Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: A Thousand Questions, 10/6

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I use Fridays to look ahead to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is A Thousand Questions by Saadia Faruqi, and if you want something light and wholesome, here it is!!
Expected Release: October 6, 2020

Why wait on this one?

  • I love going anywhere, and since I can only travel in books right now, I’m delighted to join Mimi on her trip to Pakistan to meet her long-distant grandparents. Having a main character who doesn’t know much about the country despite her ties there helps provide a bridge for me, since there’s a lot I wouldn’t know about living there either.
  • I’m a sucker for a nice happy story about friendship and learning to understand each other. Mimi x Sakina (love that name!) sounds like a friendship I can get behind. I already want to know them and see them succeed and work together and bond… and they’re just characters in a book. 😂
  • It might only be a small part, but there’s a language aspect to this book as Sakina is torn between learning English to go to school or staying at her job to help her family. I’m sure it will be a difficult situation, but I still can’t wait to see her work through it. Plus, language! Love it! I hope there are some delightful little mixups as they each learn. ^.^

Summary:
Mimi is not thrilled to be spending her summer in Karachi, Pakistan, with grandparents she’s never met. Secretly, she wishes to find her long-absent father, and plans to write to him in her beautiful new journal.

The cook’s daughter, Sakina, still hasn’t told her parents that she’ll be accepted to school only if she can improve her English test score—but then, how could her family possibly afford to lose the money she earns working with her Abba in a rich family’s kitchen?

Although the girls seem totally incompatible at first, as the summer goes on, Sakina and Mimi realize that they have plenty in common—and that they each need the other to get what they want most. 

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Ties That Tether, 9/29

In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is one that is hard to miss with it’s striking cover, Ties That Tether by Jane Igharo, featuring a Nigerian Canadian woman who’s done with her series of parental setups and stumbles upon a chance man of her own.
Expected Release: September 29, 2020

  • What’s better than an unexpected romance? I dare say most people don’t expect much to come from a one-night stand after that one night, but Azere finds a whole lot more of a connection with Rafael. I think this will be a delightful fall into love and I can’t wait to be there for it. ^.^
  • As if new love wasn’t fraught enough, Azere also has to worry about her cultural navigation in this new relationship. Dating a guy who doesn’t share her ethnicity can have it’s own difficulties, but she also has to deal with a family that’s big on preserving heritage. AKA – you’re Nigerian, so you’d better be dating a Nigerian, even if you move to Canada! This is two cultures I’ll get to learn about!
  • Basically, this whole thing sounds like a plot basis I know and love. A sweetly developing romance; a culture I’ll get to learn about; an immigrant’s work to navigate her past and her future; Canada; it’s got it all!

At twelve years old, Azere promised her dying father she would marry a Nigerian man and preserve her culture even after emigrating to Canada. Her mother has been vigilant about helping–forcing–her to stay well within the Nigerian dating pool ever since. But when another match-made-by-mom goes wrong, Azere ends up at a bar, enjoying the company and later sharing the bed of Rafael Castellano, a man who is tall, handsome, and white.

When their one-night stand unexpectedly evolves into something serious, Azere is caught between her growing feelings for Rafael and the compulsive need to please her mother who will never accept a relationship that threatens to dilute Azere’s Nigerian heritage.

Azere can’t help wondering if loving Rafael makes her any less of a Nigerian. Can she be with him without compromising her identity? The answer will either cause Azere to be audacious and fight for her happiness or continue as the compliant daughter.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Smash It!, 9/22

In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is one that I think people will probably have heard of before now because it’s getting a good amount of attention. if you haven’t had the pleasure yet, let me introduce you to Smash it! by Francina Simone.
Expected Release: September 22, 2020

Why wait on this one?

  • This is pitched as a story concept that is pretty familiar, but one I never get tired of hearing. When someone — particularly a young woman — stops being quiet and meek and starts standing up for herself and doing what she wants without unwarranted fear or societal shame? That is like my favorite read ever.
  • I think this will be one of those books that makes you cheer for the main character and get a burst of pure community and support for another person. It also makes you want to take life by the horns and just do all the things you’ve ever been nervous to do. Quit your job! Move to Korea! Ask out your cute coworker! These may or may not be personal examples. Let’s move on.
  • Honestly, the cover and description and tagline and title — they did a great job marketing this!!! Zoom in on that cover. The detail is incredible and you can really see it on her fingers and hair and face. The tagline is “mistakes were made” and I’ll be damned if that doesn’t make me grin and smile indulgently and want to know for all the life of me what mistakes were made. And come on, a title with an exclamation point? I am all about it. We do not have enough of those. Marketing team: seriously, well done, because this is a perfect example of how to do it right.

Olivia “Liv” James is done with letting her insecurities get the best of her. So she does what any self-respecting hot mess of a girl who wants to SMASH junior year does…

After Liv shows up to a Halloween party in khaki shorts–why, God, why?–she decides to set aside her wack AF ways. She makes a list–a F*ck-It list.

1. Be bold–do the thing that scares me.

2. Learn to take a compliment.

3. Stand out instead of back.

She kicks it off by trying out for the school musical, saying yes to a date and making new friends. Life is great when you stop punking yourself! However, with change comes a lot of missteps, and being bold means following her heart. So what happens when Liv’s heart is interested in three different guys–and two of them are her best friends? What is she supposed to do when she gets dumped by a guy she’s not even dating? How does one Smash It! after the humiliation of being friend-zoned?

In Liv’s own words, “F*ck it. What’s the worst that can happen?”

A lot, apparently.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: How It All Blew Up, 9/22

In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is one that I read a sample of and was immediately taken in by the clear character voice and the format: How It All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmadi.
Expected Release: September 22, 2020

Why wait on this one?

  • At this point so much has been written that sometimes it’s hard to do something new, but How It All Blew Up is based on the premise of Amir having to tell his story to a Customs Officer to avoid… something that he’s being accused of, probably terrorist stuff considering he’s Muslim. A mix of flashbacks to his story and entries of him talking to the customs officer, I certainly don’t think I’ve read a story with this combo before!
  • Just from the small bit I read, I already love Amir. He’s absolutely hilarious, and his one-sided dialogues with the customs officer are so, so funny in their awkward sincerity. I don’t know how any of them could accuse him of something violent. The character voice is so strong, and it’s so hard not to lean in to hear more.
  • The complexities of coming out to your family are almost never easy, but to do so when your family believes that being gay is a sin against humanity and crime against God… I imagine it makes things just a smidge more difficult. Which is why Amir ran away to Rome instead of coming clean. Obvious fix, right?

Summary:
Eighteen-year-old Amir Azadi always knew coming out to his Muslim family would be messy–he just didn’t think it would end in an airport interrogation room. But when faced with a failed relationship, bullies, and blackmail, running away to Rome is his only option. Right?

Soon, late nights with new friends and dates in the Sistine Chapel start to feel like second nature… until his old life comes knocking on his door. Now, Amir has to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth to a US Customs officer, or risk losing his hard-won freedom.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Grown, 9/15/20

In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is one that I’ve seen around a lot — and it’s hard to miss the bright yellow cover for Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson.
Expected Release: September 15, 2020

Why wait on this one?

  • I find myself more interested in murder mysteries lately, and this one promises to deliver! The best part is that since Enchanted doesn’t remember anything about the night before, she becomes an unreliable narrator. What if she did kill her mentor, the super popular Korey Fields?
  • Since Korey is a celebrity and Enchanted is striving to be one, this murder takes on a national spotlight. As if being accused of murder wasn’t difficult enough, Enchanted is going to face hordes of fans who will be out for blood. Probably literally, given the things actual people do. That alone is truly horrifying.
  • And sure, Korey was popular, but did he hide a darker side from his fans (much like Ellen DeGeneres may have?)? Described by Enchanted as controlling and filled with rage, I can’t wait to see what the real face of the devil looks like in this YA thriller. Maybe Enchanted did kill Korey — and maybe he deserved it.

