Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Honey & Spice (7/5/22)

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 Honey & Spice by Bolu Babalola!
Expected Release: July 5, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • FAKE DATING! I’m on an absolute TEAR of fake-dating tropes in books right now, and I’m ready to add another winner to the pile! I love that the angle for this one is salvaging each of their reputations (and radio shows).
  • It’s also a little bit enemies to lovers, since Kiki sees Malakai as the total player he is and calls him out in a WILDLY public manner as a piece of trash to be avoided at all costs — before frenching him (for some reason??).
  • Ah, and there’s also a lot of reluctant-to-love going on here. Kiki is never one to let herself be totally vulnerable, but it sounds like Malakai might end up worming his way past her defenses to a really lovely place. 🥰

Summary

Sharp-tongued (and secretly soft-hearted) Kiki Banjo has just made a huge mistake. As an expert in relationship-evasion and the host of the popular student radio show Brown Sugar, she’s made it her mission to make sure the women of the African-Caribbean Society at Whitewell University do not fall into the mess of “situationships”, players, and heartbreak. But when the Queen of the Unbothered kisses Malakai Korede, the guy she just publicly denounced as “The Wastemen of Whitewell,” in front of every Blackwellian on campus, she finds her show on the brink.

They’re soon embroiled in a fake relationship to try and salvage their reputations and save their futures. Kiki has never surrendered her heart before, and a player like Malakai won’t be the one to change that, no matter how charming he is or how electric their connection feels. But surprisingly entertaining study sessions and intimate, late-night talks at old-fashioned diners force Kiki to look beyond her own presumptions. Is she ready to open herself up to something deeper?

A gloriously funny and sparkling debut novel, Honey & Spice is full of delicious tension and romantic intrigue that will make you weak at the knees.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Thank You, Next (6/14/22)

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 Thank You, Next by Andie J Christopher!
Expected Release: June 14, 2022

Why wait on this one?

  • After reading Bad Luck Bridesmaid and super loving it, this caught my attention by having another kind of romance-curse. In this case, it’s that Andie is the girlfriend who apparently sorts out the guy’s issues just in time for their next girlfriend to benefit. Alex is the girl we’re all thankful for being in our boyfriends’ past. Which, admittedly, really sucks for Alex.
  • This has so many romance tropes I can barely even track it! Alex and Will grew up close — physically at least — but seem to clash at every turn. So I guess they’re kind of like frenemies-to-lovers? Although it seems like Will knows pretty damn clearly what (who) he wants (Alex). So while Alex is trying to learn from her exes what she did wrong and how to avoid it, Will is along trying to learn from Alex’s exes what they did wrong — and how he can be sure to woo Alex.
  • Well I’m sure it will have some really funny and also really emotional moments! Considering this involves interviewing ex-boyfriends about “why not her” when they’re all now married, I think that alone is rife with opportunity for situational discomfort and humor. ^.^ Don’t forget the group of girlfriends — and Will — who are tagging along to interrogate!

Summary

Single divorce attorney Alex Turner is watching reality TV when she sees her latest ex’s new fiancé picking out her wedding dress. Yet again, the guy she dumped went on to marry (or at least seriously commit to) the next person he dates after her. Fed up with being the precursor to happily ever after, she decides to interview all her exes to find out why.

Up-and-coming chef Will Harkness mixes with Alex like oil and vinegar, but forced proximity growing up means their lives are forever entwined. When Will learns Alex and her friends are going on a wild romp through Los Angeles to reconnect with her ex-boyfriends, he decides to tag along. If he can discover what her exes did wrong, he can make sure he doesn’t make the same mistake with Alex.

On this nonstop journey through the streets of LA, Alex realizes the answer to her question might be the man riding shotgun…

Bonus fun / awkward fact: one time I was at a restaurant with a group of friends, including a guy I had recently broken up with but were still on decent terms. Part of the restaurant’s gimmick is to write mean things on hats for everyone, and mine said “Why are all my exes gay?” which was reeeeally awkward with my ex-of-2-weeks sitting right there with his buddy. Uhh, sorry. 😅

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Zyla & Kai (6/7/22)

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 Zyla & Kai by Kristina Forest!
Expected Release: June 7, 2022

Why wait on this one?

