Posted in Books

YA Reads for Black History Month (2022 Edition)

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

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?

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THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S YA READS FOR BLACK HISTORY MONTH (2022 EDITION)

The Kindred, Alechia Dow

The Kindred by Alechia Dow

GENRES: sci-fi, romance, LGBTQ+

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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, Brittney Morris

Amazon.com: The Cost of Knowing: 9781534445451: Morris, Brittney: Books

GENRES: contemporary, magical realism

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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.

A Phoenix Must First Burn, Patrice Caldwell et. al. (anthology)

Buy A Phoenix First Must Burn: Sixteen Stories of Black Girl Magic,  Resistance, and Hope Book Online at Low Prices in India | A Phoenix First  Must Burn: Sixteen Stories of Black

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.

The Good Luck Girls, Charlotte Nicole Davis

Amazon.com: The Good Luck Girls eBook : Davis, Charlotte Nicole: Kindle  Store

GENRES: historical fiction/alternate history, fantasy, paranormal, LGBTQ+

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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.

The Black Flamingo, Dean Atta

Amazon.com: The Black Flamingo: 9780062990297: Atta, Dean: Books

GENRES: contemporary, realistic fiction, novels in verse, LGBTQ+

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Again—novels in verse aren’t my usual choice for reading, but The Black Flamingo is a must-read! A beautiful coming-of-age story about growing up mixed-race and gay and discovering drag.

A Chorus Rises (A Song Below Water, #2), Bethany C. Morrow

A Chorus Rises eBook by Bethany C. Morrow - 9781250316028 | Rakuten Kobo  United States

GENRES: contemporary, magical realism

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

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

Every Body Looking by 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.

When You Were Everything, Ashley Woodfolk

Amazon.com: When You Were Everything: 9781524715915: Woodfolk, Ashley: Books

GENRES: contemporary, realistic fiction, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

When You Were Everything is the perfect book for anyone who has had a close friendship deteriorate. It’s messy, it’s raw, it’s painful, but above all, it felt so real and wonderfully genuine.

Ace of Spades, Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Amazon.com: Ace of Spades eBook : Àbíké-Íyímídé, Faridah: Kindle Store

GENRES: mystery, thriller, contemporary, realistic fiction, LGBTQ+

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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.

You Should See Me in a Crown, Leah Johnson

You Should See Me in a Crown - Indiana Authors Awards

GENRES: contemporary, realistic fiction, romance, LGBTQ+

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

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!

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Today’s song:

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

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YA Reads for Latinx Heritage Month (2021 Edition)

Happy Friday, bibliophiles! Would you look at that…this post isn’t a Goodreads Monday or a Book Review Tuesday…shocking…

Anyway, I thought I’d make a special post today because here in the U.S., Latinx Heritage Month started on September 15! I’m half Latina myself, and celebrating this part of my heritage in the form of literature has been something I’ve loved to do more recently. Representation matters, and there’s nothing like the giddy feeling of seeing part of yourself represented in a book. I did a post like this last year, but I decided to do another one this year to showcase some of the fantastic Latinx books I’ve read lately.

If you want to check out my post from last year, click here!

Let’s begin, shall we?

Latina Hispanic Heritage Month Sticker by Fabiola Lara / Casa Girl for iOS  & Android | GIPHY

THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S YA BOOKS FOR LATINX HERITAGE MONTH – 2021 EDITION

Blanca & Roja, Anna-Marie McLemore

Amazon.com: Blanca & Roja: 9781250162717: McLemore, Anna-Marie: Books

GENRES: Retellings, fantasy, magical realism, LGBTQ+

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

At this point, I’m convinced that Anna-Marie McLemore is the once and future master of magical realism. Their writing never disappoints, always luscious, immersive, and blooming with flowers. Blanca & Roja was no exception!

Blazewrath Games, Amparo Ortiz

Amazon.com: Blazewrath Games eBook : Ortiz, Amparo: Kindle Store

GENRES: Fantasy, urban fantasy, LGBTQ+

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

If your favorite part of the Harry Potter series was the Triwizard Tournament and all the dragons, then you HAVE to pick this one up! Perfect for readers who love competition-centered books. Plus, dragons. Need I say more?

Sanctuary, Paola Mendoza & Abby Sher

Sanctuary by Paola Mendoza

GENRE: Dystopia, fiction

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This one’s a gut-wrencher, but it should be required reading. Just like Internment, it shows an all-too plausible world where xenophobia and hatred runs even more rampant than today.

Cemetery Boys, Aiden Thomas

Amazon.com: Cemetery Boys: 9781250250469: Thomas, Aiden: Books

GENRES: Paranormal fantasy, romance, LGBTQ+

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

I didn’t like this one quite as much as everybody else seemed to, but it was still a fun read! LGBTQ+ Latinx rep is always super important, and it’s refreshing to see some of the rep in this novel. Plus, one of the few YA books I’ve read with Colombian-American rep!!

