BLOG TOUR – Hurricane Summer by Asha Bromfield – Excerpt + Review

Tilla has spent her entire life trying to make her father love her. But every six months, he leaves their family and returns to his true home: the island of Jamaica.

When Tilla’s mother tells her she’ll be spending the summer on the island, Tilla dreads the idea of seeing him again, but longs to discover what life in Jamaica has always held for him.

In an unexpected turn of events, Tilla is forced to face the storm that unravels in her own life as she learns about the dark secrets that lie beyond the veil of paradise―all in the midst of an impending hurricane.

Hurricane Summer is a powerful coming of age story that deals with colorism, classism, young love, the father-daughter dynamic―and what it means to discover your own voice in the center of complete destruction.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of Asha Bromfield’s Hurricane Summer, it’s not something neat or easy, but the value of a piece goes beyond that, beyond easy. I found it to be deeply truthful and emotionally authentic and it’s clear that Bromfield toiled over it. Her writing is descriptive and vivid, full in a way that not many debuts are.

There is a sizable amount of triggering content, not for me specifically, but depictions that people do make note of to share with other readers, so before reading Hurricane Summer, please seek them out, here is a list in a trigger warning database. I found most of these instances to serve Bromfield’s central theme and narrative trajectory, and I’m in no place to judge how others choose to explore trauma, though at one point, I thought the emotional impact of one of these events could have been expanded upon to the benefit of the book overall.

But other than that, the characters are well built and shaped, dynamic and different, flawed above all else. Be ready to be frustrated with more than a few of them. Overall, an impressive debut from a writer that’s brimming with promise. And as always, I can picture this story adapted to the screen quite easily, especially as an opportunity for an up and coming Afro-Jamaican female director and writer.

Asha Bromfield by Felice Trinidad

Asha Bromfield is an actress, singer, and writer of Afro-Jamaican descent. She is known for her role as Melody Jones, drummer of Josie and the Pussycats in CW’s Riverdale. She also stars as Zadie Wells in Netflix’s hit show, Locke and Key. Asha is a proud ambassador for the Dove Self-Esteem Project, and she currently lives in Toronto where she is pursuing a degree in Communications. In her spare time, she loves studying astrology, wearing crystals, burning sage, and baking vegan desserts. Hurricane Summer is her debut novel.

Click here to purchase a copy of Hurricane Summer

Excerpt for Chapter 2 of Hurricane Summer below!

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An Ode to the Infamous Best Picture® Snafu

It’s past midnight. Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty take a touch too long to announce who won Best Picture® at the 89th Academy Awards®. Finally, Dunaway bites the bullet and says “La La Land!” into the microphone. A sedate, if polite round of applause from the audience. The standard ceremony narration. Two, perhaps two and a half speeches are made. And the rest is history.

Imagine this, you’re me, 15, and mere months away from your first real emotional breakdown, maybe this is the last time you feel true joy. It’s your first year being really invested in Hollywood’s annual awards season. You saw La La Land weeks ago, excited, but ended up not enjoying it much beyond the first five minutes. You’re a little too pretentious for your own good, it comes with the age. But in a year full of dynamic and wonderful movies, Hidden Figures, Arrival, Lion, and of course Moonlight, you feel the Oscars® shouldn’t engage in their usual circle-jerk fawning over films made about their own industry. And by 12:12am EST, you’re jumping off the couch, struck with a high you’ve been chasing ever since.

I couldn’t tell you why I love this moment so much. I think about it so often, the way it stormed out of nowhere, made my jaw drop. It’s the type of drama you wouldn’t write into your screenplay. It’s a moment that shouldn’t have happened, and yet it did. The reactions of every celebrity in the crowd are hilarious. The look on Ryan Gosling’s face as he realizes what’s happened, absolute gold. The Moonlight team’s joy of winning Best Picture® only compounded by this bonkers mistake. It’s a moment of vindication, of hubris, of pure and utter impossibility of this happening, live on television, for the entire world to see. It should have been eligible for the next year’s Emmys®. Thank you Academy accountants, for giving me this one, absolutely breathtaking moment.

Nothing is ever going to top this, and that’s ok.

For more, read The Hollywood Reporter’s oral history of the ceremony leading up to the infamous Best Picture® fuck up.

Happy Oscars 2021!

ARC REVIEW: The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren

The Soulmate Equation is the latest novel from writing partners Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings (known together as Christina Lauren). It’s a wonderful entry into the contemporary romance niche, and a standout offering in Lauren’s collection.

Single mother, Jess Davis, submits a DNA sample to a new dating service that creates matches based on genetic analysis. To her dismay, the service matches her with a whopping 98% compatibility to seemingly callous company founder, River Pena. In a tale as old as time, the two reach an agreement to make public appearances together, boosting the company’s profile and reputation, all while giving Jess a much needed financial reprieve. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, a true relationship blossoms.

In the past year, as I suddenly had so much time to explore fiction and what I like reading most, I’ve finally nailed down the exact honey that traps this fly. For me, a romance premise must have an elemental of specificity. There must be a hook, a special something that’s uncommon in real life that frames a story. It can’t just be “girl meets guy” anymore; simplicity has been done to death and done GOOD. It’s time to enter the era of hijinks and plots and leave mundanity to the real world!

It’s worth saying that while the promise of fake dating, DNA testing, inner-company politics is what attracted me to The Soulmate Equation, the characters made me stay. Every single one of them is so tangible, from the boisterous best friend, to the grandparents, to the other company board members. No matter how small their page time is, you can see them with a full life, with full desires. But in a romance, supporting character theatre can only take a book so far.

Jess and River were absolutely wonderful to read. Their progression from strangers to what’s essentially work colleagues to genuine lovers is what makes this book soar. It’s logical and well paced, and obvious on the page that these two characters are good for each other. Too often chemistry is reliant on combativeness, as if a relationship is a competition that one person needs to win, not the both of you against the world. These two have such a sweet and inviting energy to them, it makes their story perhaps the easiest in the world to read.

TL;DR, is there anything more charming than this book? I don’t think so!

How would I adapt this?

Let’s be honest, this is package made for a movie. The pacing is just so good, you can see the scenes in your head, the act breaks, the midpoint. And due to watching too much NCIS with my mother, I was even able to picture a couple of actors as Jess and River. HMU if you don’t know who I’m talking about 😉

Thank you to Gallery Books and Netgalley US for this title in exchange for an honest review!

Add The Soulmate Equation on Goodreads // Follow Christina Lauren on Twitter // Pre-order from Books-A-Million

ARC REVIEW: Down Comes the Night by Allison Saft

Listen to the wind blow…

I’ve no real idea where Allison Saft’s debut novel Down Comes the Night takes its title, but to me it immediately evoked Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain: bassy, dramatic and moody. While not as pulsating as the hit Rumors single, it’s still a wonderful discovery and worthy addition to the modern, high-concept Young Adult canon.

An endless war between two neighboring nations seems finally to have come to a stalemate when army medic Wren Southerland is summoned to a remote estate high in the mountains of the neighboring, famously-neutral third country. Thinking perhaps she can curry favor with the estate’s reclusive nobleman, putting a decisive end to the war, Wren makes the journey. Her only task is healing an unknown man, who turns out to be a notorious enemy soldier, Hal Cavendish. Mystery abounds in a manor where the wind howls and the walls moan, as Wren and Hal find themselves coming together for the good of all their people.

I’m a huge murder mystery fan, Christie, Hitchcock, ones with gumshoes and twists to follow down each corner. While the cast is smaller than any odd Orient Express, Saft’s debut is little bit Notorious a little bit Spellbound, all easy and compulsively readable young adult prose. Anyone with an ear to the ground and nose for tropes can see the direction Wren and Hal are headed, but it’s truly fun to watch them get there. This is enemies to lovers done so right.

Saft is a delightful novelist, treading lightly into a world that’s rife with possibility, focusing in on two young, complex people who help each other fully understand the weight of their war and the responsibilities they’ve been made to bear. Wren must grow into her own, beyond her rejection and doubts, beyond her unrequited love for her commanding officer, beyond the emotional restriction she’s placed upon herself. She makes for an infinitely sympathetic character, easy to sit with for the length of the novel.

Down Comes the Night has all the makings of a hit, and I can’t wait to see where Allison Saft heads after this.

How would I adapt this?

Honestly, I think this would be well suited for a movie. Closed door mysteries are old hat by now and with a relatively small ensemble of characters, there would be enough elbow room for everyone to get their due.

Thank you to Wednesday Books, St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley US for a digital advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Follow Allison Saft on Twitter // Pre-order from Keplers // Add Down Comes the Night on Goodreads

ARC REVIEW: Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Keep me up all night…

In many ways, I have Taylor Jenkins Reid to thank for a lot of what my life looks like now. It was Daisy Jones & The Six that got me back into reading for pleasure, something I couldn’t do for the longest time. This seemed to a signal that I was on an upswing, a much-needed one; I’ve followed through in my own ways, finding friends I love, realizing what I truly enjoy doing, and of course, reading and watching as many things as I can. But enough about me, you want to hear about Malibu Rising

The Riva siblings were dealt a tough hand in life, despite their famous father, Mick Riva, cameo player in Reid’s other showbiz novels The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and the aforementioned Daisy Jones. Malibu Rising at once tracks a solid 24 hours in the life of Nina, Jay, Hud, and Kit Riva, while also following the lives of their parents and how their family came together.

There are so many nepotism babies in Hollywoodland, I thought I wouldn’t like a whole family of them, but all four of the Rivas are tough and practical, taking the hard times as they come and caring for each other deeply along the way. Nina, whose house is the setting for the all-out rager of the second half of the book, finally allows herself to confront everything her family has left behind, resulting in one of the most moving trajectories for a main character I’ve read in a long time. 

Besides Nina and her siblings, Reid rounds the party out with a host of other characters from her own version of Hollywood, a real treat for anyone who’s read the stories of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones. Be on the lookout for fun cameos and plenty of name-drops. 

How would I adapt Malibu Rising?

A miniseries! Imagine a prestige, premium series of episodes chronicling each hour of the Rivas’ party, with dives into the past along the way.

And finally, thank you so much to Ballantine Books, Random House Publishing Group and Netgalley US for this advance digital galley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.