Why I Buy Books Second Hand (#SecondHandSeptember)

buying books second hand post

Hey Pals,

As it is secondhand September, I wanted to use this as a chance to discuss my recent reading TBR piles and book hauls, which mostly (if not entirely) include nothing but white cis straight writers who are relatively mainstream, or at least were when the books were originally published. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ve had a slowly growing collection of books that are made up of mainly secondhand books I’ve picked up whilst charity shopping or browsing Amazon with a gift certificate. Shopping in real life, it’s near impossible picking up anything classed as diverse, I think the closest I could have gotten was when Love, Simon came out I started seeing the books in charity shops.

There can be an issue of consumerism within the book community and I am not the first person to talk about this at all! There are a couple of livestreams I’ve saved that I plan on watching but haven’t had the chance yet. But haul posts on instagram, bookblogs and booktube are pretty popular and bring in an audience, possibly of people who can’t afford to spend this much money on books. I have also seen friends on twitter mention about the price difference between Europe/U.S to places in Asia, where new titles take longer to be delivered but also cost a lot more to buy brand new. I see a lot of books in the UK tend to be anywhere from £7-£20 depending on if it’s hardback, includes images, etc. which is a lot to me, as someone who does not have a regular income, but this is even higher in other locations around the world, which lends to people buying ebook versions instead (but I’ve also seen some new ebooks also cost a lot, like close to the cost of a physical book which I find weird and would like to learn more about…).

The struggle with second hand shopping is that you are limited to what’s currently available either in the store on online. It can be hard to have a list of books you are looking for when second hand shopping, because they aren’t often readily available. I shop for books in a variety of ways, I used to use Amazon but I am trying to venture away from doing this (as you know) besides that, I often browse charity shop bookshelves if I’m out, and have started browsing the possibilities of Facebook marketplace/groups and have grabbed a few cheap or free books that way too. I think it’s probably easier to search for specific books through apps like depop, as a lot of people do sell their old books there and some indie bookshops have set up pages, but other than that, it can be hard to find what you are looking for quickly and easily.

I decided to speak to a few people about their book buying habits and why they mainly buy second hand, curious to see if other people have similar experiences and reasons as myself. I spoke to a few people who all had a range of book buying needs and wants: mystical fiction, thriller/crime, historical fiction, YA fantasy, course textbooks, poetry, essays, LGBT+ writing.

Overall, it was agreed that buying second hand can be difficult when you have specific tastes that maybe don’t fit the donors who give their books away, especially shopping in store. Nicole said, “I do find that a lot of used book stores do have an older selection and not too many new works to choose from. I currently live on Long Island and it’s difficult to get thrifted books in person so I buy online, but I spend a decent amount of time in NYC where access to used books is a little easier.” I definitely found shopping second hand was easier when I lived in Greater London, so I think there’s a correlation between shopping in cities vs. more suburban or rural areas and the kinds of items that are donated. I would assume more diverse books and more textbooks in areas near universities. Many students often have to quickly dispose of large sums of items before moving home or to their next residence, so donating to local charity shops is likely the easiest way to do this. Plus, the richer the area the more likely you’ll find some expensive finds for cheap.

Jae said, “I can usually find a lot of books in [the] genres that I read except for my lesbian fiction, but John Grisham and Michael Crichton are two old man writers so I can easily find them and their books. And sometimes you just have to wait around for the right book to come in.” Obviously you can get lucky by finding rare and diverse books on occasion but it helps if you actually enjoy reading the genres that come in the most. I find nonfiction is pretty common in most charity shops in the UK and nearly all of my nonfiction books were bought second hand.