  • This story of an unlikely couple — cynic and hopeless romantic — is one on my radar. I tend to enjoy that “grump & sunshine” trope in couples, no matter how much it annoys me sometimes, too. 😅I want to see them fall in love in flashbacks, and see the understanding between them grow into something more.
  • And yes, I expect flashbacks, because the crux of this novel is the mystery of their disappearance when they were broken up (or so everyone thought). I’m desperately hoping for a romantic elopment of some kind and not an ultimately sad story. I’m a little nervous about that though…
  • Considering this all happens on a mountain during a massive storm, I’m a bit worried that there might not be a happily-for-the-moment kind of ending. It might be trending that way and end with a tragic romeo-and-juliet mountainside rescue and/or double death. I don’t know. I’m in a rough place mentally so maybe that’s me projecting, because the cover CERTAINLY doesn’t look like it would go that direction. Just don’t break my heart here, Kristina Forest.

Summary

While on a school trip to the Poconos Mountains (in the middle of a storm) high school seniors, Zyla Matthews and Kai Johnson, run away together leaving their friends and family confused. As far as everyone knows, Zyla and Kai have been broken up for months. And honestly? Their break up hadn’t surprised anyone. Zyla and Kai met while working together at an amusement park the previous summer, and they couldn’t have been more different.

Zyla was a cynic about love. She’d witnessed the dissolution of her parents’ marriage early in life, and it left an indelible impression. Her only aim was graduating and going to fashion school abroad. Until she met Kai.

Kai was a serial monogamist and a hopeless romantic. He’d put a temporary pause on his dating life before senior year to focus on school and getting into his dream HBCU. Until he met Zyla.

Alternating between the past and present, we see the love story unfold from Zyla and Kai’s perspectives: how they first became the unlikeliest of friends over the summer, how they fell in love during the school year, and why they ultimately broke up… Or did they?

Romantic, heart-stirring and a little mysterious, Zyla & Kai will keep readers guessing until the last chapter.

Posted in Reviews

Fast Forward Friday: TJ Powar Has Something to Prove, 6/7/22

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 TJ Powar Has Something to Prove by Jesmeen Kaur Deo!
Expected Release: June 7, 2022

Why wait on this one?

  • Specific body positivity topics are more common in the past couple of years, and I love it! This one focuses on body hair, and a classically pretty, popular girl who puts her foot — and shaving razor — down.
  • This sounds like a story where people will be put in their damn place for being shitty people. And yo: I’m here for it. TJ is a debater, and a good one, so she is in perfect position to clap back at these assholes.
  • OOoooh and of course there’s romance. Sounds like it’s the kind where she tries to deny it, too, but just can’t quite pretend otherwise even to herself. Ahhh, young love. ^.^

Summary

When TJ Powar—a pretty, popular debater—and her cousin Simran become the subject of a meme: with TJ being the “expectation” of dating an Indian girl and her Sikh cousin who does not remove her body hair being the “reality”—TJ decides to take a stand.

She ditches her razors, cancels her waxing appointments, and sets a debate resolution for herself: “This House Believes That TJ Powar can be her hairy self, and still be beautiful.” Only, as she sets about proving her point, she starts to seriously doubt anyone could care about her just the way she is—even when the infuriating boy from a rival debate team seems determined to prove otherwise.

As her carefully crafted sense of self begins to crumble, TJ realizes that winning this debate may cost her far more than the space between her eyebrows. And that the hardest judge to convince of her arguments might just be 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 Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea, 2/22/22!

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 Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh!
Expected Release: February 22, 2022 (THE ULTIMATE TUESDAY 2/22/22!!!)

Why wait on this one?

  • Mythical retellings and mythology stories in general are so compelling to me. The idea of a Sea God that needs saving and a human girl motivated by love to try to save them all really tugs at my heart for its purity and beauty.
  • I think this story will lend itself well to atmospheric and lyrical writing. The kind that transports me on waves of air and water into something a bit ethereal. I love that feeling, and it’s pretty tough to get it because it can be hard to get just right. But I think this might be the one to do it. ^.^
  • Although I haven’t actually read any other books by Axie Oh, there are several that I’m *interested* in reading (in addition to this one). I think that’s a good sign, because if I like one then I can get a sense of the plot, writing style, character development, etc. that the author tends to use.

