July Books Wrap Up | BookTube

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome
to my July books wrap up. This month, I read more than I
was expecting to, at nine books. And surprisingly, two of them
were short story collections. They’re not really my thing, but I am trying
to read more of them. Let’s get into it. The framing just changed, I realized that I
didn’t plan well for the shift, so just go with it. When We Rise. Written by Cleve Jones, one of the prominent figures in
the LGBTQ+ movement just after the Stonewall riots. Jones talks about his experience growing up as
a young gay man, being drawn to San Francisco like so many others like him, finding community
in places like hotels, gay bars, the Castro. He found his calling in politics and the
movement with Harvey Milk’s encouragement, having his life changed when Milk was killed,
changed again when AIDS showed up. Jones writes about heartbreak, losing countless
friends to AIDS, nearly dying from it himself, creating the AIDS Memorial Quilt, San Francisco
in the 1970s, stories of his friends and many lovers. I was expecting this to be more of a factual
account of the period after the riots, but it read much more like a memoir, which it is,
of Cleve’s adventures and political activity. This is certainly much more focused on Cleve’s personal
experience than the overall events/period of time. However, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t
cover a lot of what happened, because he was more often than not directly involved, and if he wasn’t involved, he knew people who were. I enjoyed reading this, but it is the
perspective of only one person, and there are a lot of personal
stories of his friends and lovers. By the way, I don’t know why I didn’t
connect this until after reading it, but the ABC miniseries of the same
name is partially inspired by this book. I’ve seen this, and while it did have its
issues, it was a fairly good watch. The Wedding Date. Alexa and Drew are complete
strangers, and they get stuck in an elevator together. They banter and once power is back, Drew
spontaneously asks Alexa to be his date to his ex’s wedding. Alexa
normally wouldn’t have said yes, but something about Drew made her
say yes, and so ensues shenanigans. Drew lives in Los Angeles, and Alexa lives
in Berkeley, so they think it won’t last, but they can’t stop thinking about each other. I’m not going to say anything more because
this was a really fun, enjoyable read. I’m definitely going to read the
other books by Jasmine Guillory. This touches on interracial dating, and Drew
learns a bit about his own white privilege. It gets a bit steamy at times, and just be warned
this is absolutely cheesy but I love it. It does get a little repetitive and predictable,
but again, this is a romance novel so I wasn’t really expecting much else. Love Is Love. This is a comic book anthology
created to honor those killed in the Pulse shooting, and all proceeds went to benefit those affected by it. Most of the comics are only one page, and on my first
read, I really liked it but did think some of the pages were a little gratuitous on the violence. I expected this
anthology to be a much more upbeat, positive book with joyful stories, maybe with a reference to the shooting,
but they’re mostly about the shooting in some way. Yes, there are some positive ones, but I was expecting a
joyful read and ended up having to pause several times because I wasn’t mentally prepared for a lot of dark
stories. The art for all of the stories is gorgeous though. After reading some reviews on Goodreads,
I gave a big drop in my rating because I didn’t realize that a lot of the authors who
contributed to this were cishet men. I was really disappointed to learn that, since there
are so many queer comic artists out there that could’ve been asked to contribute to this. Also, it wasn’t really mentioned in many of the
comics that the shooting happened on Latin Night, it was mostly POC that died, and there was barely
any representation apart from the L and G. Any trans representation was very poorly done, it
would almost be better if it wasn’t there at all. Nearly all of this was focused on
romantic love and monogamous love, so that doesn’t include other types like polyamorous
and ace/aro people. They were completely left out. There were a few stories of
cishet people making it about them, and this anthology could have done without them. That said, there were some stories that
I wish were longer than one page because they could be a really good story. So would I recommend this? I really don’t know, but I would definitely tell you to prepare yourself
for a lot of death imagery and talk about death. Short Cuts: Selected Stories. This is a short story
collection of stories written by Raymond Carver, but this collection was created by Robert Altman because these stories are what
