Health Care Mind Mental Health Health

I’ve ditched all-nighters, and here’s why you should too

I have to admit something. I’ve never pulled all-nighters for work. Even in university, and now as I start to pick up different jobs, I’ve never stayed up all night to finish assignments. Sure, I’ve pulled them for flights or nights out, but other than that, I always manage to squeeze in some shut-eye time. I have to, otherwise, I can’t operate. 

I know this from experience. Once, I had a class in Florence, Italy, and my roommates and I spent the whole day touring the city, reserving the nighttime to work on our essays. I couldn’t have spent more than three hours past midnight typing away for an assignment before I felt desperately ill.

I needed to lie down! I was a cranky mess for two days afterward, and my friends can attest to that. I knew missing out on sleep has a very clear effect on me. But still, I pushed myself for school. I wanted to complete my assignments and attempting an all-nighter seemed like an obvious way to stay on top of things.

While all-nighters do not sit well with me, perhaps you are reading this thinking they work for you. Maybe you have always resorted to this method and it has become fool-proof. Well, unfortunately, I have some bad news for you. Skipping out on sleep is not something that can be dismissed because it is not a sustainable lifestyle at all. While it may seem like an appealing way to get more time in your day, it can have devastating consequences. 

I hear you saying, “But can’t it be slept off?” I used to think the same way.

Can you make up for lost sleep by sleeping in? Nope!

Taking an introductory course in psychology opened my eyes to the dangers of bad sleep hygiene. If you were to hold out two scans of a brain—one from a person who lacked sleep and another who has recently suffered a concussionthey would look eerily similar. Skipping out on sleep can cause irreversible damage to your brain. The brain holds these scars, even if we “make up” for the lost sleep. Imagine that damage over time if we continually (try to) pull those all-nighters. 

This may come as a shock as the idea of all-nighters has been glamorized by movies and other media as an essential part of college. I always understood skipping out on sleep as a sign of putting in the effort, burning the midnight oil to wrap up a project.

I used to feel bad about not being able to stay up all night at the library, comparing myself to other students that were holding up just fine. I felt that it was expected of me to sacrifice my sleep for my studies and my career. Yet, does our productivity have to come at the cost of our wellbeing? 

Our toxic ideas of productivity are impairing our health. I came to a point where I really needed to rethink the way that I was approaching sleep and all-nighters.

While it can be easy and often tempting to get sucked into the grind of getting little or no sleep to clear up my task list, from now on I’ll be thinking twice about the physical and mental toll on my health. I hope you do, as well. 

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Book Reviews Pop Culture

“Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry” showcases a different side to Black girlhood

My introduction to reading began when I was 15-years-old, reading (mostly One Direction) fanfiction on Wattpad. And in an attempt to keep fueling my addiction to romantic narratives, I then shifted my focus from fanfiction to Young adult and romantic comedy novels. Notably, however, one thing that was apparent in the stories I read (whether fanfiction or otherwise)— the heroines were always white. 

This could have been due to my own lack of knowledge surrounding whatever diversity existed in the rom-com/YA genre, or there just weren’t many protagonists that looked like me or stories that mirrored my own sitting on bookshelves when I was a teenager.

That’s why Joya Goffney’s debut novel titled Excuse me while I ugly cry was a refreshing read for me that fulfilled my long-time affection for love stories (both self and romantic) while also providing me with narratives and characters I could deeply relate to.

Namely, the novel illustrates a compelling coming-of-age story that showcases the hardships Black girls in predominantly white communities often experience. The book does this using Quinn, the story’s protagonist, a high school senior who lives her life perpetually writing lists in her private but not-so-secure journal. 

Due to this last point, an anonymous person(s) steals said journal and threatens to expose the secrets Quinn has housed there. Secrets such as “Things I would never admit out loud” and “Things to do before I graduate.” Consequently, the anonymous blackmailer now has complete ammo to expose Quinn to all who know her in more ways than one.

So on a journey to get her journal back, Quinn must team up with some unlikely allies to discover who in her school has a big enough vendetta against her to sabotage her this way. This quest of sorts takes Quinn on a much-needed journey towards finding her confidence, finding genuine and reliable companionships, learning the importance of advocating for herself, and having the vulnerability to explore life outside of her comfort zone.

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry showcases storylines and characters that examine a side to Black girlhood many people don’t often see. This book transported me back to what it was like to be a young Black girl trying to simultaneously navigate life, dating, and friendships as best she could while living in a predominantly non-Black community.

Like me, Quinn was tasked to do the same. There’s a unique experience that accompanies Black girlhood when you’re one of few Black students in your school, and Joya nails the feelings of isolation, loneliness, of being misunderstood, or even misunderstanding others who also look like you. And Quinn was the perfect, imperfect protagonist to portray those challenges.

Quinn’s financial privilege and tokenism from her white friends mean she must unlearn the internalized racism she’s held throughout her childhood. Quinn must open herself to friendships that are mutual and supportive rather than settling for friends who constantly ‘other’ her due to her Blackness. And Quinn must let go of a fruitless childhood crush and instead allow herself to be loved by someone capable of truly loving her back. 

I appreciate Joya’s decision to have Quinn be romantically involved with a Black partner, one who she doesn’t have to conform parts of herself to be with. It was significant for Quinn’s character arc to disregard whatever preconceived notions she held for Carter and let her guard come down for him. As he understands her plight perhaps more than she even realizes.

In an exclusive interview with The Tempest, Joya Goffney stated how as she got older, she began to read books more critically compared to when she was growing up. Like me, Joya grew to be disappointed in the lack of diversity within the stories she read, so she sought to contribute what was a much-needed change within the YA genre as a writer herself.

In response to Quinn and Carter’s budding romance in the novel, especially given the two of them being some of the few Black kids at their high school, Joya stated during our interview, “At the start of writing this story, I wanted a love story between a Black boy and a Back girl. I hadn’t really seen a lot of [those kinds of love stories in the past]. [And since] so much of the story deals with [Quinn’s] race and the microaggressions that she experiences, it was important that [Carter] was Black so he could relate to [Quinn’s] experiences [attending a predominantly white school].”

Not only do I welcome the diversity within the novel, I deeply appreciate Joya’s examinations of other themes like internalized racism and racial microaggressions that so many young Black kids have to unlearn or learn to fight against.

As a result, many Black girls picking up this book who are familiar with being one of few Black girls in an environment that not only doesn’t look like you but actively reminds you of your otherness will feel seen given many of the themes discussed in the novel. Hopefully, given the love that Quinn finds in herself, her new friendships, and her new significant other, Black girls can know it’s possible to find such loves without compromising themselves or settling for people who don’t put in the work to understand them.

All in all, Porshèa Patterson-Hurst accurately sums up the greatness of Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry for Black Girl’s Create stating, “Joya Goffney has crafted a novel that examines the ways that we learn to protect ourselves as teenagers, the ways we hide all the vulnerabilities we would hate having used against us, by showing the ramifications of this exact event in Quinn’s life.”

In recent years, the YA genre has seen an influx of diverse narratives, and thankfully Excuse me while I ugly cry perfectly adds to the diversity that currently exists in the genre, while also providing readers with an added perspective to marginalized characters readers don’t normally see. For that, I’m so grateful for this novel. 

In our interview together, Joya teased that she has even more stories in the works. In turn, we will all be on the edge of our seats, waiting for whatever new project Joya decides to drop next!

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Sexuality Love + Sex Love

I learned about sex through fanfiction, and it’s a bit questionable

I love fanfiction. I think there’s something about it that you can’t find in published novels or tv shows, it’s unique and hard to explain. And while it might sound odd, there’s a lot you can learn from fanfics.

Most people don’t realize what’s out in the vast web to be discovered. For example, you might be scrolling through the works of your new favorite tv show and finally decide to brave the uncharted territories of mature-rated fanfics. You’ll click on one with a funny summary and then fall down the fascinating rabbit hole to continue reading more. And in doing so, you might actually learn about sex through fanfics.

That’s what happened to me anyway. You see, I never really had the opportunity to learn about sex in my family. My culture treats sex as taboo and then expects girls to grow up wanting to have babies and get married into a life of pleasing their husband. And all this without telling girls about potential dangers that come with sex or trying to make sex sound appealing.

I went through the basic sex ed in school, but that didn’t explain a lot. Most of what I remember was the teacher telling us to use birth control if it came down to it, but we should abstain from sex. Senior year Biology was where I learned about my body properly; I was finally told about the many changes that the body goes through due to our hormones. But most importantly, I learned about male anatomy. At no point before this had anyone explained what sex is. I knew it was performed between males and females, but not how. Before that class, I thought it was code for lying in a bed with a member of the opposite sex. 

And all this without telling girls about potential dangers that come with sex or trying to make sex sound appealing.

And while that class helped clear up some of my more significant questions, it wasn’t enough. But I had nowhere to turn to for learning more. My parents weren’t an option, and asking someone seemed awkward. So I turned to the internet. For the first time in nearly four years of exploring fanfiction online, I dove into what I thought was the dark side and looked at the selection of M-rated fics. 

Thinking back on it, they weren’t even particularly spicy fics that I stumbled across. I was jumping back into the PJO (Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan) fandom for like the third time, and I had exhausted my supply of tried and true teen and lower fics. These fanfics primarily served as a way for me to learn specifically about sex and what it was, how it worked, in a setting that wasn’t overly scientific. It was all very vanilla, but that was fine back then.

Then I jumped into some Yu-Gi-Oh fandoms and looked around at the selection there as well. And that was the first time I learned about sex being possible between same-sex couples. Then I switched from my usual fanfic website to a more known and better one, Archive Of Our Own. And this was where things got interesting because there were tags for everything. If I wanted to explore a specific kink, I could check the tag for it and look at all the options in every fandom. 

And I did exactly that; I jumped through different fandoms and checked out every type of M or E rated fic that was unique and then added the new knowledge to the ever-growing list of things I knew about sex. I explored lots of different kinks. When Fifty Shades of Grey was coming out, and everyone was complaining that it didn’t show BSDM accurately, I went to fanfics to learn what they were all talking about. I’ve read many an ABO fic and several femdom stories. And I thought by reading all these fics; I suddenly knew everything there was to know about sex.

Then one day, an online friend talked about a time that she was sexually harassed and how some of these fanfictions we read lead her to think that it was normal. And I started to rethink the fics I was reading. 

It occurred to me that a lot of the stuff I’ve been reading wasn’t always safe or consensual. These were works of fiction, and therefore not always meant to be an accurate reflection of reality, but I had spent years normalizing the lack of consent that came with some of these stories. I didn’t even realize until a month ago that it isn’t normal for someone to cry during sex or for most people to get off to that. Many of the kinky fics I read also never really detailed much about the relationship outside of the sex, which made for a very twisted view on things. 

None of this means that I plan to stop reading smut fics. I’ve come to recognize that most of what is in these stories is simple fantasy. I should have never expected it could replace the learning that comes from talking to people about their experiences or having sex myself. 

But if anyone else out there is like me, then now is as good a time as any to look a bit more critically at the fics you read and made the conscious distinction between them and reality. I know it’s awkward to talk to others about sex, and let’s not lie on the internet, it can be dangerous

I don’t claim to know all the answers, and there’s no right way to learn about sex. But at the very least, I think it’s better not to put all the eggs in one basket. When you want to learn about something you should look at several different places. I’ve begun taking a more thorough route to my own learning, one which involved properly researching whatever sexual topic comes to mind in fanfics but outside as well with the help of google or asking some very close friends who I can trust.

This new system has been working so far, and I find myself enjoying some of the conversations I can have with people about these topics as well.

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Shopping Gift Guides Books Book Club Books Pop Culture

23 books coming out this May that you should read

April 2021 has been really stressful. Derek Chauvin‘s trial. The death of Daunte Wright. The Indianapolis shooting. Death of Ma’Khai Bryant. Political Crisis in Chad. The second wave of Coronavirus in India. With all of these happening within days of each other, we are just about done with this month. Our mental health, level of energy, and motivation have taken a serious toll. So I say, let’s grab a few books – many to celebrate AAPI Month – and let’s find refuge there!

Actually, before we start… do you want to listen to these instead? Put your earphones on and let those mellifluous voices transport you to other worlds? Get 2 audiobooks for the price of one when you sign up for, the first audiobook service that supports local bookstores! I will tell you more about this offer at the bottom, enjoy the recommendations now!

1. May the Best Man Win by ZR Ellor

May the Best Man Win by ZR Ellor
May the Best Man Win by ZR Ellor

Lukas Rivers, the ultimate football star and head of the Homecoming community, wants to stay away from the drama after his long-term girlfriend comes out as a transgender man.

While Lukas may want a calm year, Jeremy Harkiss isn’t the kind to stay quiet. He is fierce, unapologetic, and absolutely will not bow down to the outdated school administration. So instead, he makes some noise by openly challenges the ex-boyfriend for his title of Homecoming King. The message is clear: Jeremy Harkiss is here, and he is here to stay. But Lukas isn’t the kind to concede easily either.

This isn’t your typical enemy turned lover after stolen glances story. It is a rollercoaster of emotions that authentically represents the realities of transphobia, homophobia, and bullying. Amidst darkness and uncertainty, it is the story of Lukas and Jeremy’s journey to choose love in an uncaring society.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores.

2. Misfit in Love by S.K. Ali  

Misfit in Love by S.K. Ali
Misfit in Love by S.K. Ali

FINALLY! After her emotions being all over the place in Saints and Misfits, Janna Yusuf is ready. She is so ready for a new, uncomplicated chapter of her life. She’s done with high school; her brother Muhammad is getting married and she’s happily in love with Nuah. Life’s good!

But plans and weddings never go well together. For no apparent reason, Janna’s dad is acting strange, the sweet and considerate Nuah is treating her differently and her mother MAY BE igniting things with an old flame? 

Chaos. Chaos. Chaos. Just when Jenna thought things couldn’t get more complicated, her misfit heart is back to its old ways again. Besides her family drama, she now has to deal with her heart fluttering for two newcomers – the dreamy Haytham and brooding Layth.

Yikes. Honestly girl, how do you plan on getting out of this mess?

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores.

3. Counting Down with You by Tashie Bhuiyan

Counting Down with You by Tashie Bhuiyan
Counting Down with You by Tashie Bhuiyan

Karina Ahmed is the ultimate good girl next door. Despite being far away from Bangladesh, she chooses to value her culture and traditions. This includes following her parent’s rule of focusing solely on her studies and NO DATING! At all. Ever. Well, you know Asian parents’ logic. She can date after marriage.

What happens when the school’s resident bad boy casually claims that Karina is his girlfriend. Tutoring him was already crossing a line, and now pretending to date him? With her parents away for a month, she agrees to this dating façade until they come back. But will she want to go back to normal? That’s the actual question. Any To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before vibes?

Counting Down With You is also our pick of the month for our Book Club – come read it with us!

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores.

4. The Soulmate Equation by Christian Lauren 

The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren
The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren

What would the world be like if we had a DNA-based matchmaking app? Take a minute. No, seriously, let that sink in. We are talking about guaranteed compatibility. That means no more wasting time on awkward first dates and weeks of adjusting period. Just instant connection and guaranteed chemistry. Forget signs, it’s time for the science behind finding your soulmate. (See what I did there?)

This is exactly what Jess Davis needed. She is a single mother and a statistical wizard with major trust issues. So, the only thing that could convince her to get back into the dating world was numbers. Because numbers don’t lie. Jess knows that. She knows she can trust them. But what happens when the app pairs her with Dr. River Pena, the stuck-up, stubborn, and annoyingly confident founder of the company? Maybe it’s just a glitch in the system? Or maybe it’s actually meant to be.

So, *channeling my inner nerd*  in research terminology, the question would be: to what extent will the accuracy of the soulmate equation be effectuated in reality?

With a constant dose of charm, humor, and romance, this book will definitely satisfy all your nerdy vibes.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores.

5. Hang the Moon by Alexandria Bellefleur

Hang the Moon
Hang the Moon by Alexandria Bellefleur

In a modern-day Ross and Rachel story with a How I Met Your Mother crossover, Brendon does everything in his power to show Annie that romance is evergreen and it is here to stay.

Brendon is a hopeless romantic and Annie is his sister’s best friend. While Annie remembered Brendon as her friend’s dorky older brother, Brendon’s childhood crush was… you know who it was! So, when Brendon finds out that Annie has given up on love, he plans on sweeping her off the feet by taking cues from all his favorite rom coms.

Read this charming sequel to Written in the Stars to find out if the infamous blue French horn and 2-minute date make a cameo.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores.

6. Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar

Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar
Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar

“But like how can you be bisexual, if you only date guys?” is the first question Humaira “Hani” Khan was asked after she finally came out to her friends. Of all things, having her identity questioned and invalidated was not something she expected from her friends. This made her uncomfortable and anxious. And in panic, she blurted that she was dating Ishita “Ishu” Dey. A girl that was completely different from her and her friend group.

In a classic set up of opposites attract, Hani and Ishu are forced to deal with pressure from a strictly patriarchal society while struggling to own up to their identity.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores.

7. Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee

Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee
Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee

Remember Wattpad days? Hours of reading, writing, and swooning over fanfictions. Remember falling in love with fictional characters and thinking that you knew everything there was to know about love.