Summary

Deadly storms have ravaged Mina’s homeland for generations. Floods sweep away entire villages, while bloody wars are waged over the few remaining resources. Her people believe the Sea God, once their protector, now curses them with death and despair. In an attempt to appease him, each year a beautiful maiden is thrown into the sea to serve as the Sea God’s bride, in the hopes that one day the “true bride” will be chosen and end the suffering.

Many believe that Shim Cheong, the most beautiful girl in the village—and the beloved of Mina’s older brother Joon—may be the legendary true bride. But on the night Cheong is to be sacrificed, Joon follows Cheong out to sea, even knowing that to interfere is a death sentence. To save her brother, Mina throws herself into the water in Cheong’s stead.

Swept away to the Spirit Realm, a magical city of lesser gods and mythical beasts, Mina seeks out the Sea God, only to find him caught in an enchanted sleep. With the help of a mysterious young man named Shin—as well as a motley crew of demons, gods and spirits—Mina sets out to wake the Sea God and bring an end to the killer storms once and for all.

But she doesn’t have much time: A human cannot live long in the land of the spirits. And there are those who would do anything to keep the Sea God from waking…

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Obsidian Butterfly by Lani Forbes, 2/15/21!

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 Obsidian Butterfly by Lani Forbes! (There are spoilers in this post for the first and second books due to it being the 3rd book in the series!).

While I am so excited for this conclusion to a series I’ve been reading since I was immediately entranced by an advanced copy of the first book… it also comes with really sad news. Lani Forbes, the author, recently died due to cancer. She had been living with it for a while, but on February 3rd this year, she passed, just before releasing her last story to the world. I can only speak to her professional side personally, and judging by this series, it’s a huge loss for the creative community and lovers of fantasy. From those around her, though, she was a thoroughly wonderful person. If you’d like to help out, her family has a donation account to help with funeral and end-of-life expenses.
Expected Release: February 15, 2022

Why wait on this one?

  • Well obviously for a third and final book in a series, I’m pumped about just seeing where the story goes, right? Everything has gone positively mad, and I have no idea how it will resolve. It will be wonderful. 😍
  • In book 2 we met characters from the region of the world that’s characterized as the big bads who are killing and going to war with the kingdom we’ve been in so far. And, surprise surprise, things are a little more complex than a good-vs-evil situation. I adore gray areas, and I adore romances where it involved people learning each others complexities.
  • BIG SPOILER FOR BOOKS 1 & 2!!!:
    I actually haven’t even read the summary for this book, because I don’t want to go into it with ANYTHING besides the craziness from the first two books! Now that they’re back above ground — and in “enemy” territory — what on earth are the going to do after defeating death? Will the gods of death seek vengeance? Will they be sacrificed, or praised as heroes? Will the sun rise anymore??

Summary

To the Chicome people, an eclipse is a time of terror. When darkness falls, the barrier separating the heavens and the earth becomes unstable. Then come the ravening Tzitzimime–the star demons who thirst for human blood. Mayana and Ahkin know the full extent of the coming danger, but they must gather support or the Chicome Empire is doomed.

As the eclipse nears, many maneuver for power in this deadly game of worlds ending.

Metzi, Ahkin’s treacherous sister, has seized control of the empire with the aid of the malevolent goddess known as the Obsidian Butterfly. But Metzi has no idea what the goddess has in store…

Yemania and Ochix face the wrath of both their peoples. Their forbidden liaison may draw ancient enemies together… or rip the young lovers apart forever.

And the princesses who battled fiercely for Ahkin’s heart in The Seventh Sun meet again–but this time, they must join forces in order to survive.

As for Ahkin and Mayana, the entire empire seems to want to keep them apart. Can their love endure the end of the world?

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: You Truly Assumed by Laila Sabreen, 2/8/22

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 You Truly Assumed by Laila Sabreen!
Expected Release: February 8, 2022

Why wait on this one?

  • Anonymous courage, which then potentially evolves into claimed courage, which is scary and for them potentially dangerous.
  • Viewpoint of a marginalized group, particularly after a polarizing event. Having to deal with hate is brutal. I appreciate seeing all sides of a story.
  • Writing and journaling, particularly to process emotions, hits close to home. I look forward to any excerpts included in the book that are posed as being from the main characters’ perspectives.

Summary

Sabriya has her whole summer planned out in color-coded glory, but those plans go out the window after a terrorist attack near her home. When the terrorist is assumed to be Muslim and Islamophobia grows, Sabriya turns to her online journal for comfort. You Truly Assumed was never meant to be anything more than an outlet, but the blog goes viral as fellow Muslim teens around the country flock to it and find solace and a sense of community.

Soon two more teens, Zakat and Farah, join Bri to run You Truly Assumed and the three quickly form a strong friendship. But as the blog’s popularity grows, so do the pushback and hateful comments. When one of them is threatened, the search to find out who is behind it all begins, and their friendship is put to the test when all three must decide whether to shut down the blog and lose what they’ve worked for…or take a stand and risk everything to make their voices heard.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: 30 Things I Love About Myself, 1/4/22!

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! This is the last Friday for 2021, and conveniently it’s also the very last day of 2021! Even though I have to wait until next year for this book, it’s really not so bad. 😉 Today’s is 30 Things I Love About Myself by Radhika Sanghani!
Expected Release: January 4, 2022

Why wait on this one?

  • Alright, when the blurb and the book start out with a character ending up in jail the night of their 30th birthday, I’m expecting a character with some attitude. Assuming this isn’t like stabbing and is more of a party-hard-disorderly arrest, I can support this start. Feisty, independent woman? Check.
  • Reinventing yourself is one of my favorite themes! Especially when people are worried they’re too old, too involved, or too unsure to start over. I say POO POO to that! Never live a life unsatisfying when you can do something to change it! Get at it, girl! I also love that this might not have a romance angle, and (hopefully) will truly be a story focused on self-love instead of definition b others.
  • Plus we’ve got a bit of the cultural impact of Nina’s Indian family. I always love reading about people with different families and traditions from my own, because even small things like the food mentioned briefly in the book might be a tasty new idea I’ve never known about!

Summary

Nina didn’t plan to spend her thirtieth birthday in jail, yet here she is in her pajamas, locked in a holding cell. There’s no Wi-Fi, no wine, no carbs–and no one to celebrate with.

Unfortunately, it gives Nina plenty of time to reflect on how screwed up her life is. She’s just broken up with her fiancé, and now has to move back into her childhood home to live with her depressed older brother and their uptight, traditional Indian mother. Her career as a freelance journalist isn’t going in the direction she wants, and all her friends are too busy being successful to hang out with her.

Just as Nina falls into despair, a book lands in her cell: How to Fix Your Shitty Life by Loving Yourself. It must be destiny. With literally nothing left to lose, Nina makes a life-changing decision to embark on a self-love journey. By her next birthday, she’s going to find thirty things she loves about herself.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: How Not to Fall in Love, 12/21/21

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 How Not To Fall in Love by Jacqueline Firkins!
Expected Release: December 21, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • This is SO FULL OF TROPES. Just ready yourself for this list. First up is the ol’ opposites attract with this pairing of the love cynic and the one who perpetually is meeting “The One.” Our sunshine and grump duo is ready to go!
  • Fake dating, boy does that ever delight me! It makes me feel like a fairy godmother meddling as I make every situation romantic and surprising and lovely, and watch the little sparkle in their eyes as they realize what they thought they’d never realize.
  • And to top if off, friends to more than here. I love a solid relationship built on an existing like of each other. The history adds such a weight to it, but a comfortable one, like those weighted blankets.

Summary

Harper works in her mom’s wedding shop, altering dresses for petulant and picky brides who are more focused on hemlines than love. After years of watching squabbles break out over wedding plans, Harper thinks romance is a marketing tool. Nothing more. Her best friend Theo is her opposite. One date and he’s already dreaming of happily ever afters. He also plays the accordion, makes chain mail for Ren Festers, hangs out in a windmill-shaped tree house, cries over rom-coms, and takes his word-of-the-day calendar very seriously.
 
When Theo’s shocked to find himself nursing his umpteenth heartbreak, Harper offers to teach him how not to fall in love. Theo agrees to the lessons, as long as Harper proves she can date without falling in love. As the lessons progress and Theo takes them to heart, Harper has a harder time upholding her end of the bargain. She’s also checking out her window to see if Theo’s home from his latest date yet. She’s even watching rom-coms. If she confesses her feelings, she’ll undermine everything she’s taught him. Or was he the one teaching her?