You’re Welcome, Universe (Whitney Gardner)

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Friends are a liability.
Julia learns this the hard way when she covers up a slur about her best friend with a beautiful (albeit illegal) mural, sprayed right across the gymnasium of the Kingston School for the Deaf.

Her (supposed) best friend snitches, the principal expels her, and her mom’s set Julia up with a one-way ticket to a “mainstream” school in the suburbs, where she’s treated like an outcast as the only deaf student.

Out in the ‘burbs, Julia paints anywhere she can, eager to claim some turf of her own. A tag on a sign, a piece on an overpass. But soon Julia leans that she’s not the only vandal in town. Someone is adding to her tags, making them better, showing off – and showing Julia up in the process. She expected her art might get painted over by cops. But she never imagined getting dragged into a graffiti war.

Now Julia must risk arrest and expulsion to go toe to toe with her rival…or face losing the only piece of her identity that still makes sense.


So guys, I’ve been seeing this book all around on the interwebs, so it was a no brainer to request it when it became available on Netgalley, and I was super lucky to get approved and be able to read it.

I’m not entirely sure how to review You’re Welcome, Universe, because I have some conflicting feelings about it, even if I ended up rating the book 4 stars.

So, I decided that I would just tell you what truly worked for me on this book, and what didn’t and why, ok? Let’s start with the positives.


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I think first and foremost I have to mention the diversity in this book.  Julia, the main character, is a Deaf girl of Indian ascendency , daughter of a lesbian couple. This is important and it’s great!

Another thing that I have to applaud is that this was a contemporary that did not revolve around romance, and instead, its main focus was friendship and family.

I really enjoyed the writing and I thought that the author was able to give Julia a super unique voice, and even though I had problems with Julia, I did like her narration. Julia was sarcastic and I liked the type of humour (see below for my problems with her).

I have to say that I know nothing about Deaf culture, but I loved that the author explained things during the book, and made the scenes and interactions look natural, even in the botched lip reading attempts or speaking one handed while driving. I could picture it all, and I don’t think that’s an easy feat.

““Cat got your tongue?” he asks. It always baffles me when people think I’m just typing things out to be different. Or lazy. My new favorite is when they say it’s my generation. Damn millennials, never off their stupid phones! No, you ableist jerkwad . This is how I’m going to communicate with you.”

This was a very character driven book, and I loved Julia’s growth throughout the book.

I loved that the book – in this case the eARCincluded the art mentioned throughout the book, and that it was included in the right places. Sometimes books with art put all those pieces of art at the end, and it doesn’t work in terms of flow. This one did.

“My old art teacher told me I draw like a man. I’ve never forgiven him. I don’t draw like anything, I draw like everything. I draw like me.”

Apart from the art, the book also showed drawings of some signs for different words, and that was a brilliant addition.


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My biggest problem with this book was actually Julia, the main character. I get that she’s 16, and I remember being 16 and feeling like everything was the end of the world. But Julia? Julia is not only a super angry teenager, but she’s purposely mean! And judgmental too, and I guess it just didn’t compute to me how she could say stuff like this:

“No. No way. I refuse to believe it. He’s not clever enough — he’s all looks. This sort of work takes brains and talent.”

She’s also bitchy and very hurtful at some points in the novel, and while I’m glad that she grew up a lot during the book, there were some things she did that totally baffled me. If you’ve read the book, I’m talking about Donovan…

YP or Yoga Pants. What’s her name? No clue! I do understand the use of name signs and I didn’t think the dialog or even the mentions to her were weird as YP. What I found weird and a bit disturbing is that we never learn her name. Never ever during the course of the book does Julia ask her new (and best) friend “hey, what is your name?“. Never!

Still on Yoga Pants – and it hurts me to write this down, because the girl does not have a name in the book – , she has an eating disorder. The information is thrown out there, and mentioned several times during the book. But it is not explored, except to move the plot along at one point. While I like the representation and the inclusion, because it’s such an important topic, the fact that YP relapsing being intimately connected to Julia, made me cringe. And the fact that this wasn’t directly addressed made me a bit uncomfortable.


Even though I had some important issues with the book, I still really really enjoyed it. I actually appreciate that the main character is not perfect and had a lot of room to grow, because she did, and I liked that a lot. I just wished that YP had been more explored, given her importance in the novel.

But I still very much recommend it, because it is a fantastic book, and one that I might even consider getting a physical copy of, because I kind of love that cover.

Btw… this book gave me some major Switched at Birth vibes…

Latest NetGalley Approvals (that made me feel accomplished as a blogger!)

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One of the first things I did when I became a book blogger, was signing up for Netgalley. I went into a frenzy at the beginning and requested a bunch of books that was sure I wouldn’t get, but some time has passed, and after 197 approvals and 103 denials, I have some sense of the books I’m going to get approved or not as soon as I request them. I still request them even if I think I won’t be, because miracles do happen, right?

So, I thought I would share with you some of the books I was approved for lately that really made me feel “oh wow, I guess I accomplished something as a blogger!“.

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The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz was one of my latest requests on NG, and I was SURE I wouldn’t get approved for it. I read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe in 2015 and really enjoyed it, so I was ecstatic when I got the approval email.

Sal used to know his place with his adoptive gay father, their loving Mexican-American family, and his best friend, Samantha. But it’s senior year, and suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and realizing he no longer knows himself. If Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he?


You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner was another one I requested with a certainty that it would come my way. Mostly because it has been in everyone’s lists for awaited diverse reads, and when a book is that hyped right off the bat, it’s really tough to get eARCs from it.

When Julia finds a slur about her best friend scrawled across the back of the Kingston School for the Deaf, she covers it up with a beautiful (albeit illegal) graffiti mural. 

Her supposed best friend snitches, the principal expels her, and her two mothers set Julia up with a one-way ticket to a “mainstream” school in the suburbs, where she’s treated like an outcast as the only deaf student. The last thing she has left is her art, and not even Banksy himself could convince her to give that up.

Out in the ’burbs, Julia paints anywhere she can, eager to claim some turf of her own. But Julia soon learns that she might not be the only vandal in town. Someone is adding to her tags, making them better, showing off — and showing Julia up in the process. She expected her art might get painted over by cops. But she never imagined getting dragged into a full-blown graffiti war.

Told with wit and grit by debut author Whitney Gardner, who also provides gorgeous interior illustrations of Julia’s graffiti tags, You’re Welcome, Universe introduces audiences to a one-of-a-kind protagonist who is unabashedly herself no matter what life throws in her way.


Definitions of Indefinable Things by Whitney Taylor was yet another one that I thought was a long shot, and I can’t wait to delve into it.

This heartbreaking, humorous novel is about three teens whose lives intersect in ways they never expected.

Reggie Mason is all too familiar with “the Three Stages of Depression.” She believes she’s unlocked the secret to keeping herself safe: Nobody can hurt you if you never let them in. 

Reggie encounters an unexpected challenge to her misanthropy: a Twizzler-chomping, indie film-making narcissist named Snake. Snake’s presence, while reassuring, is not exactly stable—especially since his ex-girlfriend is seven months pregnant. As Reggie falls for Snake, she must decide whether it’s time to rewrite the rules that have defined her.


Noteworthy by Riley Redgate just sounded so interesting that I couldn’t resist asking for it. I didn’t read her previous novel, but I heard good things about it.

It’s the start of Jordan Sun’s junior year at the Kensington-Blaine Boarding School for the Performing Arts. Unfortunately, she’s an Alto 2, which — in the musical theatre world — is sort of like being a vulture in the wild: She has a spot in the ecosystem, but nobody’s falling over themselves to express their appreciation. So it’s no surprise when she gets shut out of the fall musical for the third year straight.

Then the school gets a mass email: A spot has opened up in the Sharpshooters, Kensington’s elite a cappella octet. Worshiped … revered … all male. Desperate to prove herself, Jordan auditions in her most convincing drag, and it turns out that Jordan Sun, Tenor 1, is exactly what the Sharps are looking for.


Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde. I fell in love with the title and the cover, before I even read the blurb or started seeing the book on diverse books lists. So glad they approved me.

When BFFs Charlie, Taylor and Jamie go to SupaCon, they know it’s going to be a blast. What they don’t expect is for it to change their lives forever. 

Charlie likes to stand out. SupaCon is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star, Jason Ryan. When Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

While Charlie dodges questions about her personal life, Taylor starts asking questions about her own.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.


Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner. I haven’t read his previous book, but Kat loved it, and I trust in her opinion. So when this book showed up on Netgalley, I requested it, and then I requested it again (one of those requests was denied…).

Can a text message destroy your life?

Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths.

Then Blake’s grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a ‘goodbye day’ together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli’s bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive. Carver’s own despair and guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake. Can the goodbye days really help?


So guys, have you been approved for any of these? Are you excited for any of them?

In your time requesting ARCs, was there any you got that you thought “YAY, I MADE IT“?!

February TBR

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This month will be crazy! I went a little overboard with my netgalley requests, and ended up getting way too many ARCs for this month, most of them YA from Entangled Crush. Check out my enormous TBR for February.

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  1. There’s Something About Nik by Sara Hantz
  2. The Feeling of Forever (Love Unplugged #2) by Jamie Howard
  3. Weddings, Crushes, and Other Dramas (Creative HeArts, #6; Willa and Finn, #2) by Emily McKay
  4. Any Boy But You (North Pole, Minnesota, #1) by Julie Hammerle
  5. A Thousand Letters by Staci Hart
  6. Making Faces by Amy Harmon
  7. Off the Ice (Juniper Falls, #1) by Julie Cross
  8. Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen
  9. Cheater by Rachel Van Dyken
  10. You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner
  11. Definitions of Indefinable Things by Whitney Taylor
  12. Daisy and the Front Man (Backstage Pass #3) by Rebekah L. Purdy
  13. A Boy Like You by Ginger Scott
  14. Ten Thousand Skies Above You (Firebird #2) by Claudia Gray
  15. The Cad and the Co-Ed (Rugby #3) by L.H. Cosway Penny Reid
  16. A Million Worlds with You (Firebird #3) by Claudia Gray
  17. Be My Hero (Forbidden Men #3) by Linda Kage
  18. Paper Princess (The Royals #1) by Erin Watt

I doubt that I’ll be able to read all 18 books, and follow this huge TBR, but most of these are ARCs, so I need to read at least those. Wish me luck…