Book Review: Rapture Practice by Aaron Hartzler

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You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Author Website

GoodReads Summary:

When Aaron Hartzler was little, buy more about he couldn’t wait for the The Rapture: that moment when Jesus would come down from the clouds to whisk him and his family up to heaven. But as he turns sixteen, this Aaron grows more curious about all the things his family forsakes for the Lord. He begins to realize he doesn’t want Jesus to come back just yet—not before he has his first kiss, sees his first movie, or stars in the school play.

Whether he’s sneaking out, making out, or playing hymns with a hangover, Aaron learns a few lessons that can’t be found in the Bible. He discovers that the girl of your dreams can just as easily be the boy of your dreams, and the tricky part about believing is that no one can do it for you.

In this funny and heartfelt coming-of-age memoir, debut author Aaron Hartzler recalls his teenage journey from devoted to doubtful, and the search to find his own truth without losing the fundamentalist family who loves him.

My Review:

I’m just going to throw this out there: I don’t read non-fiction. I don’t read memoirs. Its not that I don’t like them, I just find my attention span tends to…wander a bit when it comes to things like that. I like to learn and I love to listen to people’s stories but in book form, I just have a ton of problems.

That being said, I first came into contact with Aaron Hartzler just a few weeks ago at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. He was moderating a panel with E. Lockhart, Rainbow Rowell, Andrew Smith and John Corey Whaley, and he kept making me laugh like crazy. He talked a bit about his book and I knew that I had to get my hands on it. Fast forward to the Pasadena Teen Book Festival and I immediately grabbed a copy and made sure that he signed it. I went home, and started the book that night.

And I absolutely loved it. The way Aaron writes his story of growing up in his conservative family is like reading a novel. He writes it so beautifully and you’re addicted to it from page one to the very last page. It feels so familiar to you, like listening to your best friend tell you a story. It was so easy to keep turning the pages because I needed to find out what was going to be happening next.

The story was real and it felt so. It was real and raw and genuine. It wasn’t there to preach or teach a lesson or any of that, but in the end, it sort of did. Aaron told his story, the story of growing up and coming into his own, while trying to live under the expectations of his very conservative family, and while we are on that journey with him, we learn so much about him and his life, but also about ourselves as well. He has a way of getting the reader to think and ask questions without really realizing that you’re doing it and its brilliant.

The book is beautiful and extremely heartwarming. Its familiar, and real, like reading a note from a friend and its also incredibly funny. When I picked up this novel, and slid it across the table for Aaron to sign, its exactly what I had expected and even more than that. There were moments where I felt like crying and moments that I couldn’t stop laughing. There were moments were I wanted to shout “yes!” and moments where I was shaking my head. This is a must-read book for anyone, everyone, and I recommend it over and over and over again. Aaron is a fantastic writer, who has managed to tell his story in such a compelling and addicting way.

Rating:

5 out of 5 Stars

Fan Art Book Review

Fan Art by Sarah Tregay  

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This review is based on an ARC granted to me through the website Edelweiss, more about in exchange for an honest review. This is no way, more about shape or form had any impact on my actual review. This book is due to release in June of 2014. 

 

 

You Can Find the Books At:

GoodReads

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Book Depository

Author Website

GoodReads Summary:

Senior year is almost over, viagra 40mg and Jamie Peterson has a big problem. Not college—that’s all set. Not prom—he’ll find a date somehow. No, it’s the worst problem of all: he’s fallen for his best friend.
As much as Jamie tries to keep it under wraps, everyone seems to know where his affections lie, and the giggling girls in art class are determined to help Jamie get together with Mason. But Jamie isn’t sure if that’s what he wants—because as much as Jamie would like to come clean to Mason, what if the truth ruins everything? What if there are no more road trips, taco dinners, or movie nights? Does he dare risk a childhood friendship for romance?

This book is about what happens when a picture reveals what we can’t say, when art is truer than life, and how falling in love is easy, except when it’s not. Fan Art explores the joys and pains of friendship, of pressing boundaries, and how facing our worst fears can sometimes lead us to what we want most.

My Review:

After the absolute mental and emotional breakdown that I went through while reading the first four of the Bloodlines novels, I needed a break, and I wanted something that would hopefully be quick, easy and fun. I checked out my Edelweiss and this one popped up, and it sounded good so I read it all last night. I actually stayed up fairly late to finish it.

