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BOOK REVIEW: Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Summer Bird Blue Asexuality Akemi Dawn Bowman LGBTQ Book

“Summer Bird Blue” by Akemi Dawn Bowman – 5/5 Stars

“Summer Bird Blue” by Akemi Dawn Bowman is a young adult LGBTQ book that deals with the topic of asexuality at a young age. The novel revolves around a young girl named Rumi, struggling with the loss of her sister and best friend, Lea. Lea was always there for her sister; the two wrote music together; they talked about boys together; they were inseparable. And while there is only one brief scene of the two of them at the beginning, it’s easy to see the qualities they share and the love that they have as a family. Of course, this is not all we see of their relationship, as Lea appears many times in flashbacks both warm and heartbroken.

As the story progresses, we watch Rumi foray through the stages of grief. Shortly after Lea’s death, Rumi is shipped off to Hawaii to live with her Aunt. As many people would, Rumi takes to anger in this new environment, finding herself wanting to yell at anyone who tries to help her. Because she is a seventeen-year-old girl, and Dawn Bowman did a great job of painting her as a fiery angst filled teen who just wants her sister back, Rumi’s anger is relatable. 

If I’m being honest, I didn’t expect much from this book. I picked it off a list at the mention of an asexual character. Asexuality is highly underrepresented in books and media; and I thought it would be an interesting read. What I got from the book, was so much more. Dawn Bowman does an excellent job at crafting a story where there isn’t much going on within the narrative. Rumi spends the summer on the island of Hawaii meeting new people and dealing with new experiences. There isn’t much of a story, and the arcs are all character-based. That being said, this book probably isn’t for someone mainly into adventures. But it is for someone liking character-driven stories with rich connections.

I fell in love with these characters, as seeing myself within them became easy — Rumi with her grief-based anger and her willingness to lash out at those around her, her confusion with attraction and sexuality; Kai with his troubled family and his uncertain future; Aunt Ani just trying to help out wherever she can. That’s not all of them. There were so many more amazing, detailed, well thought-out characters. I was impressed with each of them, as they all had such varying quirks and personalities. If anything, I would suggest reading “Summer Bird Blue” simply because of it’s amazing characters.

But the book is much more than that. Bowman’s novel reads almost as a stream of consciousness. Page-after-page, we listen in on Rumi’s thoughts and feelings. The great thing about the story is that we get to watch Rumi grow as a person, not only through her actions, but through her thoughts. She struggles with the idea of being able to play music again, and we get to witness her thought process as she overcomes this fear.

Then, of course, there’s her sexuality. “Summer Bird Blue” tackles a lot of tough issues within its pages. Dealing with the loss of a family member and figuring out one’s sexuality? It’s a lot; but the two plot lines meshed incredibly well together while also bringing to light sexualities that don’t often get a lot of attention. The storyline is focused mostly around Rumi’s possible asexuality (and yes, they actually say the words ‘asexual’ and ‘asexuality’ aloud in this book — amazing, right?) while also describing other orientations. They touch briefly on being aromantic and demisexual, something that a lot of other LGBTQ books never do.

I applaud Akemi Dawn Bowman in writing a book with such diverse, amazing characters. It isn’t something that I’ve seen before and it feels fresh and new, a feeling that is always amazing to have when reading a book.


The LGBTQ novel “Summer Bird Blue” is expected for release Sept. 11th, 2018 from Simon Pulse, the YA imprint of Simon & Schuster Publishing. You can preorder your copy here. It is recommended for ages 12 & up, specifically grades 7 through 9.

 

All-About-It BOOK REVIEW: Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Book Review: Girl Made of Stars

Girl Made of Stars Book LGBTQ Rape Ashley Herring Blake

Girl Made of Stars – 5/5 Stars

“They wrinkle their noses when I’m holding Charlie’s hand they wrinkle their noses when I’m not.”

ahb Book Review: Girl Made of Stars
Author Ashley Herring Blake

Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake is a book about so many different things. First and foremost, it’s about a girl, Mara, and her twin brother, Owen. Owen is accused of rape by Mara’s best friend, Hannah. Most of the book is spent with Mara, who doesn’t know what or who to believe. On one hand, she wants to believe that her brother wouldn’t do such a thing. On the other hand, she would never dismiss someone’s serious accusations, especially not her best friend’s. Mara is in charge of a club called Empower. She writes articles about victims and helps to empower others to use their voice. It seems absurd to dismiss Hannah’s claims just because the person she’s accusing is Owen.

