Amira and Hazma: The War to Save the Worlds by Samira Ahmed

Disclaimer: I received a finished paperback copy from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Amira and Hazma: The War to Save the Worlds

Author: Samira Ahmed

Book Series: Amira and Hazma Book 1

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: Desi American MC and characters and Desi characters

Recommended For…: middle grade readers, fantasy, mythology, Desi mythology, science fiction, Percy Jackson like, HP replacement

Publication Date: September 21, 2021

Genre: MG Fantasy

Age Relevance: 10+ (racism, violence, poisoning, gore, climate disasters, human trafficking, kidnapping)

Explanation of Above: There are mentions of racism, violence, poisoning, and vomit gore. There are some climate disasters that happen in this book. There is a vague reference to human trafficking. There is some shown kidnapping.

Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 368

Synopsis: On the day of a rare super blue blood moon eclipse, twelve-year-old Amira and her little brother, Hamza, can’t stop their bickering while attending a special exhibit on medieval Islamic astronomy. While stargazer Amira is wowed by the amazing gadgets, a bored Hamza wanders off, stumbling across the mesmerizing and forbidden Box of the Moon. Amira can only watch in horror as Hamza grabs the defunct box and it springs to life, setting off a series of events that could shatter their world—literally.

Suddenly, day turns to night, everyone around Amira and Hamza falls under a sleep spell, and a chunk of the moon breaks off, hurtling toward them at lightning speed, as they come face-to-face with two otherworldly creatures: jinn.

The jinn reveal that the siblings have a role to play in an ancient prophecy. Together, they must journey to the mystical land of Qaf, battle a great evil, and end a civil war to prevent the moon—the stopper between realms—from breaking apart and unleashing terrifying jinn, devs, and ghuls onto earth. Or they might have to say goodbye to their parents and life as they know it, forever.…

Review: I thought this was an adorable read! The book is about two siblings who accidently open up a mystical box that puts everyone around them to sleep and starts some very cataclysmic events. I loved the action and the mythology in this story and I love how science was at the forefront of this book with one of the MCs being a science lover. I loved the story and the writing was phenomenally done. The world building was amazing and the characters were very well developed. I also want to point out the siblings acted very sibling like. The book is very Percy Jackson like and it’s an excellent HP replacement.

The only issue I had with the book is that I thought it was a bit too fast paced in some places.

Verdict: I loved it! Highly recommend!

Dad’s Girlfriend and Other Anxieties by Kellye Crocker

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

Book: Dad’s Girlfriend and Other Anxities

Author: Kellye Crocker

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 4/5

Diversity: Anxiety Disorder MC, ADHD character, Hispanic characters

Recommended For…: middle grade readers, contemporary, blended families, children of divorce, anxiety disorder

Publication Date: November 22, 2022

Genre: MG Contemporary

Age Relevance: 10+ (pregnancy, gore, anxiety attacks, period talk, HP reference, parental death, sexist remark, grief, racism)

Explanation of Above: There is pregnancy mentioned and some period talk. There is a slight mention of blood. There are showings of anxiety attacks. There is one slight HP reference. There are mentions of a parental death and grief. There is one sexist remark and mentions of racism.

Publisher: Albert Whitman and Company

Pages: 288

Synopsis: Dad hasn’t even been dating his new girlfriend that long, so Ava is sure that nothing has to change in her life. That is, until the day after sixth grade ends, when Dad whisks her away on vacation to meet The Girlfriend and her daughter in terrifying Colorado, where even the squirrels can kill you! Managing her anxiety, avoiding altitude sickness, and surviving the mountains might take all of Ava’s strength, but at least this trip will only last two weeks. Right?

Review: I loved this book so much! As someone with anxiety I deeply related to this character and her struggles. I don’t like surprises and I am always thinking of the worst case scenario. The book did well to present an anxious character and then give really good advice on calming your anxiety down, with 2 techniques and some advice to remember. The book also did well to be relatable to kids who are about to be apart of blended families and those going through their parents divorcing. The book had really well done character development and world building and this will definitely be a book I remember for a long time.

The only issue I had with the book was the HP reference. It really could have been any other book mentioned in the context it was mentioned in (“that was as thick as the ____ books”).

Verdict: It was great! Highly recommend.

Book Info:

Dad’s Girlfriend and Other Anxieties by Kellye Crocker

Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary

Publishing Date: To Be Announced

Synopsis:

Since Ava’s mom died, Ava has relied on her consistent routines, predictable schedules,
and exhaustive risk assessment to keep herself safe from uncertainty. For the most part, her life in small-town Iowa has been stable. That is, until now.

As soon as sixth grade ends, Dad is whisking Ava away to meet his girlfriend and her daughter in terrifying Colorado, where even the ground squirrels can be deadly. Managing her anxiety, avoiding altitude sickness, and surviving the mountains might take all Ava’s strength.

Can she stay in control when everything around her is changing so quickly?

Content Warning: panic attack

Book Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60373276-dad-s-girlfriend-and-other-anxieties

Amazon: https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/0807514217/

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dads-girlfriend-and-other-anxieties-kellye-crocker/1140957581

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Dads-Girlfriend-Other-Anxieties-KELLYE-CROCKER/9780807514214

Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/dads-girlfriend-and-other-anxieties/9780807514214-item.html

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780807514214

About the Author:

Kellye Crocker is a journalist who has written for Better Homes and Gardens, Parents, and Glamour. She holds an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a bachelor’s degree in news-editorial from the Missouri School of Journalism. She lives in Denver, Colorado.

Author Links:

Website: https://www.kellyecrocker.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kelcrocker

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kellyecrocker/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/22220465.Kellye_Crocker

Tour Schedule:

Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen

Disclaimer: I bought this finished copy but I did originally have an e-arc of it and this is my first reread. Thanks! Support your authors! All opinions are my own.

Book:  Skin of the Sea

Author: Natasha Bowen

Book Series: Skin of the Sea Book 1

Rating: 4/5

Diversity: Black MC and characters

Recommended For…: young adult readers, mythology, mermaids, fantasy, slight Little Mermaid references

Publication Date: November 9, 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

Age Relevance: 15+ (violence, death, gore, slavery, suicide, animal death)

Explanation of Above: There is violence mentioned and shown as well as death. There is some gore involving blood shown. Slavery is mentioned and shown in the book and there is a theme of the mermaids being created from people who were thrown overboard slavery ships and it plays an important plot point in the story. There is an attempted suicide shown in the book. There is animal death with a cow mentioned.

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

Pages: 303

Synopsis: Simi prayed to the gods, once. Now she serves them as Mami Wata–a mermaid–collecting the souls of those who die at sea and blessing their journeys back home.

But when a living boy is thrown overboard, Simi goes against an ancient decree and does the unthinkable–she saves his life. And punishment awaits those who dare to defy the gods.

To protect the other Mami Wata, Simi must journey to the Supreme Creator to make amends. But all is not as it seems. There’s the boy she rescued, who knows more than he should. And something is shadowing Simi, something that would rather see her fail . . .

Danger lurks at every turn, and as Simi draws closer, she must brave vengeful gods, treacherous lands, and legendary creatures. Because if she fails, she risks not only the fate of all Mami Wata, but also the world as she knows it.

Review: I loved this book so much! I love the magical-ness of this book and how action packed it is for being so short. The pacing doesn’t feel weird and I love how original of a mermaid tale it is but that it keeps some of the callbacks to Hans Christian Anderson’s Little Mermaid tale. The book includes CWs in the front of it which I very much appreciate. The character development and the world building was also well done and I loved the magic system in this one.

The only issue I had with the book is that the flowery language of it kinda messed with my head. I wished it didn’t have as much fluff and was a bit more straight forward, but it was good regardless.

Verdict: It’s so good! Highly recommend!

It Won’t Always Be Like This by Malaka Gharib

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

Book: It Won’t Always Be Like This

Author: Malaka Gharib

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: Egyptian characters, Egyptian/Filipino American MC

Recommended For…: young adult readers, graphic novel, memoir, nonfiction, Egypt, coming of age

Publication Date: September 20, 2022

Genre: YA Graphic Novel Memoir

Age Relevance: 13+ (divorce, religion, language, sexual harassment, sexual assault, modesty culture)

Explanation of Above: Divorce is a plot line of the book. There are mentions and showings of religion and modest culture, including scenes shaming the MC for what she is wearing. There is some slight cursing in the book. There is one scene of catcalling/sexual harassment and one scene of being groped/sexual assault.

Publisher: Ten Speed Press

Pages: 225

Synopsis: It’s hard enough to figure out boys, beauty, and being cool when you’re young, but even harder when you’re in a country where you don’t understand the language, culture, or religion.

Nine-year-old Malaka Gharib arrives in Egypt for her annual summer vacation abroad and assumes it’ll be just like every other vacation she’s spent at her dad’s place in Cairo. But her father shares news that changes everything: He has remarried. Over the next fifteen years, as she visits her father’s growing family summer after summer, Malaka must reevaluate her place in his life. All that on top of maintaining her coolness!

Malaka doesn’t feel like she fits in when she visits her dad–she sticks out in Egypt and doesn’t look anything like her fair-haired half siblings. But she adapts. She learns that Nirvana isn’t as cool as Nancy Ajram, that there’s nothing better than a Fanta and a melon-mint hookah, that the desert is most beautiful at dawn, and that her new stepmother, Hala, isn’t so different from Malaka herself.

Review: I really liked this graphic novel memoir! I thought it was well done and it did well to show what growing up with divorced international parents is like. I liked seeing the juxtaposition of the MC’s American life vs her Egyptian life and I enjoyed seeing her insight and seeing how she grew throughout the novel, especially in the way her relationship grew with her stepmother. I think this would be a great book for children of divorce, especially those who have to travel a long way to see their non-custodial parent or children with new step parents. I thought the artwork was also well done, the character development amazing, and the world building great.

The only thing I had a bit of fault with is that the story just ends. It doesn’t have a resolution or anything and the author’s note mentions talking to Hala again, that she reviewed this story before it was published, but in the story itself she just kind of falls off the face of the Earth. I wish there was a bit more resolution with her.

Verdict: It was good! Highly recommend!

Love From Mecca to Medina by S.K. Ali

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

Book: Love From Mecca to Medina

Author: S.K. Ali

Book Series: Love From A to Z Book 2

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: American Muslim MC (Pakistani/West Indian descent), Canadian Muslim convert MC with Multiple Sclerosis (Chinese/Finish descent), other Muslim and Muslim convert characters, Jewish character

Recommended For…: young adult readers, new adult readers, contemporary, romance, Muslim

Publication Date: October 18, 2022

Genre: YA Contemporary/NA Contemporary Romance

Age Relevance: 16+ (romance, war, Islamaphobia, homelessness, alcohol consumption, illness, white supremacy, religion, sexual content, vomit gore)

Explanation of Above: There is a lot of romance in this book between our two MCs and some very vague sexual content mentioned. The romance is mostly hand holding, love affirmations, and stolen kisses. There is one fade to black scene and the characters have had their Nikah ceremony. There is some Islamaphobia and white supremacy mentioned and shown in the book. There are scenes and mentions of homelessness. There is alcohol consumption mentioned (not by the main characters). The Muslim religion and a Muslim pilgrimage is mentioned and shown throughout the book. There is also some vomiting shown and mentioned in the book.

Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

Pages: 352

Synopsis: Adam and Zayneb. Perfectly matched. Painfully apart.

Adam is in Doha, Qatar, making a map of the Hijra, a historic migration from Mecca to Medina, and worried about where his next paycheck will come from. Zayneb is in Chicago, where school and extracurricular stresses are piling on top of a terrible frenemy situation, making her miserable.

Then a marvel occurs: Adam and Zayneb get the chance to spend Thanksgiving week on the Umrah, a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, in Saudi Arabia. Adam is thrilled; it’s the reboot he needs and an opportunity to pray for a hijra in real life: to migrate to Zayneb in Chicago. Zayneb balks at the trip at first, having envisioned another kind of vacation, but then decides a spiritual reset is calling her name too. And they can’t wait to see each other—surely, this is just what they both need.

But the trip is nothing like what they expect, from the appearance of Adam’s former love interest in their traveling group to the anxiety gripping Zayneb when she’s supposed to be “spiritual.” As one wedge after another drives them apart while they make their way through rites in the holy city, Adam and Zayneb start to wonder: was their meeting just an oddity after all? Or can their love transcend everything else like the greatest marvels of the world?

Review: I really loved this sequel! I thought it was better than the original and I loved seeing how in love Adam and Zayneb were. I loved seeing what happens after the first book and how Zayneb is navigating law school and homelessness while they both deal with a long distance marriage also while Adam struggles with unemployment. The book focuses on their unexpected decision to do the pilgrimage from Mecca to Medina and how their love ebbs and flows along the way. The book did much better with the character development and the world building remained immaculate. I also thought the pacing was much better written in this one, I thought this read was super informative and I learned so much from it, and overall I loved it so much. I was also very impressed with how the author cut out all of the HP references that were plaguing the other book and I thought the book was better for it.

The only complaint I have with the book is that I did think that the ending was a bit too scrunched up, like it didn’t have time to fully work out naturally.

Verdict: It was great! Highly recommend!

Something Great by Jeanette Bradley

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

Book: Something Great

Author: Jeanette Bradley

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: Nonbinary MC, Black character

Recommended For…: children’s, picture book, STEM, non-binary rep

Publication Date: October 11, 2022

Genre: Children’s Picture Book

Age Relevance: 0+

Explanation of Above: It’s a picture book about imagination and enjoying the simple things in life.

Publisher: Levine Querido

Pages: 40

Synopsis: Voila! Quinn spent the morning in their workshop, and they emerged with Something Great! But. What is it?

No one seemed to understand that Something Great isn’t supposed to be anything. It was just. itself. Something Great.

Then, the new kid asks to play with Quinn and Something Great. They discover that Something Great can be an elevator, a bug catcher, or a stick lifter. It could even be. a friend finder.

Quietly profound, this sweet tale and its mixed-media illustrations are a delightful combination of elements blending STEM activities (for those inclined to catch them!) with casual nonconformity in a picture book that is, well, Something Great!

Review: I absolutely loved this book so much! I loved that the MC was non-binary and that wasn’t what the book was about. While I love books that talk about being non-binary or other identities, it’s refreshing to have books where the MC has those identities but they’re just allowed to exist and not justify their existence like cis white children in other picture books are. I love that the message of the book was that not everything had to be something, it can just exist and be, which I think is a great message for everyone. This book also blends STEM activities into the pages, which would be a great building block if you want to incorporate that into your children’s lives.

Verdict: It was great! Highly recommend!

The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper

Disclaimer: I bought an e-copy of this book! Support your authors! All opinions are my own.

Book: The Wolf Den

Author: Elodie Harper

Book Series: Wolf Den Trilogy Book 1

Rating: 5/5

Spice: 3/5

Diversity: Egyptian character

Recommended For…: historical fiction, ancient Rome, ancient Pompeii, adult

Publication Date: May 13, 2021

Genre: Historical Fiction Tragedy

Age Relevance: 18+ (sexual content, cursing, violence, slavery, animal death, sexism, gore, rape, human trafficking, grief, alcohol consumption, abortion, pregnancy, suicide, death)

Explanation of Above: The book focuses on the lives of brothel workers in ancient Pompeii, so the book focuses on slavery and sexual content, including rape. There is cursing in the book and a lot of physical violence, along with some weapon violence. There is blood gore and a dead dogs body is mentioned in the book at one point. There are sexist comments and sexism in the book. Human trafficking is mentioned throughout the book, in the sale of adult and children. There is death and grief in the book, as well as one scene that shows a suicide and a couple of other mentions of suicide. There is alcohol consumption, abortion is mentioned, and there is a pregnancy shown as well.

Publisher: Head of Zeus

Pages: 464

Synopsis: Sold by her mother. Enslaved in Pompeii’s brothel. Determined to survive. Her name is Amara. Welcome to the Wolf Den…

Amara was once a beloved daughter, until her father’s death plunged her family into penury. Now she is a slave in Pompeii’s infamous brothel, owned by a man she despises. Sharp, clever and resourceful, Amara is forced to hide her talents. For as a she-wolf, her only value lies in the desire she can stir in others.

But Amara’s spirit is far from broken.

By day, she walks the streets with her fellow she-wolves, finding comfort in the laughter and dreams they share. For the streets of Pompeii are alive with opportunity. Out here, even the lowest slave can secure a reversal in fortune. Amara has learnt that everything in this city has its price. But how much is her freedom going to cost her?

Set in Pompeii’s lupanar, The Wolf Den reimagines the lives of women who have long been overlooked.

Review: I really liked this book! I thought that it was a very epically told tragedy and it reads a lot like how drama TV shows are now (which is how you should kinda look at epics and tragedies, it makes the reading much more fun lol). The book is very honest about the horrible conditions that our main character goes through and you really feel for her throughout the book and at the end you’re celebrating how far she’s come. The book was very well written and the world building and character development were absolutely amazing.

The only issue I had with the book is that the beginning is a bit scattered, which makes it a little hard to get into, and the book can be confusing at certain points. Overall though I’m super happy with this book and can’t wait for the rest of the series.

Verdict: It was so good! Highly recommend!

Twice a Quinceanera by Yamile Saied Mendez

Disclaimer: I received a finished copy from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Twice a Quinceanera

Author: Yamile Saied Mendez

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Spice: 1/5

Diversity: Argentinean America with Anxiety MC, Argentinean and Argentinean American characters, Puerto Rican Argentinean characters, Puerto Rican character, Mormon character, Hispanic MC, and Hispanic characters

Recommended For…: contemporary, romance, adult novel, second chance romance

Publication Date: July 26, 2022

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Age Relevance: 16+ (panic attack, grief, parental death, sexual content, romance, illness, cursing, racism, religion, eating disorder and disordered eating comments, emotional abuse, cheating, teen pregnancy, infanticide, stalking)

Explanation of Above: This book shows one panic attack in it. There is some talk about grief and parental death. There is also some illness shown in the book with Alzheimer’s and Diabetes is mentioned. There is some cursing in the book and a couple of racist comments/moments. There is some romance and talk about sexual content, however there is nothing shown. The Mormon religion is mentioned. There are mentions of an eating disorder and some comments about the MC’s weight that play into her former disordered eating. There are some scenes shown with emotional abuse and some mentions of it. There are mentions of teen pregnancy and cheating. There is one mention of infanticide. Stalking is shown in the book.

Publisher: Kensington Books

Pages: 312

Synopsis: One month short of her wedding day—and her thirtieth birthday—Nadia Palacio finds herself standing up to her infuriating, cheating fiancé for the first time in . . . well, ever. But that same courage doesn’t translate to breaking the news to her Argentinian family. She’s hyperventilating before facing them when she glimpses a magazine piece about a Latina woman celebrating herself—with a second quinceañera, aka Sweet 15! And that gives Nadia a brilliant idea . . .

With a wedding venue already paid for, and family from all over the world with plane tickets, Nadia is determined to create her own happily-ever-after. Since the math adds up perfectly, she’ll celebrate her treintañera, her double quinces. As the first professional in her family, raising a glass to her achievements is the best plan she’s had in years. Until she discovers that the man in charge of the venue is none other than her college fling that became far more than a fling. And he looks even more delicious than a three-tiered cake . . .

Full of exuberant heart, Twice a Quinceañera is a pure delight for every woman who needs to be her own biggest fan—and who dreams of a second chance at first love.

Review: I absolutely loved this book! This is a great contemporary romance book mainly about a woman who just broke off her engagement to her fiancé with the wedding being about a month out. Our MC, whose birthday is the day after the former wedding date, decides to celebrate her birthday by having a party to celebrate herself and her accomplishments! While the MC faces some backlash, I’m very well surprised to see that the majority of the book focused on her determination to have this celebration. The book gives a huge positive message by putting the MC’s healing at the forefront and having the romance be on the backburner. Even the ending is more about how the MC continues to triumph post break-up and it’s a very inspiring read for all. The other MC of the book features a man who is trying to learn how to not run when things get hard and to forgive himself for past issues. The book was extremely well written, featuring a second chance romance, and the world building and character development were also well done. The book’s message is clear: love and celebrate yourself.

The only issue I had with the book is that sometimes the book branched off on topics that weren’t that pertinent to the story, like with other character’s backstories. I’m hoping that means the author intends to have more books set in this universe with the other prominent characters of this book.

Verdict: I love it! Highly recommend!

Book Information 

Title: Twice a Quinceañera

Author: Yamile Saied Méndez 

Publisher: Kensington Books

Publication Date: July 26th, 2022 

Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Synopsis:

One month short of her wedding day—and her thirtieth birthday—Nadia Palacio finds herself standing up to her infuriating, cheating fiancé for the first time in . . . well, ever. But that same courage doesn’t translate to breaking the news to her Argentinian family. She’s hyperventilating before facing them when she glimpses a magazine piece about a Latina woman celebrating herself—with a second quinceañera, aka Sweet 15! And that gives Nadia a brilliant idea . . .

With a wedding venue already paid for, and family from all over the world with plane tickets, Nadia is determined to create her own happily-ever-after. Since the math adds up perfectly, she’ll celebrate her treintañera, her double quinces. As the first professional in her family, raising a glass to her achievements is the best plan she’s had in years. Until she discovers that the man in charge of the venue is none other than her college fling that became far more than a fling. And he looks even more delicious than a three-tiered cake . . .

Full of exuberant heart, Twice a Quinceañera is a pure delight for every woman who needs to be her own biggest fan—and who dreams of a second chance at first love.

Book links:  

Goodreads

Blackwells

Amazon

Book Depository

Barnes & Noble

Author Information

Yamile (pronounced sha-MEE-lay) Saied Méndez is an Argentinian-American Pura Belpré gold medal-winning author of picture books, middle grade, young adult, and adult fiction. An inaugural Walter Dean Myers Grant recipient, she’s a graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts and Voices of Our Nations (VONA). Her young adult novel, Furia, was a Reese Witherspoon X Hello Sunshine YA Pick and she’s a founding member of Las Musas, a collective of women and nonbinary Latinx creators. Born and raised in Rosario, Argentina—to a family with roots from all over the world—she now lives in Utah with her Puerto Rican husband, five multicultural kids, two bilingual dogs, and one majestic cat. 

Author Links: 

Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17449798.Yamile_Saied_M_ndez

Website: YamileSMendez.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/YamileSMendez 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/yamilesmendez/

Well That Was Unexpected by Jesse Q. Sutanto

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

Book: Well, That Was Unexpected

Author: Jesse Q. Sutanto

Book Series: Untitled Book Series Book 1

Rating: 4/5

Diversity: Chinese Indonesian American MC and characters, Chinese Indonesian MC and characters, Sapphic couple, Bisexual character

Recommended For…: young adult readers, contemporary, romance, humor, fake dating, Indonesian, Chinese Indonesian, travel, celeb boy/normie girl

Publication Date: September 27, 2022

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance

Age Relevance: 16+ (sexual content, cursing, parental death, HP reference, teen pregnancy, romance)

Explanation of Above: There is a lot of sexual content in the book. There is no sex or sexual acts shown, but masturbation (nothing shown, just mentioned and talked about) and talking openly about sex and wanting sex is in the book. There is a lot of romance in this book. There is a lot of cursing in this book. Parental death and teen pregnancy are mentioned. There is one HP reference, but quickly another author is mentioned as being better (N.K. Jemison).

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Pages: 352

Synopsis: After Sharlot Citra’s mother catches her in a compromising position, she finds herself whisked away from LA to her mother’s native Indonesia. It’ll be exactly what they both need. Or so her mother thinks.

When George Clooney Tanuwijaya’s father (who is obsessed with American celebrities) fears he no longer understands how to get through to his son, he decides to take matters into his own hands.

To ensure that their children find the right kind of romantic partner, Sharlot’s mother and George’s father do what any good parent would do: they strike up a conversation online, pretending to be their children.

When the kids find out about their parents’ actions, they’re horrified. Not even a trip to one of the most romantic places on earth could possibly make Sharlot and George fall for each other. But as the layers peel back and the person they thought they knew from online is revealed, the truth becomes more complicated. As unlikely as it may seem, did their parents manage to find their true match after all?

Review: This book was so cute! This book is an adorable contemporary romance with multi-POVs. One of the POVs is a Chinese Indonesian American girl who is caught in a compromising position with her boyfriend and taken to Indonesia by her mother for it. The other perspective is a Chinese Indonesian boy who is from a wealthy family, but when he is also caught in a compromising position his family take matters in their own hands via setting him up on a blind date… with our other MC. I loved how it openly discussed sex and sexual desires in teenagers, but also showing and talking about some of the dangers of sex at a young age especially socially in certain countries. While sex is natural, it is not seen that way in a lot of countries and this book talks openly about that. The book has my favorite trope in it (family sets me up on blind date) and the book also showcases the fake dating trope. The book was well written and I loved the story. I also loved seeing Indonesia through the eyes of our MC and I love all of the commentary about the land from an American and Native Indonesian prospective. The book also had well developed characters and world building.

The only issue I had with the book is that I didn’t think it was necessary to have an HP reference, even if it’s slightly bashed. It could have been “oh you’re reading Percy Jackson” or something like that instead.

Verdict: It was great! Highly recommend!

Book Info:

Well, That Was Unexpected by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance

Publishing Date: September 27, 2022

Synopsis:

An outrageous, laugh-out-loud YA rom-com about a girl who’s whisked from LA to her mother’s native Indonesia to get back to her roots and finds herself fake-dating the son of one of the wealthiest families there, from the author of Dial A for Aunties.

After Sharlot Citra’s mother catches her in a compromising position, she finds herself whisked away from LA to her mother’s native Indonesia. It’ll be exactly what they both need. Or so her mother thinks.

When George Clooney Tanuwijaya’s father (who is obsessed with American celebrities) fears he no longer understands how to get through to his son, he decides to take matters into his own hands.

To ensure that their children find the right kind of romantic partner, Sharlot’s mother and George’s father do what any good parent would do: they strike up a conversation online, pretending to be their children.

When the kids find out about their parents’ actions, they’re horrified. Not even a trip to one of the most romantic places on earth could possibly make Sharlot and George fall for each other. But as the layers peel back and the person they thought they knew from online is revealed, the truth becomes more complicated. As unlikely as it may seem, did their parents manage to find their true match after all? 

Book Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59382071-well-that-was-unexpected

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0593433971/

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/well-that-was-unexpected-jesse-q-sutanto/1140956682

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Well-That-Was-Unexpected-Jesse-Q-Sutanto/9780593433973

Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/well-that-was-unexpected/9780593433973-item.html

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780593433973

About the Author:

I grew up going back and forth between Jakarta and Singapore and consider both places my homes. I was fortunate enough to do my Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Oxford, which is surely one of the most gorgeous places in the world.

I am passionate about women’s rights and diversity in publishing. I regularly do giveaways where I critique queries or the first few pages, and I am especially interested in helping writers from marginalized communities. If you are a writer from a marginalized community, do hit me up! I love hearing from other writers, even if it’s just to say a quick hello.

Author Links:

Website: https://www.jesseqsutanto.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/thewritinghippo

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jesseqsutanto/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19278992.Jesse_Q_Sutanto

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JesseQSutanto/

Tour Schedule:

Love Times Infinity by Lane Clarke

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

Book: Love Times Infinity

Author: Lane Clarke

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: Black MC who lives with grandmother, Black characters, Lesbian character, Hispanic character, Foster care character, Jewish character

Recommended For…: young adult readers, contemporary, romance, Black romance

Publication Date: July 26, 2022

Genre: YA Contemporary

Age Relevance: 16+ (roaches/bugs, sexual assault/rape, depression, psychiatric hold, anxiety, cursing, alcoholism, underage alcohol consumption, abortion, panic attack, romance)

Explanation of Above: Roaches/bugs are mentioned in the beginning of the book and not at all after that. It’s a quick mention. The book revolves around a character who is the product of rape, so rape and sexual assault are mentioned in varied vagueness to bluntness throughout the novel. Depression and anxiety are shown in the book and there is a psychiatric hold mentioned as well. There is one panic attack scene. There is a lot of cursing throughout the book. Alcoholism is mentioned and underage alcohol consumption is mentioned as well. Abortion is mentioned to a character who is pregnant. There is some romance in the book.

Publisher: Poppy

Pages: 368

Synopsis: High school junior Michie is struggling to define who she is for her scholarship essays, her big shot at making it into Brown as a first-generation college student. The prompts would be hard for anyone, but Michie’s been estranged from her mother since she was seven and her concept of family has long felt murky.

Enter new kid and basketball superstar Derek de la Rosa. He is very cute, very talented, and very much has his eye on Michie, no matter how invisible she believes herself to be.

When Michie’s mother unexpectedly reaches out to make amends, and with her scholarship deadlines looming, Michie must choose whether to reopen old wounds or close the door on her past. And as she spends more time with Derek, she’ll have to decide how much of her heart she is willing to share. Because while Michie may not know who she is, she’s starting to realize who she wants to become, if only she can take a chance on Derek, on herself, and on her future.

Review: I think this is a superb read, with really thought provoking questions throughout it. I loved how the book was written and it really made me think throughout it. Usually I stay away from books where it discusses a pregnancy after a rape. I do this because when I was younger, most of the books like that were in the Christian fiction genre. In fact, when I was in high school I had a friend who loved to read Christian novels and some of the novels that she really liked and would tell me about was in the theme of about a pregnancy after a rape. And the thing that really bugged me about those books were that they all showcased that it was all sunshine and rainbows afterwards. And I thought to myself, and I still do think to myself, that It is a very stupid way of framing that unfortunate situation and obviously it was to push a certain political agenda. But the thing I love about this book is that it was very raw and honest about the aftermath of such an event. It didn’t paint the issue as “sunshine and rainbows” but rather it focused on the MC, who is a product of rape, and how they deal with that event and how their family also deals with it. It was raw and emotional and honest, and even when another character in the book got pregnant the MC not only advocated for abortion but also for the character to make a choice that best suited them. The character development was amazing and the world building was well done. The pacing was also great and overall I think this is one of those books that are well worth being read. I also loved all of the Percy Jackson mentions. This is something I think other authors could incorporate as well *hinthint*

The only issue I had with the book is that the ending was a bit sudden and I wanted to see more of the romance between the MC and the love interest, but other than that I absolutely adored this read!

Verdict: I love it! Highly recommend!