With a popular blog called Meet Cute Diary, Noah Ramirez was THE romance expert that posted a collection of trans stories. Slight problem, people thought they were based on Noah’s real life, and, well, he did not correct them. This blog was Noah’s way of stepping out of the closet. And the success of the blog made him feel loved, supported, and accepted. No harm, no foul, right? But things take a drastic turn when a troll exposes Noah’s blog as fiction.

For Noah, the only plausible way to save the Diary was to convince everyone that the stories were true. Enter Drew and begin staged romance. Problem solved.

OH WELL. If only things would be that easy. Like all of us, Noah has to find the hard way that dating in real life isn’t quite the same as finding love on paper.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores.

8. Black Water Sisters by Zen Cho

Black Water Sister by Zen Cho
Black Water Sister by Zen Cho

A Zellennial queer heroine discovers her power in the urban mythical world of Malaysia of active spirits and meddling gods. Wow! Honestly, if that doesn’t make you want to read this book, I don’t know what will.

As a descendant of the mysterious deity called Black Water Sister, Jessamyn Teoh is pulled into the world of gods, ghosts, gangs, and tons of family secrets. From having to settle the score with a gang leader that has offended the gods to find a way to regain control of her body and destiny, Jess has a lot of issues to deal with. She is frustrated by the secrecy that surrounds her, tired of her grandmother’s spirit calling the shots, and unsure of what exactly she wants to do in life.

In a nutshell, a stressed Asian lesbian challenges god and establishes her own identity. Seriously, get this book right now!

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores.

9. Hush Little Baby by R.H. Herron

Hush Little Baby by R.H. Herron

Remember that lullaby, “Hush little baby don’t say a word, papa’s gonna buy you a mockingbird.” Now imagine this in a psychological thriller where a pregnant Jillian is seeing things she cannot explain.

Jillian Marsh’s life has been traumatic. She had to deal with different stages of struggles in her life. From a toxic upbringing in a religious zealot household to using alcohol as a coping mechanism. Gathering the courage to pull it together, starting a career, and finally finding love to having her partner cheating on her while she was expecting, Jillian has seen it all. She has survived it all. But what happens when unexplained things start happening in her house. And her only support system of friends can no longer be trusted.

Is Jillian imagining things or is she being manipulated? Should she stick to her instincts or should she work on her trust issues? With her career, personal life, and mental health at stake, Jillian’s entire life is once again hanging by a single thread. But this time, the only thing Jillian knows is that she will do anything to protect her baby. Anything.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores.

10. The Betrayals by Bridget Collins

The Betrayals by Bridget Collins
The Betrayals by Bridget Collins

If everything in your life was based on a lie? Would you risk it all, to tell the truth?

After a failed political career, Léo Martin returns to the grand jeu: an arcane and mysterious context for the best and the brightest in the enchanting world of Montverre. Here he meets Claire Dryden. While he senses an odd connection with her, he’s sure that they have never met.

In a world where everyone has built their lives around lies and secrets, will Leo and Claire find the courage to tell their truth?

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores.

11. Some Girls Do by Jennifer Dugan

Some Girl Do
Some Girl Do by Jennifer Dugan

An unapologetic, proud, and openly queer elite track athlete Morgan instantly finds love in her new high school. In another classic case of oppositive attracts, Morgan is attracted to Ruby who competes in local beauty pageants and absolutely adores her 1970 Ford Torino.

While opposite personalities may attract, struggles in identities always complicate things. Morgan, after being kicked out of her Catholic school, wants a fresh start where she can be completely herself and date openly. But Ruby is not ready to come out. Especially with her overprotective mother constantly breathing down her neck.

With two girls on different pages of realities, will love be enough to conquer it all?

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores.

12. Arsenic and Adobo by Mila P. Manansala

Arsenic and Adobo
Arsenic and Adobo by Mila P. Manansal

Lila Macapagal’s life turns into a romcom tragedy when she returns home to deal with her horrible breakup. She’s asked to help out with Tita’s failing restaurant while a group of matchmaking aunties continue to scrutinize and set her up.

But with her twisted luck, instead of a happy ever after, Lila’s ex-boyfriend drops dead after a confrontation with her. With cops treating her as a primary suspect in the case and her shady landlord trying to kick her out of the place, Lila takes matters into her own hands. She decides to conduct her own investigation with an army of nosy aunty networks, her barista best friend, and her trusted Dachshund.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores.

13. The Hunting Wives by May Cobb

The Hunting Wives by May Cobb
The Hunting Wives by May Cobb

Leaving her big-city Chicago life, Sophie O’Neill decides to settle down with her family in a small Texan town. While it was quiet and dreamy, Sophie is instantly bored and restless with her country life.

But everything changes when she meets Margot Banks, a socialite part of the elite clique known as the Hunting Wives. With martinis, unconventional parties, and late-night target practice, life was so much more exciting and thrilling in the countryside for Sophie.

But what happens when the body of a teenage girl is found in the woods where the Hunting Wives meet? Will the elite clique stick together, or will they turn against one another? Dragged into the mystery of murder investigation, will Sophie continue to enjoy the thrills of her country life or will she crave for the peace and calm she once despised?

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores.

14. People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

Poppy and Alex are polar opposites. Poppy is outgoing, adventurous, and free-spirited. While Alex’s definition of fun is staying home and reading a book. And even though, they spend most of the year apart, they continue to be the best of friends. The secret behind this strong bond is an adventurous summer vacation every year!

With a cruel twist of fate, both of them are no longer on speaking terms. However, Poppy doesn’t want things to end so unresolved and all over the place. Simply parting ways is not an option. Therefore, to wrap it all up, she proposes to take one last vacation together and Alex surprisingly agrees.

In an attempt to fix it all, Poppy and Alex try to make the best of the situation. With nothing more to lose, will one of them finally address that one big truth they have been avoiding for years?

Seriously, what is it about vacations and their ability to just change the dynamics of seemingly everything around us?

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores.

15. Tokyo Even After by Emiko Jean 

2. Tokyo Even After by Emiko Jean
Tokyo Even After by Emiko Jean

Izumi Tanaka has always struggled with her identity. Being a Japanese American, raised by a single mother in a small, white neighborhood in California is not easy. No matter how much she tries to fit in, she will never be “American” enough.

Who is her father? Is Japan the place she really belongs? Hence, to resolve this constant state of identity crisis she faced, Izumi – or Izzy travels to Japan to get some much-needed answers.

Izzy’s life turns upside down when she finds out that her father is the Crown Prince of Japan. With the press watching her every move and conniving cousins constantly setting her up for failure, Izzy is left alone to venture through this world of traditions and customs in her unknown homeland.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores.

16. Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney

Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney

Quinn keeps a list of everything. All the way from her bucket list to daily to-do tasks, everything is neatly compiled and categorized in her journal.

Writing things down is Quinn’s way of compartmentalizing things in life. And this is exactly how she chooses to deal with the fears too. By making a list and choosing NOT to deal with it. However, this is no longer an option when her journal goes missing and an anonymous post on Instagram blackmails her into facing seven of her greatest fears. In the quest of finding her journal and hiding her secrets, Quinn ends up finding the courage to accept her reality; honestly and unapologetically.

We even did a live event with author Joya Goffney, you can rewatch it here!

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores.

17. The Siren by Katherine St. John 

9.The Siren by Katherine St. John
The Siren by Katherine St. John

Megastar Cole Power assembles an iconic star cast to film The Siren on the beautiful Caribbean island of St. Genesis.  While the plot of the movie had already created quite a stir in Hollywood, that’s not the main attraction of the movie.

Three motivated women with their own set of agendas arrive on set. There is Stella, the ex-wife, with her first role as a lead actress after multiple episodes of public breakdowns. Then, there is Taylor, a fledgling producer, that is keen to regain her lost reputation after her scandalous last job. And as for Felicity, Stella’s new mysterious assistant, no one know what she really wants. All we know is that she’s up to something.

United against a common enemy, these women find themselves trapped on the island. But with everything at stake and backstabbing as the norm, the hurricane brewing offshore is the least of their concern.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores.

18. Reset by Sarina Dahlan 

Reset by Sarina Dahlan 
Reset by Sarina Dahlan

Can you love someone you do not remember?

In the after-effects of the Last War, societies are divided into the utopia of Four Cities. Inspired by the Buddhist philosophy, everything is planned, controlled, and monitored in this reality. Therefore, in a process called tabula rasa, citizens undergo a customary memory wipe every four years to prevent mankind from destroying each other yet again.

In this context, Aris is a scientist that whole-heartedly embraces this process of tabula rasa. However, her world turns upside down when she finds out about the secret organization called ‘Dreamers’. In a world where names, lives, and moments are systematically destroyed, Aris ends up finding love with the leader of the organization.

