Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Last Story of Mina Lee, 9/1/20

In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! This one, The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim, is pretty in keeping with my love of learning about other’s experiences and particuarly about Korean experiences.
Expected release date: September 1, 2020

  • Unsurprisingly, I’m excited about this because it’s an Asian female familial generational story. While that feels really specific, I realized I love these as I’ve been reading more in the past few months! (Ex. Unbound, The Joy Luck Club)
  • This also seems like its going to be two books in one, in a good way. I get the mystery with Margot around her mother’s death, and I get the love story probably gone wrong with Mina back in her youth. Watching the two intertwine and fitting the clues to the facts is so satisfying.
  • As I get older, I grow to appreciate how parents are still just people. Learning about your parents, the history you never knew, the secrets hidden behind the titles of mom or dad, I find it fascinating now. Learning Mina’s story through the context of Margot’s revelations will require Margot to retrofit her understanding of her mother with the new background. And also, like, who killed her???
  • The historical context of immigrating to the US and the difficulties that can come with it will reflect easily onto current day, I believe. Empathy when reading is a draw for me, as is learning about history and lives that I have never undergone (and likely never would).

Summary:
Margot Lee’s mother, Mina, isn’t returning her calls. It’s a mystery to twenty-six-year-old Margot, until she visits her childhood apartment in Koreatown, LA, and finds that her mother has suspiciously died. The discovery sends Margot digging through the past, unraveling the tenuous invisible strings that held together her single mother’s life as a Korean War orphan and an undocumented immigrant, only to realize how little she truly knew about her mother.

Interwoven with Margot’s present-day search is Mina’s story of her first year in Los Angeles as she navigates the promises and perils of the American myth of reinvention. While she’s barely earning a living by stocking shelves at a Korean grocery store, the last thing Mina ever expects is to fall in love. But that love story sets in motion a series of events that have consequences for years to come, leading up to the truth of what happened the night of her death.

Posted in Cover Roulette

Cover Roulette: The Joy Luck Club

I did my first cover roulette post a while ago for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and it was so fun I wanted to do another! Luckily I found another popular book that has had many different editions made, and I wondered…

What other awesome covers have I missed?

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan just had it’s 30 year anniversary in 2019. In her preface to the 30th anniversary edition, Tan says that she expected her little collection of stories to disappear off shelves by six months after publication, as most debut books do. And, well… now she’s writing a 30 year anniversary preface for yet another re-publication. Pretty awesome.

I’m also finally picking this book up. It’s one of those “been meaning to for years” books that I’ve been interested in, but just never got around to. Well, now I’m around to it! Which made it feel like the perfect pick to check out some of the many covers it’s had from 30+ years of popularity.


The Cover I Know

In my college library basement, I stumbled on the “Amy Tan” section. Loved the gorgeous simple covers, already knew I’d probably love her works. Finally reading it now. ^.^

2016 Russian: A Takeover / Merge

I adore this cover interpretation. The Chinese dragon wrapping around the Statue of Liberty, such an American symbol. I love the way it shows the cultures blending, as the fire from the torch becomes like the dragon’s fire, and I just absolutely love it entirely.

Continue reading “Cover Roulette: The Joy Luck Club”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Bitter and Sweet of Cherry Season

Unlike Throwback Thursday, I’m using Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is The Bitter and Sweet of Cherry Season by Molly Fader. A generational story of women trying to connect and find themselves among each other, it takes place on a cherry farm in Northern Michigan where the main character and her daughter have fled to an estranged aunt for unknown — but seemingly dark — reasons.
Expected release: June 9, 2020

  • I’m sure there will be a lot of interesting things new to me that I”ll learn from this book. Most simply, what a cherry farm entails, and what life is like in Northern Michigan. Two things I know little about, that will at the very least be something new!
  • I’ve been trying to read more stories about women and generational stories. They aren’t my usual style, but I’ve really enjoyed some, so I’m pushing myself to keep trying them. With an estranged aunt, single mother, and young daughter, this pretty easily fits the bill.
  • My interest is undeniably piqued by the description of someone having a terrible secret, because we always get to try sniffing out what the secret is before the big reveal. Then after the big reveal, we usually get the pleasure of forgiveness and redemption. Basically, a whole lot of cathartic emotion that is a wonder to live through vicariously. Without the requirement of my own terrible secret. 😉

