Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Title: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Author: Benjamin Alire Saenz

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young People

Genre: YA, contemporary, coming of age, queer lit

Source: library (audio)

Publication Date: February 21, 2012

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison and an uncommunicative father who suffers from PTSD. Dante is a smart kid who is crazy about his parents. When they meet at the pool one summer, they soon become best friends. But where life and tragedy doesn’t separate them, Ari’s anger and uncommunicative nature may do it for them. They must learn to trust one another and themselves in order to discover the secrets of the universe.

This was a super sweet book, which is funny because the main character, Ari, is not a super sweet character. He’s very angry and closed off. Even though the book is told in his first person voice, he doesn’t share a lot about himself and his feelings. The entire book is very sparse and short in the way it’s written, echoing Ari’s nature.

But the relationship between the boys is magical. They are drawn together like magnets and their joy at being with each other just bubbles over. I loved watching them navigate their relationship and growing was wonderful. While there are definitely fits and starts and places where they stumble, but it’s a great journey that they make.

I read this book for two reasons. One, I knew it was queer literature and that’s my special interest. Second, the audio book was read by Lin Manuel Miranda. And both were great. Okay, I’m getting into kind spoilery territory, so if you don’t want any spoilers, don’t read below.

spoiler break

Reading this, I began to think that this was going to be a one sided love story. One of the characters falls in love with the other, but the other didn’t reciprocate. And that was disappointing to me, because I don’t like reading stories like that. I’ve been in that situation, and I want happy endings. But, in the end, it turned out the way I wanted, so it made me happy.

And, as always, Lin Manuel Miranda was great.

Yes, I recommend it. It’s a great coming of age story and a really good love story. I was almost in tears at the end. Happy tears. It’s a great book.

WWW Wednesday | March 18, 2020

Hi everyone! I am now on living under a shelter-in-place order. I panicked yesterday, not sure what that meant, but I can still leave for food or to go outside. They specify go outside for walks, but I assume I can still run. I don’t think I can go to the beach and run, though, which I did yesterday and it felt really good. We’re supposed to avoid unnecessary driving.

Things are scary, but there’s still books and reading and writing. I’m also vlogging my experience mostly to hear myself talk and process through. If you’re interested, my channel is here.

So, enough about me. Let’s talk about what I’m reading. WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Each week, participants are asked to respond to the following questions:

What are you currently reading?\

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading

I might have to stop reading Mrs. Sherlock Holmes for a bit. It’s heavy reading and I’m not quite in the mood for that. I’ll read some today and see what I think.

Recently finished

Reading next

How’s pandemic life treating you? Any great books this week? Let me know, I’m dying for company!

Weekly Wrap-up | March 15, 2020

Hello from the apocalypse! This week was pretty crazy. We had parent conferences, which went well. In the past, I’ve experienced massive anxiety over conferences, but since going through intensive therapy, going on anti-anxiety drugs, and feeling like I’m actually a good teacher, it’s gotten a lot easier. The hardest part was the growing panic over COVID-19 which culminated in an after school meeting during which the principal told us that she couldn’t tell us anything officially, but she recommended that we take anything we’d want to have for the next two weeks home with us. A couple hours later, the official notice came down that our school is closed for the next two weeks. I have a feeling it will be longer, but I don’t know. The cafeteria will still be open for the kids to eat. I’ve been sending resources out to the parents over Class Dojo, but not all parents are signed up, so not everyone is getting them. I teach in a poor area, and some of the families don’t have access to the internet anyway. It’s a mess.

It’s funny: my dream is to not have to teach so I can write, but this is definitely not how I wanted it to happen. I want to have published several books, first, and then be able to leave teaching to write full time.

The positives: I’ll have time to read. I can continue watching The Untamed and I just got Disney+ so I can also watch The Mandalorian. (I’m not sure how to spell that). I just ordered weights, a yoga ball, and resistance bands so I can work out at home. Plus, I’ll continue to run, since that’s a solitary activity. I am considered vulnerable because of my asthma. I was considering going home to visit my parents, but right now, I’m afraid of picking up the virus on the way down and passing it on to my father, who has cancer and is losing weight as I type this. Probably not a great idea.

Reading wise, I didn’t get much done this week. I’m focusing on The Starless Sea, which I bought because it was due at the library and I couldn’t renew it. Of course, then the library closed and it didn’t matter anymore, but I love the book, so it’s fine. This way, I can go through and tab the stories in it so when they’re referenced, I can go back and reread them since I only vaguely recall them. Anyway. I hope to become more active on my blog again. I’ve got the time.

Tuesday: Top 5 Tuesday – Author’s F-J

Saturday: Snippet Saturday

Monday: TBD

Tuesday: Top 5 Tuesday – Authors K-O

Wednesday: WWW Wednesdasy

Thursday: TBD (probably The Starless Sea review)

Friday: TBD

Saturday: Snippet Saturday

How are you? Are you self-isolating? What are your tips to survive this? Drop a comment below and let me know!

Weekly round-up | March 8

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a good week. I did, although it was very busy. I had a training on Monday and Thursday, which meant two days of sub plans. I also had report cards to enter and conferences to schedule. Plus, I was a little bit sick, although once I started being treated, I felt much better. Unfortunately, I didn’t finish any books this week (boo!) which means I have nothing to review. That gives me a kind of icky feeling, like I’m failing, which this blog is supposed to be a fun hobby, not an obligation. But, if you see less of me this week, that’s why.

Monday: The Toll by Neal Sushterman (review)

Tuesday: Top 5 Authors A-B-C-D-E

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Saturday: Snippet Saturday

Tuesday: Top 5 Authors F-G-H-I-J

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Saturday: Snippet Saturday

Anyone have some tag suggestions for me?

How was your week? What are you reading? Drop me a comment below and let me know!

WWW Wednesday – March 4

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Each weeks, participants are invited to answer three questions: What are you currently reading? What did you recently finish reading? What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading

…and loving it.

Recently finished

… and loved it.

Reading next…

… and looking forward to it.

What are you reading this week?

Review: The Toll by Neal Shusterman

Title: The Toll (book 3 in the Arc of the Scythe)

Author: Neal Shusterman

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Genre: YA, dystopian

Source: library

Publication Date: November 5, 2019

It’s been three years since the sinking of Endura. Scythe Goddard is now in power, influencing and encouraging scythes all around the world. The Thunderhead has declared everyone as unsavory save for Greyson Tolliver. Rowan and Citra remain locked in the vault at the bottom of the sea.

And then, despite Goddard declaring the sea around Endura a sacred space, a salvage begins that will change everything.

This book was amazing. From start to finish, it had me mesmerized. The main action is three years after Thunderhead, but there are parts that take place before. It took me a bit to figure out what was happening “now” and what happened in the past, but that’s fine. It didn’t distract me.

I continue to love the Thunderhead with the fire of a thousand suns. A benevolent AI who has humanities best interest at heart is not something I run across a lot. Usually, AIs are evil (shout out to AIDAN–I still love you), but the Thunderhead isn’t. It’s complex and thoughtful and terrible and just.. wonderful. I was so interested in what was going on and I love what happened at the end.

The only part of the book that felt weak to me was Rowan and Citra’s relationship. I really like Citra and Scythe Anastasia, but I never have really been invested in her and Rowan’s romance. And I wasn’t here. There was some stuff that was supposed to be gut wrenching, but it just never managed to move me. I was more invested in Greyson’s relationship with the Thunderhead. Now that was gut wrenching and well done. It was perfect.

Overall, this book was very well done. It was intricate and complex and had a lot of threads that were tied together well by the end. It needed to be as long as it was, and maybe could have been longer (I really would have liked to know more about some of the things that were uncovered by Citra) Despite its length, the pacing was tight, the plot moved along, and I didn’t feel there was any filler in it.

Yes. Wholeheartedly. I want everyone to read these three books and love them as much as I did.

What was your favorite moment in The Toll? Let me know below!

February Wrap-up

Well, this month was… I won’t say it was a failure, but I didn’t do nearly all I’d planned to do. I only posted ten times, I didn’t get much reading or writing done, and I hardly worked out. The same thing happened last February, but then, I was deeply depressed. This month, I don’t feel the same way. I think, though, my dad being sick threw me for a loop (something that’s continuing, unfortunately). But, that’s the past, and I’m all about the future.

Some Wins:

On February 9, I ran a 5K to benefit the local rape crisis center. It was a fun run, and I got my personal best time, which was super exciting.

crossing the finish line

I also did that each mile when my phone told me my time. I get very excited when I run.

Since the run was called “Together with Love”, I wrote a little story about meeting my cat, Cobbler, the first time. They read it during the awards after the run.

Ugh, reading was not great this month. I read:

3 books

562 pages

20 pages a day

Types:

1 Kindle

1 Physical

1 Audio

That’s just… well. To be fair, it’s one book better than last February.

Crashing Upwards by S.C. Wynne

A History of Madness by Rebecca Crunden

A Heart so Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

The Chosen by Chaim Potok

Goals for Next Month:

Post more consistently

Read more books!

Write every day

Workout 5-6 days a week

My one year anniversary on WordPress is coming up next month. Any ideas how I should celebrate?