Sarah said, “I mostly end up buying them online. Trying to buy second-hand in my area is more like occasionally finding a good novel amongst twenty-thousand copies of Danielle Steele and Nora Roberts. They are definitely not diverse in person very often. There’s one booth of a flea market I used to love going to because they had copies of some of my favorite series, but then those sold out and now the booth is the same as the rest. I bought the majority of my books for school second hand. Thrift Books (website) was my savior. I could spend so much less on books each semester because of it. It’s hard to find textbooks on there, but sometimes you can get lucky with them as well. I also would always check Ebay and the used portion of Amazon before buying any of them. I think I only ever bought one book brand new, and it had come out just months prior and was used in all my classes. I still use it in my current classes.” I don’t know if this is a thing in the UK or if I just completely missed it due to not really needing textbooks, but it seems like buying second hand books and textbooks is a lot easier to do in the U.S? I personally don’t know of many places you can shop online for books second hand. Something I’d not really thought about until writing this, and I have realised Oxfam do actually sell books online as well as having dedicated charity shops for books. I used to buy all my books through Amazon’s second hand options when I was in university because it was fast, cheap and convenient. I wish I had thought about it and knew what I know now about the company… but I don’t know of anything quite like Thrift Books. If there’s a UK version, please let me know.

One similarity among everyone I spoke to about enjoying buying second hand was the life in the books. The idea that people had read the book before and sometimes finding handwritten notes. Nicole explained it as “I like the idea of a used book because I like knowing someone had it before me and I envision what that person’s story is. Like a story of a story.” Jae said something similar, “I also really enjoy that a lot of people have put their mark on a book and I like the story that tells too. Why did they dogmark this page? Or look here’s a note in this book. I live for that shit.” Sarah actually said they are someone who makes notes, “I’m someone who writes notes in the margins and dog-ears the pages, and I’m less willing to do those things that are natural for me in new books. Plus, buying them used means I might be buying from another note-taker, and those are always wonderful to get to see where we agree and disagree. I also really love buying books that were once library books. Ones that have received so much love in their lifetimes that they deserve to have a little bit of rest without being loved any less. I will go out of my way and spend a bit more on a copy once used in a library if it’s available.”

It seems like buying books second hand is more than just a budgeting issue and actually involves a lot of emotions to the books and the pasts attached to them. I recently opened a book I’ve had for a while, Another Bullshit Night In Suck City, and found a note written in the front that seemed to be from one partner to another and even though I may not enjoy the book (it’s too early to say) I atleast got to see this short sweet message written on the first page. I also enjoy passing on a book to someone I know as a gift and think they might enjoy or learn something from. Like my travelling book by James Baldwin, or From Baghdad With Love. The idea that the book will continue to be read even after I’m done with it is why I enjoy physical books, but I’m more likely to do this with second hand books than brand new.

Being able to buy new and diverse books is a privilege not everyone can afford. It can be hard to strike a balance between indulging in your hobby of reading in a sustainable and affordable way vs. a more diverse way that supports under-represented writers and their stories. Neither is better or worse for any reason, it’s not all black or white, good or bad. It just sucks we can’t have it all really, but a mix is healthy!

In our world, consumerism is a huge problem generally, not just within the book community. I’ve been trying to really narrow down the items I own, especially books, which is why my reading has been less diverse than I want. I have so many books sitting and collecting dust, I want to at least try reading them and if they aren’t for me, then pass them on to someone else in some way. I see people feel a pressure to be up to date with the newest releases and always being ahead of the industry with reviews, but when books come out, they’re out forever. Are we never going to read an old book again, unless they are classics? Of course we are, and we should! So if you are someone who feels a pressure to buy new books all the time, try reading the books you already have first… I know many of us are guilty of this.

Thank you to the people who chatted with me! Check them out in their socials.

Jae (she/they), Sarah (they/them), and Nicole (she/her)

Read your books, kids!

~ Artie

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What Happened To My Quarantine TBR?

what happened to my to be read pile

Hey pals,

I’ve clearly been doing more reading since we are not supposed to be going out and socialising. I’ve had many books on my shelves for literally a decade that I wanted to fight through so I made a Quarantine TBR video on my YouTube Channel and I’ve made many book related posts and bought many books since this so I wanted to go through what I had set out to read and see what happened to the books!

My Shelf Pre-Purge!

The first thing I talk about is reading my manga collections to decide if I want to keep or even continue reading them. My collection consisted of Naruto, Fruits Basket, Mega Tokyo, Ouran Highschool Host Club, Fullmetal Alchemist, Blue Exorcist. So far I’ve read Fruits Basket and unhauled one book I owned as it was like book 19 and I only had 1-4, and I have no interest in continuing the series at this moment in time.

I also talked about the possibility of doing a Georgia Nicolson Reading Marathon, which I have not done yet. I have set my focus more on books I’ve never read as there is a possibility I would unhaul them from my collection, whereas I know I will be keeping the Georgia Nicolson books.

Then I talk Kindle books for a while, the first is Marilyn Monroe biography, then Radio Silence I bought early lockdown, I read this and Solitaire and I Was Born For This all early on as they were pretty cheap at 99p. I talked about the Radio Silence in my Pride Book Recs Video.

On to my physical collection of books. Call The Midwife I still haven’t picked up. I went on to talk about spooky books to prep for October, Witch Child which I think 2020 is the anniversary of its release as I saw a book blogger receive a copy gifted. Haven’t read this yet. Sea Witch got unhauled a while ago. Sub Rosa was also never read. Secret Societies was also unhauled because musicmagpie was accepting it and I fancied the money. Great Ghost stories still hasn’t been read either and I haven’t even really thought about picking it up! Dead Witch Walking I DNF’d because it was bad and also musicmagpie bought it off me. See more about this book and my thoughts in my recent YouTube video. Trans Britain was also not read even though I had intentions to read it and had it on several TBRs, it just never happened. How To Give Up Plastic is the last book I mention, this I did read! I talked about it on my Instagram and in my recent book wrap up video, and then sold it to musicmagpie. It’s funny how I talk about ableism within the eco community online, because this book specifically includes and discusses disabled people and their place in the eco movement, which was great!

So, out of this TBR I have read 6 books out of 66, unhauled 4. Yikes, considering I’ve read 38 books this year…

I thought I would also go back and talk about my TBR I made at the beginning of the year as well! I know this one was pretty long and it was before any of my book purges! These were all physical books and I think they were all very old!

Group 1 nonfiction: Chronicles of a London Girl, The Woodpecker Story, neither have been read.

Group 2 books based near where I live: Let Me Live Like Water, Dead Tomorrow, Memories of Old Sussex. I only read Memories of Old Sussex coz it was very short. I think I then unhauled this? I can’t remember.

Group 3 books made into films/shows: Killing Eve I DNF’d it was dreadful and boring, The Great Gatsby still unread, Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea I still haven’t read I think I have stage fright from loving the 80’s films so so much that I’m worried the books would disappoint me but we will see.

Group 4 witchy books: Practical Magic (also fits into the previous category) still not read but I love the film, Potion Diaries I think I unhauled I am pretty sure I decided I just would never pick the book up, Becoming Dangerous I did finally finish this year I really had to dedicate time to finishing it. You can read about that on my Instagram too.

The we also have the BPD Survival guide which I’ve still not read, Biting Anorexia I finished very early in the year and was really enjoyable, and then finally James Baldwin’s Dark Days which I did finish this year and have turned into a travelling book! You can read more about it in this Instagram post.

So out of this TBR I have read 4, unhauled 2.

You know I recently put up my Nonfiction TBR shelf blog post just as a discussion on this genre, because it has always been one that I’ve enjoyed. I like to read about other real people and always have done so I think eventually I’ll revisit that post either here or on my youtube channel and see how I got on. I plan on reading up to 5 nonfiction books for and through November as it’s nonfiction November and I wanted to make some relevant posts! My current choices are My Mad Fat Diary, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, Made in America, and Talking as Fast as I Can (ebook), I have space for one more but I can’t choose so give me a hand!

I feel like this year has been very weird and I’ve had to get creative with how I spend my time to keep myself busy and prevent insanity. I’ve gotten used to being stranded at home really from living with chronic illness so this wasn’t THAT new to me and it took me a lot longer to run out of things to do than most people because I already have a million hobbies I can do from home and things take me longer to do as I have to pace myself. I’ve had so many decluttering and purging moments, the most recent were more books and DVDs, just trying to strip my space of excess which I talked about in a recent post as well! Reading has been a great escapist hobby, and I’m thankful I was able to really get back into reading this year because it really helped keep me sane.

