Posted in Books

YA Books for AAPI Heritage Month (2022 Edition)

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

For those of you who didn’t know, in the U.S., May is Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage month! I made a list of YA reads for the occasion last year (click here if you’d like to parse through), but since I’ve read so many more incredible books by AAPI authors since last May, I figured I would make another list. These are books from all genres, but all of them are from authors of AAPI heritage. And with all of these kinds of posts, I always want to impress the following: reading diversely should never be confined to one part of the year. That being said, it’s always important to uplift marginalized voices—AAPI in this case—and reading is a key way to do so.

Let’s begin, shall we?

THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S YA BOOKS FOR AAPI HERITAGE MONTH (2022 EDITION)

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea – Maggie Tokuda Hall

GENRES: Fantasy, romance, LGBTQ+

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

One of my favorite reads of last year, The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea was a raw and tender read filled with pirates, mermaids, and resonant love. Highly recommended!

The Weight of Our Sky – Hanna Alkaf

GENRES: Historical fiction, fiction, mental illness/disability

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A searing and powerful read that follows the story of a sixteen-year-old girl with OCD in the midst of the Malaysian race riots in the late sixties.

Gearbreakers – Zoe Hana Mikuta

GENRES: Science fiction, dystopia, romance, LGBTQ+

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Gearbreakers is no ordinary YA dystopia—filled with mechs, found family, and fierce feminism and queerness, this is a must-read!

The Ones We’re Meant to Find – Joan He

GENRES: Science fiction, dystopia, mystery

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Mind-bending and endlessly thought-provoking, The Ones We’re Meant to Find is a unique and unforgettable tale of sisterhood in the darkest of times.

Rise of the Red Hand – Olivia Chadha

GENRES: Science fiction, dystopia, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Rise of the Red Hand certainly wasn’t perfect, but it’s best element was its representation; it’s one of the only dystopias that I’ve seen that’s set in South Asia!

Forest of Souls – Lori M. Lee

GENRES: Fantasy, high fantasy

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A rich and spooky fantasy that’s perfect for readers who like their traditional fantasy with a dash of necromancy, vengeful souls, and spiders.

Iron Widow – Xiran Jay Zhao

GENRES: Dystopia, science fiction, LGBTQ+, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Raw, fierce, and relentless, Iron Widow is a searing ode to those who are unafraid to take down the status quo—no matter the stakes.

Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know – Samira Ahmed

GENRES: Contemporary, fiction, historical fiction

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A love letter to all of the women that history erases, Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know is a sharply feminist story set in alternating timelines.

Summer Bird Blue – Akemi Dawn Bowman

GENRES: Contemporary, fiction, LGBTQ+

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A powerful and unforgettable story of grief and starting over. Akemi Dawn Bowman’s writing never fails to stir up all kinds of emotions in me.

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think of them? What are your favorite YA books by AAPI authors? Let me know in the comments!

Today’s song:

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

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?

Black History Month Black Lives Matter GIF - Black History Month Black  Lives Matter Mlk - Discover & Share GIFs

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!

We Are Black History I Am Black History Sticker - We Are Black History I Am  Black History Africanamerican - Discover & Share GIFs

Today’s song:

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

Posted in Goodreads Monday

Goodreads Monday (12/6/21) – Clownfish

Happy Monday, bibliophiles! Wow, I’m SO relieved to be finally done with that AP Gov project…

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme originally created by Lauren’s Page Turners, but has since moved to Budget Tales Book Blog. All you have to do to participate is pick a book from your Goodreads TBR, and explain why you want to read it.

This one’s been sitting on my TBR for about a year, and it sounds like a strange and wonderfully poignant story of grief.

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (12/6/21) – CLOWNFISH by Alan Durant

Amazon.com: Clownfish: 9781406374629: ALAN DURANT: Books

Blurb from Goodreads:

Dak’s dad has been dead for seven days when suddenly he reappears. He’s the same in almost every way, with one startling exception: Dad has turned into a clownfish, and now lives in a tank at their local aquarium. Dak is delighted by the news – he has Dad back, even if he isn’t quite as he was before. 

