Review: Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

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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.

So, going from I Wish You All the Best to this was a ride. I was not prepared for this much emotion, and once again, I don’t know if I can put into words how I feel about this book.

Felix is a trans boy who is still questioning his identity. He has a best friend called Ezra and goes to art school. And his story captured my heart. The thing about this book is it really allows the characters to be messy and real. Felix was far from perfect, and he made me angry at times. But I couldn’t help but forgive him because he was so soft and just trying to work out how he could be himself, in his own body.

I’m not flaunting anything. I’m just existing. This is me. I can’t hide myself. I can’t disappear. 

This book is about revenge. It’s about love. It’s about questioning your identity and coming to terms with yourself. It’s about family and friends and relationships. It’s freaking beautiful. Felix is constantly being bullied and struggling daily because of the negative way people treat him because he’s queer, Black and trans. And sometimes, he messes up. And the people around him mess up. But this book teaches so much about forgiveness, about being angry and being able to stand up for yourself and those around you.

I got through this so quickly, in just over 24 hours! I’ve been reading quickly at the moment anyway, but with this being over 350 pages, I thought it would take me a bit longer. But as soon as I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. It was so cleverly written, with a revenge plot and mystery thrown in too, that didn’t feel unrealistic or like it was forced in. It felt natural and I couldn’t help but be hooked by the story, I just wanted to find out what was going to happen.

And even if I could, I don’t f**king want to. I have the same right to be here. I have the same right to exist.

I had full body shivers/goosebumps at some parts of this book, especially at times that really meant a lot to Felix (I don’t want to spoil it, so I won’t say any more than that!). I had tears in my eyes multiple times. Again, this book is just so needed right now. It was raw and honest and vulnerable. It will change lives.

★★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Review: I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver

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When Ben De Backer comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they’re thrown out of their house and forced to move in with their estranged older sister, Hannah, and her husband, Thomas, whom Ben has never even met. Struggling with an anxiety disorder compounded by their parents’ rejection, they come out only to Hannah, Thomas, and their therapist and try to keep a low profile in a new school.
But Ben’s attempts to survive the last half of senior year unnoticed are thwarted when Nathan Allan, a funny and charismatic student, decides to take Ben under his wing. As Ben and Nathan’s friendship grows, their feelings for each other begin to change, and what started as a disastrous turn of events looks like it might just be a chance to start a happier new life.

Wow. I wish I could find the words to give this book the review it deserves, but I feel like I will never be able to. Becky Albertalli sums it up so well as quietly groundbreaking, and this is the perfect way to describe this novel. It will change people’s lives. It will rock people’s worlds. It will make you laugh and cry, but most importantly, it will educate.

At the start of this book, Ben comes out as non-binary to their parents, which they don’t react well to and therefore kick them out of the house. They then move in with their sister, who they haven’t spoken to in around 10 years. The thing that hit me the most about this book is that there is really nothing else out there quite like it. I’ve never felt so informed about what non-binary people have to go through just to be who they are. It honestly broke my heart over and over again, but also filled me with hope to see Ben surrounded by the people who love them the most.

“Whatever happens”—his grip tightens a little—“I wish you all the best, Benjamin De Backer.”

The characters in this book are just amazing. Ben went through so much and were treated so unfairly by their parents, and to see them slowly open up was just such a beautiful story to witness. Ben’s sister is such a great character, strong willed and always wanting what is best for Ben. Her husband, Thomas is also so loving and warm. Ben’s friends at school were such a great group and overall Ben was surrounded by such a diverse group of people. I love how good family relationships were reinforced among Ben’s friends families and their relationship with their sister and brother in law. It really balanced out the bad relationship Ben had with their parents and warmed my heart.

I also can’t write this review without mentioning how positive Ben’s relationship with their therapist was. She was such an amazing character and I love the conversations she had with Ben about informed consent, medication, and other important aspects of having therapy. Nothing was shied away in this book and everything was discussed.

He says it with a smile. “You deserve it.”

I wish I could tell you how much this book meant to me because I can really see how many lives it will change. It gave me goosebumps, made me cry, made me laugh, warmed my heart and broke it so many times. Again, I am going to leave you with the quote from Becky Albertalli, because she sums it up better than I ever could:

“Heartfelt, romantic and quietly groundbreaking. This book will save lives.”

★★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: The Bone Witch (#1) by Rin Chupeco

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When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.
In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha-one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice. 

This book follows Tea, a bone witch/necromancer, who has also brought back her brother from the dead. After finding this out, Tea travels to another land, with a mentor, to be taken to a school to become an asha. From what I understood, Asha are kind of like Geisha, in that they learn to perform for others, dance and sing, and are recognised by their outfits, which in this case is hua.

They also have heartglasses, which hang around their necks, and change colour with the emotion of the wearer. Silver heartglasses means you can draw runes and fight, as an asha (for women) or a soldier (for men). Heartglasses are also exchanged with the person you fall in love with, which can be dangerous as they are essentially a part of you.

Then perhaps we should carve a world one day where the strength lies in who you are

There was a lot I liked about this book, but I did feel mixed about it. For a start, I felt like I was being thrown into this story almost as if it was a sequel. The world feels very fantastical and for a good chunk of the book, I just felt a bit..lost. If you enjoy high fantasy, I think you’ll get on with this just fine and enjoy it. But for me, who has only recently gotten into fantasy, I still find it hard to wrap my head around some things and it felt like I was being plunged in at the deep end sometimes! I also couldn’t quite grasp who was telling the in-between chapters, even though I enjoyed them I have since learned it is also Tea, telling the same story but in the present, whereas the main narrative is Tea in the future, telling the tale.

All that aside, there are some really cool parts of this story. Once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down. The pacing isn’t exactly fast, but I didn’t want to put it down in the second half either. The writing is just beautiful, magical and weirdly comforting, and I really enjoyed reading about the world.

I also want to say I love how Rin discusses gender. Even in a regimented world in which there are two genders and they both have their roles, gender issues are discussed. The fact that Asha face criticism as females is not shied away from. The characters as a whole were great, and I really loved Tea’s mentor and some of the older Asha’s. Her relationship with her brother and friendship with Likh were also lovely to read about.

rather than in what they expect you to be.

Overall, I had mixed feelings about this but overall quite enjoyed reading it. This world has so much potential and I will definitely be carrying on with the series, now I have more understanding about how the world works I think I’ll really enjoy it!

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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