I also put in a lot of work trying to learn how to develop my blog and YouTube more, like SEO bullshit man I don’t know what half of anything means and that stunted me for a long time because nothing is explained simply. I eventually found some useful and easy to understand tools and posts. I can say it has definitely improved my blog standing, my DA jumped up 6 points since putting in the effort and spending time editing old posts etc. and I’m still trying to figure out how that works for YouTube, I did find a useful blog post full of things I didn’t know even existed but I haven’t seen much improvement yet so if you know of anything, link me in the comments!

I feel like we are getting to a point where everyone is acting a bit too normal… and we are awaiting another official lockdown. We are approaching my birthday in early October and we are still here in this huge mess that just keeps getting worse. Just try to be sensible, you know? Masks, hand sanitiser and washing your hands, stop eating out and being in huge crowds where you can, I know lots of people don’t have the luxury of avoiding things like work and public transport. Make a TBR and read some books instead of going out or check out something new on Netflix, you know I have a bunch of posts on this too!

I’m just getting fed up of the ignorance. Sorry this post ended weirdly haha! TBR to life crisis. You’re welcome.

~ Artie

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My 25 Book Long Non-Fiction TBR

nonfiction books to be read list

Hey pals,

I am a fond reader of nonfiction books, which might be a little surprising, I don’t often meet people who enjoy reading nonfiction. During lockdown I have read 6 nonfiction books (also DNF’d two, one was fucking dreadful and the other was a little boring to me) but I still have a tonne of other books that are mostly physical to read.

So far, the ones I have read and enjoyed are: How to Give up Plastic, From Baghdad With Love, Dark Days, Becoming Dangerous, Biting Anorexia, and Memories of Old Sussex. You can see more on my GoodReads!

I’ll quickly mention the few ebooks I have on my list to read. One is Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham who played Loreli Gilmore in Gilmore Girls, and this is her memoir and I think it’s mostly about being on this set. I love this show and am always interested in behind the scenes of TV and Film. The other book is Crohn’s Disease: Wrestling the Octopus by Nigel who also writes the blog Wrestling the Octopus, written by and about this man’s experience having Crohn’s disease in the UK for the last 40 odd years, I think it’ll hold some useful information for my own journey with Crohn’s and my healthcare services. I also still have an ebook about Marilyn Monroe by Donald Spoto from my uni days I’d like to finish off.

There are also a selection of anti-racism and system dismantling ebooks I have yet to read. How To Be Anti-Racist, Superior: the Return of Race Science, Who Do You Serve Who Do You Protect?, and Heart of The Race: Black Women’s Lives in Britain.

Now, this is my nonfiction shelf, it’s quite broad from (auto)biographies, to creative nonfiction, to self help books.

Borderline Personality Disorder: Survival Guide – I’ve been recommended this book numerous times by a mixture of healthcare professionals and other people with BPD so at some point I want to go through this and work on my mental health linked to my BPD.

The Woodpecker Story – I’ve mentioned this before, but it is the story of the Woodpecker platoon of the RAF in World War Two. My great Granddad was the mechanic in this platoon and he died 11 years ago, so I can’t ask him any more questions, so I hope this book will one day give me some more interesting information of what he went through during that period of his life.

The Chronicles of a London Girl – this is a memoir independently published about and by a woman who lived through World War Two.

No Room For Secrets: Joanna Lumley – Lumley takes us through each room in her house and talks about the memories she has that come from photos and items.

The Body Book: The Law Of Hunger, The Science of Strength, and Other Ways To Love Your Body – By Cameron Diaz, this book is about health and learning to love and care for your body based on scientific facts. This is the important part for me, I find it’s close to impossible to find reputable sources when it comes to nutrition and fitness, and I really enjoy Cameron’s work and social media presence, and I feel like this would be a good book for me to continue learning about these things and implement them into my own life. She also has a second book on body science called The Longevity Book.

Trans Britain – Another book I’ve mentioned a few times. The history of Trans people in Britain, a topic I don’t know much about and feel I should as a trans Brit. Interviews with different trans people.