he based his film, “Short Cuts,” on. This one creates a portrait of American
life, one of innocence and loss. These stories are all about utterly
ordinary people living ordinary lives, but these lives are made extraordinary
because of the choices they make. I’ve mentioned this before, short story
collections aren’t necessarily my thing, but I am trying to read more of them because there
are some incredibly good short stories out there, and short story collections are often the
best way to find them, apart from online. Maybe two thirds of the stories, I enjoyed. The third that I didn’t, it wasn’t really because I didn’t like
them, the writing was just a little too strange for me. Some of the stories had some quite good twists that
I didn’t expect, especially in such a short span. One in particular, A Small, Good Thing,
had a punch to it and was really good. A few of the stories talk
about death, so be aware of that. I do kind of wish it had been a collection put together
by the author himself, but in the introduction by Altman, he says that he tried his best to keep it
close to how Carver would have done it. Of course my camera battery would die,
and my light is slowly dying, so I’m just. Going with whatever light I have in this. Looking for Alaska. Miles Halter is sent
off to Culver Creek Boarding School, because he decides he’s done
with his safe and boring life, he’s heard a lot about Culver Creek because
that’s where his parents went, so… He meets Alaska Young, who
lives down the hall from him. She’s a force of nature – funny, clever, beautiful,
self-destructive, and very fascinating to Miles. Alaska pulls him into her world, sets him on a journey,
stealing his heart along the way, and then. After, nothing is the same. Looking for Alaska is John Green’s first book,
and the second book of his I’ve read. The first one I read was Turtles All the Way Down. So, obviously, a big difference in his writing style. That might be one of the reasons
why I wasn’t that impressed with this. It’s kind of split into two parts, “Before” and
“After,” and there’s a countdown and up. I didn’t think that part was really necessary. If anything, it just annoyed me that we were
going to know when the “big event” happens. I won’t say what it is, but honestly, at this point you
probably already know. I mean, it was published in 2006! There was a lot of teen angst in this. A lot. It wasn’t horrible, but it was just okay to me.
I certainly prefer Turtles over this one. The Thirteenth Tale. Vida Winter is a reclusive
author who has written many, many stories, but there’s one that people are obsessed over. Winter wrote a collection of stories called
“Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation” but there was never a thirteenth tale. People want
to know the mystery of the missing thirteenth tale, but they also want to know more
about Winter’s mysterious past. She’s always been enigmatic about her past,
and has invented multiple outlandish life histories to keep her tragic and violent past a secret. Now old and sick, she decides to at last tell the truth
and chooses biographer Margaret Lea to tell her story. This part reminds me a little bit of The Seven Husbands
of Evelyn Hugo, but that’s where the resemblance ends. Winter goes deep into her past, revealing a story that’s
full of strangeness about the Angelfield family. Beautiful and willful Isabelle, feral twins Adeline
and Emmeline, silent Charlie, a ghost, a governess, and a devastating fire all come together to make
an enchanting tale full of intrigue and twists. I took quite a while to read this one, since I
had the free ebook version of this on my phone, and just read it mostly when I didn’t have
a book with me and needed to kill time. Despite that, I enjoyed reading this, even
though it was a little rambling at times and there was a lot that I feel
the book could’ve done without. Overall, it’s alright but not something
I’d immediately recommend. With the Fire on High. AMAZING. Emoni Santiago, half Black half Puerto Rican,
is a teen mother and a high school senior. Her abuela helps out with taking
care of her young daughter, and Emoni has a lot of tough decisions to make. Her dream is to become a chef,
and she knows she’s got the skills, since she adds a little magical something
to everything she cooks for people, gets constant support from her
abuela, friends, and her teachers. One day, Emoni finds out that her school will
be offering a culinary arts class that includes a trip to Spain to train under professional chefs. She’d love to do this trip, but she knows
she won’t have the time or money to do it. Though she can’t not cook, and even with all of the
rules in her life – both her own and everyone else’s – she just has to let her talent out. This is the second book by Elizabeth Acevedo,
and her first was The Poet X. This book is just as gorgeous as the first, and her
