I had heard of this new release that sounded super cute and just like what I was looking for: The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun. I’ll put the book details at the end, but it’s a lot of fake dating and reality TV and mental health and sexual identity and cute AF moments with truly loveable, whole characters.
So obviously I was incredibly pumped to read this, until I went to place a hold on it from the library and saw something like 82 people ahead of me and an estimated wait time that was “incalculable” because it was so long. 😅 That was dismaying, but then I remembered something:
Recommended: YUP For a high school drama that turns into a mystery that turns into an actual oh-sh*t situation, for a story of friendship and identity and isolation and trust and race, for a story where you get halfway through and wonder how it could get any more intense
When two Niveus Private Academy students, Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo, are selected to be part of the elite school’s senior class prefects, it looks like their year is off to an amazing start. After all, not only does it look great on college applications, but it officially puts each of them in the running for valedictorian, too.
Shortly after the announcement is made, though, someone who goes by Aces begins using anonymous text messages to reveal secrets about the two of them that turn their lives upside down and threaten every aspect of their carefully planned futures.
As Aces shows no sign of stopping, what seemed like a sick prank quickly turns into a dangerous game, with all the cards stacked against them. Can Devon and Chiamaka stop Aces before things become incredibly deadly?
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 Girl by Morgan Rogers. Expected Release: February 23, 2021
Why wait on this one?
As my friend said when she was able to get an early copy, “I’m so pumped for lesbian romance. There are so few books on it in this genre.” Thanks Erin, for writing my post for me, because I’m totally on board as well. I’ve found a nice surge in lesbian young adult novels, but for a slightly older audience it’s been a bit scant still (or maybe I’m just missing them all). Give me that unexpected romance every day please!
Intersectionality! Not just lesbians, but Asian and black rep as well! Look, I’m not defining this book by these elements of the characters, because there’s so much more I’m excited for (see point 3) BUT I am still so excited when I see stories with characters who have a story beyond their labels and categories and whatnot.
IT SOUNDS DAMN GREAT. Drunken marriage to a stranger in Vegas? Falling in love with your accidental wife? Striking out on your own to figure out who you are and who you want to be? It’s got so much good packed in. It’s a whole crazy blend of moments that force Grace to grow up real fast.
With her newly completed PhD in astronomy in hand, twenty-eight-year-old Grace Porter goes on a girls’ trip to Vegas to celebrate. She’s a straight A, work-through-the-summer certified high achiever. She is not the kind of person who goes to Vegas and gets drunkenly married to a woman whose name she doesn’t know…until she does exactly that.
This one moment of departure from her stern ex-military father’s plans for her life has Grace wondering why she doesn’t feel more fulfilled from completing her degree. Staggering under the weight of her father’s expectations, a struggling job market and feelings of burnout, Grace flees her home in Portland for a summer in New York with the wife she barely knows.
In New York, she’s able to ignore all the annoying questions about her future plans and falls hard for her creative and beautiful wife, Yuki Yamamoto. But when reality comes crashing in, Grace must face what she’s been running from all along—the fears that make us human, the family scars that need to heal and the longing for connection, especially when navigating the messiness of adulthood.
In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! However… today is Sunday. Because this week got a little bit hectic. 😂 On the bright side, now there’s even fewer days to wait until this week’s feature, Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee, comes out! Expected Release: October 20, 2020
Why wait on this one?
A dramatic story of the art of war. But… literally. Gyen is just a painter, until they’re conscripted to use their artistic skills to paint the war sigils needed for the army. The reluctant savior who uncovers deeply covered secrets.
Oh, and did I mention that the soldiers are automatons, and the sigils animate them? It’s a robot army! Sort of! But magic regardless of what category you want to throw it into, so you know I’m all about it. Always with the magic, please. 😍
A renegade in pursuit of justice at all costs — and particularly when in defiance of their own government or ruling system — will probably forever appeal to me. Although lately it’s a little but uncomfortable and depressing because of how real it feels. Like, we could probably do with a dragon-stealing magic-wielding avenger right about now in the US. Or probably like four years ago.
I’m also trying to get better at using they as a singular pronoun and while I’m just about to the point where I don’t think twice about it, reading a book with a nonbinary character probably can’t hurt. 😄
Gyen Jebi isn’t a fighter or a subversive. They just want to paint.
