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I Lived My Stefan Urquelle Fantasy With Of Princes And Promises

This is such a pretty cover
  • Sandhya Menon
  • 7th published book; Book 2 of a Series-Rosetta Academy
  • Genre: YA Contemporary Fairy tale Retelling
  • Heritage/Background: Indian-American
  • IG: @sandhyamenonbooks; Twitter: @smenonbooks
  • Website: http://www.sandhyamenon.com/
  • Release: 6/8/2021 (You don’t have to wait! YAY!)
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse
  • Favorite Character: Jaya! She served as the voice of reason and kept it real while preserving others feelings (a balance that can be quite tough to strike)! She was the main character in the first book in the series so it was so good to see her again! My fav from the first book only made cameos because of stuff that went down in the first!
  • Favorite Quote(s): “So you can go Falk yourself. And I’ll bring my own prince.”-Caterina. I felt the mic drop in my SPIRIT with this line!
Caterina when she said what she said!

I’m going to start this by saying that no one is surprised that this post exists…for those who have been rolling with me for a while, know how much I love Sandhya Menon…her books bring light when my spirit feels dark! She’s just so awesome! I’m also really excited to be a part of the Blog tour for Of Princes Of Promises, which is the second book in the Rosetta Academy series, with some of my fellow Sandhya’s Sweethearts Street teammers (see the schedule here)! I posted a reel in celebration of OPAP‘s release on IG, you can watch here (It’s super cute, if I do say so myself). Anddd In case you wanted to read my blog post about the first book, Of Curses And Kisses, you can read it here!

Heart hands to Sandhya!

If you’re like me, you love a good retelling and OPAP is a great retelling…This one being the Frog Prince! Even more so than that, I was getting Steve Urkel to Stefan Urquelle in Family Matters vibes at times, which I adored! Rahul was the Steve/Stefan that I never knew I needed and Caterina was the Laura Winslow I never saw coming! For my younger readers, who may not know, Family Matters was that show and you should watch some episodes of it. And Nope, I don’t care if I’m dating myself because that was quality TV but I digress, lol. It also gave Nick Cannon & Christina Milan in Love Don’t Cost A Thing but with the guy doing the favor for the girl (if you are familiar with the movie). If you are into transformations/Make overs, OPAP is definitely the book for you as it was for me!

For reals! (I couldn’t help it for those of you who are Drag Race fans, lol)

Before I get to talking about the 2 characters I really want to talk about, I’m going to say that even though this is a part of a series, this book stands all on its own. You could read OPAP before reading Of Curses And Kisses or after, or just read it alone and it will aye-okay. However, I will say that things will click in terms of character relationships, narratives and some background stories if you do read OCAK then OPAP. There are Easter eggs for this book in OCAK and a bit for the 3rd book in the series, which of course OPAP has some for as well (And to answer your question, yes, I’m very excited for that book too). If you are like me, you like re-entering worlds so you may enjoy reading OCAK first. Either way, you’d be golden!

It’s true! Ignore Myra’s face

I have to start by talking about my loveable and socially awkward know it all Rahul! We didn’t see so much of him in OCAK but enough to know that he would be an interesting character to watch. He’s a no nonsense, tell it like it is type…something we all know I value in a character! Rahul has such a hard time reading the room that he really doesn’t even bother to until it’s slightly too late! He deadpans so much during the book that I really couldn’t help giggling whenever he spoke. Rahul is the friend that says what everyone is thinking but doesn’t want to be the first one to say it and thinks nothing of it until someone points it out that mayyyybe, it wasn’t the time. Think of Steve Urkel going “Did IIIIIIIII dooooo thaaaaaattttttt?” but without the humor, and you basically got some of Rahul’s moments! He has a mind only a motherly type, like Jaya, could love and wants others to love too. Rahul was gifted with a friend circle that is really dope & caring that does love his quirky self (you actually get an intro to them in OCAK).

I love when he said this! But yea, this would be Rahul but not catching it as fast!

When Rahul undergoes his “transformation”, he’s super swoon-worthy like Stefan. Suddenly, Rahul goes from that deadpanner to smooth talker and its enough to give you whiplash! Since books tend to play out like movies in my mind, the “transformation” gave me that moment when Stefan walked out of Steve’s transformation machine (see gif below)! I don’t want to get into the “change” though cause I don’t want to give away the book! Anywayz, you gotta read the book to see what kind of transformation he goes through (I personally love Rahul as is but you can form your own opinion when you meet him)!

It’s low-key this sort of transformation

So when it comes to Caterina, she was NOT my favorite in OCAK…she was very far from a favorite actually…….. but she changed my mind (which is really hard to do). We see such a different side of her, one I think Jaya knew was there but everyone else had to see to believe. Caterina has basically everything and yet, faces quite a few dilemmas, one of the biggest being could she be vulnerable & how deep could that vulnerability go! We see from her interactions with people, including the ones she considered “friends”, that she has this very clear but thick wall up that was hard to knock down. I went into reading this book thinking that I wouldn’t be able to relate at all to Caterina but related so much to this aspect of her the most…yep, my mind was blown too and if you have read OCAK, you may feel the same! She also was like a wealthy Italian Glow Up Laura Winslow at points, which I both loved and hated. She had the brains and the beauty, the things one would admire about Laura Winslow but also the attitude and air of superiority that would make you despise her. But like I said, she changed my mind and I’m actually excited to see her in book 3 (who have I become?! O_O)!

How Laura is looking at Steve is basically how Caterina looks at Rahul at times

Y’all, it’s really hard to talk about second books in a series because you really worry about giving away too much! I also didn’t anticipate drawing such a big parallel between OPAP and Family Matters (it just bees that way sometimes). I really enjoyed this book and like All of Sandhya’s books, I ate this one up pretty quickly. It made me feel a bit nostalgic with the Laura/Steve Urkel vibes and it made me incredibly happy (which is why I used so many Family Matters gifs in this post)! I’m willing to bet that if you read OPAP and have watched Family Matters, you will agree too! If the Rosetta Academy series wasn’t on your radar, I hope it will be now and you decide to pick it up, either from your local library or your favorite bookstore!

Had to put in a fancy one in there cause Caterina is pretty fancy, lol

I’ll end it here but of course, you are always welcome to come find me on these e-streets on the social medias: Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic and Clubhouse @bookishgrlmagic where you can typically find me in book centered clubs/rooms! I’m sending you all tons of bookish love and wishing you the happiest of reading days! Ciao!

I had to give ONE more for the road!
Gotta rep for the Blog Tour!
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Ace Of Spades Made Me Want To Take Off My Earrings And Lace Up My Timbs

Look how BOMB this US cover is!!!!!!!
  • Author: Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
  • Debut
  • Genre: YA Thriller
  • Background: Nigerian-British
  • IG-@faridahlikestea; Twitter-@FaridahLikesTea; https://www.faridahabikeiyimide.com/
  • Release Date: 6/1/2021 (out NAOW in the US!), 6/10/2021 (UK)
  • Publisher: Feiwel And Friends (Imprint of MacMillan)
  • Favorite Character-I’m going with the QUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN CHIAMAKA! If you ever watched 90 Day Fiance, there was a cast member who said “WHO IS AGAINST THE QUEEN WILL DIE!” That quote is what I think of when I think of Chiamaka & potential enemies…she’s just FYRE, A Mood, A Lifestyle…the best to ever do it!
  • Favorite Quote(s)–These are some of Chiamaka’s thoughts: “In this kingdom, the queen doesn’t inherit the crown. To get to the top, she destroys whoever she needs to.” SAAAAAAAAVAGE! “Even though I know I shouldn’t care, it annoys me that when girls know what they want and how they’re going to get it, they’re seen as cocky.” WHHHHHHEEWWWWWWWW PREACH CHI, PREEEEEACCCCHHHHH! Also, let it be a Black girl who knows what they want and it’s like folx are TRIPLE mad about it! “Bitches can smell fear.” GAWD, Chiamaka is so iconic! There is SO MUCH MORE but I want you to read the book so you can take in all of Chiamaka’s glory because sis CAAAARRRRRRIESSSS!

*Warning: There WILL be cussing in this post, Don’t be shocked and don’t come for me! Just letting you know ahead of time so you have your pearls ready to clutch in case you are sensitive to cursing. Sorry, not sorry that I’m not as wholesome as I look, lol.*

I think Chiamaka should’ve said this at some point in the book!

*Cracks knuckles and cues up BlackPink* Sooooooo, I’m not a violent person (okay, yes, I can be despite being a Hufflepuff) but OOOOOOOOOHHHHHHH *Fist to mouth*, I wanted to take my earrings off so bad, grab some vaseline and lace up my timbs (if I still had a pair, I’m failing as a New Yorker right now) while reading this book! I don’t think I’ve wanted to fight so many people in one book, which was basically the entire population, which must’ve been a record! It also poked at my lack of trust in humanity issue because I was lookin’ at EVERYONE sideways… I was like Bruno Mars on some “Is it you?” but it damn sure wasn’t me! These bitches were on some other shit and definitely, their privilege was one of those things they were high off of! The need to bitch slap people was SO STRONG this entire book!

DIS MEEEEEEEEE

So this book is comped as Gossip Girl meets Get Out…and it’s accurate. Though, I have a confession to make…I never watched Gossip Girl (take your judgments somewhere else). SO, I’m going to add I Know What You Did Last Summer and Seven (minus all the gore). When you read this book, you will see JUST how accurate adding those two movies in are if you have ever watched them. I hardly ever pay attention to the comps on books but due to the accuracy, when I speak to people about this book (which has been A LOT, I’m tryna get Faridah these coins), I actually use the comp with my additions. I was recently at a family function talking about this book and several others with others who are librarians & book lovers and THIS BOOK is what perked one of my cousin’s ears up (good call cuzzo, good call). Just like while watching Get Out, I Know What You Did Last Summer and Seven, I felt so many things, all of the things really! I wanted to look away but just couldn’t, which is the same when it came to reading Ace Of Spades…I just COULD NOT put it down and could NOT stop thinking about it! This book NEEDS to be a movie!

Tiffany is me, having a moment about this book

Speaking of not being able to stop thinking about it, my mind was FULL of conspiracy theories…I was constantly DMing Faridah and another bookstagrammer, @recitrachel, with my theories, thoughts, blow ups… I was on one hell of a roller coaster and I wasn’t sitting on it alone, that is for DAMN SURE! If my stomach was dropping, someone else’s stomach would be dropping WITH me! I hate roller coasters, btw, but THIS ONE, I would stay on all day! I was pissed that I had to adult AT ALL because I just wanted to read (maybe I am in the wrong line of work). It was like how dare I need to work to pay bills when I could be reading Ace Of Spades at that moment (capitalism at it’s finest, am I right?)…or why is sleep even necessary when all I want is to read this book, knowing good and damn well I’m going to dream about what was going to happen next (which, this did happen). In fact, in my copy of Ace Of Spades there is a Suspect List on the last page of part 1…this wasn’t a game and I certainly wasn’t here for play play people!

Not you Maya, I’m lookin’ at everyone else Funny!

Speaking of suspect lists, I seriously was looking at ALL THESE BITCHES SIDEWAYS, I’m pretty sure I Side-Eyed the actual book complete with pursed auntie lips at points! Everyone was sus to me, absolutely no one was off the chopping block in my opinion! I was keeping up with shit people said, how I thought they said it and why it was sus… I was a like bookish detective the entire time without any sort of badge. When I say that my ears (despite not listening to it), eyes and mind stayed perked up & on the look out, I mean that shit. This is one book I could NOT let my defenses down on! This book seriously just reaffirmed why I don’t trust people…*coughes* [redacted] *coughes* because SOOOOO MANY REASONS!!!!!! #TrustNoBitch remains a thing, thanks to Ace Of Spades! I can’t stop shouting about this book because it just evokes that energy and I’m not finna apologize for that either! I bet if you read AOS, you will do the exact same, WATCH!

It’s true, I couldn’t trust NONE of those hoes!

Lemme get to talking about the two characters that are pretty much safe to talk about, as this is a duel POV book (which, y’all know I live for multiple POVs) without spoilers, lol! First, I’m going to start with Devon…our dear sweet and slightly shady while being a bit of a wimp Devon! I love Devon, I really really do but sometimes, I just really wanted him to say shit with his chest…like, MY DUDE, don’t keep your thoughts to yourself, say that shit LOUD and don’t back down! If I could’ve stood in front of him and shaken him, I would’ve been like “you just being at that school is an act of resistance, FUCK SHIT UP MY GUY”. If you big mad, BE big mad and put folks in their place rather than turning the other cheek. I understood though, the need to keep quiet because of the stakes at risks but if folks are going to come for you, you might as well put on your big kid drawers, heavy armor and let out that battle cry…nahmean?! I will say that I was super happy when his balls finally dropped and he started to push back in his own way! I had a few proud auntie moments where I may or may not have wiped away a tear in relief that he used his voice! I loved being in his mind but he was no Queen Chiamaka………..speaking of….*Smirks*

Just do it Devon, you will feel so much better when you do!

MY QUEEEEEEEEEEEN CHIAMAKA is THE GOAT, That Bitch, the one worthy of wearing the muthafuckin’ crown, a GAWDDAMN SAVAGE! All should bow to her and I will not walk that sentiment back! Yes, she clawed her way to the top, the way that so many Black Women & Girls before her have had to and like a BAWSE, but she also EARNED it! One of the things that I loved about Chiamaka is the fact that she wasn’t afraid to let you know she wasn’t for play play (tricks are for kids silly rabbit, not Chiamaka), to show her fangs and let folks know that she was no one to fuck with, but she also could list her accomplishments without batting an eyelash cause she knew she did that shit. I loved how unapologetic she was, even when her back was against the wall. The way her mind worked was simply superb. I would gladly follow her into battle cause she stays with a plan & has the most savage of natures. Sis was out for blood and I would help her draw it, no questions asked! Chiamaka’s character was simply *chef’s kiss* and I hope she opens the door for more Black Girls to be unapologetically themselves, to not bend when others are trying to break them, to be fierce as they break down the barriers built up in front of them. UGH, I just loved her SO MUCH! I also kept saying to myself (and to Faridah & Rachel) that Chiamaka BETTER get her her Angela Bassett in Waiting To Exhale moment or else… You will just have to read to find out if she got that moment, now won’t you?! *Mischievous smirk on 1000*

This is how I imagined Chiamaka the entire time and I LIVEDDDDD! I also REALLY wanted to use this gif!

Now, I could talk about those other characters & be specific…I could talk about Aces…. but those bitches aren’t worth much of my time! There really wasn’t a side character that I really liked (Terrell and Andre were okay, I guessssssss, but neither went to Niveus). What I will say is that I often referred to the majority as hoes (as I often do with the bad guys, it has nada nada to do with sexuality). Their privilege had them on some next level shit… The way I wanted to fight them, was a type of aggression that no one should see in me but alas, the world is filled with fools like them that think they’re invincible. I was ready to suit up like I was in the book myself. I lived for the moments where they got cut down and please believe that Chiamaka did a lot of cutting down in such brilliantly savage ways that they were most deserving of, which gave me everlasting life!

The center is everyone at Niveus so make it “they’s a hoe”

There is SOOOOOOOO MUCH that I could say, SOOOOOOOOOOOO much more that I WANT to say but can’t because I’m not about that spoiler lyfe *cries*. Just know that this book is FUCKING PHENOMENAL and worth EVERY.SINGLE.MOMENT of your time that you give to it. It will leave your mind reeling and give you trust issues…and you won’t regret it, I PROMISE YOU! I haven’t let you down before and I definitely won’t start now! I’m absolutely OBSESSED with this book and I believe you will feel the same by time you finish it! I have to give Faridah ALL-AH-HER-FLOWERS because she did that shit, on EVERYTHING I Love, she did! If you haven’t gone out and picked up this book, stop playin and go get it! Whether you request it from your local library or buy the book in your favorite medium, just do it RET NOAW because you are losin’ by waiting (it just had to be said, sorry, not sorry *’Ye shrug*)!

I shouted this a lot while reading cause of shit said and I think it would be to not read this book *shrug*

*Claps* I know I’ve occupied enough of your time so I’mma end this here. You now know how I feel about Ace Of Spades and that I’m absolutely putting my stamp of approval on it! If you wanna talk about this book with me, come holla at me on all of the social medias (be sure to follow me as well): Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic and Clubhouse @bookishgrlmagic where you can typically find me in book centered clubs/rooms. As y’all know by now if you have been rockin’ with me for a while, I’m sending you bookish love and wishing you the happiest of reading! PEACE!

The UK cover which is also dope but I love the US cover more!

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Where The Rhythm Takes You Felt Like Returning Home

Please take a moment to appreciate the sheer gorgeousness of this cover
  • Author: Sarah Dass
  • Debut
  • Genre: YA Contemporary-Retelling
  • Background-TRINIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII *Cues Airhorn* (Trinidadian, I had to be extra for my peoples)
  • IG-@sarahdasswrites; Twitter-@SarahDassAuthor
  • Release Date: 5/11/2021 (US), 6/10/2021 (UK)
  • Publisher: HarperTeen (Imprint of HarperCollins)/EpicReads
  • Favorite Character-I’m going to go with Fish! He was equal parts hysterical and annoying…he struck just the right balance and brought such levity to the story. My second favorite was Reyna’s best friend Olivia, she was really funny too…I imagine our methods of best-friending are similar, lol!
  • Favorite Quote(s)“Look at me.” He pointed to his face. “Tell me this shouldn’t be immortalized on canvas.”-Fish. When I tell you I hollered loudly, I think I could be heard from the floors above me! Normally, that level of narcissism would turn me off but Fish is a Spechul case…and I truly mean that Spechul.
Imagine this waving as you read this post

I’m going to start this off by saying that this post will be pretty chill (for me). Why will it be chill, you ask? Because that’s just the type of energy I felt as I read Where The Rhythm Takes You and if you know any Trinis, its pretty much the energy you get until you involve either food, music, Carnaval (Carnival) or insults (at least in my experience as the daughter of one); the Trini accent alone incites a sense of comfort and calm! Go on and listen to a Trini speak for a few minutes and tell me where my lie is. Don’t worry though, you will get your gifs because gifs just come with the territory *wink* *wink*. Oh and since this is a book that takes place in Tobago, feel free to cue up Trini 2 De Bone too because it’s a forever bop, just ask Reyna & Aiden.

While I was searching for a favorite quote, I found myself pulled right back into the story which is so incredibly rare for me because I’m NOT a re-reader (there is a reason I use highlighter tabs). WTRTY is just one of those stories where you want to relive certain moments because they are so vivid and you can practically feel yourself there. Whether you are listening to banter between Olivia & Reyna or watching a scene unfold with a double (you gotta read to find out and google what they are if you don’t know, It’s T&T’s gift to the world), you just feel apart of the story… After spending almost an hour trying to pin down what my favorite quote was and getting lost in the story, I have come to the conclusion that this book should become a movie. Hollywood needs to make that happen and all the actors need to be Natives to T&T. While I would love to see Idris Elba play Reyna’s dad for eye-candy purposes, he’s not Native to T&T last time I checked (okay, maybe I would bend a little for him, lol). Tobago native Winston Duke would be perfect though so get him on the phone!

Imagine this is me, in the story…and I’m extra enough for this to be me but slightly less tulle!

I have to acknowledge that I was lucky enough to receive an ARC in a huge box from HarperCollins and I’m so incredibly glad I did… Did I know about this book? You betcha I did especially as someone who is of Trinidadian Descent. Was I planning to read this book? AB-SA-FREAKING-LUTE-LY I was because that was not NOT going to happen! I would’ve read this book the moment I could get my hands on it after pub day but I’m SOOOOOOOOOOO glad that I didn’t have to wait the additional weeks for release. So Thanks be to the divine publishing beings for not making me wait. I can’t recall if I squealed on the IG live when I opened that box & saw it but it wouldn’t be far fetched since it’s kind of my brand…you can watch that live here and see for yourself.

There is no point in pretending like I hadn’t been chomping at the bit to read this book

I Loved this book so much that I pretty much flew through it. Not only was it the characters but it was the fact that it was set in the place of my Ancestors (well, one set of them). I could hear the accents, smell the food, see the sky, feel the breeze…something, outside of the accents & food, that I haven’t experienced since 1996 (Do NOT ask my age, just know that I’m grown, lol) and it was truly beautiful. It felt like a homecoming without physically being there. We don’t get too many books like that in this lifetime and I’m so glad to have WTRTY as one…I really couldn’t ask more of Sarah in that department (she was like a painter with word doc or a writing app instead of a paintbrush).

This is how smitten I was with this book… & Dis Me while reading WTRTY

I have a confession to make…I didn’t know that this was a retelling…at least, I don’t recall reading that this was a retelling. All I knew is that it was set in Tobago and that was ALL I needed to know, periodt. Regardless, I was going to read it because of the obvious. The fact that it is set in current day Tobago honestly would’ve been the main thing I would’ve acknowledged anyway because how many YA books are set in Tobago? Don’t worry, I’ll wait………..*cues Jeopardy Song*……….. Exactly, not that many; certainly not in recent titles in US publishing. For those who are into the retelling aspect, it’s a retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. If you haven’t read Persuasion, don’t worry (I haven’t either *shrug*), you don’t need to have to in order to appreciate this book, the story, the characters or the setting. It stands all on it’s own, which is the most important thing in my opinion.

But For real doe

When I met Olivia, I was like “yup…she is me and I am her” based upon how she interacts with Reyna. A friend who texts to hang out because they haven’t seen your face in such a long time they feel borderline abandoned, can either be really useful or useless when it comes to advice (and there is no in-between to be seen anywhere) and will gladly eat your snacks at the first chance they get (see my IG Reel where I snack several times as proof) feels pretty spot on to me! I also just realized that characters name Olivia seem to be my Spirit Characters (see my post about Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry for proof) and I’m honestly okay with this. Give me all the sarcastic, snarky & snacky Black Girl Best Friends and if their name so happens to be Olivia, then so be it! Olivia is a character you don’t ever mind being on the page, no matter the type of moment she is having with Reyna. She keeps it one-hunnit at all times and well, we all know how I feel about that (to say I loveeeeeeeee that characteristic is a severe understatement, if you are new to this blog, lol). Olivia is a character you would be a fool not to love (I may or may not judge you if you don’t love her after reading this book *shrug* *light chuckle*).

Olivia and I eating all the snacks with immense joy in our Spirits

I need to talk at least a littleeeeeee about my fav, Fish! He’s a character you can’t help but love despite being deeply annoyed by. He’s the type of person that the moment you see them open their mouth, you can’t help but hold up a finger and say “please don’t say what you’re thinking” and they still do anyway & whether you roll your eyes, laugh or walk away is completely up to what they let rip from their lips. Usually, I would be turned off by someone like that but I couldn’t help but be enamored by Fish, much to the chagrin of his fellow travelers and Reyna (I’m sure). Sarah managed to make him annoyingly charming AND persistent (which is something I’m not a stranger to being), which if I wasn’t worried that he would set his sights on me, it would make me want to pinch his cheeks and feed him the appropriately spiced doubles for his novice level (if you know, you know). Fish just is that character that grabs your attention, by force really, but find that you actually want to be around no matter how much he makes your eyes roll because he’s tooth-achingly sweet. When did I become this person that falls for such a character?! What has HAPPENED TO ME?! (O_O)

Me to Fish because he can be so precious sometimes and I don’t think he would mind this

One thing that I loved about the flashbacks is seeing Aiden through the lens of Reyna’s past and the present… It was like the glow up you thought could be possible but was really happy to know happened. It also was kind of like witnessing the birth of a heartthrob, indirectly, and who doesn’t want to see that?! I won’t lie, I likely would’ve fallen all over myself (internally, of course because I’m a G) the moment I saw him if I were Reyna or anyone really. Another thing that felt glaringly clear is that we were seeing a star starting to shine even brighter no matter what tried to dim it and the love felt by its witness. Aiden is hard not to take notice of, no matter how frustratingly aloof he could be. Not only is he painted as handsome to look at, but he also doesn’t disappoint in his commentary & banter along with hints of a hopeless romantic nature. He’s like that person that could get almost anyone to like him with very little effort and make onlookers swoon the moment he touches an instrument. Really, Who doesn’t love a musician?! *smirks* Honestly, I feel like you should read WTRTY in order to get what I’m saying about Aiden because you just have to experience his greatness for yourself *shrugs* *winks*.

And a well deserved glow up!

Last but not least, I have to acknowledge Reyna because there were so many ways that I felt on her wavelength. One of the biggest things I felt her on is her grief, the way it would hit her strongly and how others didn’t seem to understand her at times. As someone who has been grieving for the past few months, both out loud and internally; this was the biggest point that I connected with her on. Grief is tough, it’s messy, it’s blinding and can be incredibly consuming… There is truly not one way to grieve & how Reyna grieved is not unlike how I do at times, which is by taking strolls down memory lane with the loved one she is mourning. While there are a lot of flashbacks & memories visited, the ones with her departed loved one had a very distinct tone & reverence and thus felt different from her memories with Aiden, which I don’t know about anyone else but it made me appreciate them more. Something else that I appreciated about Reyna is her inability to people despite growing up in/working at a hotel… When I tell y’all that she was me in the moments she didn’t feel like dealing with anyone…. I felt incredibly seen because, believe it or not, this is me….often. The beauty of Reyna is that she is such a relatable character and I’m so glad that Sarah decided to share her with us.

This would be the type of hug I would give Reyna, if I could

OK, so I went into almost full on rant mode but I just have to say one more thing before I close this up… How GORGEOUS is the cover?! The colors are stunning and capture the Spirit of T&T beautifully. Also, Reyna’s skin color is the beautiful shade that so many Trini’s I know have…it’s a shade that I inherited from my mother, who inherited it from her mother (who is now departed) and so many that have proceeded us. Reyna’s skin and hair was what truly drew my eyes because I could SEE myself in Reyna, in the way her hair waves and the kiss the T&T sun has left on her for all to know where she descends from. It made me appreciate the book even more and served as yet another reminder as to why representation matters. It doesn’t matter how old the reader is, the fact that someone could truly see themselves on a book cover and in its pages means more than can be expressed and is another level of healing, in and of itself. This should be the standard. I will forever be grateful to Sarah and the cover design team for making that remotely possible, seriously.

This is the swoon I felt in my Spirit when I saw the cover and really every time I look at it

Now that I’ve gotten all of that out of my system (more than what I thought I would type but not as much as I really could say), I really want some doubles but at the hour I am typing this, it is not possible but hopefully will be by time I edit this (LOL; update: nope, I haven’t gotten any but it will happen). If you haven’t guessed by now, I highly recommend Where The Rhythm Takes You AND doubles (with some tamarind & pumpkin but no peppa for me)! Pro tip: All Doubles are not created equal, ask your favorite Trini if I’m lying and consult them before buying from just anywhere (thank me later).

That KIND of looks like a double and this is what I think when I think of doubles

Well, my peoples, I will end things here but iffffffff you wanna keep this bookish banter going, feel free to find and follow me on all of the social medias: Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic and Clubhouse @bookishgrlmagic where you can typically find me in book centered clubs/rooms. As always, I’m sending you bookish love and wishing you happy reading!

Because I had to…SWEET SWEET T ‘N’ T!

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Ayisyen Ekritè Mwen Renmen (Haitian Authors I Love)

AYEEEEEEEEE Everyone! So If you didn’t know, May 18th is Haitian Flag Day (see graphic above, lol)! To celebrate the day, A day late (Always tardy to the party, I seem to be), I wanted to provide a list of some Haitian Authors I know and love (& some that I have found out about)! The title of this post is me making a little use of the Haitian Kreyòl lessons I’ve done (shout out to my teacher Wynnie). Being that I’m half Haitian, I wanted to honor the day here on the blog in my bookish way! For the books I’ve written about here, those posts will be linked to the book title!

Your favorite Haitian yesterday
  • Ibi Zoboi
  • Carline Smothers
    • MMMMM! Soup Joumou! *Picture book*
  • Debbie Rigaud
    • Truly Madly Royally
    • Simone Breaks All The Rules (6/1/2021)
  • Ben Philippe
    • The Field Guide To The North American Teenager
    • Charming As A Verb
    • Sure, I’ll Be Your Black Friend *Adult*
  • Justine A. P. Louis
    • Luke Visits Jacmel (English) *Picture Book*
    • Luc Vizite Jakmèl (Kreyòl) *Picture Book*
  • Dimitry Elias Lèger
    • God Loves Haiti
  • Maika & Maritza Moulite
  • Blandine Jean
    • Chloè Celebrates Flag Day *Picture Book*
  • Roxane Gay
    • Ayiti *Adult*
    • An Untamed State *Adult*
  • Frantz Derenoncourt, Jr.
    • Haiti: The First Black Republic
  • Jinica Dauphin
    • Haitian Flag Day Fleurina’s Way *Picture Book*
  • Edwidge Danticat
    • Breath, Eyes, Memory *Adult*
    • Everything Inside *Adult*
    • Krik? Krak!
    • Untwine
    • The Royal Diaries: Anacaona Golden Flower *MG*
  • Saonha Lyrvoie Jean Baptiste
    • Prensès Maniya/Princess Maniya *Picture Book* (Kreyòl & English)
  • Angie Bell & Tico Armand
    • The Adventure Of Yaya Soup Joumou Lakay Grann Pola *Picture Book*

FYI, these aren’t ALL the works of these authors, especially Edwidge Danticat and Roxane Gay. Also, these aren’t ALL the Haitian Authors out there but just ones that I know of! I hope that you would decide to look up more Haitian authors & literature and that this serves as a jumping off point in your research!

While you are at it, go ahead and search for some Konpa and get with these vibes!

This wasn’t meant to be a long post but if you know of any other Haitian Authors, please feel free to drop their names & books in the comments! As always, I’m sending you tons of bookish love and wishing you happy reading! For more bookish banter, feel free to find and follow me on all of the social medias: Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic and Clubhouse @bookishgrlmagic where you can typically find me in book centered clubs/rooms. Until the next post… Bonswaaaaaaaaaaa!

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The Last Fallen Star Shone So Brightly I Needed Shades

  • Author: Graci Kim
  • Debut
  • Genre: MG Contemporary Fantasy
  • Background-Korean Kiwi (New Zealand)
  • IG-@gracikimwrites; Twitter-@gracikim
  • Release Date: 5/4/2021 (out NAOW!)
  • Publisher: Disney Hyperion
  • Favorite Character-Emmett! He’s the best friend that will always keep it real with you but bring you your favorite treat to munch on as he low-key reads you. Emmett is also hella funny & has the best lines. His banter with anyone is awesome and I simply adored him. Taeyo was my next favorite but because he is later in the book, I don’t want to say too much about him other than you will really like him!
  • Favorite Quote(s)– 2 come from none other than my fav, Emmett. 1st: “Ew, stop it. I’ve told you a million times, emotions are bad for your health. They give you wrinkles. Also, I’m getting you a bib for your birthday. No joke.” I cackled so hard because I don’t see the lie…also, being that he’s a baking genius that constantly brings Riley some sort of treat, that would be a useful gift, lol! 2nd: “Holy shirtballs, get a room, lovebirds.” Another quote that had me laughing because it sounds like something that I would absolutely say…and “shirtballs” & other derivatives of it are apart of my vocabulary!
Emmett, whenever Feelings/Emotions are involved, lol!

So you know how I love middle grade and mythology, right? Well, from the moment I saw the cover of The Last Fallen Star and found out that it incorporated Korean Mythology, I was SOLD! I knew that I would just adore this book and well, we know how on point my bookish spidey senses are! I was lucky enough to win an ARC of it in a giveaway on IG that Graci Kim & another debut author, Sarah Suk (her book is Made In Korea, another great one coming out soon) hosted and this has to be one of my favoritest wins EVER! I was SO IN LOVE with this story and couldn’t stop raving about it! I will tell ya, Rick Riordan sure knows how to pick em and I’m here for it!

There’s no question about that!

I simply adored Riley and her voice. How she narrated the world she lived in and the stories behind the clans…as well as spilling little bits of tea here and there about them along the way (like the Gumiho, just read to find out what she said). You could tell how much she loved not just her family but her culture, best friend and the stories/mythologies behind the clans. Real talk, if Riley did a story time, I would sit front and center to listen to any and everything she says. Just go ahead and imagine me sitting criss-cross applesauce with my head on the backs of my hands, listening…I know you can, especially if you know me in real life! I’m a sucker for a really good story which my grandpa ensured! There is something else that I loved about Riley and it is that she isn’t afraid to be in touch with her feelings, nor is she ashamed of her, what Emmett likes to refer to as, “leaky-bladder eyeball problem”. Y’all know I’m a crier…a thuggish crier but a crier none the less (we don’t have time to argue the thuggish part so just go with it). We need more literary characters who are in-touch with their emotions and expresses them openly. It allows kids who are the same see the merit in it. I would’ve loved more of that growing up as a kid because I remember myself & others who were emotional like me being told to “suck it up” and “get over it”…imagine being told “it’s okay” and “take your time to cry” when in an emotional moment, how much less therapy sessions we would need now (O_O)!

It’s okay Riley, me too gurl, me too!

As you all know by now, I adore Emmett and I can’t not talk about him! He’s witty, sarcastic, a baker, loyal, a mixed-kid and a shorty like me…basically me but gender-swapped and 12! From what Riley was conveying, you would think Emmett belongs on the next season of Junior Master Chef-Sweets Edition (is that a thing?), and you know what, I would root for this kid…could you imagine the anecdotes?! It would be like Kids Say The Darndest Things mets Kid’s Baking Championship and I would be more than happy to watch for Emmett! From the moment that Emmett was mentioned, I just knew this kid was the best friend that we all look for & deserve in middle grade (and YA too)! I loved him even more when he made his appearance and started dropping zingers like bombs…he just holds a very special place in my heart because of that! Another thing that I love is that he is not afraid to tell things as it is/how he sees it and on top of that he’s a brain stormer & master problem-solver. If you got an issue, count on Emmett to hand you a cookie instead of a tissue & to start thinking of solutions! While your waistband expands (which, I doubt Riley has an issue with), you also get a plan and laughs…who could ask for more?!

Dis Emmett, and I can’t argue with this…pass me a cookie my dude!

As badly as I want to talk about more characters, I don’t want to accidentally spoil anything but there is a whole lot more that I can say about this book! First off, I couldn’t put it down and I really didn’t want to, nor did I want it to end! From the first line, Riley/Graci had me hook, line and sinker. I wanted to live amongst the gifted clans despite how petty they can be at times (you have to read to know how deep the petty goes friends)! I think the gifted clans took sibling(esque) rivalry to a whole different level! They definitely had a hard time letting go of things and I found myself wanting to shake some of the characters when they got in their feelings about the past or acted uppity… *looking at quite a few clan members* they know who they are!

Some of the Clan members when you enter the temple

Another thing that I thought was super dope is the fact that Riley & her family, like all of the clan members I’m sure, lives in a gifted house! A… Gifted… House… Y’all! Could you imagine living in a GIFTED HOUSE?! How incredibly dope would it be to have a home that essentially thinks for itself?! Well, it would be dope when you don’t tick it off so make sure you stay on your Ps & Qs with your compliments (read the book to find out about that). I think I would love it, especially if the stove would help me to cook without much work, lol! I would be more than happy to be like Mrs. Weasley, minus all the kids, in this case (I like to cook…I’m just lazy most days…*shrugs* it is what it is)!

I hope the knives would be gifted too because I hate chopping…I’m just not good at it, lol! And they would stay in locked drawers for safety reasons, of course!

Something else that I absolutely loved was the magic! The magic systems based upon the clan a person is a part of is so super dope! Since their magics are clan specific, it makes it so that they have to really work together to not just meet their own needs but also support their community as a whole as well as maintain their secrecy. While you’ve got your usual out-for-self types in the clans, the Gifted Clans had a real rhythm that I wish there was more of in real life! You can read the book to learn more about each clan & their magic and after you read, you can take the quiz to see which clan you would be a part of here. In case you were wondering, I did indeed take the quiz and below you will find my results! If you take the quiz, feel free to Rep Yo’ Clan in the comments #MiruClanInTheHouse!

Some of this is true but I’m DEFINITELY not athletic! LOL!

There is so much more I could say but I really want you all to go out and get this book & read it! It’s seriously so amazing and it will keep you on the edge of your seats. I’m so excited for book 2, titled The Last Fallen Moon, which comes out in Summer 2022 (that’s not too far away…right?!)! As always, I’m sending you tons of bookish love and wishing you happy reading! For more bookish banter, feel free to find and follow me on all of the social medias: Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic and Clubhouse @bookishgrlmagic where you can typically find me in book centered clubs/rooms. Until the next post… *throws up peace sign* LATERSSSSS!

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So Many Reasons Why I Love Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry

The US Cover!
  • Author: Joya Goffney
  • Debut
  • Genre: YA Contemporary
  • Background-Black
  • IG-@joya.goffney; Twitter-@joya_goffney; www.joyagoffney.com
  • Release Date: 5/4/2021 (out NAOW!)
  • Publisher: HarperTeen (Imprint of HarperCollins)/EpicReads
  • Favorite Character-Olivia! Hands Down! She’s a part of the little and feisty tribe…she’s a bad chick and she knows it… Olivia’s like my literary alter-ego and I need a book from her perspective like yesterday! If Olivia were a song, I feel like she is Bo$$ by Fifth Harmony, it’s very her energy (go listen then tell me where my lie is). Carter’s my second favorite…he’s cool but he’s not Olivia level cool *shrug*!
  • Favorite Quote(s)-First one: “Yoooo, I didn’t know you lived like this. Over here living like Hilary Banks and shit.”-Carter. When I tell you I hollered as loudly as I could, I did…I was NOT ready for not only a Fresh Prince reference in a YA book but the mention of Hilary & I lived for it! I love how she mentioned Ashley RIGHT after, who was my favorite character but I digress! Second is courtesy of Queen Olivia: “I’ve been waiting to beat his ass,” Olivia says. “He hasn’t been dumb enough to say racist shit around me, but I’ve heard so much about him.” Olivia shakes her head, rubbing her right hand over her left fist. “I’m ready for his ass.” It’s THAT.ENERGY.RIGHT.THERE that is what makes her my fav! Take no shit, ready to throw down at any moment, small stature but big bite is what I live for (literary me, I’m tellin’ y’all…ask anyone who knows me). I bet if you opened her book bag, you’ll find vaseline and a straight-razor hidden in there (If you know, you know *shrug*).
Dis Olivia, ready to scrap and I’m here for it!

You know when you see a book, you just have a sixth sense about it? Like you just KNOW this book is going to be a bop, a vibe, a word? Well, that was what I felt when I read the title Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry and then saw the cover…all my bookish spidey senses started tingling and I KNEW this book would be everything! Yet again, my bookish intuition DID NOT fail me! This book was everything I could’ve possibly wanted and MORE! I laughed, I teared up, I wanted to fight, my jaw dropped…I was on this amazing roller coaster ride of emotions that I didn’t want to get off of. When I tell you I didn’t want this book to end, I really didn’t and was SO SAD when I finished it…I just wanted more and an extra 100 pages wouldn’t have bothered me AT.ALL! It’s for this reason that I truly feel that I need a book from Carter’s perspective and one from Olivia’s (her book can be a prequel because I bet her life before meeting Quinn was hella interesting).

No, seriously, I want MOREEEEEE!

When I got this ARC, I really wasn’t expecting it. I knew about this book and I WANTED it…I also knew that I was going to read it regardless of if it was early or not. The bookish Gods smiled upon me though and this golden nugget in the form of an ARC was in this massive box of Advanced Reader Copies I received from HarperCollins (thanks y’all). I’m pretty sure I squealed when I saw it…there is a unboxing vidjeo (that’s on purpose) on IG that you can watch here to serve as evidence. I will quickly say that I was not asked to do any sort of review, I just felt it in my Spirit to write about this book and I’ve been verbally obsessing over it every chance I’ve gotten. It took SO MUCH restraint not to just crack this book open right then and there on live…but this book was SOOOOO worth waiting for. I finished it in less than 2 days, I didn’t want to put it down and I finished in the evening time (which isn’t a usual finishing time for me) because I would only stop reading when I had to. EMWIUC was seriously that good!

Me, while reading this book!

I also have another selling point for you, In case what I’ve said thus far wasn’t enough (of course, I’m going to say more but just sayin). So pretty much every book I’m reading during the times I visit my Grandma, I will show her the cover. It’s just something I’ve started to do as she loved reading and really is not able to anymore because of her eyes. Well, she read the cover and she goes “Ugly cry? What’s ugly cry?” so I proceed to explain to my 80+ year old Haitian Grandma what ugly crying is and then she laughs…she LAUGHS y’all! Do you know how difficult it is to make a Haitian person, let alone a GRANMOUN laugh?! Haitians, especially older Haitians, are a TOUGH CROWD so if the title of this book could get a Haitian Grandma to laugh, then you KNOW it’s worth it’s page length in gold!

Me, when my Grandma started laughing…it’s really not that easy y’all!

Not only is the writing phenomenal and incredibly hilarious, but the character development is just A1…give Joya all of the awards, kudos and her favorite treats because it’s just really that good! She had this way of endearing you to a character at the same time as making you want to fight another. I can’t tell you how many times I was like “YESSSSSSSSSS” to one character then like “OH NO THIS BISH DIDN’T” the very next moment! With a premise like having your personal property filled with your deepest thoughts in it stolen then being blackmailed with it (that’s not a spoiler, btw), how could you not go from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other with characters?! ER-BODY getting the side-eye and 3rd degree the moment the opportunity presents itself in my opinion!

Me, looking at some characters

Since I’m talking about characters, I have to start off with my favsie Olivia…the mighty mouse-esque character of my heart! Olivia is the scrappy and sassy secondary (that was not on purpose with the alliteration but it fits) character that we all deserve! From the moment she sashayed onto the page (that’s how it felt to me), I just knew she was the one… I knew she would be my favorite and I could not be budged from feeling that way. It was like she knew just what to say in every moment…her hype ups were the best like when she said “Look at that ass! Girl, you have to model for me someday.”…what is a better gas up than THAT from a photographer?! I also adored how she stayed ready to fight, let someone say something slightly out of pocket and you might as well cue up Trick Daddy’s Let’s Go because she’s already motioning to take off her earrings (google the song and again, tell me where my lie is, once you read the book). Seeing as this is the second song I’ve said described her, I may have to come up with a playlist just for Olivia, lol (next song choice would be Pretty Savage by BlackPink because it’s also accuracte)! Also, I have to say that since she makes a movie reference in this book that I don’t want to give way, she soared to the top of my favorite characters of all time list! I seriously love her and I am deadass about her needing her own book (Joya, hear my prayer)!

Or her photography…or her friends…or really anything she is involved with!

You know how I said Carter is my second favorite…I have thought about it and I say scrap that because his little sister, Imani, is my second favorite! She isn’t a big time character but when she is on the page, she steals the scene! This little one is a tea spiller in the making (you have to read to understand that reference) and is very much so a mini-comedian! As Quinn conveyed what Imani would say, I simultaneously turned into the heart eyes and crying laughing emojis..I would be a puddle of goo in her little hands (much like Carter). Her cuteness factor was so off the charts that I couldn’t help but want to hug her, give her all the toys she wants and then hand her off to Carter. I need her book too…like a middle grade book about her as a preteen and her relationship with Carter cause if she is this Spirited so little, imagine her has a pre-teen!!!! I bet it would be the sweetest, most hilarious MG book, seriously. Look at me giving all these book ideas Joya, it could be a whole EMWIUC universe in this bit *wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge*!

Me, Whenever Imani made an appearance

Since I talked about his sister, I’ve GOT to talk about Carter! When I think of him I think of that kid in school that you think is too cool to ever approach and just love to admire from down the hall…especially because you are afraid that the moment the barrier is broken they will either destroy the illusion/expectation you’ve built up in your mind or exceed it. I think Quinn would agree with me when I say that he exceeds the expectations. Not only is he good-looking but he’s intelligent, kind and an absolute teddy bear with Imani. I don’t know about you but seeing boys/men, especially Black boys/men, be soft & kind to younger children turns me into mush! The way that the scenes with him and Imani are written just had me all in my feels! Not only was he gentle with his little sister but he was gentle with Quinn & Olivia when the time called for it. This trait of his really made me love him (but not enough to dethrone Olivia, #NotSorryAboutIt). I also really loved his comedic timing because he really had me cracking up at times. Carter is the type of person you should always keep around since he’s a problem-solver, a mood-picker upper and eye-candy. He also comes with an adorable little sister so anyone he hangs out with (in this case, Quinn & Olivia) is getting a really good deal!

Me, to Carter

Last, but certainly not least, I gotta talk about our MC Quinn. This chick is re-donk-u-lously funny and I was 1000% here for her anecdotes & all shenanigans that ensued throughout this book. Homegirl had me cracking up with her lists and one-liners. While reading this book, I realized that I think a lot in lists but Quinn is actually brave (albeit reckless) enough to actually write them down. It’s one thing to have a thought but is a whole different thing to put them down where they could potentially be seen & open up a can of worms no one would be ready to experience…which is exactly what happened. For what it’s worth, Quinn handles all her situations with as much grace and sanity as anyone in her position could possibly muster. She truly had me thinking she is better than me cause I would’ve been wrecking some ish, reputation be damned y’all! Quinn’s got a serious set of ovaries, IMO, even if she wouldn’t believe it about herself. Sis went through so much that made me want to hug her and shake her at the same time…It’s highly likely that I shouted at her in my mind a few times but all out of love. I absolutely love characters that I experience a push-pull with throughout a book and Quinn definitely fell in that category!

When Quinn gets to this point, it is simply glorious!

I know that I’ve written a lot here but I hope that I have convinced you enough that you need to pick up this book! I don’t know in how many more ways that I could say that I loved this book but I REALLY FLIPPING LOVED THIS BOOK! It is BEYYYYYYYYOND worth your time and I would go full auntie “look at your life” mode if I were to find out you passed up picking up this book (proceed with caution if this is you)! Clearly you have great taste in blogs because you are reading this one so please don’t make me doubt you now & side-eye you like my TBR does me until you get this book! Whether you get it via your local library or your favorite bookstore by way of e-book, audiobook or printed, it doesn’t matter as long as you get this book! It brought me so much joy and I know that it would do the same for you! I wouldn’t ever lead you astray *insert angel emoji here*!

This is the side-eye that I would give you…would you want that for your life? If you know this movie, you would know that that’s not whatchu want…at all!

OK y’all, I’mma end it here before I decide to rant more about this book! Of course, I’m sending you tons of bookish love and wishing you happy reading! For more bookish banter, feel free to find and follow me on all of the social medias: Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic and Clubhouse @bookishgrlmagic where you can typically find me in book centered clubs/rooms. Until the next post…BYEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

The UK Cover which I think I may like more *Shocked face*
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My TBR Is Side-Eyeing Me And I Can’t Side-Eye Back

Look at it…just side-eyeing me…this is every thime i walk past it!

I don’t know about you all but my TBR (To Be Read) is crazy… I thought we were so happy together but I was blissfully ignorant to the fact that it felt differently. One day, I was walking past it and I just felt this wave of judgment and scorn…but there was no one else around… That’s when I looked at my TBR and realized……..it was SIDE-EYEING ME! How can a stack of Books possibly side-eye someone? I have no idea but this is the energy I felt from it! And the thing is…I can’t even Side-eye it back! This hurts the most because I love every opportunity to serve up a hot plate of side-eye, complete with eye-rolling and snide comments to go with it (nom, nom, nom)!

We look good together…right?! I thought we did when I took this picture…I was madly in love with it then…but now I feel intimidated by it and I’m not sure if I should…could love & intimidation go hand-in-hand in this case? I thought we were in such a good place buuuuuuttttt…I don’t think we are if I’m getting side-eyed every time I walk past…it’s like that wife looking at her partner as if they are cheating on them! I swear, I have not cheated on my TBR…I haven’t jumped a book to the top of the pile since A Queen Of Gilded Horns by Amanda Joy, a sequel I waited 2 years for (see blog post about AQOGH Here)! Wait, that’s a lie, I jumped Sure, I’ll Be Your Black Friend by Ben Philippe to the top because it came out yesterday (4/27) and I believe heavily in reading books before they come out if I receive them early! I know, I know, I KNOW it’s no excuse but I can try not to do it again…I really really can *puppy dog eyes and pleading hands*!

Don’t we look happy together? I thought we were happy, I truly did! I really do try to show my TBR love by moving as quickly as possible through reads…but I guess I’m not a fast enough reader *deep sigh*. Not only do I have this physical TBR but I also have an E-TBR that I feel screams for attention like a Side-Chick on Valentine’s Day! I PROMISE that my E-TBR is not a side-chick to my physical TBR (at least, I don’t consider it to be 0_0). But see, what had happened was…It’s just that the ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) that I have physically come out before some of my E-ARCs! I have a list of ARCs written down where they are listed in order of release (I’m THAT type of ARC reader) in an attempt to be fair. You have got to believe me *drops to my knees and begs*! I’m trying to give them equal attention… and failing miserably it seems. Now we can see why I’m not a poly reader…I can only dedicate myself to one book/world at a time, to which I see no shame in…but I think my TBR feels very differently about this matter.

I thought my TBR was making kissy faces with me but it seems that I was wrong…and I don’t know how to make this right. How do I even begin to make it up to my TBRs?! They have to know how much I love them, right? Right?! *shakes slightly* I give them as much attention as I possibly can…I stare at them in admiration…I pick up a book or click one when it’s its time to be read…. what more could I possibly dooooooooo?! Someone help me…*Marlon Wayans’ voice* help me, help me PUHLEASEEEEEEEE! And the problem is that I can’t NOT acquire new books! How would I write this blog or support Authors Of Color?! I just might be in borderline addiction territory……………..before you say anything, HUSH, let me have my moment of delusion! This is clearly a bookish person’s struggle and the cross we have to bare *wall slides*.

I thought we were having a prom type moment here in my comfy house slippers and in the house pants…the level of comfort here could’ve been #RelationshipGoals if it was reciprocated! I thought we were better than this…that I was giving it all I’ve got…but I guess it just isn’t enough because It keeps side-eyeing me! Even though I’ve read some of the ARCs at the top of the pile since I took these pictures…new books have been added to the pile thanks to Independent Bookstore Day & pre-orders and I feel us both wailing together! This should be a bonding point for both of us but I think we must be wailing for two different reasons…my TBRs because books may get pushed back and me because I worry when I will get to it! I really am trying to do better and show my TBRs that I love them so so so very much! I also have to say that my E-TBR may be unhappy that they weren’t in these pictures (*says a silent prayer that it won’t be*) and I swear that wasn’t on purpose, you’ve GOT to believe me *pleads for forgiveness*!

As Brown on Madea’s movies Would Say “AYE-MEN-DAH!”

Am I the only one that experiences this? Anyone else feels holes burned into their backs whenever they are walking away from their TBRs? Feels the crushing guilt that comes with having so many books that have gone unread and allowing their TBR to get so out of control that it may riot one day? As a mood reader, it’s really easy to see how this has happened, despite being excited about so many of the books that are in my TBRs (I do have some that I’ve been itching to get to and that’s not just my eczema)! I really hope I’m not alone in this bookish struggle, though I suspect that I’m not, knowing some of the people I follow on the ‘Gram! Anyone got some tips or tricks that would help me put my TBRs & fraying nerves at ease? I’m willing to try almost anythingggggggg *cries*!

It really is Mama Ru!

Aiight y’all, I just felt like I needed a palate cleanse of a blog post and writing about my woes with my TBRs felt like the move. I am reading and taking each & every day one step at a time. I hope you are doing the same! For more bookish banter, feel free to find and follow me on all of the social medias: Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic and Clubhouse @bookishgrlmagic where you can typically find me in book centered clubs/rooms. As usual, I’m sending you all bookish love and wishing you all Happy Reading! Until the next post, BYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Salute to my Queen Symone (know you will see more gifs of her, just sayin)…and also byeeee for now

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AYEEEEEE IT’S INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE DAY!

Photo courtesy of We Need Diverse Books

Heyyyyyyyy everyone! So I don’t know if you know but this upcoming Saturday is like a big holiday for us in the Bookish Community, Independent Bookstore Day *blows air-horns*! It has been a tough year for all of us and Indie bookstores are no exception to the rule. So to offer my support, I’m going to list some of my favorite Indie bookstores, where they are located, where you can find them on these e-streets and why I love them! This won’t be a super long list (just five places). I’m not trying to break any of your bank accounts, but if you can support these stores, I’m so sure that they would appreciate that (following and sharing their pages does count as support too, btw)!

  • Kew And Willow
    • Latinx Owned
    • Kew Gardens, NY
    • Website: https://www.kewandwillow.com/
    • IG: @kewandwillow; Twitter: @kewandwillow
    • I love Kew & Willow because every time I’ve gone there or contacted them, they have always been super nice! For me, it’s like the Cheers of bookstores because they know my name now! This could be concerning but I see them like the bubble tea shop of bookstores now & consider this an honor, lol! They also always let me go on bookish rants, which can be overwhelming at times, so I so appreciate them allowing me the space to geek out!
  • Brave + Kind Bookshop
    • Black Owned
    • Atlanta, GA
    • Website: http://www.braveandkindbooks.com/
    • IG: @braveandkindbooks
    • I love Brave + Kind because they just as the name implies. Whenever I interact with them, they are super kind and helpful. They have become my Nic Stone book pusher/supplier (she goes there to sign & personalize books) during this time and I couldn’t be happier to support such a wonderful store! Bunnie, the Founder & Owner, is also really cool!
  • Mil Mundos
    • Latinx Owned
    • Brooklyn, NY
    • Website: http://www.milmundosbooks.com/
    • IG: @milmundosnyc; Twitter: @milmundosnyc
    • I love Mil Mundos because at the beginning of the pandemic when I was trying to get my book fixes, I ordered from them A LOT! I was excited to find an Indie bookstore that was somewhat local to me. They were always patient and responsive in acquiring the lists of books I was seeking to purchase! I am hoping to get to experience their store front in the future!
  • Harriett’s Bookshop
    • Black Owned
    • Philadelphia, PA
    • Website: http://www.harriettsbookshop.com/
    • IG: @harrietts_bookshop; Twitter: @harriettsbooks
    • I love Harriett’s bookshop because 1) they named their shop after Harriett Tubman, who is my FAVORITE historical figure and 2) they have the dopest shirts! Every time I’ve ordered from them, they have gotten my orders to me so quickly! They are also really cool to follow online as they truly walk their talk when it comes to supporting the community they are in and the Black community as a whole.
  • Birchbark Books
    • Indigenous Owned
    • Minneapolis, MN
    • Website: https://birchbarkbooks.com/
    • IG: @birchbark_books; Twitter: @birchbarkbooks
    • I love Birchbark because they were super kind and timely when I ordered from them. I was really excited to find this bookstore and can’t wait to order more from there! They also hosted the FireKeeper’s Daughter launch and did such a beautiful job! I really would love to see more support for this lovely store.

These five bookstores are all wonderful and you cannot go wrong with supporting any or all of them! I hope that you have found a new place in this list that you come to love too!

Well y’all, this wasn’t intended to be a short post so you can go and look up these stores & maybe some others! I hope that you choose to support a local Indie on Saturday…I know I will! So my peeps, as usual, I’m wishing you all Happy Reading and sending Bookish love your way! Feel free to find and follow me on all of the social medias: Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic and Clubhouse @bookishgrlmagic where you can typically find me in book centered club rooms for more bookish banter! Until next time, laterrrrrrrrr!

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CeCe Rios And The Desert Of Souls is Soul Fulfilling

  • Author: Kaela Rivera
  • Debut
  • Genre: MG Fantasy
  • Background-Born to Mexican-American and British parents!
  • IG-@kaelacub; Twitter: @kaela_rivera_; www.kaelarivera.com
  • Release Date: 4/13/2021 (out NAOW!)
  • Publisher: Harper (Imprint of HarperCollins)
  • Favorite Character-So I’ve kind of went back and forth about this because I love CeCe so much but I loved Coyote just a weeeeee bit more! So I’m going with Coyote and CeCe comes in an extremely close second!
  • Favorite Quote(s)–Both are from the homie, Coyote! 1st: “You’re crying again. I don’t know what to do–stop.” So I imagine someone saying this to me because, like CeCe, I’m a crier and it can be a lot…but just imagining him saying this was hysterical to me! 2nd: “What in Desert’s Voices was that for?” I love non-cursing cursing, especially if it is something very specific to the book’s world! I have other favorites but I don’t want to give away anything from the book!
Dis CeCe…and me!

It’s been a little while since I’ve written about a Middle Grade book and I think it’s about time that I did…and I couldn’t think of a better book to write about this week than CeCe Rios And The Desert Of Souls! I’m going to start by saying that this book wasn’t on my radar prior to receiving it in a box of ARCs that I received from an amazing person from HarperCollins and I’m mad about it…because this book was simply INCREDIBLE and deserved SO MUCH MORE publicity than it seemed to have received. Since I started reading this book, I have not shut up about it…from the very first sentence, I was HOOKED! Kaela got my attention in the most spectacular way and I completely ate up that first chapter in like 10 minutes, which HAD to be a record for me! I fail to understand why such an awe-inspiring, heart-filling, eye-leak inducing book didn’t get more bells & whistles than it did but I’m going to do my best to hype CRATDOS up and do it some justice. So, let’s get into it!

Let’s Do This!

First of all, this is book is packed with Latinx mythology and anyone who knows me, knows that I loveeeeeeeeee mythology! I learned some new stories and I appreciated every single one…it made me want to hop on google and just get lost in a rabbit hole of it! The way that Kaela wove in these stories was simply genius! These weren’t just stories being told around a fire (nothing wrong with this either) but the main characters who were at the center of these stories are actually sharing their side…who WOULDN’T want a book where the character driving the myths is telling their story?! My geeky heart was so full with the way that these stories were written. It made me want to keep reading just to see what the characters would say or do next! I didn’t want to put this book down…AT ALL! So needless to say, this book was a page turner like a mug!

It really is with the level of geeking out I got to do!

Despite CRATDOS taking place in a desert, it felt so rich and no where near dry. It was so layered in not just its landscaping but also it’s history, culture (of course) and the characters. If a price could be placed on her world building, Kaela clearly spared no expense! From capturing the architecture to the climate, the vibe of the village & it’s people, the stories that built the belief systems and the criaturas themselves, it all felt so natural and had this beautiful flow to it…nothing felt out of place (that wasn’t on purpose) and the pacing was just *chef’s kiss*. I felt like I was in the story the entire time when I was reading and when I wasn’t, I was thinking about the story; which is the mark of an incredible book! You couldn’t catch me in a desert but I would go to this place just to be able to see the criaturas & hear their stories myself! CRATDOS seriously needs to become a TV series and I’mma need whoever decides to option it NOT to jack it up…this book deserves an adaptation worthy of it, for sure!

This book is phenomenal and deserves a tv series adaptation, pop figures and t-shirts, the whole shabang!

Lemme talk a little about the characters because the character development is stellar in this book! I’m going to start with my fav, Coyote because his character really surprised me! The way we first met him was not in a way that one would think and the next time we see him, he was completely different! He was basically if “everything is not as it appears to be” were a person! While he is actually quite sweet-natured, he grappled a lot with his legends and how others perceived him, which weighed him down. This was actually something he had in common with CeCe (sans legends/myths). Another thing I love about Coyote is how fiercely protective and loyal he is. He looked out for CeCe (and anothers), speaking up when he had reservations, stepping in when CeCE needed his assistance and helped figure out solutions when needed…he basically created a partnership with CeCe, which was against the norm in their world! Coyote was able to not just give CeCe balance but also gain it from her as well…it’s what a great friendship is truly made of!

This is how I feel Coyote and CeCe are in this book!

From the moment that CeCe’s sister Juana stepped onto the page, she was a force! Super fiery and sassy, I instantly fell in love with her character. It was so apparent in how she loved CeCe because she would try her best to give encouraging words. However, she still had so much to learn about CeCe and acceptance. She saw what CeCe was dealing with from both their parents and the townspeople but didn’t always consider the words that came from her mouth…lack of filter is a bit of a problem in this case. Juana was definitely a truth teller, which y’all know I love a person who keeps it 100, but she certainly had lessons she needed to learn herself! As a fellow big sister, I had some of the same moments that Juana had and deeply related to her. Anyone could have the best of intent but ya know what they say about good intentions *shrug*. Even though Juana wasn’t around a lot of the book, you could feel how CeCe carried her in her thoughts and how she drove her to push forward when she wasn’t always so sure of herself (there were some WWJD, What Would Juana Do, type moments for sure). Juana was the fire when CeCe’s Spirit was dampened and needed to dry up quickly (pun, kind of intended)!

This is Juana And CeCe!

Last, but certainly not least, I have to talk about CeCe… I would call her CeCe the courageous even if she wouldn’t believe it! She went through so much but kept her resolve the entire time. CeCe had a mission and an outcome she wanted to see and didn’t stop until she made it happen or got close. Despite the fact that she carried the perceptions of others of her, she persisted which endeared me to her even more. She fought so hard to be seen for more than the tears she shed and the box that the people around her packed her away in. CeCe is so big-hearted, compassionate, emotional and intelligent…things that the townspeople and even her parents saw as weakness! This drove me insaneeee and I wanted to shout at & fight those people on her behalf! There were so many moments where I wished I could hug her and I also cheered her on because she really deserved that. I hope that kids who also wear their hearts on their sleeves and express themselves with tears see themselves in CeCe and grow along with her. Another thing I loved about CeCe is how knowledgeable she was and how she embraced the legends…she, too, is a nerd and I connected heavily with her reverence for the stories, her culture & community! CeCe is a main character we definitely need more of in literature!

I just felt CeCe could use a hug and would’ve happily given her one! This also is like Her and Coyote’s friendship!

Something else I loved about this story is how Kaela folded in lessons throughout without being obvious about it. Rather than there just being one big moral to the story, there were so many small to medium ones wrapped up like gems… and not just for kids but adults too. One of my biggest takeaways from this book is the importance of seeing the heart of people and not taking what is different as a weakness. There are so many like CeCe and the criaturas in the story that are highly misunderstood and undervalued. A character like CeCe that chose to go against the norm, to see someone/something for who/what they are inside rather than the external appearance is part of what makes this book so incredible!

I just adore this book so much!

CeCe Rios And The Desert Of Souls was seriously one of the best reads for me this year! It’s so decadent in all that it offers and Kaela did an incredible job! It is absolutely worth your time and really anyone who comes across it! I’m praying for a sequel because I loved CeCe & her crew so much and because I believe that there is so much more mythology that could be explored and adventures that could be had! I have, in fact, inquired about if there would be a sequel and Kaela gave a bit of a veiled response…so let’s hope that that indicates that there will be another book because I…I mean WEEEEEEE need more of this story…really, more stories like this one period!

Strike out money and change it to CeCe’s story (though, that part about money is true too)!

Welp everyone, I’m going to end it here…really, only because I don’t want to end up in spoiler territory but know I could talk even more about CeCe Rios And The Desert Of Souls because it is simply an amazing book that deserves ALL OF THE HYPE! So my peeps, as usual, I’m wishing you all Happy Reading and sending Bookish love your way! Feel free to find and follow me on all of the social medias: Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic and Clubhouse @bookishgrlmagic where you can typically find me in book centered club rooms for more bookish banter! Until next time, laterrrrrrrrr!

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A Queen Of Gilded Horns Crowned A Masterpiece

Look At This Gorgeous Cover!
  • Amanda Joy
  • 2nd book, sequel
  • Genre: YA Fantasy
  • Heritage/Background: Black/Black People Magic
  • Social Media: IG @amandajoywrites; Twitter @amandajoywrites
  • Release: 3/16/2021
  • Publisher:Putnam (Penguin Random House)
  • Favorite Character: Aketo still remains me favorite…don’t be surprised, I’m pretty loyal! I will say though…I started to like Isa a bit more in this book…*shock face*
  • Favorite Quote: I love a good innuendo so here is one compliments a la my boo Aketo. “Perhaps I have not been expressing my…gratitude toward your fearless nature adequately if you have need to remind me.” When I say my eyebrow raised, it definitely raised and let out a “ooooooooooooo” when I read that!

So, if you have been following my blog since the beginning, you will know that I was OBSESSED with A River Of Royal Blood, Amanda Joy’s Debut…and my favorite blog post written to date because I had SO MUCH FUN! If you haven’t read that post, here is the link jusssst so you can understand how HYPE I am about this sequel! There is DEFINITELY cursing in that post so proceed with caution but I did have the best time writing it! I will work VERY hard to keep this one family friendly but keep that same energy!

My obsession with ARORB and AQOGH may not be but it’s my truth and I’m okay with this reality!

I was REALLY salty that I couldn’t get my hands on an ARC of A Queen Of Gilded Horns but the way I made myself feel better was by telling myself I was going to buy it anyway (the lies we tell ourselves, am I right?). I also pre-ordered the prologues app special edition book box for AQOGH! I did a live unboxing on instagram and here is the link to that so you can see how excited I was about it! I finished the book I was reading at the time at like a record speed so I could get to AQOGH cause I was super anxious to get back to this story & I’m #TeamOneBookAtATime (I’ve got attention span issues *shrugs*).

Me, getting ready to read this book and the people who watched my live baring witness to this energy

It feels like I was waiting for this book FORRRRRRRRRRREVERRRRRRRRRRR but BAY-BAY…it was WORFFFFFFFFF it! It was around two years of waiting and I wouldn’t want to do it again (because #Impatient) but I would because this was the sequel that ARORB deserved! We not only got to go back into Eva’s world but got to see even more of it, learn more about the different types of magick and meet so many new and dope characters! I would love if some of them could get their own books and if Amanda Joy could make that happen, I would be eternally grateful! Not only did we get new characters but we got MULTIPLE POINTS OF VIEW! Y’all know how I loveeeeeeeee books with Multiple POVs! It gave my bookish heart all of the warm and fuzzies…I adore Amanda Joy even more for this!

#Accurate #DisMe

Since this is a sequel and we know I don’t do spoilers, I’m going to talk about characters mostly but here are a few things that did not change from ARORB to AQOGH: 1) I still love Aketo as I did from ARORB, he is forever bae! 2) I still think Eva & Isa’s mom was on some hoe ish as they revisited things that she did in the past and I would gladly fight her if she didn’t have magick…it would be like bringing a knife to a gun fight…but gimme some magick and its ONNNN. 3) I love me some Baccha, even though he can be flaky AF (tell me where my lie is). 4) Isa is still a beeotch (once a beeotch, always a beeotch but the size of said beeotchiness can change). 5) The magicks are so dopeeeeee and I wanna wield some of them! 6) Falun & Aketo remain the holy grail of homies/road dawgs/besties with some new additions in AQOGH! Needless to say, I loved AQOGH as much as I did ARORB!

Me to ARORB & AQOGH and their casts.

Since I started with Isa the last time, I will start with her again here. When Amanda said during one of the book events that we may like Isa a little more in this book, I actually doubted her…I was all like “NAHHHHHHHHHHH, the hate will remain real”……….and Amanda was right, I hated her a lot less. So I just want to say to Amanda, I apologize for ever doubting you and that won’t ever happen again. Was she still a hoe x10, yup cause I said what I said, but was she the same in how she was in ARORB, no, she actually wasn’t! There was a lot about Isa that we didn’t get to learn in the first book and a range of emotion that we didn’t get to see as well. Being an older sibling is a complicated business that can be super messy and confusing… something I have seemed to forget seeing as my younger sister is now a grown a$$ woman. We got to learn how much more of a pawn Isa was and just how dirty their mama was. I also appreciated how REAL Isa was in this book…she was not there for the Rose colored glasses outlook, which I was 1000% here for! She told it like it was, how she knew things to be and y’all know I’m here for the real ones of the literary world! I still wasn’t in love with her but I was a lot less in hate with her this time around! *shocked face*

The intensity of the dislike is less doe Isa *shrug*

As for Eva & Isa’s mom doe…I’m keep this one short and sweet…I still don’t like her, actually I hate her…and this gif totally sums up that up…

Because only Dave Chappelle could bring the energy I needed on this one!

Moving on to my favvvvvv, Aketo! *cue all the heart emojis and confetti guns* He remains my boooooooo and deserves a championship belt for that! I still got all the warm and tinglys that I felt when he first stepped onto the page in ARORB when he was mentioned in AQOGH. He remained the love interest that I…I mean Eva deserves! We learned so much more about him and his family history that felt a bit like a shock to the system at times! Aketo went through so much and the fact that he was able to be so level headed and not more morally grey than he was is incredible! I think it just made me love and appreciate him so much more! I can’t say much more because I don’t want to give anything away but I love him soooooo much especially since he kept the innuendos up and I’m a sucker for that sh…I mean, stuff *smirks*!

Me to Aketo…I mean Eva to Aketo & Aketo right back at her

My favorite homies, Falun & Baccha, remained favorites through out this book since we got to see more of & learn more about them. Falun remained the homie that would give the two finger tap when Eva needed it. He didn’t hesitate to keep it real with Eva and continued to support her when he thought she was doing the most. I also really LOVED his level of shade and pettiness in this book… good shade and above healthy level of petty will always and forever be my jam! Falun is the forever ride or die, the type that we all could use on our teams.

Falun to Eva…he gave some solid advice throughout this journey!

Now, as for Baccha…I love him, I really and truly do but my dude was hella flaky in this book and I just wanted to slap him upside his head in the most loving of ways at times. He was that friend that you know if you reach out to them, you may or may not get a response and if you get a response, it’s one that would make you side eye your phone…yup, that friend. I mean, he did let us all know who he was in the first book but my dude, you could also break the cycle SOMETIMES! I’m pretty sure I face palmed a few times as well when Baccha appeared but like with any of our friends like this, we still love their flaky selves!

I really do Baccha, I really really do!

What can I say about Eva that I didn’t say in the previous post? Honestly, so much because she really BAWSED UP in this book! She was really on some “Don’t start no sh*t, won’t be no sh*t” type vibes in this book and I was completely here for every single moment of it. Eva held strong to her convictions and didn’t let anyone change what didn’t need to be changed. She learned so much about herself and how much more she was capable of that all you could really do was lean back and be in awe of her…at least, I was! Eva was every bit the leader and student that she needed to be…and she also let her inner nerd out, which I basically live for! I say let that inner nerd shine at all times, come with the historical receipts when folks try it and no one can doubt you! My love for Eva was great….just not greater than that of my love for Aketo, lol (sorry, I just had to)!

The Bawse energy Eva was coming with during this book, sans the cigar

There was SOOOOOOOOOO MUCH TEA SPILLED in this book! It basically blew all of the doors open, how much tea was spilled and I LIVEDDDDD! I need for all of you to read it so I can have people to talk about all of this piping hot tea…so please…I’m begging you…go read this book! If you haven’t read ARORB, I’mma need you to read that first then read AQOGH immejiately after! My face was like… “OOOOOOOOO” quite a bit during this read and I got my entire life at the same time!

And tea, Amanda Joy did give!

Seriously Y’all, this sequel was everything I could’ve ever wanted and more! So much so that I’m salty that this is a duology and wish it was a trilogy! I want more of the characters because there is so much more to explore with them and hereby petition to Amanda Joy that they get their own books or at the very least, novellas! I lay myself at Amanda’s feet and mercy, in hopes that she will answer this petition! In all seriousness, I LOVED this duology so much and think everyone needs to read it because it is an effin’ masterpiece!

This duology deserves all of the the chef’s kisses!

I also believe that this duology needs to be on a small or big screen so I could be all up in the opening nights with my popcorn, ready to watch everything go down like my dude in this gif! ARORB and AQOGH would be brilliant as a series…for real for real! Just imagine Eva and Isa throwing down or Aketo giving all the smolder on the screen *deep sigh*…ughhhhhhhh, it would be amazing! Netflix, hulu, HBO, Showtime…SOMEONE make this happen but do it RIGHT PLEASE! The fandom demands this!

Without shame, this would be me on opening night

Welp everyone, I hope I have put up a convincing enough testimony as to why you need to go out and get AQOGH (and ARORB) if you haven’t already! This duology was everything and I *believe* you will think so too once you read it! So my peeples, as usual, I’m wishing you all Happy Reading and sending Bookish love your way! Feel free to find and follow me on all of the social medias: Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic and Clubhouse @bookishgrlmagic where you can typically find me in the Diverse Shelves club rooms for more bookish banter! Until the next post, PEACE, LOVE AND HAIR GREASE!

Because y’all needed to see the covers side by side!
Featured

The Cost Of Knowing Is A Price I’m Willing To Pay

Who WOULDN’T be drawn in by this cover?!
  • Brittney Morris
  • 2nd Book, Stand Alone
  • YA Contemporary with a hint of magic
  • Heritage/Background: Black (read black, black, bliggity black)
  • IG: @brittneymmorris, Twitter: @BrittneyMMorris, www.authorbrittneymorris.com
  • Release date: 4/6/2021 (US), 3/16/2021 (UK, out now…lucky folks)
  • Publisher: Simon And Schuster
  • Favorite character: Isaiah cause he is hysterical and keeps it so real! He’s the best, seriously!
  • Favorite quote: There are two I highlighted and they are parts of longer quotes but will only put the part(s) that stuck out. “Why don’t we go to the gas station down the street and eat some sushi or something?”-Alex. I cackled so hard but also felt my stomach gargle in protest…whoever eats sushi from a gas station is either really brave or really wants the bubble guts/food poisoning! The other quote is “Joy in the midst of oppression is its own kind of bravery.”– Aunt Mackie…when I tell you I let out a low whistle when I read that…I think my Spirit is still letting it out at that line…I was so blown, especially because it is so true!

I have to start this by saying that I am a Brittney Morris Stan! I have been since her debut book SLAY, which is the second book I wrote about for this blog…if you don’t remember this post, go read it here! I am pretty sure there are some (or a lot of) cuss words so just a heads up! Recently, I had the honor of doing an IG Live with Brittney for one of my Saturday Night Geek Outs, which you could watch here! We had a great time and she unboxed finished copies of TCOK! I tried to play it cool but I was internally fangirling!

Me, on the inside, as I was on live with Brittney!

If you read my post about SLAY then you know that I think Brittney is a freaking genius! And she was nothing short of that title when it came to The Cost Of Knowing! Brittney dropped so many gems in SLAY that I was wondering how she would do it in this book and the way she did in TCOK was simply brilliant! TCOK deserves all of the awards, accolades, billboards and finger snaps, it is so phenomenal! When I say Brittney DID THAT, She DID *clap* THAT *clap* ISH! She put her foot in it and dense-some! Is there something more than a chef’s kiss that I could give? Because this book deserves that!

Brittney While writing this book!

I had been chopping at the bit to read this book from the moment that she announced it and entered every giveaway I could possibly find (since I don’t have the hook up with Simon & Schuster)! For those of us in the book community, we know how tough it is to win them and that so many prayers & offerings have to be given to the Book Gods in order to win one, it feels like! I finally got lucky and won one…and when I tell you that I squealed so loud when I got the email notification then the ARC in the mail… I SQUEEEEEEEEEEALEDDDDDDDDDD and I’m not ashamed to say it!

Me, when I got the email notification and the ARC in the mail!

I think I started reading it as soon as I possibly could and ate it up! I read it back in November and finished it in a little under 4 days (adulting loves to kick me in the behind when there is a book I just want to sit and read)… I was so immersed in the book that I didn’t even really use the highlighter tab sticker thingys I have (though I wish I had so I can revisit certain parts more easily but it is what it is)! It is certainly one of those books you want to live in the moment with despite the Main Character’s focus on the future. There was so much said and happened that had me like “WHOAAAAAA” *Insert mind exploding emoji here* *synapses firing*! This whole book is just a flipping masterpiece and I can’t gush enough about it!

Me, while reading this book
<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">I'll stop obsessing but this book is TRULY THAT GOOD and the aforementioned is a very on brand response to it! The character development is also incredible and we all know that I love a book that shows range in it's characters. I felt like I was living in Alex's (the MCs) mind the entire time and it felt like the whole book played out like a movie. His ability of seeing the future (not a spoiler) felt like curse whenever it was activated and his annoyance/despair was palpable the entire the time. You could see how it distanced him from some while attempting to bring him closer to another as he was in a race against time. Could you imagine what it would be like to see glimpses of the future EVERY TIME you touch something? At first, it would be cute but after a while, I feel like I would want to fight everybody and wouldn't want to people at all. For having such a constant distraction, I thought Alex handled it as well as anyone could've. He learned some massively important lessons about the value of time and holding those you love close. The balance he found between grief and pro-activeness was simply astounding. As an adult, I'm still trying to learn that and I wish I had a character like Alex to learn from as a teen. Alex juggled so much but bless his heart, he tried in the best way he knew how to handle all his responsibilities (which brings up the topic of how Black Kids, especially Black Boys, have to grow up so quickly but I'm going to table discussion that right now).I’ll stop obsessing but this book is TRULY THAT GOOD and the aforementioned is a very on brand response to it! The character development is also incredible and we all know that I love a book that shows range in it’s characters. I felt like I was living in Alex’s (the MCs) mind the entire time and it felt like the whole book played out like a movie. His ability of seeing the future (not a spoiler) felt like curse whenever it was activated and his annoyance/despair was palpable the entire the time. You could see how it distanced him from some while attempting to bring him closer to another as he was in a race against time. Could you imagine what it would be like to see glimpses of the future EVERY TIME you touch something? At first, it would be cute but after a while, I feel like I would want to fight everybody and wouldn’t want to people at all. For having such a constant distraction, I thought Alex handled it as well as anyone could’ve. He learned some massively important lessons about the value of time and holding those you love close. The balance he found between grief and pro-activeness was simply astounding. As an adult, I’m still trying to learn that and I wish I had a character like Alex to learn from as a teen. Alex juggled so much but bless his heart, he tried in the best way he knew how to handle all his responsibilities (which brings up the topic of how Black Kids, especially Black Boys, have to grow up so quickly but I’m going to table discussion that right now).

Me, watching everything play out from Alex’s POV!

Speaking of characters, I loved Alex’s younger brother Isaiah SO SO MUCH! Every time he stepped onto the page, I was in awe of his humor and insight. Isaiah had to be one of the wisest preteens ever written into a book…he is also a mood in so many ways too. He spoke to my reclusive nature and his snark was A1! Here is something he said that made me cackle loudly “I wanna finish what I was watching, then go to bed, wake up this afternoon, eat some pizza pockets, and then rewatch what I was watching.”…hey, the kid knows what he wants and I can respect it! I loved reading how his and Alex’s relationship blossomed, even though the clock you knew was there & Alex sensed was ticking the entire time. Isaiah is a mood, a mindset, a lifestyle in so many ways… he was definitely a scene stealer!

Dis Isaiah and sure is with his scene stealing self!

Before I end this post, I have to talk briefly about the social commentary that is in this book. From Black Lives Matter to the necessity of “the grind”, I loved how Brittney wove it in in a way that wasn’t overwhelming but didn’t downplay the significance of these matters. I loved how Brittney incorporated news accounts and conversations amongst characters, where she touches on these topics but doesn’t make it all that is focused on. Sure, there are books that talk about Black pain and trauma but this book is more about Black Boys finding their joy, navigating life and just existing…really the way that things should be. We don’t get NEARLY enough books like this and I want MORE of this. Black kids should have their vast range of experiences reflected in books, it is long past time for that as so many live the realities of this book. I’m so glad that The Cost Of Knowing exists so they can feel seen. It’s an unfortunately reality that so many Black Kids, like Alex, have to grow up so early, working part-time and going to school along with the probability of having to raise siblings or at minimum assist in their upbringing (I was one). In so many ways, this book felt like an ode to all those kids…the ones that could see themselves in Alex or Isaiah.

and more and more books like The Cost Of Knowing!

The Cost Of Knowing does such a brilliant job of toeing the line between heaviness and happiness…it’s really just All Of The Things! There is so much more that I could say about this book but I’m just going to say GO GET THIS BOOK, it is RE-DONK-ULOUSLY AMAZING! I’m sure I haven’t let you down yet and I don’t plan to everrrrrr! So continue to trust me…*puts hands together & bats eyelashes* pretty pleaseeeee?! *Kool-Aid Smiles* Alright my peeps, as usual, I’m wishing you all Happy Reading and sending Bookish love your way! Feel free to find and follow me on all of the social medias: Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic and Clubhouse @bookishgrlmagic, especially on Tuesdays for the Pub Day: YA Edition room under the Diverse Shelves club for more bookish banter! Until the next post, BYEEEEEEE!

The UK Cover which is also super dope!
Featured

Stand Up For AAPI & Support AAPI Authors

#StandUpForAAPI

As a Black Woman in America I wanted to take this time to use my platform to support another community, the AAPI community. I’ve looked at the news of all the violence against AAPI and it feels way too familiar…it’s a trauma that no one deserves to have inflicted upon their community over and over again. It would be idealistic to say that this is recent but those of us who have truly studied the history of this country (the world, really) know that it is far from recent. I won’t get into all of that but what I will say is that it is WAY past time for POC communities to use our collective voices and stand behind those who are suffering and provide support to each other. It is also time for those who call themselves our “allies” to really put themselves to work and speak up for those who are being seen as targets…to use the privilege(s) they have to check the people around them when they are wrong and not flinch if there is push back.