Deciding to keep Dad’s transformation a secret, Dak visits him at the aquarium as often as he can, and ends up spending so much time there that they offer him a job. This is how he comes to meet Violet, the owner’s prickly but kindhearted niece; when the aquarium is threatened with closure, the pair must work together to save it. 

For Dak, the stakes couldn’t be higher … after all, if the aquarium shuts down, what will happen to the fish? In parts wry, moving and undoubtedly strange, this beautifully crafted story will stay with you long after the final page.

So why do I want to read this?

Coral Reef Aquarium gif 02 on Make a GIF

This one’s classified as YA on Goodreads, but it looks like it’s more middle grade—Dak, the protagonist, is 12, according to the reviews. I know I sound like a broken record by now, but I really need to read more middle grade. And this one sounds delightfully strange and sweet.

There’s a challenge in depicting grief in the eyes of a kid, especially with how they process it. The case of Clownfish is particularly interesting; with a little bit of magical realism, Dak’s dead dad is now a clownfish. It sounds like the kind of book that would be great as an animated movie—stop-motion or 2D is the feeling I’m getting. Either way, this one looks like I’d love it, but I’m sensing a 50-50 chance that I’ll cry.

clownfish fish selection | REEF2REEF Saltwater and Reef Aquarium Forum

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 Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (9/28/21) – Final Draft

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

This book has been on my radar for at least a year and a half. I was drawn to it because of the premise of a character who is an aspiring sci-fi writer (like me!) going through high school. I bought it on my Kindle recently, and though my expectations were high, I found Final Draft to be enjoyable, but a little lacking–both in development and length.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Final Draft by Riley Redgate

Final Draft – Riley Redgate

Laila Piedra dreams of becoming a sci-fi author, and she spends every moment she can crafting new worlds on her laptop. Her biggest supporter is her creative writing teacher, Mr. Madison, who is always there to lend a word of advice or support. But when Mr. Madison gets in a car accident and can no longer teacher, he’s replaced by Nadiya Nazarenko, a renowned author who doles out scathing critiques faster than the speed of light. Pressured to impress her new teacher, Laila stretches herself into places that she never would have dreamed of. But what will it cost her dream of writing–and her mental health?

Wheres The Rest GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY
actual footage of me once I finished the book

TW/CW: underage drinking, fatphobia, depression, death, descriptions of injury

Final Draft had the makings of a great story, but it only felt like half a book. It left me wanting more in the end–everything felt so crammed and rushed, and as a result, all that could have been good ended up suffering. However, that wasn’t to say that it wasn’t at least enjoyable–it was a decent story, but it felt unnecessarily truncated.

I’ll start out with what I liked–the representation! Final Draft was a very diverse book–Laila is mixed-raced and half-Latina, and her rep made me feel so seen! She’s also plus-size and pansexual, and that combination of representation is always fantastic to see. Additionally, her love interest is Korean-American and a lesbian, and there are several Latinx side characters. So I owe a big thank you to Riley Redgate for all of that great rep!

Now, Final Draft started out with a lot of promise. The setup in the first third or so had the makings of a great story–a clear setup and a difficult conflict for Laila to overcome. But at about the 40% mark, everything felt crammed into a scant amount of pages. Everything happened at almost breakneck speed, shoving key conflicts into far fewer pages than was necessary to develop the events of the novel. (For reference, the Kindle edition of Final Draft was only 272 pages, so there could have been so much more content to bulk everything up and make it coherent!) It all felt so rushed, and as a result, the message came across muddy and underdeveloped. There are so many themes that are so important to discuss–the cautionary tale of the “suffering artist,” mental health and depression, and grief, to name a few–but they were all glossed over in such a short amount of time that they were all unfinished and badly handled.

That being said, although the story was unnecessarily rushed, at least the topics discussed were there. For creative people, mental health is so often neglected in the face of criticism and perfectionism, and having a story like Laila’s is an important one not just for writers, but any young person with creative passions. Laila’s story needs to be told–I just wish it was fully fleshed out.