Another Bullshit Night in Suck City – A memoir about Nick Flynn crossing paths with his father who is a criminal and self proclaimed con-man and poet. Living through homelessness where they finally meet. I’ve had this book for many years as well and it just sounds like one of those stories that seems hard to believe, and those are my favourites as I have often lived stories like that myself.

Made in America / Notes from a Small Island – These are comedic travel novels, one based in America and another in Britain. I’ve never really read much travel writing, but I remember studying Bill Bryson at AS Level and found these books secondhand years ago but never read them, so I thought I would give them a go. Take me somewhere else or teach me a little about the country I live in.

Call the Midwife: A True Story of the East End in the 1950s – Apparently this book should be required reading for all student Midwives, nurses, sociology, and modern history, as it is the experiences of a midwife in the 1950s with graphic portrayals of the appalling conditions people were living in. I watch this show and I do think it’s really important to remember our history for what it was rather than some weird glorified version of it, as we often repeat all these awful things that have already happened because we try to hide they ever did.

A Streetcat Named Bob / The World According to Bob – Made into an incredibly popular film that even I enjoyed. I’m not big on cats but this story was really quite interesting and I like to read the books that were turned into films and see what they skipped out on. Plus, there are two books, I’m not sure they are making another film but clearly there was enough adventures to write a second novel!

Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter – A Memoir by Adeline Yen Mah, who born in 1937 North of Shanghai and the youngest child of an affluent Chinese family. She sadly suffered abuse in her youth from her ‘Eurasian’ step-mother. She eventually moved to England the America to become a physician and a writer. I’m trying to make my reading more diverse when it comes to race and heritage, because it’s very easy to pick up a book by a white British or American author in England without thinking. I’m not sure when I picked this book up, I believe when I was at university, and I’m really interested to get into this one. Almost 300 pages long, it’s an average length. Another popular book with thousands of ratings on Goodreads.

The Biography of Kurt Cobain – I had to include a book about the King. I think this was one of the very few books I picked up new rather than second hand. Still very old, though, I think it has been on my shelf for a solid 5 years or more. Heavily based on the hundreds of interviews with Kurt, and goes from his childhood until his end. It’s quite a chunky book at nearly 400 pages, but it seems like a lot of research went into it. I’m curious to see what is included and if anything about Kurt’s presentation (when he wore dresses) might come up.

The End of Eddy – This is a memoir about a man who grew up in a village in the North of France, coming to terms with his sexuality in a place that wasn’t very accepting. Another short book at 192 pages, but apparently very popular with thousands of ratings on Goodreads averaging nearly 4 stars. I feel like it’s worth giving a go.

The Psychic Case Files – Tony Stockwell is a psychic medium often invited to help in criminal investigations, especially when they go cold. Everyone is on it with true crime at the moment, I think this could be a good book to introduce me to the world or reading crime, nonfiction or fiction. It’s also relatively short, which is always convenient.

Norma Jean: A Hollywood Love Story – Another book about Marilyn, picked his up secondhand and it doesn’t seem to be very well known as the Goodreads page is blank? So, I’m very curious what it will contain and compare it to the ebook I have by another writer.

Here is a short list of non-fiction books I enjoyed by women!

Carrie Fisher’s Postcards From The Edge, it is said to be non-fiction heavily influenced by Carrie Fisher’s life but creatively presented as this is from two points of view. One is this Hollywood actress, the other is a wannabe scriptwriter. It is in three sections and all written extremely differently which is really interesting to see.

Portia De Rossi’s Unbearable Lightness is her memoir of getting into the film industry and battling an eating disorder and struggling to come to terms with her sexuality. I spoke more on this book in this post.

Kai Cheng Thom’s Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars is a creative non-fiction novel with really beautiful fantasy elements woven in and some sections of poetry, about a trans woman of colour. I spoke more on this book in this post.

Melanie Murphy’s Fully Functioning Human (Almost) is like a how-to guide and is split into sections of common life issues all heavily based on Melanie’s life experiences full of advice and anecdotes. She covers sexuality, relationships, disordered eating, skin care, and practicing healthy habits. A book version of her YouTube channel, many say.

And finally, Crystal Renn’s Hungry. A memoir from a now plus-size model, how she got into the modelling industry, her experiences of body shaming and eating disorders, and how she became a plus-size model instead and began recovering from her ED.

