#ownvoices · Diverse Books · Review

Book Review: The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

Title: The Astonishing Color of After

Author: Emily X.R. Pan

Published by:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Publishing date:  March 20th 2018

Genre: YA, Magical-contemporary

Pages: 462

Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.

Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.

Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.

Goodreads | Amazon 

Trigger Warnings: suicide, depression, suicidal thoughts

Representation: Taiwanese-American main character, Puerto Rican/Filipino love interest,  lots of  Taiwanese characters and a character with depression.

The Astonishing Color of After is a beautifully written bookthe writing style is lyrical and poetic. I’ll admit that I usually have trouble connecting to characters and situations when books have that writing style, but that was not the case with this book, I wasn’t even 10% into it and it had already made me tear up. Later in the book, I did feel the writing distracted me a little from the story, but it was still beautiful.

This is a story about grief and mental illness, especifically depression, and it addresses both of these things in such an amazing and heartbreaking way. This talks about the stigma surrounding depression and how it makes it hard to discuss it with family and friends; it also deals with the feelings and thought process of the loved ones of someone with depression; it portraits how hard depression is and how there’s no easy fix, and it also explores in depth what grief can do to someone. Honestly, this book deals with so many important subjects and it does it so well.

The story is told from Leigh’s point of view, which is interesting, because she is an unreliable narrator and it’s impossible to know which of the things she is seeing and hearing are real. Another reason why Leigh is a compelling narrator is the fact that she is an artist and because of that, she has a particular way of seeing the world, which is really well described and it works well with Emily X.R Pan’s writing.

The development of the relationship between Leigh and her father is one of the most intricate and interesting parts of the story. I wish we had seen more of him in the present and not only in the past, because I feel like at the end so many things between the two of them were resolved in the blink of an eye, with one short conversation between them.

I loved Leigh and Axel together, the evolution of their relationship is told through flashbacks and  I completely fell in love with their dynamic and how sweet Axel is. Also, I really liked the fact that this book didn’t shy away from addressing Leigh’s thoughts and desires about her sexuality. It’s a very sex positive book.

The story did lose me a bit at some point when Leigh was in Taiwan, I hoped that the relationship between her and her grandparents was explored more. There are a few meaningful and sweet moments, but overall, her time in Taiwan felt like it was her going to places and wandering around without getting much out of it. And there was a point where the book started to drag a little. Nonetheless, I did enjoyed the fact that this is set in Taiwan and we get amazing descriptions of food, places, traditions and beliefs. I also want to add that, the way Leigh’s feelings of being out of place with her mother’s family were explored was really interesting, and the way this book portraited- both in flashbacks when Leigh was in the United States and in the present when she was Taiwan- the perception and reactions of other people over her being half-asian and half-white was fascinating.

Lastly, the part of the story that is told through magical memories was great. Those memories are basically where all the big reveals take place and it is a cool and unique way for Leigh to discover the truth about her family and it avoids making the book boring.

Rating: 4 stars

Have you read this book? Are you planning on reading it? What other contemporaries with magical elements would you recommend?

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#ownvoices · Diverse Books · Review

Mini Review: American Panda by Gloria Chao

Americna panda

Book: American Panda

Author: Gloria Chao

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release date: February 6th 2018

Pages: 311

Genre: YA Contemporary

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth–that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels? 

Goodreads | Amazon

American Panda is an amazing story about Mei, a Taiwanese-American girl that has to straddle two cultures. Mei is an interesting and relatable main character and I think this book does a very good job of showing her struggle trying to live up to her parents expectations, but also wanting to follow her own dreams and desires.

The focus of this book is definitely Mei’s relationship with her family.  Mei’s parents are so strict that in order to not dissapoint them or make them angry, Mei stops thinking for herself. So, it was amazing to witness her character devolpment as she finds the strenght to make her own decisions in the course of the book. It was also wonderful to see how that change in Mei impacted her mother and how it affected their mother/daughter relationship. I understand that this is not everyones experience, but I still think that this book manages to address in a very insightful way what it means to be a first generation immigrant for some young people.

Another great things about this, it’s the way in which the siblings relationship is handled and how reconnecting with her borther helps Mei realize that she needs to decide what is valuable and important to her, in terms of relationships and dreams.

