Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Prison Healer, 4/13/21

Hey y’all! 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 The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni.
Expected Release: April 13, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • A woman taking on some kind of to-the-death competition is pretty much the easiest way to get me to read a book. Add in the facts that they’re elemental based trials, there’s a prison involved, PLUS some kind of foreign-royal-rebellion-rescue mystery involved? Well, there’s pretty much no way I’m not reading this.
  • This sounds like it’s going to have strong Throne of Glass vibes, and that series was a game changer for me. I think this book has the potential to be really unoriginal and disappointing, BUT I also think that if it’s done well, it will be really really good. I hold out hope for the latter. ^.^
  • Creative challenges are fun to read about. I can’t wait to see what madness she has to face for a fire trial, or how her healing skills will inevitably come in handy somehow. There’s also just so much mystery packed into the blurb that I ALREADY am dying to know: who is this queen? Who is KIVA, really??

Summary

Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan has spent the last ten years fighting for survival in the notorious death prison, Zalindov, working as the prison healer.

When the Rebel Queen is captured, Kiva is charged with keeping the terminally ill woman alive long enough for her to undergo the Trial by Ordeal: a series of elemental challenges against the torments of air, fire, water, and earth, assigned to only the most dangerous of criminals.

Then a coded message from Kiva’s family arrives, containing a single order: “Don’t let her die. We are coming.” Aware that the Trials will kill the sickly queen, Kiva risks her own life to volunteer in her place. If she succeeds, both she and the queen will be granted their freedom.

But no one has ever survived.

With an incurable plague sweeping Zalindov, a mysterious new inmate fighting for Kiva’s heart, and a prison rebellion brewing, Kiva can’t escape the terrible feeling that her trials have only just begun.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Cost of Knowing, 4/6/21

Hey y’all! 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 The Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris!
Expected Release: April 6, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • Alex is able to see the future of anything he touches, just a glimpse at a time. They seem to be always depressing or the worst moment of it’s future — like he and his girlfriend breaking up. Or… like his brother dying. Soon. So if this isn’t clear, the plot is what’s heavily drawing me in here. I want to know why he has this ability
  • While there’s obviously some magic going on in this story, it also sounds like it will blend with reality to make it feel natural. There’s some hints that Alex has anxiety and probably some other mental health struggles, because frankly in his situation, who wouldn’t?
  • And of course this story will be painful, in large part because as always, it is too real that just being black in America is half a death sentence already. I’m not 100% sure what the predicted cause of his brother’s death will be, but if I can read into the police-light-red-and-blues of the cover, maybe I have a decent guess.
  • And also of course it’s by Brittney Morris and I super loved Slay. She’s close to an auto-read author for me now.

Summary

Sixteen-year-old Alex Rufus is trying his best. He tries to be the best employee he can be at the local ice cream shop; the best boyfriend he can be to his amazing girlfriend, Talia; the best protector he can be over his little brother, Isaiah. But as much as Alex tries, he often comes up short.

It’s hard to for him to be present when every time he touches an object or person, Alex sees into its future. When he touches a scoop, he has a vision of him using it to scoop ice cream. When he touches his car, he sees it years from now, totaled and underwater. When he touches Talia, he sees them at the precipice of breaking up, and that terrifies him. Alex feels these visions are a curse, distracting him, making him anxious and unable to live an ordinary life.

And when Alex touches a photo that gives him a vision of his brother’s imminent death, everything changes.

With Alex now in a race against time, death, and circumstances, he and Isaiah must grapple with their past, their future, and what it means to be a young Black man in America in the present.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Zara Hossain is Here, 4/6/21

Hey y’all! 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 Zara Hossain is Here by Sabina Khan.
Expected Release: April 6, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • As always, I’m about cultures besides my own, although Zara Hossain is dealing with racism and hate from those in her new home in Texas. I super hope Tyler Benson, the ringleader of it all, learns his lesson and maybe even switches sides — or at least gets what he’s given. -_-
  • Strong women are the best. Allowing Zara to fight and be brave, even though it’s bullshit that anyone still has to, is a relief. If they’re in a bad situation, at least they have some ways to stand up. And I hope this book shows the hope that others WILL stand with them, with the oppressed and mistreated.
  • Zara’s family has been waiting on their green card for almost a decade, and the craziest part about that is how common that actually is. A friend of mine went through the process with her husband, and even that took YEARS for them to get when he’s from New Zealand, a country with good relations with pretty much every other country. I love the insight to the process, as it’s something most Americans will never go through, and understanding the many barriers to moving to the US legally will help breed empathy and understanding, which in turn reduces hate and fear.

