A Few LGBT+ Mini Reviews

Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of stories featuring LGBT+ characters. Especially short stories. I didn’t have a lot of time to read in my ‘exam-weeks’, so it was a lot easier to just get sucked into a 50-page-story for an hour or so, than to have to get back into the world of a 500-page-story. And I fell in love with quite a few of the stories I read.

I’m not the most talented reviewer, and writing a whole 300-word review on a 50-page-story seemed a bit, well, impossible. I didn’t want to not write a review either, because I wanted to share my love for these stories with you, so I thought I’d do a combined review. So, here are my reviews for Fearless by Shira Glassman, Long Macchiatos and Monsters by Alison Evans, and The Princess Who Didn’t Eat Cake by Lynn E. O’Connacht.

FearlessFearless by Shira Glassman

A newly out-of-the-closet band mom falls for an orchestra teacher while snowed in at All-State. Lana Novak hasn’t played violin in over twenty years, her musical life these days confined to being a devoted band mom to her clarinet whiz daughter Robin. She didn’t think she could get back into it after this long, but Melanie Feinberg, the outgoing, enthusiastic, and very cute butch orchestra director from Robin’s school, has other ideas.

Fearless was so incredibly cute! It’s a very adorable story about a mom who’s just out of the closet who feels herself falling for her daughter’s orchestra director. It features a lot of great and cozy things, like snow storms, music, chocolate cake, and a great mother-daughter relationship, and it has a great dialogue. Shira Glassman’s writing is amazing, and it gently pulls you into the story. I wasn’t able to stop reading it once I picked it up, and I had a big smile on my face the entire time.

If you want an all-happy F/F story, I’d definitely recommend this one!

Long Macchiatos and Monsters by Alison EvansLong Macchiatos and Monsters

Jalen, lover of B-grade sci-fi movies, meets the far-too-handsome P in a cafe while deciding whether or not to skip uni again. When P invites them along to a double feature of Robot Monster and Cat Women of the Moon, Jalen can hardly believe that hot boys like bad sci-fi, too. But as their relationship progresses, Jalen realizes P leaves them wondering if they’re on the same page about what dating means, and if that’s what they’re doing.

This novella was simply amazing and filled with diversity! Both of the main characters are non-binary (Jalen is genderqueer and P is trans), they’re both amputees, and they’re both described as having dark skin. (I can’t say much about the rep personally, but I’ve seen a lot of #OwnVoices reviews on Goodreads that say a lot of positive things about it).

The romance between the 2 characters is very cute. I personally love a good meet-in-coffee-shop-then-go-to-movies type of meeting, and the relationship development throughout the story is great. Plus, the mention of B-grade sci-fi movies and coffee shops throughout the story added a lot to it’s atmosphere, and made this story feel very home-y.

The Princess Who Didn't Eat Cake

The Princess Who Didn’t Eat Cake by Lynn E. O’Connacht

Once upon a time there lived a princess…

When the kingdom discovers that their crown princess doesn’t like cake, chaos ensues. How will the royal line ever continue? Cake is essential to a good marriage! (Not to mention, the rejection of his cake was deeply insulting to the baker-prince who proposed with it.)

…and the stableboy who loved her…

The princess befriends a stableboy. She’s oblivious to the fact that he’s in love with her. The stableboy does his best to explain to the princess what is so wonderful about cake, but it takes an arduous journey to convince her to try a slice.

…in a kingdom that didn’t want to understand…

The Princess who Didn’t Eat Cake is a demisexual fairy tale. It aims to introduce people to the concept of demisexuality and to offer a rough idea of how the world may be experienced by people identifying on the asexual spectrum. It offers both the titular fairy tale, a brief essay explaining what demisexuality is in more detail and a short list of books featuring demisexual characters for anyone who would like to see more representation in fiction.

This cute fairytale is an incredibly good resource if you want to find out more about demisexuality. It was a very easy, cute, and informative read. Plus, it featured cake. Who doesn’t love cake?

I firmly believe that no analogy is perfect, and this one isn’t either. It sometimes felt a little bit over-simplified, but that was definitely made up for by the enormous amount of resources we got at the end of the book. There are quite a few pages devoted to ‘What is Demisexuality’, and we got a lot a list of ‘Books with Demisexual Characters’, which I loved very very much.

While I didn’t adore this one, I’m definitely planning on reading more of Lynn’s work. I’ve already gotten myself a copy of Sea Foam & Silence, and I can’t wait to dive into it!