The thing that jumped out at me about this book is that it follows Jamie, a young boy struggling with his sexuality in high school. He knows he is gay, and he’s come out to his family, but he’s afraid to come out to his friends, especially his best friend, Mason, who he is in love with. But despite that, its not a “gay” book, if you know what I mean. The story is so familiar. How many of us have had a crush on a friend, especially a best friend, and have been scared to say something in fear of losing the friendship? I know I have. That was my relationship with my boyfriend. I was terrified to tell him that I was crazy about him because we were so close and I thought it would ruin our friendship. So this part in the story was familiar. It was more than just a boy struggling with his sexuality, but a boy struggling with his feelings for his friend. Its very comfortable. It made that connection between heterosexual and homosexual relationships; they are the same!

But what I also love about it too, was that it had the ability to address LGBT themes without making it an overly emotional, dramatic novel. Its fun, light, it made me laugh and I was rooting for Jamie and Mason the entire book. It was a bit predictable in its endings but I enjoyed that. I like reading books that don’t end in tragedy or me sobbing into my pillow for the rest of the night. It was a light, quick read and it was just fun. It reminded me of my own high school experiences, like prom and graduation and senior skip day and all that. The crushes, and all that fun stuff. Sarah has a way of addressing LGBT themes into her novel, with Jamie coming to terms with his sexuality and fighting to keep a homosexual relationship comic into his literary magazine, but in a way that its relatable to everyone, and its a fun and quick read. Sometimes I forgot that Jamie and Mason were two guys, I just wanted them to get together. I wanted them to figure it out and have an epic make out scene.

I definitely recommend this book. It was a really quick and easy read, it was funny and genuine and the characters are easy to like. I think its a good book for those who want to read books with LGBT themes but are wary about jumping in. Its a sweet story, a bit predictable but still fun. This book comes out this summer, and is one to watch for!

My Rating:

4 out of 5 stars

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Hollingsworth v Perry and United States v. Winsor…and Books

Now, check my blog is about being a nerd…and mainly focuses on my love of books, and especially my big support for young adult literature. I keep most of my opinions and beliefs that are separate from books away from my blog, in order to maintain a balance, and not alienate any of my readers.

But there’s one point that I have to bring up.

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In the next couple days, the Supreme Court of the United States will be addressing two very important case: the case of Prop 8, and the case of DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act).

For those of you who don’t know, Prop 8 was a proposition passed in California, the state in which I live, in 2008, that prevents same-sex marriages from being legal. This proposition barely passed, and was a proposition that I was severely against.

The Defense of Marriage Act, also known as DOMA, as passed into law in September of 1996, stating that a legal marriage is a binding between one man and one woman, therefore ruling out the legality of same-sex marriage.

Both of these are being fought on the basis that they are unconstitutional and will be the subjects of the two cases presented to the Supreme in the next two days (March 26th and 27th).

Before I get into personal feelings, let’s talk about this for a moment.

 These are so important. You know all those court cases that we talk about in history classes, the ones you don’t pay attention to because you just don’t realize how important they are? This is it. So many of these cases have affected our lives today, even if we don’t take the time to realize it. And the next two days, the next two cases, they are going to define us once again.

And I hope and I wish, and I hope that we can make the right decision on this. This isn’t about personal beliefs. This isn’t about religion. This is about what the Bible says. For one thing, the constitution has always said: separation of church and state. Freedom of religion. We cannot deny a group of people the right to marry because our beliefs and because our bibles or religions tell us this is so, because religion doesn’t belong in the government, and it never has. If you believe that same-sex marriages are immoral, fine. I think you’re completely wrong, but that’s your opinion. However, this opinion is NOT a valid reason for restricting someone’s rights.

Let’s also recall the 14th amendment, and the Equal Protection Clause…that one cannot be denied the right that someone else has. Again, no matter what your personal beliefs are, you cannot deny the RIGHT of same-sex couples to marry if opposite sex couples can. Its against this very amendment that is written into our Constitution, our highest law.

Now, I’m not trying to really present an argument here for you; that’ll be the job to be done tomorrow in court. I’m just presenting you with TWO different pieces of concrete evidence of the illegitimacy of both Prop 8 and DOMA, and how they back my belief in marriage equality.

Thats the technical aspect of it, the academic and evidence backed version of it.

But I also am very passionate about marriage equality.

Partly because, I am bisexual. And maybe you don’t like that, or maybe you think I’m making it up for attention (which, by the way, I’m not). And let me make this perfectly clear: My boyfriend Jon and I have been together for five years…and I’m 115% in love with him, and perfectly happy with him and one day, we’ll get married and have babies who love music like him and books like me. But I am attracted to girls, as much as I am attracted to boys and if for some crazy, impossible reason, it didn’t work out with Jon, I could see myself dating a girl. And the fact that my right to marry a girl is being denied…well it pisses me off.

And I have a ton of friends who are gay or lesbian, a TON of them…absolutely wonderful people. So many of them are in loving and healthy relationships, relationships just like you or me. And the fact that they can’t get married…yeah it pisses me off.

