Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Books Releasing In the Second Half of 2022

Top Ten Tuesday is held by Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl
Today’s topic is all about books releasing in the second half of 2022 that I’m excited for!

1. Always Be My Duchess ~ Amalie Howard. (7.12.22)
2. The Bodyguard ~ Katherine Center (7.19.22)
3. Heartbreaker ~ Sarah MacLean    (8.23.22)
4. The Final Gambit ~ Jennifer Lynn Barnes (8.30.22)
5. A Merry Little Meet Cute ~ Julia Murphy and Sierra Simone
(9.20.22)

6. You’re A Mean One, Matthew Prince ~Timothy Janvosky
(10.4.22)
7. Runaway Groomsman ~ Meghan Quinn (10.11.22)
8. Built to Last ~ Erin Hahn.              (10.18.22)
9. Two Wrongs Make A Right ~ Chloe Liese (11.22.22)
10. A Million to One ~ Adiba Jaigirdar (12.13.22)

What books are you most excited for?

Spin Me Right Round | David Valdes | Book Review

As I was reading Spin Me Right Round, I couldn’t help but feel like it was a gay twist on the classic movie trilogy Back to the Future. In present day, Luis is openly gay in an environment that may be progressive but not always fully accepting. The majority reason for this stems from an incident that happened from his mom’s prom, where a gay classmate was found dead. When Luis suddenly finds himself sent back in time to when his mom was in high school, he realizes that he has the opportunity to make a change that could positively affect his future. He immediately befriends Chaz, who is not openly gay at this time, and works to help him understand that it is okay to be who he really is.

Set in the 80’s , this book is quirky and full of moments that make you laugh as well as think. Having a millennial sent back to a different era really demonstrated the differences between now and then. From the clothing, the music, and other pop culture references, there are alot of differences, and Luis finds himself struggling to blend into his new environment. The other teenagers from the earlier era view Luis as a complete wierdo and instead of trying to blend in, he does everything he can to stand out. In the present, this is more accepted but in 1980’s conservative religious school, it most definitely is not. And for some reason he just keeps trying to push the envelope disregarding the danger he is putting himself and Chaz in.

This was likely the most frustrating thing that was never fully resolved. Luis is just so full of himself. He believes he is he only one with answers. Especially when it comes to “helping” Chaz. The whole time, Luis feels his purpose is based around changing the past to better his own future. Like I said, he can tell that his actions may be causing problems for Chaz and he just doesn’t stop. He is a very selfish character.

Although I felt like Spin Me Right Round was a bit of a gay Back to the Future, for me the movie wins out. It is a classic, and when all is finished, this book attempts to create a more modern version it falls flat. Yes, it is full of diverse characters, and there is are moments that will make you pause but sadly alot of it is just cringe. Teenagers can be inherently selfish and usually I can work with it but, Luis really rubbed me the wrong way. The lack of accountability for his actions did too. Like I said there were brief moments where I was able tgo pause and think – usually surrounding Chaz being bullied – but, outside of that and some moments of popular culture, sadly not much worked for me in this story.

Rating: 2.5 Stars

Saturday Movie Review: Crush

Crush is a new movie released by Hulu. It stars Rowan Blanchard, Auli’i Cravalho, and Isabella Ferreira as the three main characters. It also features Megan Mullaly as Rowan Blanchard’s characters free spirits mother. The premise for this movie is hat as an attempt to finally win the eye of the girl, Gabriela, that she has been thinking about for years, Paige Evans joins the track team … only Gabrielle isn’t the only one who captures her attention.

The other girl who captures Paige’s attention is AJ – who is also Gabriela’s sister. AJ is put in charge of helping get Paige into competitive – or at the least to the point where she won’t embarrass herself or the rest of the team. Paige is an artist at heart and would much rather be sketching then running laps. The more time they spend together, the more she and AJ find common ground. Dare I say there is a little bit of flirting going on? There is a very sweet slow build up into this relationship. I was rooting for it.

Paige really felt like a teenager who was trying to find her way. She’s quirky and funny and quite the little artist. There are modern day references through out the movie which I enjoyed. I felt that they provided context for the environment that the characters are living in. The environment also appears to be pretty progressive and sex positive. There are several scenes that reference teenage sex, teenager relationships, and methods of sex sex. Paige’s mother especially is very open about her sexuality as a bi woman and encourages her daughter to explore her own sexuality. I really enjoyed the supportive dynamic between mother and daughter – and laughed as Paige cringed regarding her mother’s actions. It all felt like an actual mother/daughter relationship.

