Girls of Storm and Shadow – Natasha Ngan

Screen Shot 2019-06-23 at 12.17.32 PMPublisher: jimmy patterson

Publication Date: November 5th, 2019

Page Count: 400

From the Jacket:

In this mesmerizing sequel to the New York Times bestselling Girls of Paper and Fire, Lei and Wren have escaped their oppressive lives in the Hidden Palace, but soon learn that freedom comes with a terrible cost.

Lei, the naive country girl who became a royal courtesan, is now known as the Moonchosen, the commoner who managed to do what no one else could. But slaying the cruel Demon King wasn’t the end of the plan—it’s just the beginning. Now Lei and her warrior love Wren must travel the kingdom to gain support from the far-flung rebel clans. The journey is made even more treacherous thanks to a heavy bounty on Lei’s head, as well as insidious doubts that threaten to tear Lei and Wren apart from within.
Meanwhile, an evil plot to eliminate the rebel uprising is taking shape, fueled by dark magic and vengeance. Will Lei succeed in her quest to overthrow the monarchy and protect her love for Wren, or will she fall victim to the sinister magic that seeks to destroy her?

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Ooooo I love this book so much! This is hands down, the earliest I’ve ever read an advanced copy before the publication date– it’s not out until November! I started reading the day I got it in the mail, pushing several other books aside in the process. Girls of Paper and Fire ends on an intense cliff hanger and this second installment begins right where the action left off. Ngan has gifted us with a phenomenal follow up, full of action and magic and so so much heartbreak!

**This review will contain spoilers from book one. If you haven’t read Girls of Paper and Fire, stop reading this post immediately and go read it!**

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In at the Deep End – Kate Davies

Screen Shot 2019-06-05 at 10.46.30 AMPublisher: Mifflin Harcourt

Publication Date: June 4th, 2019

Page Count: 336

From the Jacket:

Julia has had enough. Enough of the sex noises her roommate makes. Enough of her dead-end government job. Enough of the one-night stand who accused her of breaking his penis. The only thing she hasn’t had enough of is orgasms; she hasn’t had proper sex in three years.

So when Julia gets invited to a warehouse party in a part of town where trendy people who have lots of sex go on a Friday night, she readily accepts. And that night she meets someone: a conceptual artist, who also happens to be a woman.

Julia’s sexual awakening begins; her new lesbian life is exhilarating. She finds her tribe at queer swing dancing classes, and guided by her new lover Sam, she soon discovers London’s gay bars and BDSM clubs . . .  and the complexities of polyamory. Soon it becomes clear that Sam needs to call the shots, and Julia’s newfound liberation comes to bear a suspicious resemblance to entrapment . . .

In at the Deep End is an unforgettable and audacious odyssey through the pitfalls and seductions we encounter on the treacherous path to love and self.

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In at the Deep End is equal parts hilarious, frank, poignant, raunchy, and cringeworthy. This romantic comedy billed as a, Bridget Jones for queer millennials, read as more of a dramedy for me. I can absolutely see and agree with the Bridget Jones comparison for some aspects of the book. Julia’s first person voice is pretty perfect–she’s funny and sardonic and incredibly self aware. Passing time as a contractor in a dead end position, with a quirky group of coworkers and a boss that’s not always entirely professional, she could be doing more to further her career but she’s far too busy thinking about her sex life, or lack there of. Everyone she knows is having sex–the couple she lives with, her best friend, even her perpetually single coworker.

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Lot – Bryan Washington

Screen Shot 2019-05-21 at 2.48.59 PMPublisher: Riverhead Books

Publication Date: March 19th, 2019

Page Count: 222

From the Jacket:

In the city of Houston – a sprawling, diverse microcosm of America – the son of a black mother and a Latino father is coming of age. He’s working at his family’s restaurant, weathering his brother’s blows, resenting his older sister’s absence. And discovering he likes boys.

This boy and his family experience the tumult of living in the margins, the heartbreak of ghosts, and the braveries of the human heart. The stories of others living and thriving and dying across Houston’s myriad neighbourhoods are woven throughout to reveal a young woman’s affair detonating across an apartment complex, a rag-tag baseball team, a group of young hustlers, the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, a local drug dealer who takes a Guatemalan teen under his wing, and a reluctant chupacabra.

Bryan Washington’s brilliant, viscerally drawn world leaps off the page with energy, wit, and the infinite longing of people searching for home. With soulful insight into what makes a community, a family, and a life, Lot is about love in all its unsparing and unsteady forms.

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But after the storm, they pushed the rest of us out, too: if you couldn’t afford to rebuild, then you had to go. If you broke the bank rebuilding, then you couldn’t stay. If you couldn’t afford to leave, and you couldn’t afford to fix your life, then what you had to do was watch the neighborhood grow further away from you.

Full of stories about family, love, identity, queerness, and struggle, Lot is a short story collection that is also a coming of age story, and an intimate portrait of a community. Washington writes about a rapidly changing Houston and its inhabitants in straightforward, no nonsense, prose and unapologetically explores those not typically included in mainstream media. The stories feature an incredibly diverse set of characters and lives, but a little more than half of them center around an unnamed narrator and his family, lending continuity and cohesiveness to the collection.

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