Review: The Melody of You and Me by M. Hollis

I’ve seen this novella floating around here and there, and finally decided to take my shot while needing something quick to cheer me up. And I’m eternally grateful for stumbling upon this little gem at exactly the right time.

The Melody of You and Me tells the story of Christine “Chris” Morrison falling in love with her sweet and energetic bookstore coworker, Josalie “Josie” T. Navarro. It’s a wonderful tale that includes discussions of:

  • the “But what do you want to do with your life” dilemma.
  • the aftermaths of emotional abuse in relationships.
  • the whiteness of ballet (Josie’s passion).
  • and a wonderfully budding romance where the two girls hang out and introduce each other to their passions, whether that be gay movies or literature, pizza, fictional crushes, music… this novella has it all.

“She wishes they could stay like this forever.
Just the two of them; telling stories and sharing secrets without a care in the world.”

It also features a wonderfully diverse cast of characters, including black and brown characters, LGBTQIA+ rep, etc. And I can’t stop praising the author for making the ensemble devoid of cis men –with the exception of one minor appearance– there are virtually no white or straight people, which, thank you. To quote Radio Silence“I think everyone’s a bit bored with boy-girl romances anyway,” he said. “I think the world’s had enough of those, to be honest.”

And not only where the two main characters fully developed, we get to see the side characters have a nice story arc throughout. I especially loved their coworker with the pink hair, Lily Ferrari. She’s funny as hell and also the mom friend of the group, similar to yours truly.

“Sometimes, Chris forgets that Lily is only nineteen; she often acts like an old lady.”

So you can picture my excitement when I found out that the sequel to this novella is told from Lily’s point of view. My day was pretty much made 100% better. tumblr_oki10sclw51rrfrgvo3_540And while I’m on a roll about the positives, this next piece of dialogue of Josie coming out to her sister remains so damn valuable.

“You knew?” Josie sounds incredulous.
“Oh my God. Yeah, of course I knew. You are twenty years old and you have never had a boyfriend,” Jessie exclaims.
Cringing inside, Chris feels the need to interrupt and correct her, but Josie is faster than her.
“That has nothing to do with my sexuality,” she starts. “Some people never date boys or people from other genders but are still attracted to them. There are lesbians who date boys before understanding the roles that heteronormativity tries to force them into.”

My love for this novella grew by a mile after this!!!

I also really appreciated when Chris talked about her studies and why she felt compelled to drop them.

“This conversation takes her back to when she had decided to drop out of school. She spent days crying, thinking that she was about to make the worst possible decision. But then right after she left, it was like a huge weight was lifted off of her shoulders. She had never felt more relieved in her life than when she realized she would never need to go back to college.”

She literally described word by word how I felt in a similar situation. I’m still sending so much love and understanding her way.

Plus, I admired it even more when Josie’s passion could be felt off the page. She’s such an inspiring, uplifting and encouraging character (and partner).

“Ballet is actually my main passion and what drives me in life,” she explains. “The ballet world is still a privileged white one; it is fully of petty behavior. So what I want to do is to open my own school one day. That way I could teach young girls in a different way, a more inclusive way per se.”
“That’s a nice dream to have,” Chris replies.
“When you grow up hearing that you are not tall enough, not skinny enough, not white enough, you always wonder about how the world would be if you didn’t need to conform to all these ridiculous standards. At some point in their lives, everyone has thought like that.”

If you’re looking for a swift but important read, please consider picking up this novella!

4/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying The Melody of You and Me, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!


Skam Book Tag: The Girl Squad | Original

tumblr_oiumh1lw0n1r9cisqo1_500It’s been over a month since I first got introduced to this inimitable show called Skam. And I’m not even kidding when I say, it’s been on my mind every day since. I’ve already rewatched the show multiple times, listened to Noora singing More Than Words on repeat for about a thousand times, ranted to my mother about it for hours… So in order to give my soul some rest, I decided to create this book tag centered around my favorite gals.

Coming up with this tag gave me the opportunity to explore and examine my favorite characters more closely, and based off that recommended some great books I find fitting. In hindsight, I guess I wasn’t kidding in my December Wrap Up when I included this tweet while still raving about Skam:tumblr_inline_oa6tkkvo7p1s2wyks_500Bear with me on this one.

*Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you want to buy any of the reads I mention in this post, just click on the books below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!*

  1. Noora Amalie Sætre: your favorite feminist read.tumblr_ohvwv2ikl51trk8oeo1_400Noora educating herself and others is still one of my favorite aspects about her character. And thankfully I found not one but two upcoming reads on the topic: Here We Are by Kelly Jensen and Nasty Women by 404 Ink. Both are collections of essays and accounts that gather a group of incredible women to discuss a plethora of topics in regards to everyone and everything feminists. As the blurb for Nasty Women voices, with intolerance and inequality increasingly normalised by the day, it’s more important than ever for women to share their experiences.