One day they’re jobless and desperate; the next, Jebi finds themself recruited by the Ministry of Armor to paint the mystical sigils that animate the occupying government’s automaton soldiers.
But when Jebi discovers the depths of the Razanei government’s horrifying crimes—and the awful source of the magical pigments they use—they find they can no longer stay out of politics.
What they can do is steal Arazi, the ministry’s mighty dragon automaton, and find a way to fight…
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 one that I read a sample of and was immediately taken in by the clear character voice and the format: How It All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmadi. Expected Release: September 22, 2020
Why wait on this one?
At this point so much has been written that sometimes it’s hard to do something new, but How It All Blew Up is based on the premise of Amir having to tell his story to a Customs Officer to avoid… something that he’s being accused of, probably terrorist stuff considering he’s Muslim. A mix of flashbacks to his story and entries of him talking to the customs officer, I certainly don’t think I’ve read a story with this combo before!
Just from the small bit I read, I already love Amir. He’s absolutely hilarious, and his one-sided dialogues with the customs officer are so, so funny in their awkward sincerity. I don’t know how any of them could accuse him of something violent. The character voice is so strong, and it’s so hard not to lean in to hear more.
The complexities of coming out to your family are almost never easy, but to do so when your family believes that being gay is a sin against humanity and crime against God… I imagine it makes things just a smidge more difficult. Which is why Amir ran away to Rome instead of coming clean. Obvious fix, right?
Summary: Eighteen-year-old Amir Azadi always knew coming out to his Muslim family would be messy–he just didn’t think it would end in an airport interrogation room. But when faced with a failed relationship, bullies, and blackmail, running away to Rome is his only option. Right?
Soon, late nights with new friends and dates in the Sistine Chapel start to feel like second nature… until his old life comes knocking on his door. Now, Amir has to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth to a US Customs officer, or risk losing his hard-won freedom.
In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I use Fridays to look ahead to upcoming releases that I’ve been excited about! This one is, I’m hoping, not going to totally break my heart. Focusing on dogs as a pathway, Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogsby Jennifer Finney Boylan might be a heartbreaking/hilarious format for a memoir. Expected Release: April 21, 2020
Why wait on this one?
Who can resist a story of dogs? Their very inclusion in the story promises antics and lessons learned. I can’t have a dog at my current residence, so I desperately need to live vicariously for this.
But then again… including dogs kind of implies that I’m going to have my heart broken as the author is forced to leave these dogs one way or another. Early deaths, forced abandonment, tragic accidents… I know they’ll shatter me, but such is life. And I’ll probably have my heart broken at least six times.
This also promises to be a memoir that we see more in recent years of a person recognizing themselves and transitioning to reflect who they truly feel they are. In short, as the book blurb says, “how a young boy became a middle-aged woman.”
Summary: n her New York Times opinion column, Jennifer Finney Boylan wrote about her relationship with her beloved dog Indigo, and her wise, funny, heartbreaking column went viral. In Good Boy, Boylan explores what should be the simplest topic in the world, but never is: finding and giving love.
Good Boy is a universal account of a remarkable story: showing how a young boy became a middle-aged woman—accompanied at seven crucial moments of growth and transformation by seven memorable dogs. “Everything I know about love,” she writes, “I learned from dogs.” Their love enables us pull off what seem like impossible feats: to find our way home when we are lost, to live our lives with humor and courage, and above all, to best become our true selves.
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?
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz was one I enjoyed at the time and have now mostly forgotten. Honestly, that’s the fate of most of what I read — hence why I started writing more about what I read! What I usually remember about this book is that it had gay characters and it had an amazing cover. Since it became quite popular, I’m sure it has other cover renditions now, as well! So I investigated and was not disappointed. 😁
The Cover I Know
It’s mostly the scripted font and the line designs around the title that I loved most about this. I had no idea there was an old pickup truck on the cover, too, and I definitely thought there were more stars. Still, a quiet and wondrous image befitting the characters’ names and the story.
2017 Bulgarian: Even better!?
I… actually like this even more than the one I know! It has more stars, and a dramatic nightscape, which is more of how I remembered the other one. The silhouettes are working for me here, too.
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.
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.
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
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.