with anorexia. Her bulimic friend dies alone in a motel room and then the anorexic girl must deal with that death on top of her own body image issues. This is one of the few books I’ve ever read about eating disorders. I know I will never be able to fully understand the struggle of people who suffer from anorexia and bulimia, but I’m thankful for books like this to give me a glimpse into that world. This was a good read, albeit a sad and frustrating one.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – by Jesse Andrews – A Jewish high school boy and his black BFF who like to make shitty home movies befriend a Jewish girl from their school who is dying of cancer. No one falls in love and no huge lessons are learned, but it was fascinating to see how the characters all coped with what was going on. There were a lot of cultural stereotypes, but I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised about that.

Somebody Up There Hates You – by Hollis Seamon – More teens with cancer, but these kids are in Hospice. And there is love and sex and other shenanigans. This was a mostly enjoyable read despite the subject matter. I think I’m going to lay off the “kids with cancer” books for awhile, though.

Boys Wanted – by Flynn Meaney – There is a sudden shortage of desirable boys at the Wisconsin high school featured in the book. Told from Hunter and Kelly’s points of view, we follow them through their school year and how Hunter’s stock rises even though he was kind of a slacker. Even though this book was totally predictable, it wasn’t half bad. Hunter and Kelly were both likable.

On the Fence – by Kasie West – Another shitty cover that wasn’t even remotely close to depicting what actually happens in the book. (SOMEONE MAKE BETTER YA COVERS, PLEASE) The book is about a tomboy who has feelings for her next door neighbor and sometimes late at night they talk to each other through the fence. The girl ends up working at some clothes shop and along the way allows herself to be a bit more girly (clothes, makeup, whatnot). She thinks that’ll help in the guy department, though she is repeatedly told by her brothers and the boy next door to be herself (even though that has landed her zero dates thus far). This book wasn’t terrible, but it was also very predictable.

My Heartbeat – by Garret Freymann-Weyt – Fourteen year old Emily (I think?) looks up to her 17-year-old brother, Link, and his best friend, James (who she is madly in love with). Link and James love each other, but Link is afraid to define himself as gay and James doesn’t like that Link is not open with how they feel about each other. They fight and part ways, but then James starts hanging out and then seeing Emily (which is basically a dream come true for her since she’s loved James since she was little, but also confusing because she knows James and her brother loved each other, though that love was never consummated for reasons). I had no idea what this book was about when I grabbed it off the shelf, but I’m glad I read it. Self-acceptance and acceptance from society are always hot-button issues and I thought this book was written really beautifully.

So, yeah… that’s what I’ve been reading. I’m in the middle of two books right now, but will wait until I’m done reading those (and several others) before I post about books again.

I’ve been super busy with the books I’m writing too. I’m presently querying agents/agencies regarding the book I finished writing in May. I’ve heard back from three places (all No) so far, but I’m going to just keep on querying. In the meantime, I’m re-writing/editing a book I wrote last summer (YA book about two high school teens and how they meet on vacation) in addition to writing a book about two high school freshmen navigating the challenges of self-perception/the public’s perception. I think I might put the vacation book on the backburner for a bit because I’m really finding some momentum with this college book. I got 15 pages written so far and hope to write a few more tonight before I head to bed.

As always, if you have any suggestions on books I should read, please let me know!

Have a good one

Wow, so I didn’t realize that I’ve read 15 YA books in the last month and a half… Some of them were really great and some of them were just plain awful. As I look ahead to the next book I’m planning on writing, I’m actively trying to read more books with a female protagonist. There are also some authors who I’ve grown attached too over the past few months, so I’ve been trying to read more of their work too.

Here’s my thoughts on what I’ve been reading:

Shine – Lauren Myracle – This book is about a hate crime in rural America. A young gay man is attacked at a gas station and his former BFF tries to piece together who did it because she feels the cops aren’t doing enough. It’s one of several books I’ve read recently where the female protagonist is a survivor of physical assault. I’m always interested to read how other girls (even fictional ones) deal with that. The book spans only a couple weeks. I like condensed time lines like that – I feel it offers a sense of urgency to solve the crime. This was a good book and I’m glad I finally read it. (I had checked it out of the library once before but had returned it before even cracking it open.)

Out of the Pocket – Bill Konigsberg – I wanted to read this book for months and I finally tracked down a copy! I’ve read one of Konigsberg’s other books (Openly Straight) and liked it a lot, but was desperate to read this one because it dealt with a gay high school football player. While I’m not a fan of football, I was eager to read this since my book is also about a gay high school sports player (baseball, though) and I thought this book would be educational to read. I like Konigsberg’s writing style and thought the story was engaging.

The Boy on the Bridge – Natalie Standiford – I was so disappointed while I was reading this book. I read Standiford’s How to Say Goodbye in Robot and LOVED it, but this book was the complete opposite of that… I hated it. And wished I could unread it or at least get those couple hours of my life back. The most disappointing aspect of the story was how the female protagonist was basically throwing away her education and her time in Russia for some boy she really didn’t know that well. What they had did not come across as love and it was frustrating as a reader to read page after page of this girl making a string of stupid and irresponsible decisions. I would put this female protagonist right up there with Bella Swan as terrible literary characters that little girls should never aspire to be.

Break – Hannah Moskowitz – I’ve read a few other books by Moskowitz, but I think this was her debut novel. It was about a boy who was determined to break every bone in his body so that they would grow back stronger. He had a really troubled home life (in that his younger brother was pretty much allergic to everything, and there was a crying baby around all the time, and his parents weren’t all that with it all the time) and his friend was an enabler with him wanting to break himself. It was really disturbing to read the thought process of this kid, because you just wanted to reach through the page and demand that he stop hurting himself.

Ask the Passengers – A.S. King – This book was about a high school girl coming to terms with her sexuality. (She was in a relationship with a girl she worked with at a catering company.) There was definitely more to the story than just that, but what I took away from this was how I really enjoy King’s writing. I’ve read a few of her books by now and they are good reads.

Boyfriends with Girlfriends – Alex Sanchez – This was another book I wish I could unread. I don’t get how people praise Sanchez’s writing because I feel he writes down to his intended audience and the end result is immature, silly and insulting. I get that this book was trying to open up people’s eyes about bisexuality and gender fluidity, but I could not get over how awful the dialogue was and how immature the descriptions of sex were. Also, his characters giggled a lot. Like, “tee hee” was written across more than several pages. The thing is, Sanchez is very well published within the LGBTQ YA genre. This was the second book of his that I’ve read. And while I thought The God Box was okay, I thought this was just plain bad. And I hate to write that because I fear someone will someday say that about my book… but I honestly was wondering how he justified writing the book the way he did. High school kids don’t talk like that. They just don’t.

Marly’s Ghost – David Levithan – This was my palette cleanser after the Sanchez fiasco. A modern retelling of A Christmas Carol, Marly’s Ghost is about a young man mourning the death of his girlfriend. Her ghost comes to visit him around Valentine’s Day and says that he’ll be visited by three ghosts. The boy overcomes his Bah Humbug feelings about the holiday that’s meant to celebrate love and finds that he can and will love again. It wasn’t a real head-scratcher, nor was it on par with some of his other books, but I enjoyed it. This was a very quick read.

The Sky is Everywhere – Jandy Nelson – A high school girl’s older sister died and she and her extended family that she lives with are in mourning. During this time, she gets closer to her dead sister’s boyfriend, as well as the new boy in town who just started up at her school. It’s easy to see why both guys are attractive – one helps her remember her sister, while the other is a new distraction from it all. There was a lot of poetry in this book (as the protagonist was prone to writing prose on anything she could get her hands on), but I thought it added rather than detracted from the main focus of the book.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz – A.S. King – A high school girl’s former BFF died and she’s the only person who knows the truth about his death, though she doesn’t tell anyone for a long while. She lives with her dad (as her young mother ditched them when Vera turned 12) and they don’t relate super well with each other (although they do love each other). Vera gets a bit self-destructive at times, but she eventually comes clean about everything. Again, I just really dig King’s writing style.