2. Eva Kviig Mohn: your favorite character that went through extensive character development.tumblr_oi1kdmbyda1vl71q0o2_250Watching Eva’s character growth in season one has been one of the rewarding things I’ve seen on television so far. To pay tribute to that, I decided to go with Willem Ragnarsson’s character development in A Little Life to answer this question. Since the novel is rather humongous, we get to follow our main four characters through a number of carefully constructed events in their lives. And I personally loved reading about Willem’s character development from caring brother to adoring friend and then some. He has so much love in his heart, and I’ll forever admire nothing if not that.

If you can spare a minute, please read this next quote that captures his character better than I ever can:

“Sometimes he wakes so far from himself that he can’t even remember who he is. “Where am I?” he asks, desperate, and then, “Who am I? Who am I?”
And then he hears, so close to his ear that it is as if the voice is originating inside his own head, Willem’s whispered incantation. “You’re Jude St. Francis. You are my oldest, dearest friend. You’re the son of Harold Stein and Julia Altman. You’re the friend of Malcolm Irvine, of Jean-Baptiste Marion, of Richard Goldfarb, of Andy Contractor, of Lucien Voigt, of Citizen van Straaten, of Rhodes Arrowsmith, of Elijah Kozma, of Phaedra de los Santos, of the Henry Youngs.
“You’re a New Yorker. You live in SoHo. You volunteer for an arts organization; you volunteer for a food kitchen.
“You’re a swimmer. You’re a baker. You’re a cook. You’re a reader. You have a beautiful voice, though you never sing anymore. You’re an excellent pianist. You’re an art collector. You write me lovely messages when I’m away. You’re patient. You’re generous. You’re the best listener I know. You’re the smartest person I know, in every way. You’re the bravest person I know, in every way.
“You’re a lawyer. You’re the chair of the litigation department at Rosen Pritchard and Klein. You love your job; you work hard at it.
“You’re a mathematician. You’re a logician. You’ve tried to teach me, again and again.
“You were treated horribly. You came out on the other end. You were always you.”

No matter how many times I reread it, that last sentence always gets to me. 

3. Sana Bakkoush: your favorite brilliantly badass character with a heart of gold.

Sana has opened up my eyes and changed my view on things multiple times with her words. And so for this question, I had to think about a character that did the exact same for me. Not even a minute went by before Inej Ghafa from the Six of Crows Duology popped into my head. She’s a true hero that continues to inspire me daily just by being herself.

“Even better men can be bested.”

P.S. I love this piece of art that perfectly captures Sana’s support and love:

4. Chris Berg: your favorite underrated character.tumblr_oin2hlulqm1vhb7lio3_400Chris has uttered some of my favorite sayings on Skam (the above one included). So when thinking about another underrated favorite, Lorraine Sengupta from Radio Silence sprang to mind. Similar to Chris, she’s caring, daring and her humor’s right up my alley.
Though Raine didn’t have a major role in RS, Alice Oseman (the author) recently took the time to write this short story about Raine’s adventures with a certain someone… and I’m both over the moon and on cloud nine.c1scp4luoaaeo9pSource

5. Vilde Lien Hellerud: your favorite book that addresses body image.

This scene genuinely broke my heart. But I’m forever grateful that Skam took the time to greatly discuss body image, self importance and self-acceptance.
And I feel like Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’ does the same job. I read this book awhile back, and I don’t recall a lot of what happened, but I do remember that I was left with a lasting heartwarming feeling inside. Also, I’ve wanted to share this beautiful quote ever since:

“All my life I’ve had a body worth commenting on and if living in my skin has taught me anything it’s that if it’s not your body, it’s not yours to comment on.”

The above phrase is something I ALWAYS remind myself of. And I’m immensely grateful that the author put it into such accurate words.

6. Linn Larsen Hansen: your favorite book that discusses mental illness.tumblr_inline_oj7udfwxxw1uvqyz3_540Even though Linn isn’t fully in The Squad, I included her in this tag because of the lasting impression she left on me… similar to the one left by Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story.I can still clearly remember reading this book in a single session and coming out of it with a changed perspective. The way certain topics were broached in this story were so valuable that I have yet to let go of it in my heart. Sometimes just rereading this next quote helps tremendously.

“Things to do today:
1) Breathe in.
2) Breathe out.”

It’s a validating and necessary reminder.

Oh, and this:

“I don’t owe people anything, and I don’t have to talk to them any more than I feel I need to.”

