Wednesday, August 14, 2019

{Review + Playlist} Ziggy Stardust & Me by James Brandon

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Page Count: 368
Published On: August 6, 2019
Published By: GP Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre(s): YA, LGBT, Historical, Young Adult
Where To Find It: Amazon // Book Depository 

My Rating: 4 stars

Goodreads synopsis

In this tender-hearted debut, set against the tumultuous backdrop of life in 1973, when homosexuality is still considered a mental illness, two boys defy all the odds and fall in love.
     The year is 1973. The Watergate hearings are in full swing. The Vietnam War is still raging. And homosexuality is still officially considered a mental illness. In the midst of these trying times is sixteen-year-old Jonathan Collins, a bullied, anxious, asthmatic kid, who aside from an alcoholic father and his sympathetic neighbor and friend Starla, is completely alone. To cope, Jonathan escapes to the safe haven of his imagination, where his hero David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust and dead relatives, including his mother, guide him through the rough terrain of his life. In his alternate reality, Jonathan can be anything: a superhero, an astronaut, Ziggy Stardust, himself, or completely "normal" and not a boy who likes other boys. When he completes his treatments, he will be normal--at least he hopes. But before that can happen, Web stumbles into his life. Web is everything Jonathan wishes he could be: fearless, fearsome and, most importantly, not ashamed of being gay.

     Jonathan doesn't want to like brooding Web, who has secrets all his own. Jonathan wants nothing more than to be "fixed" once and for all. But he's drawn to Web anyway. Web is the first person in the real world to see Jonathan completely and think he's perfect. Web is a kind of escape Jonathan has never known. For the first time in his life, he may finally feel free enough to love and accept himself as he is.

     A poignant coming-of-age tale.


Trigger/Content warnings: alcoholism, parental death, conversion therapy, shock therapy, racism, homophobia, abuse, bullying, potential sexual assault of a minor

Hey, guys!

This book was sent to me for an honest review. All thoughts and feelings are my own. 

In 1973, homosexuality was seen as a terrible mental illness, Watergate was raging on, and Native Americans were standing up against adversity and fighting for their human rights.

Jonathan Collins is bullied, asthmatic, and extremely anxious about his mental health. To cope with all of that plus an alcoholic father, he escapes into David Bowie's hero, Ziggy Stardust and the music that guides his story. He tries to be normal, but when he meets Web, his world is turned upside down. Web is fearless, outspoken, and unapologetically gay. Everything that Jonathan wishes he could and couldn't be. 

This book was so freaking powerful. Do not go into this book thinking that it will be a fluffy and light-hearted read because it will tear out your heart and eat it for dinner. This is one of the most intense contemporary novels I've ever read and I'm so thankful for the discussions that it instigated and for how thought-provoking it was. The historical context, combined with Jonathan's poetic and stream-of-consciousness method of prose created such a colorful, yet extremely sad story. Throughout this book, there are so many mentions to Bowie's songs, his message, and the way that his music made so many feels. The fantastic musical culture from the 70s is so prevalent and wonderful. I also really loved the discussions that this book evoked surrounding the tense political happenings of the day. They're still so relevant, but it was so wonderful to see them handled so loudly and progressively (compared to the mind-sets of that society). 

The characters in this book were so compulsively lovable. I loved Jonathan's personality and I was just rooting for him for the entire book. I found myself so emotional as he struggled with the events of this book and his journey to healing and self-love. Web was such a lovely, passionate, and inspiring character that I loved to interact with. I feel like I would be really close friends with him if he weren't fictional. I love how he and Jonathan fell in love and I love how he helped Jonathan learn to love himself for who he is.  

This book is so important, and though it wasn't one of my all-time favorite books, I cannot wait to be here when the book gets all of the hype that it deserves.

James  Brandon
James Brandon produced and played the central role of Joshua in the international tour of Terrence McNally's Corpus Christi for a decade, and is co-director of the documentary film based on their journey, Corpus Christi: Playing with Redemption. He's the co-founder of the I AM Love Campaign, an arts-based initiative bridging the faith-based and LGBTQ2+ communities, and serves on the Powwow Steering Committee for Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits (BAAITS) in San Francisco. Brandon is a contributing writer for Huffington PostBelieve Out Loud, and Spirituality and Health MagazineZiggy, Stardust and Me is his first novel. 

You can visit James Brandon at

Happy reading!
~ Liv the Book Nerd ~

Sunday, August 4, 2019

I'm A YA Book of the Month Affiliate!

Image result for book of the month logo

Hey, guys!

