Women’s History Month is here again in the U.S., and I figured I’d gather some more books to celebrate! Literature has always been an act of resistance, and it’s so important for readers—especially young girls—to see characters and narratives like their own to inspire change in our world. And as always, these books aren’t just for March—they’re for all year round; feminism doesn’t start and stop in March. My goal here is to uplift marginalized voices, and now is the perfect time to uplift those of women.
If you’d like to see my list from last year, click here!
Told in intersecting timelines between the present day and 19th-century. Paris, Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know is a love letter to all the women whose stories have been overshadowed and lost to history. Samira Ahmed is such a wonderful author!
Iron Widow is a fierce, fast-paced sci-fi tale that deftly explores themes of rape culture, institutionalized misogyny, and society’s treatment of women through the eyes of a spitfire pilot determined to tear down an empire. (DESTROY THE PATRIARCHY WITH ROBOTS! I said what I said.)
Squad presents a timely theme—when holding rapists accountable, where is the line between accountability and pure vengeance?—and puts a paranormal spin on it. If the premise of werewolf girls hunting down rapists doesn’t entice you, I don’t know what will.
Though this isn’t my favorite of Brittney Morris’ books that I’ve read (that title would go to The Cost of Knowing as of now), Slay was a wonderfully proud and feminist novel about gaming and Black pride.
Anna-Marie McLemore never misses a beat with their books, and The Mirror Season was no exception! All at once raw and beautiful, it presents a searing tale of love after trauma and the fight to hold rapists accountable.
Through a blend of several different genres, Charlotte Nicole Davis presents the stories of five girls, bonded through sisterhood and trauma, who take control of their own fates and fight their fair share of patriarchy—and demons.
Juliet Takes a Breath is a fantastic, queer coming-of-age novel about sexuality, self-discovery, identity, and being a feminist. There’s an especially important discussion of the harm of “white feminism,” which, for a YA novel, is crucial to discuss.
There’s not a single bad short story in A Phoenix Must First Burn! Through several different genres, all of these stories center around the experience of growing up as a Black woman, and include everything from aliens to sorcery to the American west.
TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! What are your favorite feminist YA books? Have you read any of these books, and if you have, what did you think of them? What have you been reading for Women’s History Month? Tell me in the comments!
That’s it for this list! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
It’s February again, and in the U.S., February is Black History Month! For the past few years, I’ve been making an effort to diversify my reading and read books from a variety of BIPOC authors all year round, but during this month, I like to take the time to uplift Black voices and authors. It’s crucial to open yourself up to new perspectives and insights, and all it takes is picking up a new book. (But as always, read books from BIPOC authors all year round!)
I made a list of YA reads from Black authors last year (you can find it here!), but I wanted to do it again since I’ve read so many amazing books since last year. So let’s begin, shall we?
THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S YA READS FOR BLACK HISTORY MONTH (2022 EDITION)
I’ll start this list off with a recent read from an author who is quickly climbing up the ranks of my favorites! Although this wasn’t quite as good as The Sound of Stars, The Kindred was such a sweet, feel-good sci-fi romance!
The Cost of Knowing is immensely powerful; through the perspective of a teen with the power to see the future of everything that he touches, Morris tackles a multitude of important topics, from mental health to police brutality to grief.
GENRES: short stories, fantasy, paranormal, sci-fi, LGBTQ+
MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
A Phoenix Must First Burn is a beautiful anthology of short stories of all genres that depict the Black experience—particularly Black women and nonbinary people. There’s only one short story that I didn’t like as much, but all the rest are fascinating in their own right. My favorite was Amerie’s When Life Hands You a Lemon Fruitbomb.
I don’t read a lot of alternate history or historical fiction books, but The Good Luck Girls was a fantastic read! If you’re a fan of demons, ghosts, patriarchy-smashing, and sisterhood, this is the book for you.
Set in the same world as A Song Below Water, A Chorus Rises explores Naema’s side of the story. Not a lot of authors write separate books from the point of view of the story’s antagonist, and this book was testament to the fact that not everything is black and white—there are several sides to every story.
Every Body Looking, Candice Iloh
GENRES: contemporary, realistic fiction, novels in verse
MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Raw and honest, Every Body Looking is a poetic coming-of-age story of growing up as a woman, growing up Black, and growing up as the daughter of an immigrant. It’s a rough ride, but it packs a punch.
I don’t go for mysteries most of the time, but Ace of Spades was the dictionary definition of edge-of-your-seat suspenseful. All at once a nail-biting mystery and a commentary on systemic racism, this is one you can’t let pass you by.
I guess I’ve bookended this list with feel-good reads…I don’t see a problem with that. You Should See Me in a Crown is a fun and tender LGBTQ+ romance about two candidates for prom queen falling for each other!
Tell me what you think! Have you read any of these books, and if so, what did you think of them? What are your favorite YA books by Black authors? Let me know in the comments!
That’s it for this list! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
This week’s review was a fairly recent addition to my TBR. I found out about this series through a great post by Simone and her Books (thanks for putting it on my radar!), and I had a good feeling about it when I bought it with my birthday money the other day. I’m glad to say that I was right – my favorite out of all the books I bought that day!
Branded and trapped in a “welcome house” against their wills, the lives of the Good Luck Girls are filled with anything but good luck. Sisters Clementine and Aster have lived their lives in one such welcome house, waiting for the impossible day when they can go free. But when Clementine accidentally kills a wealthy man, she knows she’s put her life on the life. Along with her sister Aster, their friends Tansy and Mallow, and Violet, the prickly favorite of the welcome house, she risks a daring escape, meeting friend and foe alike as she flees into the wild.
TW/CW: rape, branding, sex slavery, murder, descriptions of illness, misogyny, torture, loss of loved ones/death, substance abuse
Have you ever finished a book and immediately thought something along the lines of “man, why has nobody gotten the rights to make this a TV show?” My thoughts exactly for The Good Luck Girls – its cinematic writing makes it the perfect fit for the small screen, and its effortless blending of paranormal, Western, and dystopian genres made it stand out from all the rest!
I’ve never really read or watched many Westerns or Western-inspired books, movies or TV shows (I’m counting The Mandalorian in there though), but I found myself latching onto the immersive and unique world that Charlotte Nicole Davis presents us with in The Good Luck Girls. It’s equal parts Western, paranormal fantasy, and dystopia, and all of them fit to make a fascinating world! There’s something for everybody. You want girls rising up and fighting the power? FIVE OF THEM! You want ghosts, demons, and other weird monsters? Plenty of those to go around. Magic? Lots of that too. Whatever genre you usually gravitate you, there’s something for everybody in this novel.
The feminism and themes of sisterhood also shone in this novel! We follow a diverse cast of characters (some of them are POC and there’s a wlw relationship between two of them) as they escape a life of sex slavery, encountering no shortage of horrors along the way but sticking together through it all. Especially regarding most of the scenes in the “welcome house,” there are plenty of heavy and hard-to-read topics, but Charlotte Nicole Davis handled them in a way that balanced realism and giving the slightest bit of hope. I’m always up for books with a gang of well-written women taking down the patriarchy (and in the case of this book, fighting against misogyny and rape culture in particular), and The Good Luck Girls delivered 100% in that respect.
As for the characters, I liked most of them a reasonable amount, but I didn’t get completely attached to all of them. For Violet in particular, I liked that even though she was the token “bad-natured one who refuses to get along with anybody else” character, Davis gave her just as much depth and backstory as characters like Clem and Aster. However, I do wish that Tansy and Mallow got more page time; they just seemed like footnotes in contrast to Aster, Clem, and Violet, and we didn’t get much of their backstory. The Good Luck Girls would have been more enjoyable with a multiple POV structure, in my opinion; we got inside Aster and Clem’s heads, but since there’s an ensemble cast, I would have liked to get some of the motivations and quirks of characters like Violet, Tansy, and Mallow from their perspectives.
All in all, an effortless blend of wildly different genres that results in a fiercely feminist and cinematic journey. 4 stars!
The Good Luck Girls is the first book in the Good Luck Girls series, followed by The Sisters of Reckoning. Charlotte Nicole Davis also contributed the short story All the Time in the World to A Phoenix Must First Burn, an anthology of sci-fi/fantasy stories by Black women and gender nonconforming people.
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
I refuse to believe that it’s almost April…one year since the original quarantine, nope…
March has been…an interesting month, I guess. Definitely had its ups and downs, and it was super cold. It’s usually a really snowy month here in Colorado, and we got dumped on in the middle of the month…not quite the #Snowmageddon that everybody was saying it was going to be, but we got about two feet at my house. A lot, but we’ve had worse…
School’s been a bit rough, but I’m at least glad that everything had time to wind down before Spring Break. I have my SAT test coming up in April and my AP exams in May, so heads up, I’ll probably be less active in the next two months.