You are Here – Jennifer E. Smith – I LOVED THIS BOOK. I just really wish the cover reflected the characters better. (The cover has two obscenely attractive high school students sitting on/leaning on a car, whereas the kids in the book are much more normal/dorky than that. I’m sorry, but if the book describes the boy as bespectacled and with a bad haircut, don’t put some glasses-less Abercrombie looking dude on the front cover. I almost didn’t pick this book up because I thought it was about attractive teen runaways.) I forget the characters’ names, but the main girl finds out that she had a twin brother who died days after they were born, so she decides she’s going to steal her older brother’s car and drive from NY to NC to see her dead brother’s grave. When the car breaks down, she calls the quiet neighbor boy (Patrick! I think…) and he runs away from home to go with her on her journey. His stipulation for going is that they stop at some historical landmarks along the way. The two teens were friendly with each other, but were never really friends. During their trip, they find out a lot about each other and themselves. I thought this book was really well written and I cared dearly for these characters (especially the boy) as they made their way to NC. I would gladly read this again someday.

Being Friends With Boys – Terra Elan McVoy – I was intrigued because this book was about a high school girl who managed her guy friends’ band, but then it turned into a drama-fest about, well, being friends with boys. I liked that the protagonist was depicted as an average girl (like, she wasn’t super skinny or flawlessly beautiful), but I did not like how the book went on and on about her feelings for a couple guys, but then in the last couple chapters it’s all “hold the phone, I’m madly in love with this guy who I haven’t really talked about since the first third of the book.” It was an okay read, but I’m not racing out to read anything else by this author.

Dying to Know You – Aidan Chambers – Another book that I loved, but the cover (and title) was completely misleading. The cover had two goldfish on it… which really had not much to do with the book being about an 18-year-old plumber befriending an elderly writer and how their friendship grew while the writer was trying to help the plumber write about himself to appease his girlfriend. The book was charming and the main character was the writer – which was a little odd for a YA book, but I dug it nonetheless.

Lauren Yanofsky Hates the Holocaust – Leanne Liberman – This book had been staring me in the face every time I go to the library and peruse the Ls for more David Levithan books. I am fascinated by the Holocaust, so I bit. It wasn’t a bad book. It was about a Jewish girl who basically was sick of hearing about the Holocaust and decided to renounce her Jewish-ness. However, she found she was unable to do that when a group of guys from her school (including her crush) were joking around and pretending they were Nazis. The overarching themes of cultural respect and self-acceptance were good.

Speak – Laurie Halse Anderson – Taking place over the course of a school year, the protagonist continues to close in on herself as her peers continue to blame her for calling the cops at a party. The truth is something terrible happened to her at said party, but no one else knows. She finally finds her voice (through words and art) and gets the confidence to stand up for herself. This book was really powerful on a personal level because of the subject matter. While i did not experience the same kind of assault as the protagonist, we were the same age when it happened. I wanted her to speak up so badly, but at the same time I understand why she didn’t. This was a good read and I’m looking forward to reading more books from the same author.

This is What Happiness Looks Like – Jennifer E. Smith – I liked the premise of this book. A teenage movie star accidentally emails a teenage girl about his pet pig (because he misspelled the email address he was actually trying to reach). They befriend each other online and email back and forth for awhile when he decides to shoot his next movie in her town and meet her in person. Drama and teenage feels ensue, but it wasn’t cheesy (even though it easily could have been). I liked Smith’s other book better, but I’m definitely keeping my eye out for more of her stuff. She’s really great at writing description and it makes me jealous.

So, yeah… that’s what I’ve been reading. Most of it was good. Some of it was not.

I’m still working on my book! I finished a major round of edits yesterday. I will be looking into literary agents in the coming weeks to try and get that process rolling. Some days I’m really confident in what I wrote. Others I am not. Of the friends who I sent the first draft, four of them gave me some really useful notes, which I did take into consideration as I edited. I know the book still needs some help, but it is coming along.

(I also went to a few theater shows in the past few weeks, but I’ll write that up in another post a little later.)

If you have any book recommendations, let me know!! I’m always reading 🙂

I am so behind on updates here. I’ve seen several Broadway/theater shows and have read a bunch of books. This will be a books post and I’ll work on a theater post next week (since I’m seeing two more shows this weekend… WHAT?! Yep. I love me some theater.).

So, without further ado… here’s what I’ve been reading since my last book post.

I am J – by Cris Beam – This is the first book I’ve ever read about a transgendered teen and it was a good read. The protagonist J was born in the body of a girl but identified as male and was eager to start on testosterone. It was very interesting to read how he dealt with internal and external conflicts. Though I cannot wholly identify with J, I was grateful to have a little glimpse into his world.