This book also has a very cute romance that doesn’t take over the story, but it still a nice addition to it. The love interest, a Japanese-American guy,  is really understanding and caring.  Also, there’s a lovely female friendship, that it’s not exactly a central part of the story, but that adds an amazing elemento to it.

Overall, I found American Panda to be insightful and captivating, and I would recommend it if you like contemporaries focused on family dynamics and relationships.

Rating: 4 stars

Have you read this book? Are you planning on reading it? What diverse contemporaries would you recommend?

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#ownvoices · 9 Books Monday · bookish list · Diverse Books

9 Books with Anxiety Representation

9 books with anxiety representation.png

9 Books Monday is a feature here on Bookish Wanderess, where I talk about 9 books that have positive representation of diverse experiences including the experiences of people of the LGBTQIA community, Native people, people of color, people with physical and cognitive disabilities or mental illnesses, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.

In the past, I have done posts about 9 book with: Bisexual female mcLatinx mcBlack mcMuslim mc, Lesbian mcAsian mc and  Trans mc. (mc=main characters).

This time I’m doing 9 books with Anxiety Representation:

3 Books I Read and Loved

queens of geeks

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

I loved this book; this not only has a ton of references to books, tv shows and movies, it also has so much diversity. One of the main characters, Taylor, is on the autism spectrum and has severe anxiety,  and the other, Charlie, is bisexual and chinese. This  has some amazing quotes about anxiety that literally describe things that I feel on a daily basis and I felt so understood while reading this. 

 

under rose-tainted skies

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

This is an #ownvoices book about a girl that has agoraphobia, anxiety and OCD. Some of the quotes about anxiety on this book resonated with me so deeply, it was like it was talking about me. Also, this book doesn’t treats love as a cure for a mental illness and it has a positive view of therapy and meds and that’s amazing and so needed!

 

TTurtles_All_the_Way_Down_-_John_Greenurtles All the Way Down by John Green

This books means so much to me, it has #ownvoices OCD and anxiety rep and while I only struggle with anxiety and not with OCD, the depictions of intrusive thoughts were SO RELATABLE.  I loved that this book addresses the fact that mental illnesses are a life long struggle and that sometimes even the people that try to understand what someone with a mental illness is going through, they have moments were they just don’t. Also, this books hasa positive view of therapy and shows that love is not a cure for mental illness.

4 Books on my TBR 

10 Things I Can See from Here10 Things I Can See From Here by Carrie Mac

This books is a bit scary for me because I have read some review by other people with anxiety that mention that this was very hard to read for them because the depiction of anxiety is very accurate and detailed. BUT I still want to read it, because I’m always looking for the books that make me feel less alone in terms of my anxiety.  Beside the anxiety rep, this has an f/f romance and it’s #ownvoices queer rep.

 

A Quiet Kind of Thunder 

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard 

I have heard this books is really, really cute and that it will put a smile on my face, so I want to read it and see, because that’s not usually what people say about books that have a character with anxiety.  I know this is heavy on the romance, but it’s not one of those stories where romance cures mental illness, so YAY! 🎉 This has selective mutism, deafness, poc and social anxiety rep.

 

Learning Curves

 

Learning Curves by Ceille Simkiss

This is a romance novella and I have heard it does a very good job of exploring the experience of having anxiety and being in a relationship. There’s fat, Puerto Rican, panromantic, lesbian and asexual rep. f/f romance.

 

Beneath the Citadel 

Beneath the Citadel by Destiny Soria

I don’t know of that many fantasy books with anxiety rep, so as soon as found out one of the main characters in this book has severe anxiety I knew I had to get my hands on it. This book not only has anxiety rep, it has fat, poc and queer rep as well. It keeps getting better and better! Also, all my friends on Goodreads that have read this have giving it 5 stars, which is really impresive!

2 Books Releasing Soon  

I Wish You All the Best

 

I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver

For what I have heard this book will break our hearts but it will be lovely while doing it, so…that sounds fun! Right? This not only has anxiety rep, but also #ownvoices non-binary rep.

 

You Asked for Perfect

 

You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman 

This book touches on anxiety and panic attacks and it’s all about how sometimes people put too much pressure on themeselves. It has an m/m romance, but I have heard that it’s not the main focus of the story.

