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! and even when it’s actually not Friday, I still want to shout about it. this one in particular, because We Are All Birds of Uganda by Hofsa Zayyan is one I’ve already been recommending to people. 😅
Expected release: January 28, 2021
Why wait on this one?
I am forever interested in reading about places I’m not familiar with, and Uganda in the 1960s is certainly one of them. For me, the setting alone was enough to interest me from the start. Historical Uganda in the midst of a regime change is enough of a plot to hold me on its own.
Adding a present day timeline for Sameer learning about his own family past for the first time as he travels home from London only sweetens the deal. Learning about your roots as well as the blending of two cultures are two storylines I usually love.
So of course I’m in it for the drama! The drama of a regime change. The drama of discovering who you are and what life you want to live. The drama of current versus past.
Plus a little bonus point: if the writing is as gorgeous as the title, I expect this will be like a refreshing stream of poetic prose with lush imagery abounding.
1960s UGANDA. Hasan is struggling to run his family business following the sudden death of his wife. Just as he begins to see a way forward, a new regime seizes power, and a wave of rising prejudice threatens to sweep away everything he has built.
Present-day LONDON. Sameer, a young high-flying lawyer, senses an emptiness in what he thought was the life of his dreams. Called back to his family home by an unexpected tragedy, Sameer begins to find the missing pieces of himself not in his future plans, but in a past he never knew.
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 Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas (who I feel probably doesn’t need an introduction as an author at this point). Expected Release: January 12, 2021
Why wait on this one?
Well, of course, Angie Thomas. The fact that this is a companion novel to The Hate U Give is enough reason alone for me to want to pick it up. The first book was raw and painful and necessary. Give me more any day.
I trust Angie to take an honest and balanced look at life in — and after — a gang. Hearing Mav’s story has so much potential, to see how he managed to get out of the game. It was referenced so much and such a key factor in some elements of the other book, that it will be exciting to dive into his story a little more.
On top of that, there’s the whole unexpected-parenthood thing, which is a difficult situation to be thrown into for anyone I imagine. There are so many colliding “difficult situations” in here for Mav to deal with. I hope it doesn’t get jumbled, but I expect good things!
If there’s one thing seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter knows, it’s that a real man takes care of his family. As the son of a former gang legend, Mav does that the only way he knows how: dealing for the King Lords. With this money he can help his mom, who works two jobs while his dad’s in prison.
Life’s not perfect, but with a fly girlfriend and a cousin who always has his back, Mav’s got everything under control.
Until, that is, Maverick finds out he’s a father.
Suddenly he has a baby, Seven, who depends on him for everything. But it’s not so easy to sling dope, finish school, and raise a child. So when he’s offered the chance to go straight, he takes it. In a world where he’s expected to amount to nothing, maybe Mav can prove he’s different.
When King Lord blood runs through your veins, though, you can’t just walk away. Loyalty, revenge, and responsibility threaten to tear Mav apart, especially after the brutal murder of a loved one. He’ll have to figure out for himself what it really means to be a man.
Recommended: sure For a thoughtful introspective journey of self-discovery, for flawed characters who are painfully human, for an expansive intake on what it means to be human
Summary: Harold Fry is recently retired and hasn’t much moved since. When he gets a letter from an old colleague, Queenie, who is in hospice with cancer, he decides to send her a polite letter back. And then on the way to the postbox, he decides to keep going. And going. Until eventually, he’s just going to walk all the way across the country to see Queenie. Harold knows that as long as he walks, Queenie will stay alive; and so he sets off in his boat shoes and tie to walk 600 miles. Harold and his wife Maureen don’t have the best relationship, but when she’s left behind at home, she struggles to find some sort of peace of her own with their past and if they have a future together.
Thoughts: I suppose that, yet again, my expectations were not quite right for a book going into it. I heard “walking across England” but forgot the “by a sedentary retiree.” The pace of the book is as slow as Harold was, walking five miles a day on a ~600 mile journey. By halfway through the book, Harold had been walking for what felt like an eternity, and yet he was about a fifth of the way done with his journey. I admit, it did start to drag a little bit at times for me.
Words have always carried more weight with me than images – give me a book over its movie any day – but I do love to see the beautiful images other people create when they’re in love with a book. That’s not my strength, but I can certainly appreciate it in others! So here’s a few of my faves based on what I’ve been reading recently.
These Violent Delights
I chose These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong as a Book of the Month because I had never heard of it before. And then promptly was told by others that they had been hearing about it everywhere for ages. 🤣 Not sure where I’ve been, but it was new to me! 1920s Shanghai combined with Romeo and Juliet and also gangs — yeah, I’m into that.
Ughhhh THE COLORS! They’re so pretty together! I love the high contrast on this one making the drama of the book cover’s details really stand out.
Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer Verdict: a weak romance with unlikable characters but a delightful focus on saving marine life and ecology
Recommended: not really If you want a story with a focus on entrepreneurship and ecological sustainability, for a dash of YA romance but not the strongest kind ever; stay away because of cliches and tropes, stay away because of plot points that don’t get resolved and unlikable characters
Summary: In this contemporary romance with a bit of magic, chronic overachiever Prudence Daniels is always quick to cast judgment on the lazy, rude, and arrogant residents of her coastal town. Her dreams of karmic justice are fulfilled when, during a night out with her friends, she slips on a spilled drink and hits her head, only to wake up with the sudden ability to cast instant karma on those around her. Pru giddily makes use of the power, punishing everyone from public vandals to karaoke hecklers, but there is one person on whom her powers consistently backfire — Quint Erickson, her slacker of a lab partner and all-around mortal enemy. Over the course of a summer, Pru begins to uncover truths about Quint, her peers, and even herself that reveal how thin the line is between virtue and vanity, generosity and greed… love and hate.
Thoughts: What I liked about this was the focus of the story being very ecological. There have been a growing number of YA books with this focus lately and I love it! The information given made me cheer — like pinnipeds! — and recall how much I enjoyed learning about marine biology.
I did not like Prudence. Like not even a little. I guess I didn’t hate her, but she’s someone I would make obligatory small talk with at a party and then carefully edge away as soon as I could.
I’ve got a plan again this month for what I’ll read. These plans are sometimes a bit silly though, because by the time I write this post to share it, I’ve usually already finished a few of them. 😂 Today is no different, but I’ll include the books here anyway as I’m excited about them! It’s a tidy planned set of nine this month. 😊
The best obligations
These books are each ones I’m reading for A Reason Not Only My Own. I mean, to be real, I’m still the one deciding and benefiting here, but they’re in the list for more than just “I wanted to” reasons!
The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson is one that I already finished because I couldn’t resist plowing through it once I had started. I went in somehwat blind from a recommendation from my friend Elise (thanks again!), and WOW was this a fabulous recommendation! I really love it, as you can see in my review. 🙂
Recommended: to people who know what they’re getting For a psychological study of a woman who lacks empathy, for race and class reflections on a life lived, for a strangely compelling view of someone constantly on the edge of self destruction, for a very slow-paced read that focuses on the inner workings on one woman’s mind
Verdict: I was expecting something different than a slow burn character study of a compulsive liar, but if you go in knowing that’s what you’ll get then this is a fantastic read.
Summary: Ivy Lin is a thief and a liar—but you’d never know it by looking at her. Raised outside of Boston, she is taught how to pilfer items from yard sales and second-hand shops by her immigrant grandmother. Thieving allows Ivy to accumulate the trappings of a suburban teen—and, most importantly, to attract the attention of Gideon Speyer, the golden boy of a wealthy political family. But when Ivy’s mother discovers her trespasses, punishment is swift and Ivy is sent to China, where her dream instantly evaporates. Years later, Ivy has grown into a poised yet restless young woman, haunted by her conflicting feelings about her upbringing and her family. Back in Boston, when she bumps into Sylvia Speyer, Gideon’s sister, a reconnection with Gideon seems not only inevitable—it feels like fate. Slowly, Ivy sinks her claws into Gideon and the entire Speyer clan by attending fancy dinners and weekend getaways to the Cape. But just as Ivy is about to have everything she’s ever wanted, a ghost from her past resurfaces, threatening the nearly perfect life she’s worked so hard to build.
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 Love and Olives by Jenna Evans Welch, which is another choice that should be no surprise to anyone who knows my reading habits. 😁 Expected release: November 10, 2020
Why wait on this one?
Alright, my first reason for wanting to read this is a simple one: I’ve read one of her past books in this “series” and loved it! Like Love & Gelato. I love both of those things, so how could I resist a book about it?? To be fair I don’t love olives, but I’m willing to overlook that fact for the sake of the book. ^.^
Now more than ever I’m aggressively pursuing sweet lighthearted stories that I just really need right now OKAY? And this story of Liv meeting her father basically for the first time in her life and trying to fit in her own image of herself and family and all the confusion that comes with identity struggles PLUS she’s in another country AND there’s this guy…
Remember that part above where she’s in another country? Liv goes to GREECE! This feels fitting, because the first trip abroad I took was to Italy & Greece, so this will complete the duo of my experiences with Welch’s books. And again, y’all, I usually travel so much. This year, I got one trip in before everything closed. I’m so grateful for that one trip, but now I”m trying to make up for the rest with books. So please, Mx. Welch, take me away to sunny, sandy, Santorini!!! 🤩
Summary: Liv Varanakis doesn’t have a lot of fond memories of her father, which makes sense—he fled to Greece when she was only eight. What Liv does remember, though, is their shared love for Greek myths and the lost city of Atlantis. So when Liv suddenly receives a postcard from her father explaining that National Geographic is funding a documentary about his theories on Atlantis—and will she fly out to Greece and help?—Liv jumps at the opportunity.
But when she arrives to gorgeous Santorini, things are a little…awkward. There are so many questions, so many emotions that flood to the surface after seeing her father for the first time in years. And yet Liv doesn’t want their past to get in the way of a possible reconciliation. She also definitely doesn’t want Theo—her father’s charismatic so-called “protégé”—to witness her struggle.
And that means diving into all that Santorini has to offer—the beautiful sunsets, the turquoise water, the hidden caves, and the delicious cuisine. But not everything on the Greek island is as perfect as it seems. Because as Liv slowly begins to discover, her father may not have invited her to Greece for Atlantis, but for something much more important.
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 Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer, which should probably be a surprise to zero people who are familiar with my reading habits and this book. Expected release: November 3, 2020
Why wait on this one?
A judgy girl has to challenge her own prejudices. Plus, come on, who doesn’t sometimes just want life to be more fair? Good deeds rewarded? Or at least, bad deeds aren’t punished?
Enemies to lovers? Yes please! Sometimes I end up choking on it when the people are both actually terrible people. But I always go in hoping that I’ll enjoy it.
It’s Marissa Meyer. It’s really hard for me to resist Marissa Meyer. Plus I think it will be interesting to read her first go at a contemporary book, albeit with still a bit of magic involved.
Summary: Chronic overachiever Prudence Daniels is always quick to cast judgment on the lazy, rude, and arrogant residents of her coastal town. Her dreams of karmic justice are fulfilled when, after a night out with her friends, she wakes up with the sudden ability to cast instant karma on those around her. Pru giddily makes use of the power, punishing everyone from public vandals to karaoke hecklers, but there is one person on whom her powers consistently backfire: Quint Erickson, her slacker of a lab partner and all-around mortal enemy. Soon, Pru begins to uncover truths about Quint, her peers, and even herself that reveal how thin the line is between virtue and vanity, generosity and greed . . . love and hate.
This is going to be one I recommend to basically everyone. 🥰
Recommended:yeeeeeeeesssssssss!!!!!!!!!! for a lovable lot of characters, for a story that has a lot of elements to it, for a wide variety of situations
Summary: After fleeing crumbling, volatile Venezuela, Yola Palacio wants nothing more than to settle into a peaceful new life in Trinidad with her family. And who cares if they’re there illegally—aren’t most of the people on the island? But life for the Palacios is far from quiet—and when Yola’s Aunt Celia dies, the family once again find their lives turned upside down. For Celia had been keeping a very big secret—she owed a LOT of money to a local criminal called Ugly. And without the funds to pay him off, Ugly has the entire family do his bidding until Celia’s debt is settled. What Ugly says, the Palacios do, otherwise the circumstances are too dreadful to imagine.
To say that the year that follows is tumultuous for the Palacios is an understatement. But in the midst of the turmoil appears Roman—Ugly’s distractingly gorgeous right-hand man. And although she knows it’s terrible and quite possibly dangerous, Yola just can’t help but give in to the attraction. Where, though, do Roman’s loyalties lie? And could this wildly inappropriate romance just be the antidote to a terrible year of Ugly?
Thoughts: I saw this book’s synopsis and thought I would probably love it, and yup, I was right. 😍
What I loved The setting in Trinidadwas an quick obvious draw for me, because I don’t know much of anything about it. Well, now I do! Like the fact that there’s the largest natural tar deposit in the world there, and also that they have notoriously poorly paved roads because they export all their tar. 😂 The little tour around the island on Yola and Roman’s excursions were a perfect way to introduce readers to the area.