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.

Comfort Reads M/M Romance Edition

Hi all! Don’t know if I’ve ever explicitly stated this, but I’m in California, which has now been put under a “stay-at-home” order. I’ve been under “shelter-in-place” for a few days now. I’m surviving by vlogging my experience. Talking to a camera helps a lot. If you’re interested, here’s my playlist.

I’ve seen quite a few people posting comfort reads and wanted to hop on the train. I’ll do it with a different twist. I’m going to post exclusively M/M romance books.

So, full disclosure: The Magpie Lord by K.J. Charles might be just a little bit too heavy for right now. It deals with a magical curse that’s trying to kill one of the main characters, Lucius Vadurey, and dead bodies and evil stuff. But the characters are so good and the plot is so interesting, you might not mind that. Plus, K.J. Charles writes some of the hottest sex scenes and this one has some great ones. It’s also one of my favorite M/M historical fantasies, so I had to include it.

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston is the most romantic romance book I’ve ever read outside of Jane Austen. It’s such a great premise too: the son of the president falls in love with the Prince of England. It’s enemies to lovers (although they aren’t enemies, they didn’t like each other very much) and there are love letters. Super good love letters. This book is fun and squishy and romantic and absolutely lovely.

If you’re looking for a lovely read about magic, 1920s, Prohibition, a gumpy magic user and a protective non-magic user, this is for you. Arthur and Rory are <i>amazing</i>. I love how protective Arthur is of Rory and how good he is. And Rory is a fire starter. It’s a great book and the sequel is coming out sometime this year. I’m trying to get an eArc of it, but no reply yet. 😐

Really, anything by Cat Sebastian is perfect for this time, but I just finished A Gentleman Never Keeps Score and I remembered how much I loved It Takes Two to Tumble, so I’m highlighting these two. The first, It Takes Two to Tumble is basically The Sound of Music set in the 1800s (or 1700s) and they’re both men. Ben Sedgwick is hired to instruct Philip Darce, a ship captain’s, children. In the process, they fall in love. In A Gentleman Never Keeps Score, Sam Fox comes together with Hartley Sedgwick when Sam tries to find a dirty portrait painted of a friend of his. In the process, they fall in love. They’re both just lovely, sweet, and very easy to read. And, seriously, check out any of Cat Sebastian’s books.

Lord Alexander Pyne-ffoulkes hires Jerry Crozier to steal some diamonds from his father. Upon meeting, they find themselves attracted to each other and eventually, you guessed it, fall in love. But, oh man, can K.J. Charles write a love declaration. She bowls me over every time. Any Old Diamonds is so much fun, a rollicking heist, with hot sex and romantic words.

No Good Men by Thea McAlistair is another great novel. Alex is a bodyguard by night and a writer whenever he can get it in. When he gets distracted by a handsome stranger one night, his charge and mentor are killed and the police want to pin it on him. He and the handsome stranger, whose name I think is Sev, team up to solve the murder. It’s a great book with a lot of romance and I may have to reread it. 🙂

Any of the Hexworld books by Jordan L. Hawk are great. They’re set in a world where some people can shift into animals and are familiars of magic users. They are stand alone, but have an overarching plot. They’re a lot of fun.

Okay, I’m starting to get repetitive, so I’m going to leave this off here. I hope this list was helpful to any M/M fans who are looking to escape. But, really, anything by KJ Charles, Cat Sebastian, or Jordan L. Hawk will get you through this. Take care and stay healthy!

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!

Top 5 Tuesday – Authors KLMNO

Hello everyone! It’s time for Top 5 Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm. Each weeks, Shanah gives us a topic and participants answer with their top 5 answers in that topic. This week is authors KLMNO!

This week, I’m doing one author for each letter. I’m only doing authors on my shelf or in my Kindle and I’m going by last name. Let’s get started.

K

This one was hard because I’ve got lots of K’s on my shelf, including Brigid Kemmerer who is a new favorite author. But, in the end, I had do go with Susan Kay author of Phantom.

I know the book has its flaws and Erik is just a little too good at everything, but I love it to death. This Erik is my Erik and just adds to my love of the Phantom of the Opera.

L

For L, I have chosen Ira Levin who wrote Rosemary’s Baby. I read this many, many years ago and just fell in love. It was probably the first true horror novel I read. I still have my Nana’s copy, which is being held together by tape and a prayer. I probably shouldn’t read it again and get a new copy. But I love it.

M

Who else can I put other than Jonathan Maberry, who is my (I think) my second most read author after Rick Riordan. I almost put the first book I read by him, Patient Zero down because I thought the main character, Joe Ledger, was going to be a chauvinist pig. Turns out, he’s very sensitive and upholds feminist ideals. Plus, the books are suspenseful, horrifying, and a lot of fun.

N

I didn’t have many under the letter n, but then I realized that Ahab’s Wife was written by Sena Jeter Naslund. I read this in college and I was enchanted. Una is an amazing character and I loved her relationship with Ahab and everyone else. I haven’t read this in years, but it’s great.

O

I only have one author for O, but it’s an important one: Robert C. O’Brien, author of Mrs. Frisby and the Rat’s of NIHM. My fourth grade teacher first read this to me, and I fell in love hard. I wrote a sequel to it for her as my end of year gift (which was just a romance between Jonathan and Mrs. Frisby). I’ve read this so many times and it never grows old. It’s magica.

And that’s my list! It was a lot easier than just doing one book for each. That’s what I”m doing from now on.

Stay healthy and wash your hands!

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?