Sunday Street Team: Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Published by Balzer + Bray
Published February 2nd, 2016


The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is . . . Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender-fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

As a part of the Sunday Street Tour, hosted by Nori over at ReadWriteLove28, bloggers have been spreading the love for Symptoms of Being Human all month! Today I'm proud to present an excerpt from the book - I'm hoping this'll peak your interest and get your excitement level up.

OCTOBER 1, 6:55 AM
     The first thing you're going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?
I STOP TYPING AND STARE at the cursor, which flashes at me incessantly, as if mocking my inability to write one stupid post.
     "Riley!" It's my mom, calling me from downstairs in her singsongy voice. "If you still want to be early, you'd better come down for breakfast!" 
     I glance at the clock. I'm not really running that late - but I want to get the lay of the land while the campus is still mostly empty. "I'll be down in a minute!" I say, then click Delete, slam my laptop shut, and slide off my bed.
     At least I can tell Doctor Ann I tried.
     I stop in front of the mirror to examine myself. I don't know if this look will help me blend in at my new school, but it definitely exudes a sort of existential punk vibe, like, "I care so much, I don't care," that feels distinctly me. As a last touch, I mash down my bangs so they hide as much of my face as possible. It'll have to do.
     Downstairs, my mother gives me a wide smile. "First day!" she says.
     I manage to smile in return, and then I grab a box of cereal from the pantry and sit down at the table across from my dad.
     "Ready to conquer Park Hills High?" he says. Then he looks up from his tablet, and his smile wilts as he notices my outfit.
     I'm wearing a pair of jeans and my dad's old Ramones T-shirt, which I've modified to fit my smaller frame. Black Doc Martens - synthetic ones, no cows were harmed in the making of my shoes - round out the ensemble. I'm grateful that I don't have to wear a uniform anymore - I remember how suffocating it was to be confined to the same identity day after day, regardless of how I felt inside.
     But the truth is, it still doesn't matter how I feel - because however I show up today, people will expect me to look the same tomorrow. Including my parents.
     So my only choice is to go neutral. 
Well this certainly sounds interesting, doesn't it? I hope this excerpt was able to increase your interest - I was hooked from the moment the book began!

Meet Jeff Garvin!
Before becoming a novelist, Jeff Garvin acted on TV and toured as the lead singer of a rock band. He has a BFA in Film from Chapman University and lives in Southern California, surrounded by adorable, shedding beasts.

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Discussion: Body Positivity in YA - Where's the Love For Curvy Women?

Body positivity is a movement that has taken the internet and social media by storm. If you've been on Twitter and Tumblr, I'm almost certain you've seen at least one post with the hashtag #bodyposi - meant to present to the world the beauty in the diversity of our bodies. Scrolling through this tag and participating in this movement is a way to make yourself feel more empowered and in control of your body. You will see varying sizes, heights, skin tones, hair/eye colors  - you name it, you'll see it. It's a way of raising yours and others' self esteem, while spreading awareness for what society has come to belittle.

Throughout YA, I find it very common to discover main characters with the exact same body type as every other main character. Let's be honest, the main character (when a girl) is usually tall with sleek, long legs and a small waist. Now, I'm alright with having characters with these characteristics (they're beautiful, they're all beautiful), but it gets to a point where I can't open a book without getting sad over an underrepresentation of my body type. I'm neither tall, nor skinny, but I still find my thick thighs to be just as appealing as the latter.

Rebel Spring (Falling Kingdoms #2) by Morgan Rhodes

4/5 Stars 
Published by Razorbill
Published December 3rd, 2013

Synopsis: After a bloody siege, Auranos has been defeated, its young queen orphaned and dethroned. The three kingdoms - Auranos, Limeros, and Paelsia - are not unwillingly united as one country called Mytica. But the allure of ancient, dangerous magic beckons still, and with it the chance to rule not just Mytica, but the whole world over ...

At the heart of the fray are four brave young people grappling for that magic and the power it promises. For Cleo, the magic would enable her to reclaim her royal seat. In Jonas's hands, it frees his nation, and in Lucia's, it fulfills the ancient prophecy of her destiny. And if the magic were Magnus's, he would finally prove his worth in the eyes of his cruel and scheming father, King Gaius, who rules Mytica with a punishing hand. 

When Gaius begins to build a road into the Forbidden mountains to physically link all of Mytica, he sparks a long smoking fire in the hearts of the people that will forever change the face of this land. For Gaius' road is paved with blood, and its construction will have cosmic consequences. 

After reading Falling Kingdoms and having a tough time finding a reason to continue on with this series, Rebel Spring made it clear to me that I wanted to continue forward. Rebel Spring was a million times better than Falling Kingdoms, and that was obvious to me from the first chapter. I felt as though Morgan Rhodes had really discovered the voice of each of her characters and how she wanted to portray their stories. The story took off in a direction that was very unlike the first book - it was filled to the brim with action and incredibly fast paced. It's clear to me now that Morgan Rhodes used Falling Kingdoms as a way to introduce to us this new elaborate world with complex ideologies and characters. At first I thought the sequel would be just as snail paced and unenthusiastic as the first, but it was the complete opposite for me.

ARC Review: Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

5/5 Stars 
Publishing April 5th, 2016
Published by Delacorte Press

Synopsis: What if the person you need the most is someone you've never met?

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, whats what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she's thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much needed help?

It's been barely two years since her mother's death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live wither her step monster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith - or an act of complete desperation - Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can't help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved? 

I feel like my entire world was just flipped upside down and inside out after reading this thoroughly engaging book about love, loss, and the pursuit of regaining stable ground. Let me tell you three things:

1) I'm in love with this book.
2) I really want a Somebody/Nobody.
3) This book will leave you awestruck and in need of large amounts of ice cream.

In this novel, Julie Buxbaum explores the ideology of the new girl in town, who receives tips from an anonymous person on how to go about school and who to befriend, who to avoid, etc. While this sounds like the perfect case for a catfish and an entire plot line devoted to figuring out who on earth SN is, Tell Me Three Things is anything but that. This book is perfect in the sense that Julie Buxbaum was able to teeter over that line of joy and sadness in a matter of seconds, then pick the mood right back up with a joke just three lines later. I've read authors who've tried to accomplish smooth transitions between emotions, only to fall flat, but I was incredibly impressed with how Buxbaum was able to make her main character so relatable. Along with this, the mystery aspect of this book was one that kept me turning the pages. Of course this is not a mystery novel, but the theme was so lightly brushed over in a nice way and so neatly constructed, that there is a constant tugging at your brain going "who is this guy?" and "why don't I have one?"

Waiting on Wednesday: A Study In Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

Here is where I share with you my anticipation for upcoming books! Breaking the Spine has introduced me to this and I am super excited to get to participate. Please feel free to comment what books you are looking forward to as well!!

Synopsis: The last thing sixteen-year-old Jamie Watson - writer and great-great-grandson of the John Watson - wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that's not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective's enigmatic, fiercely independent great-great-granddaughter, who's inherited not just his genius but also his vices, volatile temperament, and expertly hidden vulnerability. Charlotte has been the object of his fascination for as long as he can remember - but from the moment they meet, there's a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else.

Then, a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Holmes stories, and Jamie and Charlotte become the prime suspects. Convinced they're being framed, they must race against the police to conduct their own investigation. As danger mounts, it becomes clear that nowhere is safe and only people they can trust are each other.

My oh my, I am extremely fascinated with the premise of this book. I've been anticipating it ever since I first read the synopsis - a mystery/thriller based debut encompassing your favorite things since Sherlock Holmes was created. I cannot wait to see how Brittany Cavallaro goes about carving this story and creating this world set after the amazing adventures Holmes and Watson went through. I've been hearing nothing but amazing praise for this book and isn't that cover so pretty? I think it was the color scheme and font of the title that really caught my eye in the first place, then the synopsis was incredible, so I knew I was in for a treat! 

A Study In Charlotte is released March 1st, 2016! 

Tuning The Tale #2

This is a weekly feature I have started to share my love of music while combining it with the amazing stories I read on the daily. I'll be sharing either a playlist with you all each week! Along with this, I'll be analyzing the lyrics and pointing out parallels between the books and the songs. I hope you enjoy!

Throne of Glass (series)
*warning for mildish spoilers*
Castle by Halsey
Yellow Flicker Beat by Lorde
Like Real People Do by Hozier
This Side of Paradise by Hayley Kiyoko
One Last Night by Vaults
Let It All Go by Birdy
Seven Devils by Florence + The Machines
Whisky Lullabies by Janet Devlin
Heal by Ellie Goulding

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes (Falling Kingdoms #1)

3/5 Stars 
Published by Razorbill
Published December 11th, 2012

Synopsis: In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest now simmers below the surface.

As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed ... and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even unforeseen love.

The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapses? It's the eve of war ... Choose your side.

In Morgan Rhodes' debut book, you are brought on a thrilling chase for magic and are witness to the hungry demeanors of those most willing to reign terror. Falling Kingdoms was good when it came to world building. I thought the divide between the three kingdoms was clear and the establishment of the three kingdoms individually was unique. It was definitely the growing animosity between the three kingdoms that made me want to keep reading. I was interested in what the result of the conflict would be like and how the kingdoms would ultimately fall apart or rise to the occasion. Rhodes did a terrific job in building up such a dynamic land as Mytica, especially with a background so infused with magical elements and eager to rule leaders.

January Wrap-Up!

Hey everyone! I cannot believe the first month of 2016 is already over. For this month, I was getting back into the swing of school and everything with new classes and a totally different schedule to get used to, so I wasn't really in my usual comfort zone when it came to reading/blogging. This month, however, I really plan to get back to my normal schedule!

Books I've Read


I'm a bit disappointed in the number of books I read this month, but alas, we all have those days weeks months. 

  • The Love That Split The World //  Review
  • These Vicious Masks // ★ Review
  • Heir of Fire // ★ Review
Currently Reading


I certainly hope I can keep up with everything this month, because I can't deal with the lack of books I read! I hope softball and dance doesn't drain the life from me, so stay tuned for more details.