Other than that, I’ve definitely made some great progress! Mostly with my writing; I wrote my short story for the writing contest, shared it with family and close friends, got some feedback, AND I SUBMITTED IT ON MONDAY! AAAAAAAAAAAH
I also started on Falcon & The Winter Soldier (I didn’t like episode 1 very much, but 2 got better), watched the Snyder Cut, and drank lots of tea and hot chocolate. Here’s hoping that April will be a bit better. Not that March was awful, but I could’ve done without…y’know, precalc. I’ve been listening to the new Julien Baker a lot too, as well as more Mother Mother, thanks to a playlist my friend made for me.
Also, I rewatched Fargo in its entirety. I’ll admit to curling into the fetal position and sobbing several times.
And I’m SO CLOSE to 400 followers! I LOVE YOU ALL 🥺
I managed to read 23 books this month! (24, if you count reading a certain B.P.R.D. twice.) I’ve definitely had a great reading month; I re-read a few favorites, and I discovered several awesome reads! And I had very few books that I didn’t like, so that’s a plus. Here’s everything…
I don’t review short story collections/anthologies very often, but I definitely want to put in my two cents on this one, because I enjoyed it so much! A variety of historical fiction, sci-fi, and fantasy stories with Black protagonists from #OwnVoices Black authors! Such a lovely anthology.
Sixteen tales by bestselling and award-winning authors that explore the Black experience through fantasy, science fiction, and magic.
Evoking Beyoncé’s Lemonade for a teen audience, these authors who are truly Octavia Butler’s heirs, have woven worlds to create a stunning narrative that centers Black women and gender nonconforming individuals. A Phoenix First Must Burn will take you on a journey from folktales retold to futuristic societies and everything in between. Filled with stories of love and betrayal, strength and resistance, this collection contains an array of complex and true-to-life characters in which you cannot help but see yourself reflected. Witches and scientists, sisters and lovers, priestesses and rebels: the heroines of A Phoenix First Must Burn shine brightly. You will never forget them.
Authors include Elizabeth Acevedo, Amerie, Dhonielle Clayton, Jalissa Corrie, Somaiya Daud, Charlotte Davis, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Justina Ireland, Danny Lore, L.L. McKinney, Danielle Paige, Rebecca Roanhorse, Karen Strong, Ashley Woodfolk, and Ibi Zoboi.
Wow, what a stellar anthology! I think there was only one single story collected within that was at/below 2 stars, and I loved getting tastes of all genres from authors familiar and unfamiliar to me alike.
I’ll break down my thoughts for each short story, because they all deserve some time in the spotlight here:
When Life Hands You a Lemon Fruitbomb – Amerie: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5
My favorite short story out of the bunch, by a long shot. (No surprise, really, since I’m such a sucker for sci-fi…) A beautiful tale of setting aside differences and embracing the other, complete with aliens, wormholes, and tender friendships. [Magneto voice] “Perfection…”
Gilded – Elizabeth Acevedo: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I’ve read plenty of Acevedo’s poetry, but this was my first taste of my prose. And I must say, she is uniquely talented in both! I loved this blend of magical realism and historical fiction, and the themes of resistance against colonialism in the 16th century.
Wherein Abigail Fields Recalls Her First Death, And, Subsequently, Her Best Life – Rebecca Roanhorse: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I’ve had several of Roanhorse’s novels on my TBR for years and haven’t gotten around to reading them, but this story of rebirth and revenge in the old American West has me 100% convinced to get into her work! Stellar writing and dialogue, with no shortage of charm.
The Rules of the Land – Alaya Dawn Johnson: ⭐️⭐️
This one was a low point in the collection for me. While there was clearly a lot of care put into the worldbuilding, there were just so many terms and politics thrown around without any explanation, which left me super confused throughout the whole story.
A Hagiography of Starlight – Somaiya Doud: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5
Props for the fact that I’d never heard of the word “hagiography” before reading this story, and it’s so pretty…
I had about the same experience of this story as I did with Mirage; the plot wasn’t terribly compelling, but the prose was so immersive and lush. This story also had what The Rules of the Land lacked: lots of new fantasy terms, but an explanation for all of them, which was a welcome reprieve.