Summary:
Korey Fields is dead.

When Enchanted Jones wakes with blood on her hands and zero memory of the previous night, no one—the police and Korey’s fans included—has more questions than she does. All she really knows is that this isn’t how things are supposed to be. Korey was Enchanted’s ticket to stardom.

Before there was a dead body, Enchanted was an aspiring singer, struggling with her tight knit family’s recent move to the suburbs while trying to find her place as the lone Black girl in high school. But then legendary R&B artist Korey Fields spots her at an audition. And suddenly her dream of being a professional singer takes flight.

Enchanted is dazzled by Korey’s luxurious life but soon her dream turns into a nightmare. Behind Korey’s charm and star power hides a dark side, one that wants to control her every move, with rage and consequences. Except now he’s dead and the police are at the door. Who killed Korey Fields?

All signs point to Enchanted.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Last Story of Mina Lee, 9/1/20

In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! This one, The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim, is pretty in keeping with my love of learning about other’s experiences and particuarly about Korean experiences.
Expected release date: September 1, 2020

  • Unsurprisingly, I’m excited about this because it’s an Asian female familial generational story. While that feels really specific, I realized I love these as I’ve been reading more in the past few months! (Ex. Unbound, The Joy Luck Club)
  • This also seems like its going to be two books in one, in a good way. I get the mystery with Margot around her mother’s death, and I get the love story probably gone wrong with Mina back in her youth. Watching the two intertwine and fitting the clues to the facts is so satisfying.
  • As I get older, I grow to appreciate how parents are still just people. Learning about your parents, the history you never knew, the secrets hidden behind the titles of mom or dad, I find it fascinating now. Learning Mina’s story through the context of Margot’s revelations will require Margot to retrofit her understanding of her mother with the new background. And also, like, who killed her???
  • The historical context of immigrating to the US and the difficulties that can come with it will reflect easily onto current day, I believe. Empathy when reading is a draw for me, as is learning about history and lives that I have never undergone (and likely never would).

Summary:
Margot Lee’s mother, Mina, isn’t returning her calls. It’s a mystery to twenty-six-year-old Margot, until she visits her childhood apartment in Koreatown, LA, and finds that her mother has suspiciously died. The discovery sends Margot digging through the past, unraveling the tenuous invisible strings that held together her single mother’s life as a Korean War orphan and an undocumented immigrant, only to realize how little she truly knew about her mother.

Interwoven with Margot’s present-day search is Mina’s story of her first year in Los Angeles as she navigates the promises and perils of the American myth of reinvention. While she’s barely earning a living by stocking shelves at a Korean grocery store, the last thing Mina ever expects is to fall in love. But that love story sets in motion a series of events that have consequences for years to come, leading up to the truth of what happened the night of her death.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Teen Titans Beast Boy

In contrast to throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is Teen TItans: Beast Boy by Kami Garia and Gabriel Picolo.
Expected Release: September 1, 2020

Why wait on this one?

  • Beast Boy is a character who can’t help but be a fun one to learn about. He’s not just a werewolf or a shifter into one form, OH NO! Beast Boy can become any animal. And frankly, the changes that come with it (ex. being GREEN) are probably going to interfere with the whole being-in-high-school thing. This will be a delightful combination of a coming of age story blended with superpowers and origin story.
  • Well, I’ve been waiting on this once since I read Raven in this series, earlier this year. And, well, DAMN. It was really good! The art fit the story perfectly, and the story itself sucked me right in. Since this is the same series, I expect it will also be fantastic. Plus, I got a chapter preview at the end of Raven and was already loving it from that, so it’s a pretty safe bet!
  • These play into my nostalgia a whole lot, too, because I grew up with public TV. So I wasn’t watching Spongebob, like most of my friends. I was watching Teen Titans Go! and falling in love with these characters I had no other background on. Getting to learn more about them now, in these graphic novels, is an absolute treat.