I had never read a book like this before, even though stuff like this happens daily around the globe. Rapists are often people we never suspect; they might be a friend, a brother, or a teacher. Girl Made of Stars deals with the aftermath. It explains that cases like these are almost always dropped. It shows the struggle of Hannah trying to get her truth told.

“I’m a distraction, he’ll say. Boys will be boys, he’ll say. If I’m a nice girl, I should know better, he’ll say. Because that’s what he says to any girl who shows a deltoid or has naturally long legs under her skirt or has to wear anything above an AA-cup. And that’s when I’ll breathe fire.”

The book also deals with Mara, and Mara’s past sexual assault. With her past a secret, she finds it hard to side with her brother, even though her family wants her to. Mara fights back and is the social warrior that we all strive to be. In the face of a horrible dilemma, she stands up for her friend when her brother needs her the most. Mara is a girl who will not deny any other person the chance to have their story told.

“This. This is why I never said anything. Because no one ever believes the girl.”

Girl Made of Stars deals with real life scenarios and teaches its readers about things that happen every day. It paints the picture of real high school parties where people get drunk and don’t ask for consent. It is an eye-opening book that I think everyone should read. I think that everyone could benefit and learn something from this book. The characters are real and vivid; each of them has and deals with their own struggles. They mesh incredibly well together and form a story that I am so unbelievably happy to have read.

“What does feel like a girl even mean, anyway?”

Not only does this book deal with rape accusations and brother/sister relationships, it deals with sexuality in an amazing way. Girl Made of Stars is not a coming out story, which I really appreciate. I find that most LGBT books and movies are often about someone coming out (which is great), but I also love having a book where not only one, but two people are out and proud! This addition of having two LGBT characters normalizes the inclusion of LGBT characters and is one of the reasons I gave this book a five-star rating. This is simply a young adult novel with two characters that happen to be LGBT. It’s amazing. It also deals with questioning identities. Charlie (Mara’s ex-girlfriend) struggles with not knowing who they are and there’s even a page or so where they discuss with Mara that they might be nonbinary. I love this book and I highly encourage everyone to read it. If you’re a victim or struggling with your identity or sexuality, I think you could find a lot of peace in this book. I know I did.

“There is no way to really move on. No song or empathetic friend or all the love I have for my brother will ever change that.”

I was however, disappointed with the way the book ended. I wanted Mara to get more closure for her own situation. I didn’t think this was reason enough to knock it of its five-star rating. Everything else is so utterly amazing and realistic that I think it deserves the praise. Mara, Charlie, and Hannah are three very empowering characters and their stories are wonderfully written. Girl Made of Stars is compelling and powerful, and is definitely a book that will stay on my shelf for years to come.

All-About-It Book Review: Girl Made of Stars

About Greenlights Three TV Shows

How to Break My Neck Lifelong Learning The Anthony Project TV Shows About

About Media greenlights The Anthony Project, How to Break My Neck, and Lifelong Learning

DSC_0059-300x201 About Greenlights Three TV Shows
Anthony Ramirez will write the three adaptations.

(HOUSTON) – About Media (the production company/sister-business of About Magazine) has ordered scripts for three original, scripted series to be streamed exclusively through About. Of the three, one is an original comedy written by About editor-in-chief, Anthony Ramirez, entitled The Anthony Project. The latter two are adaptations of books published by About’s publishing company, About Editions. The first is an adaptation of Jessica L. Walsh’s How to Break My Neck, and the second being an adaptation of Zeke Jarvis’s forthcoming book, Lifelong Learning.

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Co-writer Rebekah Knight

The Anthony Project follows a gay writer who all in one week loses his grandmother to renal failure, finds out his boyfriend is cheating on him with a woman, and must take over a magazine after his boss abandons ship. Set in Houston, the series revolves around a fictional Ramirez and his group of eccentric friends as they navigate their love lives, trite homophobia, depression, substance abuse, and alcoholism. All the while, Ramirez must come to learn that no matter how badly he may want to, he can’t fix everyone’s problems … especially when he has so many of his own to work on. The series was created by Ramirez and is being penned in conjunction with Rebekah Knight and Kimberly Dyan. An open casting call is underway for roles on The Anthony Project, with city-wide auditions taking place Saturday, May 5th, at the Montrose Center in Houston beginning at noon.

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Jessica L. Walsh

How to Break My Neck is an adaptation of Jessica L. Walsh’s collection of poetry of the same name. The series invites us into the life of Jessica “J” Cato, a poet with the ability to see people’s pasts when they are near. However, when J denounces her gift, she finds herself with a sever bout of writer’s block, realizing all the poetry she’s ever written was inspired by the lives of women she’s met and clairvoyantly come to know. But what’s more is the discovery that her poems, when read aloud, have the ability to affect change. The series will be written by Anthony Ramirez & Anthony Project co-writer, Rebekah Knight.

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Zeke Jarvis

Lifelong Learning is an adaptation of Zeke Jarvis’s forthcoming collection of short stories of the same name. The series exists in a world of strange rules: when a relative dies, you must cook and eat their remains; teenagers of impoverished families may commit suicide on camera to earn extra income for their families; blood sacrifices must be made to appease the Darkness; and when the Overlord says something, it is law. But the question remains: why are the rules in place? And who made them so? Following the lives several strangers as they navigate through the rules of their post-apocalyptic world, Lifelong Learning postulates questions about life, death, Heaven, Hell, God, Satan, and how society can fall into a world where nothing really makes any sense. The series will also be written by Ramirez.

The Anthony Project is slated to premier on Tuesday, October 16th, 2018. Learning and Neck have not yet set premiere dates, but are anticipated for early 2019.

Book Review: Leah on the Offbeat

Leah on the Offbeat Becky Albertalli Love Simon LGBTQ BOOK

Leah on the Offbeat – 4/5 Stars

“I swear, people can’t wrap their minds around the concept of a fat girl who doesn’t diet. Is it that hard to believe I might actually like my body?”

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli is the bisexual story I have always wanted to read. Not that I knew it existed until a few weeks ago, or even know that I needed it in my life before then. But now that I’ve read it, it’s like it was something I’ve been missing. If you liked the first book in this series, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, or it’s movie counterpart, Love, Simon, you will love this book. It focuses on Simon’s best friend, Leah Burke, who is confident in her sexuality. She’s bisexual; and from the very beginning we know this to be true. She has only told one person, her mother. Leah spends her senior year struggling with college applications, prom dates, and crushes. Leah has never been kissed, so when a friend of hers asks her to prom, she finds herself feeling obligated to go with him. It’s clear that this isn’t really what she wants. She has her heart set on someone else, even if she doesn’t know it yet.

“It has to be easier for people with penises. Does this person get you hard? Yes? Done. I used to think boners literally pointed in the direction of the person you’re attracted to, like a compass.”

This book keeps you laughing on every page. Leah’s hilarious narration makes real life situations more interesting. I always found myself relating to her inner-monologue. She says what we’re all thinking. She calls people out when they deserve it and is the modern-day hero we’ve been looking for. She’s also human, she has flaws. She easily lets her feelings get the best of her. The story begins with Leah’s disinterest in a girl that used to be her friend. A girl upon who she develops a crush. A straight girl. When things don’t turn out the way she wants them to, she gets angry and defensive. The teenage angst is so relatable (we’ve all been there). It’s easy to get angry when someone doesn’t (or is incapable of) liking you back. But, this book isn’t just about Leah and her crush. It’s about all relationships. Leah struggles to come to terms with her mother’s relationship and we get to see more of Simon and Bram together, who are just as cute as they were in the first book.

“…That’s why bi girls exist, Garrett. For your masturbatory fantasies.”

Leah and the Offbeat, while focusing mainly on Leah’s sexuality, isn’t only about that. It’s about so much more. Leah is so much more than just a bisexual. She’s funny, smart and has a huge attitude. I loved watching her grow as a person throughout the book.

I’m a sucker for a good romance so I was dying to know how everything would unfold. I couldn’t put it down. There were some slow parts of the novel; but there weren’t any scenes where I was bored. Everything that was in the book was important. Nothing was there just to fill up the pages. It’s well written and the story flows nicely together.

You’re not fat. You look amazing. Because fat is the opposite of amazing. Got it.”

This is the most honest high school story I have ever read. I always felt like I was witnessing real conversations, like I was hearing them in passing in the high school hallway. Everything about this book is very authentic. It was easy to get lost in the story. Leah, especially, is very real. She reacts like any moody teenage girl would and I could easily picture her being a real person. She is three-dimensional and much more than just her sexuality. Leah is a character I have definitely fallen in love with.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Leah on the Offbeat. From the first page, I knew it would be a good read. It started off with a bang and held my interest the entire time. I would definitely recommend this book.

Were-About-It Book Review: Leah on the Offbeat