Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Two Nights in Lisbon 5/24/22

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 Two Nights in Lisbon by Chris Pavone!
Expected Release: May 24, 2022

Why wait on this one?

  • 1The setting, of course. I love books set in places that aren’t where I am, and Lisbon, Portugal is one of those places. This seems like a book that will track all through the city so I’ll see it a bit.
  • The mystery! I love a good amnesiac episode of trying to find out who you are. Siri, Who Am I? was a surprisingly good title, and The End of Getting Lost feels like it will have similar vibes to this one as well. Both were fab!
  • Who is the one person she doesn’t want to ask for help!? The blurb ends with that juicy little tidbit, so on top of the “who am i where am I” mystery, there’s definitely going to be some tension elsewhere as well. It must be someone she meets during the process or else she wouldn’t remember them, right? So what new person is catching her attention?
  • OH AND ALSO ITS BY THE GUY WHO WROTE THE EXPATS!!! That book was one I picked up I don’t even know how, and it was SO GOOD. I still think about that book. I recommended it to my mom and she loved it too. I didn’t realize Chris Pavone wrote it as well until literally just now when I saw the byline on the cover and yoooo I’m even more excited and maybe actually preordering this one now. 😍

Summary

Ariel Price wakes up in Lisbon, alone. Her husband is gone—no warning, no note, not answering his phone. Something is wrong.

She starts with hotel security, then the police, then the American embassy, at each confronting questions she can’t fully answer: What exactly is John doing in Lisbon? Why would he drag her along on his business trip? Who would want to harm him? And why does Ariel know so little about her new—much younger—husband?

The clock is ticking. Ariel is increasingly frustrated and desperate, running out of time, and the one person in the world who can help is the one person she least wants to ask.

Posted in Reviews

Review: Dava Shastri’s Last Day by Kirthana Ramisetti

Dava Shastri’s Last Day by Kirthana Ramisetti

Recommended: yes!
For a look at fame and legacy, for some play on gender norm flipping, for characters who go from unlikable to at least understandable, for a really interesting effect in the storytelling style

Summary

Dava Shastri, one of the world’s wealthiest women, has always lived with her sterling reputation in mind. A brain cancer diagnosis at the age of seventy, however, changes everything, as she decides to take her death—like all matters of her life—into her own hands.

Summoning her four adult children to her private island, she discloses shocking news: in addition to having a terminal illness, she has arranged for the news of her death to break early, so she can read her obituaries.

As someone who dedicated her life to the arts and the empowerment of women, Dava expects to read articles lauding her philanthropic work. Instead, her “death” reveals two devastating secrets, truths she thought she had buried forever. And now the whole world knows, including her children.

In the time she has left, Dava must come to terms with the decisions that have led to this moment—and make peace with those closest to her before it’s too late.

Thoughts

I’m not sure what I expected but it wasn’t this. What a pleasant discovery. I started off disliking every character, from Dava herself down to her grandchildren. As I saw into the minds and motivations of each of them, my understanding and sympathy grew. While I might still not be friends with all of these people, I no longer harboured my disdain for them.

I loved the way the past happened in this book. That might sound strange, but let me explain. There weren’t such clear moments of “that was then, this is now,” but at no time was it confusing. Dava is slipping between memories and her current experience so often as she deteriorates that we just slip along with her naturally. The feeling was akin to that of when you let your mind wander and end up recalling something you haven’t thought of in many years. All parts of the story were interesting and compelling, so I never resented moving from one moment to another.

Continue reading “Review: Dava Shastri’s Last Day by Kirthana Ramisetti”
Posted in Release Day!

Just Published: Blame It on the Brontes by Annie Sereno!


Hey y’all! Just a reminder that Blame it on the Brontes by Annie Sereno published today! Check out the full review here or grab a copy of your own!

Recommended: sure
For a hometown-style second-chance romance, for some fun literary references throughout, for a light mystery to carry forward the romance

Summary

Go ahead. Read the names on the books. I’ll wait. 😊

English professor Athena Murphy is an authority on the novels of the Brontë sisters. But as they say in academia, publish or perish. To save her job, Athena decides to write a biography of C.L. Garland, the author heating up bestseller lists with spicy retellings of classic literature. Tracking down the reclusive writer and uncovering her secret identity, though, means Athena must return to her small midwestern hometown where Garland—and her ex-boyfriend, Thorne Kent—live.

Seeing Thorne again reminds Athena that real life never lives up to fiction. He was the Heathcliff to her Catherine, the Mr. Rochester to her Jane. Not only did their college breakup shatter that illusion, but they also broke each other’s hearts again a second time. Now she has to see him nearly every…single…day.

The only solution is to find C.L. Garland as quickly as possible, write the book, and get the heck out of town. As her deadline looms and the list of potential C.L. Garlands dwindles, Athena and Thorne bicker and banter their way back to friendship. Could it really be true that the third time’s a charm?

Athena and Thorne have a love story only a Brontë could write, and the chance for their own happily-ever-after, but first, they’ll need to forgive the mistakes of the past.

Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Blame It on the Brontes by Annie Sereno (5/3/22)

Blame It on the Brontes by Annie Sereno
3.5 ♥
Expected Release: May 3, 2022

Recommended: sure
For a hometown-style second-chance romance, for some fun literary references throughout, for a light mystery to carry forward the romance

Summary

Go ahead. Read the names on the books. I’ll wait. 😊

English professor Athena Murphy is an authority on the novels of the Brontë sisters. But as they say in academia, publish or perish. To save her job, Athena decides to write a biography of C.L. Garland, the author heating up bestseller lists with spicy retellings of classic literature. Tracking down the reclusive writer and uncovering her secret identity, though, means Athena must return to her small midwestern hometown where Garland—and her ex-boyfriend, Thorne Kent—live.

Seeing Thorne again reminds Athena that real life never lives up to fiction. He was the Heathcliff to her Catherine, the Mr. Rochester to her Jane. Not only did their college breakup shatter that illusion, but they also broke each other’s hearts again a second time. Now she has to see him nearly every…single…day.

The only solution is to find C.L. Garland as quickly as possible, write the book, and get the heck out of town. As her deadline looms and the list of potential C.L. Garlands dwindles, Athena and Thorne bicker and banter their way back to friendship. Could it really be true that the third time’s a charm?

Athena and Thorne have a love story only a Brontë could write, and the chance for their own happily-ever-after, but first, they’ll need to forgive the mistakes of the past.

Thoughts

First of all, I haven’t actually read any works by a Bronte so maybe I was a weird target audience for this. xD Folks who have will probably get more out of the references and the constant Heathcliff references in the plot and from the characters themselves. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t familiar, though, because they were included naturally and added rather than alienated.

There are a few chapters from the Thorne’s perspective, just enough to give a little insight into his mind. I enjoyed those being sprinkled in, though I wasn’t always sure what decided when we would hear from him or not. The bulk of it is entirely Athena, though, and she is definitely the focused perspective and character.

Continue reading “ARC Review: Blame It on the Brontes by Annie Sereno (5/3/22)”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Remarkably Bright Creatures, 5/10/22

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 Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt!
Expected Release: May 10, 2022

Why wait on this one?

  • IT’S TOLD FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF AN OCTOPUS. At least, partially. There are multiple characters, but Marcellus is probably the best one. I think that could be a really fun perspective to imagine hearing from, and that’s frankly what sold me on giving this book a try once I realized it wasn’t nonfiction like I’d hoped, but fiction instead.
  • After reading Soul of an Octopus I’ve learned even more ways to love octopuses (yes that’s correct. You can still hold on to octopi, and octopode, if you’d like. Just be careful of the tentacles. Harhar! Okay, I’m done with this parenthetical). They’re absolutely incredible, and probably also aliens. I have major respect for them.
  • There seems to be some light mystery in this book too, as the octopus investigates the disappearance of the son of the one human he finds… tolerable. It definitely sounds kind of cozy-mystery to me, like something that will have a bittersweet but touching ending and make me cry tears of “it’s just so BEAUTIFUL!” feelings. Also hella curious about how exactly an octopus in captivity investigates? We shall see.

Summary

After Tova Sullivan’s husband died, she began working the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium, mopping floors and tidying up. Keeping busy has always helped her cope, which she’s been doing since her eighteen-year-old son, Erik, mysteriously vanished on a boat in Puget Sound over thirty years ago.

Tova becomes acquainted with curmudgeonly Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium. Marcellus knows more than anyone can imagine but wouldn’t dream of lifting one of his eight arms for his human captors–until he forms a remarkable friendship with Tova.

Ever the detective, Marcellus deduces what happened the night Tova’s son disappeared. And now Marcellus must use every trick his old invertebrate body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it’s too late.

