Book Review

Book Review: When the Moon Was Ours

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When the Moon Was Ours
Written by Anna-Marie McLemore
Published by Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press.
Page Count: 288 pages.
Tea Pairing: This Caramel Cream tea from Adagio perfectly matches Miel’s favorite cookie called alfajores, a Latin-American dulce de leche concoction. Want a recipe? Check it out here!

No one in town really knows a lot about Miel and Sam. Miel has the ability to grow roses from her wrists and some say she was born from a water tower. Sam paints moons and hangs them from trees to illuminate the neighborhood. No one knows where he and his mother originated from or why they left.

Despite all of this, they aren’t the most mysterious ones in town. The Bonner sisters hold a strange sort of magic – they’re able to enchant and lure any man they want. Except for Sam. When Miel is threatened and blackmailed, will she protect herself or the boy she loves?

4.5

Anna Marie McLemore’s book, When the Moon Was Ours, is such a beautiful and important text. Written poetically and with a lot of heart, this story gives us something I have shamefully never seen before in a novel, young adult or otherwise:

A character who is trans.

I don’t want to give too much away. I think there’s so much magic to this book that needs to be discovered by the reader. But there are teens that feel alone in their sexuality and I think it’s our closest form of magic that we have books like this available to help heal wounded readers.

(This book isn’t getting enough love, you guys. I will scream it from rooftops if I must.)

There are other lovely things in this book:

  • When the Moon Was Ours points out that those things that make us different, those strange metaphorical roses growing from our wrists, are the same things that make us beautiful.
  • It lets us know that even those people we revere as perfect are not so flawless. And it informs us that even they are struggling.
  • This book offers us a magical world that seems oddly real and familiar at the same time.
  • It features a cast of characters who are POC, something we don’t see nearly enough.

I found the end to be a little forced, hence the 4.5 star rating, but other than that? I was madly in love with this book. It was so clever and so profound and I’ll be returning to this book again, I guarantee.

What’s everyone reading? Leave it here! I’m going to be doing a throwback to Fangirl this week (complete with recipe!) and then I’ll be diving into a couple of ARCs that I’ve received.

(Including ARCs about vampires, teens with Asperger’s, and a meditation book for middle graders. And maybe John Green’s new book if I have the nerve.)

Keep reading!

Tea Review

Tea Talk: Athena Blend – Adagio Tea

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(Not thrilled with that picture. My apologies, my loves!)

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Name: Athena Blend
Flavors: Almond oolong, green chai, blueberry
Book Pairing: The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller

(This blend was given to me courtesy of Adagio Teas in exchange for an honest review.)

Fun fact of shame: I hate green tea. Hate it. Hate it. And I wish I didn’t because green tea has so many health benefits but for whatever reason, I can’t get into green tea.

And then I met this blend.

This blend is so light and calming. You really get the tang of the blueberry with every sip but it isn’t at all an overpowering flavor. I drank it hot but I might just have to ice it next time – I can absolutely see it being refreshing on a hot day (and this autumn has already been way too hot for my tastes).

I’m very guilty at taking a few sips of tea and then forgetting about it. This cup, I downed in a few minutes. It was just that good that I couldn’t let it sit for too long. I was really uncertain about trying this one. The flavors are not at all something I’d usually go for. In the end, this blend ended up being one of my favorites.

Take a risk with this one, my friends. Be warned, the site says that it does have a rather high caffeine content. Probably shoulda checked that before I made a cup at 9:30 at night with work the next day. Whoops. But let’s face it, this tea might make staying up until 4 am worth it.

You might also want to take a risk with the above book. I first read it a few years ago but I might have to reread it to write about it here. If you’re at all a fan of mythology, you’ll love this look into the relationship between Achilles and (one of my personal faves) Patroclus.

Have a great week, my loves. A book review and some more tea reviews are headed your way this week!

Essay, Ramblings

The Hero Complex and the Importance of Representation in Young Adult Literature

Whilst I make my way through some good reads (and reread some old favorites sorry couldn’t resist whoops), I’ve got some thoughts.

I’ve seen a lot of criticism lately about the hero protagonist in young adult literature. While I want to say that I get the criticism, I don’t. Sure, we need to celebrate our run-of-the-mill characters. Our average-Joes. I’m not saying they should be ignored.

What I am saying, however, is that all teenagers and all young adults and, honestly, all humans are the heroes of their own stories. Why can’t they be written as such?

There are young people in the world *raises hand* who suffer from mental illness. We struggle with our minds. Like Jacob wrestling the angel, we are in constant battle for control over something that should be so simple — our brains and our own thoughts. And yet, we have unpredictable moments of weakness. We have moments where we hear these voices that tell us how unimportant we are. How replaceable we are. How burdensome we are.

And then there are books. I think of how there are books in this world and I sigh with relief. I can’t begin to list how many books have saved me. Book lovers abuse books so often, too! We let them sit on our shelves for years and years and years to collect dust and wait and pine for us. Like a loyal dog, they’re still there waiting for us, even after we’ve cheated on them with newer, prettier, thicker tomes.

Okay, Lauren. We get it. What does this have to do with heroic protagonists?

Ever go to a Harry Potter midnight premiere? (Aww, remember those days?) People dressed up. People carried wands. People proudly wore their house colors and showed off their collected merchandise. And every single nerd attending that movie and/or book release felt immortal. We felt powerful. We felt brave. And we understood how valuable we were.

Harry Potter was the Boy Who Lived. He was special at Hogwarts. It didn’t matter that he lived under the stairs in his muggle world. Here, in this new and magical place, he was revered and irreplaceable.

And so too are the young people reading these books.

Being a young adult is hard enough. You’re stuck between being an adult and being a kid and so others either treat you as though you have to carry the world on your shoulders or as though you’re the one who needs to be carried. Add a feeling of invisibility, a sense of insignificance, and the rising diagnoses of mental illness and it’s clear to see that students are in need of some reassurance and comfort.

While I applaud students who seek out literature that is beyond their reading level (I was totes that kid. Let’s face it, I’m still that kid.), they should have an option to read — well, whatever they want, really. I’m sure students can find heroes in classic literature. I remember feeling inspired by Jane Eyre and her independence as a young(er) reader. It’s possible.

But imagine a reader picking up Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe after they’ve begun to identify as someone on the LGBTQ+ spectrum.

Imagine a reader who has only seen white heroes in the media finally finding someone who looks like her in The Wrath and the Dawn series.

Imagine a reader feeling incredibly anxious and depressed due to recent events involving police brutality and coming across The Hate U Give.

The protagonists don’t even need to be wand-wielding wizards to be the heroes of their stories (although, have you read El DeafoNot enough people are talking about a graphic novel about the beloved deaf superhero). And when students begin to see books as a mirror into their own worlds, they respond in a far more positive way. These books stick. And when books stick, we create better readers.

Let’s create a world of better, more inclusive books.

All right. Enough of my ramblings. I’ve been under the weather the past couple of days so expect a lot of tea reviews this weekend.

Like, a lot.

Keep reading, my loves.

Tea Review, Uncategorized

Tea Talk: Decaf Hazelnut Cinnamon Creme from Adagio

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Are you guys ready for my first five-star review?

Because IT’S HERE.

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The tea in that lovely cup above is Adagio’s Decaf Hazelnut Cinnamon Creme. Isn’t that color beautiful? I may have gasped a little.

Anecdote time. There’s a tea house in the next town over that has pretty much an entire menu of tea. The first time I went, I tried a tea called Pralines & Creme. I fell head over heels in love with this tea and every single time I went back, I ordered it again and again.

Until one day when they said, “Oh, I’m sorry, we’re out of that.”

And then the next time I went, it was off the menu completely. My heart broke and I’m not exaggerating when I say that I google ‘pralines & cream tea’ about once every thirty seconds.

This tea? Tastes so similar to that tea that I once fell in love with. The only thing is, this tea is better. First of all, the moment you pour it into your cup, the aroma that hits you is so lovely and wonderful and reminiscent of a low-key café. You get that scent of hazelnut immediately and I can’t begin to express how comforting of a smell that is.

Sometimes, you smell something before you taste it and the taste is kind of a let-down. Not the case here. It’s so full-bodied and rich and you really get every note of every ingredient promised in the title. Speaking of which, I take my tea with nothing. No sugar, no milk, no cream, nothing. And yet, this tea had such a creamy consistency that I may have been hugging my cup the entire time I was drinking it.

Not to put down bagged tea but this loose leaf was so flavorful and inviting that I realized, in my laziness and my reliance on bagged tea, I had forgotten why I loved tea in the first place. This tea reminded me the moment I opened the bag, took in that hazelnut scent, and saw the pop of yellow in the marigold leaves sitting in my tea. Beautiful to look at and heaven to drink, this tea will absolutely become a staple in my home.

Have I waxed poetic enough? Honestly, I can’t recommend this tea enough. Adagio has a really awesome subscription plan where you can choose your favorite teas and they will automatically send them to you. To ensure I never run out of this tea again, I may have to subscribe.

What are we drinking today, my friends? Share it here and don’t forget to:

  1. Check out Adagio, especially their fandom blends. They’re amazing.
    and
  2. Enter my giveaway on Instagram! You’ve got about a month to enter!
Giveaway

Hooray for YA Annual Giveaway!

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It’s here!

So I have the best birthday in the world. October 13th happens to be, according to Parks and Rec, Treat Yo’ Self Day. So on my birthday, I like to treat a follower to a special prize bundle. You will receive:
– A $25 tea voucher courtesy of @adagioteas. A big thank you to them!! (They’re the best, please check them out.)
– A bath bomb of your choice from @lushcosmetics.
– The candle of your choice from @frostbeardmpls.
– The book of your choice below $15 from Book Depository.
– And a one month subscription to @pagehabit – each box goes to helping child literacy!
TO ENTER:
Comment on my Instagram image with how you plan to treat yo’ self on October 13th.
– You must be following me on Instagram.
– A bonus entry if you follow me here on le blog.
– A bonus entry for tagging friends. One bonus entry per tag.

DISCLAIMER:
– Aside from Adagio, I am providing all the materials in this giveaway. Don’t sue me. I’m pretty poor.
– This giveaway is open to people in North America only. Lo siento. Check back, I do another giveaway later that’s open internationally.
– You must be 18 or older.
– You must be willing to share your address with me so I can send you your prize.
– As so much of this is based on what you want, please understand it may take a while as I need to order items first.
That’s it! Best of luck!