Every Day – by David Levithan – This book almost broke me. It’s about A, a person who spends every day of his/her life in the body of someone else. A does not identify as male or female, but during the few weeks this book covers in A’s life, A falls for the girlfriend of a boy whose body he inhabits one day. It was cool to read about how A dealt with the similarities and differences of the day to day lives of others and how s/he has had to experience other people’s lives without any prior knowledge of their pasts. (A can access memories/habits/allergies, but it’s not an instant thing all the time.) I am a fan of Levithan’s work and this book in particular was both a pleasure and a pain to read. I was craving some closure at the end but it never came. I’d like to read this again some day.

One in Every Crowd – by Ivan E. Coyote – This was a collection of Coyote’s autobiographical short stories. Coyote is a queer author and her stories covered her childhood into adulthood. Her being queer was not the main focus, but that aspect of her life definitely colored all of the entries in the book. I liked her writing style, but her stories seemed repetitious to me and I found myself skimming through some of them. Though I was not a huge fan of this book, it was inspiring to read because it reminded me of the book of autobiographical short stories I wanted to write.

The Lover’s Dictionary – by David Levithan – This wasn’t really a novel, per se, but an actual dictionary of words (A-Z) that dealt with relationships and for each word, there were some sentences or a couple paragraphs that gave a story example of the word in relation to the author’s own relationship. This was a super quick read, but a very powerful one at that. This will eventually end up on my massive book shelf once I get my own place. A must-read. Trust me.

Invisibility – by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan – Um, no. Just… no. This book was a story about an invisible boy (his mom was cursed by her father) and the one girl who can see him. Their 16-yr-old selves start getting all swoony on each other, her little brother is gay, and there’s spell-seekers and spell-casters. I wanted to not finish reading this because I kept stopping to belittle myself for starting it to begin with. But, David Levithan’s name was attached to it, so I read. I will never compromise myself like this again if I can help it. It was a silly book and did not offer me any sort of inspiration or joy as I read it.

An Abundance of Katherines – by John Green – WHY do I keep reading John Green books? I wholly disliked the protagonist and thought the whole thing was rather pretentious. I am not on the John Green bandwagon (sorry, not sorry). I do like his writing style, but I rarely like the characters, which leads to a usually frustrating reading experience (see also: Paper Towns). Plus, you can only read the words “Jew-fro” and “man boobs” so many times before you want to throw the book across the room. Why did he date so many people named Katherine? Or, rather, why would so many girls named Katherine date this boy? He seemed like a jerk.

Leave Myself Behind – by Bart Yates – I LOVED this book. I had zero expectations and no prior knowledge of what this book was about, but it was on some list I had and it was at the library, so I snatched it up and then read it in a couple days because I could not put it down. I liked this protagonist – he wasn’t a perfect kid, but he was so well written. I felt bad about why his mom was a little off (family drama… yikes), but liked their relationship. And thought it’s cliché, I like it when the main character falls for the neighbor boy.

Love, Football, and Other Contact Sports – by Alden R. Carter – Ugh. I did not like this book of short stories. Not only was it all about football (ew), but I just didn’t care about any of the characters. I skimmed the back half of the book. No me gusta.

Reality Boy – by A.S. King – This was an interesting read. It was about a boy whose family was on a reality nanny show when he was five years old. The book takes place when he’s 16, so it’s very much the aftermath of his 15 minutes of fame and how being on that reality show basically ruined his family life and left him as an outlier among his peers. Though I could have done without all the poop references (the kid would crap on tables, in shoes, etc… when he was on the reality show and was then nicknamed “Crapper”), I liked the book on a whole and was very glad I picked it up.

The F-It List – by Julie Halpern – The premise of this book was good – a girl’s best friend gets cancer and she agrees to help her cancer friend complete items on her Bucket List (which they rename the “fuck-it list”). But, that bucket list was not the main focus of the book… no, instead the female protagonist gets all moody and thinks about hooking up with some mysterious/weirdo kid at her school. The best friend with cancer plot line is omnipresent, but only because the protagonist keeps bringing it up as an after thought to her passive-aggressive bit she keeps doing with the guy she obviously wants to date but instead keeps pushing him away because she’s a bitch. (Yep, I said it. I’m a girl, so I can say things like that.) The protagonist was selfish. For pretty much the whole book. Selfish. And that really bothered me.