That was my smooth way of circling back to Linn… I just wanted to mention how much I sympathized when she talked about her hatred for high school. I instantly connect with any character that shares their disdain for it. Like Helen Oyeyemi said best in Boy, Snow, Bird:

“School is one long illness with symptoms that switch every five minutes so you think it’s getting better or worse. But really it’s the same thing for years and years.”

So I think it goes without saying that I’m eagerly anticipating following Linn’s character growth in later seasons.

And those were all the questions for my Skam book tag, I hope you enjoyed!! And while I’m still patiently awaiting for the trailer for season four to drop…18438360You’re more than welcome to answer this tag for yourself, and be sure to link me so that I can read your answers as well!!

Review: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

I had quite high expectations going into The Alchemist, granted that it had been my mom’s favorite read about a decade ago when she picked it up. But upon having reached the last page myself, I was unclear on whether the book had made a positive impression on me or not. The one thing I remember for certain is that the ending had me laughing out loud (more on that later*). Oh, and there were a number of passages that made me either contemplate everything I know or feel like someone could see through my soul.
However, there were also a lot of moments were I completely zoned out while listening to the narrator. So I don’t know what to take out of this book.

Having this as my second Coelho read, I knew more or less what to expect: a quick read with beautiful quotes that I would think about for a number of weeks. Also, the author’s prologues are always exceptional in stealing my thoughts and time:

“Who better than you to know that?” the goddesses said in wonder. “After all, it was by your banks that he knelt each day to contemplate himself!”
The lake was silent for some time. Finally, it said:
“I weep for Narcissus, but I never noticed that Narcissus was beautiful. I weep because, each time he knelt beside my banks, I could see, in the depths of his eyes, my own beauty reflected.”

Greek mythology combined with wit guarantees my interest secured in the palm of your hand.

The Alchemist follows a young Andalusian shepherd in his journey to Egypt, after having a recurring dream of finding treasure there. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within.

My love for this book is a quiet kind of love. The writing changed something inside me that I don’t have words for yet. So I’ll let Paulo Coelho’s quotes speak instead:

“You came so that you could learn about your dreams,” said the old woman. “And dreams are the language of God. When he speaks in our language, I can interpret what he has said. But if he speaks in the language of the soul, it is only you who can understand.”

I was instantly won over when dreams were mentioned in here.

“People say strange things, the boy thought. Sometimes it’s better to be with the sheep, who don’t say anything. And better still to be alone with one’s books. They tell their incredible stories at the time when you want to hear them.”

I found this to be so fascinating that I ended up reciting it back to my mother.

“The boy knew what he was about to describe, though: the mysterious chain that links one thing to another, the same chain that had caused him to become a shepherd, that had caused his recurring dream, that had brought him to a city near Africa, to find a king, and to be robbed in order to meet a crystal merchant, and . . .
The closer one gets to realizing his Personal Legend, the more that Personal Legend becomes his true reason for being, thought the boy.”

“The closer he got to the realization of his dream, the more difficult things became. It seemed as if what the old king had called “beginner’s luck” were no longer functioning.
In his pursuit of the dream, he was being constantly subjected to tests of his persistence and courage. So he could not be hasty, nor impatient. If he pushed forward impulsively, he would fail to see the signs and omens left by God along his path.”

“Don’t be impatient,” he repeated to himself. “It’s like the camel driver said: ‘Eat when it’s time to eat. And move along when it’s time to move along.’”

“If good things are coming, they will be a pleasant surprise,” said the seer. “If bad things are, and you know in advance, you will suffer greatly before they even occur.”

This kind of reminded me that quote from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them:
“My philosophy is that worrying means you suffer twice.”

“When people consult me, it’s not that I’m reading the future; I am guessing at the future. The future belongs to God, and it is only he who reveals it, under extraordinary circumstances. How do I guess at the future? Based on the omens of the present. The secret is here in the present. If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And, if you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better. Forget about the future, and live each day according to the teachings, confident that God loves his children. Each day, in itself, brings with it an eternity.”

“Every search begins with beginner’s luck. And every search ends with the victor’s being severely tested.”

One last thing I want to point out is that I wasn’t expecting this book to be so philosophical…and I wasn’t anticipating to like it so much for that. I’m truly excited to see what I’ll think of my next Coelho book.

*That ending…. I genuinely laughed out loud when Santiago realized where his treasure was buried. And I kind of applaud the author for interweaving the intricate details of this tale in such a seamless way.

I also listened to this song while reading thanks to the latest and most beautiful episode of This Is Us:

The “And I will remember you” from the song has me on the edge of tears every time.

3.5/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying The Alchemist, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!