I hope you enjoyed this post, let me know what nonfiction books you enjoy! See you next week!

~ Artie

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Cemetery Boys: Book Review Arc August

cemetery boys book arc august review

Hey pals!

I won an arc of Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thoman in a twitter giveaway, I was not given this arc for a review, I am not part of any promotional tours, these are all my own thoughts and opinions! I just really loved this book, the representation, the introduction to a beautiful latinx culture I knew nothing about, and just want to spread the word as the book is released on the 1st September 2020! (Though I think I saw somewhere U.K release is October 1st, so i’ve pre-ordered the book as a birthday present to myself, October 4th.) You can still pre-order, or wait until the 1st to purchase it but I think Aiden is hoping to get onto New York Times Best Sellers List, as the first trans author with a trans main character and I wanna help promote the book and share my love of it!

“Queer people are like wolves,” Julian told him. “We travel in packs.”

Cemetery Boys is a romantic mystery, starring Yadriel a latinx trans guy struggling to prove his identity to his family members. With the help of his cousin Maritza, Yadriel gives himself the quinces his family delayed indefinitely to prove that Lady Death accepts him as a brujo and so should they. In the first chapter we are thrown straight into the action seamlessly, meeting Yads and Maritza on their way to perform the ritual. We learn all about their latinx culture of the brujx and the gendered roles in a way that is easy to digest, we learn about the beginnings of the culture and the mixture of origins their people have. I love the imagery throughout this book, one I liked was “Spirits have blurry edges… They looked like photographs taken out of focus and with the saturation turned down” giving such a vivid portrayal of the spirits in this story. We get an introduction to the main family members who are important to the story along the way and some background characters really filling in the rich familial history. Unfortunately, right as Yadriel and Maritza complete the ceremony, they both feel a dreadful stabbing pain in their chests for a moment before running back to the main family home across the cemetery (oh, yes, they live next to the cemetery!) to find that one of their family, cousin Miguel, has died but no one can find him. Here ensues the man hunt for his body or the item that would tether him to earth. Yads is not allowed to join the hunt as they do not see him as a brujo, but he obviously defies them and so does Maritza and they return to the location they had just performed the quinces and find a necklace Yads thinks is Miguel’s. Truly trying to prove himself, he chooses to summon whoever is attached to the necklace but… it’s not Miguel… but a very hot kid who went to Yads’ school. Julien Diaz. Now Yads is stuck with a hot ghost boy following him around until they finish Julian’s business… and solve the mystery?

This is a great book, easy to follow and age appropriate but not dumbed down. Slow burn romance! Low key enemies to friends to lovers in a way as they don’t get on to begin with, but enemies is a bit harsh. Amazing trans MC where enough of the plot is and covers transness and trans struggles but that’s not the only thing we care about even though it is a driving force for the plot. Neuro-diverse love interest who is a spirit?? Love him. Outside rough and strong but soft and bouncy like a puppy, so silly and fun. His coming out moment to Yads is pretty humorous, I’m pretty sure I laughed out loud. The descriptions of Julian are honestly some of my favourite parts of this book, you can really feel his spirit (no pun intended) and he is so authentically himself. It reminds me of the song Hurricane by Halsey, “Don’t belong to no city, Don’t belong to no man, I’m the violence in the pouring rain, I’m a hurricane.

“Julian was the most alive person he’d ever met. Even as a spirit, he was bright and full of constantly moving energy. The Sun crammed into the body of a boy. Yadriel didn’t want to see him without his light.”

Cemetery Boys book cover by Aiden Thomas
Cemetery Boys Book Cover

I saw the plot twist coming but I dont think many people will. I’ve just studied literature for too long I can spot how it’s weaved into the story to mislead you but it was great and very well done. Hurt my heart, honestly. We get a wonderful loving family ending, I won’t say anything more but it’s very heartwarming.

I love that this whole plot is Lady Death validating Yads’ gender and just like ‘yep here you go POWERS’ ur a real boy woo! Like, nothing can be more validating than a literal Goddess giving you powers.