Summary

Seventeen-year-old Pakistani immigrant, Zara Hossain, has been leading a fairly typical life in Corpus Christi, Texas, since her family moved there for her father to work as a pediatrician. While dealing with the Islamophobia that she faces at school, Zara has to lay low, trying not to stir up any trouble and jeopardize their family’s dependent visa status while they await their green card approval, which has been in process for almost nine years.

But one day her tormentor, star football player Tyler Benson, takes things too far, leaving a threatening note in her locker, and gets suspended. As an act of revenge against her for speaking out, Tyler and his friends vandalize Zara’s house with racist graffiti, leading to a violent crime that puts Zara’s entire future at risk. Now she must pay the ultimate price and choose between fighting to stay in the only place she’s ever called home or losing the life she loves and everyone in it.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Vines, 3/23/21

Hey y’all! 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 The Vines by Shelley Nolden.
Expected Release: March 23, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • I tend to stay away from horror, but this one sounds so compelling and yes, ok, the cover does sway me as well. With a name like that and a story about a young girl studied by doctors for years, I’m drooling to find out how they connect and what’s so unique about this girl Cora.
  • Where there’s a unique and interesting person, there’s a foolish obsessed one soon to follow behind. In this case, it’s Finn who stumbled upon the island’s most hidden secret — Cora — and pursues the woman and the mystery to whatever end may come. Even if it’s his own…?
  • While I’m bored by New York City as a setting, I do like the contrast of a wild and natural island in the backdrop of it. The harsh city against the wilderness in its midst can create a subtle and alluring atmosphere for a creepy horror story.

Summary

In the shadows of New York City lies forbidden North Brother Island, where the remains of a shuttered hospital hide the haunting memories of century-old quarantines and human experiments. The ruins conceal the scarred and beautiful Cora, imprisoned by contagions and the doctors who torment her. When Finn, a young urban explorer, arrives on the island and glimpses an enigmatic beauty through the foliage, intrigue turns to obsession as he seeks to uncover her past—and his own family’s dark secrets. By unraveling these mysteries, will he be able to save Cora? Will Cora meet the same tragic ending as the thousands who’ve already perished on the island?

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Mirror Season, 3/16/21

Hey y’all! 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 The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore.
Expected Release: March 16, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • The point that men can be sexually assaulted as well as women is not often touched upon in stories. True, it’s likely far FAR less common, but I appreciate the duality of the story here as I think that the combined perspectives can make the overall horror clearer and hit harder.
  • Part of the premise reminds me in a way of the mood in Mooncakes and while I wasn’t a huge fan of that story, I do think it can work well here. I expect that magical realism to fit seamlessly into the all-too-real elements of the story as a way to soften the blow and allow for personal discovery.
  • Man, this is going to be a tough read in a lot of ways. And yet, it seems like it has these touches of light in there as glimmers of hope for the main characters as well as the reader going along with them. I think that if this is done well, it will be really successful.

Summary

Graciela Cristales’ whole world changes after she and a boy she barely knows are assaulted at the same party. She loses her gift for making enchanted pan dulce. Neighborhood trees vanish overnight, while mirrored glass appears, bringing reckless magic with it. And Ciela is haunted by what happened to her, and what happened to the boy whose name she never learned.

But when the boy, Lock, shows up at Ciela’s school, he has no memory of that night, and no clue that a single piece of mirrored glass is taking his life apart. Ciela decides to help him, which means hiding the truth about that night. Because Ciela knows who assaulted her, and him. And she knows that her survival, and his, depend on no one finding out what really happened.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Delicates, 3/16/21

Hey y’all! 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 Delicates by Breanna Thummler!
Expected Release: March 16, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • Do you see the little tagline that says “From the creator of SHEETS?” Because that’s 99% of why I’m reading this. Sheets was a perfectly sweet little surprise. Like cutting into a cake and finding a warm fudge center.
  • I’ve come to love middle-grade characters, just as I came to love teaching middle grades. Lit for middle grade is so often wholesome at its core, and I love the reminders of what goodness you can aspire too. Particularly when you’re young and don’t know any differently (hopefully). Plus the humour is at the same level I am still 😅
  • The artwork is gorgeous! Look at those poppin’ colors! They complemented the first story so well, and I look forward to more. It somehow dances away from being garish and instead brings light and fun to even potentially dark moments.