Summary:
Garfield Logan has spent his entire life being overlooked. Even in a small town like Eden, Georgia, the 17-year-old with green streaks in his hair can’t find a way to stand out–and the clock is ticking. Senior year is almost over. If Gar doesn’t find a way to impress the Chosen Ones–the social elite at Bull Creek High School–he will never know what it’s like to matter. Gar’s best friends, Stella and Tank, don’t understand why he cares what other people think. They miss their funny, pizza-loving, video game-obsessed best friend.

Then Gar accepts a wild dare out of the blue. It impresses the Chosen Ones and his social status soars. But other things are changing, too. Gar grows six inches overnight. His voice drops and, suddenly, he’s stronger and faster. He’s finally getting everything he wanted, but his newfound popularity comes at a price. Gar has to work harder to impress his new friends. The dares keep getting bigger and the stakes keep getting higher.

When Gar realizes the extent of his physical changes, he has to dig deep and face the truth about himself–and the people who truly matter–before his life spirals out of control.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From

In contrast to throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From by Jennifer De Leon.
Expected Release: August 18, 2020

Why wait on this one?

  • I can always support a book with a woman deciding to stand up and be herself – and screw other people’s comfort. With Liliana moving into a mostly-white fancy prep school, she’s forced to learn a bit about cruelty and racism. I hate that, but I hope to see her strength no longer be needed someday.
  • Her family bonds sounds tight, but the wrench of her father being deported and the colossal shake up of her perception of her life that comes with that… I cannot imagine what it would be like. Hopefully I can get some glimmer of insight.
  • It sounds like there will be a really strong voice for this novel. Even just reading the blurb gave me a sense of how Liliana might think and sound. If so much can be conveyed just from that, I have high expectations of the entire novel! Very promising.

Summary:
Fifteen-year-old Liliana is fine, thank you very much. It’s fine that her best friend, Jade, is all caught up in her new boyfriend lately. It’s fine that her inner-city high school is disorganized and underfunded. It’s fine that her father took off again—okay, maybe that isn’t fine, but what is Liliana supposed to do? She’s fifteen! Being left with her increasingly crazy mom? Fine. Her heathen little brothers? Fine, fine, fine. But it turns out Dad did leave one thing behind besides her crazy family. Before he left, he signed Liliana up for a school desegregation program called METCO. And she’s been accepted.

Being accepted into METCO, however, isn’t the same as being accepted at her new school. In her old school, Liliana—half-Guatemalan and half-Salvadorian—was part of the majority where almost everyone was a person of color. But now at Westburg, where almost everyone is white, the struggles of being a minority are unavoidable. It becomes clear that the only way to survive is to lighten up—whiten up. And if Dad signed her up for this program, he wouldn’t have just wanted Liliana to survive, he would have wanted her to thrive. So what if Liliana is now going by Lili? So what if she’s acting like she thinks she’s better than her old friends? It’s not a big deal. It’s fine.

But then she discovers the gutting truth about her father: He’s not on one of his side trips. And it isn’t that he doesn’t want to come home…he can’t. He’s undocumented and he’s been deported back to Guatemala. Soon, nothing is fine, and Lili has to make a choice: She’s done trying to make her white classmates and teachers feel more comfortable. Done changing who she is, denying her culture and where she came from. They want to know where she’s from, what she’s about? Liliana is ready to tell them.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: This is My America (7/28)

In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to upcoming releases I’m excited about! Today’s book is This is My America by Kim Johnson, which feels remarkably appropriate for the way society is here in the US right now.
Expected release: July 28, 2020

Why wait on this one?