All in all, a book that had the potential to be potent and powerful, but suffered from excessive rushing. 3 stars.

i love you ! [ 𝗺𝗮𝗶𝗿𝗶 ]. | Anime scenery, Anime gifts, Aesthetic gif

Final Draft is a standalone, but Riley Redgate is also the author of Noteworthy, Seven Ways We Lie, and the forthcoming Alone Out Here, which is slated for release in April 2022.

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 Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (9/21/21) – Harley in the Sky

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I’ve been a fan of Akemi Dawn Bowman ever since I read Starfish around three years ago. This is the latest of her books that I’ve read, and I’m glad to say that it doesn’t disappoint – just as poignant and gut-wrenching as her other novels!

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: Harley in the Sky: 9781534437128: Bowman, Akemi Dawn: Books

Harley in the Sky – Akemi Dawn Bowman

Harley Milano grew up surrounded by vibrant costumes and trapeze artists in her parents’ circus. Her dream has always been to join the circus, but her parents want her to go to college for computer science instead.

After a fight on her eighteenth birthday, Harley goes against everything that they’ve ever wished for–she runs away and joins the Maison du Mystère, the rival traveling circus. There, she is thrust into the world of the circus, quickly falling in love and rising to the top of the hierarchy as one of its lead trapeze artists. But Harley’s past is catching up to her, and she must grapple with the people she betrayed in order to see her dreams come to fruition.

WIL WHEATON dot TUMBLR dot COM

TW/CW: depression, racism, emotional manipulation, suicidal ideation

I think all of us have read plenty of books about characters running away to pursue their dreams and leaving everything they knew behind. But very few discuss the consequences–the people they leave behind and the emotional wounds that they may open up. Harley in the Sky is one such book, and man, it was just as heart-wrenching as Akemi Dawn Bowman’s other novels. All at once tender, heavy, and messy, it grapples with all sorts of hefty emotions and handles them all with aplomb.

Harley was, by all means, a very unlikeable character. She has a plethora of issues that she leaves undealt with when she takes off in search of her circus dreams, but you can’t help but root for her. I will say that I related to her on one plane: that of her mixed-race identity. Both of Harley’s parents are biracial, and as a result, she feels as though she doesn’t fit in anywhere. As a mixed-race person myself, Bowman handled her identity in a way that really resonated with me. And despite how tangled of a character Harley is, she displays some significant growth over the course of the novel, and by the end, she begins to reconcile with everything that she’s done and everything she’s left behind.

The rest of the characters also shone! There was such a unique and diverse cast, and the circuses that Bowman created felt like ones that might travel cross-country in the real world. Each character was refreshingly distinct, all with unique backstories and personalities. I especially loved Vas–yeah, yeah, I’m a sucker for the brooding British guys who play instruments, but he was such a well-fleshed-out character, both standing on his own and as a love interest for Harley.

As with all of Akemi Dawn Bowman’s novels, Harley in the Sky deals with some heavy topics. I won’t lie–it was a hard book to read at times, but Bowman handles all of these topics, from undiagnosed mental illness to toxic relationships, with incredible skill. All of her books stir up such profound emotion in me, and this one was no exception.

All in all, a novel that was all at once tender and heartbreaking that will leave a permanent mark on your heart. 4 stars!

circus gifs Page 12 | WiffleGif

Harley in the Sky is a standalone, but Akemi Dawn Bowman is also the author of Starfish, Summer Bird Blue, and the Infinity Courts series, which includes The Infinity Courts, and the forthcoming The Genesis Wars.

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 Books

YA Books for Bisexual Visibility Week 💗💜💙(2021 Edition)

Happy Saturday, bibliophiles!

As well as this month being Latinx Heritage month, September 16 – September 23 is Bisexual Visibility Week! Celebrate Bisexuality Day/Bisexual Visibility Day is also on September 23rd. It’s such an important week/day to celebrate; even within the LGBTQ+ community, bisexual people are often at the brunt of all kinds of horrible stigmas and are often invalidated and passed off as simply gay or straight. Let the record show that bisexual people are always, ALWAYS valid! No matter your dating history, relationship, or where you stand on the bisexual spectrum, you are loved, you are valid, you are beautiful, and you are bisexual no matter what anyone else tells you. YOU are the only person who gets a say in your identity. 💗💜💙

I did a post like this last year (click here if you want to read it!), but I figured I would recommend some more YA reads with bi characters that I’ve read since then. I’m always trying to read more, so if you have any recs for me, please don’t hesitate to comment!

Let’s begin, shall we?

Bisexual GIF - Bisexual - Discover & Share GIFs

THE BOOKISH MUTANT’S YA READS FOR BISEXUAL VISIBILITY WEEK (2021 EDITION)

Sick Kids in Love, Hannah Moskowitz

Amazon.com: Sick Kids In Love eBook : Moskowitz, Hannah: Kindle Store

GENRES: Romance, realistic fiction, disability

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

You know what’s even better than disabled characters? Queer disabled characters! Both Isabel and Sasha (the protagonist and love interest of Sick Kids in Love) are disabled, and Sasha is bisexual too!

The Henna Wars, Adiba Jaigirdar

Amazon.com: The Henna Wars eBook : Jaigirdar, Adiba: Kindle Store

GENRES: Romance, realistic fiction, contemporary

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Flávia, the love interest of The Henna Wars, is bisexual, as well as Black and Brazilian-Irish! It’s always refreshing to see queer POC characters and romances, and this one 100% delivered.

The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre, Robin Talley

The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre by Robin Talley

GENRES: Romance, rom-com, realistic fiction

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

If you’re a fan of musical theatre and rom-coms, this is the perfect book for you! Both Melody and her love interest, Odile, are bisexual!

Ghost Wood Song, Erica Waters

Amazon.com: Ghost Wood Song: 9780062894229: Waters, Erica: Books

GENRES: Paranormal, fantasy, horror, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Atmospheric and creepy, this book is the perfect read for fans of Sawkill Girls! Shady Grove, the protagonist, is bisexual.

Verona Comics, Jennifer Dugan

Buy Verona Comics Book Online at Low Prices in India | Verona Comics  Reviews & Ratings - Amazon.in

GENRES: Retellings, romance, realistic fiction

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

If a Romeo & Juliet retelling where the families of the two protagonists own rival comic shops doesn’t sell you, then I don’t know what will. Ridley is bisexual, and Jubilee is pansexual!

Music from Another World, Robin Talley

Music from Another World by Robin Talley

GENRES: Historical fiction, fiction, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

This is a fantastic piece of historical fiction set at the forefront of the gay rights movement in 1970’s San Francisco! It also centers around the romance of a lesbian girl and a bisexual girl.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn, Melissa Bashardoust

Amazon.com: Girl, Serpent, Thorn: 9781250196149: Bashardoust, Melissa: Books

GENRES: Retellings, fantasy, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

If you’re a fan of fantasy with atmospheric prose, then Girl, Serpent, Thorn is the book for you! Based on Persian mythology, this was an interesting retelling.

I Wish You All the Best, Mason Deaver

Amazon.com: I Wish You All the Best: 9781338306125: Deaver, Mason: Books

GENRES: Contemporary, realistic fiction, romance

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The great thing about the bisexual rep in I Wish You All the Best is as follows: not only is the protagonist nonbinary, but the bisexual rep isn’t boiled down to just girls and boys! Ben is attracted to men and masculine-presenting people; it’s really important to acknowledge that bisexuality isn’t the concrete attraction to girls and boys – while it’s true for a lot of bi people, there are plenty of bi people whose attraction spans over different parts of the gender spectrum.

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! What are your favorite YA books with bi rep? Do you have any recommendations for me? Have you ever read any of these books? Tell me in the comments!

