Feminist Friday | Aphrodite Made Me Do It [MINI REVIEW]

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“Bestselling and award-winning author Trista Mateer takes an imaginative approach to self-care in this new poetry and prose collection, Aphrodite Made Me Do It. In this empowering retelling, she uses the mythology of the goddess to weave a common thread through the past and present. By the end of this book, Aphrodite will make you believe in the possibility of your own healing.”

 

 

  • Edition: Trade paperback
  • Release Date: October 1st, 2019
  • Publisher: Central Avenue Publishing
  • Page Count: 224
  • Genre: Poetry
  • ISBN: 9781771681742

My Rating:  4 stars ★★★★ out of  ★★★★★ stars (4/5)

I was kindly sent an e-arc of this book by the publisher through Edelweiss. Thank you, Central Avenue Publishing!

 

I’ve never been a huge fan of modern poetry. I’ve read Rupi Kaur’s book and I’ve loved Amanda Lovelace’s books. I received Honeybee by Trista Mateer as a gift and have yet to read it but that might change. I had already heard such good things about Aphrodite Made Me Do It so I decided to snag it for review and WOW, that was a great read.

I read poetry quickly so I sat outside in the nice weather (it finally hit the low 60s!) and devoured this book. I love how this book connects the story of Aphrodite but also intertwines personal writing in there as well. If anything, this poetry book is a perfect feminist read. It immediately reminded me a bit of Sylvia Plath’s writing (not her poetry) and that’s a compliment. This book manages to show so much growth while still remaining consistent with it’s theme and creating a beautiful story with poetry.

I highlighted several different poems, but here are some of my highlighted quotes/poems:

  • “They called me a hundred different names, an epithet for everything. Couldn’t even bother trying to comprehend it all together– that I could be bloody and beautiful, that I  could be divine and approachable.”
  • “Aphrodite tells me that love is like wine. If your cup is already full and you try to add more, it will just spill onto the carpet. Some people try and try and just stain everything. Their fingers are purple with want.”
  • “To love something deeply is only to know that you will go to great lengths to protect it.”
  • “She says, if you were only meant to be beautiful, we wouldn’t have put you down here in the dirt.”

and so many more. The writing is so lyrical and gorgeous that it’s easy to love. Anyone who loves a good feminist poet or is interested in mythology will love this! I’ll be looking forward to this author’s next releases!

*please note I read an unfinished copy so these quotes might have been changing within the original copy*

 

 

 

 

Find Aphrodite Made Me Do It at your local bookstore!

 

To hear my thoughts elsewhere, follow me on social media: Goodreads | BookTube | Instagram | Twitter

Imaginary Friend [REVIEW]

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 “A young boy is haunted by a voice in his head in this “haunting and thrilling” epic of literary horror from the #1 NYT bestselling author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower (John Green).

Christopher is seven years old.
Christopher is the new kid in town.
Christopher has an imaginary friend.

We can swallow our fear or let our fear swallow us.

Single mother Kate Reese is on the run. Determined to improve life for her and her son, Christopher, she flees an abusive relationship in the middle of the night with her child. Together, they find themselves drawn to the tight-knit community of Mill Grove, Pennsylvania. It’s as far off the beaten track as they can get. Just one highway in, one highway out.

At first, it seems like the perfect place to finally settle down. Then Christopher vanishes. For six awful days, no one can find him. Until Christopher emerges from the woods at the edge of town, unharmed but not unchanged. He returns with a voice in his head only he can hear, with a mission only he can complete: Build a tree house in the woods by Christmas, or his mother and everyone in the town will never be the same again.

Twenty years ago, Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower made readers everywhere feel infinite. Now, Chbosky has returned with an epic work of literary horror, years in the making, whose grand scale and rich emotion redefine the genre. Read it with the lights on.”

On Sale Date: October 1, 2019
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
ISBNS: 9781538731338, 1538731339
Edition: Hardcover (I read an ARC e-copy)
Page Count: 720
Genre: Fiction / Horror 
TRIGGER WARNINGS: sexual assault, child abuse/abuse in general, alcohol abuse, violence against women

My Rating:  stars ★★★★ out of ★★★★★ stars (4/5)

 

I was kindly sent a physical copy of this book by Grand Central Publishing in exchange for a review. Thank you, Grand Central Pub! Any opinion stated is my own.

 

This review is SPOILER FREE!

I’m just going to start this review off saying that I’m not your usual horror/thriller reader. In fact, I’ve only recently started reading more thrillers. I’ve never really read horror before. These books just scare me so I would stray away from them. I’ve been picking up more and more Gillian Flynn and loving them so I decided that maybe I should give more horrors and thrillers a chance. So, what perfect timing! It’s the spooky season and Stephen Chbosky is releasing his second novel, Imaginary Friend.

I’m not going to lie, this book is a bit daunting. It’s a horror novel (something I don’t read often like I said) and it’s around 700 pages. Any 700 page novel is daunting to me but a horror novel?! I could never. But, HERE I AM. And I loved every bit of it. The main reason I decided to request this arc is because I am a huge fan of Perks of Being a Wallflower. I know, this book doesn’t seem anything like that but hear me out. I’m also quite the reader so I’m not afraid of reading things that make me uncomfortable and I’m also aware that an author’s writings aren’t going to be the same. I knew this whenever I requested Imaginary Friend that this isn’t my type of book but I trust this author so I’m going to read it anyway.

If you’re worried about this book due to the genre, the fact he only has one other novel that’s entirely different, or the size — That’s okay! Don’t give up on this book, though. I’m about to write an entire review about why I think it’s worth it and why I, someone who doesn’t even read horror novels, loved it.

If you don’t know what this book is about, the description probably won’t help you either. I think it’s best you go into this novel basically knowing nothing. It’s way more exciting that way. I realized after I had finish it that even though I did read the description, I still wasn’t expecting what I got. This isn’t a bad thing, though. I loved not knowing what was going to happen next. It’s 100% a page turner. The chapters are incredibly short and usually end with that sentence that leaves you shocked and wanting more. You’ll end up flipping through the entire book not even knowing how close you are to the end.

It’s a haunting story of Good vs. Evil, a story full of biblical references, and a story that really makes you THINK. There was a point in this novel that I got out a pen and paper to jot down notes and letters that ended up making a key sentence to the story. Once you read it, this will make sense. I also noticed while reading how EVERYTHING in this novel is important, even the time stamps because they relate to the story. I haven’t had this much fun reading a book in so long. I’m usually the type to figure out what’s going to happen next but once I finished this book, I couldn’t believe the amount of things I missed. I understand why it took so long for this book to eventually be finished. It’s genius. Stephen Chbosky’s writing style works seamlessly with a horror/thriller. The amount of foreshadowing and connections I didn’t realize at first blows my mind. It’s definitely a book I’ll pick up to re-read once it’s actually published.

There’s so many different characters within this novel but their storylines all intertwine and connect throughout the book and it was so satisfying to watch that happen. The cast of characters in this book kind of remind me of those in Stranger Things. I think this is the only reason this book reminds me of Stranger Things is because of the young cast of characters, the sheriff who plays a major role, and the mother being a main character as well. I also think this book reminds me of Neil Gaiman’s storytelling but Stephen King’s writing style. I can’t really explain why but isn’t that enough to make you want to pick it up?

I also want to quickly talk about why I think this book is still fitting to those who want to explore more of Stephen Chbosky’s writing after loving Perks of Being a Wallflower. While this is a horror novel, I would definitely call it a psychological thriller as well. This book portrays raw human emotion and sometimes, that can be scary. The amount of intellectual depth in this novel astonishes me. It’s a horror novel that feels so real because the role emotion plays and how it talks so openly about both love and fear. I think that’s why most Perks fans would love this. Also, it’s just a great story so technically, if you like good books, you’ll like this one.

I really can’t say much without spoiling this novel and trust me, I want to ramble on about this book with someone who’s read it. Jenna at @JennaClarek was actually reading it at the same time and it was SO fun to send each other reactions. We also had so many different realizations after this novel which is why it would make a great re-read. I can’t wait to get my hands on the physical copy so I can annotate the heck out of it.

Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky is an absolute page-turner, a complex and captivating novel at it’s best. If you’re looking for a spooky book to read this season, I HIGHLY recommend this one!

 

Find Imaginary Friend at your local bookstore!

 

To hear my thoughts elsewhere, follow me on social media: Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter

June YA Releases 2019

It’s already June! Here’s some exciting upcoming June YA releases. Are you looking forward to any?

1. Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson [June 4th, 2019]

42201395 “All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.”

 

2. Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay [June 18th, 2019]

41941681  “A powerful coming-of-age story about grief, guilt, and the risks a Filipino-American teenager takes to uncover the truth about his cousin’s murder.

Jay Reguero plans to spend the last semester of his senior year playing video games before heading to the University of Michigan in the fall. But when he discovers that his Filipino cousin Jun was murdered as part of President Duterte’s war on drugs, and no one in the family wants to talk about what happened, Jay travels to the Philippines to find out the real story.

Hoping to uncover more about Jun and the events that led to his death, Jay is forced to reckon with the many sides of his cousin before he can face the whole horrible truth — and the part he played in it.

As gripping as it is lyrical, Patron Saints of Nothing is a page-turning portrayal of the struggle to reconcile faith, family, and immigrant identity.”