And, lets remember, this blog is about books and about my nerd things. I’m obsessed with my books, I’m obsessed with literature, especially of the young adult genre.

Alec Lightwood and Magnus Bane from the Mortal Instruments.

Aline Penhallow and Helen Blackthorn from the Mortal Instruments

Will Grayson and Tiny Cooper from Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

Pippa Cross and Felicity Worthington from A Great and Terrible Beauty.

Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter.

Patrick and Brad from The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Kurt Hummel and Blaine Anderson from Glee.

Santana Lopez and Britney Pierce from Glee.

Canton Everett Delaware III from Doctor Who, Series 6.

Honestly I could go on and on. There are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender characters everywhere. And they’ve all had to go through the difficulties of accepting who they are. Alec Lightwood can’t come to terms with the fact that he is gay, and it takes him three whole books to even admit that he has a relationship with Magnus. Aline is unsure of the way she feels, and kisses Jace to see if she’s attracted to boys. Will Grayson and Tiny Cooper both deal with coming out as gay, in two different ways. Pippa and Felicity, especially Felicity since Pippa is technically dead, have to deal with the fact that they are in love with each other, in a Victorian age when that was DEFINITELY not accepted. Patrick, in Perks, has to hide his relationship with Brad, because Brad is afraid to come out. Kurt, Blaine, Santana, and Britney all have a hard time dealing with their relationships in Glee. Even short time companion, Canton, in Doctor Who, deals with the fact that he isn’t allowed to be in the FBI and have a male companion.

Authors, especially young adult authors, are including LGBT characters in their novels because this is a very important issue of our generation. Marriage equality, equality no matter what sexual orientation you are…this is a huge matter of this age. And kids, teens, young adults…we’re not stupid, we are aware of this and many of us are fighting for this. And authors are creating characters that are like us, or like people we know, characters that we can relate to .

All of these characters, and more, have not only furthered my belief in the equality of all people, no matter their gender or sexual orientation, but has given me the courage to be who I AM. If my friends can be open and honest and proud of who they are, if my favorite characters (who are like my friends to me) can eventually be open and honest about who they are and people love and accept them, then so can I.

And sure, we’re never going to be able to change everyone’s minds. We just can’t. Its been nearly 50 years since the Civil Rights Act was passed and we still have racism. Of course we do. And its wrong, wrong, wrong but there’s that. People are allowed to have opinions even if its wrong. And people are always going to have their opinions on same-sex marriage. But it boils down to this.

It doesn’t matter your personal moral or religious beliefs. It doesn’t matter if you think same sex marriage is morally wrong or not. It doesn’t matter if same sex marriage is against your religion. Because religion doesn’t dictate law, not in this country, not ever. This is the very foundation of which this country was founded upon. There is a separation of church and state in the laws, and we have laws requiring us to extend the same rights to every single person, no matter what. And no, these laws won’t FORCE churches to marry same sex couples, and it won’t FORCE schools to teach of it school. That is ignorant babble from misinformed people who are bent on keeping same sex couples from marriage.

Equal rights for everyone. I believe it. Alec and Magnus, Santana and Brittany, Blaine and Kurt, Will and Tiny, Felicity and Pippa, Canton, Dumbledore, Aline and Helen, we all believe it.

The process may take time, especially when it comes to Prop 8, but I know I will be waiting anxiously and hopeful for the right decision to be made.

And like I said, I know this isn’t normally the kind of thing that I post. I normally keep my political and religious (or lack thereof, in my case) out of my posts but I feel like this has an importance, especially in my passion for books and my belief in its life saving qualities.

If there’s one thing that I can honestly say that I’ve learned from books (and there’s a whole novel larger than War and Peace that could describe what I’ve learned from books), is the idea of acceptance, tolerance and equality. I would say…I would go out on a limb and say 100% of the books that I have read have had some measure of preaching equality, some more than others. Harry Potter showed us it hugely, Mortal Instruments, Hunger Games, Percy Jackson, Jane Austen, Star Wars, and on and on.

And I have taken this to heart. These books have taught me so much about life: how to love, how to be a friend, how to trust, how to respect, how to be responsible, how to be a GOOD person, and how to accept everyone, even if you don’t particularly like them. Books have taught me that everyone deserves to be treated equally, and I have extended this into my life.

So…in conclusion to this super long blog post…WhatANerdGirlSays is about being a nerd…and a big chunk of my nerd life comes from books. Books are my life, my love, my passion and my dreams. And books have taught me the firm, firm belief I have in equality, in all things in life, and that makes WhatANerdGirlSays an equality zone. And we’ll be waiting, in anticipation and complete hope, for the right decision to be made.

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