March in Review

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon — 5 stars
I couldn’t stop listening to The Ex Talk audiobook. I loved it SO MUCH! A workplace hate-to-love romance with a bit of fake dating thrown in? So fun!! Fake dating is my fave trope, so I loved the fake exes idea and especially all of the banter it brought out in the podcast transcripts. Shay (the Jewish heroine) and Dominic (the Korean American love interest) were both so great and relatable. The struggles of adulthood, careers, friendships, loneliness—it’s all there and more.

Now I just want to know . . .
1) Why isn’t The Ex Talk a real podcast I can listen to?
2) Where can I find my own Dominic Yun?

Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson — 4 stars
I started reading Good Girl, Bad Blood the day it released, which really shows how eager I have been for it! I listened to it on audio and that’s the way to go. I loved the full cast narration, which really brought Pip’s podcast to life. I won’t get too spoilery, since this is a mystery after all, but this time the story focuses on the disappearance of a friend’s older brother. Since he’s over 18, the police won’t investigate so Pip is called upon to try to find Jamie—and she’s going to use her podcast to help. This would be great to read back-to-back with the first book as there’s a lot of overlap with minor characters.

Dear Justyce by Nic Stone — 4.5 stars
Dear Justyce is the phenomenal sequel to Dear Martin. It tackles the school-to-prison pipeline through the eyes of one of Justyce’s childhood friends, Quan. The story goes back and forth between Quan’s present with his letters to Justyce from the detention center and his past, which shows how the systems around him failed him and how he landed up in the situation that led to his arrest. It’s an unflinching look at a reality many Black teens face and, as Nic Stone says in the author’s note, the saddest part is that the most fictional part of the story is how much support Quan has from his lawyer, tutor, case worker, and friend. While most of the story is from Quan’s POV, we see glimpses of Martin as he works to help prove Quan is innocent. I listened to the audiobook (thanks Penguin Random House Audio for the listening copy) and loved how the narrator brought Quan’s voice to life. A must-read!

Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao — 4 stars
Fake dating is my favorite romance trope, so I was super exited for Rent a Boyfriend! If you’re looking for more college YA, this book is perfect. It’s a fun romcom taking place over the holidays (Thanksgiving through Chinese New Year) starring Taiwanese-American characters. I loved it!

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu — 3.5 stars
I loved seeing the girls in Moxie fight against the sexism in their school! It was an empowering read, and I know this book would be a great conversation starter for teens. I also watched the movie adaptation, and I appreciated how it brought more intersectionality to the story.

The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman — 5 stars
Like the rest of the country, I was transfixed by Amanda Gorman reading her stunning poem on Inauguration Day. Thanks to Penguin Random House Audio, I was able to listen to the audiobook (with a foreword by Oprah) and revisit Amanda’s beautiful and moving words—and of course I loved it. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of her poetry collection!

Super Fake Love Song by David Yoon — 3 stars
Super Fake Love Song ended up being my last read of March! I loved the idea of forming a fake band to cover up to impress the love interest, Cirrus, when she mistakes Sunny’s older brother’s rock-filled room as his own—very fun for a romcom. I also appreciated how Sunny’s relationship with his brother develops throughout the book, Sunny’s groups of friends (new and old), how nerdy Sunny is, and the focus on identity.

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