Nothing Pink – by Mark Hardy – This was a quick read, but a good one. It was about a gay boy whose parents/family were heavily involved in the church (and they think homosexuality is a sin). It was interesting to read about his relationship with God/the church juxtaposed against his parents’ opinions about his sexuality. I probably don’t ever need to read this again, but I was glad I picked it up from the library.

Happy Families – by Tanita S. Davis – Another book about a transgendered person, but this time it was the father of 16-yr-old twins. The twins were not very open to the thought of their father wanting to live as a woman. I don’t know if I was supposed to feel bad for the kids, because I did not. I thought they were brats. This was a decent read, but I was mostly disappointed in the main characters.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – by Mark Haddon – Oh my goodness, read this book! I knew this was adapted into a play and will open on Broadway later this year, so I wanted to read it before I saw the play and I’m so glad I did. What a great book! It’s about a 15-yr-old autistic boy (he’s a math savant) who finds his neighbor’s dog dead and he decides to figure out who murdered it. Along the way, there are some huge revelations about his parents and the neighbors and it’s an awful lot for him to take in. I found myself identifying a lot with Christopher and really felt for him when he was having trouble reading people, when his routines were disrupted and how he coped with trying to calm himself down.

So, yeah… that’s what I’ve been reading the past few weeks. I just got an email from the library saying a book I’ve wanted to read for awhile now is ready for me to pick up, so I’m super excited to start that tomorrow.

With all the reading I’ve been doing, I’ve still been writing my own book. I’m in the middle of writing Chapter 28 and have a few more chapters left to go. The past couple chapters have been really draining to write because of the subject matter (spoiler alert – one of my characters is the survivor of a hate crime). But, it’s onwards and upwards from now on. I’m giving these guys a happy ending, dammit.

Have you read any good books lately? I’m always looking for suggestions!

So, I haven’t posted on here in forever. But I have finished reading a few books over the past few weeks and have a few recommendations among them.

 

I think the last time I made a post about books I was reading Stick, so I’ll start with that…

 

Stick – by Andrew Smith – This book about Stick (real name “Stark”) and his older, gay brother Bosten was an enjoyable read. It wasn’t a super happy read (their home life was terrible), but it was enjoyable nonetheless. I wanted to give most of the characters hugs. I liked that it was mostly about a sibling relationship, and brothers at that. I am drawn to stories about boys/men dealing with emotional stuff and having to talk about it with other boys/men. Man feelings. Can you dig it?

 

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares – by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn – I very much enjoyed the premise of this book. Lily and Dash communicate via a shared notebook and they make each other go on little adventures. It was a friendship story where people were friends through the written word before meeting in person. (Of course it develops into a story about teens liking each other, because that’s how these things take shape…) I loved this book until I really didn’t. It took a really strange (re: wholly silly/unbelievable) plot turn toward the end and took me out of the magical cuteness that the story had been up until that point. I don’t like when things get silly. I don’t feel it advances the plot and it actually is quite insulting. As a reader, I don’t like it when the author (or authors, in this case) takes the story on a route that pulls you completely out of the book. I honestly stopped reading at one point, shut the book and heaved a heavy sigh of disgust. I still liked this book (for the most part), I just wish it would have taken a better route to get to the ending.

 

Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List – by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn – This is the first thing (co-)written by David Levithan that I hated. I couldn’t wait to finish the book because I needed to return it to the library as soon as humanly possible. I could not stand the female protagonist and her immaturity. Naomi (straight high school girl) was basically madly in love with her gay guy BFF Ely and she kept getting mad at him for not returning the feelings (and for kissing her boyfriend, who turned out to be gay). It’s frustrating to read about characters who are best friends even though one of them is a kind of terrible/selfish/ignorant person. I liked Ely for the most part, but even he got on my nerves. I do not recommend this book. I just… ugh.

 

Maurice – by E.M. Forster – I’ve seen just about every E.M. Forster film adaptation except for Maurice, so I was very keen to track down this book and read that before I ultimately track down the film. It was interesting to read about the relationship between two guys set in the early 1900s, but heartbreaking at the same time. I admit that I skimmed the last half of the book (it was due at the library the following day and couldn’t be renewed), but I got the general gist of it. It was a good read and I really do want to see the movie.