I adore this clever cover
  • On the fiction side of this, we have the mystery at its heart. Why is Tracy’s brother being accused of murder? What role did he actually play in the event, if any? Will Tracy ever succeed in helping acquit her father as an innocent man?
  • On the more real side of this, we have the painful realism of how Black people in America are treated by law enforcement and the government in general. This book sounds like it will bluntly face the injustices and blatantly shitty things that are handed to Black people. I’m always trying to learn more about the reality of all people, and reading is one way I do so.
  • I fully expect this book to make me feel lots and lots of emotions. I know I will probably cry. And rage. And end feeling exhausted. But those are important things to feel, because for others (too many others) it’s their daily existence and not just a novel they can turn the last page on.

Summary:
Every week, seventeen-year-old Tracy Beaumont writes letters to Innocence X, asking the organization to help her father, an innocent Black man on death row. After seven years, Tracy is running out of time—her dad has only 267 days left. Then the unthinkable happens. The police arrive in the night, and Tracy’s older brother, Jamal, goes from being a bright, promising track star to a “thug” on the run, accused of killing a white girl. Determined to save her brother, Tracy investigates what really happened between Jamal and Angela down at the Pike. But will Tracy and her family survive the uncovering of the skeletons of their Texas town’s racist history that still haunt the present?

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Eat The Buddha

In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is from an author I was quite moved by before, which made my discovery of a similar book, Eat the Buddha (by Barbara Demick) quite exciting!
Expected release: July 28, 2020

Why wait on this one?

  • I’ve read a lot of books about Korea and North Korea because I absolutely love the country (countries) and their history, culture, and everything. Barbara Demerick’s North Korea Confidential was incredibly well-written and completely immersed me in the stories of the people who spoke. If this is anything like that, then it will be another wealth of knowledge and experience.
  • I love learning about other places, and particularly about historical and cultural events that I have never learned about before. There are a lot of gaps in my world knowledge to fill, and I hope that this book could do well to help another one.
  • At the same time, I want to break my own stereotypes. I work in travel, and the way we sell trips to this region is largely by romanticizing it’s quaint, traditional, spiritual lifestyle. While those aspects may exist in Tibet, I feel that there is so much more to know about life there. I want to dismantle my shaky understanding and build a stronger foundation of knowledge and empathy.

Summary:
Just as she did with North Korea, award-winning journalist Barbara Demick explores one of the most hidden corners of the world. She tells the story of a Tibetan town perched eleven thousand feet above sea level that is one of the most difficult places in all of China for foreigners to visit. Ngaba was one of the first places where the Tibetans and the Chinese Communists encountered one another. In the 1930s, Mao Zedong’s Red Army fled into the Tibetan plateau to escape their adversaries in the Chinese Civil War. By the time the soldiers reached Ngaba, they were so hungry that they looted monasteries and ate religious statues made of flour and butter—to Tibetans, it was as if they were eating the Buddha. Their experiences would make Ngaba one of the engines of Tibetan resistance for decades to come, culminating in shocking acts of self-immolation.

Eat the Buddha spans decades of modern Tibetan and Chinese history, as told through the private lives of Demick’s subjects, among them a princess whose family is wiped out during the Cultural Revolution, a young Tibetan nomad who becomes radicalized in the storied monastery of Kirti, an upwardly mobile entrepreneur who falls in love with a Chinese woman, a poet and intellectual who risks everything to voice his resistance, and a Tibetan schoolgirl forced to choose at an early age between her family and the elusive lure of Chinese money. All of them face the same dilemma: Do they resist the Chinese, or do they join them? Do they adhere to Buddhist teachings of compassion and nonviolence, or do they fight?

Illuminating a culture that has long been romanticized by Westerners as deeply spiritual and peaceful, Demick reveals what it is really like to be a Tibetan in the twenty-first century, trying to preserve one’s culture, faith, and language against the depredations of a seemingly unstoppable, technologically all-seeing superpower. Her depiction is nuanced, unvarnished, and at times shocking.