 

What books with anxiety rep have you read and loves? Which ones are on your tbr? DO you know of any fantasy or scifi books with anxiety rep? 

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#ownvoices · Diverse Books · Review

Book Review: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Blood and Bone

Book: Children of Blood and Bone

Author: Tomi Adeyemi

Publisher: Henry Holt Books for Young Readers

Release date: 2018

Pages: 525

Genre: YA Fantasy

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

Goodreads| Amazon

Children of Blood and Bone is a captivating read. The world and magic system are so well crafted. The descriptions and hystory of this world, as well as the myths surrounding the magic, the Orishas and the Divîners make this story fascinating and unique. This is definitely an action packed book, the characters go in a long and dangerous journey where so many things happen and thanks to that we get to see so much of this world and understand it so much better.

The characters  are so richly constructed and developed and they quickly became my favorite thing about the book. I love the fact that we get a book with a all black cast of characters set in a West African inspired world.

  • Amari is now one of my new favorite characters, she starts like this naive princess but her character development was incredible. She is defenitely the most compelling character in the story to me, she is the voice of reason and that makes her relatable.
  • Zélie is a really complex main character, her anger and her sadness and the way those feelings motivated her actions and decisions make her feel so real.
  • It took me a little time to like Inan, but there’s so many layers to him that made him a really interesting and intriguing character that by the end I couldn’t help but to appreciate him as a character.
  • The one character that could have used a bit more development, even if I still liked him, was Tzain. We don’t get to know much about who he is beyond the fact  that he is his sister’s protector.

I loved the fact that the story focuses on the sibling relationships: Amari & Inan and Zélie & Tzain. Each one of them loves their ssibling, but there’s things that took place in the past that complicate those relationships and add an intricate element to the story. This book is angsty, dramatic and emotional and it basically gave me all the feelings. Zélie and Inan relationship while a bit insta-love-y grows to be deep, complex, and full of longing, betrayal, sadness, anger and love.

An aspect of this book that I found very fascinating was the way in which the characters, especially Zélie and Inan, constantly doubted what was best for their people: should magic come back or not, who should have power, who should have magic, how to make sure magic was misused and how to bring peace to Orisha instead of war. It is refreshing to see characters in a fantasy book that aren’t always sure of what to do and that don’t think they are right all the time. And as a reader, it was interesting to find myself understanding some of the fears of both Zélie and Inan, even if they were in different sides.    

Overall, I think Children of Blood and Bone was definitely worth the hype and if you are a fan of YA Fantasy, I totally recommend you give this one a chance.

Rating: 5 stars

Have you read this book? Did you enjoy it? What African inspired fantasy book would you recommend? 

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#ownvoices · Diverse Books · readathon

Queer Lit Readathon TBR

I’m really excited to be participating in Queer Lit Readathon, which will take place from December 2nd to December 8th. This is an ambitious tbr considering I have a lot of school work and things to do before leaving for a trip on December 15. Also I’m participating in 2 other readathons in December, so I’m gonna be busy!

Anyway, here’s the bingo board for the Queer Lit Readathon with all the challenges:

Queer Lit Bingo

I’m reading 4 books for this readathon and I’m using each book to fill more than one square because they fit several squares and I don’t think I’ll be able to read more than 4 books that week, so here’s my tbr:

 

Ace Spectrum Main Character/ Historical Fiction:  The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats & Piracy by Mackenzi Lee 

Felicity Montague must use all her womanly wits and wiles to achieve her dreams of becoming a doctor—even if she has to scheme her way across Europe to do it. 

This is one of my most anticipated releases of 2018 and this is the perfect opportunity to finally get to it! I really enjoy the first book in this series, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, and I can’t wait to know what happens next in Felicity’s story.

New to Me Author/ Author of Color: They Both Die at The End by Adam Silvera 

On September 5, Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio get a call letting them know they’re going to die that day, then they meet through an app called the Last Friend for a last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.

This book had been in my tbr in more than one occasion this year and I haven’t gotten to it, but this is finally the time when I read it, that way I won’t have to say that I haven’t read any Adam Silvera books ever again.

