Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Fastest Way to Fall, 11/2/21!

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 Fastest Way to Fall by Denise Williams.
Expected Release: November 2, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • Oh man, maybe it’s just because I’m deep into my first read of Lore Olympus, but the idea of the forbidden love is making me swoon! Mostly because it’s only lightly forbidden, since Britta is technically Wes’s client and he probably shouldn’t bang her (bad PR). Plus, Britta is technically doing a review of this guy and his company… so she probably shouldn’t seemed biased toward him (aka by banging him).
  • Weirdly, I’m pretty into the fitness angle here too. Since Wes is Britta’s personal coach and she’s into body positivity, I’m feeling some connection to my recent attempted foray into healthier living. (Note the word attempted…) So maybe reading about two people who really love being healthy (plus each other) can reinvigorate me to move a little more myself!
  • Although I never actually ended up reading it, How to Fail at Flirting was a book I wanted to read (and still do!). So if Denise Williams also wrote that one, then it’s no surprise I’m interested in this other title by her! Plus I just saw How to Fail at Flirting is available at the library, so maybe I’ll grab a copy and use that to whet my appetite for now. 😊

Summary

Britta Colby works for a lifestyle website, and when tasked to write about her experience with a hot new body-positive fitness app that includes personal coaching, she knows it’s a major opportunity to prove she should write for the site full-time.

As CEO of the FitMe app, Wes Lawson finally has the financial security he grew up without, but despite his success, his floundering love life and complicated family situation leaves him feeling isolated and unfulfilled. He decides to get back to what he loves—coaching. Britta’s his first new client and they click immediately.

As weeks pass, she’s surprised at how much she enjoys experimenting with her exercise routine. He’s surprised at how much he looks forward to talking to her every day. They convince themselves their attraction is harmless, but when they start working out in person, Wes and Britta find it increasingly challenging to deny their chemistry and maintain a professional distance.

Wes isn’t supposed to be training clients, much less meeting with them, and Britta’s credibility will be sunk if the lifestyle site finds out she’s practically dating the fitness coach she’s reviewing. Walking away from each other is the smartest thing to do, but running side by side feels like the start of something big.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Why We Fly, 10/5!

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 Why We Fly by Kimberly Jones!
Expected Release: October 5, 2021

💡Heads up!
There’s a Goodreads Giveaway active for this book until 10/4/21 for US and Canada!

Why wait on this one?

  • I’m not usually into sports stories, but this one has more than just the sports, so I think I can get behind it. It sounds like Eleanor dealing with her injury is going to play into the sports angle a lot, and I’m super curious to see what Chanel’s “risky choices” are all about. The fact that it sounds like their show of solidarity seems to be what ends up causing a rift between them is intriguing because it’s not a story I can plot from A to B.
  • This pair also did I’m Not Dying With You Tonight which I really enjoyed and was really impressed by. There can be such magic when two authors write a book together, and they have worked out their balance on how to do it well. Kudos and can’t wait for more!
  • Any young adult or middle grade books that address racism, systemic or otherwise, are always going to be a read for me. The fact that these conversations are more common and accessible in lit for all ages is such an encouraging sign. I always want to read books like this to see where we’re at, and what ones I can recommend to fellow teacher friends (or buy for people’s kids, donate to libraries, etc!)

Summary

Two high school cheerleaders face the ultimate test when an act of solidarity spurs chaos. With a rocky start to senior year, lifelong friends Eleanor and Chanel have a lot on their mind. Eleanor is still in physical therapy months after a serious concussion from a failed cheer attempt. Chanel’s putting tremendous pressure on herself to get into the best colleges and starts making questionable decisions. But they have each other’s backs just as always.

Eleanor’s new relationship with star quarterback Three may be causing a rift between the best friends. When the cheer squad decides to take a knee at the season’s first football game, what seemed like a positive show of solidarity suddenly becomes the reason for a larger fallout between the girls.

Grappling with the weight of the school’s actions as well as their own problems, can the girls rely on the friendship they’ve always shared?

A bittersweet, sometime humorous, but always compelling look at issues of friendship, privilege, sports, and race.

Posted in Release Day!

Just Published: Reasons for Avoiding Friends by Megan Leavell!

Hey y’all! Just a reminder that Reasons for Avoiding Friends by Megan Leavell published today! Check out the full review here, or grab a copy of your own!

Recommended: Sure
For a quick contemporary read, for a female-friendship story, for a look at alcoholism and falling into patterns even when they don’t make you happy and how to break out of it

Summary

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Growing up, Gwen and Iris were the best of friends, even if they couldn’t have been more different. Now Gwen is living her hometown dream, or so she reminds herself while juggling endless parenting drama, an unemployed husband, and a neighborhood pyramid scheme. Never mind that at age thirty-nine, her social circle still resembles middle school. Her life is everything she ever wanted it to be, but nothing like she had planned.

Iris was never destined for the ordinary. When she moved to Manhattan, she shed her old life for a better one—but not without a cost. From a distance, Iris’s life couldn’t be more charmed, but no one knows about the cracks in the image she’s worked so hard to cultivate. No one knows the real Iris at all. Except for Gwen. But Iris and Gwen haven’t spoken for years. Until…

When Iris’s past catches up with her, she turns to the one person she could always count on—but she isn’t the only one keeping secrets, and as Gwen scrambles to preserve an illusion of domestic bliss, she finds herself wondering when they went from telling each other everything to sharing nothing. Now, a little wiser, and most certainly a little older, Gwen and Iris discover that the truest of friends accept you just as you are, and that loving yourself is sometimes the best way to find happiness.

Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Reasons for Avoiding Friends by Megan Leavell (9/14)

Reasons for Avoiding Friends by Megan Leavell
Verdict: fine for a diversion, nothing that blew me away on it’s own
Expected Release Date: September 14, 2021

Recommended: Sure
For a quick contemporary read, for a female-friendship story, for a look at alcoholism and falling into patterns even when they don’t make you happy and how to break out of it

Summary

Growing up, Gwen and Iris were the best of friends, even if they couldn’t have been more different. Now Gwen is living her hometown dream, or so she reminds herself while juggling endless parenting drama, an unemployed husband, and a neighborhood pyramid scheme. Never mind that at age thirty-nine, her social circle still resembles middle school. Her life is everything she ever wanted it to be, but nothing like she had planned.

Iris was never destined for the ordinary. When she moved to Manhattan, she shed her old life for a better one—but not without a cost. From a distance, Iris’s life couldn’t be more charmed, but no one knows about the cracks in the image she’s worked so hard to cultivate. No one knows the real Iris at all. Except for Gwen. But Iris and Gwen haven’t spoken for years. Until…

When Iris’s past catches up with her, she turns to the one person she could always count on—but she isn’t the only one keeping secrets, and as Gwen scrambles to preserve an illusion of domestic bliss, she finds herself wondering when they went from telling each other everything to sharing nothing. Now, a little wiser, and most certainly a little older, Gwen and Iris discover that the truest of friends accept you just as you are, and that loving yourself is sometimes the best way to find happiness.

Thoughts:

I went for this book because I had been reading a lot of heavy topics and depressing novels, and I wanted a bit of a break. I more or less got it with this, but it did have more serious issues than I expected. One of the main characters is DEFINITELY an alcoholic, and it’s painful to watch the many terrible decisions she makes. And somehow never admits or recognizes. DAMN, GIRL. It’s really not a whole lot easier to watch the other MC live in her sad rut of a life without galvanizing to do anything about it.

Continue reading “ARC Review: Reasons for Avoiding Friends by Megan Leavell (9/14)”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: A Midwinter Match, 8/19/21!

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 A Midwinter Match by Jane Lovering!
Expected Release: August 19, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • This first reason is pretty hyper-local for me, but nonetheless: my town is in the middle of a heatwave. It’s been over 100 for a few days in a row which is EXTRAORDINARILY RARE and it’s even a bit too hot for me. 😅 So thinking about anything “midwinter” is actually not sounding so bad right now! The cover looks like it was drafted straight from Boston Gardens so I love it already! (It’s York, though, so… not Boston. But still!) xD
  • I assume it will end up being a to-lovers story, but I’m intrigued about the “enemies” bit! Since Ruby and Zac have to compete against each other to keep the one position remaining that they each currently have, it’s more of a circumstantial problem than a personal dislike of each other. That sounds much harder to navigate, and like it has options for exploring a lot of real-life difficulty.
  • Zac is being painted as the happy-to-cover-a-tragic-past character, which I’m a little bleh on, but I’m often drawn to women who have their life go wildly off plan and then change things up to recreate their own true happiness. According to books, this is bound to happen to me within about 5 years so I better get some ideas on how to handle it now from Ruby. 😁

Summary

Ruby Oldbridge needs to learn to take her own advice. A brilliant counsellor at work in York, she is however floundering in her own life. Her romantic track record is woeful, her finances are in a pickle, and she’s back in a house-share after splitting up with her useless ex. But one thing Ruby is brilliant at, is helping other people find a way through their problems, and she excels at the job she loves, doing just that. 

Happy-go-lucky, Mr Positivity, Zac Drewe also loves his job – the trouble is, it’s the same as Ruby’s, and the management have decided to ‘rationalise’ their department. There’s only room for one of them.

As the snow and winter close in on York, Ruby and Zac have everything to lose, and Ruby starts to wonder if the happy face Zac shows the world, might be disguising a sadder secret.  Set against one another, they are unlikely friends. But perhaps, if they could take the time to understand each other, they might discover that rather than rivals, they could be the best thing that ever happened to one another… 

Posted in Reviews

Review: Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean

Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean
Verdict: UGH, glad it’s over 😫

Recommended: no
If you speak and think like the character then you’ll get past that barrier, but you’ll still have to deal with how subpar the story overall is

Summary

Izumi Tanaka has never really felt like she fit in—it isn’t easy being Japanese American in her small, mostly white, northern California town. Raised by a single mother, it’s always been Izumi—or Izzy, because “It’s easier this way”—and her mom against the world. But then Izumi discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity…and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent Izzy is literally a princess.

In a whirlwind, Izumi travels to Japan to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she always dreamed of. But being a princess isn’t all ball gowns and tiaras. There are conniving cousins, a hungry press, a scowling but handsome bodyguard who just might be her soulmate, and thousands of years of tradition and customs to learn practically overnight.

Izumi soon finds herself caught between worlds, and between versions of herself—back home, she was never “American” enough, and in Japan, she must prove she’s “Japanese” enough. Will Izumi crumble under the weight of the crown, or will she live out her fairy tale, happily ever after?

Thoughts:
My two main issues with this book were the character herself and the fact that nothing new was brought to the table with this story. The second issue is self explanatory, but the first is more specific to me.

Izumi speaks like people 15-25 sound on social media. The kind of writing I usually cringe at despite being around that age myself. It’s full of the overly dramatic writing style of Instagram and Twitter and tumblr. I hated it, which made me dislike her, which made me not enjoy the book. I also called the “twist” right from the introduction of a character. Meh.

Continue reading “Review: Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean”
Posted in Reviews

6 Books I reviewed in 2018 that are still accurate

Hey y’all,

Here are some really short and sweet reviews I wrote back in 2018. I wanted to share these because they’re books I enjoyed and want to have featured somewhere on this blog. Here’s their chance for some shining glory and recognition. 😊

Omg so cute! The wiring was so cute and realistic (albeit about ghosts) and I love the cute humor in addressing questions about ghosts. Unexpectedly love the illustrations, too. Very nicely done all around.

Not what I expected. My kind of humor, too, just simple and sweet and a bit tongue in cheek. Amusing to see how they wove in the “behind the scenes” stories from history, and the characters, even the ones who are only alive for a few pages, are all hilarious and wonderful and surprisingly memorable.