Melie – Justina Ireland: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Dragons! Mermaids! Sorcerers! Potions! A lovable and determined protagonist! Sweet romance! I might just have to check out Justina Ireland’s other novels, because Melie filled me with so much joy. Short story or not, this restored a bit of my faith for YA fantasy.
The Goddess Provides – L.L. McKinney: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5
This one was quite immersive; immediately, there’s lots of sensory description, which made me feel like I was in the story. And beyond that, who doesn’t love a good tale of pirates, royalty, revenge, and good triumphing over evil?
Hearts Turned to Ash – Dhonielle Clayton: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
An interesting and magically literal take on heartbreak, of a heart crumbling after a nasty breakup. I loved the magical realism aspect of this one, and the witchcraft woven throughout. Not my favorite of the stories, but still sweet.
Let the Right One In – Patrice Caldwell: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25
Some of the experiences of the protagonist really struck a chord with me, as someone who is/was quieter and lives through books. Plus, I’m down for a sapphic romance with vampires ANY day, trust me. SIGN ME UP.
Tender-Headed – Danny Lore: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
I loved the concept of this one, and the writing was good throughout, but the conclusion left me wanting something more. It just felt…unresolved? Maybe a few more pages could have done this one some good.
Kiss the Sun – Ibi Zoboi: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5
This was a weird one, but definitely in a good way. Genre-defying, full of flowery prose and a dark, strange kind of twist. The strangest story out of the bunch, and I mean that 100% as a compliment.
The Actress – Danielle Paige: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Not my favorite, but an interesting one for sure. A slow-burn, on-and-off-screen love story between two actors in a romantic teen TV drama about vampires, one of which may possess magic of her own.
The Curse of Love – Ashley Woodfolk: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Simultaneously filled with despair and hope, The Curse of Love presents resonant themes of family and the risks we’re willing to take for love–and a family curse that dooms all of the women in the Dunn family to a fate worse than death should they fall head-over-heels in love. There are a lot of magical realism stories in this collection, and this one absolutely shines!
All the Time in the World – Charlotte Nicole Davis: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I haven’t read anything by Charlotte Nicole Davis before, but I’m all for giving her a round of applause, because SECOND PERSON POV IS REALLY HARD TO DO. Really hard. And she did it with such aplomb, all while weaving in elements of sci-fi and discussions of racism, all in one. Such a wonderful story!
The Witch’s Skin – Karen Strong: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5
All at once tender and creepy, this was a story that evoked imagery of graveyards at night and creatures lurking in dark corners. All at once a tale of fantasy and a heartstring-pulling story of heartbreak, and the lengths we go to get our vengeance.
Sequence – J. Marcelle Corrie: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Not quite as compelling as some of the other stories, but I like the discussion of the role that technology plays/may play in our lives. An interesting vision of the life of a group of teens in a time when major decisions are made via highly intelligent electronics, more so even than today.
I averaged out all of my ratings for each of the short stories, and it came out to about a 3.5, but before I did that, I put my rating as 4 stars. Normally, I don’t round up from 3.5 to 4 (I usually only do it when it’s 3.75), but the better stories in this collection make me want to keep my rating at a solid 4! Such a beautiful collection, running the gamut of genre, experience, science and magic. There’s something for everybody here, no matter what genre you tend to gravitate towards. Highly recommended!
Patrice Caldwell is also the editor of the upcoming YA paranormal romance anthology Eternally Yours, and the upcoming novel Where Shadows Reign, scheduled for release in 2022.
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you all well.
I’d say March is off to a decent start. I had a slower reading week this week, but now that I’ve gotten my library haul, it’ll definitely get better/faster soon. I also went to the comic shop (safely, of course) with my family and picked up some single issues and a trade, got a preorder in the mail, and another Kindle hold, so there’ll be lots to read this month, for sure!
I also finished the first draft of my short story! I’ll probably devote next week to self-editing, so we’ll see how it goes. I also finished WandaVision, rewatched another episode or two of season 3 of Fargo, drew a bit, and had my weekly shift at the library. For the past…month or so, I think, it’s snowed either the day before or on the day of my volunteer shift, so it’s always freezing…but hey, at least the library is warm, and it’s always a peaceful image to see snow falling outside the window while I’m surrounded by books.
Also OH MY GOD ST. VINCENT CAME OUT WITH A NEW SONG AND IT’S S O G O O D I CAN’T STOP LISTENING TO IT
MIDDLE SCHOOL MADELINE IS VERY HAPPY AND PRESENT MADELINE IS VERY HAPPY