Trans Spectrum Main Character/ #ownvoices: If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo 

Amanda, a trans girl,  just moved to a new town and started at a new high school after a bad experience with bullying and transphobia. In the new school, she starts dating a great guy and has a ton of friends, but she isn’t sure if she should tell people about being trans or not.

This books has a trans main character, a trans writer and a trans model on the cover, which is amazing! I have read a short story by this author and loved it, so I’m hoping I’ll feel the same way about her book.

5 Stars Prediction: What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

This is the story of  Arthur and Ben, who meet-cute at the post office, and what the universe has in store for them. 

Another one of my anticipated releases of 2018, I have really high hopes for this which makes me a bit nervous to read it, but I’m still excited. Also, I’m taking no chances, I will have read an Adam Silvera book by the end of 2018.

 Are you participating in the Queer Lit Readathon? What are you reading? Have you read any of these books? Did you like them?

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#ownvoices · 9 Books Monday · bookish list · Diverse Books

9 Books with Trans Main Characters

9 books with trans main characters

9 Books Monday is a feature here on the blog, where I talk about 9 books that have positive representation for a minority/marginalized group. In the past, I have done posts about 9 book with: bisexual female main characterslatinx mcblack mcmuslim mc, lesbian mc and asian mc.

This time I’m doing 9 books with Trans Main Characters:

4 Books I Read and Loved

When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore : This is a beautifully written magical realism book, where one of the main charcters of the story, Samir, is a bacha posh: a child assigned female at birth selected to live as a boy until puberty. But it turns out Sam is not “living as a boy,” he is a boy. Beside the trans rep, there’s also pakistani rep and latinx rep (#ownvoices).

Coffee Boy by Austin ChantThis is an #ownvoices novella about a trans boy who has a crush on a campaign strategist, who happens to be a bisexual man, and who he meets while working in an internship for a politician. The story is cute and fun and it has steamy and explicit content.    

Redefining Realness by Janet MockThis is a non fiction book about the life of Janet Mock, a biracial trans woman that has worked as a writer, jornalist and TV host. The book starts when Mock is a child living in poverty and continues through her adolescence including a very detailed account of her transition and all the heartbreaking obstacules she faced, and ends when she is a successful writer. This books tells the honest and captivating story of an incredible woman.

Not your Villain by C.B. Lee This is the second book in a series but I’m pretty sure you could read it without reading the first one, since a lot of what happens in the first book is included in the beginning of this book. In Not Your Villain, the main character is Bells, a superhero that can shapeshift which helps him in his life as a trans guy. But then he became the country’s most-wanted villain after discovering a cover-up by the League of Heroes. This book is full of adventure and  fun and it has a diverse cast of characters.

5 Books on my TBR 

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo:  This book is about Amanda, a trans girl that just moved to a new town, starting at a new high school after a bad experience at her last one because of bullying and transphobia. In the new school everything is great, she is dating an amazing guy and has a ton of friends, but she isn’t sure if she should tell people about being trans or not. This books has a trans main character, a trans writer and a trans model on the cover.  Recently I read a short story by this author and loved it, so I ‘m hoping to read this book soon.

Dreadnought by April Daniels: This book is about Danny, she is trans, lesbian girl, who suddenly gets powers when Dreadnought (a superhero) dies in front of her. She immerses into this superhero world where she finds allies and enemies. This makes me think about Not Your Sidelick & Not Your Villain, which I love, and that makes me excited to read it. Also, I have heard nothing but great things about this one.

I Was Born for This by Alice Osmand: This has a main character that is a biracial (Indian and Italian) gay trans guy and he’s part of a famous boy band. The story unfolds when he unexpectedly mets a fangirl and they both end up having to face things in their lives. The other main character  is a Persian Muslim Hijabi who’s questioning her sexuality and I have heard there’s also really diverse side characters. I’m really excited to read this one, especially since I haven’t read any of Osmand’s books.

trans 2

Peter Darling by Austin Chant: This is a Peter Pan retelling. In this book, Peter Pan left Neverland to grow up and he had to resign himself to life as Wendy Darling. 10 years have passed and now Peter’s back in Neverland, everyone is grown up and he’s falling in love with Captain Hook.  It’s a short story, #ownvoices in terms of trans rep, and since reading Coffee Boy I have been meaning to read another book by this author.