Summary:
Everything Hope knows about the Orchard House is from the stories of her late mother. So when she arrives at the northern Michigan family estate late one night with a terrible secret and her ten-year-old daughter in tow, she’s not sure if she’ll be welcomed or turned away with a shotgun by the aunt she has never met. Hope’s aunt, Peg, has lived in the Orchard House all her life, though the property has seen better days. She agrees to take Hope in if, in exchange, Hope helps with the cherry harvest—not exactly Hope’s specialty, but she’s out of options. As Hope works the orchard alongside her aunt, daughter and a kind man she finds increasingly difficult to ignore, a new life begins to blossom. But the mistakes of the past are never far behind, and soon the women will find themselves fighting harder than ever for their family roots and for each other.

Posted in Reviews

Review: Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin – ⭐⭐
Eeeesh. I had to think about this one a bit to decide where it falls. But… Eeeeh. And I wanted so badly to like it; I’ve been excited for so long!

Recommended: not really
stay away if you want likable characters, satisfying resolutions, or people who don’t bow to societal pressures. Disclaimer: some of this may reflect on me, for being reluctant to forgive these awful characters so easily as they are in the book

Don’t trust a book by it’s color 😦

Summary:
Ayesha Shamsi’s dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid, who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and who dresses like he belongs in the seventh century. When a surprise engagement is announced between Khalid and Hafsa, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself.

Thoughts:
Unfortunately, the characters were very difficult to like, each in their own special way. I finished the story, but with no real interest in seeing any of them happy. I liked it less by the end than I had in the middle, when I realized I didn’t like any of them. I felt that the messages given in the story were quite negative, as well. This was intended to be like Pride and Prejudice, but it read more to me like the ending of Grease.

Continue reading “Review: Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin”
Posted in Release Day!

Just Published: Every Other Weekend by Abigail Johnson!

Reminder that Every Other Weekend by Abigail Johnson (⭐⭐⭐) released today! Check out the full review here or grab a copy of your own at Barnes & Noble!

Recommended: sure
For an unflinching examination of how issues between parents affect their kids, for a sweet and painful young love (assuming you can suspend disbelief a little bit)

Summary:
Even if Jolene is accustomed to the way her absentee dad and her controlling alcoholic mother use her to spite each other, it doesn’t make it easy. Adam, on the other hand, is new to this whole family-falling-apart thing, and his primary coping method is anger. Forced to spend every other weekend in the same apartment building, the boy who thinks forgiveness makes him weak and the girl who thinks love is for fools begin an unlikely friendship. The weekends he dreaded and she endured soon become the best part of their lives. But when one’s life begins to mend while the other’s spirals out of control, they realize that falling in love while surrounded by its demise means nothing is ever guaranteed.

Posted in Reviews

Review: Every Other Weekend by Abigail Johnson

Every Other Weekend by Abigail Johnson – ⭐⭐⭐
Expected Publication: January 7, 2020

Recommended: sure
For an unflinching examination of how issues between parents affect their kids, for a sweet and painful young love (assuming you can suspend disbelief a little bit)

Symmetry is a wonderful thing

Summary:
Even if Jolene is accustomed to the way her absentee dad and her controlling alcoholic mother use her to spite each other, it doesn’t make it easy. Adam, on the other hand, is new to this whole family-falling-apart thing, and his primary coping method is anger. Forced to spend every other weekend in the same apartment building, the boy who thinks forgiveness makes him weak and the girl who thinks love is for fools begin an unlikely friendship. The weekends he dreaded and she endured soon become the best part of their lives. But when one’s life begins to mend while the other’s spirals out of control, they realize that falling in love while surrounded by its demise means nothing is ever guaranteed.

Thoughts:
Sometimes I feel like such a curmudgeon. As I get older (and five years away from being a teenager is really not that much, the portrayals of love between teenagers gets more and more difficult to believe. They saw each other for a few days or had a few conversations, and now they know they’ll be together forever? I mean to be honest, that’s 100% an accurate portrayal of the way it feels when you’re that age. But now I just feel like the parents watching indulgently as their teens go through it. You smile and say, “Oh, she’s the one your going to marry, eh?” and prepare for the inevitable heartbreak. It’s probably due to my own lessons in how hard it is to actually find a love worth fighting for and holding on to.

But I digress.

Continue reading “Review: Every Other Weekend by Abigail Johnson”
Posted in Release Day!

Just Published: Twenty-One Truths About Love by Matthew Dicks!

Reminder that Twenty-One Truths About Love by Matthew Dicks released today! Check out why I’ve been excited for this release here, and find a Barnes & Noble to pick up a copy!

Then-and-now cover

Summary:
1. Daniel Mayrock loves his wife Jill…more than anything.
2. Dan quit his job and opened a bookshop.
3. Jill is ready to have a baby.
4. Dan is scared; the bookshop isn’t doing well. Financial crisis is imminent.
5. Dan hasn’t told Jill about their financial trouble. He’s ashamed.
6. Then Jill gets pregnant.

This heartfelt story is about the lengths one man will go to and the risks he will take to save his family. But Dan doesn’t just want to save his failing bookstore and his family’s finances—he wants to become someone.

1. Dan wants to do something special.
2. He’s a man who is tired of feeling ordinary.
3. He’s sick of feeling like a failure.
4. Of living in the shadow of his wife’s deceased first husband.

Dan is also an obsessive list maker, and his story unfolds entirely in his lists, which are brimming with Dan’s hilarious sense of humor, unique world-view, and deeply personal thoughts. When read in full, his lists paint a picture of a man struggling to be a man, a man who has reached a point where he’s willing to anything for the love (and soon-to-be new love) of his life.

Posted in Reviews

Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales

Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales – ⭐⭐⭐
Release Date: March 3, 2020

Needs work on some side characters who were undeveloped and pointless, as well as some of their main hobbies as characteristics for the MCs. But still, decent. Thanks to NetGalley & Wednesday Books for a free arc in exchange for an honest review! Since this one is still pretty far out for publishing, it’s very possible the story will have some changes between now and then, so I’ll try to revisit it once it’s out for any updates!

Recommended: Sure
For an easy romance read, with some fun parallels to a classic story before developing into it’s own

And I love the name, too

Summary:
Ollie has the perfect summer romance with the perfect guy during a vacation to the other side of the country. Unfortunately, Mr. Perfect (aka Will) ghosts Ollie – hard – once it’s time for Ollie to head home. So when Ollie shows up, very much at the same school as Will, things get… tense. Especially since Ollie starts his first day by accidentally outing Will to three of his classmates. Will denies his name by being unwilling to own the truth of who he is to his family and friends, inevitably trampling Ollie’s heart in the process. And frankly, Ollie is sick of it. Unfortunately, he’s not sick of Will. And so he makes the best life he can with what he’s given.

Thoughts:
This was being touted as an LGBTQ+ version of Grease, and while I love that story, I wanted to read this story, and worried it wouldn’t develop it’s own identity for leaning too heavily on being a recreation with a twist. Happily, that was not the case! There were enough similarities, mostly towards the beginning, that it was a fun parallel to unravel. As the story continued, it branched onto it’s own path and away from being merely an imitation.

Continue reading “Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales”
Posted in Reviews

Every Colour of You by Amelia Mandeville

Every Colour of You by Amelia Mandeville – 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

WOW. I had no idea what I was getting into. First suggestion: don’t read the last quarter of this book in public. Huge thanks to Netgalley and Sphere for a free copy of this to review.

Recommended: YEEEESSSSS
For those who know, love, or are someone who has dealt with grief, love, depression, identity, mental illness, passion, general happiness… basically that list is “everyone” so my recommendation is more or less to “everyone.” A raw story, characters with secrets that are hinted at then revealed, a story that will make you feel terrible and lovely at the same time and renew the power of a smiley face. ☺

Be ready for a good cry (if you’re a particular softie for this stuff) and some deep thoughts about life that end with gratitude.

Classroom book for sure. Enough that I’m inspired to create a new Goodreads shelf right now for it and add some of my others on the list of “books I definitely want available for my students.”

Don’t be fooled by the curly font and bright colors: this book is heavy and intense and so, so good

Summary:
Quiet pain: Zoe. Loud and outgoing and determined. Endlessly optimistic and manages to say exactly the right things, even when they might seem like just the opposite. And yet, giving up on her passion for athletics and abandoning her dreams, replacing them with salad and coaching and careful living.

Loud pain: Tristan, re-christened Tree by our aforementioned Zoe. Considering not living, carefully or otherwise. Fallen – or perhaps pushed – from his bright and charismatic self into a depression that is somehow both devoid of feeling and excruciatingly emotional.

Loss ties them together, but being together will help them create something new.

Continue reading “Every Colour of You by Amelia Mandeville”