Continue reading “6 Books I reviewed in 2018 that are still accurate”
Posted in Book Talk

An email to Amy: 5 of the best books I’ve read since 2019

You know to be honest, I haven’t ready many new books this year that I really LOVED. Either I’m harder to please, or just picking duds lol. But here are a few from the past year or so that stuck with me:

Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin –  a dark YA witchy Macbeth-themed book about a girl getting revenge on the group of boys who raped her (and have raped many others). The style of writing is really lyrical and it ALWAYS makes me want to read Macbeth right after because it’s so, so good. Not exactly a light read though

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa – adult contemp translated from Japanese, the focus is very much on characters and you hear people’s stories. The way it’s told at times from the cat’s POV can be really sweet and funny, and is an awesome counterpoint to some of the heavier aspects of the book. Even though I knew early on what was coming, I bawled at the end nonetheless.

Moloka’i by Alan Brennert – a historical fiction novel about a Hawaian girl who gets leprosy and is sent to the leper colony island in Hawai’i. She sees a lot of events of the time through her lens there, and has a lot of interesting insight into growing up with leprosy, around others with it, and in that strange isolation yet specific kind of community. It’s a slow paced read with a lot packed in. I read this one by a pool in Cancun.

The Cat I Never Named by Amra Sabic El-Rayess. BEST BOOK I’VE READ IN A REALLY LONG TIME. It’s nonfiction that reads like fiction, except for when you remember it’s 100% real. By a Bosnian woman during the genocide from the Serbians, this is a war book and hopeful and distressing and just truly unbelievable. Might be a good one to read with older students, or select chapters from or something.

Invisible Women by Caroline Creado Perez. Nonfic. You’ll be angry and baffled after reading this, because it’s absolutely JUST INSANE how women are ignored and threatened daily from shitty research, or research that deliberately leaves us out because our hormones make tests difficult. EVEN WHEN ITS A PRODUCT FOR WOMEN. My god. Perez never once does any “blame the men” and in fact keeps a remarkably impressive angle of working together globally to solve the issue, more than finger pointing about who sucks the most. I listened to the audio book, but I just bought a copy so I can thumb through and find some of the ridiculous studies and aspects she goes into detail on.

Two of mine are somehow related to cats. xD I guess I sense a theme there. These are all books that are so good that I read them digitally and bought a physical copy to have, because I either already have or definitely will re-read all of these. Foul is Fair is at least once a year a re-read, when it gets to October and I want some witchy stuff.

Posted in Book Talk

In Progress with MEMORIAL

Progress: page 149/303 (49%)

The slog continues…. I really wish I were enjoying this more, but the first half was super weird and so much seemed unnecessary (why did we see a pigeon pick up a quarter… why did it get mentioned AGAIN five pages later…). Then I finally adjusted to the rhythm, and the POV changes and is completely different. /SIGH. To be honest, I have gotten nothing from this so far…

Why did I start reading it?

It was a BOTM that I grabbed, after hearing some good things about it. I originally scorned it because I super-hate the cover. Then I learned more about it, looked at it again, saw more details of the cover that made me hate it a little less, and decided to actually read it. The premise involves relationship examining and culture shock, going new places, learning about others, etc. which always wins me in.

Why am I still reading it?

This isn’t usually a question I include in my In Progress posts… but I think it warrants asking at this point. xD I have so far not enjoyed the book at all. I don’t think I’m getting anything else from it. I don’t want to read it, frankly. But I’m very slowly continuing… because I bought it, and I don’t want to have wasted my money and book pick for the month. 😐

Lines that linger

My mother smelled like chocolate. My father wore his nice shirt. You’d have been hard pressed to think that this was a man who’d thrown his wife against a wall. Or that this lady, immediately afterward, stuck a fork into his elbow.

Posted in Reviews

Review: The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
Verdict: uhmmmmm… don’t bother. Severely lacking in all aspects

Recommended: no
because of a lack of compelling plot, uninteresting characters, a distinct lack of promised magic, a book that’s ultimately just pretty dry and boring. Maybe it’s a good plane book to read then ditch or donate.

Summary

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.

Thoughts

To turn a common phrase on its head, this book was entirely putdownable. Which I did, many times, and only picked up again out of a general sense of obligation to see it through.

Continue reading “Review: The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner”