Posted in Books

YA Reads for Black History Month

Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

Phew, I’m so glad to be on a long weekend…we have the day off school today and next Monday, so I think I’ll have some much needed time to wind down…

As some of you may know, here in the U.S., the month of February is Black History Month! So for the occasion, I decided that it would be a good idea to make a post full of my favorite YA reads from #OwnVoices Black authors. Now more than ever it is critical to share stories from marginalized voices, and in the current climate that much of the world is in, uplifting POC voices should be at the forefront of creative endeavors.

Image result for black history month gif

I’ve made a list of YA reads of all genres for this post, all of them 4-5 star reads for me. So let’s begin, shall we?

THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S YA READS FOR BLACK HISTORY MONTH

The Sound of Stars – Alechia Dow

Image result for the sound of stars book

GENRES: Sci-fi, dystopia, LGBTQ+, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Sound of Stars was one of my favorite reads of 2020! A diverse cast, a tender romance, and no shortage of music and book references. Other than the ending, it’s pretty much everything I could want in a book.

The Revolution of Birdie Randolph – Brandy Colbert

Image result for the revolution of birdie randolph

GENRES: Contemporary, romance, LGBTQ+

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Revolution of Birdie Randolph is one of those special novels that simultaneously touches on a myriad of important issues, but still retains a lighter, slice-of-life mood. Romantic, sweet, and so inclusive!

Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now – Dana L. Davis

Image result for tiffany sly lives here now

GENRES: Contemporary, fiction

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

It’s been a few years since I’ve read this one, but Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now has stuck with me ever since. A resonant story about family, mental health and grief.

A Song Below Water – Bethany C. Morrow

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GENRES: Magical realism, contemporary, fantasy

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’m always on the hunt for good mermaid books, and I’m glad to say that A Song Below Water was such a unique novel! It certainly isn’t without its flaws, but this was a solid piece of magical realism.

Punching the Air – Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam

Image result for punching the air book

GENRES: Poetry/Novels in verse, contemporary, fiction

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I don’t read an awful lot of poetry, but Punching the Air hit me so hard. This was a truly powerful novel about the corruption of the justice system and the transformative power of art.

Children of Blood and Bone – Tomi Adeyemi

Image result for children of blood and bone

GENRES: High fantasy, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

It’s been a few years since I’ve read this one and my memory of it’s a bit hazy (oops), but from what I remember, Children of Blood and Bone was such a well-written and well-crafted fantasy! (Plus, that gorgeous cover…)

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them – Junauda Petrus

Image result for the stars and the blackness between them by junauda petrus

GENRES: Contemporary, fiction, LGBTQ+, romance, magical realism

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This was one of my first reads of the year, and wow, such a beautiful novel! I loved the relationship between Audre and Mabel, and the writing was so tender. Highly recommended.

Monday’s Not Coming – Tiffany D. Jackson

Image result for monday's not coming book

GENRES: Mystery, thriller, contemporary

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Mystery isn’t my go-to genre, but Monday’s Not Coming was truly astounding. Haunting, gripping and suspenseful–everything a mystery novel should be, really.

The Black Kids – Christina Hammonds Reed

Image result for the black kids book

GENRES: Fiction, historical fiction (1990s)

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Even though it’s set in the 1990’s, The Black Kids has no shortage of timely themes, and stands out as a powerful and immersive historical fiction novel. Highly recommended!

Raybearer – Jordan Ifueko

Image result for raybearer jordan ifueko

GENRES: High fantasy, fantasy, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I have a distinct memory of looking through reviews for Raybearer before I picked it up; it was a struggle to find any sort of reviews with ratings below 4 stars (I usually try to read reviews in the 3-2 star range before reading most books), and everybody and their mother seemed to be gushing about it. But I’m glad to say that Raybearer absolutely lived up to that hype, and I now count myself among the legions of 4-star ratings!

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin – Roseanne A. Brown

Image result for a song of wraiths and ruin

GENRES: Fantasy, high fantasy, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I just finished this one last week (bought it with a gift card I got for Christmas!), and I must say, absolutely worth buying! Complex protagonists, and a writing style that all at once felt nostalgic and wonderfully fresh and unique. (I’ll try to review this one next week!)

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Have you read any of these novels, and what did you think of them? What are your favorite YA novels from #OwnVoices Black authors? Any recommendations?

Image result for black lives matter gif

Today’s song:

That’s it for this list of recommendations! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (9/29/20)–The Black Kids

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Just a heads up before I begin, and probably one that’ll apply for the next few months. Now that I’ve been in school for a month, my schedule and workload are both getting more demanding, and so I won’t be able to post quite as much. This week in particular, I probably won’t be able to post much after this review–partly due to the slew of exams and quizzes I have later this week, but I’m also going to be gone for a few days. I’ll probably still be able to visit everyone else’s posts, but my posting schedule will be a bit more lethargic–Goodreads Mondays, Book Review Tuesdays, my Weekly Updates, and sometimes Top 5 Saturdays can probably be expected, but other than that, I won’t post as much per week. So just a heads up.

Now, back to our scheduled program…

I don’t read much historical fiction, but The Black Kids was such a stunning novel! All at once relevant to our past and our present, this book is brimming heart and the universal (I hope) desire for justice and equality in marginalized communities.

Enjoy this week’s review!

The Black Kids | Book by Christina Hammonds Reed | Official Publisher Page  | Simon & Schuster

The Black Kids–Christina Hammonds Reed

1992. Ashley Bennett’s life has been a sheltered one, nearly finished with high school and hanging out with her friends in Los Angeles. Her older sister took up the cause of advocating for racial justice years ago, but Ashley always preferred to stay on the sidelines.

But as riots begin to spread across the country after the brutal beating of Rodney King, she tries to continue to live her life as she always has, staying on the sidelines, not caring what goes on around her. Her friends have begun to isolate themselves from her, and she accidentally spreads a rumor about a classmate that could make or break his future. Ashley soon realizes that the world is bigger than the bubble she’s confined herself to–and that unity is the key to righting her personal wrongs.

I Cant Breathe Black Lives Matter GIF by Digital Pratik - Find & Share on  GIPHY

Historical fiction isn’t a genre that I readily pick up, most of the time. But instances like these remind me of the sheer possibility of the genre, to not just tell a story about our past, but to inspire change and to encourage readers to better examine themselves and the world around them. I’m glad to say that The Black Kids was one of these great novels–brimming with heart and with a message that will resonate for decades to come.

At the time I’m writing this review, it’s been about a month and a half since The Black Kids‘ release (August 4), and I must say, what better time than this to publish a novel like this one? Even though it’s set almost 30 years in our past, the themes of racial justice and police brutality resonate as though this book was set a year ago. (Which…okay, it’s absolutely disgusting that police brutality, racism, and everything related to that is still rampant today, but what I’m trying to say is that it’s timely and brilliantly timed.) Whether or not readers experienced the Rodney King riots or felt its repercussions, its sure to inspire a wide range of the audience.

The Black Kids boasts a dynamic cast of characters, and even better, no shortage of great character development, mostly on Ashley’s part. Her transformation from someone so sheltered to someone who genuinely cares about the world around her was beautiful to see, and Reed’s heartfelt writing fleshed it out even more so. There’s some relatable themes of letting go of toxic friendships and finding those who you truly connected with, which is something that I connected with the most.

On the subject of her writing, Reed’s prosed managed to be simultaneously authentic and poetic, a mix of brutal realities and immersive language that made me feel as though I was living in the novel. I’m not a 90’s kid, but I loved all the little music and pop culture references that were slipped in there as well.

All in all, The Black Kids boasts nearly all the hallmarks of a good historical fiction–facing the harsh realities from a fresh perspective, but making you feel immersed and invested in the setting and characters as though they were from the present day. 4 stars!

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The Black Kids appears to be a standalone, and it’s Christina Hammonds Reed’s debut novel. (I can’t wait to see what else she writes in the future!)

Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (6/8/20)–The Sound of Stars

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme created by Lauren’s Page Turners. All you have to do to participate is pick a book from your Goodreads TBR, and explain why you want to read it.

Continuing on with LGBTQ+ books, this one’s been on my TBR for a while. And from the description, it’s virtually everything that I’d ever want in a sci-fi novel. I am on an eternal search for quality YA sci-fi, so I REALLY hope to read this one soon!

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (6/8/20)–THE SOUND OF STARS by Alechia Dow

Amazon.com: The Sound of Stars (9781335911551): Dow, Alechia: Books

Blurb from Goodreads:

Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population.

Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. Deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, humanity’s emotional transgressions are now grounds for execution. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her.

Born in a lab, M0Rr1S (Morris) was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does.

Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while making a story and a song of their own that just might save them both.

So why do I want to read this?

Aliens

Music

Libraries

LGBTQ+/POC representation

this is everything i've ever wanted gif | WiffleGif

I might be setting my expectations too high, but I might have just found another dream book…

Like I said, I’m a huge lover of sci-fi, and the addition of a secret library and a shared love of music seems like the exact type of thing that I would immensely enjoy in a novel. A friendship between a human and an alien and bonding over secret art is just the kind of content that I’ve been wanting to read for ages.

And in times like these (and all the time), it’s so important to support POC/LGBTQ+ authors, so I encourage all of you to spread the word about such novels, review them, and recommend them to friends. 💗

black lives matter – GIF

Today’s song:

(Why yes, I did watch Baby Driver yesterday, why do you ask?)

That’s it for this week’s Goodreads Monday! Have a wonderful day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (6/2/20)–The Masked City (The Invisible Library, #2)

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

Before I begin, I just wanted to check back on the petition I posted in my weekly update last week (to arrest the other three officers involved in the murder of George Floyd). We ALMOST have all of the signatures–we’re 96% of the way to reaching the goal–but we still need more to reach our goal! So if you haven’t, please take your time to do your part to fight back against racism and police brutality in America and elsewhere. Black Lives Matter. (The petition is linked below.)

Justice for Big Floyd

Ever since I read The Invisible Library about a month and a half ago, I’ve been eagerly awaiting to read its sequel. Unfortunately, there was a rather long line for holds of it, so I didn’t get to read it until a few days ago. And now that I’ve read it, I have…mixed feelings. It was still a great novel, but I felt that there was something missing.

WARNING: If you have not read The Invisible Library, this review may contain some spoilers for book 1.

If you want to read my review of book 1, click here!

Top 30 Spoiler Alert GIFs | Find the best GIF on Gfycat

Enjoy this week’s review!

The Masked City (The Invisible Library Novel): Cogman, Genevieve ...

The Masked City (The Invisible Library, #2)

After the tumultuous search for Grimm’s Fairytales, Irene is already faced with another mission. But while undercover, her apprentice, Kai, is captured by a group of Fae from a high-chaos dimension. Now that his heritage as a dragon prince has been revealed, Irene knows that his kidnapping could lead to war between the two magical powers. As she searches for him in an alternate Venice in an eternal state of Carnival, her prowess as a Librarian will be put to the test. Will she be able to rescue her apprentice–and keep an inter-dimensional war at bay?

Spinning Thinking Emoji With Music GIF | Gfycat

After The Invisible Library, I think I might have set my expectations a tad bit too high. I enjoyed it, sure, but the whole time, I just kept thinking that it felt like something was missing. And after a bit of deliberation, I think I’ve realized what it was.

Remember what I said about Cogman pulling out all the stops in book 1? Mechanical monsters, airship chases, fae, crocodiles, and whatnot? I’m beginning to think that she used all of the possible weird elements and twists, used them all in book 1, and then didn’t quite have anything left to give for this book. Now, there’s still werewolves and fae and whatnot (not to mention dragons), but I didn’t get the same feeling of WHOA as I did when reading them in book 1. Which is a shame, really. There’s so many possibilities with the topic of other dimensions, so I’d hope that Cogman has something more up her sleeve.

That being said, this doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy The Masked City. I did. My personal favorite aspect of this book was the in-depth exploration of the Fae. Now that we know a little bit about them from book 1, Cogman dives in even more into their culture. I LOVED the concept of them existing as their own story, and their entire purpose was just to live out some fantasy as a protagonist in their world, where humans and other creatures would merely be the background characters. That added a fascinating (and not to mention creatively narcissistic) aspect to their portrayal in the world(s) of The Invisible Library.

I still enjoyed being with Irene, especially seeing how she operated when she was left to her own devices. Both Kai and Detective Vale were gone for much of the novel, which just goes to show that she’s just as formidable of a character without them at her side. Bottom line: you don’t mess with Irene.

The stakes seemed a little lower this time, but I still enjoyed some of the action scenes. I felt that some parts were a little bit *too* easy for the characters to squeeze out of, but I could let some of it slide, because magic.

Overall, a sequel that didn’t quite live up to its predecessor, but still enjoyable nonetheless. 3.75 stars, rounded up to 4.

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The Masked City is the second book in the Invisible Library series. After The Invisible Library and this novel, there is also The Burning Page (3, 2016), The Lost Plot (4, 2017), The Mortal Word (5, 2018), The Secret Chapter (6, 2019), and The Dark Archive (7, expected publication Dec. 2020). I’m definitely gonna try and continue with this series, and I already have The Burning Page on hold! (Hopefully it’ll pick back up from there…)

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Today’s song:

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: May 25-31, 2020

Happy Sunday bibliophiles!

The first week of summer has been…interesting. I didn’t have as productive of a reading week (only three books finished), but all of the books I read were great, even if one of them was a re-read. The news has been deeply overwhelming in the last few days, so I’m trying to hit the balance of being informed but not getting myself overtly worked up. And as always, BLACK LIVES MATTER.

On that subject, please consider signing the petition linked below to arrest the three other officers involved in the murder of George Floyd. (One officer has been arrested already).

PETITION/JUSTICE FOR BIG FLOYD

On the upside, though, I watched The Life Aquatic (underrated!), and I signed up for Edelweiss! I requested 8 ARCs, and they’re all still pending, so we’ll see if I can get any of them…

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Me waiting to see the status on the ARCs

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

Furyborn (Empirium, #1)–Claire Legrand (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Furyborn (The Empirium Trilogy) (0760789267765 ...

A Gentleman in Moscow–Amor Towles (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel: Towles, Amor: 9780670026197 ...

Honor Among Thieves (The Honors, #1)–Ann Aguirre and Rachel Caine (re-read) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.75, rounded up to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Amazon.com: Honor Among Thieves (Honors) (9780062570994): Caine ...

POSTS AND SUCH:

SONGS:

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

Emma–Jane Austen

Emma by Jane Austen

The Masked City (The Invisible Library, #2)–Genevieve Cogman

The Masked City (The Invisible Library Novel): Cogman, Genevieve ...

Today’s song:

[cries in the corner]

That’s it for this week in blogging! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!