Bi shy and ready to cry bi GIF on GIFER - by Karamar

Today’s song:

this isn’t the version I have on iTunes but I LOVE this version

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

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (5/25/21) – Summer Bird Blue

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles! Hope you’re all doing okay. I’m finally having a little peace after this awful school year…I still have one more day left, BUT I’M FINALLY DONE WITH PRECALC! MY SOUL IS NO LONGER BEING ACTIVELY CRUSHED!

[ahem] anyway

This book was been on my TBR since the dawn of time, added soon after I finished Bowman’s debut, Starfish. I finally got around to picking it up at the library recently, and I’m so glad I did! An immensely powerful portrait of sisterhood, grief, and music.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: Summer Bird Blue (9781481487757): Bowman, Akemi Dawn: Books

Summer Bird Blue – Akemi Dawn Bowman

Music is everything to sisters Rumi and Lea, who write songs together based on spur-of-the-moment wordplay. But when Lea is killed in a car crash, Rumi’s life is upended completely. In a fit of grief, her mother sends her to Hawaii to live with her aunt, hoping that there, she’ll be able to process her emotions.

Instead, Rumi finds herself even more depressed than before, grappling with the absence of Lea and the waning of her creativity. But with the help of a few unexpected neighbors, Rumi begins to realize that her love of music – and the people around her – are the key to overcoming her great loss.

Tweet Roundup | The Most Wholesome Reasons I'm Not Crying, You're Crying |  Flight of the conchords, The wedding singer, Bones funny
me internally while reading this book

TW/CW: car crash, death, loss of loved one (sibling), panic attacks, near-death experiences (drowning)

GAH.

It’s been years since I read Starfish, but what I remembered most was the powerful gut feeling it stirred up in me. But reading Summer Bird Blue made me realize what a profound talent that Akemi Dawn Bowman has, and it’s proof that sometimes, books don’t just make you feel ordinary emotion. Sometimes they make you feel raw emotion right down to your core.

Fair warning: Summer Bird Blue is one of those books that you should probably be in a good and stable place mentally before reading. I probably couldn’t have read it myself at certain (recent) points in my life, so I’m glad I read it when I did. It’s heavy: it’ll make you hurt, it’ll make you feel low, but that’s exactly what grieving feels like. The best part of this novel may be how Bowman handles grief; it’s something that holds you in its jaws and won’t let go until it’s had its fill of you. Rumi’s struggles with coping with her younger sister’s death felt all too real, from the physical symptoms to the creeping self doubt about relationships with the deceased. It’s unflinching and it doesn’t hold back, but that completes the picture of not just Rumi’s grief, but the grief of so many others.

What also stood out to me was how well-executed Rumi was as a flawed character. Even though she’s lost her sister, you don’t feel 100% sympathetic for her – she’s selfish at time, has a tendency to lash out at those she loves, and is more than a bit lacking in the apologizing department. But having Rumi be a less-than-perfect person is part of what made her and her journey all the more authentic. She feels real, fleshed-out. And her representation is also great – not only is she biracial, but she’s aromantic-asexual as well! I don’t see a whole lot of asexuality represented in YA literature (though I’m steadily seeing it increasing), so it’s great to have characters like Rumi out there.

Rumi’s personal journey was nothing short of beautiful – character development at its finest. She experiments, she makes bad decisions, she tries new things, but ultimately discovers the healing power of creativity. For her, music was intrinsically tied to her sister, but creativity was, along with her newfound relationships, was what brought her out of the darkness. And I think that’s just lovely. We love our passions dearly, but we always underestimate their power to truly save us, and that’s what makes our passions our passions.

All in all, a raw and beautiful exploration of grief and healing 4 stars!

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Summer Bird Blue is a standalone, but Akemi Dawn Bowman is also the author of Starfish, Harley in the Sky, and The Infinity Courts; the first two are standalone novels, but The Infinity Courts is a trilogy, with the last two books slated for release in 2022 and 2023, respectively.