I have such fantastic news! I am officially an affiliate for the YA Book of the Month subscription box! I'm so excited to promote this box because BOTM is one of my favorite subscription services. I've had my subscription for nearly two years on and off, but I've officially had my account consistently for nearly a year! I love the feeling of choosing a new book or two (or three) every month. The BOTM team chooses such fantastic books! 

Being an affiliate, this means that I get paid a small sum every time that someone clicks my link and starts their subscription. 

So what is the BOTM YA box?

Book of the Month is a monthly book subscription box. Each month, 5 curators pick out their favorite new hardcover books, and you can choose which one you want to receive on the first of the month. You can also add up to 2 additional books for only $9.99 each.

How It Works:

1. New selections are chosen each month. On the 1st of the month, the site announces the 5 books that they chose for the month.
2. Choose your book! Choose by the 6th, or skip the month.
3. The boxes are shipped and you get a beautiful BOTM box and book!

Shipping: Shipping is always free! However, BOTM only ships to the U.S.  (apologies to my international readers!)

Overall Product: Subscribers will receive a hardcover book from the books that were selected that month. You can add up to 2 extra books for $9.99 each plus BOTM goodies for an additional fee.

The site also has a promotion where if you sign up right now, you can get your first book for $9.99! Just insert the code: (FLEX)!

If you are interested in a subscription please click here!

What are this month's picks? 

Arden sells memories. Whether it’s the becoming homecoming queen or studying for that all-important test, Arden can hack into a classmate’s memories and upload the experience for you just as if you’d lived it yourself. Business is great, right up until the day Arden whites out, losing 15 minutes of her life and all her memories of the hot boy across the schoolyard. The hot boy her friends assure her she’s had a crush on for years.
Arden realizes that her own memories have been hacked, but they haven’t just been stolen and shared… they’ve been deleted. And she’s not the only one, the hot stranger, Sebastian, has lost ALL of his memories. But how can they find someone with the power to make them forget everything they’ve learned?

By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady's maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, "Dear Miss Sweetie." When her column becomes wildly popular, she uses the power of the pen to address some of society's ills, but she's not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender.
While her opponents clamor to uncover the secret identity of Miss Sweetie, a mysterious letter sets Jo off on a search for her own past and the parents who abandoned her as a baby. But when her efforts put her in the crosshairs of Atlanta's most notorious criminal, Jo must decide whether she, a girl used to living in the shadows, is ready to step into the light.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls' lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.
Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn't sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?
When Annaleigh's involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it's a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

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?

Best friends are forged by fire. For Winona Olsen and Lucille Pryce, that fire happened the night they met outside the police station—both deciding whether to turn their families in.
Winona has been starving for life in the seemingly perfect home that she shares with her seemingly perfect father, celebrity weatherman Stormy Olsen. No one knows that he locks the pantry door to control her eating and leaves bruises where no one can see them.
Lucille has been suffocating beneath the needs of her mother and her drug-dealing brother, wondering if there’s more out there for her than disappearing waitress tips and generations of barely getting by.
One harrowing night, Winona and Lucille realize they can’t wait until graduation to start their new lives. They need out. Now. All they need is three grand, fast. And really, a stolen convertible to take them from Michigan to Las Vegas can’t hurt.

Ready to subscribe?

Happy reading!
~ Liv the Book Nerd ~

Saturday, August 3, 2019

August 2019 TBR - ARCs, The Magical Readathon, and More!

Hey, guys!

This month is going to be so busy, but I'm ready!

August has always been a hectic month for me as I've always started school this month. This year will be my last year of college. My last year. I'm not sure what's going to happen, but I'm going to take it day-by-day. 

Until school starts back up -- I will be reading as much as I can, preparing for my classes, and writing as many reviews as I can -- and working on my book if I can recover the files from my hard drive. Yup! My computer kapooted and my hard drive might be dead. I'm currently waiting to see if my files can be recovered. BACK UP YOUR FILES, MY FRIENDS!

Here are the books I would like to read this month!

First, I decided to take part in the NEWTs! It's a part of Book Roast's Magical Readathon that she does. 

I've decided to pursue a wizard career as a journalist/writer. It's one of the easier careers, so it ought to be a good sort of practice for when I do the entire readathon next year.

Here are my reading choices!

+ History of Magic- 
  • E: a book that includes a map: NEVERNIGHT by Jay Kristoff
  • A: read a fantasy - GODSGRAVE by Jay Kristoff
+ Muggle Studies -
  •  A:  cover with an actual photo element (person, item, place) - THE GIRL THE SEA GAVE BACK by Adrienne Young (eARC)
+ Transfiguration - 
  • A: a book with LGBTQIA+ rep -- A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab 
Four books ought to be manageable for the month. Stay tuned to see how I manage!


I also plan on attempting to read some more books. Hopefully, my reading month is just as good as July.

  1. Ziggy Stardust & Me by James Brandon - ARC for a blog tour August 12
  2. Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
  3. The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis - ARC
  4. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett - audio
  5. Renegades by Marissa Meyer
  6. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  7. Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid - audio
  8. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens - library
  9. Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim - library
  10. The Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

Will I read all of these books? Stay tuned to find out!

Happy reading!

Friday, August 2, 2019

July 2019 Reading Wrap Up: A Reading Rush and Final Biannual Bibliothon Wrap Up

Hey, guys!

This month has been so wild! I managed to read and attempt to read over twenty books, graphic novels, and comics! I'm genuinely proud of myself because I attempted the Biannual Bibliothon and The Reading Rush! 

This month's reading was a bit of a mixed bag. I read some really lovely books at the very beginning of the month, the middle was full of average and okay books, and then the end was sketchy with some highs and lows. 

Granted, there were lots of fantastic books, but only a few 5-star books. Here are the books I read this month!

Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles #0.5, 0.6, 3.1, 4.5) by Marissa Meyer

4 stars
via Hoopla Digital audio and personally purchased hardcover

I really loved this novella bind-up! I have a full review up, so if you're interested, please check it out {here}!

Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer

4.9 stars
physical hardback personally purchased

I really didn't know that I needed this book until I started it. This book was absolutely (practically) perfect. The characters, the plot, the discussions and themes, the hints toward the Robin Hood story-- everything was masterfully done. I'm so glad that I could read this. Brigid Kemmerer's contemporary/romance novels just keep getting better and better. I cannot wait to read more from her. She's absolutely a new favorite writer and an auto-buy author. I need more!

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuinston

5 stars
paperback personally purchased

I read this beautiful book for my book club and wow oh wow. I'm so mad that I waited to read this book because it was so beautiful, hilarious, and perfect. I really didn't think there was ever going to be a perfect debut, and then this book popped into existence. I need need need more. I need more books from the side character's perspectives, I need more bonus content -- I think I just need to read this again. It was just so fantastic! It deserves all of the hype and I hope you read it!

Teen Titan: Raven by Gabriel Picolo and Kami Garcia

3 stars
paperback personally purchased

I purchased this on a whim when I saw it available at my local Books-A-Million, and I honestly regret purchasing it. Within the next day, the graphic novel showed up on Hoopla via my library. Oh well! This was a really beautiful book. Gabriel Picolo is such a fantastic illustrator and artist. I've been following him on Instagram for years. He deserves all of the book deals and commissions. However, I really felt like the overall story lacked a depth that I would have hoped for. Raven is such a complex character and I feel like Garcia didn't do her justice. 

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

4 stars
borrowed from library

Let's talk about the babes that are Christina Lauren. They have yet to disappoint me! I absolutely adored this book! The romance was spectacularly done, the conflicts that the boys face are so beautifully done, and the focus on creating a story was so great. I definitely want more writer characters in my reading diet. This book was just phenomenal. I hate that I began by comparing it to Red, White, and Royal Blue, but I feel like I will be comparing any m/m romance to RW&RB from now on. The amount of depth and care that went into this novel was so wonderful. From the own voices bi representation and the evident research and experience that went into representing a queer Mormon character, this book was just plain fantastic. I absolutely recommend. 


The Biannual Bibliothon Wrap Up

The Steel Prince (Shades of Magic #1-4) by V.E. Schwab and Andrea Olimpieri

4 stars
ebook via Hoopla Digital

I really enjoyed these first 4 parts of the Shades of Magic series. I really loved the art style, the magical elements, and the story. V.E. Schwab has never disappointed. However, because this is the first part of a story, it wasn't as good as I know the entire story will be. 

Night of Knives #1 (Shades of Magic #5) & Night of Knives #2 (Shades of Magic #6) by V.E. Schwab and Andrea Olimpieri

3 stars 
ebook via Hoopla Digital

These two parts of the series were not as good as the first 4, but I'm sure if I had read them as the entire bind up I would have enjoyed them more as a whole. The problem with reading parts of a comic series is that sometimes you have to rate them as a complete work when they aren't. These were a nice continuation of the story.

Night of Knives #3 (Shades of Magic #7) by V.E. Schwab and Andrea Olimpieri

4.5 stars
ebook via Hoopla Digital

This was a great addition to the series. The cliff hanger has been killing me and I cannot wait for the final part of Night of Knives! I need more!

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

2.75 stars
borrowed from library

I was really hoping that I would enjoy this book, but I was just unimpressed and constantly cringe-ing. I really did not enjoy the romance. It seemed so early 2000s and just grosS. The romance was just not cute. The guy was clingy, overprotective, and easily angry. He didn't treat the main girl the way that he should and I just did not click with their relationship. 

This book was just cringey and not for me. I really hated the romance, the characters, and the attempted sex scenes. It just wasn't a good time.

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

3 stars
hardback personally purchased

This was a bit of a letdown. If you'd like, please check out my full review {here}!

DNF: The Cactus by Sarah Haywood
no rating
attempted audio and physical

DNF'd 50 pages in. This book was just not for me. I didn't like the main character or the writing style. It was just much too dry for my taste. 

Total Pages Read: 1,600
Total Challenges Completed: 5


King of Scars (Nikolai Duology #1) by Leigh Bardugo

4.9 stars
hardback personally purchased

I adored this book. Granted, it's not as great as the Six of Crows duology or the Grisha trilogy but still very good. I loved getting the character expansions of Nikolai, Zoya, and Nina. They all have such wonderful personalities and such fascinating stories. I need more!


The Reading Rush Wrap Up

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu
4 stars
eARC provided by NetGalley

Such a lovely little audiobook! I loved the magical, witchy aspects that were the core of the world. I would really love a series that follows these characters. I wish that there had been a bit more of a length to the story. There's a great method of creating the paranormal world, but I just selfishly want more. 
Overall, this was a really nice graphic novel. However, I felt like there was something missing. 

The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre (The Two Princesses of Bamarre #0.5) by Gail Carson Levine

2.5 stars
audiobook borrowed from Hoopla

This was just a letdown. I felt like it was missing so much detail, action, and likable characters. I grew up absolutely adoring GCL's books. I still love her other books, but this one was just not my favorite. 

Not to mention, I honestly did not like the narrator of the audiobook. She was not good at creating a voice for male characters. It was just comically bad. Her voices for younger characters were cringe-y and her voices for teens were just bad. 

Just a let down for me. This could have been really wonderful with the political focus and the focus on family and love. I just really didn't like much at all about this book.

DNF: The Spring Girls by Anna Todd

no rating
attempted audio and physical

DNFd 15 minutes into the audiobook. I don’t like the writing, I’m wary about the premise, and the way the characterization was going was abysmally tragic. Little Women is one of my all-time favorite books and I don’t want to subject myself to someone ruining my favorite characters. No thanks.

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

5 stars
hardback personally purchased

This by far was one of my favorite books of the month. I absolutely adore everything about this book. The characters were so fabulously developed, the world was so rich and beautiful, and the mythology, culture, and history from the Scandanavian world were so wonderfully woven throughout the story. I loved this book. I plan on writing a full review for this book soon!

Freya by Christopher E. Long & Mike Dubisch 

2.5 stars
borrowed from library

I wished that this little story was so much more. The art resembled the old-school comics with thick lines, gaudy color-schemes, and two-dimensional stories that came from intensely layered myths and lore. This could have been so wonderful, but it was just immensely bland. 

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O'Connell

4 stars
borrowed from library

What a wonderful, relatable coming of age story. I loved the characters, their stories, their journies. The book was just so wonderfully frustrating. I became so passionate while reading this story. I just wanted the main character to break up with Laura Dean, I wanted Laura Dean to sod off, and I wanted the kids to COMMUNICATE with one another. So well done. 

Evidence of the Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid

4.75 stars
ebook through Kindle Unlimited

This was such a great short story. I loved the format of the book and the way that Reid developed the characters through their correspondence. She has the way of creating special, individualistic people that have their own voices and personalities. It was so cool to get to know these characters so well in just over 100 pages. I would have loved a full novel following the characters. Their stories were so addicting. 

Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid

3 stars
through Audible Escape subscription

At first, I was really engaged in this book. I really loved the format and the writing style. However, after I hit the halfway mark, I became pretty bored. I liked how the book was connected through the two different realities, but it was just a bit too repetitive. The repetitiveness made it quite slow and I became less and less interested in finding out what would happen at the end. 

Audiobook: 4

e-ARC/e-Book: 5
Physical: 10
DNF: 2

Library: 9
I Own: 10

What did you read in July? What was your favorite?

Happy reading!
~Liv the Book Nerd~