talent for poetry really shows through in this novel. I admit, I got hungry a few times
reading this, and how could I not? It all revolves around food and cooking,
and it’s so beautifully written. I loved how this really focused on
what it’s like being a teen mother, and not once shaming Emoni
for having a child so young. It explored her relationships with her family, her few
friends, and co-parenting with the father of her girl. There’s a love interest that’s Black and Muslim, good relationships with teachers, and gah, this is just so good. Just like for The Poet X, I definitely recommend you
go check out Adriana’s 5 Reasons to Read video for this book, they say it all. I absolutely recommend this book,
and you must read this. Like, now. Love From A to Z. Adam and Zayneb
randomly meet in an airport. Zayneb is on the way to her aunt’s house in Doha,
after getting in trouble for confronting her teacher about his Islamophobia and constant
harping on about how Muslims are “bad.” As the only Muslim in class that also
wears a hijab, of course Zayneb is angry, but after that and getting her friends in trouble, she decides to try out a newer and nicer
version of herself where no one knows her. Adam is returning home from university,
which he’s stopped attending altogether after getting diagnosed with
multiple sclerosis, MS for short. No one knows though, and he intends
to keep it that way as long as he can. They happen to keep meeting, and they both keep
journals that they happen to call the same thing – Marvels and Oddities. They’re both struggling with their
own secrets, and that can threaten their relationship. I absolutely loved this. I was pissed several times
reading this, because this book is really in your face about the feelings around Islamophobia, hijabi,
and explores the painful relationships that sometimes comes with family,
especially when it’s around illness, romantic love and all the different ways
that people approach it and perform it. Even though this touches on a lot of heavy stuff,
it’s a fluffy romance story at its heart. This book is written as if it’s journal entries from the two
of them, so we get to see both of their perspectives. I do think that the “introduction” by the author
explaining that was really unnecessary, the book could’ve just gone straight
into it and been a bit better for that. I’ve also read the other book by this author,
Saints and Misfits, and liked it as well. I would definitely recommend this book! I’ll also link another review by Saajid, also known as
Books are my Social Life, a Muslim Booktuber. I’ll link that down below. Be aware that there are no captions on that video,
but the auto captions aren’t too bad, so there’s that. Exhalation: Stories. A collection of short
fiction, all written by Ted Chiang. All of these stories were science fiction
or fantasy with a touch of science. Most of these have been published in
magazines, other anthologies, or online. It’s kind of hard to sum up short story
collections because all of them are so different, but I was very surprised to actually enjoy all of the
stories in this collection which is very rare for me. Then again, I love sci-fi, so that may have played a part. Chiang is a fantastic author, and he adjusted his
writing style to match what the story required. For example, the first story in this collection,
The Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate, is set in ancient Baghdad and has a portal where
people can either go forward or back in time. The language was much more flowery
if you will, befitting ancient times. In Exhalation, the language was much more
cold and clinical, since it was set in another world, with a robot race and a scientist analyzing himself
to understand how the robot race works. The Lifecycle of Software Objects is more of a novella,
in layman’s terms, and it’s a scary look at what could realistically happen in our future with
virtual reality and artificial intelligence/life. Omphalos is one of the previously unpublished works. It’s a mix of layman’s terms and scientific terminology,
and it’s a very fascinating alternate reality where there’s proof everywhere that our
universe was created only 8,000 years ago, thus proving the Church right in
that God really did create us. I really did enjoy all of the stories in this collection
and would definitely recommend it if you like sci-fi! After all of the adjustments, and technical
problems, that’s it for the books I read in July. Let me know if you’ve read or want to
read any of these books down below. If you want to support my content financially, I have
Patreon, which is monthly, and ko-fi, which is one-time. Subscribe to this channel. Follow me on all
my socials – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Thanks for watching, see you next time.

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