Monday, June 17, 2019

You Might Need Some Snacks for This Anthology

Title: Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of Food & Love
Authors: Caroline Tung Richmond, Elsie Chapman, Sangu Mandanna, Sandhya Menon, Rin Chupeco, Adi Alsaid, Jay Coles, Rebecca Roanhorse, Karuna Riazi, Phoebe North, S.K. Ali, Sara Farizan, and Anna-Marie McLemore
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: June 18th, 2019!
*eARC kindly provided by Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing via NetGalley*

From Goodreads...
From some of your favorite bestselling and critically acclaimed authors—including Sandhya Menon, Anna-Marie McLemore, and Rin Chupeco—comes a collection of interconnected short stories that explore the intersection of family, culture, and food in the lives of thirteen teens.

A shy teenager attempts to express how she really feels through the confections she makes at her family’s pasteleria. A tourist from Montenegro desperately seeks a magic soup dumpling that could cure his fear of death. An aspiring chef realizes that butter and soul are the key ingredients to win a cooking competition that could win him the money to save his mother’s life.

Welcome to Hungry Hearts Row, where the answers to most of life’s hard questions are kneaded, rolled, baked. Where a typical greeting is, “Have you had anything to eat?” Where magic and food and love are sometimes one and the same.

Told in interconnected short stories, Hungry Hearts explores the many meanings food can take on beyond mere nourishment. It can symbolize love and despair, family and culture, belonging and home.

My Reviews!
Rain by Sangu Mandanna: Now that is the first genuinely Annathing you've said since you arrived. You're still in there. You'll find your way back again. Oof, this one hit me right in the feels. Grief is so weird and hard and everyone works through it differently. But Anna and her dad needed to realize that they should have been going through it with each other; it would've made it hurt less. But oh, this was sweet, and I loved that they found their way back to a normal-ish rhythm by trying and failing to make her mom's pandhi curry. I ADORED that they could share that and honor the one they lost.
Rating: 4 stars

Kings and Queens by Elsie Chapman: I am the daughter of long-serving Kings and Queens. And one day I will do more than just imagine a death. WELL. This one was entirely unexpected. It's not straight contemporary, but a bit mystery too? Ming's family is part of a gang, one of many in Hungry Heart Row, and their Chinese restaurant is used as a cover. But what happens when you're so full of hatred and rage that you can't imagine anything other than taking revenge? That's what this short story becomes, and I liked it! I'm curious to see what else happens with this particular plotline.

Rating: 3.5 stars

The Grand Ishq Adventure by Sandhya Menon: oh, this was very, VERY cute. Should I have expected anything less from a Queen of Contemporary? She's so good at characters and relationships and ugh. I adored it. I could easily tell where the story was going, but I didn't mind so much that the element of surprise was gone. Plus I loved all of the talk about bravery and being comfortable in your skin. That's something that I have SUCH a hard time with, even being a Gryffindor. And this made me want to do better at being brave.
Rating: 4 stars

Sugar and Spite by Rin Chupeco: There's a quiet sort of pride there, creating things with your hands that people take pleasure in.omg I LOVED this one! It took me a bit to get into the story because it's told in 2nd person, and that's always hard for me to get used to because I never read it. But man oh man was this fucking good! A restaurant with women who are witches (mangkukulam) and who make food to help people. MOSTLY. :D I loved the magic and the lolas and the carinderia and Ami with her angry and bruised heart. 
Rating: 5 stars

Moments to Return by Adi Alsaid: This is the first time I've read something by Adi Alsaid, and oh my gosh, I LOVED it! It did take me a second to understand what was going on, but once I did, I couldn't help relating to Joko and his quest to forget about death. I understood his need for magic, for erasure of the knowledge that life isn't guaranteed. I even started to crave the dim sum and the moment that he was in, a perfect little circle of it. A chance encounter with a tourist that led him to America, a new friendship, a wonderful meal, a walk along Hungry Heart Row. My mouth is watering, omg.
Rating: 5 stars

The Slender One by Caroline Tung Richmond: If y'all don't know, I really, really love stories about ghosts, and people who can see them. This one was a little sad, but mostly happy. I love the idea of there being a Hungry Ghost Festival, of ghosts coming back every year when the veil is lifted, so that they can enjoy food and see their loved ones again. I loved that Charlie and his grandma were a big part of that, and I liked that they could share something that no one else could. But I didn't totally fall for this one? It was still good, though.
Rating: 3.5 stars

Gimme Some Sugar by Jay Coles: HMM. I think this one could've been better if it had just slowed down a little, if the Leo had spent more time in Hungry Heart Row with his grandma figuring out the perfect recipe to use. I loved that it centered around a food competition, but everything just felt too quick and like a from-point-A-to-point-B-to-point-C formula. It had a lot of feels, though. And that ending was really great!
Rating: 2.5 stars

The Missing Ingredient by Rebecca Roanhorse: omfg THAT ENDING. I'M SO SHOCKED. I really didn't know what to think about this one because the story is a bit weird. Or maybe it's that Seth is just so weird. A lot of subtleties underneath the words that add up to what's going to happy to the main character. I liked that this one was infused with more darkness, more bad feelings, but I don't know if I completely loved it? But so far, it was definitely the one that surprised me the most. 
Rating: 3.5 stars

Hearts a la Carte by Karuna Riazi: ohh, I adored this! I didn't completely love the superhero storyline to it, but I loved that everything centered around Munira's family's food cart. She wasn't even sure if she wanted a future working it, but it was such a huge part of her life. Of her memories. And she was good at it. But she was looking at other answers to the age-old question of "what do you want to do with your life?" It was well-mixed in with Hasan's mistake and the devastation that followed; a little more bittersweet than I'd hoped for. But Karuna's prose is just BEAUTIFUL. That was my fave part.
Rating: 4.5 stars

Bloom by Phoebe North: omg I wasn't sure about this one for a bit, because I just fucking haaaated Simon. I'm so glad Naomi finally realized that he's a total fake hipster old soul and that he's actually the worst because he won't just let her... be herself. He wants her to be bigger, but Naomi appreciates her small and quiet life, and she's not sure what else she'd like to do after high school. But she's got time to figure it out, and she didn't need him. I loved her relationship with her Pop, and the deli setting, and that ending was SUPER cute!
Rating: 4 stars

A Bountiful Film by S.K. Ali: I liked this one! I'd forgotten about some of the characters, so I was grateful they either showed up again, or I got a refresher on what they did. But the mystery of Barnaby Bennett was not that compelling, and I think it just didn't completely work for a short story. But I enjoyed the story, and I really liked all the characters! There was so much of the Hungry Heart Row people in this.
Rating: 3 stars

Side Work by Sara Farizan: Aw, this was great! I think it could have been longer, since it felt so short in comparison to others (and I don't have page numbers on this eARC to check if I'm right), and I would've loved a tiny bit more relationship development. But all in all, this was lovely, and I'm so glad that Laleh's dad stopped being so gruff and distant, and that the story ended with the two of them finding common ground again.
Rating: 4 stars

Panaderia ~ Pasteleria by Anna-Marie McLemore: I may know how to nudge a man toward proposing, or how to hearten a tired mother. I may know who needs the sugar of violet pan dulce. But I don't know how to fold my heart into dough or lace vanilla sugar with my secrets. THE ONE I'D BEEN WAITING FOR. Gah, Anna-Marie's words are always a gift to read, and I loved the characters and this girl who just wants to be brave enough to spill her feelings and show people her heart. This was also shorter than a lot of the stories, but that did not make it less wonderful.
Rating: 4.5 stars

Overall Thoughts:
I think I'd been expecting that storylines themselves would be interconnected, but they weren't, really. It was just that the characters would pop in and out of the others' lives, maybe playing a small part in what happens but never staying still for long. Especially Lila in Anna-Marie's story. She was in almost every single one with her magic desserts. But yeah, I didn't lovelove a whole lot of them, but this anthology made me want to eat ALL THE THINGS. And if you know me, you know I'm a picky eater. But I'd love to take a stroll through Hungry Heart Row and taste new foods and live in the moments.

Overall Rating:

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Cover Reveal Roundup #22


omfg this is SUPER cute!!!

Designed by: Gigi Lau
Art by: Marissa Korda
Pub date: January 7th, 2020!


Ohhh, I like this one! I love the jungle/forest theme and that the title pops out like that.

Pub date: August 11th, 2020!


oh, this is CUTE. and I LOVE the bookish theme to it!

Art by: Monique Aimee
Pub date: May 12th, 2020!


I LOVE THIS ONE!!! Maybe even more than the first book's cover??? gah, they're both so GOOD.

Designers: Cristina Pagnoncelli & Molly Fehr
Pub date: February 25th, 2020!


I love this one, but I don't like it. I think it's the art style sadly.

Designed by: Jor Ros
Pub date: January 21st, 2020!


In the words of Rashika, I wanna marry this cover. 😍

Pub date: November 5th, 2019!


SPOOKY. I need this book, thanks.

Designed by: Erin Fitzsimmons
Pub date: March 3rd, 2020!


I like it!! Though I kind of wish either the background was a different color or that their shirts were bc it's too much blue. LOL

Illustrator: Mary Lun
Art director Quinn Banting
Pub date: January 28th, 2020!


idk when this cover was revealed, but I caught it on my Goodreads and had to share because it's adorable!

Pub date: December 17th, 2019!

My faves this week are We Unleash the Merciless Storm and Unnatural Magic. Which one(s) do you love best? :)

Monday, June 10, 2019

Oh Hey, My Short Story Won a Contest!

Guys, I'm so excited to share this amazing thing!!! I've already shared it on Twitter, but I had to write a post about it too because duh, it's me.
It's my name, y'all!

So one of my friends had seen the contest and shared it with me, and I nearly was like nahhhh. Not because it's not fun, but I wasn't sure if I could give up the ~rights~ to it, and whether I'd like writing something not set in a world that *I* created. I'm not a fanfiction person. It just typically feels weird to me writing AUs or writing about characters I've only read about. But the prompts for this were fairytales. And when I read them, I was super interested in a few and had hoped to write more than one. But I didn't end up doing that. HOWEVER, I did write one about a sea witch destroying an entire kingdom. :D

The prompt that inspired me:
Once upon a time, in a seaside kingdom called the White Coast, there was a string of prosperous cities. A handsome king ruled the northernmost city, Kosu. One day a sea witch emerged from the waves and fell in love with him, but when he told her his heart belonged to another, the witch cursed his city with a plague. The rulers of the other cities, fearing her wrath, did nothing to help, and everyone in Kosu fell ill and died. The illness spread to each of the other cities. For centuries the kingdom was known as the Red Coast, and sung about in children’s songs:

     Cities falling one by one
     White to Red
     White to Red
     A coughing girl, a bleeding son
     Love the witch or you’ll be dead.

When I read this, I basically thought of the first line first, and then everything kind of just spewed out after that. I wrote about 1,500 words in a few hours? It was FAST. I still had one section left over, but I decided to put it off for a bit because the momentum was gone and I didn't quite know how to finish the story. Like I had the beginning, and ending, and most of the middle. But I needed to understand how the witch got so angry in the first place. By the time I finally remembered that I'd left the story undone, the contest was ending in a few days. So I quickly finished it, looked it over, sent it to a friend, and then entered it.

I had no expectations going in. I was really proud of it, but that meant nothing. I didn't know how many other people entered and what the competition was like, and tbqh, I wasn't feeling good about my writing at the time. I've been unable to draft a new thing since I finished my fantasy in January, and everything was starting to take its toll (and still is). But this was so fun, and stress-free, because it wasn't for money or publishing. It was just a small contest, and it was a story that I was able to let go of after I finished. My name will be on it; I'll get credit. While that's cool, this is something for Megan's series, not mine!

So when I got the congratulations email, I was kind of just in shock! I was on my lunch break at work, so I couldn't exactly scream or jump for joy. Only two coworkers know my truest dream, and I told my friend when she got back. I also had to msg my best friends with HOLY FUCK GUYS because I seriously was not expecting to win! It was amazing to receive that, and I can't believe a story that I WROTE is going to be published. And that y'all get to read it! It's a *little* nerve-wracking, but I'm mostly excited. I should probably make an author Goodreads now 😁 So yeah, be on the lookout for this in August!!

Finally, a little teaser:

And there you have it! I can't wait for everyone to read this in August. The Beastie Tales will be available to download on Megan's website then, when The Midnight Beauties will be out!