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

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Review: Seriously… I’m Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres

“It always helps to think about other people instead of ourselves.”

I picked up this audiobook in hopes of it lifting up my spirits while I had a cold. And for the first two (out of three) hours it did its job. I laughed heartily while getting to forget for a minute that I was feeling awful. And two passages in particular really stayed with me.

One for being witty: “Do things that make you happy within the confines of the legal system.”

And the other for being relatable: “Leaning forward in your chair when someone is trying to squeeze behind you isn’t enough. You also have to move the chair.”

when-she-met-real-ellen-had-dance-offThere’s quite a few things I was to discuss, so let’s start with the things I enjoyed:

  • The comedic timing.
  • The author sharing details and the behind the scenes of her talk show, interviewing guests and how she needs to keep talking and talking and talking for hours.
  • how the audiobook had certain chapters that got background noises, such as beach waves, rain drops, casino noises…
  • DeGeneres repeatedly mentioning her want for a Nemo sequel.
  • when she talked about the environment, coming out, being happy, veganism, and becoming a cover girl.

But I feel like everything that was important was glossed over. Meanwhile, the topics that contributed nothing more than to pass the time were elaborated on more than necessary…
Real talk: you can quit listening after two hours because nothing meaningful is said after. We have chapters about:

  • math equations and counting to “help” the listeners fall asleep.
  • making up a dream where the listener is a reptile…
  • deciding to eat an apple instead of reading the chapter about text abbreviations… really?!
  • making strange noises with her mouth just for the audio listeners… I wish I were kidding, but I can’t make this shit up. I had to put the volume on low so my mom wouldn’t think I was actually listening to someone making weird noises in an audiobook.
  • also, on a totally separate note, I kind of hated how the author kept bashing social media and using the phrase “technology is destroying our social skills.” To quote this article, technology doesn’t make us less social; it just changes the way we socialise. And I’d recommend watching this brilliant episode from the show Black-ish discuss this topic as well.
  • And most importantly, her white privilege kept showing throughout without being examined…

Simply put, a lot of chapters felt like filler, which towards the end really got on my nerves. The more nonsense was said, the more fuming I got. And to be honest, this book doesn’t really contribute anything new or exiting about DeGeneres. If you didn’t read Seriously… I’m Kidding, you would know the same amount about the author by watching the talkshow.

I personally haven’t watched The Ellen Show in awhile, so the only thing that compelled me to pick up Seriously… I’m Kidding was my feeling ill and desperately wanting to distract myself of it. So I appreciate this read more for making me feel a little better rather than for its content.

2.5/5 stars

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

Review: Coffee Boy by Austin Chant

Coffee Boy follows the synopsis pretty closely; there aren’t any surprises going into it, which I loved. Sometimes all I need to cheer me up is a cute romance novella with a beautiful cover.

After graduation, Kieran expected to go straight into a career of flipping burgers—only to be offered the internship of his dreams at a political campaign. But the pressure of being an out trans man in the workplace quickly sucks the joy out of things, as does Seth, the humorless campaign strategist who watches his every move.

Soon, the only upside to the job is that Seth has a painful crush on their painfully straight boss, and Kieran has a front row seat to the drama. But when Seth proves to be as respectful and supportive as he is prickly, Kieran develops an awkward crush of his own—one which Seth is far too prim and proper to ever reciprocate.

I knew going into this that I was going to get a great romance, but what I wasn’t expecting was the healthy amount of humor thrown in. I love the fact that the author took the time to include some banter in here. I always appreciate it when a new read manages to make me laugh out loud multiple times.

Just to give you a couple of examples:

“Crazy thing, though. I’m pretty sure Mister Senior Campaign Strategist has a thing for Marcus.”
“Nice,” Jillian says. “See, I’m not the only one!”
Kieran pokes the side of her ramen bowl with his toe—not enough to make it slosh, just enough to make her shriek and slap his foot away. “Is that not weird to you?”
“Why? Are you saying mean, bitter people can’t be queer?” Jillian pats his foot. “Look in the mirror.”

Also, Kieran shading his supervisor:

“Wait, so—I was assigned female at birth, and that’s okay to talk about, but your crush on our boss isn’t appropriate?”

But real talk the fact that Seth was pining for his -married with children- boss kind of made me dislike him a bit… Reading about someone thinking about a married person like that is just something that doesn’t sit well with me personally. And then taking the fact that he’s a decade (and something) older than Kieran… I don’t usually enjoy reading about significant age-gaps in romances. And I still don’t. So I had to make myself forget that the romantic interest is significantly older than our main character…

Those were the only negative aspects for me, but still, don’t get me wrong, Seth is an amazing romantic partner for Kieran. He’s kind, supportive, respectful and genuinely takes the time to get to know him. It’s really only because of my personal issues on the married thing and age-gaps that lowered my attachment a bit. Other than that, this novella is fucking great for its:

  • LGBTQIA+ representation.
  • #Ownvoices
  • Witty banter scattered throughout.
  • This next one is kind of random, but bear with me: When Kieran and Seth go out and order fries, I ended up googling 34 best french fries recipes and ideas (it was midnight, so don’t judge me). And now thanks to Coffee Boy I know what I’m having for lunch.
  • Also kind of unrelated, but this book managed to perfectly describe this one minor character in my favorite show:

    The customer is probably like nineteen, or a precocious high school senior, but he clearly thinks he’s hot shit. To his credit, he’s cute, in a wannabe-frat-boy way. He’s got long eyelashes and a cocky smile, and for a second Kieran genuinely grins back at him.”

    That paragraph literally put down in words what I think of Christoffer Schistad from Skam.
  • Ok. Now back to the actual storyline… Coffee Boy is one of the most important LGBTQIA+ romances I’ve read in awhile. And I’ll appreciate it eternally for taking the time to discuss so many important topics, such as the usage of the word ‘queer’ among many other:

    “I’m afraid I don’t have your ability to be so open. I don’t like to discuss certain personal matters at work.”

    Kieran could gracefully accept his apology. Or he could open his fucking mouth, and guess which one he does. “Neither do I,” he says, and even to his own ears he sounds sullen. “For some reason it always seems to come up, though.”
    Seth blinks at him for a moment before it dawns on him. “Ah.”
    “Yeah, sorry. I do get it. You’d rather not have to be queer at work.”
    Seth winces. “I’m not overly fond of the word ‘queer’, either.”
    “Oh.”
    “It’s not that I don’t identify with the general idea, it’s more that I can’t help thinking of it as…” Seth’s face closes a little. “As the kind of thing boys call each other when they can’t think of anything worse.”

    We need more books like this!!!c1nqilyw8aate_a

Overall, I’m more than glad I picked this one up and stayed up late to finish it. I definitely recommend Coffee Boy if you’re looking for a quick but lasting read.

4/5 stars

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