Today’s song:

woke up with this song in my head

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 (3/15/21) – You Should See Me in a Crown

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

I needed a few days’ break last week, so that’s the reason behind the lack of a weekly update last week. That, and I had a bit of an underwhelming reading week. But now I have an eARC, a new book from the mail, and a book I love to re-read for book club for this week, so here’s hoping things will get a bit better.

Anyways, 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 shelved this one back in May and I’ve had it on hold at the library for ages, so hopefully I might actually get to read it soon…but in the meantime, I’m all for POC leads and wlw romance!

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (3/15/21) – YOU SHOULD SEE ME IN A CROWN by Leah Johnson

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

Blurb from Goodreads:

Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay — Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.

But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down . . . until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.

The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?

So why do I want to read this?

Pin em Chess

I’ve had this one on hold since…oh, maybe July or August, AND YET SOMEHOW I’M ONLY #11 ON 8 COPIES… [screams into the void]

[ahem] Anyway, contemporary/rom-com isn’t my favorite genre, but You Should See Me in a Crown looks like it has all the elements that’ll hook me in! It’s so wonderful to see queer, POC leads becoming more prevalent in YA literature (and literature as a whole), and I can already tell that I’ll be rooting for Liz. And SAPPHIC ROMANCE, to top it all off! Like I said, I don’t read many rom-coms, but we need more queer rom-coms out there, absolutely.

That, combined with a (friendly?) rivalry for Prom Queen and some determination and friends-to-lovers romance (from the looks of it), You Should See Me in a Crown looks like it has the perfect recipe for a book I’d adore!

Allison Tolman Waiting GIF by ABC Network - Find & Share on GIPHY
me “patiently” waiting for my hold to arrive

Today’s song:

It took a while for this song to grow on me for some reason but I love it now

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 (2/15/21) – Dear Haiti, Love Alaine

Happy Monday, bibliophiles! Wow, can’t believe we’re halfway through February already…

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 with novels by Black authors for Goodreads Monday this February, here’s one that’s been sitting on my TBR for *way* too long. I’m always up for novels with different formats, and this one, paired with a distinct-sounding writing style, sounds like such a good book!

Let’s begin, shall we?

GOODREADS MONDAY (2/15/21) – DEAR HAITI, LOVE ALAINE by Maika & Maritza Moulite

Image result for dear haiti love alaine

Blurb from Goodreads:

When a school presentation goes very wrong, Alaine Beauparlant finds herself suspended, shipped off to Haiti and writing the report of a lifetime…

You might ask the obvious question: What do I, a seventeen-year-old Haitian American from Miami with way too little life experience, have to say about anything?

Actually, a lot.

Thanks to “the incident” (don’t ask), I’m spending the next two months doing what my school is calling a “spring volunteer immersion project.” It’s definitely no vacation. I’m toiling away under the ever-watchful eyes of Tati Estelle at her new nonprofit. And my lean-in queen of a mother is even here to make sure I do things right. Or she might just be lying low to dodge the media sharks after a much more public incident of her own…and to hide a rather devastating secret.

All things considered, there are some pretty nice perks…like flirting with Tati’s distractingly cute intern, getting actual face time with my mom and experiencing Haiti for the first time. I’m even exploring my family’s history—which happens to be loaded with betrayals, superstitions and possibly even a family curse.

You know, typical drama. But it’s nothing I can’t handle.

So why do I want to read this?

Image result for red gif tumblr

There aren’t enough books in the world that are bold enough to be told in an almost exclusively epistolary way; it’s hard, absolutely, but the payoff, if done well, is something that’s truly unique. (See: The Illuminae Files). Dear Haiti, Love Alaine seems to consist of articles, diary entries, emails, and letters, so I’m excited to see how that format weaves into the story! Judging from the description, it looks like a perfect fit.

Also judging from the description, the writing sounds wonderfully tongue-in-cheek, and I’m looking forward to some laughs and misadventures! Alaine sounds like a reasonably flawed protagonist, but just the kind of heroine you’d want to root for. Plus, THAT COVER…THE RED…

Image result for kermit gif

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…

Can Not Wait GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

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!