JJ Reads

Memo Pad: June Wrap Up

June left. A while ago. Life has been super hectic (I was going to say here but I don’t really have a here right now!) we packed up and moved out of the house I’ve lived in my whole life. (Bye London!). Moved in temporally with my aunt. Visited the place we are going to live on holiday for a week and are now back living with my aunt…. I’m tired. I mean my parents are tired and they’re not chronically ill so I’m…. Very?…tired.

All that to say. Yes. This June wrap up post is two weeks late! it’s been pretty difficult to think enough to actually write reviews but I have been managing to read (and not much else!).

In writing related news I sent my YA Scifi out for feedback at the end of May and planned to start writing my next wip over June and July while I was waiting and receiving feedback. But. Um. Well. It’s now been over a month since I’ve written/edited anything. Partially because I’m too exhausted to function as previously mentioned but also because my anxiety is ridiculously high and my brain won’t settle (which again is partially because of the move but partially because FEEDBACK = always anxiety inducing!). I have done a little final planning of the small things like naming places and minor characters. I’ve also figured out where the first chapter starts but that’s it. We’ll see if I get anything done by the July wrap up but I doubt it. My brain comes first after all.

BUT onto the books for June! I read 7 fiction books (2 of them novellas) which isn’t as much compared with what I’ve been reading in the last few months (although still amazing compared to before this year) but I’ve read a few nonfiction books which I don’t tend to review or count on this blog so I actually have read a lot. You’ll get the summary of my mini reviews and I also have two full reviews of my fav book of the month and a,,,, not so good reading experience.

Mini Reviews Summary:

Mini Reviews are in this blog post here if you want to see them, otherwise links go to goodreads.

Predatory (Port Lewis Witches #3) by Brooklyn Ray***** (Review copy)

Witchy, atmospheric, queer and beautifully written novella in a NA contemporary fantasy series

David Mogo, Godhunter by Suyi Davies Okungbowa***** (Review Copy)

Nigerian Godpunk about a demigod going up against wizards, vengeful gods and corruption told in 3 parts.

When I Am Through With You by Stephanie Kuehn *****

Twisty YA contemporary recounting a school mountaineering trip and why the main character is awaiting trial for murder.

Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare *****

This was actually my fav Shakespeare book from school but it didn’t live up to my memory. Alas

Waking up the Sun by Laura Bailo ***** (Review Copy)

A quite stakes m/m romance trapped in a magical forest with anxiety and demisexual rep discussed on page. A soft and heartwarming read.

Full Reviews:

This is How You Lose the Time War by Max Gladstone & Amal El-Mohtar ***** (Review Copy)

This is a scifi. It’s about two rival agents who write letters to each other across time and multiple alternate worlds (Atlantis always falls). They taunt each other. They fall in love. It’s f/f. The writing is so lyrical it’s unreal (and I don’t normally like purple prose but wow I fell in love with this book so hard). It’s not like anything I’ve ever read before. The timewar and world building is interesting and imaginative but takes a backseat to the two characters. The letters they write. The slow fall into feelings. The way they struggle to describe things they’ve never felt in words the other will understand.

It’s clever. It’s beauty in the middle of destruction. And nothing I can say about it will ever do it justice. I have nothing to compare it to which also doesn’t help! I loved the way it merged technology with nature and the way time is described as vines that have to be clipped to enact the right future for their factions. I love the relationship and how the chemistry built. How we end up in such an inevitable place with these star crossed lovers and how much they are willing to risk. But they aren’t two children falling in love. They’re time agents and are as clever and cunning as anyone they’re up against.

This book IS very different. And I can see it not being to everyone’s taste but I am in love with it and I would recommend everyone give it a chance. Don’t think too hard about trying to piece the world’s together. Just revel in the amazing f/f relationship.

All The Things We Never Said by Yasmin Rahman ***** (Review Copy)

This is an exciting YA contemporary dealing with very heavy topics and focusing on Friendship. The story is about 3 girls who join a website that pairs them together for a suicide pact but while going through the assigned tasks they form a strong friendship that makes them want to keep living. Only the website won’t let them back out.

