Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Why We Fly, 10/5!

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 Why We Fly by Kimberly Jones!
Expected Release: October 5, 2021

💡Heads up!
There’s a Goodreads Giveaway active for this book until 10/4/21 for US and Canada!

Why wait on this one?

  • I’m not usually into sports stories, but this one has more than just the sports, so I think I can get behind it. It sounds like Eleanor dealing with her injury is going to play into the sports angle a lot, and I’m super curious to see what Chanel’s “risky choices” are all about. The fact that it sounds like their show of solidarity seems to be what ends up causing a rift between them is intriguing because it’s not a story I can plot from A to B.
  • This pair also did I’m Not Dying With You Tonight which I really enjoyed and was really impressed by. There can be such magic when two authors write a book together, and they have worked out their balance on how to do it well. Kudos and can’t wait for more!
  • Any young adult or middle grade books that address racism, systemic or otherwise, are always going to be a read for me. The fact that these conversations are more common and accessible in lit for all ages is such an encouraging sign. I always want to read books like this to see where we’re at, and what ones I can recommend to fellow teacher friends (or buy for people’s kids, donate to libraries, etc!)

Summary

Two high school cheerleaders face the ultimate test when an act of solidarity spurs chaos. With a rocky start to senior year, lifelong friends Eleanor and Chanel have a lot on their mind. Eleanor is still in physical therapy months after a serious concussion from a failed cheer attempt. Chanel’s putting tremendous pressure on herself to get into the best colleges and starts making questionable decisions. But they have each other’s backs just as always.

Eleanor’s new relationship with star quarterback Three may be causing a rift between the best friends. When the cheer squad decides to take a knee at the season’s first football game, what seemed like a positive show of solidarity suddenly becomes the reason for a larger fallout between the girls.

Grappling with the weight of the school’s actions as well as their own problems, can the girls rely on the friendship they’ve always shared?

A bittersweet, sometime humorous, but always compelling look at issues of friendship, privilege, sports, and race.

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 Reviews

ARC Review: Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-ÍyímídéExpected Release: June 1, 2021
Verdict: lots of heavy topics combined with an intense drama/mystery that draws you deeper with every page

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?

Thoughts

YEAH y’all, my overall advice is that if you read the blurb and think you might be interested? Just read it — it will probably go well. I don’t see how this could disappoint. The twists are many, and the level of mystery and secrets and intrigue is like Agatha Christia / Hercule Poirot level. I felt like a detective, trying to isolate all the clues and variables and figure out the who-dunnit mystery of it all. The story evolves into way more than that, though.

Devon and Chiamaka are both pretty comfortable with their sexuality, even as they learn more about themselves and what they like, want, need. It’s obviously a large part of the impact on Devon, as he’s forcibly outed in the first chapter and fears the repercussions from his homophobic neighborhood if the news spreads. Taking a turn into darker waters, though, both Chiamaka and Devon have much heavier events hidden in their past.

Race, trust, sexual identity…. this book is full of topics, but it’s also couched in this drama and mystery that realy sucked me in. I loved both aspects of it, and devoured this book in two days. It was that whole thing where you stay up super late because you’re so close and you just have to finish it! Any time my S.O. interrupted to ask a question, or we needed to do some chores, I was heaving a big sigh and very reluctantly putting it down.

Read the book.

Thanks to Bookishfirst and MacMillan for a free advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Cost of Knowing, 4/6/21

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 Cost of Knowing by Brittney Morris!
Expected Release: April 6, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • Alex is able to see the future of anything he touches, just a glimpse at a time. They seem to be always depressing or the worst moment of it’s future — like he and his girlfriend breaking up. Or… like his brother dying. Soon. So if this isn’t clear, the plot is what’s heavily drawing me in here. I want to know why he has this ability
  • While there’s obviously some magic going on in this story, it also sounds like it will blend with reality to make it feel natural. There’s some hints that Alex has anxiety and probably some other mental health struggles, because frankly in his situation, who wouldn’t?
  • And of course this story will be painful, in large part because as always, it is too real that just being black in America is half a death sentence already. I’m not 100% sure what the predicted cause of his brother’s death will be, but if I can read into the police-light-red-and-blues of the cover, maybe I have a decent guess.
  • And also of course it’s by Brittney Morris and I super loved Slay. She’s close to an auto-read author for me now.

Summary

Sixteen-year-old Alex Rufus is trying his best. He tries to be the best employee he can be at the local ice cream shop; the best boyfriend he can be to his amazing girlfriend, Talia; the best protector he can be over his little brother, Isaiah. But as much as Alex tries, he often comes up short.

It’s hard to for him to be present when every time he touches an object or person, Alex sees into its future. When he touches a scoop, he has a vision of him using it to scoop ice cream. When he touches his car, he sees it years from now, totaled and underwater. When he touches Talia, he sees them at the precipice of breaking up, and that terrifies him. Alex feels these visions are a curse, distracting him, making him anxious and unable to live an ordinary life.

And when Alex touches a photo that gives him a vision of his brother’s imminent death, everything changes.

With Alex now in a race against time, death, and circumstances, he and Isaiah must grapple with their past, their future, and what it means to be a young Black man in America in the present.

Posted in Reviews

2 Second Review: The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans

2 Sentence Summary

A collection of short stories and a novella with a focus on being black in America and the way race affects interactions large and small. With an incisive focus on relationships and the essence of a person, Evans examines truths of American history.

Thoughts:

The message and style are solid, but man, I just struggle with short stories. Took a risk, struggled through it. Not for me, but maybe for you.

The collection is absolutely a focus on people, in a way that is so close it made me uncomfortable and damn were these hard to read. They felt so true and accurate. I could imagine any one of these as moments happening right now somewhere, and goddamn is that just so depressing.

The effect and message in here are strong; that’s not in question. But my experience of reading this was strained simply due to the format. I know I personally don’t enjoy short stories very much, but I wanted to give this a shot. I had a hard time with, well, how short they were. I just wanted more. Combined with the fact that I felt like I did need time between reading each one for it to settle, and this took a long time to get through. By the end, I’d forgotten most of what was from the earlier sections.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Zara Hossain is Here, 4/6/21

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 Zara Hossain is Here by Sabina Khan.
Expected Release: April 6, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • As always, I’m about cultures besides my own, although Zara Hossain is dealing with racism and hate from those in her new home in Texas. I super hope Tyler Benson, the ringleader of it all, learns his lesson and maybe even switches sides — or at least gets what he’s given. -_-
  • Strong women are the best. Allowing Zara to fight and be brave, even though it’s bullshit that anyone still has to, is a relief. If they’re in a bad situation, at least they have some ways to stand up. And I hope this book shows the hope that others WILL stand with them, with the oppressed and mistreated.
  • Zara’s family has been waiting on their green card for almost a decade, and the craziest part about that is how common that actually is. A friend of mine went through the process with her husband, and even that took YEARS for them to get when he’s from New Zealand, a country with good relations with pretty much every other country. I love the insight to the process, as it’s something most Americans will never go through, and understanding the many barriers to moving to the US legally will help breed empathy and understanding, which in turn reduces hate and fear.

Summary

Seventeen-year-old Pakistani immigrant, Zara Hossain, has been leading a fairly typical life in Corpus Christi, Texas, since her family moved there for her father to work as a pediatrician. While dealing with the Islamophobia that she faces at school, Zara has to lay low, trying not to stir up any trouble and jeopardize their family’s dependent visa status while they await their green card approval, which has been in process for almost nine years.

But one day her tormentor, star football player Tyler Benson, takes things too far, leaving a threatening note in her locker, and gets suspended. As an act of revenge against her for speaking out, Tyler and his friends vandalize Zara’s house with racist graffiti, leading to a violent crime that puts Zara’s entire future at risk. Now she must pay the ultimate price and choose between fighting to stay in the only place she’s ever called home or losing the life she loves and everyone in it.

Posted in Reviews

Review: I’m Not Dying with You Tonight by Kimberly Jones

I’m Not Dying with You Tonight by Kimberly Jones – ⭐⭐⭐

Recommended:
yes
For a totally wild ride through a normal town gone mad, for reluctant allies forced to help each other when no one else will, for race relations sprinkled throughout, for a story that starts with a bang and only gets more intense from there, for teachers looking for conversation starters about racial issues in America

I love a clever cover 😍

Summary:
Lena has her killer style, her awesome boyfriend, and a plan. She knows she’s going to make it big. Campbell, on the other hand, is just trying to keep her head down and get through the year at her new school. When both girls attend the Friday-night football game, what neither expects is for everything to descend into sudden mass chaos. Chaos born from violence and hate. Chaos that unexpectedly throws them together. They aren’t friends. They hardly understand the other’s point of view. But none of that matters when the city is up in flames, and they only have each other to rely on if they’re going to survive the night.

Thoughts:
I mean honestly this book was its own kind of terrifying. The escalation happened so quickly, and yet the inciting incidents for it were something I could easily see occurring at so many schools. I didn’t have to wait long for the action to start, but once it started it didn’t stop. Right up until the last chapters, the tension was carried the whole way through. I was so clenched up while reading this, so on edge wondering what was going to happen. I literally delayed dinner and made my S.O. wait so I could finish the book, because even the last pages were critical.

Continue reading “Review: I’m Not Dying with You Tonight by Kimberly Jones”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From

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 Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From by Jennifer De Leon.
Expected Release: August 18, 2020

Why wait on this one?

  • I can always support a book with a woman deciding to stand up and be herself – and screw other people’s comfort. With Liliana moving into a mostly-white fancy prep school, she’s forced to learn a bit about cruelty and racism. I hate that, but I hope to see her strength no longer be needed someday.
  • Her family bonds sounds tight, but the wrench of her father being deported and the colossal shake up of her perception of her life that comes with that… I cannot imagine what it would be like. Hopefully I can get some glimmer of insight.
  • It sounds like there will be a really strong voice for this novel. Even just reading the blurb gave me a sense of how Liliana might think and sound. If so much can be conveyed just from that, I have high expectations of the entire novel! Very promising.

Summary:
Fifteen-year-old Liliana is fine, thank you very much. It’s fine that her best friend, Jade, is all caught up in her new boyfriend lately. It’s fine that her inner-city high school is disorganized and underfunded. It’s fine that her father took off again—okay, maybe that isn’t fine, but what is Liliana supposed to do? She’s fifteen! Being left with her increasingly crazy mom? Fine. Her heathen little brothers? Fine, fine, fine. But it turns out Dad did leave one thing behind besides her crazy family. Before he left, he signed Liliana up for a school desegregation program called METCO. And she’s been accepted.

Being accepted into METCO, however, isn’t the same as being accepted at her new school. In her old school, Liliana—half-Guatemalan and half-Salvadorian—was part of the majority where almost everyone was a person of color. But now at Westburg, where almost everyone is white, the struggles of being a minority are unavoidable. It becomes clear that the only way to survive is to lighten up—whiten up. And if Dad signed her up for this program, he wouldn’t have just wanted Liliana to survive, he would have wanted her to thrive. So what if Liliana is now going by Lili? So what if she’s acting like she thinks she’s better than her old friends? It’s not a big deal. It’s fine.

But then she discovers the gutting truth about her father: He’s not on one of his side trips. And it isn’t that he doesn’t want to come home…he can’t. He’s undocumented and he’s been deported back to Guatemala. Soon, nothing is fine, and Lili has to make a choice: She’s done trying to make her white classmates and teachers feel more comfortable. Done changing who she is, denying her culture and where she came from. They want to know where she’s from, what she’s about? Liliana is ready to tell them.