September: Books I’ve Read Recently

"Books I've Read Recently" is a series where I, Penelope Gomez, will do a monthly wrap up of the books I've read throughout the past month. In this series I will give a brief synopsis of the story and then give the book a rating out of 5 stars. 5 stars being the best and 1 star being the worst!

I will then give a brief description of why I chose to rate a book a certain way.

So without further delay lets get into the "Books I've Read Recently," and as always leave a comment down below and tell me which of these books you've also read, or plan on reading next.

Books I've Read Recently

Felix Ever After, book cover

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

From Stonewall and Lambda Award–winning author Kacen Callender comes a revelatory YA novel about a transgender teen grappling with identity and self-discovery while falling in love for the first time.

Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.

When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle....

But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve.

My Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars

OMG this book was so incredibly CUTE! This is the perfect book to read for Pride Month, if you can stand to wait that long, because this book was so incredibly good! In this book we follow a boy named Felix. He has recently transitioned from being a girl to a boy. He's changed his name and cloths and has even had some surgeries to start his transition. Felix is living his best life. He has amazing friends and is going to an art school in New York and just really enjoying this time in his life now that he is fully Trans. All of a sudden Felix's world is thrown upside down when an anonymous classmate has somehow gotten a hold of pictures from Felix's past. Pictures of Felix as a girl that he never wanted anyone to see. This horrible, mean, vile human,  has plastered them all over his school for everyone to see. Determined to figure out who could do such a thing, Felix creates a fake Instagram and starts talking to a boy named Dylan, his only enemy and his obvious choice for his anonymous bully. I don't want to give too much away but I just wanted to say how incredibly good this book was. In this book the main character is Trans and unlike every other YA book that claims to be LGBT+ I felt like this book did an incredible job of actually going in depth and exploring Felix's sexuality. I've read so many other books where the main character is stated as being transgender in the first few sentences and then it NEVER gets talked about again! I felt like this book was really unique in that sense where we really get to go in depth with this character and his thought process and questioning his own sexuality.Felix knows he's not a girl, but sometimes he doesn't feel like a boy either, he contemplates if he really is transgender or if he's something "+." I feel like this book had a lot of beautiful messages and I think anyone questioning their own sexuality could really benefit from reading this book and knowing that they are VALID and not alone. This book had such a happy ending also, I literally cried at work listening to this audiobook. It was such a beautiful read in my opinion. 5 Stars for sure and also that cover is absolutely STUNNING!

The Unquiet, book cover

The Unquiet by Jeannine Garsee

When Rinn Jacobs moves to a new town she hopes it will be a fresh start-a place where nobody knows about her past. At first, everything goes according to plan. She falls in with the popular girls at her new school and falls for the very cute boy-next-door Nate. But River Hills High School has a secret. The ghost of a girl who died back when Rinn's mom was a student supposedly haunts a hallway. Rinn's not sure she believes it, but when strange things start happening to her friends, Rinn decides there's only one way to know for sure. She needs to ditch her bipolar meds and see what the voices are really trying to say...

My Rating: 3 Out of 5 Stars

Ok...this book was really out there. This book starts out like really dark. In the first chapter we follow Rinn who is suffering from bipolar disorder. I feel like this book didn't have an adequate portrayal of bipolar disorder... In this book Rinn hears voices in her head, she is extremely paranoid and suffers from hallucinations, etc. I'm not a doctor but It sounded like something more than just bipolar disorder? Anyway In the first chapter her parents can no longer handle Rinn's delusions and have sent her to live with her grandmother in California. She has one manic episode where she had hallucinations of shadow men trying to get her. Panicking she jumps out of a window at night knocking over a candle and setting her grandmother's entire house on fire, with her grandmother inside. Her grandmother ends up dying and Rinn feeling so guilty attempts suicide. This is the last straw for her parents and they decide to split up. Her mother moves her and Rinn to Ohio where she grew up in order to have a fresh start. I know its super dark. This is a paranormal thriller by the way, so just expect dark, creepy/ depressing vibes all the way through. At her new school everyone claims the school is haunted by the ghost of Annaliese a girl Rinn's mother went to school with, who drowned in the school pool. Anyway weird things start happening and Rinn can't figure out if her medicine isn't working right, or if ghosts are extremely real. This book although very interesting and out there had the most HORRIBLE ending! It was like a bad scary movie. I feel like nobody proof read that ending for Jeannine Garsee. She kept calling characters by the wrong names and just didn't put her 100% into writing that ending. This could have been a decent scary book, if not for that terrible, terrible ending... I went from being incredibly invested, to incredibly disappointed. Then it ended up ending on a cliff hanger, that did nothing to save the book for me! I really, really liked this book up until the very last few chapters! That ending just completely destroyed this book for me.

Dancing at the Pity Party, book cover

Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder

Part poignant cancer memoir and part humorous reflection on a motherless life, this debut graphic novel is extraordinarily comforting and engaging.