Posted in Reviews

Review: I Am Margaret Moore by Hannah Capin

I Am Margaret Moore by Hannah Capin
Verdict: as disappointed as it seems most other people were. It’s no Foul is Fair, that’s for sure 😦

Recommended: not really
If you’re easily surprised this might be more fun, for people who love military/naval stuff and/or summer camp stories, for a somewhat stream-of-conscious style

Summary

Each summer the girls of Deck Five come back to Marshall Naval School. They sail on jewel-blue waters; they march on green drill-fields; they earn sunburns and honors. They push until they break apart and heal again, stronger.

Each summer Margaret and Rose and Flor and Nisreen come back to the place where they are girls, safe away from the world: sisters bound by something more than blood.

But this summer everything has changed. Girls are missing and a boy is dead. It’s because of Margaret Moore, the boys say. It’s because of what happened that night in the storm.

Margaret’s friends vanish one by one, swallowed up into the lies she has told about what happened between her and a boy with the world at his feet. Can she unravel the secrets of this summer and last, or will she be pulled under by the place she once called home?

Thoughts

Not the best. Maybe if I hadn’t known the “twist” from page one it would’ve had more punch? It seemed so obvious that I’m not sure it was actually meant to be a twist, but just in case it is, I’ll stay quiet.

The last quarter gets very disjointed and reads like a stream of consciousness across time jumps. It’s not too hard to follow, but it wasn’t very interesting to me either. Capin has a strong style of writing, and while I generally love it, this ended up getting repetitive. Sure, that was partially the point, but it made me want to hurry up the ending so I’d be done with it.

Continue reading “Review: I Am Margaret Moore by Hannah Capin”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Noh Family, 5/3/22

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
Expected Release: May 3, 2022

Why wait on this one?

  • I have a type, and that type is Korean-Americans learning about their roots /Korean family and going to Korea. I’m an absolute sucker for them and could probably make a whole list by now of the books I’ve read with that exact plot. And I will keep reading them. Enter: The Noh Family (Noh is an unusual name, I’m curious if that will come up!)
  • AHHHH SECRET FAMILY WITH FAMILY SECRETS!!!! I’m not much for gossip in my real life, but when it comes to books, I am all about learning everyone’s hidden pieces of their lives! Especially if it’s heartwarming at the end. I hope this will be heartwarming at the end. ^.^
  • Something about the unfathomably rich families of Korea also fascinates me. The pervasive way they exist in and shape the culture itself is more so even than here in America, with words like chaebol just to express the luck / goal of being in one of these families. And frankly, just the setting is enough for me! I love connecting experiences of the characters with my own from when I lived there. Even just seeing the Namsan Tower on the cover was enough to prompt a big smile!
  • Side note that the prompting event of her friends giving an orphan who never knew her father a DNA test kit seems like kind of a shitty thing to do? Especially when labeled a “gag gift?” I’m curious to see how that scene goes down.

Summary

When her friends gift her a 23-and-Me test as a gag, high school senior Chloe Kang doesn’t think much of trying it out. She doesn’t believe anything will come of it–she’s an only child, her mother is an orphan, and her father died in Seoul before she was even born, and before her mother moved to Oklahoma. It’s been just Chloe and her mom her whole life. But the DNA test reveals something Chloe never expected–she’s got a whole extended family from her father’s side half a world away in Korea. Her father’s family are owners of a famous high-end department store, and are among the richest families in Seoul. When they learn she exists, they are excited to meet her. Her mother has huge reservations, she hasn’t had a great relationship with her husband’s family, which is why she’s kept them secret, but she can’t stop Chloe from travelling to Seoul to spend two weeks getting to know the Noh family.

Chloe is whisked into the lap of luxury, but something feels wrong. Chloe wants to shake it off–she’s busy enjoying the delights of Seoul with new friend Miso Dan, the daughter of one of her mother’s grade school friends. And as an aspiring fashion designer, she’s loving the couture clothes her department store owning family gives her access to. But soon Chloe will discover the reason why her mother never told her about her dad’s family, and why the Nohs wanted her in Seoul in the first place. Could joining the Noh family be worse than having no family at all?

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf (4/19/22)

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 Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf!
Expected Release: April 19, 2022

Why wait on this one?

Love for a hijabi on the cover, please. And all the rest of how badass and pretty this cover is!!!
  • COMPETITIVE. SCRABBLE. If anyone is going to bingo a bitch, it is NAJWA freakin’ BAKRI. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, because everything becomes a competition in America, but I can’t wait to learn lots of interesting new words and have a style of drama and intensity I’ve never experienced before.
  • Murder mystery too?! Because Najwa’s best friend Trina somehow died at this competition, and when secrets start coming out, it looks like maybe Trina is secretly alive too? Or someone just wants it to look that way? WHAT HAPPENED TO TRINA?!
  • And through the lens of social media, where her dead best friends is suddenly active on Instagram again. Uhmmmm no thanks. It’s not like social media is totally new concept at this point, but the myriad possibilities for it in a story always draw me in.
  • Also, Hanna Alkaf. I really just need to have a Hanna Alkaf TBR time because I have several of her books on my radar and haven’t gotten around to them. Come onnnn, Alkaf!!
  • Side not #2: is the title an tiny homage to queen of the Nile? I really hope so.

Summary

When Najwa Bakri walks into her first Scrabble competition since her best friend’s death, it’s with the intention to heal and move on with her life. Perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to choose the very same competition where said best friend, Trina Low, died. It might be even though Najwa’s trying to change, she’s not ready to give up Trina just yet.

But the same can’t be said for all the other competitors. With Trina, the Scrabble Queen herself, gone, the throne is empty, and her friends are eager to be the next reigning champion. All’s fair in love and Scrabble, but all bets are off when Trina’s formerly inactive Instagram starts posting again, with cryptic messages suggesting that maybe Trina’s death wasn’t as straightforward as everyone thought. And maybe someone at the competition had something to do with it.

As secrets are revealed and the true colors of her friends are shown, it’s up to Najwa to find out who’s behind these mysterious posts—not just to save Trina’s memory, but to save herself.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei, 4/5/22

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 Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei by Christina Matula!
Expected Release: April 5, 2022

Why wait on this one?

  • Hong Kong is a thrilling place for so many reasons. It has such a wide variety of landscape and lifestyle, and SO MANY PEOPLE in such a small area. I love stories set there because it seems almost impossible for the setting to not matter. Hong Kong is vibrant even in books. ^.^
  • Holly-Mei sounds extremely likable, and I don’t always read books with likeable characters. Just this once, it would be really nice to have a character I can easily cheer for who values and shares kindness. ^.^
  • Ahh, middle school drama! Even in my fairly easy time of it, I saw first- or second-hand some of the truly serious problems kids can have in those years. Friendship, sex, drugs, abuse, self-harm, identity… it is RIFE with things that can go wrong. I don’t think Holly-Mei is going quite down such a dark path, but I do think navigating friendships (or enemy…ships) can be very tricky on its own.

Summary

Holly-Mei Jones couldn’t be more excited about moving to Hong Kong for her mother’s job. Her new school is right on the beach and her family’s apartment is beyond beautiful. Everything is going to be perfect . . . right?

Maybe not. It feels like everywhere she turns, there are new rules to follow and expectations to meet. On top of that, the most popular girl in her grade is quickly becoming a frenemy. And without the guidance of her loving Ah-ma, who stayed behind in Toronto, Holly-Mei just can’t seem to get it right.

It will take all of Holly-Mei’s determination and sparkle (and maybe even a tiny bit of stubbornness) to get through seventh grade and turn her life in Hong Kong into the ultimate adventure!

Posted in Reviews

Review: Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen

Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen

Recommended: eh
Maybe for a quick light read that won’t really linger, if you don’t know much about Taiwan you’ll get a small dose of history along with the YA drama and antics

Summary

When eighteen-year-old Ever Wong’s parents send her from Ohio to Taiwan to study Mandarin for the summer, she finds herself thrust among the very over-achieving kids her parents have always wanted her to be, including Rick Woo, the Yale-bound prodigy profiled in the Chinese newspapers since they were nine—and her parents’ yardstick for her never-measuring-up life.

Unbeknownst to her parents, however, the program is actually an infamous teen meet-market nicknamed Loveboat, where the kids are more into clubbing than calligraphy and drinking snake-blood sake than touring sacred shrines.

Free for the first time, Ever sets out to break all her parents’ uber-strict rules—but how far can she go before she breaks her own heart?

Thoughts

This book wasn’t particularly mindblowing, but I guess I didn’t expect it to be with the word “Loveboat” in the title. I had to know there would be a little bit of cheese with this. xD Which is fine, and there definitely was. It was ok, and it read quickly so it’s not like I spent a lot of time of a middle of the road read.

Continue reading “Review: Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen”