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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Fandom Friday-The Shadowhunter Chronicles

So I’ve decided to start a new segment of my blog called the Fandom Friday

This basically comes from my desire to find more fandoms…and this doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m trying to fill my life with more fandoms but I’m trying to be more open to other ones.

The biggest reason I’m doing this is because I’ve always felt like…so many fandoms preach acceptance and tolerance and equality and respect and all that. And yet…I’ve found that a lot of us nerds can be kind of judgemental on other fandoms, sick myself included. I mean, some people are REALLY judgemental and mean about it, sometimes.

And I’m trying to be better at it. And I’ve decided I want to learn more about different fandoms and kind of have people…backing up the fandom? That doesn’t sound quite right. I guess I just want people to write of the fandoms that they like and say why they like them, and what they mean to them, and maybe we can all start to understand each other.

Hey, I’m not saying that you have to like the fandoms. There are some things that we’re just not going to like. But I’m hoping that we all learn about some new ones, understand the ones we don’t like and finally figure out the ones that we don’t really understand.

So the first one is my own. I’m looking for anyone and everyone who would like to contribute to this. You can do any fandom that you’d like, except Harry Potter, Stars Wars and Doctor Who…ONLY because these are my three biggest fandoms and they are also really, really popular and I write about all three of these all the time. Any others though, free game, and leave a little comment below (make sure to click “email me for replies”) and we’ll get this going!

So this week’s first Fandom Friday is The Shadowhunter Chronicles by Cassandra Clare. And I know its Sunday but its been a busy weekend and we’ll just forget the days of the week just this once okay?

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Now, the reason that I pick the Shadowhunter Chronicles as my first fandom of the week, instead of Harry Potter or Star Wars or Doctor Who is that I have almost never had to really defend my obsession with these. These are VERY popular fandoms and very highly accepted fandoms and some people may shake their head at HOW obsessed I am, but I never really have to defend it as a whole.

The Shadowhunter series…those I am always, always, always defending. They are honestly a big reason why I’m trying to be more accepting of other fandoms, even the ones that I just think are plain awful. Then I realized…a lot of people have a problem with Cassie and her books. It goes both ways.

Officially right now, there are 8 Shadowhunter books in two different series. The Mortal Instruments takes place in present time and is as follow: City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, City of Fallen Angels, City of Lost Souls and the 2014 finale, City of Heavenly Fire. The Infernal Devices is a companion series, taking place in Victorian England. This series is complete: Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince and Clockwork Princess. Cassandra has three more series planned: The Dark Artifices, (Lady Midnight, Prince of Shadows and The Queen of Air and Darkness) which is a Los Angeles series taking place five years after the finale of the Mortal Instruments, TLH, which is acronymed and not named and will be following the children of the Infernal Devices series and a completely secret series, that will take place three years after the Dark Artifices series.

The books are an urban, contemporary fantasy. Its a world that we all recognize and know, but there’s more to it than we know. Demons roam our world, along with vampires, werewolves, warlocks and fae. And there are those that would protect the world from those demons, called Shadowhunters, humans with a dash of angel blood, warriors trained their entire lives to fight these demons. They have their own secret world, can shield themselves from us and have their own secret country, Idris. They use special weapons like seraph blades, blessed by angels to defeat demons, and use steles to draw “Marks” or “runes” on their body to give them extra or enhanced abilities in battle.

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The Mortal Instruments takes place in countemporary world, with Clary Fray, a sixteen year old girl who suddenly can see people and things she wasn’t able to see before. She stumbles upon some Shadowhunters while they are on the hunt, when she shouldn’t be able to see them. Shortly after, her mother is kidnapped and it is revealed that her mother is a Shadowhunter and once was married to a man named Valentine, who has a desire to “purify” the race of Shadowhunters and begin a superior order. Clary has to find her mother, and help to defeat Valentine, along with the help of her human best friend, Simon Lewis, the warlock, Magnus Bane, and her new Shadowhunter friends, Jace Wayland, Alec Lightwood and Isabelle Lightwood. The first book in the series, City of Bones, will be hitting theaters this summer, on August 23rd.

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The Infernal Devices takes place in Victorian England at near end of the 19th century. Tessa Gray, again, is a human girl, who leaves New York to join her brother, Nate in England. She is kidnapped as soon as she reaches the dock, and soon learns that she has abilities she was never aware of: shape-shifting. As long as she’s holding the personal item of a person, she can change into them, and access their memories. According to her kidnappers, she’s being prepped to become the wife of a man called the Magister, who has a use for her and her talents. She is rescued by the Shadowhunter boys, Will Herondale and Jem Carstairs and, just like Clary, is suddenly aware of a world that she wasn’t before. Her story  shows her trying to figure out what she is and why the Magister wants her, and what he has planned for her and the Shadowhunters.

I first discovered these books three years ago, in 2010. To keep a story short, my boyfriend and I had broken up, and lets just say it wasn’t a nice break up. It was kind of a messy one and a lot was going on at the time. My boyfriend and I had gone through a tough time, and broke up due to that, and a couple other reasons. I was feeling crappy at my job. I was taking five classes in college and was overwhelmed. Everything was just kind of down in the dumps and I was absolutely miserable. It SUCKS to break up with someone that you had plans for in the future. Of course, it all worked out, in the long run because we ended up back together and have been together for five years :)

But at the time, I just needed to be distracted. I didn’t want to think about all the crap that was going on; I needed distractions. I discovered Starkid during this time, and became super addicted to their Harry Potter musicals because of how much they made me laugh. And I found Cassandra Clare. I went to Borders to pick up a book, and I found City of Bones. I read it that night, and picked up City of Ashes the very next day, and picked up City of Glass the day after. Then I read Clockwork Angel. I got addicted FAST.

Now, a big part of the reason that I was addicted so fast, and that it remains one of my biggest fandoms, is because of what it did for me at that time. It really helped me. I needed to be distracted and it did just that. It kept me from being absolutely miserable. The stories are super funny, especially with Simon and Jace and their sarcasm. The pop culture references are always awesome, makes me think of Boss Joss Whedon and his pop culture references in everything that he does. Its action packed, and it has a lot of biblical and mythological aspects (though I do think she could go further with these). The world she builts is sexy and addicting and she spins a romance that I’m in love with. And Jace Wayland is a character that you just can’t get over, especially when you’re single and lonely haha.

But its also more than that. Despite what a lot of people say, I think Cassandra Clare is a great writer. I think she’s very contemporary and that’s the way I write. Not all of us are going to write like Jane Austen or whatever. Not all of us can write classically but that doesn’t mean we aren’t great writers and I think she’s a great writer. I also don’t think that she’s “stolen” all the things people believe she has. I believe she used a lot of it in her fan fiction but that was her fan fiction and let’s move on. And yes, there are allusions to different worlds from different books, but doesn’t everyone do that? There are no 100% original stories anymore. We all tell the same stories, but HOW we tell it, and the characters we have, in the places we have…that’s what makes our stories unique. Cassandra Clare pulled from J.K. Rowling who pulled from J.R.R. Tolkien who pulled from Norse mythology which…and on and on.

But sometimes, we just enjoy things that aren’t literary masterpieces. Not every book I read is going to be an excellent example of literary prowess. Sometimes I just want my not so guilty pleasure book. I enjoy these books. I love the stories and I love the characters and they’re good for me.

And I do like the ideas that Cassie brings in. She talks about fears a lot. She talks about bravery and courage and the idea of fears. Clary is afraid of loving Jace, she’s afraid of her father, she’s afraid of a lot of things. Jace is afraid of letting himself love and be loved, both in family and romantic ways and he’s afraid of Clary. Isabelle is afraid to let her tough girl guard down. Simon is afraid of losing his best friend. Luke and Jocelyn are afraid for Clary‘s safety and what Valentine is capable of. Alec is afraid of his sexuality and coming to terms with it. Valentine is afraid of not having control. And a lot of times these fears hold them back, and cause more problems than anything.

And she doesn’t preach of just overcoming your fears, but learning to accept them and learning to live with them. This is a huge reason why I have the Fearless rune tattoo on my arm. I really agree with the way she approaches fear, and courage and bravery, and overcoming and accepting fears. These people aren’t fearless, no one can be fearless but you can learn to live with your fears.

One last thing, I do like that Cassie has included gay, bisexual and lesbian characters. Alec is gay, and Magnus is bisexual and Aline and Helen are lesbian. I really like how a familiar concept can be presented in an unfamiliar territory. I do love that more and more authors are exploring these in books, not just in subtext but in more obvious ways. I love that even though Cassie gets letters from parents complaining about the LGBT characters, she continues to write about them. Its fantastic.

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So maybe you’ll never be a huge Cassandra Clare fan, or even a fan at all. But maybe you can understand and respect my own obsession with it, the way I am starting to respect YOURS!

And don’t forget, I am looking for some guest blog posts from ANYONE on their fandoms! Comment below, with what fandom you’d like to write about. It can be anything: movie, tv show, book series, video game, card game, cartoon, whatever. I want to learn ALL about it. Comment below and I’ll be able to contact you and you can be part of the Fandom Friday :)

Can’t wait!

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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