From before her mother's first oncology appointment through the stages of her cancer to the funeral, sitting shiva, and afterward, when she must try to make sense of her life as a motherless daughter, Tyler Feder tells her story in this graphic novel that is full of piercing--but also often funny--details. She shares the important post-death firsts, such as celebrating holidays without her mom, the utter despair of cleaning out her mom's closet, ending old traditions and starting new ones, and the sting of having the "I've got to tell Mom about this" instinct and not being able to act on it. This memoir, bracingly candid and sweetly humorous, is for anyone struggling with loss who just wants someone to get it. 

My Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars

I'm not sure how to describe this book other than incredibly DEPRESSING! Granted this is a book completely about death. In this book the author wrote about her own experience with loosing a loved one. Specifically about loosing her mother to Cancer. I felt like this book must have been incredibly therapeutic for the author to shed light on the most heart breaking event in her life. Although as sorrowful as this story was, this graphic novel was written in a very light and airy way. The author cracked a lot of jokes and drew most of the graphic novel in beautiful, happy pastel colors. There were no dark colors used other than at the mother's funeral. I personally couldn't relate to the main character's grief but I imagine anyone who has dealt with the loss of a parent would probably cry for the majority of this book. Why anyone would want to do that to themselves I'm not sure. I did like this book, but I would never want to read this book ever, ever again. I would also never recommend this book to someone, since this book is incredibly depressing. The author even showed real pictures of her dead mother with her family at the end of the graphic novel... like rip my heart out! This was an incredibly sad read, I don't recommend it, unless  you want to be sad, but like why would you ever want to be sad?

The Betrothed, book cover

The Betrothed by Kiera Cass

When King Jameson declares his love for Lady Hollis Brite, Hollis is shocked—and thrilled. After all, she’s grown up at Keresken Castle, vying for the king’s attention alongside other daughters of the nobility. Capturing his heart is a dream come true.

But Hollis soon realizes that falling in love with a king and being crowned queen may not be the happily ever after she thought it would be. And when she meets a commoner with the mysterious power to see right into her heart, she finds that the future she really wants is one that she never thought to imagine.

My Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars

OMG this book was so cute. It was a time period piece, so think like a VERY PG version of The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. I'm not sure if that was a good comparison, but they both have similar book themes of wanting to marry into royalty. Basically in both books there is a lot of manipulation and scheming and trying to get the "kings" attention, and vying for a marriage proposal from the king, etc. That book was very adult in manipulation themes and King Henry was kind of awful and sexist etc but King Jameson in this PG novel was literally the sweetest person to Lady Hollis! As the book went on I was really expecting his character to change and to show his "true colors," but he stayed consistently sweet to Hollis even when someone else caught her eye during their "courting." I don't want to give anything away but I totally ship King Jameson and Hollis. If you were a fan of Kiera Cass's series The Selection then you will very much like this series. It still has the same writing style, its just set in a different time period as those novels. I will say this book did end on a rather large and heartbreaking cliffhanger, so I definitely can't wait to see how the rest of this story unfolds. It was a rather unpredictable ending, and not at all the direction I was expecting from Hollis's character, but it was still a good ending with a lot of great potential for the series to continue to grow. I also recommend this book if you liked the series "The Glittering Court" by Richelle Mead. They also have similar themes of vying for a "favorable" marriage and strong willed female leads. I think that was a much better comparison.

In Real Life, book cover

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang

Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role-playing game where she spends most of her free time. It's a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It's a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends.

But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer--a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn. This behavior is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person's real livelihood is at stake.

From acclaimed teen author (Little Brother, For the Win) and Boing Boing editor Cory Doctorow and Koko Be Good creator Jen Wang, In Real Life is a perceptive and high-stakes look at adolescence, gaming, poverty, and culture clash.

My Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars

First off the artwork in this graphic novel was incredibly stunning. I loved the contrast in colors. When you were reading about being in the videogame colors in this graphic novel were intense and vivid  Technicolor, but when you were reading about the real world, life looks drab and bland and incredibly beige. I felt like the colors mimicked the main characters perspective of real life. In the story Anda recently moved to the middle of no where, away from all of her friends. To Anda life is boring and depressing, but her video games are her sanctuary, her "happy place," so that's why there is such a huge contrast in color throughout the novel. It was beautifully done. As for the plot of the novel, it was in my opinion lacking a little bit of "development." At the beginning of the novel there was a huge introduction leading up to the story, trying to further explain the premises for this novel, but to me it wasn't very concise,,, and I felt like it wasn't well explained. I felt like I was missing "the big picture" that the author was trying to convey with this graphic novel because I didn't fully understand the introduction and what exactly she was hinting at. I think this was meant to be a very impactful graphic novel about the gaming industry, but I just could not comprehend it fully with how short of a graphic novel this was. I feel like this graphic novel should have been expanded to maybe fit more of what the author wanted to convey into the plot. I think this book was very "surface level" and if you skipped the introduction completely, you might not even realize this was meant to be a political and thought provoking read. I really liked this graphic novel and the plot line, but I think I completely missed "the point" that this book was trying to make. If you are really into gaming maybe you can understand what exactly the author was trying to say, but since I don't play a lot of online video games, I didn't have a clue and left this book feeling like I needed to do some more research in order to fully understand this view point on the gaming industry. I honestly wish I had just skipped the introduction to this graphic novel, because I think that's what left me feeling confused.