 

Gone, Gone, Gone – by Hannah Moskowitz – This book is about a gay teen named Craig who is living near DC post-9/11 (when all the sniper stuff was going on). Someone broke into his house and all his pets ran away. Also, his ex-boyfriend’s father died in 9/11 and was now at some mental institution. Craig falls hard for a new kid, Lio (he was a cancer kid and his twin brother died when they were younger). So, basically a lot of drama on top of even more drama. Oh, and these boys love each other after a few weeks/months. Do 15-year-olds really fall in love like this? Every time I read a YA book and the 13-16 year old characters go on and on and on about falling in love, I’m like, “Really?” I think back to when I was in middle school and early high school. I wasn’t in love with anyone. I had massive crushes on people, yes, but even then I knew I wasn’t mature enough to be in love. So when I read all these books about kids falling in love, I wonder if I just missed out on something early on, or if I’m supposed to suspend disbelief because everyone just loves reading about people being in love. (For the record, the book I’m writing is about high school juniors and though they like each other an awful lot, they are not going to profess their love for each other because they’ve known each other for, like, two months.) I thought this book was a little too heavy on the drama, but I liked Moskowitz’s writing style and decided if I came across any more of her books, I’d give them a whirl.

 

When Love Comes to Town – by Tom Lennon – I pulled this book off the shelf at the library because the spine was the hands of two guys clasped. I was pleased to see that once I got the book off the shelf, the book front and back had the two guys – just two dudes wearing plaid shirts and jeans holding hands. Adorable. The book itself was a little less adorable, but really interesting. It was about this gay high school senior named Neil who knew he was gay since he was about 10 or 11, but was scared to come out because it was Ireland in the early 90s. Throughout the book he told some people and tried to embrace his identity. He went to a gay bar, he chatted up and befriended some other gay guys, and he finally told his parents he was gay. His story had obvious ups and downs and I just kept asking “But what about Ian?” as Neil found himself falling for a guy named Shane even though Ian from school was the better choice of who he should be with. I liked this book a lot and it was really cool to read an Irish book about LGBT youth.

 

Marco Impossible – by Hannah Moskowitz – See, told you I’d read more of her books if I found them. The premise of this book was kind of cheeseball – 13-year-old Marco and his sidekick/BFF Stephen were going to break into the high school prom so Marco could confess his love to Benji, who was on his way back to England for the summer. (Again – 13-year-olds in love?)  Though I balked at the premise, I actually enjoyed the book. It was cool to read about Marco and Stephen’s friendship and how Marco being gay was not a big deal but a very big deal at the same time. Straight Stephen was mad that Marco was going to a different high school than him come the fall, but during their night of shenanigans in order to get Marco into that prom, Stephen finally pieces together that Marco has a target on his back at all times because he’s gay and he’s not safe because some of the other kids are out to get him. Reading about hate crimes makes me sad. I mean, I got picked on in school for being a bit of a nerd, but little Marco gets his locker bashed in and death threats because he likes boys. You legitimately worry that Marco’s plan to publicly proclaim his love for Benji is a fatal trainwreck just waiting to happen, but you still want to watch it happen because maybe, just maybe, it won’t turn out as bad as you think it probably will. I liked this better than Gone, Gone, Gone because there was a healthy dose of comedy surrounding the more serious moments.

 

The Death Cure – by James Dashner – This is the prequel to the Maze Runner trilogy and I haven’t finished reading it yet. I actually started reading this after Gone, Gone, Gone but I find it so boring that I put it down and read the other books instead. It’s due at the library this week and I don’t feel like renewing it, but I will try to finish reading it even though I am really not liking it. I thought it was going to be about Thomas and Theresa pre-Maze, but it’s not. It’s about characters I don’t really care about thirteen years before The Maze Runner takes place. I’m maybe 11 or 12 chapters in so far and I’m very underwhelmed by the writing and the plot. I honestly wish I hadn’t started reading this, but I feel obligated to finish it. Once I finish it, I have two newer David Levithan books waiting for me.

 

So, yeah… this is what I’ve been reading the past few weeks.

 

If you have any good recommendations, let me know!