Crush provides a type of movie which really has been missing in popular culture. The characters are just living everyday teenage lives where friends who are queer are completely accepted. The relationship between the two female characters develops naturally, does not feel rushed, and is not toxic. Other than Rowen’s close friends and her mother, no one really cares who she is dating. Her friends care as friends do because they are afraid that she is going to get hurt. This is not an overprotective vibe either – it is just friends being good friends. The light-heartedness of this movie is especially noted by the lack of homophobia. While I enjoyed this movie, it is sadly not going to be for everyone due to the subject matter. Regardless, it is a cute and sweet journey if you are willing to go on it.

Rating: 4 Stars

This Wicked Fate | Kalynn Bayron | Book Review

This Wicked Fate is the sequel to the fabulous This Poison Heart which was released last year. I really enjoyed the first book and was anxiously waiting to read the sequel. There were so many things I needed to have answered! The most pressing one was would the sequel match up to the first book? Thankfully, it was.

From the opening phrase I was pulled back into the world of Briseis and her family. Kalynn Barrow writes with such a lyrical pose it wasn’t hard to get dragged back in. It did take me a little bit to recall everything that had happened and who everyone was but, once I did I was ready for the ride. This Wicked Fate picks right up where The Poison Heart left off. Briseis is still adapting to her unique ability regarding plants and has recently suffered a tragedy. This tragedy also plays a role in the secrets of Briseis birth family as everything is very interconnected.

Similarly to This Poison Heart, the vivid descriptions of the plants, the gardens, and the concoctions pulled me right in. This book involves alot of traveling as Briseis and her family are searching for answers, trying to reclaim what is theirs. I love the bond of this family. They are there for each other, no matter what. Even when they are arguing over what the right next step should be, in the end they always have each others backs. They’re also not afraid to call each other out when necessary.

I feel like this review is a little bit vague but I’m trying my best not to reveal any spoilers. This is a book that you need to experience on your own. The mystery mixed with fantasy and Greek mythology is most definitely worth it. It kept my attention and I couldn’t wait to see how everything wrapped up. Or at least I think things are wrapped up now. Honestly, I wouldn’t be adverse to returning to this magical land of plants and family if Kalynn Bayron wanted to write more for Brisies and her family.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

**I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

July 2022 TBR

1. The Holiday Swap ~ Maggie Knox

2. A Princess For Christmas ~ Jenny Holiday

3. Notting Hill in the Snow ~ Jules Wake

4. Welcome to Winterville ~ Carrie Ells

5. The Arctic Curry Club ~ Dani Redd

6. The Best Is Yet To Come ~ Debbie Macomber

7. The Bodyguard ~ Katherine Carter

8. The Fixer Upper ~ Lauren Forsythe

9. Bet On It ~ Jodie Slaughter

10. The Godparent Trap ~ Rachel Van Dyken

Which one should I read first?

The Edge of Summer | Erica George | Book Review

I read Erica George’s debut Words Composed of Sea and Sky and found a strong new voice of young adult stories. When I saw her sophomore book The Edge of Summer on Netgalley, I was quick to request it. Once again, the setting is Cape Cod and this time around there is a strong focus on saving the whales. This focus is intricately wrapped through out a story of grief, sweet romance, and character growth.

Coriander (Cor) Cabot has had the dream of saving the whales since elementary school. She shared this dream with her best friend Ella but the past year really tested their friendship and ended in tragedy. Now Cor is left with their to-do list and a whole lot of guilt. This summer she is staying with her Uncle Jack in Cape Cod and interning at the Marine Biology Center, which is where she and Ella always planned on doing their internship together. From day one her guilt is overwhelming her to the point where she may just screw up the one thing she has always dreamed about. Plus, there is also this cute distracting local boy named Mannix.

Cor is both blaming herself and trying to come to terms with what happened to Ella. This plays a huge role throughout the story and it impacts Cor’s growth as a character. The Cor that we meet in the beginning is not the same as the one at the end. Her sense of longing and wanting to be accepted all play a role in what happens with Ella and during the summer that follows. There were a couple times that I just wanted t shake Cor and tell her not to be so selfish. She felt like a real teenager who was something with something which I think demonstrates Erica George’s strength as a writer.

Erica George’s other strength is the setting she creates. I felt like I was in Cape Cod seeing the whales myself. And this says alot of her writing as I have never been there. I have always wanted to go on a whale watching trip and reading this just cemented that for me. From the descriptions, I could see why Cor was so in love with the area and what it brought to her.

The area also brought Mannix to her and he honestly may have been too good to be true. He’s sweet, hardworking, and takes an interest in what Cor is doing. This includes saving the whales. While their relationship was cue, I felt that Cor took Mannix for granted some times in the same way she had with Ella. She expected both of them to just always be there to come back to and is unreliable with them. She recognizes this behavior with her relationship with Mannix but, still has difficulty controlling her impulses. And this is a point where I wanted to shake her as a character but also where she felt most like a teenager.

Erica George is quickly becoming an author that will remain on my radar. In The Edge of Summer, she gives us another character who may drive you crazy but who can also be relatable as a teenager. She also presents an beautiful setting and isn’t afraid to delve into more difficult issues. Topics such an endangered animals, grief, unsupportive family, friendship, and first love are all examined in depth. I look forward to enjoying more books from Erica George in the future.

Rating: 4 Stars

*I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

Top Ten Tuesday: Summer 2022 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is held by Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl
Today’s topic is all about books I want to read this summer!

The Charmed List ~ Julie Abe
Wash Day Diaries ~ Jamila Rowser & Robyn Smith
Bet On It ~ Jodie Slaughter
Send Her Back & Other Stories ~ Munashe Kaseke
Boys I Know ~ Anna Garcia
The Bodyguard ~ Katherine Center
Booked on a Feeling ~ Jayci Lee
The Godparent Trap ~ Rachel Van Dyken
Those Summer Nights  ~ Laura Silverman
Café con Lychee ~ Emery Lee

What do you think I should read first?

Home Field Advantage | Dahlia Adler | Audiobook Review

Why did I listen to Home Field Advantage?

Home Field Advantage caught my attention from the moment I first read the synopsis. LGBTQIA+ romance? Sports romance? Secret dating? It sounded exactly what I needed. Plus, it was being released during Pride Month! So, it wasn’t very hard for me to click request on Netgalley, and (in)patiently wait to see if I was approved. Luckily, I was!

What is the story here?

Home Field Advantage follows the Atherton alligators who are in need of a new quarterback. Jack (Jaclyn) Walsh seems like she is just the right girl for the job. Only the alligators are not ready for her. Still reeling from the tragic loss of their previous quarterback, the team is quick to turn their back on Jack, refusing to accept her a part of the team.

Not only does the team turn its back on her but so does the entire cheerleading squad. Well except for Amber McCloud who desperately wants to cheer captain next year. She wants to use the promotion to help boost her college application so that she can finally leave this small minded town and embrace her life as a queer person. That isn’t going to happen though if the football team falls apart and everyone turns their backs on her. So, she is determined to try and keep a perfect harmony.

Only this would be so much easier if Jack wasn’t so cute and if they didn’t have such good chemistry together. Or if her fellow cheerleaders would help her try to fix the problems within the team instead of working to bring Jack down. `And if there weren’t so many secrets floating around – each one getting harder and harder to keep track of. It’s just alot for one person to handle.

How did I like Home Field Advantage?

Home Field Advantage has its moments of sweetness, moments of fire, and moments of heartbreak. Honestly, it was the perfect combination. The relationship between Jack and Amber was so cute and it wasn’t perfect which I loved. They have multiple serious conversations that are actually dealt with instead of being brushed under the rug. They not afraid to call each other especially Jack calling out Amber.

Jack is much more confident in who she is as an individual. The judgement still hurts her though. She didn’t expect to be fully accepted as a female quarterback but, she didn’t expect this much animosity either. I loved how there is a real look into internalized misogyny of society especially within the sports world. It was hard to see her getting bullied though just because of her gender and the fact that she was replacing the previous well-loved quarterback who had died in a drunk driving accident. Some of the other characters could be real assholes about everything and I loved when Jack put them in their place.

Amber experiences alot of character growth through this book. She has acknowledged to herself that she is queer and had a couple of experiences while at cheer camp but, has never publicly came out. Instead she is pretending to be dating her football playing best friend Miguel so that both of them can remain in the closet. I adored Amber and Miguel’s friendship – it felt so real. Being torn between her feelings for Jack and her loyalty to cheerleading forces her to actually look within herself and see what truly matters to her. She recognizes that if she doesn’t figure this out, there is a chance that she could lose everything important to her.

There is so much representation in Home Field Advantage! I especially liked that Amber’s mom is bisexual and provided a source of comfort and understanding for her daughter. She also wasn’t afraid to call Amber out when she thought she did something stupid. Along with the representation, there is also alot of homophobia that included homophobic jokes and comments from other characters. I felt that this was pretty realistic to the small town setting but also felt a tad overdone in parts. This is because even when the characters are called out, there is never a real moment of reflection and change. Sadly true for much of society especially where there is a much stronger sense of patriarchal values.

How did I like the narration?