The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein: I discovered this book recently, the author describes it as a biography of sorts and it’s about a trans woman that has suffered multiple traumas and that has a job helping others by cleaning up the fetid houses of the mentally ill, the hopeless and the murdered. That sounds so cool that I can’t wait to read it.

Books Releasing Soon  

I think it’s important to mention that I usually have a thrid category in my 9 Books Monday, where I pick books that are being realesed soon. Nonetheless, I couldn’t find books with trans main characters releasing in what’s left of 2018. I found out about Undertow, the second book to Darkling by Brooklyn Ray, which has a trans character as the love interest, and someone also told me that Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare has a trans character that has some chapters told from his point of view, but that’s it. It’s such a shame that there’s still so few realeses with trans main characters and I hope that by reading and promoting the ones that are already out, we get to have many more books with trans rep in the future. 

Have you read any of these books? did you enjoy them? Are you planning on reading any of them? Do you have recommendations for books with trans main characters? 

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#ownvoices · bookish list · Diverse Books

Underrated LGBTQIA+ Books

Underrated LGBTQIA Books.jpg

 

Coffee Boy by Austin Chant – 960 rating on Goodreads
  • Representation: Transexual man mc (#ownvoices) & bisexual man li
  • Genre: New adult, romance
  • Why read it?: Short book with funny and witty banter, character development, thoughtful conversations about gender and sexual orientation & a great romance.
Secondhand Origin Story by  Lee Blauersouth – 24 ratings on goodreads
  • Representation: Black lesbian mc, lesbian mc, asexual mc, gender queer mc (#ownvoices).
  • Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
  • Why read it?: A character driven story set in a fascinating world full of superheroes. A group of teens that has to fight against a corrupt, racist and ableist system.
The Story of Lizzy and Darcy by Grace Watson – 97 ratings on Goodreads
  • Representation: Lesbian mc, bisexual mc, trans side character
  • Genre: Contemporary, Romance
  • Why read it?: Amazing Pride and Prejudice retelling, with the publishing industry as a background.
Future Leaders of Nowhere by Emily O’beirne – 298 ratings on Goodreads
  • Representation: Lesbian indian-australian mc, bisexual mc
  • Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
  • Why read it?: Character development and a really interesting premise: a competition that it’s a mix between a summer camp and a Model UN.

 

 These books are part of a series, but they can be read separetely and out of order.

Small Change by Roan Parrish – 539 ratings on Goodreads 
  • Representation: bisexual female mc
  • Genre: Romance, Contemporary
  • Why read it?: A story about a bisexual female tattoo artist that’s dating a guy, who is the sweetest, nicest love interest ever. It deals with gender and with the idea of a woman in a male dominated industry.
Invitations to the Blues by Roan Parrish – 431 ratings on Goodreads
  • Representation: gay mc, black gay mc
  • Genre: Romance, Contemporary
  • Why read it?: Complex characters, interesting discussions about race and mental health, and a really adorable love story.
Honorary Mentions 

These are 3 books that have a higher amount of ratings on Goodreads, but they still have less than 3000 ratings.  I feel that these books deserve to be read by a lot more people and that’s why I’m including them.

 

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera – 2989 ratings on Goodreads 
  • Representation: Latinx lesbian mc (#ownvoices)
  • Genre: Young Adult, Fiction
  • Why read it?: A main character with a captivating and honest voice, a lot of character development and important discussions about intersectional feminism, queerness  and safe spaces.
How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake – 1529 ratings on Goodreads 
  • Representation: bisexual mc, biracial lesbian li
  • Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
  • Why read it?: A really sweet romance and a raw, complicated mother/daughter relationship that it’s addressed with so much honesty.
Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee – 2798 ratings on Goodreads 
  • Representation:  bisexual and Chinese-Vietnamese mc (#ownvoices), lesbian li
  • Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
  • Why read it?: A cute book set in an interesting post-apocalyptic world, amazing conversations about gender and sexual orientation,  villains that are not so evil and heroes that are not so good.
Have you read any of these books? Did you enjoy them? What underrated LGBTQ+ books do you reccomend?

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