Five Reasons to Read: Partly Cloudy by Tanita S. Davis – A Slice of Life MG Novel about Loneliness, Starting Over, and Extended Family

Synopsis:

Lightning couldn’t strike twice, could it? After a terrible year, Madalyn needs clear skies desperately. Moving in with her great-uncle, Papa Lobo, and switching to a new school is just the first step.

It’s not all rainbows and sunshine, though. Madalyn discovers she’s the only Black girl in her class, and while most of her classmates are friendly, assumptions lead to some serious storms.

Papa Lobo’s long-running feud with neighbor Mrs. Baylor brings wild weather of its own, and Madalyn wonders just how far things will go. But when fire threatens the community, Madalyn discovers that truly being neighborly means more than just staying on your side of the street— it means weathering tough conversations—and finding that together a family can pull through anything.

Cuddle's review:

The end of summer is a time filled with transitions, especially for kids and teens who are returning back to school. For Madalyn, a Black seventh grade girl, there are even more transitions, as she moves in with her great-uncle, Papa Lobo, as her parents who are geographically separated are doing their best to provide for their family. She starts at a new school where she is the only Black student in her class, has to become reacquainted with Papa Lobo and his neighbors, and fears the wildfires that threaten the landscape of the Pacific Northwest yearly.

Read More »

Book Review: Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon – A Heartwrenching Contemporary Novel about the Definition of Love and the Power of Dance

Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon. The book cover depicts a Black girl and Black boy dancing with one another in white, both smiling while dancing. Reviewed by Joce at The Quiet Pond.
Synopsis:

Evie Thomas doesn’t believe in love anymore. Especially after the strangest thing occurs one otherwise ordinary afternoon: She witnesses a couple kiss and is overcome with a vision of how their romance began . . . and how it will end. After all, even the greatest love stories end with a broken heart, eventually.

As Evie tries to understand why this is happening, she finds herself at La Brea Dance Studio, learning to waltz, fox-trot, and tango with a boy named X. X is everything that Evie is not: adventurous, passionate, daring. His philosophy is to say yes to everything–including entering a ballroom dance competition with a girl he’s only just met.

Falling for X is definitely not what Evie had in mind. If her visions of heartbreak have taught her anything, it’s that no one escapes love unscathed. But as she and X dance around and toward each other, Evie is forced to question all she thought she knew about life and love. In the end, is love worth the risk?

Cuddle's review:

I’m going to be honest here. I was on a time crunch with multiple writing deadlines, and needed to choose a book I could finish quickly, so I turned to a tried and true author whose books I have previously flown through: Nicola Yoon. Her newest release, Instructions for Dancing, seemed like the perfect candidate for all of my requirements, but I did not see the humongous wave of feelings coming that was about to steamroll me within these 300 (or so) pages.

Read More »

Book Review: She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen – A Sapphic Hate-to-Love YA Contemporary Romance with the Perfect Amount of Angst and Fake Dating

Synopsis:

After losing spectacularly to her ex-girlfriend in their first game since their break up, Scottie Zajac gets into a fender bender with the worst possible person: her nemesis, the incredibly beautiful and incredibly mean Irene Abraham. Things only get worse when their nosey, do-gooder moms get involved and the girls are forced to carpool together until Irene’s car gets out of the shop.

Their bumpy start only gets bumpier the more time they spend together. But when an opportunity presents itself for Scottie to get back at her toxic ex (and climb her school’s social ladder at the same time), she bribes Irene into playing along. Hijinks, heartbreak, and gay fake-dating scheme for the ages.

Cuddle's review:

She Drives Me Crazy opens with our protagonist Scottie Zajac having a rough go of it. She is a basketball player for her high school in her small town of Grandma Earl, Georgia and has played a terrible game against her ex-girlfriend Tally, who she still loves, and who has transferred schools to rival Candlewick. Then, amidst her distress, she is involved in a car accident in the parking lot and the other party is her sworn enemy, beautiful and popular Irene, who once played a mean prank on her at a party.

Read More »

Book Review: Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by Crystal Maldonado – A Heartfelt and Fun Coming-of-Age about Friendship, Fatness, and Falling in Love

Blurb:

Coming of age as a Fat brown girl in a white Connecticut suburb is hard.
Harder when your whole life is on fire, though.

Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat.

People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter.

But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing–he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? UGHHH. Everything is now officially a MESS.

Cuddle's review:

Charlie Vega is such a lovable heroine to follow for all 352 pages of her journey, and I was left wanting a sequel (or more!), just to see how she’s doing. Throughout her story, she struggles with her single mother’s obsession with dieting and being thin, following the passing of her father. Fortunately, she has her best friend Amelia, but that comes with the caveat that she seems to be perfect and that she comes second to Amelia all the time, including a couple especially heartbreaking moments. Fat Chance, Charlie Vega centers around her trying to navigate the dating world and friendships in high school, and approaching prom.

Read More »

Book Review: Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers – A Must-Read, Unrelentingly Authentic and Lyrical Novel

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers
Blurb:

With her newly completed PhD in astronomy in hand, twenty-eight-year-old Grace Porter goes on a girls’ trip to Vegas to celebrate. She’s a straight A, work-through-the-summer certified high achiever. She is not the kind of person who goes to Vegas and gets drunkenly married to a woman whose name she doesn’t know…until she does exactly that.

This one moment of departure from her stern ex-military father’s plans for her life has Grace wondering why she doesn’t feel more fulfilled from completing her degree. Staggering under the weight of her parent’s expectations, a struggling job market and feelings of burnout, Grace flees her home in Portland for a summer in New York with the wife she barely knows.

In New York, she’s able to ignore all the constant questions about her future plans and falls hard for her creative and beautiful wife, Yuki Yamamoto. But when reality comes crashing in, Grace must face what she’s been running from all along—the fears that make us human, the family scars that need to heal and the longing for connection, especially when navigating the messiness of adulthood.

Cuddle's review:

Honey Girl is one of the most impeccable books I have ever read. In the span of less than 300 pages (293 to be exact), Morgan Rogers covers a massive breadth of experiences in the life of Dr. Grace Porter, a recent PhD graduate in astronomy navigating the job industry post-graduation. Grace finds herself adrift in a world that has systemically barricaded her from an equitable chance at jobs that she is more than qualified for and she finds herself lonely and defeated. The book opens with her waking up, having married a woman she hardly knows in Vegas, and the blurb on the dust jacket led me to believe that this would be a fun pre-destined marriage contemporary novel, but in these pages lay one of the most magnificent coming of age stories.

Read More »