There were a few moments I thought were odd and didn’t add much to the story, like the dead end with the sniffer dogs, not amounting to anything… I was hoping to find out something there even if it wasn’t about the missing cousin, but these moments were minimal. For the most part, everything that happened had a reason and was followed through or revisited later. I do wish there was more about Julian’s friends and the other two people who went missing, even a little more back story or it being weaved in more than just some random kids. I just think that would have been more satisfying and made a decision nearer the end harder for the reader. I loved the finale and resolution! I was wondering how that was all gonna work out and I like how it strung in Maritza as well and her role in the brujx culture as she was persistently resistant to their expectations as well (being vegan and forging Yads a portaje).

I adore the cover, I’m always here for a stunning illustration of the characters involved, especially for books featuring marginalised characters. I think it helps to solidify what these characters look like for the -white- audience.

“Yadriel was tired of it. He was tired of forgiving. He was tired of fighting to just exist and be himself. He was tired of being the odd one out.”

There are many beautifully created moments that are deeply saddening sprinkled throughout Cemetery Boys. Some that come to mind are Julian’s worry and troubles with his friends and family and the idea he may not be able to fix anything, Yads’ struggle to be seen as he is and his family being loving but dismissive, meeting quirky characters with rich backstories who come to bitter ends, betrayal from those the characters trusted most, and of course Yads falling in love with a boy who is already dead… Urgh. So many feelings. For the most part, all the characters are created equal, they all have backstories and distinct personalities, they aren’t just plot devices or props, they are full characters. This might sound silly, but it’s so important to me side characters feel full and polished, because I do find a lot of side characters aren’t fully developed so you aren’t as hurt when they die or betray the main character or disappear. Aiden makes you care about each of these characters which helps deliver such a lasting impact.

I read this book in two days, I started it off but wasn’t feeling totally with it so came back to it a couple of days later, and then demolished it. Each chapter ends of a cliffhanger, which I love and hate at the same time because yes! Make me wanna read more! But also I like to put the book down when a chapter ends to either go do something or go to sleep, but you can’t do that when the cliffhangers are so good! You’ll find it hard to put down, is what I’m saying, R.I.P my sleep.

The overall theme of family and acceptance is something I find is often missing from YA books as many neglect parental figures. Even though you don’t see either of Yads parents in this book and Julian doesn’t have any either, there is an emphasis on the importance of their familian links. Yads’ mum died almost a year before the story begins and she is a really big part of Yads being there and being who he is because she accepted him wholly, Yads’ dad is representative of the leaders in any community holding the power to create acceptance among all who follow him and though he might think he is doing the right thing at the beginning and trying to keep Yadriel safe he is also holding his son back and the whole plot is fuelled by Yadriel’s need for his father’s acceptance which would lead to the entire family accepting him as well. Julian’s father turns out to be an important figure and his brother who took over the role of father at a young age to care for Julian, but also Julian’s friends, and this part of the story reminds us that there is the option of chosen family and how they are equally as important. Family of any appearance is still family, and the eventual combining of the two is a beautiful way to round off the story.

I hope you enjoyed my post. There was so much I wanted to say but I didn’t want to get too spoiler-y, maybe I’ll come back to this post in the future when it has been out for a while and add some more thoughts and opinions that are spoilers! But I wanted to write this up and let you all know how amazing this book is, pretty much everyone I know who loves reading it super excited for this book, the hype is real. The day I post this, you can get a free kindle sneak peak on Amazon, so if you’re interested in giving it a read, check that out! If reading the first few chapters doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will. I’ve been delving more and more into books written by BIPOC and found a whole new world of fiction I never knew I would love. The rich culture depicted in the books I’ve been reading has shown me that these books really deserve more promo than they get most of the time and I want to dedicate myself to finding and reading more books by BIPOC (preferably queer, you know me) and I have a bunch on my TBR to get to. Give Cemetery Boys a read! Pre-order! Go now!

~ Artie

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One of BitchMedia’s YA novels Feminists should read.

Being a Debut During a Pandemic

Wanna read more on this book or this author? Check out this blogpost on The Quiet Pond, or this one on Enthralled Bookworm.

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