Home Field Advantage is presented in a duel narrative with Natalie Naudus and Lori Prince as Amber and Jack. I felt that they truly brought the characters to life. In total, this audiobook is 7 hours and 7 minutes long, and I listened to it at 1.5x speed. I also listened to it basically in ONE sitting, and was completely engrossed in the story and the way it was being told. It was just so cute it sent butterflies to my stomach while also keeping real boundaries to help keep my tethered to Earth and the hypocrisy of society.

Rating: 4 Stars

*I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

The Day I Die: The Untold Story of Assisted Dying in America | Anita Hannig | Book Review

With my background in gerontology the idea of decline and death have been an important part of my life. I took care of individuals on Hospice, and listened whenever someone questioned why they were still alive. Occasionally, these conversations would turn to the idea of assisted death. There were alot of mixed feelings when it came to this topic, and honestly today there are even more so. Cultural anthropologist Anita Hannig delves into these questions and so much more in her new book The Day I Die: The Untold Story of Assisted Dying in America.

Reading The Day I Die was a very personal choice for me. First because of my background and second because of my personal beliefs on the subject. Death is never an easy subject to talk about, especially in a predominantly western culture like the USA. With so many preconceived ideas about death, it is a hand topic to broach. Anita Harring does a beautiful job looking at the topic and introducing the reader to a variety of people with various experiences with assisted death.

The people who are introduced are patients, family members, doctors, and volunteers all of whom are either seeking, assisting, or support an legal assisted death scenario. Assisted death is also known as dying with dignity; and is legal in ten jurisdictions; Oregon, Washington DC, Hawaii, Washington, Maine, Colorado, New Jersey, California, Vermont, and the district of Columbia. Patients who are seeing to die with dignity have been diagnosed with some form of terminal illness. They want to die on their own terms before they are in constant pain and suffering. The way that these stories are presented gives a face and a voice to those who feel they are voiceless. It creates a safe space for the more difficult discussions on death and dignity.

There is a really good look a how the current laws sometimes fail the very people they are trying to help. Time restraints, difficulty obtaining the medication, and often the ability to self inject the medications, and often the inability affect the outcome. There are some doctors and religious groups that are very much against assisted death. Yet there are also some patients who have the opportunity to take the medication after receiving it but never do. It really comes down to personal choice.

That is my belief when it comes to assisted death. The day person who can ultimately make that decision is the individual who is suffering from a terminal illness. There are several safety nets in place to make sure the person knows exactly what they are asking for. As a society you never really know how much pain someone is in due to people around them, and they should have a way to do things in a manner they would lie before the suffering gets too great. It is not a flawless system of course as demonstrating by The Day I Die but, it is something we should be investing in.

Rating: 4 Stars

*I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Wishes

Top Ten Tuesday is held by Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl
Today’s topic is all about bookish wishes!

1. Wild on my Mind ~ Laurel Kerr
I read this one a few years ago and really enjoyed it. I would love to do a refresher before reading the next book, Sweet Wild of Mine.

2. Sweet Wild of Mine ~ Laurel Kerr
If I remember correctly, there is a brief snippet with the main characters of this one in Wild on my Mind and I also remember wanting more. I want to feel the spark!

3. This Time Next Year ~ Sophie Cousens
I read Just Haven’t Met You Yet last year and really enjoyed it. I added this one to my wishlist because it is the authors debut.

4. Well Met ~ Jen DeLuca
This had been on my radar for a while based on other blogger reviews. The word of mouth buzz is very strong!

5. Feel Your Way Through ~ Kelsea Ballerini
I adore Kelsea Ballerini as an artist and a person so I’m curious what her poetry is like.

6. Call Us What We Carry ~ Amanda Gorman
Amanda Gorman has such a beautiful way with words that speak the truth and hit right in the soul.

7. Between the World and Me ~ Ta-Nehsi Coates
I’ve had this one on my TBR for the longest time. I feel like it holds so much valuable information and will strike a chord with me.

8. The Deep Blue Between ~ Ayesha Harruna Attah
This one sounds so good and had the potential to be a rich historical fiction story.

9. Things We Couldn’t Say ~ Jay Coles
I’ve had this on my TBR for months before it was even published. It sounds of characters growth and real heartfelt moments.

10. The Art of My Neighbor Totoro ~ Hayao Miyazaki
My Neighbor Totoro is one of my favorite movies from my childhood. This collection looks beautiful and I’d love a behind the scenes look at everything.

Here is my full Amazon book wish list. What are some of the books on your wishlist?

Chasing the Four Winds

Reading, Writing, Nerding, and Honoring the Oxford Comma Since 1987.

A. A. MacConnell

When you write drabbles, you relieve the pressure of the epic novel expanding in your head.

The Calico Books

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