Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: We All Fall Down by Rose Szabo

We All Fall Down by Rose Szabo
Expected Release Date: June 7, 2022

Recommended: not really
For folks who like character identity exploration, for almost-meetings and vague magic saturating the real world. Not for a strong, clear plot or robust exploration of magic

Summary

In River City, where magic used to thrive and is now fading, the witches who once ruled the city along with their powerful King have become all but obsolete. The city’s crumbling government is now controlled primarily by the new university and teaching hospital, which has grown to take over half of the city.

Moving between the decaying Old City and the ruthless New, four young queer people struggle with the daily hazards of life―work, school, dodging ruthless cops and unscrupulous scientists―not realizing that they have been selected to play in an age-old drama that revives the flow of magic through their world. When a mysterious death rocks their fragile peace, the four are brought into each other’s orbits as they uncover a deeper magical conspiracy.

Devastating, gorgeous, and utterly unique, We All Fall Down examines the complex network of pain created by power differentials, even between people who love each other―and how it is possible to be queer and turn out just fine.

Thoughts

I really struggled to get sucked into this. It was a strange bunch of flip flopping. The first 50 pages had me hooked. By 150, it felt like nothing was happening and when I put the book down, picking it back up felt like a chore. By halfway, I was relatively invested and curious to see where it was heading. But by the end again, I wasn’t sure why any of what I read was important to the next part of the story.

Continue reading “ARC Review: We All Fall Down by Rose Szabo”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Lesbiana’s Guide To Catholic School 5/17

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 Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonoroa Reyes!
Expected Release: May 17, 2022

Why wait on this one?

  • I don’t know much about Catholicism or Catholic school, but I do have a feeling non-straight-ness is not usually smiled at. I hope I’m wrong about that, but at least in Yamilet’s experience in this book, it’s definitely the case. So it’s probably going to be pretty uncomfortable navigating her Catholic school as a lesbian.
  • And also as a Mexican. Jeez, not only does this girl have to deal with the judgment of her outward appearance as a Mexican in a very white rich school, but her inner self as well (though can we all just get each other’s noses out of sexual preferences unless you’re being invited into those sexual preferences??).
  • Clearly she’s dealing with a lot, and I can’t wait to read the moment when she sheds her fear and is able to embrace her whole self without fear of repercussions. Plus that can’t-resist love is always a pull (though hopefully it’s not just a “she’s the only option” kind of scenario).

Summary

Sixteen-year-old Yamilet Flores prefers to be known for her killer eyeliner, not for being one of the only Mexican kids at her new, mostly white, very rich Catholic school. But at least here no one knows she’s gay, and Yami intends to keep it that way.

After being outed by her crush and ex-best friend before transferring to Slayton Catholic, Yami has new priorities: keep her brother out of trouble, make her mom proud, and, most importantly, don’t fall in love. Granted, she’s never been great at any of those things, but that’s a problem for Future Yami.

The thing is, it’s hard to fake being straight when Bo, the only openly queer girl at school, is so annoyingly perfect. And smart. And talented. And cute. So cute. Either way, Yami isn’t going to make the same mistake again. If word got back to her mom, she could face a lot worse than rejection. So she’ll have to start asking, WWSGD: What would a straight girl do?

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: So This is Ever After, 3/29/22

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 So This is Ever After by F.T. Lukens!
Expected Release: March 29, 2022

Why wait on this one?

  • I love that this focuses on the part of the story we don’t usually get to see. The focus is typically on the battle to overthrow, and ends once the rightful person is on the throne. The rebuilding after is skipped, but I think it poses it’s own struggles that are a different kind of story, but still one I want to read.
  • And oh, of course, the love story within it is one I am smiling about already. I mean, look at the cover. It’s very clear what the end of the story is going to be, but I am thrilled for the whole journey of getting there. 😍
  • Part of that journey is going to be a series of what I imagine to essentially be awkward bad dates. Since Arek has to find his spouse in short order, I”m picturing it a bit like Princess Diaries 2 where she’s going through the photos of princes trying to decide who might work. I’m so in for some laughs! ^.^

Summary

Arek hadn’t thought much about what would happen after he completed the prophecy that said he was destined to save the Kingdom of Ere from its evil ruler. So now that he’s finally managed to (somewhat clumsily) behead the evil king (turns out magical swords yanked from bogs don’t come pre-sharpened), he and his rag-tag group of quest companions are at a bit of a loss for what to do next.

As a temporary safeguard, Arek’s best friend and mage, Matt, convinces him to assume the throne until the true heir can be rescued from her tower. Except that she’s dead. Now Arek is stuck as king, a role that comes with a magical catch: choose a spouse by your eighteenth birthday, or wither away into nothing.

With his eighteenth birthday only three months away, and only Matt in on the secret, Arek embarks on a desperate bid to find a spouse to save his life—starting with his quest companions. But his attempts at wooing his friends go painfully and hilariously wrong…until he discovers that love might have been in front of him all along.

Posted in Chatty

How the times have flipped!!!

Hey y’all!

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:

Continue reading “How the times have flipped!!!”
Posted in Release Day!

Just published: Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé!

Hey y’all! Just a reminder that Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé published today! Check out the full review here or grab a copy for yourself!

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

Summary

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?

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Honey girl, 2/23/21

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 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.

Summary

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.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday, on Sunday! Phoenix Extravagant, 10/20

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. 😄

Summary:

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…

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: How It All Blew Up, 9/22

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.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast-Forward Friday: Good Boy

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 Dogs by 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.

Posted in Cover Roulette

Cover Roulette: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

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.

Continue reading “Cover Roulette: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe”