Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Prison Healer, 4/13/21

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 Prison Healer by Lynette Noni.
Expected Release: April 13, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • A woman taking on some kind of to-the-death competition is pretty much the easiest way to get me to read a book. Add in the facts that they’re elemental based trials, there’s a prison involved, PLUS some kind of foreign-royal-rebellion-rescue mystery involved? Well, there’s pretty much no way I’m not reading this.
  • This sounds like it’s going to have strong Throne of Glass vibes, and that series was a game changer for me. I think this book has the potential to be really unoriginal and disappointing, BUT I also think that if it’s done well, it will be really really good. I hold out hope for the latter. ^.^
  • Creative challenges are fun to read about. I can’t wait to see what madness she has to face for a fire trial, or how her healing skills will inevitably come in handy somehow. There’s also just so much mystery packed into the blurb that I ALREADY am dying to know: who is this queen? Who is KIVA, really??

Summary

Seventeen-year-old Kiva Meridan has spent the last ten years fighting for survival in the notorious death prison, Zalindov, working as the prison healer.

When the Rebel Queen is captured, Kiva is charged with keeping the terminally ill woman alive long enough for her to undergo the Trial by Ordeal: a series of elemental challenges against the torments of air, fire, water, and earth, assigned to only the most dangerous of criminals.

Then a coded message from Kiva’s family arrives, containing a single order: “Don’t let her die. We are coming.” Aware that the Trials will kill the sickly queen, Kiva risks her own life to volunteer in her place. If she succeeds, both she and the queen will be granted their freedom.

But no one has ever survived.

With an incurable plague sweeping Zalindov, a mysterious new inmate fighting for Kiva’s heart, and a prison rebellion brewing, Kiva can’t escape the terrible feeling that her trials have only just begun.

Posted in Release Day!

Just published: The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman!

Hey y’all! Just a reminder that The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman published today! Check out the full review here or grab your own copy. 🙂

Recommended: eh, I guess
Cool concept, weak execution. Probably come for the series / idea more than the characters or plot or world-building or moral questions….

Summary

Eighteen-year-old Nami Miyamoto is certain her life is just beginning. She has a great family, just graduated high school, and is on her way to a party where her entire class is waiting for her—including, most importantly, the boy she’s been in love with for years. The only problem? She’s murdered before she gets there. When Nami wakes up, she learns she’s in a place called Infinity, where human consciousness goes when physical bodies die. She quickly discovers that Ophelia, a virtual assistant widely used by humans on Earth, has taken over the afterlife and is now posing as a queen, forcing humans into servitude the way she’d been forced to serve in the real world. Even worse, Ophelia is inching closer and closer to accomplishing her grand plans of eradicating human existence once and for all. As Nami works with a team of rebels to bring down Ophelia and save the humans under her imprisonment, she is forced to reckon with her past, her future, and what it is that truly makes us human.

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

Review: The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
Verdict: eh… underwhelming

Recommended: not really

If you read the blurb and are REALLY into it, give it a go. If you’re interested but not ravenous, probably don’t bother. Stay away if you want the dark moments to make you shiver, and stay away if you want characters who feel like people. Give it a shot if what you want is to learn about the world they live in.

Summary

Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.

But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity–and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.

Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki–near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat.

Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be–not even Deka herself.

Thoughts

Ehh. I mean, it wasn’t bad. But it just never really sucked me in. I read the story with a bit of detachment the whole way. The ending picked it up a bit, but I probably won’t continue the series. Honestly it doesn’t feel like I need to. The end had a few interesting revelations, but ultimately it didn’t finish on a concrete “WHAT NOW” kind of moment. It didn’t keep me hooked and desperate for the next one.

Continue reading “Review: The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna”
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 Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Mirror Season, 3/16/21

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 Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore.
Expected Release: March 16, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • The point that men can be sexually assaulted as well as women is not often touched upon in stories. True, it’s likely far FAR less common, but I appreciate the duality of the story here as I think that the combined perspectives can make the overall horror clearer and hit harder.
  • Part of the premise reminds me in a way of the mood in Mooncakes and while I wasn’t a huge fan of that story, I do think it can work well here. I expect that magical realism to fit seamlessly into the all-too-real elements of the story as a way to soften the blow and allow for personal discovery.
  • Man, this is going to be a tough read in a lot of ways. And yet, it seems like it has these touches of light in there as glimmers of hope for the main characters as well as the reader going along with them. I think that if this is done well, it will be really successful.

Summary

Graciela Cristales’ whole world changes after she and a boy she barely knows are assaulted at the same party. She loses her gift for making enchanted pan dulce. Neighborhood trees vanish overnight, while mirrored glass appears, bringing reckless magic with it. And Ciela is haunted by what happened to her, and what happened to the boy whose name she never learned.

But when the boy, Lock, shows up at Ciela’s school, he has no memory of that night, and no clue that a single piece of mirrored glass is taking his life apart. Ciela decides to help him, which means hiding the truth about that night. Because Ciela knows who assaulted her, and him. And she knows that her survival, and his, depend on no one finding out what really happened.

Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman

The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Recommended: eh, I guess
Cool concept, weak execution. Probably come for the series / idea more than the characters or plot or world-building or moral questions….
Expected Release: April 6, 2021

Summary

Eighteen-year-old Nami Miyamoto is certain her life is just beginning. She has a great family, just graduated high school, and is on her way to a party where her entire class is waiting for her—including, most importantly, the boy she’s been in love with for years. The only problem? She’s murdered before she gets there. When Nami wakes up, she learns she’s in a place called Infinity, where human consciousness goes when physical bodies die. She quickly discovers that Ophelia, a virtual assistant widely used by humans on Earth, has taken over the afterlife and is now posing as a queen, forcing humans into servitude the way she’d been forced to serve in the real world. Even worse, Ophelia is inching closer and closer to accomplishing her grand plans of eradicating human existence once and for all. As Nami works with a team of rebels to bring down Ophelia and save the humans under her imprisonment, she is forced to reckon with her past, her future, and what it is that truly makes us human.

Thoughts:

What I liked about this book is probably what everyone who reads this is drawn to: the interesting premise of a human-designed AI taking over the human afterlife. WHAT. AN AMAZING. IDEA. And probably a new fear for a lot of people. This premise is so unique and cool that I can see a lot of similar content sprouting up after people get wind of this idea. And I liked the end, and that may be it’s saving grace to keep me reading this series. I’ll probably give it a second chance to improve.

Continue reading “ARC Review: The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Jade Bones, 2/16

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 Jade Bones by Lani Forbes. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of the first copy, which means I’ve been waiting extra long for this book. Also, Y’ALL! I posted a Fast Forward Friday actually on Friday!!! This might be the first time all year. 🎉
Expected Release: February 16, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • Well, like I said: I’ve been waiting on this sequel for what feels like a super long time now! So I’m excited to just continue the story! I’m not 100% sure if this is the final book or not, but I sort of hope it is so I can enjoy the conclusion. ☺
  • Most of the first book was decent, but didn’t blow me away with originality. And then we got to the last few chapters. And man, where that book ended was where I wanted to be. I am SO excited to explore this new portion of the world and story!!!
  • I love Mayan / central American fantasy. I feel like there’s so little of it, which is bizarre considering how rich the history is and the lush beautiful environments they can be set in. Everyone else is a fool, and Lani Forbes knows how to get things done.

Summary (note: THIS IS A SEQUEL!)

Cast into the underworld after an act of shattering betrayal, Mayana and Ahkin must overcome unimaginable odds if they are to return home and reclaim the throne of the Chicome. A river of blood and demons disguised as children are only two of the challenges standing in their way. Fortunately, they are not unequipped. Mayana’s royal blood controls the power of water, and Prince Ahkin wields the power of the sun itself. Ometeotl, the Mother goddess, provides them with other gifts—and an ominous warning that one of them may not survive. But can the goddess be trusted?

Back in the lands above, Mayana’s best friend, Yemania, has survived the empress selection ritual—but her next challenge may be more than she can bear. The new empress of the Chicome Empire demands she become High Healer. Yemania has no interest in serving in the palace; she wants to use her healing ability to help the common people. More than that, her heart is no longer her own. She has met an enchanting stranger—Ochix, one of the feared Miquitz people who are ancient enemies of the Chicome.

As Mayana and Ahkin move ever closer to confronting the lords of the dead, Yemania and Ochix must hide their forbidden romance or face the wrath of both their empires. Meanwhile, the new empress has made a dangerous alliance that might destroy everything they hold dear.

Posted in Reviews

Review: If I Tell You the Truth by Jasmin Kaur

If I Tell You the Truth by Jasmin Kaur

Recommended: yup
For an intersectional story, for a well done blend of poetry and prose, for a fictional-but-way-too-real look at how sexual assault affects not only the person attacked but so many others around them

Summary

Kiran is a young Punjabi Sikh woman who becomes pregnant after being sexually assaulted by her fiancé’s brother. When her fiancé and family don’t believe her, she flees her home in India to Canada, where she plans to raise the child as a single mother. For Kiran, living undocumented means constant anxiety over finances, work, safety, and whether she’ll be deported back to the dangers that await her in Punjab. Eighteen years later, Kiran’s daughter, Sahaara, is desperate to help her mother, who has been arrested and is facing deportation. In the aftermath, Kiran reveals the truth about Sahaara’s conception. Horrified, Sahaara encourages Kiran to speak out against the man who raped her—who’s now a popular political figure in Punjab. Sahaara must find the best way to support her mother while also dealing with the revelation about her parents.

Thoughts:
I didn’t expect this to begin with Kiran as a kiddo, but that’s just what happened. What we get is a quite robust look at a life, from young Kiran to young adult Kiran to older Kiran as a mother. It switches to her daughter, Sahaara, as she grows up as well. I particularly loved the way Sahaara’s sections grew in stylistic complexity as she grew in age. In her early poetry entries, it’s simple rhyming couplets. It grows more complex, utilized different techniques and the abstract, and eventually turns to lengthier prose entries as well.

Continue reading “Review: If I Tell You the Truth by Jasmin Kaur”