Clap When You Land, Elizabeth Acevedo

Amazon.com: Clap When You Land: 9780062882769: Acevedo, Elizabeth: Books

GENRES: Novels in verse/poetry, fiction, LGBTQ+, contemporary

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

At this point, Elizabeth Acevedo can do no wrong. Clap When You Land is just as much of a force of nature as her other novels, and her writing never fails to stir all kinds of emotions up in me.

Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything, Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

Amazon.com: Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything eBook :  Gilliland, Raquel Vasquez: Kindle Store

GENRES: Fiction, contemporary, magical realism, science fiction

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This was an unexpected 5-star read for me! A textbook example of what a good genre-bending novel should be; the sci-fi, realistic, and fantasy elements blended together seamlessly for an unforgettable book.

All These Monsters, Amy Tintera

Amazon.com: All These Monsters: 9780358012405: Tintera, Amy: Books

GENRES: Dystopia, paranormal fantasy, science fiction, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

If finishing the B.P.R.D. comics left an empty space in your heart, what are you doing? PICK UP THIS BOOK! All These Monsters satisfied all of my paranormal needs, and it also has a half white, half Latina protagonist! Seeing characters like me represented always fills my heart with joy.

The Weight of Feathers, Anna-Marie McLemore

Amazon.com: The Weight of Feathers: A Novel: 9781250058652: McLemore,  Anna-Marie: Books

GENRES: Magical realism, retellings, fiction, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Beginning and ending with an Anna-Marie McLemore novel because a) they never disappoint, and b) people need to read their books more! Their debut novel is no exception.

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! What are your favorite YA books by Latinx authors? Any recommendations for me? Tell me in the comments!

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Today’s song:

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

Posted in Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (8/16/21) – The Seventh Raven

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.

I don’t remember where I first heard about this one, but the concept of a fairytale retelling written in verse immediately caught my eye! This one has lowish ratings on Goodreads, but I’m still willing to take a chance.

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (8/16/21) – THE SEVENTH RAVEN by David Elliott

Amazon.com: The Seventh Raven eBook : Elliott, David, Cai, Rovina: Kindle  Store

Blurb from Goodreads:

And these are the sons
Of good Jack and good Jane
The eldest is Jack

And the next one is Jack
And the third one’s called Jack
And the fourth’s known as Jack
And the fifth says he’s Jack
And they call the sixth Jack
But the seventh’s not Jack
The seventh is Robyn

And this is his story

When Robyn and his brothers are turned into ravens through the work of an unlucky curse, a sister is their only hope to become human again. Though she’s never met her brothers, April will stop at nothing to restore their humanity. But what about Robyn, who always felt a greater affinity to the air than to the earth-bound lives of his family?

David Elliott’s latest novel in verse explores the unintended consequences of our actions, no matter our intentions, and is filled with powerful messages teased from a Grimms’ fairy tale. Stunning black-and-white illustrations throughout by Rovina Cai.

So why do I want to read this?

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Plenty of fairytale retellings have come and gone in the YA market, but The Seventh Raven stands out to me in a number of ways. First off – I’ve never seen a fairytale retelling in poetry form! It’s such a unique take on the genre, and I’m eager to see how Elliott pulls it off.

Second, I’m not familiar with the fairytale it’s based on (The Seven Ravens, the Brothers Grimm), so this will be my first time experiencing it in a retelling. This book sounds appropriately dark for a Grimm retelling, and I love the idea that there is always someone who prefers the “curse” to the life they once led. Plus, I loved Rovina Cai’s illustrations in Elatsoe, so I’m excited to see her illustrations in The Seventh Raven!

In conclusion: I’m here for a retelling-in-verse of a dark fairytale that I’m not familiar with!

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Today’s song:

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

Posted in Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (2/1/21) – Chlorine Sky

Happy Monday, bibliophiles, and more importantly, happy Black History Month!

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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.

For this month, I’ve decided that I’ll shift my focus to books by Black authors on my TBR for my Goodreads Monday memes. I’m also planning on doing a post about it, so stay tuned…

This one was published a little under a month ago. I don’t often reach for novels in verse, but this one sounds quite powerful.

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (2/1/21) – CHLORINE SKY by Mahogany L. Browne

Amazon.com: Chlorine Sky (9780593176399): Browne, Mahogany L.: Books

Blurb from Goodreads:

A novel-in-verse about a young girl coming-of-age and stepping out of the shadow of her former best friend. Perfect for readers of Elizabeth Acevedo and Nikki Grimes. 

She looks me hard in my eyes
& my knees lock into tree trunks
My eyes don’t dance like my heartbeat racing
They stare straight back hot daggers.
I remember things will never be the same.
I remember things.

With gritty and heartbreaking honesty, Mahogany L. Browne delivers a novel-in-verse about broken promises, fast rumors, and when growing up means growing apart from your best friend.

So why do I want to read this?