Summary

Marjorie Glatt’s life hasn’t been the same ever since she discovered a group of ghosts hiding in her family’s laundromat. Wendell, who died young and now must wander Earth as a ghost with nothing more than a sheet for a body, soon became one of Marjorie’s only friends. But when Marjorie finally gets accepted by the popular kids at school, she begins to worry that if anyone learns about her secret ghost friends, she’ll be labeled as a freak who sees dead people. With Marjorie’s insistence on keeping Wendell’s ghost identity a secret from her new friends, Wendell begins to feel even more invisible than he already is.

Eliza Duncan feels invisible too. She’s an avid photographer, and her zealous interest in finding and photographing ghosts gets her labeled as “different” by all the other kids in school. Constantly feeling on the outside, Eliza begins to feel like a ghost herself. Marjorie must soon come to terms with the price she pays to be accepted by the popular kids. Is it worth losing her friend, Wendell? Is she partially to blame for the bullying Eliza endures?

Delicates tells a powerful story about what it means to fit in, and those left on the outside. It shows what it’s like to feel invisible, and the importance of feeling seen. Above all, it is a story of asking for help when all seems dark, and bringing help and light to those who need it most.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Lost Apothecary, 3/2/21

Hey y’all! 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 The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner!
Expected Release: March 2, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • Revenge! OOooooh, Coriolanus made me really love revenge. Thanks Misty ✌ So I’m all in for a story of love and vengeance. Add in some poison and you’ve got this very medieval feel to it almost.
  • The setting! 1700s London was a pretty wild place, and that allows for a lot of wild things in any story set then. Combined with the modern-day setting in the connected plot, I think they will blend beautifully. I’ve also been reading a lot of those dual-timeline connection kind of stories lately.
  • Powerful women! Look, they can be flawed, that’s fine. They don’t have to be good and kind women. I just want to see them wield power and badassery, even if it ends poorly.
    Just a small note that this post got corrupted after publishing, so this is a re-written version that’s not nearly as good as the first. 😦 BUT, the book should still be fab!

Summary

Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman.

Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register.

One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose—selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives. But when her new patron turns out to be a precocious twelve-year-old named Eliza Fanning, an unexpected friendship sets in motion a string of events that jeopardizes Nella’s world and threatens to expose the many women whose names are written in her register.

In present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. When she finds an old apothecary vial near the river Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London over two centuries ago. As she deepens her search, Caroline’s life collides with Nella’s and Eliza’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Honey girl, 2/23/21

Hey y’all! 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 Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers.
Expected Release: February 23, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • As my friend said when she was able to get an early copy, “I’m so pumped for lesbian romance. There are so few books on it in this genre.” Thanks Erin, for writing my post for me, because I’m totally on board as well. I’ve found a nice surge in lesbian young adult novels, but for a slightly older audience it’s been a bit scant still (or maybe I’m just missing them all). Give me that unexpected romance every day please!
  • Intersectionality! Not just lesbians, but Asian and black rep as well! Look, I’m not defining this book by these elements of the characters, because there’s so much more I’m excited for (see point 3) BUT I am still so excited when I see stories with characters who have a story beyond their labels and categories and whatnot.
  • IT SOUNDS DAMN GREAT. Drunken marriage to a stranger in Vegas? Falling in love with your accidental wife? Striking out on your own to figure out who you are and who you want to be? It’s got so much good packed in. It’s a whole crazy blend of moments that force Grace to grow up real fast.

Summary

With her newly completed PhD in astronomy in hand, twenty-eight-year-old Grace Porter goes on a girls’ trip to Vegas to celebrate. She’s a straight A, work-through-the-summer certified high achiever. She is not the kind of person who goes to Vegas and gets drunkenly married to a woman whose name she doesn’t know…until she does exactly that.

This one moment of departure from her stern ex-military father’s plans for her life has Grace wondering why she doesn’t feel more fulfilled from completing her degree. Staggering under the weight of her father’s expectations, a struggling job market and feelings of burnout, Grace flees her home in Portland for a summer in New York with the wife she barely knows.

In New York, she’s able to ignore all the annoying questions about her future plans and falls hard for her creative and beautiful wife, Yuki Yamamoto. But when reality comes crashing in, Grace must face what she’s been running from all along—the fears that make us human, the family scars that need to heal and the longing for connection, especially when navigating the messiness of adulthood.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Jade Bones, 2/16

Hey y’all! 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 The Jade Bones by Lani Forbes. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of the first copy, which means I’ve been waiting extra long for this book. Also, Y’ALL! I posted a Fast Forward Friday actually on Friday!!! This might be the first time all year. 🎉
Expected Release: February 16, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • Well, like I said: I’ve been waiting on this sequel for what feels like a super long time now! So I’m excited to just continue the story! I’m not 100% sure if this is the final book or not, but I sort of hope it is so I can enjoy the conclusion. ☺
  • Most of the first book was decent, but didn’t blow me away with originality. And then we got to the last few chapters. And man, where that book ended was where I wanted to be. I am SO excited to explore this new portion of the world and story!!!
  • I love Mayan / central American fantasy. I feel like there’s so little of it, which is bizarre considering how rich the history is and the lush beautiful environments they can be set in. Everyone else is a fool, and Lani Forbes knows how to get things done.

Summary (note: THIS IS A SEQUEL!)

Cast into the underworld after an act of shattering betrayal, Mayana and Ahkin must overcome unimaginable odds if they are to return home and reclaim the throne of the Chicome. A river of blood and demons disguised as children are only two of the challenges standing in their way. Fortunately, they are not unequipped. Mayana’s royal blood controls the power of water, and Prince Ahkin wields the power of the sun itself. Ometeotl, the Mother goddess, provides them with other gifts—and an ominous warning that one of them may not survive. But can the goddess be trusted?

Back in the lands above, Mayana’s best friend, Yemania, has survived the empress selection ritual—but her next challenge may be more than she can bear. The new empress of the Chicome Empire demands she become High Healer. Yemania has no interest in serving in the palace; she wants to use her healing ability to help the common people. More than that, her heart is no longer her own. She has met an enchanting stranger—Ochix, one of the feared Miquitz people who are ancient enemies of the Chicome.

As Mayana and Ahkin move ever closer to confronting the lords of the dead, Yemania and Ochix must hide their forbidden romance or face the wrath of both their empires. Meanwhile, the new empress has made a dangerous alliance that might destroy everything they hold dear.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Parenthesis, 2/9/21

Hey y’all! 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 Parenthesis, a graphic novel memoir by Élodie Durand. And as I’ve said before, graphic novels are so often the most expressive and open medium for memoirs and personal stories. Just look at Banned Book Club! It’s no surprise that I’m ready for this one.
Expected Release: February 9, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • As always, I pursue stories about experiences I haven’t or can’t (or in this case, hopefully never will) have myself. For Durand, it’s a tumor that emerged on her brain in her teens, causing seizures and memory loss and the identity struggles that come with it. Just when expected to be able to find herself in the world, she instead encounters a physical cause of her loss of self.
  • Since this book exists… I’m hoping for a happy ending. Or at least, a happy at-the-moment. I’m positive it will be filled with pain and hurt and fear, absolutely. But it seems that so often with those comes inevitable hope (which is itself painful, at times).
  • Graphic novels are, I think, a perfect medium for memoirs. I stand by that pretty firmly, and I so look forward to this one holding up that tradition.

Summary

Julie is barely out of her teens when a tumor begins pressing on her brain, ushering in a new world of seizures, memory gaps, and loss of self. Suddenly, the sentence of her normal life has been interrupted by the opening of a parenthesis that may never close. Based on the real experiences of cartoonist Élodie Durand, Parenthesis is a gripping testament of struggle, fragility, acceptance, and transformation which was deservedly awarded the Revelation Prize of the Angoulême International Comics Festival.