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Capsule Book Reviews No. 5: February and March 2016

Jumping from last entry of the Capsule Book Review variety, here are short book reviews of the literature I finished consuming in February 2016. I consider the month I finished reading these books as their rightful “read on” time, so although I did start some of them in January, these are my February books.

04— Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

I cannot even begin to explain how much I loved this book. As you may or may not know, I am a Harry Potter superfan, dating back to the time I was forbidden to read the series because of witchery, after I had already developed an attachment to The Sorcerer’s Stone. (Long story.) Anyway, you can imagine how much Harry Potter fanfic I have consumed in my lifetime. You can also probably imagine how much I loved Rowell’s Fangirl. In case you didn’t know Carry On is an offshoot of Fangirl, in that the latter is an exploration of the Potteresque fictional universe—that of Simon Snow—set inside another fictional universe.

Simon Snow is that world’s Harry Potter, or at least, Snow exists beside Potter. Before you dismiss it as a copycat, Carry On and the world of Simon Snow aren’t rip-offs, really, though there are some elements that mirrored JK Rowling’s masterpiece. Supernatural boarding school? Check. Humanity’s only hope is a sometimes-misguided teenage boy? Check. Sexual tension with a Draco Malfoy parallel? Check. Yeah, you heard me! If, like me, you loved Harry Potter, but always had a little fanfic on the side, then you will likely appreciate Rowell’s attempt at combining a fantastical story with a very generous dose of coming-of-age confusion. I have to finish nine books before I hit my goal, but I want to ask: is it too soon to do a re-read?

05— Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Because I could only get excited about cute queer pairings, I looked for LGBT titles and settled on this one because of good reviews. I’m so glad I did! Albertalli tells the story of a different Simon, who’s mostly in the closet, with the exception of a mystery guy in his high school that he has been anonymously emailing. Because of some unfortunate negligence on his part, his secret—surprise, surprise: GAYNESS, as well as the identity of his secret pen pal—is threatened when he’s blackmailed by a classmate.

This novel was so funny (to me), and although too-current elements or phrases can sometimes feel off, Albertalli (who is a licensed clinical psychologist, though not currently practicing) gets the tone of her characters right and authentic. It doesn’t feel forced when they make jokes, like how adults sometimes writes “young” characters, e.g. Rick Riordan and certain Percy Jackson characters.

So looking forward to her 2017 release, The Upside of Unrequited.

Won't you come by and see me? I'm a love letter away. ? #carinareads2016

A photo posted by Carina ? (@presidents) on

* The King by Ramesh Srivastava

I’m a little apprehensive about counting this, because there’s barely an text in it (though, I suppose it’s still a book?) and I think it was/is only available to people who had backed ex-Voxtrot vocalist Ramesh Srivastava’s Kickstarter, but anyway. I thought it was beautiful.

06— Dear Distance by Luis Katigbak

Dear Distance is a beautiful collection of short (and in some cases, super short) fiction written and collected by Luis Katigbak shortly before he passed away this year. My adolescence was dotted by the presence of Luis’ writing; sometimes, in ways that I wasn’t even aware of. (Hello, MTV Ink!) I don’t know what to say without making this too sentimental or mushy or in danger of being trite, so I will say this about this book: it is a gift.

And this, my friends, is what we call a dry spell. I read/finished 3 books in January, 2-ish in February, and 1 in March. (April was a 4-book month, whereas May saw me finish 12, although a lot of those were graphic novels or trade paperback compilations. June was another 1-book month, and so on. But anyway.)

I will be back with more thoughts! And the resolve to do these reviews earlier in 2017! If I end up reading a considerable amount!