Via pinkcollapse on tumblr shared by Jaimee on We Heart It

First off, I just love that title! It’s so unique and fascinating, conjures up all sorts of interesting imagery for me.

The main draw about this novel in verse for me is the theme of growing away from toxic relationships, and learning to differentiate between the friends you should keep and the ones you should leave behind, however painful that can be. I’ve had the misfortune of getting myself into more than a few toxic friendships over the course of my short life, but I know from experience that it always hurts somehow. It’s a weird process–it’s messy, it’s ugly, but it’s inevitable. This seems to be one of many focal points in Chlorine Sky, and if the reviews I’ve skimmed are any indication, it sounds like a resonant and powerful novel in verse!

I have it on hold at the library, so hopefully I can get it soon…

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Today’s song:

The sheer nostalgia this song holds for me 😭

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

Posted in Books

YA Reads for National Latinx Heritage Month

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles!

As some of you may have known, National Latinx Heritage Month started yesterday (September 15th), and ends on October 15th. So for the occasion, I figured that I would compile a list of some YA books of all genres! (All of the books listed are #OwnVoices in that respect.) As someone who’s half Latinx, this month is definitely close to my heart, and I always love seeing latinx characters on the YA scene.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S YA READS FOR NATIONAL LATINX HERITAGE MONTH

The Poet X, Elizabeth Acevedo

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

GENRE: Poetry/novels in verse, contemporary fiction, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This one was recommended to me by a friend, and it’s easily one of the best–if not the best, period–novels in verse that I’ve ever read. I know it’s gotten quite a lot of hype in the past few years, but I can say with certainty that it deserves it all.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Hardcover) |  Politics and Prose Bookstore

GENRE: Contemporary fiction, LGBTQ+, romance, coming-of-age

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

It’s been years since I’ve read this one, but it’s such an important novel–not just in the Latinx representation, but in the LGBTQ+ representation as well!

Nocturna (A Forgery of Magic, #1), Maya Motayne

Amazon.com: Nocturna (9780062842732): Motayne, Maya: Books

GENRE: High fantasy

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Although I wasn’t as big a fan of this one as some of the others on this list, I loved the Latinx inspired world/magic system! One part that stood out to me was the fact that all the spells were Spanish verbs, which…okay, not gonna lie, took some of the surprise away from what the characters were about to do when I understood the words, but it’s an interesting aspect. And you can’t deny how gorgeous that cover is…

When the Moon Was Ours, Anna-Marie McLemore

Amazon.com: When the Moon Was Ours: A Novel (9781250058669): McLemore,  Anna-Marie: Books

GENRE: Fantasy, fiction, magical realism, LGBTQ+

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

I swear, Anna-Maria McLemore can do no wrong. Her prose is so beautiful, and it’s wonderfully diverse as well. There isn’t a book by her that I wouldn’t recommend, though I haven’t read Dark and Deepest Red or The Weight of Feathers yet…

Fire With Fire, Destiny Soria

Fire with Fire by Destiny Soria

GENRE: Urban fantasy, fiction, LGBTQ+, paranormal, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

I recently received this one as an eARC, and I don’t regret it! Both of the main characters are mixed race (half Latinx/half white), and Dani is bisexual! It’s the first time in a bit that representation in a book got me THAT excited. Plus, there’s the general fantasy fun of butt-kicking girls teaming up with butt-kicking dragons.

With the Fire on High, Elizabeth Acevedo

Amazon.com: With the Fire on High: From the winner of the CILIP Carnegie  Medal 2019 (9781471409004): Acevedo, Elizabeth: Books

GENRE: Contemporary fiction, realistic fiction, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Another powerful tale from Elizabeth Acevedo, another gorgeous cover! This book is not only guaranteed to tug at your heartstrings, but guaranteed to make you REALLY hungry.

They Both Die at the End, Adam Silvera

Amazon.com: They Both Die at the End (9780062688514): Silvera, Adam: Books

GENRE: Contemporary fiction, science fiction, LGBTQ+, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Absolutely worth a read, but it’s one of those books that you have to be in a good, stable mood to read. I mean, they tell you exactly what’s going to happen, but it’s no less rough…[sniffles]

Wild Beauty, Anna-Marie McLemore

Amazon.com: Wild Beauty: A Novel (9781250124555): McLemore, Anna-Marie:  Books

GENRE: Fantasy, magical realism, LGBTQ+, fiction, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

This was my first exposure to McLemore, and it’s left a lasting impression on me to this day. It’s the kind of prose that makes you smell flowers and grass and want to dance through fields of colorful wildflowers.

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Have you read any of these novels? What did you think? Are there any other great books by Latinx authors that you recommend? (Everybody’s putting Cemetery Boys on their lists…I still haven’t gotten around to reading it, but I have it on hold at the library…)

Another announcement before I go–guess what else started yesterday? Bisexual visibility week! Bi visibility day is September 23rd, so I’ll be compiling another list, this time for books with bisexual protagonists and authors. Stay tuned!

Today’s song:

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