Some Thoughts on the Bookish Community and LonelinessTwitter Instagram •  Goodreads

WoW: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (aka Me Fangirling a Lot)

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and VirtueTitle: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
Author: Mackenzi Lee
Genres: YA, Historical
Goodreads

An unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Witty, romantic, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a sumptuous romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.

Review: Timekeeper by Tara Sim

I haven’t been able to shut up about this book and how much I already love it on Twitter, but I haven’t talked nearly enough about it on my blog. That changes now. (That sounds a lot more serious than I thought it would, sorry, lmao.)

Anyway, The Gentleman’s Guide of Vice and Virtue is definitely in the top 3 of my most anticipated releases of 2017. The list of 2017 releases is incredibly long, so that really says something. The blurb is just amazing, and it sounds like everything I’ve ever looked for in a book. A funny, historical m/m romance, with a road trip? I want it so badly, and I don’t want to wait another month.

Also, have you seen that cover? I love it so much? It might honestly be one of my favorite covers of all time. This is one of the only books I want to buy in hardback because it easier to stand cover-first in my bookshelf, so I can stare at it 24/7.

I should probably stop talking about this now. I mean, I haven’t even read it yet, so there’s only so much I can say without becoming very repetitive. However, I’m 100% sure this is going to be one of my favorite reads of 2017, and I can’t wait to read it!

Some Thoughts on the Bookish Community and LonelinessTwitter Instagram •  Goodreads

 

eBook Haul + I’m Back?

Hi friends! It’s been a week since I last blogged, but I think I’m back now and I couldn’t be happier about it! I really missed doing this.

A little update on my exams: they went well! I think. Or, I hope. I’ve only done my English exams so far, one where I had to write an essay and a reading exam, and I’ve still got 3 exams left. The first one is in June, so I still have some time to study, and the other 2 are oral exams in July. I’m really not looking forward to those. Anyway, let’s get on with what this blog post is really about: eBooks!

In February (or March? I’m not too sure) I bought myself a Kindle! I’ve been using it a lot, and I’ve been loving it so so much. Naturally, with eBooks often being $2 a piece, I’ve bought myself quite a few, and I wanted to share them with you. So, let’s get into it!

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Knipsel.PNG2I have to admit that I’ve gotten a few more ARCs besides these since February, but I’ve already talked about most of them so I thought it might be a bit boring to show them to you again. So, I’ve only included the ARCs that I haven’t talked about on this blog yet 🙂

Those are all of the books I’ve got on my Kindle right now! I don’t really know what else to say about this, so I’ll just finish my blog post here. I’m very glad to be back, and I can’t wait to write more blog posts this week!

Some Thoughts on the Bookish Community and LonelinessTwitter Instagram •  Goodreads

Guest Review: Frogkisser! by Garth Nix

The time has come, it’s finals week! I’m incredibly stressed out and I totally forgot to plan a few blogposts for this week, so I asked on Twitter if there was someone who wanted to guest post. Luckily, Lili from Utopia State of Mind came to my rescue and offered to share her Frogkisser! review on my blog! I’m incredibly grateful, and very excited because I love Lili’s blog and I really enjoy reading her reviews. So, without further ado, here’s the review!

Frogkisser!Title: Frogkisser!
Author: Garth Nix
Genres: YA, Fantasy
Goodreads

The last thing she needs is a prince. The first thing she needs is some magic.

Poor Princess Anya. Forced to live with her evil stepmother’s new husband, her evil stepstepfather. Plagued with an unfortunate ability to break curses with a magic-assisted kiss. And forced to go on the run when her stepstepfather decides to make the kingdom entirely his own.

Aided by a loyal talking dog, a boy thief trapped in the body of a newt, and some extraordinarily mischievous wizards, Anya sets off on a Quest that, if she plays it right, will ultimately free her land—and teach her a thing or two about the use of power, the effectiveness of a well-placed pucker, and the finding of friends in places both high and low.

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“If I’m not back by nightfall, come and take a very careful look…but I don’t expect to need rescuing. I’m not that kind of princess” (230)

There is just one more thing that gets me even more than great heroes, heroes/heroines who are not ambitious but are called to act, because they must. Frogkisser is a contemporary look at a variety of fairy tale elements with a protagonist you can’t help but love.

Anya only wants to be left alone to read. Morven, her sister, only wants to be wooed. And their evil sorcerer of a stepstepfather really wants to be King. But when Anya makes a sister promise to transform Morven’s latest suitor from a frog back to a man, she may have bitten off more than she can chew. Her simple promise transforms itself not only into a quest for witches tears and druid’s blood, but a quest that asks Anya can she sit back and allow Morven to be Queen?

This book consists of a great mix of fairy tale elements, quirky side characters, and an unlikely heroine. All who want evil consuming magic, tricky witches, and magic carpets look no further for these and more. The side characters are wonderful not only in their ability to be unusual, but also they are supportive. We have large orange newts, otters turned to weasels, and a royal puppy. And these pieces of the story are only made better by our heroine, who doesn’t set out to be one.

Anya does not want to be a queen. All she wants to do is fulfill her sisters promise and go back to her library. She does not want to be a hero. Her real love is reading (whose isn’t?) and she desires knowledge. Anya is clever, funny, and trusting. She is like a modern re-visioning of my favorite heroines from my childhood. In her first real outing beyond the castle walls, Anya sees the real problems of the impoverished and the tolls that living without a quasi ‘Bill of Rights and Wrongs’ has taken. Along the way she also sees that magic isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and power has the power to corrupt. More importantly she is challenged to question the royal order, her own identity, and ask herself does she have what it takes to be a heroine? To be Queen?

This fantastic story is also not about romance, it is totally focused on her personal journey and identity search. Her title and quest become a way to re-tell fairy tales. She does not simply sit in a chair and kiss her magical frog back into becoming. Anya goes on her own quest and takes her own agency into her own hands. Anya realizes she cannot take the easy way out and hide in her books, she must find it in her heart to stand up, if she can. So to summarize, this wonderful book has everything I would want: a good protagonist who loves books, fairy tale elements, and a unicorn. Find your inner hero inside these pages and become enchanted by this lovely story.

Well that’s all folks. I’m so happy Laura let me come onto her blog to share my Garth Nix love with you. If you’re interested, check out the Goodreads or go ahead and buy yourself a copy from Amazon. I hope you check out the book and do come and visit me and my blog. You can find me here at Utopia State of Mind, twitter, goodreads, and instagram. I’d love to be friends and gush about books.

Thank you again Lili, for sharing this review with me and making sure my blog isn’t incredibly empty this week! I hope you’ll all check out her blog, because it’s great (:

Some Thoughts on the Bookish Community and LonelinessTwitter Instagram •  Goodreads

Review: I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

Title:I Believe in a Thing Called Love I Believe in a Thing Called Love
Author: Maurene Goo
Genres: YA, Contemporary
Goodreads

“Desi Lee knows how carburetors work. She learned CPR at the age of five. As a high school senior, she has never missed a day of school and has never had a B in her entire life. She’s for sure going to Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation-magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds her answer in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Rules for True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and fake car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.”

Review: Timekeeper by Tara Sim

I feel so incredibly conflicted about this book. I’m not even sure if I liked this book or not. Oh well, I’ll just write this review and I’m sure I’ll figure it out somewhere along the way. Let’s start with the things I liked about this book!

One of the things I liked most about I Believe in a Thing Called love was the diversity and representation. Desi’s parents emigrated to the US before she was born, and her Korean heritage is still a very big part of her life. One of Desi’s best friends, Fiona, identifies as a lesbian, and is in a f/f relationship, and her best guy friend is described as having brown skin.

Yes, you heard that right, best guy friend. When we first met her best friend Wes, I was extremely scared that this was going to be a love-triangle-situation, but I’m so glad that it wasn’t! I loved reading about their friendship, and we really don’t get enough m/f friendships (that are only friendships) in books, especially in YA.

I also really loved Desi’s relationship with her father. They’re extremely close, and the fact that they love each other very much is incredibly clear. Also, her dad is amazing?? He is incredibly cute and makes a lot of dad jokes and it’s incredible! Also (and this is a mild spoiler), Desi buys a puppy for her dad at the end of the book so he won’t be lonely when she goes away for college. I’m crying.

I really started enjoying this book, until I read the sentence “Are you still thinking about Luca? Damn, you are crazy.” on page 74. I tried to brush this off, because even though these kind of words really hurt me, it happens in almost every single book and I usually just try to pretend it didn’t happen so I don’t feel sad the rest of the day. Does that make sense? I’m not sure.

Anyway, I tried to brush it off, but it happened again. And again. It included a lot of different variations of the word crazy, too. From “I’m sure you think my mom is a total nut.” to “Full range Crazy Des”, “The Living Proof of my insanity”, “my shelf o’Crazy” and “Wacko”. And every single time, it felt like a punch in the face. (Also, if you don’t know why it’s hurtful and ableist, I’d like to direct you to this article about it.)

I also didn’t like how far Desi took it in regards to her “K Drama Rules for True Love” list. It started off as such a cute thing, with Desi and her dad marathoning multiple K-dramas together, but it ended up being very, well, scary. She really took it too far. I totally get needing a list to be able to talk to potential ‘love interests’ because I know I need that too, but making sure your car crashes so you can experience a life threatening situation together and he’ll fall in love with you? Eh, no. That’s just dangerous, and I hope people who read this won’t think it’s okay to do that.

Even though there are certainly things I would have liked to see differently in this book, I did overall think this was a cute story and I did enjoy reading it. But please be careful with this book if the previously stated ableism hurts you.

Some Thoughts on the Bookish Community and LonelinessTwitter Instagram •  Goodreads

 

 

So You Want Readers To Find Your Book: a Guest Post by Maria Hollis

Since I started publishing my novellas last year, I’ve seen many new authors both in the self-publishing and the indie world that seem lost on how to make readers actually read their books. This is a common fear when you first publish a story. Will my books find their audience? Does anyone actually care about my stories? Some people have even asked my help on how to promote their book. Honestly, I’m just another small writer lost in this world just like anyone else. But I decided to bring a few tips that may help someone out there. This post is mostly for people who are just starting and want a better idea of what to do to find readers.

It’s good to remember that advice from other people is not the end all of how to promote something. You never know for sure what can work or not. Or better yet, each author needs to know how to work with a different audience that fits their story. What works for one person may not work for the other.

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If there’s not an easy way to find your book, readers won’t find it for themselves. Make a Goodreads page with title, synopsis and your author info. I usually make one available as soon as I finish the first rough drafts of a book I know I’ll be publishing soon.

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Hype your book for readers! It’s good to make a cover reveal one or two months before you publish something. Find book bloggers interested in that and use this as the first promo for your story. You can also just do it yourself on your blog or author page if that’s how you prefer. This brings me to one of my favorite parts in item 3!

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Early reviews help so much to hype a book before its publishing date. Open requests for reviewers and book bloggers at least a month before your book comes out. This gives enough time for people to read the book and write the reviews needed. You can just use a Google form for that, it’s quite simple once you play around with it and figure the basic things. Or if you have the money, NetGalley is a cool website to use for this service.

I think many authors are worried about giving ARCs away for fear of piracy or that this will make you lose sales. Yes, there’s the downside of people who want to take advantage, but I still encourage new authors to send ARCs out. Ask people to send their names, emails, blogs and Goodreads accounts in their requests so you can know if they’re really interested in reading the book. Maybe not all of them will have the time to write a review, but many will still want to write something about it. Readers who don’t know you or your work look for reviews to know if it’s worth it to buy and read your story. A book without reviews is hard to sell.

Something extremely important is to try to get your ARCs for marginalized readers. This story you wrote is not just yours, you are telling this story for someone. Remember that. Reviewers who share identities with your characters will love to read and promote your book.

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Despite being in the book community for a few years now, I only learned about Blog Tours when I was about to publish The Melody of You and Me, my first novella. Blog Tours are usually done in a week where Bloggers will write a post to promote your book. Authors and Bloggers work together on this and it can be super fun! Facecast, playlists, author and characters interviews are some ideas for posts to promote your book. In case you don’t have time to do all of this on your own but have the money, you can use paid hosts to help you organize the Tour. Rich in Variety is a nice place to look for this kind of service. Blog Tours usually happen in the week your book comes out so this helps a lot in promoting your story. It’s so cool to see the original posts that bloggers will make for your stuff!

Book Bloggers and even more important, Diverse Book Bloggers are eager to help in promoting marginalized authors and their work. Do create a nice relationship with them. Readers want cool books to read, authors want people to read their cool books. Why not join our works to make publishing a better place for everyone?

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Twitter and other social medias can be fun to use for promotion but are you using this just to talk about your books? Use them to tell readers who you are and what you read too. They are interested in you as an author and look up to you to find more media to support and enjoy. I love making threads or talking about diverse books and authors I admire so that more people can also read their works.

Twitter is a really nice place to meet other authors and help each other. It’s definitely the place that helped me the most so far. Being a part of the book community can be hard some days but you are also going to find so much love and support there. Remember that you’ll need self-care days and take a break from it from time to time. Come back and help when you can. We all have limits and personal lives to take care of. Work inside your limits and what you can do. The good is in the small steps we take together.

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No one is perfect. You’re going to make mistakes along the way. If you get called out or if you write something problematic and people ask you about it, remember to always apologize. Your readers deserve respect and to be heard. Take this as a learning experience so that next time you can do better. Writing is about being open to always try better in your next works. It’s just another part of being an author.

Be sure you make your research for the characters and the story you’re writing. Google is your friend. A nice website to check for research is Writing With Color. They have many links and posts there, and you can also send them an ask. Hiring sensitivity readers can be super helpful on catching harmful representation, but be sure you have enough knowledge way before you write a story. It’s never too much to be careful when touching on matters that aren’t common to your experience.

Look for tropes, stereotypes, read threads and reviews by marginalized people that will help you understand how to write an inclusive story. Read books by other marginalized authors that share different identities from yours. Don’t try to overstep your limits. Diversity is about opening space for more people to write more stories, not about you writing everyone else’s story.

All these items may seem too much, but do what you can do. Step by step, you can get your books in the hands of people who are looking for the stories you are writing. Being an author is not just about writing words down on a page, especially if you don’t have a team behind you promoting your book. Just because you aren’t mainstream, doesn’t mean you need to do all of this alone! We’re all here to help.

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Maria Hollis is the writer of the New Adult F/F Novellas The Melody of You and Me and The Paths we Choose. When she isn’t scrolling around her social media accounts or reading lots of femslash fanfiction, you’ll find her crying about female characters and baking cookies. She hopes to keep writing many stories for women who love other women with happy endings.

You can find her on Twitter, Tumblr and Goodreads.

April Wrap-Up

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April was an incredibly hectic month for me. There were a lot of family visits because of Easter and my brother’s birthday (I can’t believe he’s 17 already!), and especially a lot of studying.

I know I told y’all last month that my exams were getting close, but they’re actually really close now. I have another 1.5 weeks before they start and I’m a little ball of anxiety. I keep being incredibly scared that I will have a panic attack during the exams and I’ll completely screw it up, but hey, I don’t want to discuss all of my anxious thoughts here so let’s move on.

One exciting thing that happened to me this month is that I received physical ARCs for the very first time! I never thought that that’d be possible, with me being an international blogger and all, but apparently it is?? I know ARCs aren’t the most important thing, but it still made me so incredibly happy!!

Besides all of my studying, reading and anxiety-related-stuff I haven’t been able to do much, so let’s just move on to the books I’ve read before this gets too boring.

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The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember (★★★★★/5 stars)- An f/f retelling of The Little Mermaid + Norse mythology & Loki? Yes, it was just as incredible as it sounds.
Fearless by Shira Glassman (★★★★★/5 stars)- Adorable f/f romance that made me very happy.
Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately by Alicia Cook (★★★★/5 stars) – Amazing poetry collection that made me feel a lot of stuff.
The Backstagers #7 & #8 (★★★★★/5 stars) – This graphic novel series is so much fun! So adorable, colorful and queer, and I can’t believe it’s over. I might have cried.
Promdi Heart by various authors (★★★/5 stars) – Cute and I liked the exploration of The Phillipines, but meh. Full review here.

Long Macchiatos and Monsters by Alison Evans (★★★/5 stars) – Very cute, very diverse, and a very quick read.
Ms Marvel vol. 5 (★★★★★/5 stars) – YES. Might be my favorite volume yet, and that might be because of Mike because she’s MAGNIFICENT.
Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller DNF – Great premise, but fell flat for me. But please don’t let that discourage you from picking it up yourself!!
I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo (★★★ / 3.5? /5 stars) – Cute, but I had some problems with it. Review to come soon.
The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich (Not sure yet.) – Amazing premise, but a lot of mixed feelings. Review to come soon.

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The two books I’m currently reading are Chameleon Moon by RoAnna Sylver and Joyride Vol. 1 by Jackson Lanzing. I’m making my way through Chameleon Moon very slowly, but I’m loving it very very much. I just have quite a hard time with reading full novels on my e-reader, and I’m not sure way.
Joyride Vol. 1 is a graphic novel I got through Netgalley, which I can’t say much about because I’m only a few pages in. It has already used the words ‘crazy’ and ‘insane’ a few times though, and y’all know how I feel about that.
Also!!!! I’m currently reading The Taste of Lipgloss by Mariam which you can find here. Mariam is a fellow blogger, an amazing person, and her writing is great and I’m having so much fun reading it! I’d definitely recommend y’all to give it a read.

So, that’s it for April! I’m just going to repeat the same question I asked in my March wrap-up because I loved seeing your answers: what’s the best thing you read this month?

Some Thoughts on the Bookish Community and LonelinessTwitter Instagram •  Goodreads