Falling For The Underdog by Casey Griffin

Disclaimer: I received this e-book from the author. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Falling for the Underdog

Author: Casey Griffin

Book Series: A Rescue Dog Romance Book 2

Rating: 4.5/5

Recommended For…: mystery, romance, dog lovers

Publication Date: September 21, 2021

Genre: Mystery Romance

Spice: 2/5

Recommended Age: 18+ (animal disappearance, animal death, sexual content, language, miscarriage, sexual harassment)

Explanation of CWs: The book revolves around animal disappearance/kidnappings. The book mentions one animal death in passing. There is sexual content in this book. There is slight language in this book. Miscarriage and a traumatic pregnancy are mentioned and slightly shown. There is also sexual harassment shown throughout the novel.

Publisher: Charming Frog Publishing

Pages: 372

Synopsis: She dreams of Prince Charming. He’s seriously rough around the edges. Can they collar a dognapper and steal each other’s hearts?
Addison Turner has her entire fairytale life planned out. But just as the dachshund lover is about to hit it big with her doggie grooming and fashion line, thieves snatch her valuable four-legged clients right from under her nose. And to her disgust, the only one who knows the show scene enough to help is the infuriatingly hot bartender who turns her down cold.
Cocktail-slinger extraordinaire Felix Vaughn longs to open his own bar. So when he gets a gig at a high-society tail-wagging event, he thinks his gravy train has arrived and isn’t about to involve himself with a suspected thief. But when more pooches get pinched and he’s fingered for the crime, he reluctantly teams up with the fluffy prima donna to find the pups and split the reward.
With her reputation on the line, Addison doggedly follows the clues, afraid she’s falling for a mutt. And as their chemistry reaches a boiling point, Felix reveals exactly how much of his heart he stands to lose…
Will they both end up in the doghouse, or will their love win Best in Show?

Review: I really loved this book! The book had a great story revolving around a dog groomer and a dog show. The romance was sweet after awhile. And I loved the mystery element of the book. The characters are well developed, the pacing was fast but fit the book well, and the mystery was well written and kept me guessing until the end.

The only thing that I didn’t like so much in the book is that I didn’t like the sexual harassment between the love interest and our MC. It was cringey and it triggered me a bit.

Verdict: It was great!

You Truly Assumed by Laila Sabreen

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: You Truly Assumed

Author: Laila Sabreen

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: 3 Black Muslim female MCs, Hijab Wearing MC, 2 sapphic couples mentioned as side characters

Recommended For…: young adult readers, contemporary, social justice, Muslim, Black Muslims

Publication Date: February 8, 2022

Genre: YA Contemporary Social Justice

Recommended Age: 13+ (micro-aggressions, terrorism, racism, hate crimes, Islamaphobia, racism, language, romance, religion)

Explanation of Above: The book is a deep dive into how 3 Black Muslim teenage girls deal with the public backlash during the aftermath of a terrorist attack in which the bomber had an Arabic name (even though he was said to not be Muslim), so the book contains a lot of mentions and showings of micro-aggressions, racism, hate crimes, Islamaphobia, and racism against them. The book also has some instances of cursing and slight romance with two of the main characters and their respective partners. There are also a showing of Christian prayer and some Muslim prayer scenes. While I enjoyed both showings and I loved the insight into the Muslim religion, I do know that religion can be a bit of a trigger for some people due to religious trauma, especially with the Christian religion.

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Pages: 352

Synopsis: Sabriya has her whole summer planned out in color-coded glory, but those plans go out the window after a terrorist attack near her home. When the terrorist is assumed to be Muslim and Islamophobia grows, Sabriya turns to her online journal for comfort. You Truly Assumed was never meant to be anything more than an outlet, but the blog goes viral as fellow Muslim teens around the country flock to it and find solace and a sense of community.

Soon two more teens, Zakat and Farah, join Bri to run You Truly Assumed and the three quickly form a strong friendship. But as the blog’s popularity grows, so do the pushback and hateful comments. When one of them is threatened, the search to find out who is behind it all begins, and their friendship is put to the test when all three must decide whether to shut down the blog and lose what they’ve worked for…or take a stand and risk everything to make their voices heard.

Review: I extremely loved this book! This will be one of my forever favorites and a book that will stick with me for life. I absolutely loved the use of multiple POV and each of the main characters had very unique voices. The characters are well developed and  the world building is simple but well done. The book was extremely well written and I’m having issue finding words to explain how much I loved this book. Personally, I will say to skip my review and read through the other reviews by Muslim readers, such as my friend Roha (I will have a link here to her review on my blog), because I think their words on the read are more important than anything I could ever come up with. I think the closest I can explain how powerful this book is, is to explain a personal story of when the book gave me my first reader pause. It was when Sabriya is narrating and her mother is telling her that she will be needed to volunteer because her father’s job was hosting this volunteer effort to help the families affected by the terrorist attack. She explains that she has to do it because her father worked so hard to get the promotion to his current job and not volunteering will reflect badly on her father. And that gave me my first pause because, as someone whose father was also promoted, I didn’t have to do any of that. Granted, it wasn’t a government job he held but the difference still remains. I didn’t have to work any events or volunteer my time to ensure my dad looked good to his bosses because my father is white and so am I, whereas the main character in this book had to and then had to endure Islamaphobia directed at her and multiple instances of micro-aggressions because she wanted to make her father look good to his boss. I will also say that my second pause was when, I think it was Sabriya again?, was asking herself “what is his name and what is his religion?” because that is an unfortunate reality so many POC and/or Muslims deal with when news of a terrorist attack happens because unfortunately if the attacker is POC and/or Muslim or anything other than White and Christian, the whole community will see an increase in hate crimes against them whereas if the attacker is white the narrative will be about how the white attacker had a “poor home life” and that will be that. Honestly, when the tagline said “thought-provoking” I didn’t think that it would have me lying in bed at midnight staring at my ceiling wondering how to process and proceed with this new knowledge. This book did SO WELL to put the thoughts and feelings of Muslims and POC into words and while the plots are very simple, it’s the blog posts and the small moments like what I pointed out up above that really drive home the important messages of this book. If you never read another book I recommend, I highly HIGHLY recommend this book and I urge you to read this one.

The only issue I really had with the book is that I wanted a little more time with Zakat and Farah. I feel like we didn’t get enough with them whereas we got a lot with Sabriya. I also think some of the timelines in the book didn’t line up exactly. There was some future events mentioned here and there in chapters with other characters and then it would happen in a present tense in the other chapters. It wasn’t a huge confusion though and the book can be read as is without issue.

Verdict: The highest of highly recommended reads.

**Side note: if I see any hate/Islamaphobia towards my friend on her review that I linked I WILL be blocking you and shaming you on social media.

BOOK INFORMATION

TITLE: You Truly Assumed 

AUTHOR: Laila Sabreen

PUBLISHER: Inkyard Press

RELEASE DATE: February 8, 2022

GENRES: YA Fiction 

BUY LINK: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/you-truly-assumed/9781335418654-item.html&ved=2ahUKEwiI3arxzur1AhXlknIEHangDpUQFnoECCEQAQ&sqi=2&usg=AOvVaw18vUV_sPRY4MlPWgHG2I5l

GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20861808.Laila_Sabreen

Synopsis: 

In this compelling and thought-provoking debut novel, after a terrorist attack rocks the country and anti-Islamic sentiment stirs, three Black Muslim girls create a space where they can shatter assumptions and share truths.

Sabriya has her whole summer planned out in color-coded glory, but those plans go out the window after a terrorist attack near her home. When the terrorist is assumed to be Muslim and Islamophobia grows, Sabriya turns to her online journal for comfort. You Truly Assumed was never meant to be anything more than an outlet, but the blog goes viral as fellow Muslim teens around the country flock to it and find solace and a sense of community.

Soon two more teens, Zakat and Farah, join Bri to run You Truly Assumed and the three quickly form a strong friendship. But as the blog’s popularity grows, so do the pushback and hateful comments. When one of them is threatened, the search to find out who is behind it all begins, and their friendship is put to the test when all three must decide whether to shut down the blog and lose what they’ve worked for…or take a stand and risk everything to make their voices heard.

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Laila Sabreen is a young adult contemporary writer who was raised in the Washington DC area. She currently attends Emory University where she is double majoring in Sociology and English.

Her love of writing began as a love of reading, which started when she used to take weekly trips to her local library. There she fell in love with the Angelina Ballerina series, so much so that she started to write Angelina Ballerina fanfiction at the age of five (though she did not know it was fanfiction at the time). When she isn’t writing, she can be found working on essays, creating playlists that are way too long, and watching This Is Us.

Her debut YA contemporary novel, YOU TRULY ASSUMED, releases with Inkyard Press/HarperCollins on February 8, 2022. She is represented by Kat Kerr at Donald Maass Literary Agency.