 

3. The Evil Queen by Gena Showalter [June 25th, 2019]

40242200-1 “Welcome to the Forest of Good and Evil. A dream come true, and a living nightmare.

Evil isn’t born, it’s made. One thought and action at a time. Take a good look at what you’ve made.

Far, far away, in the realm of Enchantia, creatures of legend still exist, magic is the norm and fairy tales are real. Except, fairy tales aren’t based on myths and legends of the past—they are prophecies of the future.

Raised in the mortal realm, Everly Morrow has no idea she’s a real life fairy tale princess—until she manifests an ability to commune with mirrors.

Look. See… What will one peek hurt?

Soon, a horrifying truth is revealed. She is fated to be Snow White’s greatest enemy, the Evil Queen.

With powers beyond her imagination or control—and determined to change Fate itself—Everly returns to the land of her birth. There, she meets Roth Charmaine, the supposed Prince Charming. Their attraction is undeniable, but their relationship is doomed.

As bits and pieces of the prophecy unfold, Everly faces one betrayal after another, and giving in to her dark side proves more tempting every day. Can she resist, or will she become the queen—and villain—she was born to be?”

 

4. Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian [June 4th, 2019] 

40190305.jpg ‘It’s 1989 in New York City, and for three teens, the world is changing.

Reza is an Iranian boy who has just moved to the city with his mother to live with his stepfather and stepbrother. He’s terrified that someone will guess the truth he can barely acknowledge about himself. Reza knows he’s gay, but all he knows of gay life are the media’s images of men dying of AIDS.

Judy is an aspiring fashion designer who worships her uncle Stephen, a gay man with AIDS who devotes his time to activism as a member of ACT UP. Judy has never imagined finding romance…until she falls for Reza and they start dating.

Art is Judy’s best friend, their school’s only out and proud teen. He’ll never be who his conservative parents want him to be, so he rebels by documenting the AIDS crisis through his photographs.

As Reza and Art grow closer, Reza struggles to find a way out of his deception that won’t break Judy’s heart–and destroy the most meaningful friendship he’s ever known.”

 

5. If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann [June 4th, 2019]

cover158454-medium “High school finally behind her, Winnie is all set to attend college in the fall. But first she’s spending her summer days working at her granny’s diner and begins spending her midnights with Dallas—the boy she loves to hate and hates that she likes. Winnie lives in Misty Haven, a small town where secrets are impossible to keep—like when Winnie allegedly snaps on Dr. Skinner, which results in everyone feeling compelled to give her weight loss advice for her own good. Because they care that’s she’s “too fat.”

Winnie dreams of someday inheriting the diner—but it’ll go away if they can’t make money, and fast. Winnie has a solution—win a televised cooking competition and make bank. But Granny doesn’t want her to enter—so Winnie has to find a way around her formidable grandmother. Can she come out on top?”

 

6. The Beholder by Anna Bright [June 4th, 2019]

36558159.jpg “Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.

But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.

From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.”

 

Pre-order any of these at your local bookstore!

2019 YA Releases with POC Main Characters

1. Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali [April 30th, 2019]

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“A marvel: something you find amazing. Even ordinary-amazing. Like potatoes—because they make French fries happen. Like the perfect fries Adam and his mom used to make together.

An oddity: whatever gives you pause. Like the fact that there are hateful people in the world. Like Zayneb’s teacher, who won’t stop reminding the class how “bad” Muslims are.

But Zayneb, the only Muslim in class, isn’t bad. She’s angry.

When she gets suspended for confronting her teacher, and he begins investigating her activist friends, Zayneb heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break.

Fueled by the guilt of getting her friends in trouble, she resolves to try out a newer, “nicer” version of herself in a place where no one knows her.

Then her path crosses with Adam’s.

Since he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, Adam’s stopped going to classes, intent, instead, on perfecting the making of things. Intent on keeping the memory of his mom alive for his little sister.

Adam’s also intent on keeping his diagnosis a secret from his grieving father.

Alone, Adam and Zayneb are playing roles for others, keeping their real thoughts locked away in their journals.

Until a marvel and an oddity occurs…

Marvel: Adam and Zayneb meeting.

Oddity: Adam and Zayneb meeting.”

Find out more on Goodreads.

 

2. If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann [June 4th, 2019]

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“High school finally behind her, Winnie is all set to attend college in the fall. But first she’s spending her summer days working at her granny’s diner and begins spending her midnights with Dallas—the boy she loves to hate and hates that she likes. Winnie lives in Misty Haven, a small town where secrets are impossible to keep—like when Winnie allegedly snaps on Dr. Skinner, which results in everyone feeling compelled to give her weight loss advice for her own good. Because they care that’s she’s “too fat.”

Winnie dreams of someday inheriting the diner—but it’ll go away if they can’t make money, and fast. Winnie has a solution—win a televised cooking competition and make bank. But Granny doesn’t want her to enter—so Winnie has to find a way around her formidable grandmother. Can she come out on top?”

Find out more on Goodreads.

 

3. The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert [August 20th, 2019]

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Perfect for fans of Nina LaCour and Nicola Yoon comes a novel about first love and family secrets from Stonewall Book Award winner Brandy Colbert.

Dove “Birdie” Randolph works hard to be the perfect daughter and follow the path her parents have laid out for her: She quit playing her beloved soccer, she keeps her nose buried in textbooks, and she’s on track to finish high school at the top of her class. But then Birdie falls hard for Booker, a sweet boy with a troubled past…whom she knows her parents will never approve of.

When her estranged aunt Carlene returns to Chicago and moves into the family’s apartment above their hair salon, Birdie notices the tension building at home. Carlene is sweet, friendly, and open-minded–she’s also spent decades in and out of treatment facilities for addiction. As Birdie becomes closer to both Booker and Carlene, she yearns to spread her wings. But when long-buried secrets rise to the surface, everything she’s known to be true is turned upside down.”

Find out more on Goodreads.

 

4. Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite [September 3rd, 2019]

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“Quick-witted high school journalist Alaine Beauparlant gets booted from her elite private school after an intricate prank goes cruelly awry. She warily accepts an invitation from her aunt to spend her suspension at the family’s estate in Haiti–where her estranged mom is recuperating from a political fiasco. In her homeland for the first time, Alaine is immediately put to work at her aunt’s start-up helping native children in need. Alaine meets locals, interacts with kids connected to donors, and is shown the ropes by Jason, a fellow intern whose charming ways are making work a bit more challenging. What she doesn’t expect to find are letters, articles, emails, and diary entries that she compiles into a final project that will not only save her academic standing in school, but also help her finally know the mother she’s never really understood.”

Find out more on Goodreads.

 

5. Color Me In by Natasha Diaz [August 20th, 2019]

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Debut YA author Natasha Díaz pulls from her personal experience to inform this powerful coming-of-age novel about the meaning of friendship, the joyful beginnings of romance, and the racism and religious intolerance that can both strain a family to the breaking point and strengthen its bonds.

Who is Nevaeh Levitz?

Growing up in an affluent suburb of New York City, sixteen-year-old Nevaeh Levitz never thought much about her biracial roots. When her Black mom and Jewish dad split up, she relocates to her mom’s family home in Harlem and is forced to confront her identity for the first time.

Nevaeh wants to get to know her extended family, but one of her cousins can’t stand that Nevaeh, who inadvertently passes as white, is too privileged, pampered, and selfish to relate to the injustices they face on a daily basis as African Americans. In the midst of attempting to blend their families, Nevaeh’s dad decides that she should have a belated bat mitzvah instead of a sweet sixteen, which guarantees social humiliation at her posh private school. Even with the push and pull of her two cultures, Nevaeh does what she’s always done when life gets complicated: she stays silent.

It’s only when Nevaeh stumbles upon a secret from her mom’s past, finds herself falling in love, and sees firsthand the prejudice her family faces that she begins to realize she has a voice. And she has choices. Will she continue to let circumstances dictate her path? Or will she find power in herself and decide once and for all who and where she is meant to be?”

Find out more on Goodreads.

6. I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest [June 4th, 2019]

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“”In a world where it’s easy to lose faith in love, I WANNA BE WHERE YOU ARE is a brilliant burst of light. A dazzling debut.” ― Nic Stone, New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin and Odd One Out

When Chloe Pierce’s mom forbids her to apply for a spot at the dance conservatory of her dreams, she devises a secret plan to drive two hundred miles to the nearest audition. But Chloe hits her first speed bump when her annoying neighbor Eli insists upon hitching a ride, threatening to tell Chloe’s mom if she leaves him and his smelly dog, Geezer, behind. So now Chloe’s chasing her ballet dreams down the east coast―two unwanted (but kinda cute) passengers in her car, butterflies in her stomach, and a really dope playlist on repeat.

Filled with roadside hijinks, heart-stirring romance, and a few broken rules, I Wanna Be Where You Are is a YA debut perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Sandhya Menon.”

Find out more on Goodreads.

 

7. We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal [May 14th, 2019]

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People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.”

Find out more on Goodreads.

 

8. With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo [May 7th, 2019]

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With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.”

 

Find out more on Goodreads.

 

 

 

Are you looking forward to any of these? I’d love to know! I think I’m most excited about We Hunt the Flame!

Pre-order these books at your local bookstore! Pre-orders help these books out IMMENSELY.