Two Book Tuesday

With a bonus!

Title: Ophelia After All
Author: Racquel Marie
Genre: YA Contemporary  
Publication Date: February 8th, 2022
Ratings: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Summary:

A teen girl navigates friendship drama, the end of high school, and discovering her queerness in Ophelia After All, a hilarious and heartfelt contemporary YA debut by author Racquel Marie.

Ophelia Rojas knows what she likes: her best friends, Cuban food, rose-gardening, and boys – way too many boys. Her friends and parents make fun of her endless stream of crushes, but Ophelia is a romantic at heart. She couldn’t change, even if she wanted to.

So when she finds herself thinking more about cute, quiet Talia Sanchez than the loss of a perfect prom with her ex-boyfriend, seeds of doubt take root in Ophelia’s firm image of herself. Add to that the impending end of high school and the fracturing of her once-solid friend group, and things are spiraling a little out of control. But the course of love–and sexuality–never did run smooth. As her secrets begin to unravel, Ophelia must make a choice between clinging to the fantasy version of herself she’s always imagined or upending everyone’s expectations to rediscover who she really is, after all. 

What a strong debut! Not only was this a story about wrestling with your sexuality, but also your own self image.

This is a really important book for questioning youth. It is incredibly diverse in regards to race and LGBTQ+ representation. It is surprisingly not romance focused, but a true coming-of-age tale with honest and authentic characters. I cried throughout—tears of happiness and sadness.

Ophelia is known for two things amongst the people she holds close: her love of plants and boys. Once she starts to have crush worthy feelings for her new friend Talia, she starts to spiral. Everything she has known about herself revolved around the crushes she had on BOYS. As she spends more time with Talia, Ophelia learns that queerness is a spectrum and no matter where you fall on it, you are valid.

One thing that the author does a spectacular job with is the friend group. I LOVE a good friend group. They are messy and complicated, especially with the end of high school quietly looming. Each character really shines through within this larger friend group making it very unique. I love platonic male/female best friends and we get some wonderful duos—some that have been linked since forever (Ophelia and Sam), and others that are slowly blossoming (Ophelia and Wesley). The epilogue felt right out of the ending of 500 Days of Summer and I just loved it!

I can’t wait to see what else Racquel Marie has to share because with a debut as wonderful as this, it is sure to be great.

ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Title: With Love from London
Author: Sarah Jio
Genre: Women’s Fiction  
Publication Date: February 8th, 2022
Ratings: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Summary:

A librarian inherits a bookshop from her estranged mother, leading her halfway across the world on a journey of self-discovery that transcends time and honors the unbreakable bonds of love and family. 

When librarian Valentina Baker was a teenager, her mother, Eloise, unexpectedly fled to her native London, leaving Val and her father on their own. Now in her thirties and fresh out of a failed marriage, Val feels a nagging disenchantment with her life–and knows she is still heartbroken over her mother’s abandonment.

In a bittersweet twist of fate, Val receives word that Eloise has passed away, leaving Val her Primrose Hill apartment and the deed to a bookshop Val never knew she’d owned. Though the news is devastating, Val finds herself more determined than ever to discover who her mother truly was. She jets across the Atlantic, departing Seattle for a new life in charming London.

Slowly but surely, Val begins to piece together Eloise’s life in the UK, falling in love with her pastel-colored flat, cozy neighborhood, and tucked-away storefront. But when she discovers that The Book Garden is in danger of going under, Val must work with its eccentric staff to get it in working order. In the process, she learns more about Eloise than she ever thought possible. And as Val races to save the shop, Eloise’s own story unfolds, leading both mother and daughter to unearth revelatory truths.

Through dual timelines and perspectives, we learned about the life of a beloved women and the daughter she left behind. One timeline follows present day Val—a librarian from Seattle who has been blindsided by a breakup and news of her estranged mother’s death. As a child, her mother meant everything to her until one day she returns home from school to her mother gone, never to be heard from again. Val is summoned to London to care of her mother’s bookshop, where she begins to uncover the life of the woman who willingly walked away from her only daughter, or so she thinks. The other timeline takes us to 1960’s London where Val’s mother Eloise meets the love of her life, Edward. Through a series of misunderstandings she believes he doesn’t return the feelings. Only when she has moved on and accepts the proposal of an American businessman, does she learn that Edward truly did love her. However, it’s too late and Eloise is off to Los Angeles to start a new life.

I don’t know what it was about this book, but I absolutely love it. Val is constantly wrestling with these complicated feelings about her mother. As she goes on this scavenger hunt that her mother left for her, she is learning more about her mother through the people of the neighborhood. People keep talking about how great her mother was, but all Val has is her experience with having an absent mother who never called or answered her letters—how can she be such a great and wonderful person if she left her only kid? Val learns that everything is not what it seems when it comes to her mother and father’s lives. Val and Eloise were victims of bad timing: with each other as well as Eloise and her love Edward.

In a story that could have felt extremely cliche and corny, this was very sweet. Beautifully written with so much feeling, this was a joy to read.

ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Cherish Farrah
Author: Bethany C. Morrow
Genre: Psychological Thriller  
Publication Date: February 8th, 2022
Ratings: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Goodreads Summary:

Named A Most Aniticipated Book of 2022 by *Medium* *BookRiot* *BookPage* CrimeReads* Tor Nightfire*Bookshop* *Book Talk* BiblioLifestyle* and more! 

From bestselling author Bethany C. Morrow comes a new adult social horror novel in the vein of Get Out meets My Sister, the Serial Killer, about Farrah, a young, calculating Black girl who manipulates her way into the lives of her Black best friend’s white, wealthy, adoptive family but soon suspects she may not be the only one with ulterior motives. . . .

Seventeen-year-old Farrah Turner is one of two Black girls in her country club community, and the only one with Black parents. Her best friend, Cherish Whitman, adopted by a white, wealthy family, is something Farrah likes to call WGS–White Girl Spoiled. With Brianne and Jerry Whitman as parents, Cherish is given the kind of adoration and coddling that even upper-class Black parents can’t seem to afford–and it creates a dissonance in her best friend that Farrah can exploit. When her own family is unexpectedly confronted with foreclosure, the calculating Farrah is determined to reassert the control she’s convinced she’s always had over her life by staying with Cherish, the only person she loves–even when she hates her.

As troubled Farrah manipulates her way further into the Whitman family, the longer she stays, the more her own parents suggest that something is wrong in the Whitman house. She might trust them–if they didn’t think something was wrong with Farrah, too. When strange things start happening at the Whitman household–debilitating illnesses, upsetting fever dreams, an inexplicable tension with Cherish’s hotheaded boyfriend, and a mysterious journal that seems to keep track of what is happening to Farrah–it’s nothing she can’t handle. But soon everything begins to unravel when the Whitmans invite Farrah closer, and it’s anyone’s guess who is really in control.

Told in Farrah’s chilling, unforgettable voice and weaving in searing commentary on race and class, this slow-burn social horror will keep you on the edge of your seat until the last page.

This psychological social thriller follows best friends Farrah and Cherish, the only two black girls at their private school—one raised by black parents, the other white. They are as close as sisters with Farrah staying at the Whitman’s home for long periods of time. The Whitman’s adore Farrah and everything she has done for their daughter so when Farrah’s parents are in a financial crisis and forced to move out of state, they offer to have her move in with them. As Farrah’s parents take time to make their decision, strange things start happening to her while staying at the Whitman’s. This book explores the intersectionality within race and class

This. Was. WILD! My notes while reading it were nuts—I was constantly questioning not only the characters, but also myself because just when I thought I had something or someone figured out, I was very very wrong. Farrah is obsessed with being in control—she learned from the best, her mother. She meticulously dissects conversations and behavior to manipulate how they can best service her and her goals. Automatically, you can’t trust anything about her—textbook unreliable narrator. The lengths she goes to maintain control are truly horrifying. As stranger things start to happen to Farrah, you see that maybe things are not quite as they seem—making me question if you can believe or trust anyone.

The first half moves pretty slow, but once it starts to pick up, it really picks up. Farrah is brutal and being in her head is a dark place to be. Likening it to Get Out is a great comparison in themes and tone. Despite being from a teen voice, this is in no way a YA book.

ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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