Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I use Fridays to look ahead to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is A Thousand Questions by Saadia Faruqi, and if you want something light and wholesome, here it is!! Expected Release: October 6, 2020
Why wait on this one?
I love going anywhere, and since I can only travel in books right now, I’m delighted to join Mimi on her trip to Pakistan to meet her long-distant grandparents. Having a main character who doesn’t know much about the country despite her ties there helps provide a bridge for me, since there’s a lot I wouldn’t know about living there either.
I’m a sucker for a nice happy story about friendship and learning to understand each other. Mimi x Sakina (love that name!) sounds like a friendship I can get behind. I already want to know them and see them succeed and work together and bond… and they’re just characters in a book. 😂
It might only be a small part, but there’s a language aspect to this book as Sakina is torn between learning English to go to school or staying at her job to help her family. I’m sure it will be a difficult situation, but I still can’t wait to see her work through it. Plus, language! Love it! I hope there are some delightful little mixups as they each learn. ^.^
Summary: Mimi is not thrilled to be spending her summer in Karachi, Pakistan, with grandparents she’s never met. Secretly, she wishes to find her long-absent father, and plans to write to him in her beautiful new journal.
The cook’s daughter, Sakina, still hasn’t told her parents that she’ll be accepted to school only if she can improve her English test score—but then, how could her family possibly afford to lose the money she earns working with her Abba in a rich family’s kitchen?
Although the girls seem totally incompatible at first, as the summer goes on, Sakina and Mimi realize that they have plenty in common—and that they each need the other to get what they want most.
Recommended: sure For a slow start and hot finish, for a book about people, for explorations of connections and community, for enemies-to-friends kind of relationships :). It’s also seriously quotable. So many good lines!
Summary: The only thing reclusive bookworm Nora, high-powered attorney Christina, and supermom-in-training Leanne ever had in common was their best friend, Molly. When Molly dies, she leaves mysterious gifts and cryptic notes for each of her grieving best friends, along with one final request: that these three mismatched frenemies have brunch together every month for a year. Filled with heartwrenching scenes and witty prose, Brunch and Other Obligations explores the intricate dynamics of girlhood acquaintances who are forced to reconnect as women. This upbeat novel reminds readers that there’s hope for getting through the hard times in life―with a lot of patience, humor, and a standing brunch date.
Thoughts: To be honest, when I first started this book I was surprised by how rigid the characters seemed. Each was defined by a very specific characteristic that felt exaggerated and as though it was their whole identity. But as it continued, they were given more characteristics even if they were still a bit pigeonholed into their original cliche. But I ended the book with a smile and a tear in my eye, which is always a solid way to end.
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan – ⭐⭐⭐ Decently entertaining, though mostly predictable and at times not that driving in action. I’ll probably pick up the second one, but not in a huge hurry. Oddly enough, the notes and acknowledgements at the back are what changed my mind on that.
Recommended: for a spare-time casual read For a decently entertaining story, for a read that you can read between other more enticing books (you won’t mind putting this one down for a bit)
Summary: Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it’s Lei they’re after — the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king’s interest. Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king’s consort. There, she does the unthinkable — she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world’s entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.
Thoughts: I had high hopes for the world here, with the caste system on a range of human to demon, but I felt like it didn’t come into much detail besides the general plot point of the unfair system. I love the dedicated lore and explanation behind interesting world features like this, but I wanted more here. The plot itself was solidly meh for me, as it felt like not much actually happened. When things did happen, I was invested in seeing how they would play out, but it was also largely predictable so the motivation through suspense was missing.
Recommended: YES! For anyone who has to talk to people but doesn’t always enjoy it, for insight into the struggles people face who don’t always enjoy talking to people, for a really funny and personal story, or for a thoroughly researched look into how common loneliness is, for those who’ve run out of ideas from The Escape Manual for Introverts and are looking for a new method
Summary: What would happen if a shy introvert lived like a gregarious extrovert for one year? If she knowingly and willingly put herself in perilous social situations that she’d normally avoid at all costs? Writer Jessica Pan intends to find out. With the help of various extrovert mentors, Jessica sets up a series of personal challenges (talk to strangers, perform stand-up comedy, host a dinner party, travel alone, make friends on the road, and much, much worse) to explore whether living like an extrovert can teach her lessons that might improve the quality of her life. Chronicling the author’s hilarious and painful year of misadventures, this book explores what happens when one introvert fights her natural tendencies, takes the plunge, and tries (and sometimes fails) to be a little bit braver.
Thoughts: I LOVED IT. That’s probably pretty clear. I loved it from probably page 6, but the true cinching moment was when she started talking about performing for The Moth and that she did a show with David Litt. Guess what I need to go find footage of?