With only weeks left before the memory wipe, how will Aris hold onto the memories of her emerging romance. Set in dystopia, this book will make you question everything you know to be true about the existential meaning of love.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores.

19. A Sitting in St. James by Rita Williams Garcia

8.A Sitting in St. James by Rita Williams-Garcia
A Sitting in St. James by Rita Williams-Garcia

Set in 1860 Louisana, the award-winning author Rita Williams-Garcia holds the mirror up for the White Americans. In a way that merely states the realities of the plantation society, she asks people the simple question of: “What would your life be like without slavery?”

This is a book that is honest, real, and hence, heartbreaking at times. But it delicately showcases the reality of a community where racism has always been the norm.  This book will continue to haunt you long after you have read its last page. Especially if you draw parallels to the society we live in today.

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20. Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard

Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard
Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard

If you are looking for another great fantasy trope with a large cast of characters, look no further.

With every character playing a part for a greater purpose, Aveyard brings together an incredible combination of personalities. A squire forced to choose between home and honor. An immortal avenging a broken promise. An assassin exiled and bloodthirsty. An ancient sorceress whose riddles hide an eerie foresight. A forger with a secret past. A bounty hunter with a score to settle. And a leader who is the last of an ancient lineage.

Together they stand against an invincible opponent that is determined to burn all kingdoms to ashes.

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21. Rosaline Palmer Takes The Cake by Alexis Hall

Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall
Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall

Rosaline Palmer is a baker. Therefore, she truly believes that if plans are made, risks are measured and instructions are followed, there cannot be an unfavorable outcome in life, just like baking.

Following this recipe of life, Rosaline is keen on giving her daughter, Amelie, everything she deserves and then some more. So, in terms of finding a good father figure,  she knows beyond a doubt that Alain Pope is the right guy. He checks all the boxes by being suave, well-educated, and the perfect parent material. But what happens when it’s the shy electrician Harry Dobson that actually sweeps her off her feet.

Will Rosaline stick to the instruction manual or will she voluntarily choose the recipe for disaster?

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22. The Marvelous Mirza Girls by Sheba Karim

The Marvelous Mirza Girls by Sheba Karim
The Marvelous Mirza Girls by Sheba Karim

Noreen and her mother travel back to New Delhi to process the grief of losing her aunt. After an exhausting year, Noreen sees things glass-half-full. So, excuse her, if she feels like nothing is going to happen in the world’s most polluted city.

Now, if there is one constant in the land of Bollywood, it’s the fact that romance is always in the air. From culture and architecture to songs and food, this is the place where people have grown up watching the cheesiest movies one can imagine and with hopes of having that guaranteed happily-ever-after in every story.

So, it’s no wonder that Noreen fell in love with Kabir when she was least expecting. But like every classic Bollywood movie, with romance comes drama. But what happens when Kabir and Noreen have to deal with the complicated questions in their relationship?

What does it mean to truly love someone? Should there be boundaries? Will love conquer all like every ending in the Bollywood movies or will reality set in?

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23. It Goes Like This by Miel Moreland

6. It Goes Like This by Miel Moreland
It Goes Like This by Miel Moreland

You know that optimistic feeling we grow up with. That feeling where everything in life seems permanent, like nothing, is going to change? It’s not about being naïve. Rather, it’s about holding onto the hope that things will not change.

Eva, Celeste, Gina, and Steph grew up together believing that nothing could come between their friendship. They knew that together they were unstoppable. Their queer pop band, Moonlight Overthrow, was the best testament of that example. However, things turned sour when the band broke up while Eva and Celeste start their starry-eyed romance. Suddenly sides were taken, solo careers were launched and radio silence was the new reality in their lives.

Against all odds, fate gives them another chance. In an attempt to fundraise for their town, they come together to perform for one last time. As they struggle to come to terms with the fact that growing up doesn’t necessarily mean growing apart, will this girl band choose friendship over everything else, once again?

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As promised, a note on the juicy audiobook offer: is the first and only company that lets you purchase audiobooks directly from your favorite local bookstore. You can pick from more than 150,000 audiobooks, including best sellers. You’ll get the same audiobooks at the same price as the largest audiobook company out there (you know the name). But you’ll be part of a different story – one that supports community.

If you’re new to audiobooks, they’re the perfect way to get more books into your busy life. Listen during your commute, while doing chores, walking the dog, or just relaxing at home. All you need is a smartphone and the free app. If you already love audiobooks and don’t know what to listen to next, check out recommendations and curated lists from people who know audiobooks best: booksellers!

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What are you waiting for? I know I cannot wait to get my hands on these books! But then again, I am pretty sure I’ll finish them all by the time May ends.

Let us know which books you pick and what you’re reading this month by tagging @TheTempestBooks on Instagram so we can feature you!

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19 books coming out this April we can’t wait to devour

Have you ever felt like a month would never end? I mean, no offense to March, but it was taking forever to end and your girl wanted the new month or books, hope, possibly a vaccine and April showers. It’s interesting that March 2020 and March 2021 will be the longest months I’ll ever know. I can’t help but wonder if all my March-s have been that way. On the upside, I had a lot of great reads waiting to be released and now that they are out, I’m ready for this month.

With every month comes a whole new pile of books to be added to one’s TBR and 23 years later and I still get excited. For April 2021 I’ve compiled some books I think are worth mentioning.

1. Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Suranto book cover
Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Suranto book cover

What do you get when you have an accidental murder, thousands of wedding guests, possibly cursed generations of family, and four meddling Asian aunties to the rescue? Well, you get a quirky novel that’s as fun as a rom-com and as nail-biting as a murder mystery. 

Meddelin Chan totally did not mean to kill her blind date, but it happened and her meddlesome mother calls for her even more meddlesome aunties to help get rid of the body. Things should be smooth sailing from there, but somehow the billionaire wedding Meddy and her family is catering body is shipped in a cake cooler to the over-the-top billionaire wedding Meddy, her Ma, and aunties are working, at an island resort on the California coastline.

The icing to the wedding cake chaos? Meddy’s great college love—and biggest heartbreak—makes a surprise appearance. How will Meddy pull it all off?

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

2. Kisses and Croissants by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau

Kisses and Croissants by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau
Kisses and Croissants by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau

With Mia spending summer at an elite ballet program in Paris for six weeks. That means she has six weeks to earn an audition with one of the best ballet companies in the world. Hailing from America, however, Mia is about to learn there is so much more to Paris than just their ballet. When Louis, a French boy offering to be her personal tour guide the two of them discover the magic of Paris. This novel is a refreshing story of love and passion for not only our dreams but for the adventures we find ourselves on with people in our lives.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

3. Zara Hossain Is Here by Sabina Khan

Zara Hossain Is Here by Sabina Khan
Zara Hossain Is Here by Sabina Khan

Zara Hossain and her family are just a group of people born in Pakistan that moved to Texas and have been patiently waiting for their citizenship for nine years. Zara cares about laying low to avoid the rampant Islamophobia and do her best not to jeopardize the families chances of staying. Unfortunately, her bully, Tyler Benson, takes things too far and is suspended. Rather than accept his punishment, him and his friends vandalize Zara’s house with racist graffiti, leading to a violent crime that puts Zara’s entire future at risk.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

4. She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen

She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen
She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen

Scottie Zajac finds herself in a fender bender with none other than her nemesis–Irene Abraham. To make matters worse, their moms decide they should carpool until Irene’s car gets out of the shop. Their frustrations with each other continue to rise until one day Scottie bribes Irene to play along with a ruse that may help Scottie get back with her (toxic) ex and climb the social ladder of high school. Will their faux dating scheme work out like they think?

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

5. Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli

Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli
Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli

Kate Garfield and Anderson Walker are totally not codependent. Carpooling is just environmentally conscious, consulting each other for each life choice is smart judgment, and pining for the same guy is just more fun than crushing on separate ones…right?

Matt Olsson is Kate’s absolute crush, but he’s also Anderson’s crush. Seems having the same crush as your best friend isn’t so fun after all. 

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

6. Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by Laekan Zea Kemp

Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by Laekan Zea Kemp
Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by Laekan Zea Kemp

Penelope Prado is an aspiring pastry chef with the dream of having her own pastelería next to her father’s restaurant, Nacho’s Tacos. Unfortunately, Pen has to choose between following the expectations of being a Mexican-American daughter or making her own path. Then Xander Amaro gets a job at Nacho’s and is excited for the chance to find home and normal. But when both the restaurant and Xander’s immigrant status are threatened, he will do whatever it takes to protect his new found family and himself. The pair simultaneously discover where they belong and try to figure out first love as they try to save the place they call home.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

7. House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland
House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

Iris Hollow and her two older sisters cannot remember what exactly happened to them as children, but whatever happened left them each with an identical half-moon scar at the base of their throats. For all her teen years she’s been keeping a low profile and trying to escape the weirdness that follows her. However, Grey, her eldest sister goes missing and that weirdness gets even weirder: horned men seem to be lurking, a corpse falls out of her sister’s ceiling, and impossible memories start to twist their way to the forefront of her mind. The closer Iris gets to find her sister and the truth, the closer she gets to learning that some secrets are better left untouched.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

8. Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne

Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne
Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne

Sally Thorn’s romances are addicting so it’s no surprise I’m at the edge of my seat for this one. For six years Ruthie Midona has been the receptionist at Providence Luxury Retirement Villa. For years she’s spent her life helping the Villa’s residents, watching over the property, and protecting endangered tortoises. She’d been working hard for so long, she’s forgotten to live life outside of work–until she meets Teddy Prescott. 

