World Aids Day

Today is World’s Aids Day and Giving Tuesday.  So in that spirit, I hope that you will join me in supporting this Kickstarter.  It’s by my friend Bill Bytsura.  He hopes to publish his book of portraits and stories of Aids activists he collected from all over the world between 1989 to 1998.  These are stories of those who fought from the beginning and deserve to get the recognition for their work to help fight this disease.  For more information on this project and Bill go to

Thank you for supporting and spreading the word.  How ever you spend to day be generous.  This is the time of year of giving.  So give what you can, whether it’s to this or another project that is close to your heart.

Review: Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

It’s been on our minds. It’s been in our posts. I’ve been re-reading. The Fourth book in the Raven Cycle comes out early next year and I want to get you as excited about the books as we are.
I am here to pump you up.



The Raven Cycle is about a quest to find a sleeping King.  Like all quest stories, it involves a band of merry companions who all have their secrets, their desires and their heartaches.  Our Quest Squad contains the Raven Boys: Richard Campbell Gansey III, Ronan N. Lynch, Adam Parrish and the on-again, off-again Noah Czerny who are accompanied by the not-psychic Blue Sargent.  They are searching Henrietta, Virginia for a ley line that should lead them to a Welsh King that was buried in America.  A medieval Welsh king.  I am kind of a Cymruphile so that one little detail was really all my sister had to say to sell me on these books. A Welsh king buried in America and prophesied to return to unite the Welsh and end English tyranny? Sign. Me. Up.
The first installment of the books brings the team together.  Blue Sargent is the only non-psychic in a psychic family and a townie in Henrietta, Virginia home to Ivy League Feeder School Aglionby Academy. Blue’s family run a tarot card reading business and a psychic phone hotline. The Raven Boys are students at the fancy college prep.  Adam is a scholarship kid, Ronan Lynch appears to be the son of a gangster, Noah is quiet, unassuming and fuzzy around the edges, and Gansey is Old Virginia money and the driving force behind the quest for the Welsh King.  Blue keeps crossing paths with the boys in ways that make their teaming up seem fated and inevitable. They have to wake the ley line before someone else gets to it and harnesses its power. Of course, no quest for long forgotten item would be complete without opposing teams questing for the same thing.
This book was a lot of fun to read.  I enjoy all of the characters and I particularly like how they all have their definite strengths and their weaknesses.  Ronan is violent where Gansey is diplomatic.  Adam is thoughtful where the other boys are thoughtless. Blue is grounded where everyone else has their head in the clouds.  On top of the main story of Blue and the Raven Boys, there is a subplot involving Blue’s family that is also complex and interesting.  I cannot wait to see how the series plays out.
So, you should get in on this.  Quests, Kings, Psychics, ley lines, treasure maps, bad guys, flawed good guys, and, I can’t believe I’ve waited until now to mention this, trees that speak Latin!

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

This is the story of Cath, a first year college student who is super awkward, in love with characters in a teen series, and a writer of fan fiction. She moves into her dorm room with her new roommate (after her twin sister tells her she doesn’t want to room with her) and then proceeds to try and make it as far as she can without interacting with anyone. Her roommate, Reagan, and her roommate’s friend (boyfriend? friend? boyfriend?) Levi force her to interact with them. Levi forces the issue by snooping through Cath’s stuff and eating most of her supply of protein bars (forcing her to ask where the cafeteria is) and Reagan forces the issue by making Cath eat with her in the cafeteria. They slowly become friends. Cath and Levi realize that they have feelings for each other and the story spirals from there. Additionally, there are story arcs that involve both of Cath’s parents. Cath’s father has raised her and her sister from when they were very young and now her mother would like to have some involvement. Cath’s father also has bipolar disorder. Cath’s interactions with her parents were beautiful and at times heartbreaking.

I love Cath. I love her so much.

This book has beginning of school drama. It has tension between sisters (ugh, her sister drove me crazy!). There is romance. There is friendship. There is at least one douche canoe of a bro tryna take advantage of a young woman. There’s some really satisfying comeuppance for said douche canoe of a bro. There’s an awesome professor who gets it…but also doesn’t get it. And, there’s the fan fiction. Oh, the fan fiction. I finished this book in two days and I read it on my phone because I couldn’t get enough of it. I read it in every spare minute that I had. This was by far my favorite of the books that Beth assigned me this summer. I cannot wait for Carry On!, Cath’s fan fiction, to be published this Fall!

Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

I am halfway through my Pop Culture Homework Assignment!

This book repeatedly punched me in the stomach.

Eleanor and Park meet when Eleanor gets on the bus for her first day at the new school.  Eleanor immediately gets on the wrong side of the cool kids on the bus by almost sitting in someone else’s spot.  Park growls at her to just sit down next to him.  Everything after that awkward and totally real meeting is beautiful and painful and awkward and wonderful.  Eleanor and Park are so fucking cute together I actually just swore at you in a review of a YA novel.  This was a beautiful, painful and real novel about teen romance. It was also a novel about negotiating identity (when you’re not really sure how to be what people think you are.  Are you that thing?  Are you not?  Does it matter?), being there for your loved ones, and dealing with crappy things in your life.
This book was great also great because of the main characters.  Eleanor is a chubby red head and Park is half Korean.  Others have talked about the need for diverse characters in teen novels and I think this is a good example.
Spoiler alert and trigger alert:  This book deals with domestic violence in a very honest and very real way.
More spoilers ahead.
Eleanor and Park’s relationship grows slowly over a few months.  At first, they are just sharing a seat on the bus.  Then, they are sharing comic books.  Then, they were sharing comic books and music.  (I’m actually making a mix tape inspired by the music mentioned in the book.)  It just snowballs from there.  Eleanor loves her time on the bus because she hates being at home with her Mother’s husband, who is an alcoholic and a wife beater.  The story builds until it becomes obvious that the creepiest of the awful things that have been happening to Eleanor aren’t being done by the awful girls in Eleanor’s gym class but are being done by Eleanor’s step dad.
I cried and cried and cried throughout this book.  The relationship between Eleanor and Park was wonderful.  Eleanor’s relationship with DeNice and Beebi was great.  Park’s parents were A+ and their attempts to interact with their son’s first real girlfriend were awkward and beautiful and also very real.  Sabrina, Eleanor’s mom, was heartbreaking.  (At one point she tells Eleanor she’s so lucky and good for staying away from boys and then implies that there are two types of women in the world:  women who are with a man and brave women who aren’t.  I think my heart is still breaking from that interaction between mother and daughter.)  Eleanor’s brothers and sisters were also heartbreaking.
God, this book.  It was so good.  It was so good, I’m still crying over it.

A Sisters’ Revenge

***This post contains minor spoilers from book series, The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor and the Lux Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout.***

I hate spoilers.  I want to know but I really don’t want to know.  I like to discover the surprises, twists and turns of a book, movie or TV show as I’m reading or watching.  So because of my dislike of spoilers, I don’t want to spoil things for anyone else either.  My good intentions, have got me in trouble. Case in point, with my sister and fellow bloggess, Kate.  Last year, I turned her on to Laini Taylor’s amazing series, Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

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