Hey y’all! IT HAS BEEN A WHILE. I fell off doing Fast Forward Friday titles last summer-ish when there was a span of time where there genuinely weren’t many new releases I was looking forward to. Those that I was looking forward to were usually ones I had already received ARCs of and didn’t think it made sense to put it as a FFF feature. Anyway, I’ve got lots of books I’m excited for once again so I wanted to start this series back up1 😊
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 Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey! Expected Release: January 17, 2023
Why wait on this one?
The title and cover made me think this would be a bit of a funny read, and the blurb only backed that up. Situational humor of “a surprisingly young divorcee” will provide plenty of fodder for laughs, I’m sure! Even if they are a bit of the pained or awkward variety. I think this book will have a character who doesn’t take herself too seriously.
Oh come on, I’m a fan of basically any book with a plot that is essentially a woman redefining or reclaiming her life in a way that suits her goals and happiness. So for Maggie to be plowing on through it all to get things done? I can’t wait to cheer her on!
And of course, I do think this will have a lot of emotional and tender moments besides the humor. Because those life-redefining journeys aren’t usually easy, and require some (tough) introspection. As Maggie considers what she wants and needs, I’ll reflect as well!
Maggie is fine. She’s doing really good, actually. Sure, she’s broke, her graduate thesis on something obscure is going nowhere, and her marriage only lasted 608 days, but at the ripe old age of twenty-nine, Maggie is determined to embrace her new life as a Surprisingly Young Divorcée™.
Now she has time to take up nine hobbies, eat hamburgers at 4 am, and “get back out there” sex-wise. With the support of her tough-loving academic advisor, Merris; her newly divorced friend, Amy; and her group chat (naturally), Maggie barrels through her first year of single life, intermittently dating, occasionally waking up on the floor and asking herself tough questions along the way.
Just let him go. These are the words Ky Tran will forever regret. The words she spoke when her parents called to ask if they should let her younger brother Denny out to celebrate his high school graduation with friends. That night, Denny—optimistic, guileless, brilliant Denny—is brutally murdered inside a busy restaurant in the Sydney suburb of Cabramatta, a refugee enclave facing violent crime, an indifferent police force, and the worst heroin epidemic in Australian history.
Returning home to Cabramatta for the funeral, Ky learns that the police are stumped by Denny’s case: a dozen people were at Lucky 8 restaurant when Denny died, but each of the bystanders claim to have seen nothing.
Desperately hoping that understanding what happened might ease her suffocating guilt, Ky sets aside her grief and determines to track down the witnesses herself. With each encounter, she peels back another layer of the place that shaped her and Denny, exposing trauma and seeds of violence that were planted well before that fateful celebration dinner: by colonialism, by the war in Vietnam, and by the choices they’ve all made to survive.
“Would an explanation of why something was not done in the past make you feel better?” he said, defaulting to a line he often used on Ky’s mother whenever she re-litigated his past decisions…
This quote reflected in words a feeling I’ve had myself many times. I often tell myself this any time I find I’m dwelling on the past that can’t be changed, and it helps to let things go and move on. The message to let go and move on is strong in this whole book. Ky’s mother reflects this in a way, whose mindset is that her son is dead and knowing details about why and how isn’t going to make him not dead, so the details ultimately do not matter.
…whatever sense of satisfaction she derived from getting him to admit his faults would be swallowed by the guilt of making another person feel rotten.
Another sentiment I related to quite a lot from Ky was this one. Vindictiveness is not in my nature, and it’s for almost this exact reason. The key difference is that I’m not upset by guilt, I’m upset by cruelty. Ky’s motivation to not be cruel is based only on her guilt that results from breaking a common social contract to avoid conflict and confrontation. Does that imply that she doesn’t truly care about making the person feel rotten? It’s one of many reflections Ky has about herself and her personal identity crisis over the course of the novel.
Hey y’all! A couple years ago, I learned of a challenge that was able to wholeheartedly embrace. My impulsiveness will actually help me with this one, since it’s the 2023 Library Love challenge! Hosted by Angel’s Guilty Pleasures & Books of My Heart, the goal is simple: read books from the library!
Who doesn’t love the library? When I move to a new place, I always go to the library to check it out and get a card within a day or two of moving in. Usually before I’m even fully unpacked. Priorities, right? 👌🏼
So this year I’m joining the 2023 Library Love challenge and going to shoot for at least 24 books. In 2022 I went absolutely library mad (apparently) and read SEVENTY-TWO books from the library. But in 2023, I have some challenges for myself centered on reading books from my shelves to help determine what I want to keep, so I actually want to aim lower for library reads this year since I own a lot already. I’m sure it will end up being a lot of library reads anyway, though. xD
Hey y’all! In a few years ago, I stumbled upon my favorite reading challenge ever, the Library Love reading challenge! Hosted by Angel’s Guilty Pleasures & Books of My Heart, the goal is simple: read books from the library! And boy, do I ever do that!
2022 was a surprise to me in how much I read from the library, considering I don’t often walk to one anymore. Technically it’s within walking distance at about a half hour, but the walk is on some busy streets for about half of that so I don’t love doing it. I did take advantage of any time I was out near the library for another reason to stop by and browse, though. 🙂 And of course, I read so many books digitally from the library!
Here are the tiers that were established from the hosts for level of reading:
Dewey Decimal: Read 12 books
Thrifty Reader: Read 24 books
Overdrive Junkie: Read 36 books (my goal)
Library Addict: Read 48 books
Library Card on Fire: Read 60+ books
I actually ended up surpassing the final tier of 60+ books with a total of 72 which is WILDLY UNEXPECTED but okay! So yes, I hit my goal. xD I love this challenge because it’s fun to see how much I really am getting from the library. There are so many books I first learned about by just wandering around their displays! (a few examples in the full list below are #3, #19, #57, #61… honestly a lot of my nonfiction reads come from discoveries at the library!)
Now this year I have something extra included in this post. Below is the usual list of all the reviews with links to each, but ALSO I have a lot of custom statistics courtesy of The Storygraph for all the books I tagged with the library reads 2022 challenge! I’m really excited to dig into those. 🙂
~ the stats!
I love Storygraph stats and this was a fun one to see what they can do with their custom tag stats (a really lovely Plus plan extra!)
I planned roughly 7, mostly to get my nonfiction goal for the year wrapped up. I read all of them, and finished 13 in total (including a buzzer beater entirely on Dec 31st!).
I wanted to finish a lot of the things I had started this year and not completed (in particular, Will by Will Smith had been on my “in progress” list for like a year and a half). Then there were several nonfiction titles that were meant to fill my 25 nonfiction books in the year goal (success!). Other than that, it was mostly random things I decided to read, like The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman when I decided I wanted a cold, arctic fantasy. Or when I saw a review (driving me nuts that I can’t remember from who!) for When The Tiger Came Down The Mountain by Nghi Vo and decided that it was finally time to read that book I’ve been looking forward to for a while.
Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.
Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small-town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city. It would be a meet-cute if not for the fact that they’ve met many times and it’s never been cute.
If Nora knows she’s not an ideal heroine, Charlie knows he’s nobody’s hero, but as they are thrown together again and again—in a series of coincidences no editor worth their salt would allow—what they discover might just unravel the carefully crafted stories they’ve written about themselves.
Why was I avoiding reading this book for so long? I think it was partially because of how hyped this book was, which is usually a sure way to keep me away from it. Even though I had already read her other two books and enjoyed them. Even though I had been interested in this one. I avoided it still.
Well I finally read it for a challenge read, my first of 2023! And I was admittedly a bit grumbly to myself about making a book I was reluctant about to be the coveted first read and review of the year. But hey, it was actually quite good. Maybe next time I won’t hold back on her book?
It didn’t blow me away, but I enjoyed it. It read fast, too, so if there were any things I didn’t love (there were) it was pretty easy to move past them to something better in short time.
Hey y’all! It’s the first TBR of 2023, and I’m coming in hot by having set a plan in December for how I wanted to start the new year and then immediately doing something different!Here’s to living wildly in 2023! 😅
My original intention was to read a lot of the books that are in my physical library, because I own a lot of books and it’s actually kind of annoying me. I want to read more of them so I can decide if I like them enough to keep them, or if they should be donated, sold on PangoBooks (currently 44 books listed!!), or otherwise swapped out of my collection.
Of course, then I had a few books gifted to me that I wanted to read. And I also had a few library holds come in that have had super long waits, so I don’t want to miss my chance. And then I have an ARC or two to finish in January. So that plan to read only from my shelves is out the window for the month! But that’s okay. I’ll use those as my filler books when I’m in between titles or mood-reader swerving into something different.
So with all of that in mind, here’s my first TBR for the year and what I’m hoping to read in January.
If you insist…
Each of these books has something that is kind of making me have to read it this month. None of that is bad, but it does force them onto my list!
Before The Coffee Gets Cold is the choice for my book club in January. I’m a little on the fence about that because it’s a book that I’ve looked at many times and ended up deciding that it would probably be too intellectual for what I really want. However, now that it’s a book club pick, I guess I’m giving it a shot! I really hope that my impression previously was wrong, and I end up falling in love with it.
Hey y’all! If anyone’s been paying attention to this blog in the last month, you likely will have noticed that you’ve been pretty much bashed over the head with book reviews. I moved away from my usual more varied book related content and posted only book reviews in December 2022. There was an actual reason for this! In late November, I went a little crazy and felt very motivated for some reason and decided that I would finish the year strong by reviewing a bunch of books that I had not yet done for the year. So many in fact, that I would post a review every day in order to catch up!
Well, in a manner that is both shocking and not I did actually end up posting a review every day in December. Also shocking yet not, is the fact that I did not prepare most of them ahead of time (despite my intentions) and was usually writing a review each day to post that same day. And yes, there were at least two or three days where it got to be about 11:00 PM and I was exhausted and then realized I still had to post a review. But hey, I got them done!
I will now celebrate this in the best way I know how: with data and insight!
Below is a brief summary of some of the things I learned through posting a book review every day in December and how I’ve changed since the start of it. That feels kind of ridiculously grandiose to write that it’s changed me, but there were actually some pretty noticeable differences after doing it.
🎙 I narrate my reviews now
I finished an audio book in early December, and I liked it so much that I decided to write the review for it by using voice to text dictation software. And then I was surprised by how much I liked doing that voice to text review! And now I’m almost always voice to text writing my reviews and posts. It feels like I’m talking to a friend about it. If you happen to have noticed that the reviews have gotten a little bit wordier and longer, that would be why! It’s a lot harder to track how long the text is getting when I’m speaking since it just feels natural. And yes, if you were wondering, I am currently voice narrating this as well. 😊
Recommended: sure for a sweet story of figuring out what’s right for you, for healthy and balanced looks at teen / first-time sexuality, for really lovely friendships that are important as well
Cameron Carson has a secret. A secret with the power to break apart his friend group.
Cameron Carson, member of the Geeks and Nerds United (GANU) club, has been secretly hooking up with student council president, cheerleader, theater enthusiast, and all-around queen bee Karla Ortega since the summer. The one problem—what was meant to be a summer fling between coffee shop coworkers has now evolved into a clandestine senior-year entanglement, where Karla isn’t intending on blending their friend groups anytime soon, or at all.
Enter Mackenzie Briggs, who isn’t afraid to be herself or wear her heart on her sleeve. When Cameron finds himself unexpectedly bonding with Mackenzie and repeatedly snubbed in public by Karla, he starts to wonder who he can truly consider a friend and who might have the potential to become more….