Teddy Prescot is the son of the property developer who just acquired the retirement center and he’s spent his recent years partying, having fun, and never taking life too seriously. When Teddy needs a place to stay, his father decides to use it as a chance to groom him. Teddy is allowed to stay in one of the on-site cottages at the retirement home, but he has to work to earn his keep. Teddy is confident he can handle changing light bulbs and trim hedges. But Ruthie has a plan to make him the assistant to her two most wealthiest and high maintenance residents, who have never had an assistant for longer than a week. 

She isn’t expecting him to be up for the task, so when she learns his father plans to sell the retirement home, Ruthie can’t help wondering if Teddy’s charisma is all a lie.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

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9. These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy

These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy
These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy

This novel is a queer retelling of the Russian folktale, “The Firebird”. The fates of the twin heirs are born with them. Izaveta is to be the future queen and Asya trained by her aunt to keep the magic of the realm in balance. Their lives are pushed into motion when the queen dies and Asya feels ancient magic in her bones. The two sisters must come together to find their mother’s killer and protect the throne.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

10. What’s Not to Love by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

What's Not to Love by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka
What’s Not to Love by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

Alison Sanger and Ethan Molloy have been competing classmates for all of high school. From the school paper to community service, the two of them have now set their sights on both valedictorian and Harvard. Alison couldn’t avoid Ethan if she tried as they also have the same classes and extracurricular activities. 

As if that weren’t enough, their principal assigns them to plan a ten year reunion for past students with the promise of a glowing recommendation for Harvard. But creating the event is harder to make a competition and their rivalry starts to feel like friendship. Alison starts to realize that maybe more than winning she wants Ethan.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

11. Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin

Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin
Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin

Hana is a part time waitress at Three Sisters Biryani Poutine, the only halal restaurant in the close-knit Golden Crescent neighborhood. When she’s not working there, she’s doing her best to land a job at the city radio station and pouring her soul into a podcast of her own. On the podcast she forms a glowing bond with one of her listeners, but then a new upscale halal restaurant is about to open and threaten the end of Three Sisters. 

Her aunt and cousin come from India with a family secret and everything becomes even more complicated when a hate-motivated attack occurs in their neighborhood. As all this unfolds, Hana fights her interest in the young owner of the rival restaurant, Aydin, someone who she may know better than she realizes.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

12. After Happily Ever After by Leslie A. Rasmussen 

After Happily Ever After by Leslie A. Rasmussen
After Happily Ever After by Leslie A. Rasmussen

Maggie Dolan went from being a high level executive to a stay-at-home mother for the last seventeen years. Now Gia is leaving for college and her husband is disconnected from her drastically. Maggie needs to rediscover herself but in doing so she must deal with her narcissistic mother, a brother who doesn’t like her and most damaging of all, the news that her father, her rock, has medical issues that may take him from her. With so much on her plate, she’s caught between living her life as she’s always done, or going down a new path of excitement and potential.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

13. The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan

The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan
The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan

Naomi and Ethan are both professionals in their respective ways. Naomi is a successful start-up sensation but can’t seem to get a job in higher education. Ethan has two honors, is LA’s hottest bachelor, and the rabbi of his own synagogue. However, his shul is low on funds and congregants. He has three month before the board closes his synagogue. 

The solution? The pair work together and host a seminar series about Modern Intimacy. However, as they work together to solve their individual problems, a new one emerges as their attraction grows.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

14. The Music of Bees by Eileen Garvin

The Music of Bees by Eileen Garvin
The Music of Bees by Eileen Garvin

Alice Holtzman’s life is on a downward trajectory as she deals with the loss of her husband, stuck in her no-good job, and having panic attacks. Her usual escape of caring for honeybees isn’t enough to keep her calm. Mid-panic she almost crashes into Jake, a troubled paraplegic teen. Rather than continue their separate ways, Alice is endeared by his genuine interest in the bees and invites him to her farm. 

A friendship blooms between the pair as well as Harry, a young man struggling with social anxiety who applied to be a part-time helper at the bee farm. The three of them forge a new future for themselves as they join forces to stop the nefarious pesticide company that’s moved  to town, threatening the local honeybee population and revealing serious corruption in the community. This novel is about friendship, compassion, and finding the courage to start over at any age. 

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

15. The Flipside of Perfect by Liz Reinhardt

The Flipside of Perfect by Liz Reinhardt
The Flipside of Perfect by Liz Reinhardt

AJ is a Type A student. She lives with her mother, stepfather and younger half sisters. Della is a wandering soul who spends Florida in the summer with her dad and older siblings. Plot twist? Della is AJ; AJ is Della. Adelaide Beloise Jepsen does all she can to keep her school and summer lives very separate. But when her middle sister crashes her summer, Adelaide has no choice but to finally reconcile the two versions of her. In doing so maybe she can help her sister, mend an unexpected friendship with a boy that may be perfect for her, and learn that it’s okay to not be perfect all the time.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

16. The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary

 The Road Trip by Beth O'Leary
The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary

Addie and her sister are beyond ready for their road trip to Scotland for their friend’s wedding. Unfortunately, before they can make it far, a car rear ends them and the driver is none other than Dylan, Addie’s ex. Dylan and his best friend are also going to the very same wedding and they’ve wrecked their car. Addie offers them a ride in her car and now a duo girls’ drive is now a tense drive with drama and a lot of luggage. A three hundred mile drive is long enough for Dylan and Addie to finally unravel and heal from their messy breakup.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

17. Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle

Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle
Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle

Maybell Parish is a romantic and dreamer. Living in the world of her own imagination far surpasses real life. So when Maybell’s great-aunt Violet leaves a supposedly charming house in the Smokies to her, she uses it as a chance for a fresh start.

When she gets there, the house is less than charming. It’s falling apart and she isn’t the sole inheritor. She has to share everything with Wesle Koehler, the grump groundskeeper, who may or may not also be gorgeous. As the two must compromise to fix up the house they slowly let their guards down and learn much more about each other.  

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

18. Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez

Life's Too Short by Abby Jimenez Book Cover
Life’s Too Short by Abby Jimenez Book Cover

Vanessa lives her life by her own rules and refuses to waste a moment of her life with regrets, especially when she has no idea whether she has the same fatal genetic condition as her mother. Her schedule is full of travel and sharing her adventures with her many YouTube followers. 

Her plans change when her half-sister suddenly leaves Vanessa in custody of her infant daughter for the foreseeable future. Now Vanessa is housebound and totally unsure what she should do. Then there is Adrian Copeland, happy to offer his help. Adrian is the hot lawyer living next door and Vanessa has no idea why when they barely know each other. As they get closer, Vanessa realizes her careless spirit would never be compatible with a man in need of structure like Adrian, but maybe life’s too short to be scared to take a leap of faith for love.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

19. Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia

Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia
Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia

I think it is super important for us to support books by diverse authors, especially when they have a diverse story to share. Thus, Of Women and Salt is a great pick if you are interested in generational stories about mothers and daughters and the choices that bond them. Below is the original synopsis: 

A daughter’s fateful choice, a mother motivated by her own past, and a family legacy that begins in Cuba before either of them were born

In present-day Miami, Jeanette is battling addiction. Daughter of Carmen, a Cuban immigrant, she is determined to learn more about her family history from her reticent mother and makes the snap decision to take in the daughter of a neighbor detained by ICE. Carmen, still wrestling with the trauma of displacement, must process her difficult relationship with her own mother while trying to raise a wayward Jeanette. Steadfast in her quest for understanding, Jeanette travels to Cuba to see her grandmother and reckon with secrets from the past destined to erupt.

From 19th-century cigar factories to present-day detention centers, from Cuba to Mexico, Gabriela Garcia’s Of Women and Salt is a kaleidoscopic portrait of betrayals–personal and political, self-inflicted and those done by others–that have shaped the lives of these extraordinary women. A haunting meditation on the choices of mothers, the legacy of the memories they carry, and the tenacity of women who choose to tell their stories despite those who wish to silence them, this is more than a diaspora story; it is a story of America’s most tangled, honest, human roots.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

So many good books, I have no idea which I’ll read first! If you want some company while reading, check out The Tempest Book Club on Instagram to know what April’s pick is (and take part in many awesome giveaways and live events with authors!). If you’re more of a lone reader and want even more book suggestions, check out our list of exciting 2021 releases.

If you want to listen to these books instead, we recommend subscribing to Libro.fmthe first and only audiobook company that lets you purchase audiobooks directly from your favorite local bookstore. We have an exclusive offer for The Tempest readers: if you subscribe with our code TheTempest, you’ll get 2 audiobooks for the price of one ($14.99) with your first month of membership! Offer only valid for new members in Canada and the U.S. through this link.

Let us know which books you pick and what you’re reading this month by tagging @TheTempestBooks on Instagram so we can feature you!

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10 most anticipated book releases for November 2020

Now I know this year has been a drag. From the pandemic, tragedies, massacres and frankly just everything. Sometimes we all need an escape every once in a while. But, we need to remember how privileged we are to even escape. Not everybody has this luxury of escaping into a book like some of us do. Those protesting in Nigeria and Thailand certainly do not. 

Now that this has been acknowledged, I want to share the most anticipated reads for November 2020.

1. Rebel Rose by Emma Theriault

[Image description: Image of Rebel Rose] Via Goodreads
Calling all Disney fans! I am pretty sure we are all aware of the story of Beauty and the Beast, right? In this novel, we go back in time to France in the 18th century, where they are on the brink of revolution. Finally, Belle has broken the curse and now her Beast has reverted back to humanity and he is now her prince. But remember, they are on the brink of revolution and if you know about the French Revolution, it was off with the heads of the aristocracy. Belle must consider if being a Queen is truly worth it or simply just a title.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

2. Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao

[Image description: Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao] Via Goodreads
In this novel, we follow Chloe being nervous to introduce her boyfriend to her parents. But, plot twist – she doesn’t even know who her boyfriend is! To appease her parents, Chloe hires her boyfriend, Drew, from ‘Rents’, a company that trains boyfriends to impress traditional Asian parents. This is such an interesting concept and makes me think, are we commodifying humanity, for the fact Chloe is ‘renting’ a boyfriend. But, Chloe rents Drew to convince them he is worthy of their approval so they don’t marry her off to Hongbo, a total womanizer within their community. But, what if Chloe and Drew’s relationship is not as fake as they anticipated?

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

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3. The Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

[Image description: The Violent Delights by Chloe Gong] Via Goodreads
Imagining a Chinese retelling of Romeo and Juliet, coupled with gang rivalry – Chloe Gong’s The Violent Delights is based in 20th century Shanghai where gang rivalry is prevalent, leaving the people of Shanghai distressed and helpless. How chaotic. 

We then have Juliette Cai who is 18 and believes she is above the law and is leading the Scarlet Gang. And their rivals? White Flowers. And of course, these gangs have been fighting for generations. But, what’s most interesting is that the heir to White Flowers is her first love and betrayal. Do with that what you will. If you love Shakespearean retelling and gang rivalry – this is for you.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

4. Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man by Emmanuel Acho

[Image description: Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man] Via Goodreads
In light of everything that has happened in the world with Black Lives Matter, this book is a must. It’s time to have these conversations that people have been talking about.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

5. A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha

[Image description: A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha] Via Goodreads
A Portuguese historical fantasy A Curse of Roses follows the story of Princess Yzabel who is cursed from eating. Here me out. With one touch of bread, it turns into roses. She attempts to bite cheese, the cheese now turns into lilies. This magic leaves her starving because any food she attempts to eat just turns into a bouquet. With a famine plaguing Portugal, she needs to decide what is the best solution for her to save her people?

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

6. Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer

[Image description: Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer] Via Goodreads
Meet Prudence Daniel – an overachiever with a disgusting attitude. Far too quick to cast judgement on her rude and lazy residents in her coastal town. But, something strange happens, one day she wakes up with the ability to cast instant karma on anybody. What a power to have. And of course, she abuses that power and wreaks havoc on anyone who irritates her. Except for this one person where he powers constantly backfire – Quint Erickson, who happens to be her enemy.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

7. A Promised Land by Barack Obama

[Image description: A Promised Land by Barack Obama] Via Goodreads
Need I say more? With elections taking place around the world, let’s hear from the former US President, Barack Obama, who reflects on his time in the Oval Office.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

8. Perfectly Impossible by Elizabeth Topp

[Image description: Perfectly Impossible by Elizabeth Topp]
For fans of the Devil Wears Prada, this is for you. The book is about an assistant to a stinking rich wife and a philanthropist, Bambi von Bizmarck. Aside from being an assistant, Anna is also an artist. But, she is met with a dilemma. Painting and all things art is her passion, her true calling. But it’s not paying the bills, at all. Whereas her position as an assistant enables her to be more successful. Follow Anna to delve into the life of the 1%. Must be nice.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

9. Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett

[Image description: Chasing Lucky by Jean Bennett] Via Goodreads
Josie Saint-Martin has spent half her life with her single mother  – they are practically glued to the hip, moving from one city to the other. If you like the cliches – bad boy trope, friends to lovers, I can 100% confirm this is for you. Until one time, her and her mother move back to their historic New England town to run her family bookstore but this time it’s different. It’s only a matter of time until her grandmother returns and they move again. Until Lucky Karras re-enters her life.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

10. Murder in Old Bombay by Nev March

[Image description: Murder in Old Bombay by Nev March] Via Goodreads
Yet again, another historical fiction. But, something makes it different – it’s a historical crime fiction set in colonial India. Think Indian Sherlock Holmes. Both of the women who died belonged to the same family, now this is where it gets interesting.  The deaths are suspicious, but no one is talking. We meet Adi Framji, who is the husband of one of the women and ends up hiring Jim Agnihotrii, a captain in the army to help privately investigate the case. (Trigger warning: suicide.)

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

We truly can’t wait for these books. What are you waiting for? Get reading!

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How reading taught me to be emotionally competent in life

I’ve always loved reading. While other children often got told off for being naughty, I often found myself being told off for ‘being away with the fairies’ as my Math teacher called it – simply put, I love books.

Reading is fun; you come across so many characters that you like and dislike and so many to relate to. Personally, I’ve always related to Matilda – a tiny human that wants to do nothing more than read and be the best version of herself. Even as I’ve grown older, I seek knowledge through books rather than the internet and if there is one thing reading has taught me, it is how to be emotionally competent. 

I read all types of literature; essays, novellas, poetry, short stories. Hand me anything with words and I’ll absorb it. Remember during English class where your teacher would tell you to find the deeper meaning of the crow in the background or the gloomy setting of the book? Everyone would groan in disbelief – “Miss, it’s just a crow.” And it’s true, it may very well be just a crow, but secretly, I enjoyed looking for the deeper meaning of the scenes and characters in the book. I found it helping me to develop my understanding of humans in general. 

I think what a lot of people forget is that when authors write, they write what they know so it is likely that the characters in the book are a mirror image of someone the authors know or used to know. That would mean that all the little traits that the characters have in a book suddenly make them a part of who they are. When we were reading The Kite Runner in class, I knew that the protagonist’s father’s thoughts on Islamic leaders were his own personal thoughts. I had seen an interview somewhere where Khaled Hosseini described his hatred for Islamic leaders as he had grown up watching Kabul fall down at the leader’s expense. The same thing happened when we were reading Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones. Sebold drew from her experience as she wrote of Susie Salmon’s death. 

But it’s not just character emotions and insight that I’ve learned to pick up through reading; my friends will tell you that sometimes, I jolt when I walk past people because I can almost see their emotions. I didn’t have a social life growing up (story of every broody teen ever), but I am no longer a broody teen. I turned to books for comfort because of the lack of people in my life and somehow, I have ended up with the ability to feel other people’s emotions and their fluctuations. And I know I’m not the first person something like this has happened to. I have a friend who often calls herself emotionally inept – you could tell her the saddest story in the world and unfortunately, it will go in one ear and out the other. And that not to say that she’s not paying attention – she is. Her eyes zoom into your soul and everything in between. But she can’t comprehend emotions unless she is reading about them. 

I think that although the death of the book is on the rise, it is important to appreciate what a good book can do for a person; for a lonely person, it provided me with an endless variety of friends and a boost in confidence. For many other people, both children and adults, it provides entertainment and knowledge. It allows you to put yourself in someone else’s shoes for a brief moment in time and just escape.

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How absurdism taught me to embrace the chaos in my life

“A little boy in a cowboy suit, writing in a puddle with a stick, a dog approaching. Deaf or dumb, the boy is, like anyone, a little timid, partly stupid, ashamed, afraid, like us, like you. He is there. Picture the boy. See his eyes. Sympathize with his little closes. Now, break his arm. Picture violin section. The violins are on fire. (The following is said almost without anger as if it’s just another request) Now go fuck yourselves.”
Thom Pain (Based on Nothing), Will Eno.