It’s an interesting concept and all three girls personalities were so different and yet worked well as they grew together. It’s also super diverse. Mehreen, arguably the main character of the three, is a British Muslim with anxiety and depression. There’s also a wheelchair user and a survivor of sexual assault. it’s all about the power of friendship between them, about love and grief and healing, and it really shows just how much strength it takes to fight with yourself every day and keep going.

So, why the 1 star?

Simple. The outright, blatant mocking of invisible disabilities.

At one point in the book Cara, a wheelchair user and one of the three main characters, has this to say about it:

“I watched a YouTube video about invisible disabilities a few weeks ago, and it’s been stuck in my mind ever since; they were talking about how having an invisible disability is just as bad. Total bullshit of course.”

Because we don’t have enough people talking about how those of us with invisible illnesses are lazy or exaggerating? I’m not sure if it’s better or worse that this page is a completely throwaway aside. There is literally no need for it to be there and yet it is. And not only is it there AND never refuted but another character AGREES:

“‘Invisible disabilities?’ Mum asks. The sarcasm in her voice is the first thing I’ve been able to relate to her about in ages.”

I’ve been chronically ill for over ten years. I’m use to the dismissal. To people thinking we’re lying or lazy. Ignorant to the fact that our whole lives are turned upside down as we’re sick and in agony and thinking instead that we’re just being melodramatic or a scrounger. I’ve read the comments. I’ve seen the bad rep in books about disability like Everything Everything or Me Before You. But in a book that’s supposed to be so diverse? So inclusive? About kids who come together and are accepted and loved the way they are? To still be shunned and used as a punchline in a book I thought would be a safe space? It felt like being gut punched out of nowhere. It HURT.

I’m not exaggerating when I say these are the most hurtful and HARMFUL ableist comments that I’ve read in a book. And I can only imagine how much more it would have hurt to read these words as a newly chronically ill teen who’d just had their life ripped away from them and knows what it feels like to have their friends make mocking comments just like these. If I’d read it then instead of now it would have broken me. To see it written so casually in a book about acceptance. To know the author and editors and publishers had no issue including it (it would have been SO easy to take out because it doesn’t affect the plot at all). To know others are reading those comments and deciding that point of view is acceptable because the way it’s phrased implies it is. It’s not okay.

It’s not only the hurt at reading the comments but knowing the harm that those comments perpetuate, of how easily they feed into the rhetoric of hating on people like me. I wish I could have supported this book. We need more books of and by poc in UK YA (and everywhere, and with MI rep). But there’s nothing that can erase the harm of those words to me.

Rep: British Muslim with anxiety and depression, lesbian wheelchair user.

Trigger Warnings: Suicide, suicidal thoughts, suicide pact, self harm (cutting), sexual abuse, attempted rape and mentions of past rape,  death of a family member, private photos going viral.

This is quite the rollercoaster post. I sat with these reviews for a while, especially ATTWNS, but my feelings about it haven’t softened at all so here we are. But it was one book, and I read other good books, I just wish there was less ableism and more good disability rep. Alas.

I’m ending with some good things:

Best book of the month: This is How you Lose the Time War by Max Gladstone and Amal El-Mohtar.

Favourite quote of the month: “Dearest, deepest Blue – At the end as at the start, and through all the in-betweens, I love you. Red” – This is How You Lose the Time War

How about you? How has your month been? have you read any of these books and what did you think? Are you as behind with reviews as me?!? And feel free to cheer me up with comments about what good books you’ve read lately or favourite quotes you’ve come across.

2 thoughts on “Memo Pad: June Wrap Up”

  1. It’s a shame that invisible disabilities comment was thrown in as a random unnecessary comment. It could so easily have been used as a starting point to discuss how it’s not true. I mean I can kind of see how a young teen in a wheelchair with a very obvious disability – who has probably been stared at and discriminated against – could think that so her saying it seems realistic but instead of just leaving it couldn’t the author have used as a starting point to show that just because you can’t obviously see that someone is ill doesn’t mean they’re not. Apart from being hurtful (which I can only imagine how that feels) it’s a missed opportunity to make a diverse book even more inclusive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly. People have ignorant or prejudiced thoughts all the time. It makes sense that the character might think/say it, but if you’re going to include it in a book it NEEDS to be called out/refuted somehow. Not agreed with!


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