Miss Iceland by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir – ⭐⭐ Two stars, largely due to general confusion throughout. I feel like I have to think more about this one and see if things come to make sense… or if this is just a confusing jumble. Expected Release: June 16, 2020
Recommended: not really Stay away if you want a point to the story, if you want clear reactions and reasons for things, if you want more than rambling conversations. Take it on if you have a group of people to discuss it with, maybe with one who’s from Iceland, or if you want to have a kind of literary puzzle to decipher.
Summary: Iceland in the 1960s. Hekla is a budding female novelist who was born in the remote district of Dalir. After packing her few belongings, including James Joyces’s Ulysses and a Remington typewriter, she heads for Reykjavik with a manuscript buried in her bags. There, she intends to become a writer. Sharing an apartment with her childhood and queer friend Jón John, Hekla comes to learn that she will have to stand alone in a small male dominated community that would rather see her win a pageant than be a professional artist. As the two friends find themselves increasingly on the outside, their bond shapes and strengthens them artistically in the most moving of ways.
Thoughts: I went into this with and entirely different expectation of what I would find, which jarred me a bit in the first few pages. Going through this, my overall impression is that the writing itself is beautiful despite being quite sparse, and I felt like it really reflected the mood and reality of Iceland. (I went to Iceland, and specifically Reykjavik, last December, so I was able to link places and issues they were talking about with my experience.) That more than anything is what kept me going through it: it was just somehow lovely in the words themselves. This is getting two stars because I feel that a critical aspect of this is just out of reach from what I read, but perhaps with discussion around it, that remaining piece would fall into place. I could see this being a favorite book for others, particularly perhaps with a book club or buddy reads.
“That’s the truth of the world, Jessica,” he says, casually full-naming me to let me know something big is coming. “Nobody waves — but everybody waves back.” I hear his mic drop all the way from Chicago.
Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell – 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Omg it’s definitely a winner. So glad I finally grabbed a copy!! I laughed so many times. Excellent story with humor and depth, and the art was so wonderful! I had a fantastic idea of who the characters were early on, which is so important and often difficult in a shorter graphic novel. Added my vote for this as graphic novel of the year in the Goodreads choice poll!!
Recommended:Yes!! For a great example of utilizing the format of a graphic novel, for a whole lot of laughs, for some awwwws as well, for a sweet yet deep story with perfectly matching art
Summary: Deja and Josiah are seasonal best friends. Every autumn, all through high school, they’ve worked together at the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world. (Not many people know that the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world is in Omaha, Nebraska, but it definitely is.) They say good-bye every Halloween, and they’re reunited every September 1. But this Halloween is different—Josiah and Deja are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last good-bye. Josiah’s ready to spend the whole night feeling melancholy about it. Deja isn’t ready to let him. She’s got a plan: What if—instead of moping and the usual slinging lima beans down at the Succotash Hut—they went out with a bang? They could see all the sights! Taste all the snacks! And Josiah could finally talk to that cute girl he’s been mooning over for three years . . . What if their last shift was an adventure?
Thoughts: Oh, man. I didn’t think I would love this so much, but here I am, whipping out the five stars. I loved the art style. It had a solidly matching style and color scheme to the story, and they did a fantastic job of telling small stories within the story through the art. Tracking the goat through the park was amazing!
Recommended: sure For those curious about Indian matchmaking customs, for a quick cute-enough read
Summary: Fifteen-year-old Simran “Simi” Sangha comes from a long line of Indian vichole-matchmakers, who are intensely excited to discover Simi accidentally sets up an excellent match in the family. But Simi is an artist, and she refuses to spend her life in the outdated family business… until her best friend Noah convinces her it’s the key to finding popularity. Armed with her family’s ancient guide to finding love, Simi starts a matchmaking service-via an app, of course. When the top match sets up the new girl with the school’s star soccer player, Simi turns the high school hierarchy topsy-turvy, soon making herself public enemy number one.
Thoughts: I definitely enjoyed this book, and it was a pretty quick read for me. I’ve been looking forward to it for months and was really excited to finally get a copy! It was about what I expected: a lightweight feel-good read with a focus on characters over events.
Recommended: Sure For those who can handle brutal heartbreak, for those who understand old-timey British phrases and slang (or have a convenient British friend to translate)
Summary: Emmy is doing her bit to help the community as a Fire Services operator during bombings in 1940 London. When she gets a chance at her real dream job of being a war correspondent, she can’t help but jump at it. Unfortunately a mix-up finds her as a women’s issues columnist, with strict orders not to answer anything Unpleasant. Emmy can’t hold herself back when reading the Real Issues that these women have and desperately need advice on, so in between bombings, she poses as Mrs. Bird and responds as she can. All the time, she’s trying to have a life between the threats of losing her job and being caught in a bombing raid by the Germans.
Thoughts: If the letter-writing aspect of this is what’s drawing you in, be aware that a lot of the story is focused on how they manage to live their lives under constant threat of war and danger and death. There’s love, and friendship, and insecurity, but there’s also near-deaths, and bombings, and hatred. You just have to be ready to take both, as they had to at the time.