That’s a little absurdism for you there. The next few lines go into the character trying to sound like he’s fine, but he really isn’t. He is spiraling while trying to understand the colloquial term ‘whatever’ because he thinks it will describe how he wants to feel. Did you get that? I hope so. Because underneath the strangeness is a deep vulnerability– and joy in being alive. 

It doesn’t want to have a purpose, it embraces being purposeless.

At its core, absurdism is rooted in social activism and rebellion against the norm. At a time when everyone was taking art very seriously and enforcing standards on artist’s practices, absurdists challenged the system. They said, what if we make an art form that defies expectations by being intentionally bizarre? When everything around us is so devoid of reason, embracing irrationality and strangeness may be the next best thing. 

With the current pandemic, there is little that we can control. At first, I felt so powerless against it all. That’s when I turned to absurdism. It doesn’t want to have a purpose, it embraces being purposeless. The Dadaist slogan of “art for art’s sake” and absurdism’s love of nonsense is exactly the type of energy we need to be bringing into our lifestyles. 

Absurdism taught me to embrace chaos and life not making sense (most of the time). I spent most of my life, as I expect a majority of you did, trying to assign value to myself by the things that I achieved and the decisions I made. Wanting my life to mean something, I quickly grew desperate when things did not turn out as I imagined.

Absurdism taught me to embrace chaos and life not making sense (most of the time).

Take, for instance, applying to jobs or sharing creative work. There is a powerlessness that I feel every single time. I can’t help but think that I am putting myself out there to be judged– which I am, to a certain extent. Recently, after being ghosted by a couple of jobs I had applied to, I was starting to fear that the rest of the year would be the same. All my efforts seemed to be in vain. Keen to maintain a certain image I had of my life, I started reaching out to places that I had no interest in. But I soon became so thankful that things turned out the way they did when a professor reached out to me, excited to have me on board to work on her screenplay– something I deeply enjoyed doing.

Like that last line by Will Eno, I often forgot that life was full of surprises. I learned to be okay with it. More than that, to be happy.

By reading absurdist writers, I embraced the joy of being surprised. I found humor in unexpected things. There was a strength in accepting chaos that I did not find anywhere else. When it seems like the year is going entirely on its own path, I cling to these teachings more than ever. We can’t be stubborn and try to force the year to go in the direction we want it to. We are doing more damage by pulling on the leash and digging our feet into the ground then if we let loose a little and see where the year is headed. 

All in all, when things don’t work out, whether it is with your school, career, or relationship prospects, remind yourself that having ‘nothing’ going on shouldn’t be terrible. Just take Daniil Kharm’s The Red-Haired Man, where at the end he admits that he is writing nonsense and gives up entirely. This poem has gotten me out of all types of ruts, both creative and personal.

We can all take a note from absurdism. If we embrace chaos in this way, we can enhance our own sense of wellbeing.

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Book Reviews Books Pop Culture

Brit Bennett’s “The Vanishing Half” is a timely tale about white-passing privilege

Being an avid reader, I love to participate in various book clubs and reading challenges. In the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests, it was extremely important that I picked the newly published The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett.

Reading books by Black authors can allow us to better understand black voices. The Vanishing Half is set in the 1960s and 70s, but draws eerie parallels to what is facing the Black community right now. The book focuses on two Black twins who try to escape a town obsessed with light skin. As deep as these prejudices ran in this community, light skin did not save the twins’ mother from working for white people in a neighboring town or their father from being lynched. 

One can assume that this trauma made the twins realize what it means to be Black in America. The death of their father changed the twins irrevocably and caused them to take two diverging paths.

“Stella became white and Desiree married the darkest man she could find.”

After abuse from the dark man, Desiree returns to town with a dark-skinned child, Jude. Desiree’s return causes lots of surprise among the town’s residents. 

Even though I cannot relate to the struggles of the Black community, I saw my own community reflected in how Jude and other dark-skinned characters were treated. Colorism is a major problem in the Desi and Muslim community; and reading some parts of the book made my blood boil. Jude did not feel like she belonged in this community simply because she was dark. I instantly thought back to how many aunties have bullied friends and family members for “being too dark.” 

Women, in particular, are scrutinized. I cannot begin to imagine Jude’s feelings, where you experience disgust from outsiders and your own community. It’s disheartening. 

But besides the town’s obsession with being light, folks were wondering about Desiree’s twin, Stella. Being white-passing, she had gone on to become “white” by dressing and talking differently.  She married a white man and that made her life remarkably better than her sister’s. But in the process, Stella’s sense of identity seemed to vanish. She lived in constant fear, nervous that one day, her husband would realize that she is Black. 

Passing as white made Stella lose touch with her family, but the privilege that came with looking white was undeniable. That privilege has not gone away in our “modern” society. 

Stella continuously plays a white woman and does not even tell her daughter, Kennedy, that she is Black.

When a Black family “invades” Stella’s white bubble, Stella panics and even gets upset when Kennedy plays with the neighbor’s child. She feared that the Black family will see Stella for what she is. Eventually, Stella allows herself to befriend the family. However, the other neighbors do not hide their hatred towards the new family and throw bricks through their windows.

They were sending a message: Don’t they know they aren’t welcome here?

As fate would have it, the twins’ daughters meet each other. Ironically, both struggle with their identities as well.

After failing to lighten herself, Jude is slowly learning to accept her color. Her boyfriend, Reese, who is transitioning from female to male, has played a crucial role in her character development.

I am grateful that Reese’s character was included in this narrative. He highlights the intersectionality of marginalized groups and how much we still have to fight for transgender rights.

Jude never really spoke about Reese’s transition. But she silently worked in order to save money for his surgery and threw herself into education so she could have a life that her mother could never have.

Kennedy always felt like her mother hated her and perhaps there is some truth to that, Kennedy was a manifestation of Stella’s lie. Additionally, Kennedy did not seem to understand her privilege much and felt “whiter than before” when she dated a Black man.

I feel like Bennett did that on purpose. Kennedy (thinking she is white) only sees her whiteness when it is in juxtaposition with someone who is not “from her world.”  It reminds me of how people say that they have Black friends so they totally understand when they do not.

All in all, The Vanishing Half, tackled problems that were seen as “issues of the past,” but clearly are not. Racism and transphobia are still very much alive today. The book should not be timely in 2020, but sadly it is; so, let’s reevaluate ourselves by acknowledging privileges and working against systems that oppress minorities.

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LGBTQIA+ Standoms Pop Culture

Fanfiction has become an avenue of sexual identity for queer youth

For a lot of people, fanfiction is something they would never openly admit to reading.

Its reputation in the mainstream media may have something to do with this. As with anything on the Internet, we are often drawn into discussing the most out-there examples of the phenomenon. From 50 Shades of Grey‘s origin as a Twilight fic, to the recent New York Times piece about the Omegaverse, to… well, incest pairings — yep, those are a thing — it’s easy to see how these unofficial, often sexual spinoffs have developed a bad rap. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s valid.

Like anything else online, there’s an infinite variety available, and the vast majority of fanfiction holds another appeal altogether. We can all appreciate the value of creativity and community. But there are a few things offered by fanfiction in particular which have helped it evolve into a beacon for queer and questioning teens and young adults worldwide:

1. A modern-day twist on a near-timeless medium

Fun fact: most fanfiction is written with the same purpose as olden-day romance novels.

Sure, fics are set in the world of pre-existing stories — but people have been writing this way for centuries. Well-known characters have always been repurposed and depicted in new and creative ways — Shakespeare, anyone? — which typically involve new plotlines with satisfying romantic endings.

Modern fanfiction can range from micro fics of a few hundred words to multi-book sagas, each with a novel’s worth of chapters and detail.

2. Queer. Sex. Ed.

How does queer sex work? What do safe sex practices look like for queer couples? These are questions that fans are often looking for answers to, and they’re finding them in these stories. More importantly, including these details in an informative and accurate way is a job many fic writers take incredibly seriously. (If only the same could be said of our education systems…)

In addition, fics can offer a low-risk opportunity for readers to engage in shame-free kink exploration, with many healthy portrayals of BDSM — including an emphasis on safe word usage. Search results on all popular forums can also be filtered by maturity rating, searched for using keywords, and excluded via trigger warning tags, promoting safe and appropriate consumption for all.

3. Queer love and relationships

Queer folks — especially those still questioning or coming out — are STARVING. We need positive representation in fiction. And in the absence of accurate world depictions in media, it seems we’ve decided to take care of it ourselves.

These fics really do have it all! I’m talking queer weddings. Children raised by queer parents. The introduction of partners to families in controlled and supportive environments. Dating milestones through a queer lens. First queer relationships in otherwise sexually experienced characters. Older characters finally feeling safe enough to question their orientations. Genderbending and the embrace of gender fluidity. There’s a rich, vivid history here, and we aren’t getting it anywhere else.

4. Defiance of social norms and restrictions

I think this is where we can begin to understand the true beauty — and even political power — of fanfiction: its radical, intersectional acceptance.

Let’s think for a minute. Why on earth would a group of people who have been historically ostracized and oppressed by society be drawn to a genre that actively works to eradicate the oppressive norms that very society has built?

It’s worth looking at the ways in which fanfiction is making a real-world impact:

Fans often pick up on homoeroticism and subtext between characters that show creators are being actively discouraged from exploring by network executives.

The rejection of heteronormativity in the majority of these stories then becomes a method through which many women, regardless of orientation or relationship status, are immersing themselves in depictions of relationships where equality is expected between partners. This is allowing alternative gender roles and healthier relationship dynamics to permeate the broader culture.

Writers are most often female. This allows a different perspective on romance to emerge that isn’t often expressed in original media, which is still overrun with male writers, directors, and producers. Women are giving themselves the opportunity to express the way they’d like to be treated by a partner, and to depict the way they think love should unfold.

By existing outside the standards of capitalism and corporate media, disabled creators can provide themselves with the accommodation they deserve. Company deadlines and network schedules do not exist, and writers can set their own timelines — and, in doing so, their own boundaries — as regularly or inconsistently as needed. In this way, fanfiction is dismantling a major barrier to disabled contributions and voices in arts and literature.

On top of all of this, the work is all done by fans for free — and for the love and fun of it. Forums where pieces are posted allow for support and feedback from readers, allowing aspiring writers to improve their work — and this can be especially valuable to those who are unable to seek formal training or education in the field.

So yeah, fanfiction is changing the game. In taking control of a narrative, fans are also taking control of the norms of creation itself.

And what could be bolder, more radical, more unapologetically queer than that?

Standoms Books Pop Culture

Confession: I haven’t read books for fun since I was in 8th grade

One of my biggest obsessions used to be reading books. I was that typical fangirl “tween” who even wrote for a fandom magazine at one point. Hearing about all these different stories and worlds was exhilarating and I just got so involved with them. Picking up a good book, reading it all the way through in one sitting, and getting invested in the characters and plot was so easy for me. I would cry with the characters and throw my book across the floor when the author killed someone I liked.

Books were my thing.

From Harry Potter to Divergent, I was one of the most passionate readers you’d ever meet. I even used to write a bit of fanfiction, if I were to be completely transparent. In fact, I attribute my writing journey beginning to 8th grade journalism. However, it actually started before then in 6th grade when I started writing about my favorite books. And most of the kids at my school would make fun of me if I ever told them. Right off the bat, I think it would be kind of unfair to attribute all of why I stopped reading to just academics taking over. I will say this – judgemental teens suck. That didn’t stop me throughout middle school from reading the cheesiest, best Wattpad and YA stories ever. But, it did in high school.

In addition, once I started high school, academic reading became increasingly important, and reading quickly became more of a chore. At first, I still read novels to keep me sane in between all of it, because here’s the thing. Academic reading can be BORING. But as I progressed through high school, the readings became harder, the time became smaller, and the leisure reading became nonexistent. Going to the school library to check out a book is unheard of at my school, much less taking the time to go to a public one. I think this stigma around reading at my school actually stemmed from the fact that everyone cares so much about getting into college.

Reading a YA book can’t possibly get you into Harvard, right?

But, I think it totally can. Reading is an incredibly valuable experience. It can teach understanding, acceptance, and other values that you just can’t get from anywhere else. Books contain thousands of new words that you’ve never heard before. They have rhetorical strategies (that DO NOT need to be analyzed so in-depth in my opinion). In academic reading, we tend to read too much into the book, which makes it so unbelievably boring. But when you read simply because you want to read, there is so much more to gain, as your brain is also more invested.

I do miss reading a lot though. I want to go back to reading the best YA novels I’ve ever read and dressing up as Hermione from Harry Potter and simply enjoying living in a different world. Reading was kind of an escape for me, and I need that escape now more than ever. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get back to it while in quarantine.

For now, I’ve amounted to reading digital magazines, news publications, and, of course, the books that are assigned to us in school. There’s nothing wrong with any of these, and if it’s your style, you should definitely check out some great digital magazines. However, for me, reading was about romance, fantasy, and the stories that just won’t appear in a news publication or a magazine, or even an academic book. Reading was about the things I dreamed of and the things I desired. It wasn’t ever about why the author chose to write a capital ‘S’ rather than a lowercase ‘s’. Ultimately, reading still is and will always be one of my most favorite things to do in the whole world, but I just don’t do it anymore with a real, 500-page hardcover book. But you should.

Have YOU submitted your book nominations for our Reading Challenge yet? Hurry up, you only have until April 30!

Feel-Good Love Life Stories Advice

5 reasons why I still write love letters

I know it sounds corny, or like I should be the main character in a gushy romance novel but: I love writing love letters.

I am unapologetically a hopeless romantic. I find so much splendor and awe in my favorite love stories, I could talk about them for days without ever getting bored.

I started writing love letters when I was young. I would send hand-written letters to my family members on birthdays and holidays. These were usually scribbled on with red crayon and glitter. I eventually moved on to crafting long and provocative cards, using words you’d only find in a thesaurus, to my friends when I found myself thinking of them sporadically.

Now, I write letters of love, lust, and longing to my boyfriend. These are almost always intense, passionate, and consuming notes. My favorite sign off is, “I kiss you millions of times. Your affectionate, Vanessa.” 

I love the feeling, I love the hand cramps, I love the rush to get everything down on paper, I love kissing a sealed envelope. I love it all.

Here are five reasons why I still write love letters in no particular order: 

1. They are therapeutic

(Two cartoon characters are talking to each other, one from their window and the other on a balcony, who is holding a pen and paper. The one from the window says, "And you've written about a hundred of these secret love poems." Via Giphy
(Two cartoon characters are talking to each other and one says, “And you’ve written about a hundred of these secret love poems.” Via Giphy

Writing and receiving love letters reminds people to try not to get caught up in all of the wires and gluttonous mess that we confront everyday. It is good to take a step back, embrace the moment, and to remind yourself of what really matters in relationships, along with the feelings that accompany them. It would be a shame for genuine love and empathy to be lost to our current, and sometimes hasty, routine. 

 2. Some things can only be said on paper

(A person places many love notes into a box and then hides the box under a blanket) Via Giphy
(A person places many love notes into a box and then hides the box under a blanket) Via Giphy

Writing these letters forces me to confront my scattered emotions for a person. Because they are so specific, love letters help to bring to the surface things that you might be nervous to say. And, because sometimes it is hard to find the right words to say in a situation, letters allow you as much time to revisit it and to get your words down perfectly. They also encourage the use of expression and description as a means to break down emotions, and to say exactly what you mean in as much space as you desire. 

 3. They are authentic

(A white dog pops out of a blue mailbox with a letter addressed to you that reads " I love you") Via Giphy
(A white dog pops out of a blue mailbox with a letter addressed to you that reads ” I love you”) Via Giphy

For me this kind of expression is organic and does just enough to bring me back down to earth. When was the last time you saw either your own or someone else’s handwriting? Love letters are not filtered through social media, but rather they are special and private. Also, having received love letters myself and having watched the people I love open theirs, I know that they have the potential to bring a physical happiness and sense of affection to a person that is difficult to replicate.

4. I am able to explore my more poetic side

(A red paper mache heart opens and closes. The letter on the inside reads, "A thousand hearts would be too few to carry all my love for you.") Via Giphy
(A red paper mache heart opens and closes. The letter on the inside reads, “A thousand hearts would be too few to carry all my love for you.”) Via Giphy

Writing a love letter is like writing a poem. When I start writing I never truly know where and how I am going to end, but no matter what the words come pouring out of me. I like that this kind of writing is lyrical and fluidit’s more romantic that way. It is not uncommon for me to cry, both when writing or reading a love letter, and I think that that in itself is beautiful. 

5. Letters last forever

(An open envelope with the words "I love you" written on it. The letter on the inside switches between floral patterns) Via Giphy
(An open envelope with the words “I love you” written on it. The letter on the inside switches between floral patterns) Via Giphy

All of the letters that I have ever received are kept in my room and in a draw that is designated for them and all other sentimental items. From time to time I will go back to these, read them over, and dote on them. This feeling is only exacerbated when a loved one tells me that they found a letter that I wrote to them a while ago and have re-read it.

I cherish every single letter ever written to me.