It’s not too late to join in on this on instagram

For this post, I’m going to do what I do best and provide a list of AAPI authors and their books, most will be YA & MG but there are some children’s & adult books as well. Of course, I would recommend purchasing their books if you are able but requesting from your local library also helps boost the visibility/demand of their work. Also, following these authors on Social media and sharing their posts are also helpful to them as well. I did a post that is similar on the Spill The DiversaTea Blog (this also has some AAPI owned Bookstores and Tea companies, if you are looking to support some) but I’m posting all the AAPI authors that are currently on my shelves (or TBR) and their books that I know of (that I haven’t read) so this list will be much longer. The books that are in series are on one line & if a book as not come out yet, the tentative release date is next to the title.

Will you answer the call?

Also, throughout this post, you will see graphics that were created by @travelling.the.pages, an Asian American bookstagrammer who has been working on the #StandUpForAAPI campaign in conjunction with other AAPI bookstagrammers. I hope you will support their mission. I have asked her permission to use her graphics and I am grateful that she has granted my request!

  • Renee Ahdieh
    • The Rose & The Dagger and The Wrath & The Dawn
    • Smoke In The Sun and Flame In The Mist
    • The Beautiful and The Damned
  • Samira Ahmed
    • Love, Hate & Other Filters
    • Internment
    • Mad, Bad, And Dangerous To Know
    • Amira & Hamza: The War To Save The Worlds (MG 9/21/2021)
  • Nafiza Azad
    • The Candle And The Flame
    • The Wild Ones (8/3/2021)
  • Nandini Bajpai
    • A Match Made In Mehendi
    • Sister Of The Bollywood Bride (5/25/2021)
  • Tanaz Bhathena
    • Hunted By The Sky & Rising Like A Storm (6/22/2021)
  • Waka T. Brown
    • While I Was Away
  • Gloria Chao
    • American Panda
    • Our Wayward Fate
    • Rent-A-Boyfriend
  • Sona Charaipotra
    • Tiny Pretty Things & Shiny Broken Pieces (co-authored)
    • Symptoms Of A Heartbreak
  • Kat Cho
    • Wicked Fox & Vicious Spirits
  • Mary HK Choi
    • Emergency Contact
    • Permanent Record
    • Yolk
  • Roshani Chokshi
    • Aru Shah And The End Of Time, Aru Shah And The Song Of Death, Aru Shah And The Tree Of Wishes & Aru Shah And The City Of Gold *MG Series* (4/6/2021)
    • The Gilded Wolves, The Silvered Serpents & The Bronzed Beasts (9/21/2021)
    • Once More Upon A Time (10/6/2021)
  • Rin Chupeco
    • The Girl From The Well & The Suffering
    • The Bone Witch, The Heart Forger & The Shadowglass
    • The Never Tilting World & The Ever Cruel Kingdom
    • Wicked As You Wish 
  • Mintie Das
    • Brown Girl Ghosted
  • Hafsah Faizal
    • We Hunt the Flame & We Free The Stars
  • Maurene Goo
    • Since You Asked
    • I Believe In A Thing Called Love
    • The Way You Make Me Feel
    • Somewhere Only We Know
  • Nina Hamza
    • Ahmed Aziz’s Epic Year *MG* (6/22/2021)
  • Jenny Han
    • The Summer I Turned Pretty, It’s Not Summer Without You & We’ll Always Have Summer
    • To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, P.S. I Still Love You & Always And Forever, Lara Jean
  • Joan He
    • Descendant Of The Crane
    • The One’s We’re Meant To Find (5/4/2021)
  • Joanna Ho
    • Eyes That Kiss At The Corners *Children’s book*
    • Playing At The Border *Children’s book* (9/28/2021)
  • June Hur
    • The Silence Of Bones
    • The Forest Of Stolen Girls (4/20/2021)
  • Jessica Jung
    • Shine & Bright (9/28/2021)
  • Graci Kim
    • The Last Fallen Star *MG* (5/4/2021)
  • Kevin Kwan
    • Crazy Rich Asians, China Rich Girlfriend & Rich People Problems (adult)
  • Remi Lai
    • Pawcasso *MG* (5/11/2021)
  • Rajani Larocca
    • Red, White And Whole
    • Bracelets For Bina’s Brothers *picture Book* (4/20/2021)
  • Loan Le
    • A Pho Love Story
  • Jayce Lee
    • A Sweet Mess (adult)
  • Lori M. Lee
    • Forest Of Souls & Broken Web (6/15/2021)
  • Lyla Lee
    • I’ll Be The One
  • Stephan Lee
    • K-Pop Confidential
  • Elizabeth Lim
    • Spin The Dawn & Unravel The Dusk
    • Six Crimson Cranes (7/6/2021)
  • Malinda Lo
    • Ash & Huntress (prequel)
    • Last Night At The Telegraph Club
  • Tahereh Mafi
    • Shatter Me, Destroy Me, Fracture Me, Unravel Me, Ignite Me, Restore Me, Shadow Me, Reveal Me & Imagine Me.
    • Furthermore & Whichwood
    • A Very Large Expanse Of Sea
    • An Emotion of Great Delight (6/1/2021)
  • Syed M. Masood
    • More Than Just A Pretty Face
    • Bad Muslim Discount
  • Zoe Hana Mikuta
    • Gearbreakers (6/29/2021)
  • Lily Menon
    • Make Up Break Up (adult)
  • Sandhya Menon
    • When Dimple Met Rishi, There’s Something About Sweetie & 10 Things I Hate About Pinky
    • From Twinkle With Love
    • Of Curses And Kisses & Of Princes And Promises (6/8/2021)
  • Sarena & Sasha Nanua
    • Sisters of The Snake (6/15/2021)
  • Natasha Ngan
    • Girls Of Paper And Fire & Girls Of Storm And Shadow
  • Ellen Oh & Elsie Chapman
    • A Thousands Beginnings And Endings Anthology
  • Emily X.R. Pan
    • The Astonishing Color Of After
  • Suzanne Park
    • The Perfect Escape
  • Anuradha D. Rajurkar
    • American Betiya
  • Rachel Ray & Ava Dash
    • 96 Words For Love
  • E.L. Shen
    • The Comeback *MG*
  • Sarah Suk
    • Made In Korea (5/18/2021)
  • Andrea Tang
    • Rebelwing & Renegade Flight
  • Swati Teerdhala
    • The Tiger At Midnight, The Archer At Dawn & The Chariot At Dusk (6/29/2021)
  • Shveta Thakkar
    • Star Daughter
  • Lindsay Wong
    • My Summer Of Love & Misfortune
  • Kelly Yang
    • Parachutes (YA)
    • Front Desk, Three Keys & Room To Dream (9/21/2021) (MG)
  • F.C. Yee
    • The Epic Crush Of Genie Lo & The Iron Will Of Genie Lo
  • Jennifer Yen
    • A Taste For Love
  • David Yoon
    • Frankly In Love
    • Super Fake Love Song
    • Version Zero (5/25/2021)
  • Mimi Yu
    • The Girl King & Empress Of Flames
  • Amelie Wen Zhao
    • Blood Heir & Red Tigress

I know that there are so many more AAPI authors out there that I have yet to see or have not yet debuted. These are just the ones that I’ve read or have in my TBR and pay attention to when they have new books out! I hope that you will choose to support these authors, whether it’s by following them on social media, ordering a book or a few or requesting their work from your libraries.

I also hope that you will take some of the action steps provided in the graphics. As my home girl & fellow bookstagrammer @iamcaseyrkelley likes to say “Support Is A Verb”. I hope that you find this post informative and that the action steps are doable for you. Remember that this is more than just a moment, it’s a movement! Let’s all support the AAPI Community during this trying time.

Sending Love to the AAPI community

As usual, I’m wishing you all Happy Reading and sending Bookish love your way! Feel free to find and follow me on all of the social medias: Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic and Clubhouse @bookishgrlmagic, especially on Tuesdays for the Pub Day: YA Edition room under the Diverse Shelves club for more bookish banter! Until the next post, please be safe out there.

Featured

I’m Completely Obsessed With FireKeeper’s Daughter

This cover is sooooooo gorgeous!
  • Author: Angeline Boulley
  • Debut
  • Genre: YA Thriller
  • Background-Indigenous; Ojibwe
  • IG-@angelineboulley; Twitter-@FineAngeline; https://angelineboulley.com/
  • Release Date: 3/16/2021 (out NAOW!)
  • Publisher: Henry Holt (Imprint of MacMillan)
  • Favorite Character-Granny June! She is SO FREAKING FUNNY and so real! I think she is just the best…I actually wished she was my granny (not replacing the one I have, of course, but she could be like my adopted granny)! Her granddaughter and Daunis’ best friend, Lily, comes in a close second because she’s like a younger version of Granny June!
  • Favorite Quote(s) “Now when I die, yous gotta promise to get Tribal Council to be pallbearers at my funeral.”-she pauses for dramatic effect-“so they can let me down one last time.”-Granny June…I was CRYING when I read that line! She’s too funny and I could read a book of just her quotes all day…I wouldn’t mind a prequel from her perspective cause some of the things she says makes you want to read that story! There is another thought that Daunis had that really resonated with me and it was: “When someone dies, everything about them becomes past tense. Except for the grief. Grief stays in the present.” WHEWWWWWWWWW…there it is, what isn’t said that should be more often and respected.
Me, after reading that but not looking quite as put together!

Y’all…Y’all…Y’ALL! I’m SOOOOOOOOO OBSESSED WITH FIREKEEPER’S DAUGHTER! If you were like “was it the cover?”…ummmmm, you right…but also, FireKeeper’s Daughter is PHENOOOOOOOOMENAL! From the story telling to the characters, it just grabs your attention and doesn’t let you go! Angeline put her FOOT in this book y’all! Since I finished this book in February, I have not been able to stop talking about it…like, it stays in my mouth (I’m not ashamed to say that either)! If you follow me on instagram or on clubhouse, I STAY shouting about it! I LOVEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE THIS BOOK! Now, while I’m apart of the blog tour for this book with MacMillan, I was going to write this post anyway…I’m seriously obsessed! The day I received a book box for this book, I opened it on IG Live & completely geeked out…if you would like to watch my moment, here you go!

Dis Me…but not looking as stunning, lol!

I’mma take a moment to talk about the cover because it deserves it time in the spotlight! Pause here to scroll up to admire the cover because it should be stared at often! Welcome back! Now, this cover is STUNNNNNNING!!! The cover artist seriously DID THAT! From the illustration to the color scheme and fonts…it is simply beautiful! There is even metallic foil on it that really makes it POP! I could stare at it all day and not get bored (It’s right next to me as I write this)! It represents the book perfectly and if I could hug the cover artist, I totally would but #SocialDistancing so I’ll give them a pound or high five! *UGH* I just love it so much!

But I don’t think…I KNOW I’m In love with this cover!

Being the book cover judge that I am, I didn’t even need to know the premise of this book to know I wanted to read it (call me shallow but this instinct hasn’t steered me [or you] wrong so I will keep rolling with it). Though when I heard the premise of the book, I was like “oh yea, I’m definitely reading that”… I basically did the virtual version of tackling one of my favs at MacMillan by emailing them right away about FireKeeper’s Daughter (Shout Outs to Morgan) and OF COURSE, jumped at the chance at being on this blog tour…which, just a reminder, that this post would exist with or without it because #ImObsessed!

Or maybe not…only time will tell

The story that Angeline told through Daunis, the main character is nothing short of amazing! I would read till I was ready to go to sleep then wake up to go back to reading….I never wanted to put my tablet down and I don’t think I’ve ever been so attached to it before! There was so much going on in this story and yet, I didn’t feel the least bit overwhelmed by it…stressed, yes…anxious, absolutely…but overwhelmed, not in the least! The way that Angeline wrote this book was so poetic and it felt good just to lean into the story. I felt like I was there beside Daunis the entire time (and I may or may not have yelled at her like she could hear me *shifty eyes*). I’m honestly not much of a thriller reader (though others may beg to differ, lol) but this makes me want to pick up more if I think I can get through it all without having pulled my hair out or bit my nails down to the quick! What I DO KNOW and think is that I will read anything that Angeline writes from now on. That’s it, the gavel has been pounded and it’s final!

It’s official, I’m an Angeline Boulley Stan!

I must, I must, I must talk about my favs in this book! Granny June is the grandma I wish I had as a teen but am likely to be when I grow up! She is so funny and so real…you just couldn’t get a better (or bad in the best of ways) influence & person in Granny June! On top of that, when you add her peoples from the community center/senior center, you’ve got yourself one hell of a party! They are so funny together and the banter is simply BRILLIANT! I wanted to go hang out with them and listen to all of their stories…I wouldn’t need to say a word, just sit back and listen to the wisdom and witness the shenanigans… I would be content with that for the rest of my days! Here is an example: Granny June- “Miigwetch, my girl. Mmmm … dark and bitter, just like my first husband.” Her homegirl Minnie- “Gets you riled up, too. Hot stuff.” I just about DIED when I read that…and if you want to know about the context…well, you just gotta read the book so you can see when this was said and about what, lol! These are the type of elders I could rock with! Where they at?! I’m ready to kick it with them!

This would be me the entire time I hang out with Granny June and the senior center crew!

Another character I loved, which would be a surprise to no one because of who my fav is, is Lily! Lily is the best friend that we all need! The way she bantered with Daunis is just the greatest and the balance that she brought to her is the pinnacle of what a good friendship is! I also loved how she would let Daunis know if she was being unrealistic and wayyyyy too into her head…sometimes we just need that friend that will tell us to have a seat when we are doing too much and that friend here is Lily! Even in when Daunis was thinking in the vein of WWLD (What Would Lily Do), it was clear that she was a guiding light or devil on her shoulder (depends on the situation, lol). Another thing I loved is her sense of humor and wit…something she clearly inherited from Granny June! She balanced humor and seriousness so brilliantly like when she said: “Holy Wah. Yous look like you fought a pack of rez dogs and lost.” LOL! Way to tell people they look like crap Lily…and I’m here for it! If I could hug Lily and hang out with her, I would jump at the chance because she knew how to have a good time!

This would Lily and I if she were a real person and we were in the same room

Of course, I gotta talk about Daunis because she is just so dope! First of all, she is super intelligent and she OWNSSSS it! Nothing warms my heart more than a fellow nerd who isn’t afraid to let others know just how smart they are! Her quips about facts are just THE BEST like this one: “That’s not what Occam’s razor means. It’s a problem-solving principle about competing hypotheses and starting at the one with the fewest assumptions.” !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! *Insert Head Exploding Emoji with accompanying sound effects here* Did you just fall in love? Cause I did all over again! #AllTheHeartEyes! Seriously, she spoke to my nerdy Spirit! Not only is she intelligent but she is resilient and such a bada$$. Baby girl went through so much but she was such a G… I adored her “F**k It, I’ll Do It” attitude and how she knew when to call out people when appropriate! I just wanted to give her fist pumps when she bodied something or rock her in the moments when she was experiencing something jarring to her being… I would’ve been happy to play big sister or auntie to her in those moments. Daunis deserves all of the love & hype up!

Me, during so many of Daunis’ moments!

Another thing I loved about this book is the way that Angeline shared Indigenous culture and teachings. It felt melodic and comforting in how she described their Tribal events or gatherings with her peers from story telling by the fire, reverence of elders, the dances, songs and the regalia. It was like Angeline was painting a picture that I wouldn’t want to stop looking at. I’ve been blessed to have gone to pow wows before the world descended into the chaos that is the panorama and I felt like I was right back on those grounds…smelling the scent of fresh fry bread, feeling the vibrations of the drums, listening to the jingles on their regalia and watching the blur of colors as they dance… It was such beautiful memory/image to pull from that invoked so much emotion for me. There was something that Daunis thought which I also thought was so important and that we all need to be reminded of which was: “I am overcome with a mixture of emotions. Sad that their innocent eyes are open to the trauma that still impacts our community today. Angry they must learn these truths in order to be strong Anishinaabeg in a world where Indians are thought of only in the past tense.” That is an entire SERMON! It is amazing that we live in a world where an entire Nation of people were taken advantage of, had their land stolen & lives taken and then have the nerve to speak of them as if they are past tense when they very much still present and experiencing so much injustice. There are so many lessons & gems throughout this book and I hope people pick them up & really digest them.

From the moment you open this book to the moment you close it my friends!

Another aspect that I really appreciated about this book is how grief is talked about and processed. I had actually read this book 2 months after my Grandpa passed away and when I tell you that I ugly cried while reading this book…I mean, I REALLY ugly cried (believe it or not, that is not me but it sure was when I was reading). The way Daunis viewed death is very much in line with my own views and how she processed her grief is how I imagined I would have too. She was angry, she wanted answers and she wouldn’t let anyone pacify her. The way Daunis used her grief to propel her forward was nothing short of awe-inspiring, especially when others would have found it to be debilitating (I may have at her age, to keep it real). I actually DMed Angeline about how she spoke about grief in this book and how hard it struck me. It led to a beautiful conversation about our loved ones who have passed on and how we have processed/are processing our grief. It is likely to make you evaluate how you process or have processed your own. Whenever you read this book, just make sure you keep a box of tissues or a handkerchief or a long sleeve near by because you WILL need it!

Seriously, you will cry and that is okay…embrace that now because you gon’ feel all the feels!

On a less serious note, FireKeeper’s Daughter has so many freaking funny moments! Whether its with Granny June & her senior center crew, Daunis with Lily or Daunis stunting in all her brainiac glory; there is so much humor woven throughout the story. There is a striking balance of seriousness to humor in FireKeeper’s Daughter that just leaves you floored…it was lowkey a masterclass in how to write & invoke emotions in a book. I was on a roller coaster the whole time that I didn’t want to get off of… and I don’t even LIKE roller coasters Y’all (actual roller coasts…emotional ones can be tolerated)! I really didn’t want this book to end, even though I knew it had to *quietly sobs*. I love a book that makes me cry, think and laugh throughout my time of reading and FireKeeper’s Daughter made me do all that and more! This book is seriously everything and you need to get it, if you haven’t already & read it so you can understand why I’m so obsessed with it!

Dis Me when it comes to FireKeeper’s Daughter

I hope I have effectively convinced you as to why you need to get this book…If I need to say more to convince you, let me know cause I’m surely up to the task, LOL! Hopefully we’ve established some level of trust since you’ve read this post through! Alrighty y’all, I will end it here…for now. *smirks* As usual, I’m wishing you all Happy Reading and sending Bookish love your way! Feel free to find and follow me on all of the social medias: Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic and Clubhouse @bookishgrlmagic, especially on Tuesdays for the Pub Day: YA Edition room under the Diverse Shelves club for more bookish banter! Until the next post, BYEEEEEEE!

Featured

Giving Them Their Flowers: An Ode To My Favs

Hey everyone! You all may not know this but it’s my birthday week (and I do love birthdays) so I wanted to do something different for this week’s post! I wanted to use this blog post to give some of my favorite authors their flowers while they are still here. Nothing hurts more than to give people their flowers when it’s too late for them to receive them. We have especially experienced this in the last year. I also believe that Authors Of Color are not receiving the flowers they deserve and I want to change that with this post. Here are some of my favorite authors, their books and why I adore them so much! I’ll also share pictures I’ve taken with them, if I have one!

  • Ibi Zoboi
    • Books: American Street, Pride, Black Enough: Anthology, My Life As An Ice Cream Sandwich, and Punching The Air.
    • I completely ADORE Ibi Zoboi! It is because of her first book, American Street, that I was able to see a Haitian girl as the main character. This extremely important to me as someone who was returning back to reading after many years of inconsistent reading or rather reading books that didn’t reflect/represent me. American Street made me more curious about Haitian culture and I sincerely appreciate all of her work & who she is as a person. Without knowing it, Ibi helped jump start a healing journey for me with a part of my heritage that I felt disconnected to. I also love talking to her when I’ve gotten to see her in person and virtually (her husband is also super cool, what’s up Mr. Z!)!
The My Life As An Ice Cream Sandwich Launch at Books Of Wonder
  • Maika & Maritza Moulite
    • Books: Dear Haiti, Love Alaine & One Of The Good Ones
    • I absolutely love Maika & Maritza! Their first book, Dear Haiti, Love Alaine; changed my life. It gave me the motivation to start learning Haitian Kreyòl and desire to visit Haiti that I didn’t have before (COVID is being a whole a$$ beeotch in keeping me from doing that right now). I blubbered like I had just finished watching the best but saddest movie after reading DHLA and they also had me crying while reading OOTGO as well! Aside from that, they were so cool when I met them and I love their energy together & apart! It’s going to be like a family community whenever we can do in-person events again! *cues up the Konpa music*
At the Dear Haiti, Love Alaine Launch at Books Are Magic
  • Tiffany J. Jackson
    • Books: Allegedly, Monday’s Not Coming, Let Me Hear A Rhyme, Grown, The Awakening Of Malcolm X, Blackout (Co-authored with Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Nicola Yoon, Ashley Woodfolk & Dhonielle Clayton 6/22/2021), White Smoke (9/14/2021) & Santa In The City (10/12/2021).
    • Without Tiffany, this blog would actually not exist. It was because of a candid conversation I had with her after a book event that eventually led to the creation of this blog & I’m so appreciative of that night. Aside from this, her books always makes me want to throw things (but then pick it back up and apologize to it). I love books that make me feel intense emotions in the span of the few hours that it takes for me to finish (because I can never put them down & cannot sleep until I see what happens in the end) and that is always her books for me. I also miss her asking me “But did you die?” when I fuss after finishing at events, lol.
Me wanting to throw the books as I read but I promise I would pick it up and apologize to it afterward because we don’t hurt books
  • Dhonielle Clayton
    • Books: Tiny Pretty Things & Shiny Broken Things (co-authored with Sona Charaipotra), The Belles & The Everlasting Rose and Blackout (Co-authored with Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Nicola Yoon, Ashley Woodfolk & Tiffany D. Jackson 6/22/2021)
    • I sincerely appreciate Dhonielle in all her work for the publishing community to uplift Authors of Color, We Need Diverse Books and Cake Literary! Dhonielle wears so many hats and she keeps it all the way one hunnit with her observations & experiences. She’s been such a huge inspiration to the mission of this blog & my reading journey (The Belles Series covers remain two of my favorites of ALL TIME). She’s about this bookish life and she deserves to have A LOT of respect placed on her name! Seriously, Dhonielle should have a boatload of flowers & props given to her (I know I’m not the only one who thinks so either, ask any author, blogger or bookstagrammer).
At A Book panel at a Barnes & Noble in Manhattan
  • Brittney Morris
    • Books: SLAY, The Cost Of Knowing (4/6/2021), Spider-Man: Miles Morales-Wings Of Fury & The Jump (2023)
    • From the moment I read SLAY, I knew that Brittney would be a favorite. I was literally ready to fight for that ARC when I saw it at a bookish gathering and I’m so glad that I got it without any altercations! That book blew my mind and had to be the second book I wrote about for this blog. I simply adored SLAY & Brittney…just so you know, I also feel the same way about The Cost Of Knowing (don’t you worry, a blog post will happen for TCOK too)! Another thing that I appreciate about Brittney is that she is so down to earth and kind. Everyone needs to go get her books (well, pre-order The Cost Of Knowing) ASAP, I’m not even kidding!
I’m a fan of Brittney Morris Forever and Always!
  • Rin Chupeco
    • Books: The Girl From The Well & The Suffering; The Bone Witch, The Heart Forger & The Shadowglass; The Never Tilting World & The Ever Cruel Kingdom; & Wicked As You Wish
    • I love, love, LOVE Rin Chupeco! They are an author who I really wanted to meet after reading most of their books at the time and actually lamented about the impossibility since Rin lives abroad. I love their books soooooo sooooooo SOOOOOOOO much! I love their level of humor and snark weaved into their story telling & the cast of characters they put together, I just adore Rin so much! I’ve read all of their books and feel like everyone else should too! I was SO EXCITED when I got the opportunity to meet Rin when they came to New York! I may or may not have been like an excited puppy while waiting on line to have all my books signed (I had them all but WAYW because it wasn’t out yet & didn’t have the ARC at the time). Shout Out to Tochi Onyebuchi for taking our photo who also made us laugh after this one was taken!
  • Rena Barron
    • Books: Kingdom Of Souls & Reaper Of Souls; Maya And The Rising Dark & Maya And The Return Of The Godlings (9/21/2021)
    • If you have been reading my blog for a while, you may know that I’m a stan of Renas’! I think she is the bee knees and I stay in her DMs on instagram (to which she is so gracious about, thank you Rena). Her book Kingdom Of Souls is essentially what launched this blog. I appreciated how Rena fully embraced my blog post about Kingdom Of Souls and even quoted it (this is the biggest compliment I ever could’ve received then and even now *insert crying emoji here*)…and that she’s read my subsequent posts about her other books. I just love her writing style, her world building & character development, I just think she is everything! Periodt! Rena also gave literary birth to my first book boyfriend, Rudjek, and we know how I stan for him too (I wish he were real…*sigh*)!

On This Blog, We Stan For Rena Barron!

  • Sandhya Menon
    • Books: When Dimple Met Rishi, There’s Something About Sweetie & 10 Things I Hate About Pinky; From Twinkle With Love, Of Curses And Kisses & Of Princes And Promises (6/8/2021); and under Lily Menon-Make Up Break Up.
    • Like with Rin Chupeco, I had lamented about the possibility of not ever meeting Sandhya Menon because I instantly fell in love with her writing and she lived on the other side of this country (this was before I knew authors travel sometimes). I adore her characters and their stories…the way that her books evoke emotions like sadness and joy at the right moments and that overall, when you finish, you feel such a warm & fuzzy feeling all over…like you’ve just wrapped yourself up in your favorite fluffy blanket and sipped on your favorite tea from your lucky mug. Aside from her writing, she’s like the SWEETEST human being! Sandhya is so super kind and gracious to her readers & street team. I also really appreciate her trust in me when it comes to her street team. Sandhya is actually the reason I first got on an instagram live! I just adore her so much and was so excited to meet her at Bookcon in 2019 (this feels soooooo far away *sobs*)!
I was such a happy Huffle to meet a fellow Huffle who I thought is so great!
  • Nic Stone
    • Books: Dear Martin & Dear Justyce, Odd One Out, Jackpot, Clean Getaway, Shuri, Shuri: The Vanished & Shuri 3 (Title unannounced 11/2/2021), Blackout (Co-authored with Dhonielle Clayton, Angie Thomas, Nicola Yoon, Ashley Woodfolk & Tiffany D. Jackson 6/22/2021) & Fast Pitch (8/31/2021)
    • This couldn’t be a fav author post without talking about The queen Nic Stone…this here blogger STANS Nic Stone and everything she does! Nic’s book Shuri jumpstarted the Magical Black Kids Book Club and the MBKBC also stans for Nic! I remember being at Angie Thomas’ launch for On The Come Up in NY and seeing her…freaking out then writing in my stories that I saw her (but was too scared to approach her) & she responded that I should’ve said something! From then on, I always approached her at book events & we’ve taken selfies at almost all of them! She’s so kind and gracious to those she speaks to as well as is so supportive. I also love all of her books so very much and her ability to show the world through kid/teen eyes. Nic deserves every accolade she receives, seriously, and to say I adore her is a severe understatement!
Not Only Do I miss seeing Nic at book events but I miss human interaction and touch *insert sobbing emoji here*

Well, I’m going to cap it here but there are other authors that I love that I didn’t highlight here but think highly of like Jordan Ifueko (Raybearer & Redemptor 8/17/2021), Amanda Joy (A River Of Royal Blood & A Queen Of Gilded Horns 3/16/2021), Angeline Boulley (FireKeeper’s Daughter 3/16/2021), Maurene Goo (Since You Asked, I Believe In Something Called Love, The Way You Make Me Feel & Somewhere Only We Know) and LL McKinney (A Blade So Black, A Dream So Dark & A Crown So Cursed 11/9/2021; and Nubia: Real One)! I didn’t mention favorite books because my hope is that you all will pick up their books and pick a favorite of your own *Kool-Aid smile*! All these authors deserve their flowers while they can still smell them (if they are allergic then they can be given their favorite snack) and I’m giving it to them now! I hope you decide to give some of your favorite authors their flowers (or snacks) as well because they deserve them!

This person doesn’t look like me but let’s play pretend, okay?!

I’m wishing you all Happy Reading and as usual I’m sending Bookish love your way! Feel free to find and follow me on all of the social medias: Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic and Clubhouse @bookishgrlmagic, especially on Tuesdays for the Pub Day: YA Edition room under the Diverse Shelves club for more bookish banter! BYEEEEEEE!

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One Of The Good Ones Had Me Geeking

Look At This Gorgeous Cover!
  • Maika & Maritza Moulite (Sisters)
  • Second Book
  • Genre: YA Contemporary
  • Heritage: Haitian-American (AYISYENNNNNNN*waves Haitian Flag*)
  • IG:@maritzamoulite, @maikamoulite; Twitter: @maikamoulite, @MaritzaMoulite
  • Website: www.maikaandmaritza.com
  • Release: 1/5/2021 (Go get it NOW!)
  • Publisher: inkyard press
  • Favorite character: I quite loved Kezi! She’s smart and a bit sarcastic/snarky. I love the energy that she brought to the book when she was mentioned or when things were from her perspective. Sis is just dope!
  • Favorite Quote: This is something Happi thought that hit me like a ton of bricks “Speaking about her in the past tense still feels weird on my tongue.” Man, this is an entire mood/mindset/outlook & it’s very me too! Another quote: “Oh! And who are ‘girls like me’ exactly?“-Happi! YES HAPPI YES! Like what does that even MEAN?!

So I’m starting this off saying that I am a HUGE FAN of Maritza & Maika! Their first book, Dear Haiti, Love Alaine, literally changed my life and I wrote a post about it. If you haven’t read that post, click here to read it! It holds such a special place in my heart and I’m always happy to talk about it. I also did a live for the Haitian Read-A-Thon with some other Haitian Bookstagrammers & Maika about DHLA, you can see it here (I had such a good time)! I adore their work and I adore them, seriously! I’d read anything that they write, even their grocery list, lol.

I hate how accurate this is for me and my short arms but no lie, this is how much I adore them!

Now that I’ve gotten the warm and fuzzies out, I’mma move on to talking about their second book, One Of The Good Ones (OOTGO)… It is SO SO SOOOOOOOOOOO GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD! It is literary GOLD! The gems that they dropped, the scenarios that the characters were in, the twists & turns….*Chef’s Kiss*! Also the levels of emotions that I felt…*low whistles* but I also felt that it validated where I was at that point in time while I was reading.

To be transparent, when I read this book, it was less than a month after my Grandfather passed away and I was extremely emotional (the top contending emotions being anger and hurt). So that thought that I quoted, I felt it so very hard and even almost 3 months later, I’m still in a similar place (baby steps y’all, baby steps). So this book had me in my feelings and tears very early on. Since I was in such an emotionally turbulent place, it took me longer than I would’ve usually read but I loved this book SOOOOOOOO MUCH! It touched on so many necessary things that tend to get overlooked or just outright ignored/dismissed. I love books that get me thinking, that reminds me of our current realities without bombarding me with it, balances joy & humor with grief & heaviness in such a brilliant way! Seriously… y’all need to get this book!

But no, seriously!

So, y’all know how I’m a history buff right? Okay, maybe you don’t but now you know! I was in full on history geek mode from the moment that the Negro Motorist Green Book was mentioned! I, for real for real, was all in my nerdy feelings! When Kezi says while holding the Green Book “It’s like holding a snapshot in time between my fingers. Holding one of these never gets old.”, I imagined feeling like the sky opened up and angels began singing or the instrumental to when Mufasa held Simba up played…It would’ve been ALL UH THOSE FEELINGS! I love how Kezi revered the past but was solidly in the present…which can be tough. She also came with ALLLLLLLLLLL THE RECEIPTS when stepped to…and well, that’s me too! She will hit you with the historical facts then current data…I just LIVED when she spoke! The way that Maika & Maritza intertwined the past with the present was just brilliant! My Spirit was fully spoken to!

Me, when historical facts were stated or receipts were given!

Another thing that I love is the multiple perspectives in the book. Nothing delights me more than a book with multiple points of view! I feel it adds to the brilliance of the book when done really well and Maritza & Maika did *clap* that *clap* and they did it REALLY FREAKING WELL! And not only did they do multiple POVs but also multiple TIMELINES! Y’all, I was in full on GEEK! For a cherry on top, each POV brought on MIND BLOWING revelations that when it hits you, you’re just like “OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO”!

Then….

Yea, that’s all I can really say without spoiling the sheer brilliance that is this book! That second gif was also me when Kezi came with the receipts!

I’m lookin at you Kezi cause dis you!

Another thing I wanted to touch on right quick that is a really important question that this book posed… What exactly makes someone “one of the good ones?” and WTF does that even mean?! Who exactly is a “good one”? What do they look and sound like? Are they someone who is like a “step & fetch it” (look it up)? Do they do “all the right things”? What exactly are all the right things anyway? This is what I basically think when I hear that term (dezòd for real). Does being “a good one” mean that that person’s life deserves more recognition than one who isn’t considered as such? That they are more worthy than others? As the book shows, that answer depends on who is being talked to. What we know is that being “a good one” doesn’t save a person…no number of good deeds or degrees or even graveling will save a person, especially a person of color, as history (past and present) has dictated to us. I love how this book poses the question and asks you to really question your outlook on what constitutes a “good one” and why victims are either villainized or canonized in the court of public option………………*Hops off her soap box* (to a smaller one cause y’all know I’m short and need the extra height *shrug*)

Think about it my friends…just think about it

I love a book that makes me think, gives me history, multiple points of views, witty banter and even makes my eyes leak! One Of The Good Ones was all that and SO MUCH MORE! It is Sooooooo worth reading! I bet you will thank me after you do!

Before you say it, I know I didn’t talk really about the characters and I didn’t on purpose because I didn’t want to give spoilers on accident. I want you to meet all of them on your own and get to know them! The character development in OOTGO is SUPERB! I really can’t say enough good things about this book! I hope you decide to pick it up and join me in geeking out about it! It is in the Haitian Read-A-Thon’s plans to come back and this will be one of the books that will be featured! There is an IG page for The Haitian Read-A-Thon that you can go follow, here is the link! We’ll be back at it for Haitian Heritage Month in May!

This will be us in May!

Well My peoples, I’m going to end it here and offer you òne ak respè! I’m wishing you all Happy Reading and as usual I’m sending Bookish love your way! Feel free to find and follow me on all of the social medias: Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic and Clubhouse @bookishgrlmagic, especially on Tuesdays for the Pub Day: YA Edition room under the Diverse Shelves club for more bookish banter! BYEEEEEEE!

I’m leaving y’all with this picture because we cute with our red lipstick on! Well, we just cute, periodt!
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Aye Yo #LegendbornKeptMeUp Is A Real Thing

  • Author: Tracy Deonn
  • Debut-Book 1 in a series (*cries silently in a corner*)
  • Genre: YA Contemporary Fantasy; King Arthur Reimagining
  • Background-Black
  • IG-@tracydeonn; Twitter-@tracydeonn
  • www.tracydeonn.com
  • Release Date: 9/15/2020 (out NAOW!)
  • Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Imprint of Simon & Schuster)
  • Favorite Character-Alice! William comes in close second. Alice is the best friend that we all should have…the yin to Bree’s yang, the alarm clock when she is still asleep, the one that gives it to her straight when she don’t want to hear it but need to…the one who can read Bree for filth and she can’t say ish back because she know Alice is right. I just loved her! I also loved William and his Legendborn tea-spilling self…he keeps it pretty cute when he spills it too.
  • Favorite Quote(s)-This is one of the many things I loved that was thought or said “Because broken hearts strip vocabularies down to their raw bones, and because I don’t want After-Bree to show up and turn this conversation into a tear-streaked explosion, I’ve scripted an admission using as few words as possible: “My mother died three months ago.“‘-Bree. I paused after I read that because of not just the heaviness but also the realness of it. I haven’t seen someone write down what that feeling was before and I felt it, 1000%. Also here is a brief convo between Alice and Bree that spoke to me: Alice-“Okay in there?”; Bree-“Yeah. Just realized I need to wash my hair.”; Alice-“Damn.”; Bree-“Yeah.” This was another moment I felt so hard because I hate washing my hair since it’s a process…and when friends understand that pain, I feel seen! (I will say that I have started embracing hair washing time as a self-care time but its’ still work doe!)

First of all, I’m obsessed with the cover of Legendborn…like I can’t stop staring at it! I had my finalized copy Face out (and I don’t usually do that on my bookshelves) for a while and I purchased a frame for the pre-order poster long before I ever pre-ordered because I knew Bree had to go up on my Magical Black Kids wall (I’m pretty sure I asked Tracy a million times how I could get the cover on a poster before I saw the Legendborn promo boxes and subsequent pre-order incentives that y’all KNOW I was sure to redeem)! Just look at the cover and tell me that it’s not worth staring at for prolonged periods of time…Go on and take a moment to look at it and then come back… *waits* Thank you for joining me in my obsession! To further witness my obsession, here is a video on Instagram where I’m opening my copy of Legendborn & the poster.

#DisMe when it comes to this cover!

So, when I saw the cover (because, clearly I’m obsessed with it and I’m not apologizing either), I KNEW I had to read this book…I entered every giveaway I possibly could so I could read an ARC of it and finally, the Book Gods smiled upon me….I won an ARC through San Diego Comic Con (thank you RivetedLit.com and San Diego Comic Con)! When I tell you I squealed so hard when I saw that email (I was with a student, I couldn’t scream in a 5 year olds ear), it was likely #TheSquealHeardAcrossTheWorld! When I got my copy, I SCREAMED! It was one of the best days of my life! I literally had just tweeted about wanting a copy too so you can’t tell me that whatever divine being you celebrate isn’t good! To prove my hypeness, see the screenshot below!

Let me get to talking about Legendborn…I quite literally can talk about this book ALLLLLLLL WEEK, but I know we all don’t have time like that! When I finally sat down and started this book, I DID NOT want to put it down! When I say #LegendbornKeptMeUp, I really mean that ish! The first day I had started at night and the next time I looked up, it was light out and my fitbit said it was 7 am…since I had to be up at 8 am, I thought “f*ck it” and read until it was time for to have actually gotten up…I think actually read for a little longer after that too… I regret NOTHING people, not one single second! It was a good thing I was off from work! I stayed up the subsequent nights until 5 am til I finished… and I finished Legendborn in less than 72 hours…this book is almost 500 pages y’all…again, I regret NOT-A-DAMN-THING! This book was SO EFFIN’ GOOOOOOOOOOOOD!

Absolutely NOTHING!

Legendborn takes place on the campus of UNC Chapel Hill and while I didn’t go to that school (I went to THE University of Alabama, Roll Tide Roll), I felt at home in the story because it sounded & felt so much like my alma mater’s campus! When Bree’s dad asked “Met any Black kids yet?”, I cackled SO HARD because that’s what it was like on my campus until I met a Black football player (they aren’t uncommon) and found my way to NCNW (National Council of Negro Women) & Black Greek Life! Bree also talked about growing up/living in the South and getting used to being in places not meant for US (i.e. Black People) and in her saying “a Rebel flag flying high out front.” I remember Rebel flags being in dorm windows and on cars despite it being supposedly “outlawed” on campus…hell, my college department’s main building was named for a KKK member… ahhhhh, the South, where they live in the past but tell us to get over it… but I digress. Anyway, I felt like I was part of the story because of the details Tracy shared and what I remember of my Alma Mater. The fact that I felt so at home in the story also speaks to Tracy’s ability to paint a picture in the reader’s mind (I’m seriously obsessed) and she gave me my entire life while taking away my ability to go to sleep! I also was dreaming of what could possibility happen next in the story when I did sleep!

As you already know, I’m enamored with Bree’s depiction on the cover but I’m even more so with her character. She’s the angry Black girl that we all deserve…that so many of us has been and may still be…I know my anger has grown since I was a teen because of the state of this country and the trauma experienced due to it… Bree speaks about the “After Bree“, the person she became after her trauma and I think so many of us have an “After [insert your name here]” because of events that change who we were at the time of its occurrence. I love that she didn’t apologize for her anger…so often Black girls are shamed for their anger rather than being validated in what they are experiencing/feeling. I also thought it was amazing that she had her BFF Alice there to support her (but also check her) when she needed it as well as a father who tried to be as understanding as possible. Another thing I loved is that Bree has the most magnificent way of reading folks for filth and I was SO *clap* HERE *clap* FOR *clap* IT *clap*! Sis went in at times and I can neither confirm nor deny that I yelled every time she did (and tweeted Tracy, lol).

Because Jujubee is ALWAYS a mood & an accurate meme for Bree’s ability to read folks!

Speaking of her BFF Alice, I think she is just the Bee’s knees! She has some of the best lines and she makes her presence known when she’s on the page. Alice felt more than a secondary or supporting character to me. She is a character that you would think of pages later and be like “hmmmmm…WWAD?…What Would Alice Do?” because shes the type of character you’d always want insight from! I lived for the moments where she gave Bree the two finger tap on the shoulder, told her to have a seat and read her when she needed the reality check. I also felt that she served as Bree’s anchor when she started to get a bit lost in what she was dealing with. We all need that friend, seriously. I Loved Alice so much and I can’t wait to see her in Book 2 and I really hope she gets more page time because sis is just that AWESOME!

Alice To Bree

I have to also take a moment to acknowledge my very close in second fav, William…the tea spiller and shade provider…a character after my own heart! He was absolutely hysterical and I lived for him! I loved how he was up for shaking ish up in the background and giving ZERO EFFS about what people thought. He was like “oh, y’all are adhering to this code of silence…well, I’m not so sit here and get this tea”…I just ADORED HIM! There was also a moment between him and Bree that I will NOT spoil that whenever I think of it, I just burst out laughing because he’s so hilarious in that scene! His and Bree’s banter…His and ANYONE really’s banter is just great! I wouldn’t be surprised if you, too, also fall in love with his character when you read the book *hint* *hint* *nudge* *nudge*. I really can’t wait to see what witty life giving banter and tea spills he will bring to us to in Book 2!

William getting ready to spill the tea

Like every good YA book, there is a love interest…there’s actually two! My brain basically exploded once it fully hit me that there was a love triangle…and yes, I knew about it before I read the book because Tracy shares that outright but it hits different when you read the book and you realize that it is happening/has happened! Am I going to say what team I’m on…hmmmmmmmm *taps chin*…I don’t think I will because I want you all to read the book and figure out who’s team you are on, LOL! So I will say, I am #TeamWhoEverBreeWants and be Switzerland in this bish because I’m also #TeamFormYourOwnOpinions, lol! You maybe disappointed that I didn’t talk more about this but I REALLY REALLY REALLLLLLLLLLY want you to go out and get then read this book!

Me when I think about the love triangle…and Legendborn in general!

For real, for real y’all…I freaking LOVEDDDDDDDDD this book and I hope that I have convinced you enough to pick up this book if you don’t already have it and read it if you haven’t! This book is simply PHENOMENAL and deserving of every bit of hype it received! If you need any further convincing…take yet another look at this gorgeous cover centering a POWERFUL MAGICAL BLACK GIRL!

I’m seriously obsessed with this cover y’all!

I think I have occupied enough of your time today but if you feel differently, there are other blog posts of mine that you can read and you can also find me on Instagram doing lives & ish! I also recently launched the blog for DiversaTeas Reads, which is a Black Woman Founded & Owned book box that features OwnVoices books/authors! It’s called “Spill The DiversaTea“! Click here for the first blog post which is a list of Books by Black Authors coming out this year since they are highlighting Black Books this month (it’s a shorter list than this post with All POC author books coming out this year)! Be sure to sign up for their newsletter to keep up with when new posts are up!

Anyway my peoples, Happy Reading and as usual I’m sending Bookish love your way! Feel free to find and follow me on Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic and Clubhouse @bookishgrlmagic, especially on Tuesdays for the Pub Day: YA Edition room under the Diverse Shelves club for more bookish banter!

I had to one more time because of my level of obsession with this cover! #NotSorryAboutIt
Replace “you” with “Legendborn” and this would be me
Featured

The Gilded Ones Is A Solid Gold Read

Seriously, LOOK AT THIS COVER!
  • Author: Namina Forna
  • Books Published: Debut, 1st in a trilogy
  • Genre: YA Fantasy
  • Background: Sierra Leonean
  • Social Media Accounts: IG@namina.forna, Twitter@NaminaForna
  • Website: www.naminaforna.com
  • Release Date: 2/9/21
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press
  • My Favorite Character: Britta! I love how loyal and attentive she is…also, homegirl got jokes! My second favorite is Ixa…he is just so adorable!
  • Favorite Quotes: “Ye ever kissed a boy, Deka?” “I did once, during one of the village festivals. It was bad, very bad. His mouth tasted like sour milk.”-Britta I laughed SO LOUD when I read that!

I’m a little late with putting up this post for the Hear Our Voices Blog Tour but I think it’s better late than never! I have to say that The Gilded Ones had been one of my most anticipated reads since I saw the cover revealed in 2019 or early 2020…then my world was destroyed when the date got pushed back to this year (so I can’t even imagine how Namina may have felt)! I will say though, this book was WORTH the wait! It was so beautifully written and it so vivid in its imagery! It’s going to be amazing on film (this was announced recently)! *UGH*! I just loved this book so much! The characters were so amazing…just *gahhhhhhhhhhh*…okay, that was my moment!

The characters in this book are simply amazing! Deka has the most amazing crew and after what she deals with in the beginning of the book, she definitely deserves a dope a$$ crew! They all bond in such a way that was superficial at first but became so much deeper and meaningful as the book goes on, it truly becomes a sisterhood (I love a good sisterhood). There were quite a few members of the crew but I’ll only talk about a few of them especially since I don’t want to give away anything (y’all know I’m about that spoiler free lyfe).

First, I freaking LOVE Britta! She’s so sweet as well as hilarious and she just says what is on her mind or it shows on her face. Even though her name is Britta, she really doesn’t have a filter and I’m here for it! She’s not ashamed to speak on things that are a bit taboo in their world and she is also honest about what she has or hasn’t experienced (take from that “experienced” what you will, lol). I seriously enjoyed her character and definitely wouldn’t mind a book from just her perspective or at least chapters from her perspective in the next book (*wink* *wink* Namina).

When Belcalis first stepped into the book, I was like “I don’t like this chick” because she was so brash in her initial interactions but over time, she really won me over. She is such a strong and proud but also angry character, which is how so many Black girls are viewed. As angry as I have been in recent months, one would think I would’ve connected with her right away but it took reading more situations with her (#NeverForget) to connect to her and really see myself in her. Belcalis is such an amazing reflection of Black Girls who are viewed one way because of how strong they come off as but not acknowledged for why they must be that way. She was definitely the character who broke my heart but mended it throughout the story. She’s also always down for a good fight and as a sometimes aggressive short person, I connected to that as well (hey, it is what it is)!

Of course, I have to speak about our main heroine Deka… and y’all, DEKA IS AWESOME! Her progression and development throughout the story is nothing short of incredible! When the book first started, I was a little concerned for her but she completely BAWSED UP and pleasantly surprised me. Deka had these “Eff It, I’ll Do It” moments that many of us, especially Black Girls & Women, know about and it was GLORIOUS! I felt those moments so hard and definitely screamed “YESSSSSSSSSSSS” at my tablet a few times! I could also envision her shrugging her shoulders in a few moments like “okay, and? Were YOU going to take care of this?!” I also feel like there were a lot of times where she was side eyeing people without it actually being stated. Those are my favorite of moments with characters since I have that sort of tendency *shrugs*. I just loved how layered her character is and how she endured through all the shenanigans!

I really loved how empowering this book was overall. It felt real because it very much so is like how our society currently is but was such a beautiful reminder how we can take hold of our circumstances…that either we can fold to them & deal or choose to say “eff this” and take the reigns of our destinies. The Fierce Warrior Energy was so real! The world is so rich and quite the adventure once you step into it! So, if you haven’t pick up this book, you need to get your life together because you DEFINITELY SHOULD! If you have it, you are on the right track my friend! If you need any further convincing to pick it up or get started reading, the book info and Namina’s Bio is below!

Happy Reading and as usual sending Bookish love your way! Feel free to find and follow me on Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic and Clubhouse @bookishgrlmagic for more bookish banter! *kool-aid smile*

Cover So Gorgeous it needs to be featured twice!

Book Info: Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in fear and anticipation of the blood ceremony that will determine whether she will become a member of her village. Already different from everyone else because of her unnatural intuition, Deka prays for red blood so she can finally feel like she belongs.

But on the day of the ceremony, her blood runs gold, the color of impurity–and Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death.

Then a mysterious woman comes to her with a choice: stay in the village and submit to her fate, or leave to fight for the emperor in an army of girls just like her. They are called alaki–near-immortals with rare gifts. And they are the only ones who can stop the empire’s greatest threat.

Knowing the dangers that lie ahead yet yearning for acceptance, Deka decides to leave the only life she’s ever known. But as she journeys to the capital to train for the biggest battle of her life, she will discover that the great walled city holds many surprises. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem to be–not even Deka herself.

Goodreads| Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop.org

Author Info: Namina Forna is a young adult novelist based in Los Angeles, and the author of the upcoming epic fantasy YA novel The Gilded Ones. Originally from Sierra Leone, West Africa, she moved to the US when she was nine and has been traveling back and forth ever since. Namina has an MFA in film and TV production from USC School of Cinematic Arts and a BA from Spelman College. She works as a screenwriter in LA and loves telling stories with fierce female leads.

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Charming As A Verb Is Indeed Charming

My Cute Pups with CAAV on Pubday!
  • Author: Ben Philippe
  • Books Published: 2 and a 3rd on the way (an adult book doe)
  • Genre: YA Contemporary
  • Background: Haitian-Canadian (AYYYYYIIIIIISSSSYYYYYEEEEENNNNNN)
  • Social Media Accounts: IG-@benphilippe, Twitter-@gohomeben
  • Website: www.benphilippe.com
  • Release Date: Out Now!
  • Publisher: Epic Reads
  • My Favorite Character: CORINNE!!!!! She’s my queen FOREVER and ALWAYS! If you haven’t read the book yet, you have to read to understand why I stan so hard but she’s a character who is unapologetically herself and is not ashamed to talk about any taboo subjects! She’s just THEEEEEEEE BEST! Seriously, she needs her own book or at least a novella (I will never not push for this)!
  • Favorite Quotes: “Oblique pop culture references do seem to be a cornerstone of social language, actually.”-Corinne….I mean, she isn’t wrong about that! “Not to mention the amount of porn I stream is almost fraternity house level.”-Corinne…I laughed so loud that I think my entire neighborhood heard me! She’s so freaking great!

First off, this post is LONGGGGGGGGGGGGGG overdue! I have been meaning to sit down and write about how much I loved this book since I finished the ARC last year and then life began kicking my a$$ in the most exquisite of ways…but I’m finally writing this!

Before I get into talking about this book, I wanted to talk a little about how I came to bothering Ben, I mean became friends with Ben. While I was reading his first book, The Field Guide To The North American Teenager (which is also hysterical and I would highly recommend), I came to a point in the book where he threw Hufflepuffs under the bus and instantly, I was like “HOW DARE HE?!” (I’m a proud Huffle) and I DMed him a picture of the page with the line underlined and a “REALLY BEN?!?!” written in… He not only responded but he then took it to his stories… This incited a slight war that somehow led to a insta-friendship… Ben has become the brother I always wanted but maybe not fully realized what I was asking for…just kidding (kinda, lol) but seriously Ben’s one of the people I love to bother on IG and he humors me every time, lol! He also has the cutest dog, Blue, and I’m never mad when she pops up on my feed (see the feature picture and tell me where I’m wrong on this)!

We could possibly be related in our goofiness…can you see it?

When I saw his post about his second book, Charming As A Verb also known as CAAV, I got to bothering him right away about getting an ARC. I guess I Haitian guilted him enough that he eventually sent me one and I’m so glad because it was everything I could’ve asked for in a contemporary book! I started it on a Friday and finished it the next day! Reading this book was one of the best ways I could’ve ever possibly spent a Saturday night and I would do it all over again too (he thought he ruined my Saturday night but it was better than any comedic movie I could’ve possibly watched)! It is so flipping brilliant in its humor and social commentary! I can’t say enough how much I love this book and that I think EVERYONE should have a copy in their homes!

Recently, I did a geek out with another bookstagrammer @raethereviewer, about this book and we both geeked SO HARD about Corinne, also known as Queen Corinne! Who wouldn’t love a Black girl who is confident in who she is and is unapologetic about her abilities?! She calls people out with very little filter and I LIVEEEEED for it! It is truly a lost art, calling people out, to their faces rather than over social media in a passive aggressive nature. She gave so little Effs that it was near sub-zero levels! Corinne lets people have it, especially when they don’t want it but when they need it. She was the perfect balance to Halti and all his shenanigans throughout the story. We don’t get to see too many characters like her, and we really need to see MORE Corinne’s in books! A Black Girl existing and THRIVING in the world…intelligent, talented, beautiful and HILARIOUS! Corinne was the love interest Gawdess the world deserved! She was most certainly a scene stealer and Halti may not like that I’m saying it but I’m just stating facts here. I don’t make the rules, I just follow them *Ye Shrug*!

You sure are Corinne, you sure are!

Speaking of Halti and shenanigans…he is one messy dude! There were so many times while I read where all I could do was shake my head because he was doing so much! If he were a real person, I would’ve snatched him by his collar and dragged him out the building but such as not possible…thank Gawd for Corinne to do that for all of us! As much as Halti is messy, he is also very intelligent and slick tongued, which proved useful for him in so many situations. Think of the smoothest talker you know, multiply their ability times 10 and you would get Halti! There were points where I was just like “HOWWWW” but I guess when you are blessed with the gift of Gab, it just is the way it is! Ben did warn me that Halti was messy, if not more so than his first main character Norris in TFGTTNAT, and he wasn’t wrong to issue such a warning. I still loved Halti’s character….just not more than Queen Corinne, LOL!

Me To Halti

One of the things that I loved about this book was his parents! They were your standard immigrant and very Haitian parents who supported and pushed (almost literally) Halti in all he did. There were no uncertain terms in what they expected from him in school and what they foresaw in his future. I loved that they cared so deeply for him and it showed in how they interacted with him, this includes the shade that only immigrant parents can impart upon their offspring…. it’s truly its own brand that leaves you shivering, it’s so shady! There is a part in the book with the classic Haitian Father Blow up that made me think my father was somewhere in the room when I read it…I wouldn’t recommend the experience. His mom is also super dope in the example she was setting for Halti and what she wanted for her own future! I really loved his parents, shade and all!

This is the energy Halti’s parents came with…I know it well

Another thing I really loved about this book that Rachelle & I talked about was how Halti got to just be a teenager! He could just be joyful or miserable without thinking about being a Black boy in our world. Halti could just exist and it not be a thing where he lamented about being Black in America. Any pain he felt, it was because of situations in the book dealing with school, family or friends and not because of very real world circumstances that we could see on the news. We don’t get to read too many books where Black kids could just be kids, where there is more happiness than there is pain of some sort. Books that cover real world commentary are extremely valuable but so are books like TFGTTNAT and CAAV that showcase Black Kid Joy! Truly, we need more books like Ben’s out in the world and I hope we see more of them in the future.

There is so much that could be said about this book but I want you all to read it too! I do have a recording of Rachelle & I’s geek out on IG that you can click here to watch! If you don’t have this book already, you NEED to get this book (or borrow it from your local library at least). If you have it in your TBR and haven’t gotten to it, change that ASAPually my friend! I promise you won’t be disappointed…I haven’t led you astray yet…right?! *lights up halo over my head*

Thanks for stopping by! Happy Reading and sending Bookish love your way! Feel free to find & follow me on Instagram @bookishgirlmagic or Twitter @bookishgrlmagic for more bookish banter! Until the next post, see ya later!

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Reaper Of Souls Seriously Gave Me Gray Hair

Look at This Greatness! This is the US cover! The UK cover is the Feature Image!
Look At Arrah In All Her Black Girl Magic-ness!
  • Author: Rena Barron
  • Books Published: Book 2 of a Trilogy (*still deep sighing*), 3rd book published *nay nays*
  • Genre: YA Fantasy
  • Background: Black with West African Ancestry
  • Social Media Accounts: IG@Renathedreamer, Twitter@renathedreamer
  • Website(s): www.renabarron.com; www.kingdomofsoulsbook.com
  • Release Dates: 2/16/21 (US), 2/18/21 (UK)
  • Publisher: Epic Reads
  • My Favorite Character: Rudjek will ALWAYS AND FOREVER remain my favorite…I will fight for him, period…I will not bend on this! EVER!
  • Favorite Quotes: I’ve got a few from the beginning of the book (to avoid any possible spoilers) so here we go! “For Heka’s Sake, if you’ve given me ugly tattoos, I swear…”-Sukkar…this is a WHOLE A$$ mood for those of us with tattoos. “Another step and I’ll shatter every bone in your arm.”-Essnai…THAT WARRIOR ENERGY DOE!!! I Loved Essnai in this book and she has forever cemented the reason I would want her on my crew! And finally: “I would love tea if it’s not too much trouble.”-Rudjek…it’s an innocent statement but you have to read the book to understand why it could be totally blush & swoon worthy…I just love him so much.

So anyone who has been following me on social media and this blog KNOWS how much I ADOREDDDDDDDDD (and that’s an understatement) Kingdom Of Souls…if you forgot for some strange reason, click here for my very first post which is about KOS…and fair warning, there is cussing so enter at your own risk!

With that reminder said, you may have been able to guess that I was BEYOND READY for the sequel, Reaper Of Souls! If you didn’t know, Rena sure did from the way I blew up her DMs about it, lol (sorry, not sorry Rena). The Way I screamed when I got the email notification that I was granted a pass for this book…. my ENTIRE LIFE WAS MADE! I was not an e-book reader but I had to put that aside to read ROS because I had been waiting the better part of TWO YEARS for this sequel!

Let me tell y’all…IT.DID.NOT.DISAPPOINT! It was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO FREAKING GOOD and I think that is an understatement as well! I ended up with at least one visible gray hair at the end of this read and I do not regret it…I did fuss at Rena a little bit about that but it was a well meaning fuss…she also told me that I would live (*Cues Tayce from Drag Race UK* “The cheek, the nerve, the gall, the audacity and the gumption”)…

How Dare….

Anyway, since this is a sequel and I’m not about that spoiler life, I’m just going to affirm some thangs in this post. Whatever edges I have left, they are gray from this book…if you don’t recognize me whenever you see me next…it’s not the weight I gained from being in quarantine, it’s the way this book added a few years to my face from stress…and I REGRET NOTHING…NOT.A.THING! It was so good and everything I could’ve possibly expected from the sequel to one of my favorite reads of ALL FREAKING TIME and more! Sequels are not easy because there are so many expectations but I promise you all that Rena did not let any of us down…y’all may even decide to find ways to yell at her because she did so much during this book but know that 1) she expects it, 2) she did it on purpose and 3) I suspect that she feels no remorse for going as HAM as she did during this book! Sis went ALL THE WAY OFF and I LIVED though my eczema begs me to sit down somewhere before it sits me down (anyone with eczema knows the weight of this statement). Now lemme talk a bit about my favorite characters because I need to!

My love for Rudjek remains eternal…he is my first bookish boo and he will always remain that… The way he defended Arrah and looked out for her throughout this book makes me all flustered & swoony just thinking about it. I need to find a real life Rudjek STAT…but can any human man reallyyyyy live up to Rudjek… *taps chin* I kind of doubt it *shrugs*. I am willing to share Rudjek with Arrah but I don’t have very much of a choice, do I? *sigh* The way he matured but maintained his boyish charm… #RudjekIsBae

Me, in real time

On to one the realest to ever grace the pages of a book… Essnai remains THAT CHICK! If anything, she ascended to a whole other level of That-Chick-ness… I just seriously appreciate how fierce and loyal she is…like we all need an Essnai to ride for us. She’s not just about words but backing them up with actions and I’m here for ALL of her antics! Get chu an Essnai in yo’ lyfe STAT cause she is bout it bout it (All Juvenile)! I’m looking for the Essnai to my Arrah because no crew would ever be complete without that Big Essnai Energy…I said What I said!

She really did doe! And I was here for it!

I can’t talk about Arrah’s crew without talking about Sukkar…our dear, sweet…oh who am I kidding! He’s not sweet, he’s actually quite spicy throughout this book! There were so many points where I was like “Sukkar…is dat you? When did you get like dis?” *shifty eyes* Sukkar basically responded “New book…who dis?” and to that, all I could say was “aiight, I see you sir” *shrug* and kept it moving! He was quite the character and always showed up with that “I wanna fight” energy…I had to put some respek on that!

No, seriously, this was him quite often!

All of Arrah’s crew came with that ready-to-rumble type energy and I was here for every moment of it! I would be lying if I said they didn’t have reason to! Thanks to all the shenanigans that went down in KOS, they had to stay on guard at ALL times! When your best friend somehow gets in to trouble each time she breathes, wouldn’t you be on high alert too?! *pauses* That’s what I thought… it just is what it is!

Speaking of Best Friends…let’s touch on Arrah for a hot second. Sis was a whole mess in this book but what teenager isn’t?! Arrah lost so many things and people in KOS so who wouldn’t feel like the world would crumble around them as she did? I completely understood her and what she was dealing with, especially her fears and guilt. She made so many things happen, both good and bad throughout this book. I love how she doesn’t forget who has been lost, how she attempts to watch everyone’s back but also loses herself a little because her concern for others overrode her own well-being… Welllllll, I didn’t exactly love that part of her but I related heavy to it… After this book, Arrah (and Rena for that matter) deserves HELLA self-care days! Since this is a trilogy, we know she & her crew will be going through even more so all I can say is…BUCKLE THE EFF UP and keep your arms inside at all times throughout this ride!

Reaper Of Souls comes out SO SOON so if you haven’t pre-ordered this book yet, GO DO IT NOW! IF you haven’t read Kingdom Of Souls for only whatever Divine being you follow knows why, GO GET IT so you won’t be out of the loop for this one! Rena Barron remains QUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN and I will continue to love her work, no matter how much it stresses me out! I also am the self-proclaimed head of her street team that does not exist but definitely should!

Anywayzzzzzz! Happy Reading and sending Bookish love your way! Feel free to find me on Instagram @bookishgirlmagic or Twitter @bookishgrlmagic for more bookish banter! Until next post, byeeeeeeeee!

Rena with her Book Baby!
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Centering And Celebrating Black Boys In Lit

This weekend it occurred to me that there was a reoccurring theme in the bookish talks that I was having with other bookstagrammers & Clubhouse folks during the past week…there is not nearly enough books that center Black Boys in publishing and this is such a disservice to them. There is a depth to Black Boyhood that I would never know as a Black Woman but want to be able to have a basic understanding of as someone who has worked with young Black Boys and has a Black Godson…who could one day have a Black son.

We don’t see Black Boys centered nearly enough in literature…they really aren’t celebrated in all their intricate layers. They need to know its okay to be rough around the edges and also to be vulnerable when they feel safe…to laugh, cry, be soft, scream and be themselves un-apologetically. I would love to have more books that I could send to my Godson and put into the hands of my students where they feel like they are looking in a mirror.

There are more books coming out that center Black Boys now and also have strong secondary characters but we need SO MANY MORE…it is way past time for Black Boys to be shown and reminded how magical they are both on and off the page…that they are loved and valued…that we SEE them. We all should be taking up the charge to let them know that they are worthy of our time and attention…that their stories truly matter.

Since I’ve been really feeling doing lists, I’m going to list books that are Centered around Black Boys and their genres. I’ll also do lists of books that have strong Black Boy secondary characters. These books will be primarily YA but MG will be noted and there are a few picture books as well! If the book isn’t out yet, I noted the date but most have come out in the last year or so!

  • Fantasy
    • Beasts Made Of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi
    • Crown Of Thunder by Tochi Onyebuchi (Sequel to Beasts Made Of Night)
    • Temper by Nicky Drayden
    • Black Panther: The Young Prince by Ronald L. Smith
    • Last Gate Of The Emperor by Kwame Mbalia & Prince Joel Makonnen *MG* 5/4
    • The Shadow Prince by David Anthony Durham *MG* 9/29
  • Contemporary Fantasy
    • Tristan Strong Punches A Hole In The Sky by Kwame Mbalia
    • Tristan Strong Destroys The World by Kwame Mbalia (Sequel to TSPAHITS)
    • Miles Morales: Spider-Man by Jason Reynolds
    • Spider-Man: Miles Morales-Wings Of Fury by Brittney Morris
    • Opposite Of Always by Justin A. Reynolds
    • Early Departures by Justin A. Reynolds
    • Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor *MG*
    • Dragons In A Bag by Zetta Elliott *MG*
    • The Cost Of Knowing by Brittney Morris 3/11
    • Miles Morales: Shock Waves by Justin A. Reynolds *graphic novel* 6/1
    • The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass 7/13
  • Contemporary
    • Charming As A Verb by Ben Philippe
    • The Field Guide To The North American Teenager by Ben Philippe
    • Not So Pure And Simple by Lamar Giles
    • Anger Is A Gift by Mark Oshiro
    • Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas *technically historical fiction*
    • Dear Martin by Nic Stone
    • Dear Justyce by Nic Stone
    • Clean Getaway by Nic Stone *MG*
    • The Awakening Of Malcolm X by Tiffany D. Jackson & Ilyasah Shabazz *Historical Fiction*
    • Ghost by Jason Reynolds *Track Series-MG*
    • Sunny by Jason Reynolds *Track Series-MG*
    • Lu by Jason Reynolds *Track Series-MG*
    • Long Way Down By Jason Reynolds
    • Punching The Air by Ibi Zoboi & Dr. Yusef Salaam
    • Let Me Hear A Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson *technically historical fiction*
    • Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
    • Not All Boys Are Blue by George M. Johnson
    • Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles
    • Your Corner Dark by Desmond Hall
    • Take Back The Block by Chrystal D. Giles *MG* 1/26
    • Things We Couldn’t Say by Jay Coles 9/21
  • Picture Books
    • I Am Perfectly Designed by Karamo Brown
    • Watch Me By Doyin Richards
    • I Want To Ride The Tap Tap by Danielle Joseph
    • Little Legends by Vashti Harrison
    • I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes
    • The King Of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes
    • Crown: An Ode To The Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes
    • Thirteen Ways Of Looking At A Black Boy by Tony Medina
    • Luke Visits Jacmel by Justine A. P. Louise

Seriously, that Fantasy list needs to be SO MUCH LONGER! I know that there are more picture books but could not think of more at the moment (I can add more books to the list, of course). Also, I know that Jason Reynolds has more books out that center Black Boys so definitely look into them! There are likely books that I don’t know about so if you know of any, please share them in the comments!

Here are books with strong Secondary Black Boy Characters listed in the same way as above!

  • Fantasy
    • A Song of Wraiths And Ruin by Roseanne Brown
    • Children Of Blood And Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
    • Children Of Virtue And Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi (Sequel to CBB)
    • Kingdom Of Souls by Rena Barron
    • Reaper Of Souls by Rena Barron (sequel to KOS) 2/16
    • A River Of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy
    • Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko
    • Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
    • Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor
  • Contemporary Fantasy
    • Daughters of Jubilation by Kara Corthron
    • Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
  • Contemporary
    • I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest
    • Now That I’ve Found You by Kristina Forest
    • Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett
    • Angel Of Greenwood by Randi Pink *Historical Fiction*
    • Odd One Out by Nic Stone
    • Loretta Little Looks Back by Andrea Davis Pinkney *historical fiction*
    • Love Is A Revolution by Renee Watson 2/2

I’m so sure that there are books that I haven’t read or just haven’t come across that need to be added to this list. If you know of great books written by POC authors that centers Black Boys or has strong secondary Black Boy characters, please share them in the comments!

Thanks for checking out this post and I hope you pick up some of these books! Happy Reading and sending Bookish love your way! Feel free to find me on Instagram @bookishgirlmagic or Twitter @bookishgrlmagic for more bookish banter!

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What All I Read In 2020

First, I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to acknowledge my grandpa, the man who fostered my love for books and culture. On December 7th, 2020, he decided it was time to be with his parents & brothers and left his physical body. Every day since has been rough, it hasn’t gotten any easier but I know he is free from pain & the limitations of his body at almost 95 years old (February 23rd would be his 95th birthday). He and my grandma are the reason for my love of books and why I cherish them the way that I do. My grandpa is the most amazing man and human being…I miss him every day and think about him all the time. I’m so blessed to have had almost 35 years with him, to have been loved by someone like him, to hold the honor of being his first grandchild. I hope to continue to make him proud from wherever he maybe watching. Know that seeing me carrying a book with me at all times is a reflection and in honor of him.

With that being said, I read 111 books this year (Novels, novellas and picture books), which is a high for me! I hope that I can match that this year! Here is the list of books that I read and what months I read them in! I also noted what is adult, middle grade or picture book, otherwise, it’s YA!  I would put start and finishing dates but even that would be a bit obsessive for me, lol! I would recommend any of these books! If there is a blog post about that particular book, it is hyperlinked so you can check out what my thoughts/feelings were about it! I wanted to write more reviews last year…this year, I plan to be better about that!

January

  • When The Stars Led To You by Ronni Davis
  • Opposite Of Always by Justin A. Reynolds
  • Tristan Punches A Hole In The Sky by Kwame Mbalia (middle grade)
  • Clean Getaway by Nic Stone (middle grade)
  • Rebelwing (ARC) by Andrea Tang
  • Loveboat, Teipei by Abigail Hing Wen
  • Deep And Darkest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore

February

  • Wicked As You Wish (ARC) by Rin Chupeco
  • Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland (Sequel)
  • Of Curses And Kisses (ARC) by Sandhya Menon
  • A Phoenix First Must Burn Anthology (ARC) edited by Patrice Caldwell
  • The Only Black Girls In Town (ARC) by Brandy Colbert (middle grade)

March

  • Raybearer (ARC) by Jordan Ifueko
  • Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown
  • We Set The Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Meija
  • We Unleash The Merciless Storm by Tehlor Kay Meija (sequel)
  • Since You Asked by Maurene Goo
  • Emergency Contact by Mary HK Choi

April

  • Chasing Utopia: A Hybrid by Nikki Giovanni (adult)
  • When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk
  • Kings, Queens And In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju
  • Frankly In Love by David Yoon
  • Ghost Squad by Claribel Ortega (middle grade)
  • Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat

May

  • Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat (adult)
  • Mad, Bad And Dangerous To Know by Samira Ahmed
  • The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco
  • Blood Heir by Amelie Wen Zhao
  • The Girl King by Mimi Yu
  • Spin The Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
  • Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

June

  • Shuri: A Black Panther Novel by Nic Stone (middle grade)
  • Hunted By The Sky (ARC) by Tanaz Bhathena
  • Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • Ayiti by Roxane Gay (adult)
  • Charming As A Verb (ARC) by Ben Philippe
  • Nocturna by Maya Motayne
  • An Untamed State by Roxane Gay (adult)
  • Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
  • Love At First Fight E-Novella by Sandhya Menon
  • Dear Haiti, You’re Not Who They Think You Are by Martine Harris (adult)
  • Anger Is A Gift by Mark Oshiro

July

  • 10 Things I Hate About Pinky (ARC) by Sandhya Menon *Dimpleverse*
  • Overwatch: The Hero Of Numbani (ARC) by Nicky Drayden (middle grade)
  • Maya And The Rising Dark (ARC) by Rena Barron (middle grade)
  • Grown (ARC) by Tiffany D. Jackson
  • Miss Meteor (ARC) by Tehlor Kay Meija & Anna-Marie McLemore
  • Unravel The Dusk by Elizabeth Lim (sequel)
  • A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Marrow
  • Star Daughter (ARC) by Shveta Thakkar
  • A Song Of Wraiths And Ruin by Roseanne Brown
  • The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert

August

  • Ways To Make Sunshine by Renee Watson (middle grade)
  • For Everyone by Jason Reynolds
  • Fresh Ink: An Anthology edited by Lamar Giles
  • A Thousand Beginnings and Endings Anthology edited by Ellen Oh & Elsie Chapman
  • The Black Kids (ARC) by Christina Hammonds Reed
  • Shine (ARC) by Jessica Jung
  • Miles Morales: Spider-Man by Jason Reynolds
  • Legendborn (ARC) by Tracy Deonn
  • Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
  • Now That I’ve Found You by Kristina Forest
  • 96 Words For Love by Rachel Ray & Ava Dash

September

  • I’ll Be The One by Lyla Lee
  • Parachutes by Kelly Yang
  • You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson
  • Wayward Witch by Zoraida Cordova (sequel)
  • The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan
  • What Momma Left Me by Renee Watson
  • Make Up Break Up (ARC) by Lily Menon (adult)
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi (adult)
  • Loretta Little Looks Back by Andrea Davis Pinkney
  • The Way To Rio Luna by Zoraida Cordova (middle grade)
  • All Of Us With Wings by Michelle Ruiz Keil
  • Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

October

  • Incendiary by Zoraida Cordova
  • White Fox by Sara Faring
  • When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
  • Punching The Air by Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam
  • Dear Justyce by Nic Stone *Dear Justyce Universe*
  • Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams (middle grade)
  • Daughters of Jubilation by Kara L. Corthon
  • Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor (middle grade)

November

  • Three Keys by Kelly Yang (sequel)
  • A Sweet Mess (ARC) by Jayce Lee (adult)
  • We Hunt The Flame by Hafsah Faizal
  • Descendant of The Crane by Joan He
  • Race To The Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (middle grade)
  • The Cost Of Knowing (ARC) by Brittney Morris
  • Reaper Of Souls (E-ARC) by Rena Barron (sequel)
  • Brown Girl Ghosted by Mintie Das
  • We Free The Stars (E-ARC) by Hafsah Faizal (sequel)
  • Booked For Christmas E-Novella by Lily Menon (adult)
  • Stella’s Stellar Hair (E-ARC) by Yesenia Moises (picture book)
  • I Want To Ride The Tap Tap (E-ARC) by Danielle Joseph (picture book)
  • Home Is In Between (E-ARC) by Mitali Perkins (picture book)
  • Watch Me (E-ARC) by Doyin Richards (picture book)
  • I Dream Of PoPo (E-ARC) by Livia Blackburne (picture book)

December

  • The Ever Cruel Kingdom by Rin Chupeco (sequel)
  • Tristan Strong Destroys The World by Kwame Mbalia (sequel, middle grade)
  • Rent-A-Boyfriend by Gloria Chao
  • American Panda by Gloria Chao
  • K-Pop Confidential by Stephan Lee
  • The Perfect Escape by Suzanne Park
  • Super Fake Love Song by David Yoon
  • More Than Just A Pretty Face by Syed M. Masood
  • Bedtime Bonnet by Nancy Redd (picture book)
  • We Wait For The Sun (E-ARC) by Katie McCabe (picture Book)
  • Ara, The Star Engineer by Komal Singh (picture book)
  • Black Is A Rainbow Color by Angela Joy (picture book)
  • I Am Perfectly Designed by Karamo Brown (picture book)

Since I know you will likely ask what my favorite reads are and of course, I will tell you! My favorites are Charming As A Verb (I have been meaning to write a blog post for this one and I promise I will because it was hands-down my favorite read of the year…not that the other books I read weren’t amazing as well!), Raybearer (there is already a hyperlink to that post in the list), Legendborn (another I have been working on a post for but just have not finished so I hope to finish it soon and post), Reaper Of Souls (of COURSE, you all will get a post for this one because it was sooooooooooo good & nerve-wrecking) and We Free The Stars (sooooooooooooooooooo good too)!

I also participated in the Free Black Women’s Library Challenge for the second year in a row! This past year, the challenge was to complete 20 books and I completed 40! I did a post with that list because I felt it deserved its own recognition (click here for that)! I’m on my 3rd book toward the challenge now!

Anyway, I hope in this new year, I will meet what I read last year, if not surpass it! How many books did you complete last year? Do you have a reading goal for this year? If so, share it in the comments! If you have any favorites from the list above, also share them in the comments! *kool-aid smile*

Happy Reading and sending Bookish love your way! Feel free to find me on Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic and now clubhouse @bookishgrlmagic for more bookish banter!

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YAY I Completed my 2nd Free Black Women’s Library Challenge

You are probably wondering “what is this challenge that you speak of?” and if that is on your mind, let me put you up on game! Every year, the amazing Free Black Women’s Library (which has multiple locations, https://thefreeblackwomanslibrary.tumblr.com/) hosts a reading challenge each year to read a certain amount of books by Black Women or Black Non-Binary Authors! This year was my 2nd year participating and the goal was 20 books…I read 40 (which was my intention)! And I read soooooooooooo many good books! Here is this list of the books I read (I also noted if it was adult or middle grade, otherwise it is a YA book) and if I did a review/reaction, that is hyperlinked as well!

  1. When The Stars Led To You by Ronni Davis
  2. Clean Getaway by Nic Stone (middle grade)
  3. Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland (Sequel)
  4. A Phoenix First Must Burn Anthology (ARC) edited by Patrice Caldwell
  5. The Only Black Girls In Town (ARC) by Brandy Colbert (middle grade)
  6. Raybearer (ARC) by Jordan Ifueko
  7. Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown
  8. Chasing Utopia: A Hybrid by Nikki Giovanni (adult)
  9. When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk
  10. Kings, Queens And In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju
  11. Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
  12. Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat (adult)
  13. Shuri: A Black Panther Novel by Nic Stone (middle grade)
  14. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
  15. Ayiti by Roxane Gay (adult)
  16. An Untamed State by Roxane Gay (adult)
  17. Dear Haiti, You’re Not Who They Think You Are by Martine Harris (adult)
  18. Overwatch: The Hero Of Numbani (ARC) by Nicky Drayden (middle grade)
  19. Maya And The Rising Dark (ARC) by Rena Barron (middle grade)
  20. Grown (ARC) by Tiffany D. Jackson
  21. A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Marrow
  22. A Song Of Wraiths And Ruin by Roseanne Brown
  23. The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert
  24. Ways To Make Sunshine by Renee Watson (middle grade)
  25. The Black Kids (ARC) by Christina Hammonds Reed
  26. Legendborn (ARC) by Tracy Deonn
  27. Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
  28. Now That I’ve Found You by Kristina Forest
  29. You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson
  30. What Momma Left Me by Renee Watson
  31. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi (adult)
  32. Loretta Little Looks Back by Andrea Davis Pinkney
  33. Punching The Air by Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam
  34. Dear Justyce by Nic Stone *Dear Justyce Universe*
  35. Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams (middle grade)
  36. Daughters of Jubilation by Kara L. Corthon
  37. Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor (middle grade)
  38. Race To The Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (middle grade)
  39. The Cost Of Knowing (ARC) by Brittney Morris
  40. Reaper Of Souls (E-ARC) by Rena Barron (sequel)

If you are now thinking…”oooooooh, I wanna do this too”, well they are running the challenge again and it’s to read 25 books by Black Women or Black Non-Binary Authors! For more information, click here! You can also follow them on IG, twitter and facebook. I hope you decide to join me! I’ve already finished my first book and am on my second! If you are undecided now but to decide to later on, you can jump in any time!

Have you done this challenge before? If so, how many books have you read for it? Did you read any of the same books I read? Let me know in the comments! So Many of these books fell in my favorite reads of the year and I’m sure you are wondering, some are Raybearer, Legendborn (I am working on a post) and Reaper Of Souls (out in February)!

My next post will be ALL the books I read last year so look out for that by subscribing! Happy Reading and sending Bookish love your way! Feel free to find me on Instagram @bookishgirlmagic or Twitter @bookishgrlmagic for more bookish banter!

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2021 Is Definitely Going to be LITty So Get Your Bank Accounts Ready

First off, let me just say I apologize for my silence. Juggling one toooooo many things has never been a good look for me but there is no reason for me not to make this blog more of a priority. So with that said, I am going to hold myself accountable and make this space more of a priority. Even if it isn’t one post a week, I will do my due diligence to make sure it’s at least 2-3 times a month, even if it is a list, it’s still a post… If you know me in Real Life, help *clap* hold *clap* me *clap* accountable *clap*!

With that being said…WHEWWWWWWWWWWWW CHILLLLLLLEEEEEEEEEEE WE MADE IT! Now, we may not have made it completely unscathed but if you are reading this right now, YOU MADE IT OUT OF 2020! To say the least, 2020 was a momentous dumpster fire…hopefully if 2021 decides to be a fire, it better provide us with bonfire good vibes and warmth (lettuce pray it does)!

One thing that we know that WON’T be a dumpster fire is the books that are finna drop this year and CHILE, my bank account is NOT READY! POC authors are doing their part to make sure we are well equipped & thank Gawd for them (but we gotta pray for our pockets). So, here is a list of *mostly* YA books that are coming out (the adult and MG books will be noted), their projected release dates (don’t be married to these dates doe) as well as if they are sequels so you know when *cough* buying *cough*, I mean looking into it. I’ll also continuously update this list as I find out about more books! So without further Ado, here is the list!

  • January
    • One of The Good Ones by Maritza Moulite & Maika Moulite 1/5
    • Happily Ever Afters by Elise M. Bryant 1/5
    • The Awakening Of Malcolm X by Tiffany D. Jackson & Ilyasah Shabazz 1/5
    • Stella’s Stellar Hair by Yesenia Moises *Picture Book* 1/5
    • Meow Or Never by Jazz Taylor *MG* 1/5
    • Goldie Vance: The Hocus Pocus Hoax by Lilliam Rivera *MG Sequel* 1/5
    • Root Magic by Eden Royce *MG* 1/5
    • Roman + Jewel by Dana L. Davis 1/5
    • When You Look Like Us by Pamela N. Harris 1/5
    • Eyes That Kiss The Corners by Joanna Ho *Picture Book* 1/5
    • City Of The Plague God by Sarwat Chadda *MG* 1/5
    • After The Rain by Nnedi Okorafor *graphic novel* 1/5
    • The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr. *adult* 1/5
    • Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes *picture book* 1/5
    • Baseball’s Leading Lady: Effa Manley And The Rise And Fall Of The Negro Leagues by Andrea Williams *MG* 1/5
    • The Life I’m In by Sharon G. Flake *sequel* 1/5
    • The Sea In The Winter By Christine Day *MG* 1/5
    • Concrete Rose By Angie Thomas *prequel* 1/12
    • Chlorine Sky by Mo Browne 1/12
    • Angel Of Greenwood by Randi Pink 1/12
    • Watch Me by Doyin Richards *Picture book* 1/12
    • Jump At The Sun by Alicia D. Williams *picture Book* 1/12
    • The Meet-Cute Project by Rhiannon Richardson 1/12
    • The Beautiful Struggle: A Memoir by Ta-Nehisi Coates *YA Adaption* 1/12
    • We Free The Stars by Hafsah Faizal *sequel* 1/19
    • Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor *adult* 1/19
    • The Comeback by E.L. Shen *MG* 1/19
    • Amari & The Night Brothers by B.B. Alston *MG* 1/19
    • Ambitious Girl by Meena Harris *picture book* 1/19
    • Last Night At The Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo 1/19
    • Rise Of The Red Hand by Olivia Chadha 1/19
    • The Black Panther Party: A Graphic History by David Walker & Marcus Kwame Anderson 1/19
    • Wings Of Ebony By J.Elle 1/26
    • Written in Starlight by Isabel Ibañez *sequel* 1/26
    • We Wait For The Sun by Katie McCabe *picture book* 1/26
    • Take Back The Block by Chrystal D. Giles *MG* 1/26
    • While I Was Away by Waka T. Brown *MG* 1/26
    • Luke Visits Jacmel by Justine A. P. Louise *picture book* 1/27
  • February
    • Love Is A Revolution by Renee Watson 2/2
    • Shuri: The Vanished by Nic Stone *MG Sequel* 2/2
    • Muted by Tami Charles 2/2
    • A Taste For Love by Jennifer Yen 2/2
    • Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon *adult* 2/2
    • This Close To Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith *adult* 2/2
    • Yesterday Is History by Kosok Jackson 2/2
    • Red, White And Whole by Rajani LaRocca *MG* 2/2
    • Me, My Dad And The End Of The Rainbow by Benjamin Dean *MG* 2/4
    • One Carefree Day by Whitney Amazeen 2/7
    • The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna 2/9
    • A Pho Love Story by Loan Le 2/9
    • The Iron Raven by Julie Kagawa 2/9
    • Reaper Of Souls by Rena Barron *sequel* 2/16
    • Like Home by Louisa Onome 2/23
    • Nubia: Real One by L.L. McKinney 2/23
    • Strong As Fire, Fierce As Flame by Supriya Kelkar 2/23
    • Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers 2/23
    • Symbiosis by Nicky Drayden *sequel* 2/23
    • J.D. And The Great Barber Battle by J. Dillard *MG* 2/23
    • Some Other Now by Sarah Everett 2/23
    • Latinitas: Celebrating 40 Big Dreamers by Juliet Menéndez 2/23
  • March
    • Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi 3/2
    • Life After Death by Sister Souljah *adult sequel* 3/2
    • Once Upon a Quinceañera by Monica Gomez-Hira 3/2
    • Home Is Not A Country By Safia Elhillo 3/2
    • Red Tigress by Amelie Wen Zhao *sequel* 3/2
    • Professional TroubleMaker by Luvvie Ajayi *adult* 3/2
    • Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron *adult* 3/2
    • What’s Mine And Yours by Naima Coster 3/2
    • The Queen’s Secret by Melissa De La Cruz *sequel* 3/2
    • Laxmi’s Mooch by Shelly Anand & Nabi H. Ali *picture book* 3/2
    • The Conductors by Nicole Glover *adult* 3/2
    • If You Give A Girl A Bike by Hayley Diep *Picture book* 3/8
    • American Betiya by Anuradha D. Rajurkar 3/9
    • Flyy Girls: Noelle: The Mean Girl by Ashley Woodfolk *series* 3/9
    • Amina’s Song by Hena Khan *MG Sequel* 3/9
    • Dear Black Girls by Tamara Winfrey Harris *adult* 3/9
    • A Queen Of Gilded Horns by Amanda Joy *Sequel* 3/16
    • FireKeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley 3/16
    • The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore 3/16
    • Empress of Flames by Mimi Yu *sequel* 3/16
    • My Day With Payne by Tami Charles *Children’s Book* 3/16
    • Bruised by Tanya Boteju 3/23
    • The Unbroken By C.L Clark 3/23
    • The Theft Of Sunlight by Intisar Khanani *sequel* 3/23
    • Lost In The Never Woods by Aiden Thomas 3/23
    • Renegade Flight by Andrea Tang *sequel* 3/23
    • Your Heart My Sky by Margarita Engle 3/23
    • Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge 3/30
  • April
    • Aru Shah And The City Of Gold by Roshani Chokshi *MG Series* 4/6
    • Oculta by Maya Motayne *sequel* 4/6
    • The Cost Of Knowing by Brittney Morris 4/6
    • Caul Baby: A Novel by Morgan Jenkins 4/6
    • Zara Hossain Was Here by Sabrina Khan 4/6
    • Hannah And The Ramadan Gift by Qasim Rasid *picture book* 4/6
    • Somewhere Between Bitter & Sweet by Laekan Zea Kemp 4/6
    • CeCe Rios And The Desert Of Souls by Kaela Rivera *MG* 4/13
    • When Stars Rain Down by Angela Jackson-Brown 4/13
    • Love In Colour: Mythical Tales From Around The World, Retold by Bolu Babalola *adult* 4/13
    • Notes From A Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi with Joshua David Stein *YA Adaption* 4/13
    • Witches Steeped In Gold by Ciannon Smart 4/20
    • The Forest Of Stolen Girls by June Hur 4/20
    • Bracelets For Bina’s Brothers by Rajani LaRocca *picture Book* 4/20
    • Sure, I’ll Be Your Black Friend: Notes From The Other Side of the Fist Bump by Ben Philippe *adult* 4/27
    • Ways To Grow Love by Renee Watson *MG Sequel* 4/27
    • Anna K Away by Jenny Lee *sequel* 4/27
    • Dream Country by Ashaye Brown 4/27
  • May
    • The Ones We’re Meant To Find by Joan He 5/4
    • Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry by Joya Goffney 5/4
    • The Last Fallen Star by Graci Kim *MG* 5/4
    • Hurricane Summer by Asha Bromfield 5/4
    • Last Gate Of The Emperor by Kwame Mbalia & Prince Joel Makonnen *MG* 5/4
    • Luck Of The Titanic by Stacey Lee 5/4
    • Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey by Erin Entrada Kelly *MG* 5/4
    • Finding Junie Kim by Ellen Oh *MG* 5/4
    • Counting Down With You by Tashie Bhuiyan 5/4
    • Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Boy by Emmanuel Acho *MG* 5/4
    • Where The Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass 5/11
    • Illusionary by Zoraida Cordova *sequel* 5/11
    • The Other Side Of Perfect by Mariko Turk 5/11
    • From Little Tokyo With Love by Sarah Kuhn 5/11
    • Healer Of The Water Monster by Brian Young *MG* 5/11
    • JoJo Makoons The Used-To-Be Best Friend by Dawn Quigley *MG* 5/11
    • Pawcasso by Remi Lai *MG* 5/11
    • Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abhati 5/18
    • Ophie’s Ghosts by Justina Ireland *MG* 5/18
    • Off The Record by Camryn Garrett 5/18
    • Made In Korea by Sarah Suk 5/18
    • Force Of Fire by Sayantani DasGupta *MG* 5/18
    • That Thing About Bollywood by Supriya Kelkar *MG* 5/18
    • Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean 5/18
    • Sister of the Bollywood Bride by Nandini Bajpai 5/25
    • Misfits In Love by S.K. Ali *sequel* 5/25
    • Version Zero by David Yoon *adult* 5/25
    • A Sitting In St. James by Rita Williams-Garcia 5/25
  • June
    • A Chorus Rises by Bethany C. Morrow 6/1
    • Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé 6/1
    • An Emotion of Great Delight by Tahereh Mafi 6/1
    • Sisters Of The Never Sea by Cynthia Leitich Smith *MG* 6/1
    • Miles Morales: Shock Waves by Justin A. Reynolds *graphic novel* 6/1
    • The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris *adult* 6/1
    • Dead Dead Girls by Nekesha Afia 6/1
    • Instructions For Dancing by Nicola Yoon 6/1
    • Simone Breaks All The Rules by Debbie Rigaud 6/1
    • The Marvelous by Claire Kann 6/8
    • Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez 6/8
    • Of Princes And Promises by Sandhya Menon *series* 6/8
    • Fire With Fire by Destiny Soria 6/8
    • The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri 6/8
    • Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury 6/15
    • Broken Web by Lori M. Lee *sequel* 6/15
    • Sisters of The Snake by Sarena Nanua & Sasha Nanua 6/15
    • Rea And The Blood Of The Nectar by Payal Doshi *MG* 6/15
    • Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Angie Thomas, Nic Stone, Nicola Yoon, Ashley Woodfolk & Tiffany D. Jackson 6/22
    • Rising Like A Storm by Tanaz Bhathena *sequel* 6/22
    • Darling by K. Ancrum 6/22
    • Ahmed Aziz’s Epic Year by Nina Hamza *MG* 6/22
    • Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta 6/29
    • The Chariot At Dusk by Swati Teerdhala 6/29
  • July
    • Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim 7/6
    • This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron 7/6
    • Josephine Against The Sea by Shakirah Bourne *MG* 7/6
    • Rise To The Sun by Leah Johnson 7/6
    • Summer In The City Of Roses by Michelle Ruiz Keil 7/6
    • The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass 7/13
    • XOXO by Axie Oh 7/13
    • Radha & Jai’s Recipe For Romance by Nisha Sharma 7/13
    • The Right Side of Reckless by Whitney D. Grandison 7/13
  • August
    • The Wild Ones by Nafiza Azad 8/3
    • Paola Santiago And The Forest Of Nightmares by Tehlor Kay Meija *MG Sequel* 8/3
    • Black Boy Joy Anthology edited by Kwame Mbalia *MG* 8/3
    • How We Fell Apart by Katie Zhao 8/3
    • The Sisters of Reckoning by Charlotte Nicole Davis *sequel* 8/10
    • Me (Moth) by Amber McBride 8/17
    • Redemptor By Jordan Ifueko *sequel* 8/17
    • Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis 8/24
    • Fast Pitch by Nic Stone 8/31
    • Flyy Girls: Tobyn: The It Girl by Ashley Woodfolk *series* 8/31
  • September
    • We Are Not Broken: A Memoir by George M. Johnson 9/7
    • The Bones Of Ruin by Sarah Raughley 9/7
    • Kneel by Candace Buford 9/7
    • The Shaadi Set Up by Lillie Vale *adult* 9/7
    • Partly Cloudy by Tanita S. Davis *MG* 9/7
    • So Many Beginnings: Little Women Remix by Bethany C. Marrow 9/7
    • A Clash Of Steel: A Treasure Island Remix by C.B. Lee 9/7
    • White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson 9/14
    • Battle Of The Bands By Ashley Woodfolk 9/14
    • A Lot Like Adiós by Alexis Daria *adult series* 9/14
    • It All Comes Back to You by Farah Naz Rishi 9/14
    • Maya And The Return Of The Godlings by Rena Barron *MG Sequel* 9/21
    • Things We Couldn’t Say by Jay Coles 9/21
    • Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem by Amanda Gorman *children’s book* 9/21
    • Room To Dream by Kelly Yang *MG sequel* 9/21
    • Amira & Hamza: The War To Save The Worlds by Samira Ahmed *MG* 9/21
    • The Bronzed Beasts by Roshani Chokshi *series* 9/21
    • Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee 9/21
    • Birds Of Prey by Ayana Gray 9/28
    • For All Time by Shanna Miles 9/28
    • Steelstriker by Marie Lu *sequel* 9/28
    • The Cursed Carnival And Other Calamities Anthology from Rick Riordan Presents *MG* 9/28
    • Playing At The Border by Joanna Ho *children’s book* 9/28
    • Bright By Jessica Jung *sequel* 9/28
    • The People Remember by Ibi Zoboi *Picture Book* 9/28
    • The Shadow Prince by David Anthony Durham *MG* 9/29
    • The Cursed Carnival and Other Calamities Anthology edited by Rick Riordan *MG* 9/??
  • October
    • The Mirror: Shattered Midnight by Dhonielle Clayton *series* 10/??
    • The People Remember by Ibi Zoboi *Picture Book* 10/5
    • Why We Fly by Kimberly Jones & Gilly Segal 10/5
    • Black Birds In The Sky by Brandy Colbert 10/5
    • Oh No! The Talent Show by Eva Chen *picture book* 10/5
    • Descendants of The First by Reni K. Amayo *sequel* 10/5
    • Tristan Strong Keeps Punching by Kwame Mbalia *MG sequel* 10/5
    • Once More Upon A Time by Roshani Chokshi 10/6
    • Empress & Aniya by Candice Carty-Williams 10/7
    • Santa In The City by Tiffany D. Jackson *Picture Book* 10/12
    • Himawari House by Harmony Becker 10/19
    • Carefree Black Girls: A Celebration of Black Women in Popular Culture by Zeba Blay 10/19
  • November
    • Shuri 3 (Title unannounced) by Nic Stone *sequel* 11/2
    • A Psalms of Storms And Silence by Roseanne Brown *sequel* 11/2
    • Girls of Fate and Fury by Natasha Ngan *3rd book* 11/2
    • You’ve Reached Sam by Justin Thao 11/2
    • A Crown So Cursed by L.L. McKinney *sequel* 11/9
    • Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood 11/9
    • Skin Of The Sea by Natasha Bowen 11/9
    • Our Violent Ends by Chloe Gong *sequel* 11/16
  • December
    • Girl Giant And The Jade War by Van Hoang 12/7
    • Surviving Home by Katerina Canyon 12/??
  • Fall (release date unknown)

So this list is just a start and it will grow! If you know of more books by POC authors, please do share them in the comments! Also, support any indie bookstores that you know of! If you need any suggestions, Let me know in the comments & I will do another post!

Anywaysssssss, start pre-ordering (or pick up if you see this after the release date) and thank me later! Happy Reading and sending Bookish love your way! Feel free to find me on Instagram @bookishgirlmagic or Twitter @bookishgrlmagic for more bookish banter!

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Leer Libros Latinx (Read Latinx Books)

Before October 15th comes and goes, I wanted to share a list of Latinx authors and their books for Latinx Heritage Month (September 15th-October 15th). If you haven’t checked these Authors out, you REALLY should! I am a fan of all these authors so I had to shout them out!

  • Elizabeth Acevedo
    • Beastgirl and Other Origin Myths (Poetry)
    • The Poet X
    • With The Fire On High
    • Clap When You Land
  • Zoraida Cordova
    • The Savage Blue (Book 1)
    • The Vicious Deep (Book 2)
    • The Vast And Brutal Sea (Book 3)
    • Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas 1)
    • Bruja Born (Brooklyn Brujas 2)
    • Wayward Witch (Brooklyn Brujas 3)
    • Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge: A Crash Of Fate
    • Incendiary (Book 1)
    • The Way To Rio Luna (MG; Book 1)
  • Sara Faring
    • The Tenth Girl
    • White Fox
  • Michelle Ruiz Keil
    • All Of Us With Wings
  • Tehlor Kay Meija
    • We Set The Dark On Fire
    • We Unleash The Merciless Storm
    • Paola Santiago And The River of Tears (MG, book 1)
    • Paola Santiago And The Forest of Nightmares (MG, Book 2 2021)
  • Tehlor Kay Meija & Anna-Marie McLemore
    • Miss Meteor
  • Anna-Marie McLemore
    • The Weight of Feathers
    • When The Moon Was Ours
    • Wild Beauty
    • Blanca & Roja
    • Deep And Darkest Red
  • Maya Motayne
    • Nocturna (Book 1)
    • Oculta (Book 2, 2021)
  • Claribel A. Ortega
    • Ghost Squad (MG)
  • Mark Oshiro
    • Anger Is A Gift
    • Each of Us A Desert
  • Lilliam Riviera
    • The Education of Margot Sanchez
    • Dealing In Dreams
    • Goldie Vance: The Hotel Whodunit (MG)
    • Never Look Back

I know there are so many more out there & I love to learn about other books, so please feel free to share your favorite Latinx authors and books in the comments! I’d be happy to add on to the list!

Happy Reading and As Always, Sending Bookish Love Your Way!

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Loretta Little Looks Back Is A Beautiful Go Tell It

  • Author: Andrea Davis Pinkney & Brian Pinkney (Illustrator)
  • Andrea has been in publishing since 1993; almost 50 books!
  • Genre: MG Historical; Monologue Novel
  • Background-Black
  • IG-@andrea.davis.pinkney; Twitter-@AndreaDavisPink
  • IG-@brianpinkneyart
  • Release Date: 9/22/2020
  • Publisher: Little Brown and Company
  • Favorite Perspective-Aggie B! At first, I thought it was going to be Roly because I loved his voice but the scrappy nature and attitude that Aggie brings reminds me so much of Black and Brown girls that I know, and even a little of myself!
  • Favorite Quote(s)-“Roared, “You can take cracks at my skull, swell my face, break my bones, and shake my confidence. But I will not let you blind the eyesight of my soul!”‘-Aggie B. Rereading that quote brought tears to my eyes in a way I really wasn’t expecting. Thinking of What Our People…what Black and Brown bodies have had to endure and STILL endure to experience some sort of sense of freedom…I couldn’t help but to cry.

First, I would like to say that this post is a part of the Hear Our Voices Blog Tour for Loretta Little Looks Back and I am honored that they choose me to be a part of it (click the link for the schedule). Beneath my commentary, you will find purchase links and more information about the Author, Andrea Davis Pinkney, and Illustrator, Brian Pinkney!

For those who know me, know that I’m a HUGE history buff…I’m that girl that sat at her grandpa’s feet and listened to his stories of watching Marian Anderson perform in Haiti, travels around the world and for fighting for civil rights in Haiti and Here in the US once he arrived, which was actually in the 60’s during Aggie’s monologue time period! So reading this book was like sitting at Loretta, Roly and Aggie B.’s feet to listen to their stories. While it was heartbreaking at times, because such is the history of this country, it was also comforting. Whether they chose to stand up or stand down, I felt I was right there with them and understood why they choose the direction(s) in which they went.

I loved the stark contrast of the monologues presented and the varying battles that they had outside of their mutual struggles that stem from being Sharecroppers in Mississippi. There was no way to predict what each character would go through and how they would weather the storm but got to see how they did. They each spoke from their own respective but consecutive time periods so you get to see three different lived experiences but their parallels as well as they are still very much a part of each other’s stories. What was heartwarming, and to be honest filled me with pride, is how they faced their challenges with determination and unshakeable faith. This is definitely the way of Black and Brown people, however, it doesn’t feel any less empowering when we see our people forging ahead rather than standing stagnant.

As a Special Educator, I have to address the fact that a disability is diagnosed in this book and this brought me so much joy. We do not see this very often in MG or YA, especially physical disability. It’s important that kids and families see disabilities reflected in literature as they may not see people with special needs/abilities in their every day lives. It helps to show the differences of others and recognize their humanity…it also helps those individuals and their families to feel seen. I truly believe in uplifting people with special needs/abilities, listening to them and SEEING them for more than a diagnosis that they have but isn’t the summation of their personhood. I hope that all who pick up this book feel especially empowered by this aspect of Loretta Little Looks Back.

Throughout the course of the book, there are gems dropped, whether its a historical lesson/experience or motivating statements. It is one thing to know about a case such as Emmett Till’s murder or the Voting tests & poll tax, but to read it from a character’s perspective is another level of fascinating and exciting, at least for me! While these characters aren’t real, they are still inspired by people who have actually lived (some of Andrea’s family members) and it feels just as real! I definitely learned a few new things while reading this book, which always adds value to a book for me! I also found that a lot of the motivating statements were ones that I really needed in the moment…especially with us still being in the midst of a pandemic and navigating the challenges that come with it. I found myself putting highlighter stickies on a lot of those lines because they struck my Spirit and felt so needed.

I’m really excited to see this book in the hands of kids and all the things that they take away from this book. I hope they (and teachers) choose to act out these monologues and do the deep dives into the history of these narratives. I also hope that they come to appreciate the battles that our elders and ancestors endured for the few freedoms that we see today…as well as feel motivated to speak up for themselves when they feel any of those freedoms are being wrenched away from them. We forget that there were kids that were involved in these eras in our history. Their narratives are just as important as adult’s narratives and deserve the same notoriety. Hopefully, kids will pick this book up and see how important their voices and experiences are & that they should share it with the world no matter who or what tries to deter them.

I would encourage anyone, especially educators, to pick up this book…whether you pick it up for yourself, your favorite kid, your classroom or personal library. It is worth it to have, to read it, listen to the histories of a group of people who were often overlooked and discuss them. So either run to your local indie bookstore, library or click one of the links below to order or pick up a copy of Loretta Little Looks Back!

Happy Reading Bookish Friends & as always sending bookish love your way! Please feel free to find me on the innernets via Instagram @bookishgirlmagic or Twitter @bookishgrlmagic for more bookish banter!

GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository | Kobo

From a bestselling and award-winning husband and wife team comes an innovative, beautifully illustrated novel that delivers a front-row seat to the groundbreaking moments in history that led to African Americans earning the right to vote.

“Right here, I’m sharing the honest-to-goodness.” — Loretta

“I’m gon’ reach back, and tell how it all went. I’m gon’ speak on it. My way.” — Roly

“I got more nerve than a bad tooth. But there’s nothing bad about being bold.” — Aggie B.

Loretta, Roly, and Aggie B., members of the Little family, each present the vivid story of their young lives, spanning three generations. Their separate stories — beginning in a cotton field in 1927 and ending at the presidential election of 1968 — come together to create one unforgettable journey.

Through an evocative mix of fictional first-person narratives, spoken-word poems, folk myths, gospel rhythms and blues influences, Loretta Little Looks Back weaves an immersive tapestry that illuminates the dignity of sharecroppers in the rural South. Inspired by storytelling’s oral tradition, stirring vignettes are presented in a series of theatrical monologues that paint a gripping, multidimensional portrait of America’s struggle for civil rights as seen through the eyes of the children who lived it. The novel’s unique format invites us to walk in their shoes. Each encounters an unexpected mystical gift, passed down from one family member to the next, that ignites their experience what it means to reach for freedom.

Author information

Andrea Davis Pinkney is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of nearly 50 books for young readers, among them The Red Pencil and A Poem for Peter, as well as several collaborations with her husband Brian Pinkney, including Sit -In and Hand in Hand, which received the Coretta Scott King Book Award.

Brian Pinkney has illustrated numerous books for children, including two Caldecott Honor books, and he has written and illustrated several of his own books. Brian has received the Coretta Scott King Book Award for Illustration and three Coretta Scott King Book Award Honor medals. 

The Pinkneys have been named among the “25 Most Influential People in Our Children’s Lives” by Children’s Health magazine. They live in Brooklyn, New York.

Featured

Maya And The Rising Dark Is Magic

  • Author: Rena Barron
  • Debut MG-Book 1 of a Trilogy; 2nd published novel
  • Genre: MG Contemporary Fantasy
  • Background-Black with West African Ancestry
  • IG-@Renathedreamer, Twitter-@renathedreamer, Facebook-@Renathedreamer1
  • www.renabarron.com; http://renabarron.com/maya-and-the-rising-dark-activities/
  • Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17797267.Rena_Barron
  • Release Dates: 09/22/2020
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) Kids
  • My Favorite Character-Frankie…who WOULDN’T love an insanely intelligent Black Girl?! She’s the peanut butter to Maya’s jelly!
  • Favorite Quote(s)-“Eli sighed, slapping his forehead. “She means well… She’s just a little socially awkward.”‘-Eli about Frankie…listen, we all shade our friends so I see no issue with this, lol. One more: ‘”Observable matter in the universe can’t explain the motions of stars and galaxies.” Frankie nudged up her glasses, which had slipped to the tip of her nose. “So scientists think there must be unobservable matter that’s affecting gravitational forces.“‘-Frankie to Maya. First of all…the nerdy glasses push is my whole life #GlassesTribeStandUp. Second of all…the energy of this nerd out is EVERYTHING!

When I was getting ready to start this post, I noticed that this post will be up almost a year & a month exactly from when my post about Kingdom of Souls went up, which was my FIRST book review/reaction here EVER…so this is extremely meaningful to me. I’m such a fan of Rena’s work and I’m honored to be apart of a blog tour for her work (which I would’ve done a post anyway) with TBR And Beyond Tours for Maya And The Rising Dark (click the link for the blitz schedule). More information about the book such as the synopsis will be at the end of my commentary!

I read Maya And The Rising Dark back in July and fell in love with Maya, her story and her squad! It was everything I didn’t know that my 12 year old self and adult self needed. Maya is a girl who is about her family, her friends, and her community (basically, she’s about that life). She deeply cares about those around her and wants for her people to be okay. Not only is she super compassionate but she’s highly intelligent, motivated (except when it comes to math, which I can definitely relate) and loyal, along with being a daddy’s girl. When other’s doubted what could be done, she had her mind made up to make sure that what other’s thought impossible wouldn’t be. Maya showed that when you follow your heart and your instincts, you can prove people wrong…and it made the petty in me really happy to see her make happen. She’s just so dope and the epitome of #BlackGirlMagic.

Maya also has an awesome squad (this seems to be a theme for Rena…I need to know her friend circle cause she has the best literary friends), Frankie and Eli! They all compliment each other in such great ways, especially in how they support each other…even if it’s so they don’t miss out on an adventure *looks at Eli*. They are so great at brainstorming together, problem-solving and grounding each other as well as changing the leadership role when necessary & following each other’s lead. When I was 11/12 years old, I was actually in transition back from Georgia to New York (my 10-12 years were really rocky) so friendships were really tough for me; I was having trouble finding my footing, getting to know my now best friend (it’s been 20+ years for us) and reacquainting myself to my past friend group. Remembering this about that time frame in my life makes me appreciate the friendship dynamic of the Godlings squad (you will find out what this means when you read the book *wink* *wink*) even more.

Frankie is a ridiculously intelligent girl and I LOVE IT! She reminds me so much of my best friend who is also incredibly intelligent, which is probably another reason why I loved her so much. Her nerd out moments were just life giving and while Eli & Maya may not have always enjoyed it, her wealth of knowledge turned out to work in their favor…also, she’s apart of #GlassesTribe so that put her in the fav spot! She owned her intelligence, confidence and her belief of Science & reasoning…she’s the Blerd girl that we all need in our lives and this generation deserves! Frankie is also a great balancer for Maya and Eli!

Eli is also super cool and is a big fan of the paranormal. I, too, have a thing for the paranormal though I’m not quite as obsessed with it as he is. He was onto something about his community being haunted without knowing that he was (this is a hint but you have to read the book to get the reference). Eli also had some of the best one-liners throughout the book. Another thing I loved about him is how concerned about and devoted he is to his grandmother & younger sister…it’s so sweet and we aren’t always shown that side of Black Boys so it was super refreshing to see that. We need to see more Black Boys who are kooky and loving.

Another thing I loved about this book is how the Orishas were woven into the story. Since I don’t want to spoil the surprise for anyone…just know that it is FREAKING BRILLIANT! The way that they were hidden in plain sight and then showed themselves….it was just *chef’s kiss*. I sincerely love the ways that Rena incorporates the Orishas into her work and how she is sharing them with this generation. I wish I had books like this that shared this system of belief and the Beauty of these divine entities. It’s such an honor to be alive in a time where we are able to see ourselves and our cultures represented in various ways in books. This aspect of Maya And The Rising Dark (and Kingdom of Souls too) that makes me appreciate it so much more.

Maya And The Rising Dark is a book about family, friends, community, pride and perseverance. A book that I believe represents this generation of kids so beautifully. The way that this generation is standing up and speaking out for themselves and those around them is nothing short of awe inspiring…and should be a lesson/wake up call for the adults around them that they are truly leaders who are willing to fight and will bring better days in this world, just as Maya and her friends sought out to do, even if it wasn’t their intention at first.

Seriously, if you haven’t pre-ordered Maya And The Rising Dark, please remedy that or run to your local Indie to grab a copy orrrrrrr request it from your local library (any of these methods are a win)! There are links further down this post where you can pre-order/order from. I did an IG live (for a hot second, Rena was in on it but we will be rescheduling since there was technical difficulties) where I Geeked out about MATRD, KOS and other things…you can watch it here. Also, Maya And The Rising Dark is the Magical Black Kids Book Club November book so if you want to join us, fill out this form to be added to the mailing list (kids are the focus but adults are welcome to join)! On the real, this book is amazing and you should definitely get your hands on it, ASAPUALLY!

Happy Reading and sending Bookish love your way! Feel free to find me on Instagram @bookishgirlmagic or Twitter @bookishgrlmagic for more bookish banter!

Synopsis:

In this highly anticipated contemporary fantasy, twelve-year-old Maya’s search for her missing father puts her at the center of a battle between our world, the Orishas, and the mysterious and sinister Dark world. Perfect for fans of Aru Shah and the End of Time and The Serpent’s Secret.

Twelve-year-old Maya is the only one in her South Side Chicago neighborhood who witnesses weird occurrences like werehyenas stalking the streets at night and a scary man made of shadows plaguing her dreams.

When Papa goes missing, Maya is thrust into a world both strange and familiar as she uncovers the truth. Her father is the guardian of the veil between our world and the Dark—where an army led by the Lord of Shadows, the man from Maya’s nightmares, awaits. Now that the veil is failing, the Lord of Shadows is determined to destroy the human world and it’s up to Maya to stop him. She just hopes she can do it in time to attend Comic-Con before summer’s over.

Book Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39726908-maya-and-the-rising-dark

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Maya-Rising-Dark-Rena-Barron/dp/132863518X/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1563163166&sr=8-1

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/maya-and-the-rising-dark-rena-barron/1132050955?ean=9781328635181

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Maya-Rising-Dark-Rena-Barron/9781328635181?ref=grid-view&qid=1597191776204&sr=1-1

Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/maya-and-the-rising-dark/9781328635181-item.html?ikwid=Maya+and+the+Rising+Dark&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=0#algoliaQueryId=a35cb729a155062f128098dc67444475

About the Author:

Rena Barron grew up in small-town Alabama where stories of magic and adventure sparked her imagination. After penning her first awful poem in middle school, she graduated to writing short stories and novels by high school.

From a very young age she loved reading stories where kids saved the world, tamed dragons, wielded magic, flew spaceships, became the chosen one. She desperately searched for characters in books who looked like her and was always disappointed to find none, which fueled her early interest in writing.

Before HarperTeen acquired her Young Adult Epic Fantasy, Kingdom of Souls, Rena spent 10 years in the query trends–writing across multiple genres and age groups in the pursuit of publication. In 2017, she entered Pitch Wars, a popular and highly sought-after online mentorship program that included an agent showcase round. Rena’s entry (then titled “The Last Witchdoctor”) received multiple offers of representation. She signed with Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary shortly after, and the manuscript went on to sell in a heated auction.

In addition to the Kingdom of Souls series, Rena also has written a middle grade epic fantasy titled Maya and The Rising Dark debuting in Spring 2020, pitched as Stranger Things meets Percy Jackson, that sold in a pre-empt to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. On a personal note, Rena loves all things science fiction and fantasy, ghosts, and superheroes. When she’s not writing, she can be found reading or brushing up on her French.

Featured

Behold, Raybearer is Fire AF

  • Jordan Ifueko
  • Debut; First in a series
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Heritage/Background: Nigerian-American; descended from Yoruba & Bini Tribes
  • IG: @jordanifueko; Twitter: @jifueko
  • Release: 8/18/2020 (TAHDAY, depending on the timezone you’re in)
  • Publisher: Amulet Books
  • Favorite Character: Sanjeet! There is so much to love about him! When Tarisai first met him…I just knew, I knew he would be someone special and he sooooooooooo is!
  • Favorite Quote(s): “Sleep well, sunshine girl. I will take whatever dreams you give me.”-Sanjeet. I melted when I read that…Where is my Sanjeet to say such sweet things to me?! Another I loved: “You let me carry your story. I trust you to carry mine.”-Sanjeet…*sigh* *swoon* And now I’m a puddle.
First, let’s take a moment to appreciate this fire AF US cover!

Quite a few months ago (loooooooong before the Pandemic was ever thought to be a reality), a friend of mine told me that she had a book that she felt that I would love… and wow, was that an understatement! From the moment she put the ARC in my hands, I was head over heels in love! From the gorgeous cover of a Beautiful Black Girl to the poetic words & images, I was a goner Y’all! Jordan will forever have a Stan in me! She painted the most beautiful scenery, dropped hella gems and wrote characters that arrested your thoughts throughout the book (and one may or may not dream about when not reading)…the whole time, it played out like a movie in my mind and I was here for every moment of it!

I loved Tarisai and her magical self (her hallow is crazy cool)! When she was talking about growing up, I felt like her every action would’ve been mine in her situation…hell, it would be me NOW in quarantine, except I only have my shadow to drive mad instead of a bunch of tutors, lol! I love how adventurous she is (as she spoke about her childhood), how she embraces others and how “bout that life” she is. I completely understood how she longed for family the way she did as well as her need to belong & have real human interaction (hella relatable right now). Tarisai is so dope and I wanted so much for her to get all the things she wanted, the willpower to fight and to love openly, especially since she couldn’t love The Lady in the way she wanted to. I just really wanted all of the good things for her & I’m sure you will too when you read Raybearer (*hint* *hint* *wink* *wink*).

I need a minute to talk about my favorite, Sanjeet! He’s been through so much but how ever he managed to be the sweetest soul, just *ughhhhhhhh* (I say this in a good way) I love him so muchhhhhh! He had me melting a lot throughout the story… I just wanted to give him hugs and rest his head on my shoulder while playing in his hair (judge me if you want) & telling him everything will be okay (he deserves all of the comforting words). I love how kind, considerate and loyal he is…like he is my type of dude, for real for real! Truly, Sanjeet deserves all the best things and more! He said some of the most sincere things I’ve ever read that just turned me into puddles. Because I want you to experience those feels, I will not share more of his quotes but read the book and partake in the *heart eyes emoji* moments I, I mean Tarisai, had with Sanjeet throughout the story.

Dayo is another boy that I loved, but of course, he is meant to be loved! As much as he is the opposite of Tarisai in how he was raised & the attentions he received, they are so much alike…the craving for deeper connections, to be loved for who he is as a person and not for the title that he holds. He’s so super sweet, almost to the point of sickening, but he is also quite entitled. When he had those moments of entitlement, I wanted to smack him in the most loving of ways but he eventually redeemed himself so we would be on good terms again. Dayo had/has sooooooo much to learn but I was definitely rooting for him…he’s a good kid! I definitely wanted all of the good things for him, like I did Tarisai & Sanjeet! You likely will feel the same when you read the book (*wink*).

The Lady is one of those characters that you just want to fight…like put vaseline on your face & take off your earrings then invite her outside when she’s mentioned or pops up. She made me scream at the book SO MUCH during her parts. I have zero patience for people (real or literary) that treat children as pawns, which is how she treated Tarisai. I get that she went through some ish in her past but don’t do Tarisai like that! I know there is a complexity to mother-daughter relationships, especially Black mother-daughter relationships as someone in such a relationship, but this took it to a WHOLE different level! I just really wanted to square up with her, much like I did with Arrah’s mom in Kingdom Of Souls (see my blog post for reference) and that’s just where I’m at with this woman… I’m sure you will feel the same way once you read the book!

There is so much more I would love to say but I will not because I am not about that spoiler life! I do invite you to find me on social media so we can talk about it because I loved this book SO EFFIN’ MUCH! For those who know me & are like “why are you not cursing? It’s one of your favorite pastimes! (LOL)” I’m watching my language because I’ve chosen this book for September for the Magical Black Kids Book Club & I want the kids to read this post without their parent’s worrying I’ll corrupt their minds (I’m an angel, y’all, lol)! But know that I was thinking of all the cuss words in both good and bad (especially in regards to The Lady) ways, lol!

Seriously though, this book was EVERYTHING and even in rereading quotes, I found myself falling back into the story & I’m not one for rereading! Jordan did such an amazing job with this book and I needed Book 2 like months ago! I had initially read the book before the pandemic & in anticipation for the original release date to post about it. I was so heartbroken when the date got pushed back because the whole world needed to have this book in their hands (and so I could talk about it with people rather than holding onto my thoughts and bothering Jordan every once in a while in her DMs, lol). Jordan is a flippin’ poetic genius and this book was one heck of a way to put her stamp on the literary world as a debut! Raybearer is just…*chef’s kiss*… I seriously loved it so much, I don’t know how many times I could possibly say that! I can NOT WAIT to see where Tarisai goes in book 2 (when will that be happening Jordan? I’ve been going through Council sickness for too long!) and what heart melting things my, I mean Another character’s, boo Sanjeet will say and do!

So Run to your local (Indie) bookstore or library and GET THIS BOOK! I promise you that you will not regret it, on everything I love (and that’s a serious statement, y’all)! If you want to join us for the September MBKBC discussion of Raybearer, click this link to sign up (there is no cost to join, the kids are priority in terms of who gets to speak first but adults are welcome to share their thoughts too)! If you want to chat with me about Raybearer on Social Media, find me on IG @bookishgirlmagic or twitter @bookishgrlmagic! Happy Reading bookish buddies!

The UK Cover deserves recognition too…and look closely at it!
Featured

10 Things I Hate About Pinky Is A Vibe

  • Sandhya Menon
  • 5th published book; 3rd & Final Book of the Dimpleverse (sads)
  • Genre: YA Contemporary
  • Heritage/Background: Indian-American
  • IG: @sandhyamenonbooks; Twitter: @smenonbooks
  • Website: http://www.sandhyamenon.com/
  • Release: 7/21/2020 (You don’t have long to wait! YAY!)
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse
  • Favorite Character: Drama Queen…also known as DQ! DQ is hysterical and I could relate to her in so many ways! I don’t want to give away who she is so read the book to find out more about her! She very well may become your favorite too!
  • Favorite Quote(s): “I don’t give a flying fig about being inspiring. If none of you has the ovaries to do anything about this, fine. I’ll do it myself.”-Pinky… I literally have said things JUST LIKE THIS in the past! It was like Pinky ripped a page out of my book. It also reminds me of my “Fuck it, I’ll do it” attitude! I just love this one so much! There were other’s I loved too but I’m leaving it at this one!

Full Disclosure, I Love Sandhya Menon and I have said so in my post about Of Curses And Kisses, but she has had me since I read When Dimple Met Rishi and can never get rid of me now. If you haven’t read WDMR or the second book, There’s Something About Sweetie, I’m going to need you to read them and then read 10 Things I Hate About Pinky! It gives all the summer vibes along with secrets revealed, romance, ride or die friendships, great punchlines and hysterical side characters. Something else that I love that Sandhya has done with the #Dimpleverse is that each book has cameos of the other characters but are distinctly their own book so you can read them out of order and not feel lost! I’m extremely honored to be kicking of Pinky’s Blog Tour as a part of Sandhya’s street team! Now let’s get into it!

While I know that I didn’t list Pinky as my favorite character, I LOVEEEEEEEEEED HER! She reminds me so much of myself, personality-wise. She is super outspoken, passionate, strong-willed, loyal, take no shit & fuck your feelings type. While she is very “take no shit & fuck your feelings”, she is very caring and loving. She tends to care so much that others take it the wrong way when they don’t understand that her comments or actions are coming from a place of love. It’s aiight Pinky gurl, I feel you cause I’m the exact same way! Being that I’m so like Pinky in this way, I completely understood how frustrated she was whenever she was met with harsh criticisms from her mother or friends. However, I loved how she would persist no matter what she worried the response would be. Her heart dictated to her what needed to be done and I think that’s incredibly beautiful. I wish I was brave enough for colorful hair and piercings like Pinky and to rock it with the confidence that she did! I’m also going to say that I LOVED how she LOVES the Goddess Kali… I, too, am obsessed with Kali and when Pinky went into a small dialogue about her, I SCREAMED! I felt that Pinky embodied so many of Kali’s kickass qualities! Who WOULDN’T love someone who is as badass as Kali?! …NOOOOOOO ONE! If you aren’t familiar with Kali, Google her and get your whole entire life with her fierceness!

Now let’s talk about Samir for a moment… He was NOT what I expected from his appearances in TSAS… I was expecting the nerdy (I love nerdy dudes, don’t get it twisted), messenger bag-pocket protector wearing guy that is small and weak type… *pause* That is not him… AT.ALL! While he is nerdy, he’s a HOT nerdy guy that wears a messenger bag who is extremely strong and can hold his own weight in any conversation! He is very purpose driven and he doesn’t back down when it counts. While he can be pointed in the things he says, he also speaks with a calm that makes it possible to receive the truth (his or the situation at hand) in a positive way. People like that are a gift and I believe he was a gift to Pinky in the unexpected of ways. He challenged, empowered and grounded her in all the ways that counted (I’m hoping my “Samir” is out there reading this cause I need this in my life). It was quite amazing how things took a turn, especially if you have read the other books and remember their past interactions! His backstory also makes it even easier to love him because of all that he has overcome. As I read about him and situations he was involved in, I fell in love and I’m sure that there were hearts in my eyes at times, much like how Pinky’s family reacted to him!

On paper, Pinky and Samir are the least expected couple but the way Sandhya brought them together was *chef’s kiss* brilliant! There are so many amazing moments, some small and others a little larger in nature that created an incredible love story. Because I’m not about that spoiler life, I’m not going to say any of those moments, I’mma need for you to just go pick up this book and dive into their journey yourself! I promise that it would be well worth your investment/library rental!

It makes me a little sad that this is the end of the #Dimpleverse but I love how this book rounds it out. Pinky & Samir’s story is distinctly their own and they truly deserved that. These two are characters that could be easily misunderstood/misinterpreted without their own novel. So many of us have experienced life from the outside looking in, being in the center of chaos but utterly alone, and judged for what our outward presentations are rather than what is housed on the inside. Sandhya represented their stories so beautifully and subsequently the stories of so many others out in the real world!

I loved this book so much, I could rave forever about it! I carried it to the beach with me (I was socially distanced from other patrons and solo), I read between work sessions & tv commercials, waiting for my doctors appointment (of COURSE, I had on a mask… a Hufflepuff one, if you must know, lol) and I even slept with it next to me because I would read for a while before finally deciding to sleep (aye, don’t act like you haven’t done that before, my bookish people know the deal) and I finished it in 3 days (If it wasn’t for adulting, I would’ve finished it in less) because I really didn’t want to put it down. With everything going on in the world, I needed a story like 10TIHAP to boost my spirits (even when it made my eyes leak). I strongly encourage you to pick up this book and it’s companion novels…even read the E-novellas on the Riveted website (As Kismet Would Have It & Love At First Fight)… They are great rom-coms and Pinky is PUUUUUUUUUUURFECT for the summer! I promise you won’t regret it (and I’m a woman of my word).

Happy Reading and sending Bookish love your way! Feel free to find me on Instagram @bookishgirlmagic or Twitter @bookishgrlmagic for more bookish banter!

Pinky at the Beach with me! Isn’t she Gorgeous?!
Just wanted to flex because I met Sandhya at Bookcon last year & still fangirl over this moment!
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AYEEE Magical Black Kids Book Club

A Week or so ago, a friend of mine reached out to me suggesting I start a Black Girl Magic Book Club and I sat with it. So I posted a status on facebook asking for opinions (the support was overwhelmingly encouraging) and one of my sorority sisters mentioned her son not having books that he would be interested in and I sat with that too. With that, I thought of Magical Black Kids Book Club!

This book club will feature middle grade and Young Adult books that are fantasy/sci-fi, basically ones with some sort of magical or technical systems in place! Kids are the focus but adults are welcome to join (Families should definitely read together)! I’m in the process of figuring out how to make the discussions special for the kids. I also have an awesome member of the club working on a logo! Over the course of the last two weeks, my excitement has grown and I hope yours will too!

The first book has been chosen and it isssssssssssssssssssss…

Shuri by the Amazing Nic Stone!

Here is the link to the synopsis! Feel free to order it to add to your personal library or request it from your local library (either way supports the author)!

I really hope you decide to join us! I will announce the books and discussion dates here, my @bookishgirlmagic IG account & emails via the mailing list so sign up by clicking this link!

Thank you so much for your Support and I look forward to lots of Bookish Banter in the future with you!

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Black Books That Deserve Your Coins

I know it’s been a minute (okay, way more than a minute) but life in this new “normal” (could it even really be considered that?) has been odd to say the least. Balancing virtual work sessions, additional screen time that has been killing my eyes not so softly, mental health, trips to the fridge that disappoint because I can’t make things appear with my mind and naps has been draining, to say the very least! So to jump back in, I’m going to post a list of books coming out the rest of this year (and a few next year) by Black Authors that you should DEFINITELY pre-order! I’m pretty sure that I’ve said this in the past in some way, shape or form (especially if you follow me on Social media) but Black Authors need to be amplified…not just during Black History Month & not just when there is racial injustice (which is really, all the time) posted by the media but ALL-AH-DA-TYME! Black Stories are AMAZING and deserve the attention of all the eyes, ears and hands they can reach!

I’m also listing some books that came out that you should get after the 2020/2021 releases as well as a graphic of Black Own Bookstores you can support!

  • June 2020
    • Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi (6/16)
  • July 2020
    • The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert (7/7)
    • Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron (7/7)
  • August 2020
    • Facing The Sun by Janice Lynn Mather (8/11)
    • Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko (8/18)
    • Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor (8/18)
    • Now That I’ve Found You by Kristina Forest (8/25)
  • September 2020
    • The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed (9/1)
    • Punching The Air by Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam (9/1)
    • Flyy Girls Books 1 & 2 by Ashley Woodfolk (9/1)
    • Charming As A Verb by Ben Philippe (9/8)
    • The Summer Of Everything by Julian Winters (9/8)
    • Legendborn by Tracy Deonn (9/15)
    • Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson (9/15)
    • Maya And The Dark Rising by Rena Barron (9/22)
    • Early Departures by Justin A. Reynolds (9/22)
    • Everybody Looking by Candice Iloh (9/22)
    • Dear Justyce by Nic Stone (9/29)
  • October 2020
    • Tristan Strong Destroys The World by Kwame Mbalia (10/6; Sequel)
    • Daughters of Jubilation by Kara Lee Corthron (10/13)
    • Rebel Sisters by Tochi Onyebuchi (10/20; Sequel)
  • December 2020
    • King Of The Rising by Kacen Callender (12/1; Sequel)
  • January 2021
    • One Of The Good Ones by Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite (1/5/2021)
    • Roman & Jewel by Dana L. Davis (1/5/2021)
    • Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas (1/12/2021)
    • The Meet Cute Project by Rhiannon Richardson (1/12/2021)
    • A Crown So Cursed by L.L. McKinney (1/19/2021; Book 3)
  • February 2021
    • The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna (2/9/2021)
    • Reaper of Souls by Rena Barron (2/18/2021; Book 2 of Trilogy)
    • Muted By Tami Charles (2/21/2021)
  • March 2021
    • A Queen of Gilded Horns by Amanda Joy (3/16/2021; Sequel)
    • Bruised by Tanya Boteju (3/23/2021)
  • April 2021
    • Witches Steeped In Gold by Ciannon Smart (4/20/2021)
  • Books that Are Out Now That You Need In Your Life
    • Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
    • A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
    • A Song of Wraiths And Ruin by Roseanne Brown
    • You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson
    • Shuri: A Black Panther Novel by Nic Stone
    • The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert
    • Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
    • A Phoenix First Must Burn Edited by Patrice Caldwell
    • When You Were Everything By Ashley Woodfolk
    • Not All Boys Are Blue by George M. Johnson
    • Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds
    • Stamped by Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi
    • Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black In America Edited by Ibi Zoboi
    • Daughters of Nri by Reni K. Amayo
    • A Blade So Black & A Dream So Dark by L.L. McKinney
    • Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett
    • Color Me In by Natasha Diaz
    • Dread Nation & Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland
    • War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi
    • SLAY by Brittney Morris
    • A River Of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy
    • Kingdom Of Souls by Rena Barron
    • The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

Now go forth and Pre-order (or in the case of the ones out, order) these books! Support these amazing authors! And while you are at it, support the Black Owned Bookstores in the graphic below (which I borrowed from Angie Thomas’ Instagram)!

Happy Reading and remember…

BLACK LIVES MATTER!

Find me on Instagram @bookishgirlmagic & Twitter @Bookishgrlmagic

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Good Lookin Out-Bookish Community Support

Hey Bookish Peeps! This week has been crazy and it isn’t even over! I don’t know how it is wherever you are in the world but it’s been pretty bananas in New York. I was really excited for this week with so many amazing books coming out and the launches of some anticipated reads along with my birthday (I’m even more of a grown ass woman y’all *shocked face*).

Each day, there has been notifications of cancellations of conferences, launch events and school visits; and if the event wasn’t cancelled, live signings weren’t/aren’t being done (This was done at The Strand and I was not happy about it, to say the least but I digress). This hurts both readers and authors. As a reader, I feel robbed of an experience to meet beloved authors, something that I look forward to and it’s the little adult social interaction that I get in a week (as awkward as I can be). I’m not an author but as someone who works on a per-hour basis, it has an impact to not do what both fulfills and pays the bills (oh shit, that rhymed).

So, in the midst of this crisis/chaos, what can we do to support each other? Of course, follow all the things that you can that is being advised but I’m speaking on a more emotional level as well as financial.

  • Reach out to each other via social media or if you have direct contact information. It’s important to still maintain some human interaction for the sake of sanity.
  • Read other blogs or watch other vlogs and leave positive comments. The world is looking like a hellafied dumpster fire right now so we need more positivity. Like our kindergarten teachers used to say “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it at all”, so keep that ish to yo’self-write it in your diary or whatever because at this point in time, no one got time for toxicity.
  • If the person has any sort of store, purchase something and/or share it to help bring in some business for them.
  • Be kind to yourself, if you feel yourself sinking from a lack of human interaction (I feel this at times), please take a break to breathe, read a page from the book you are reading, listen to your favorite song, watch a funny video, call your therapist or beloved person; anything that would lift your Spirit.
  • Buy books by your favorite authors, especially if they have books that recently came out or are coming out. They show up for us by writing these books and we should show up for them by purchasing them. If you already have their book, gift a copy to someone who you think would love it as well.
  • If an author posts that they are signing books at a store, please order from that store. Likely this whole situation is affecting your local Indie stores too.
  • If you aren’t in a place to financially support, talk up their books, post about them, write positive reviews on social media & book websites. Every effort truly counts.
  • Sending encouraging words to the authors could also be nice as well, especially if they are working on a new book. We can all use good vibes and virtual hugs.

Here are some books that either have come out or will be coming out.

  • The Only Black Girls In Town by Brandy Colbert
  • When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk
  • A Phoenix First Must Burn Edited by Patrice Caldwell
  • We Unleash The Merciless Storm by Tehlor Kay Meija (Sequel to We Set The Dark On Fire)
  • Of Curses And Kisses by Sandhya Menon
  • Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco
  • Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland (Sequel to Dread Nation)
  • Stamped by Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi
  • Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown
  • Woke: A Young Poet’s Call To Justice by Mahogany L. Browne with Elizabeth Acevedo and Olivia Gatwood
  • Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko-April 2020 (I will be writing a reaction to this book because it’s fucking amazing)
  • Incendiary by Zoraida Cordova-April 2020
  • Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know by Samira Ahmed-April 2020

These are just a few books that I could think of that recently came out or will be released next month. There are so many books coming out this year so if your TBR isn’t already redonkulous (like my mine is) then it is about to be! As Russell Simmons (I believe) would say “Take care of yourself and each other” in all this craziness.

Feel free to find me on Instagram @bookishgirlmagic or Twitter @bookishgrlmagic! Sending big bookish love yall’s way!

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Wicked As You Wish Author Rin Chupeco Chats with BGM!

  • Rin Chupeco
  • 7th published book; Book 1 of a Series-The Hundred Names For Magic
  • Genre: YA Fantasy Fairy tale Retelling
  • Heritage/Background: Filipino-Chinese
  • IG: @RinChupeco; Twitter: @RinChupeco
  • Website: https://www.rinchupeco.com/
  • Release: 3/3/2020 (Go get it NOWWWWWWW)
  • Publisher: Source fire books
  • Favorite Character: The Firebird… I think the Firebird is my spirit animal y’all because it cuts up without saying a word!
  • Favorite Quote(s): “I’m not a picky eater, but this looks like a llama just vomited into a tortoise’s regurgitated mashed potatoes, and that’s not meant as a compliment.”-Ken; one more “Guys like him are itching to be punched. In the Throat. With a car.“-Ken (I’ve definitely met a few that fit in that category)… Ken says some wild shit, Tala is hilarious too! I do live for this cast of characters!

BGM: I’m going to open this by saying you know that I love your work. We met while you were in New York and I had all your books ready to be signed. You saw me look at the ARC of Wicked As You Wish sitting with a stranger with Book lust in my eyes, asking how they got it and you didn’t know. It turns out that that look was hella warranted because I fucking LOVED that book! It makes me excited to get to the rest of the series but also into The Never Tilting World, which has unfortunately gotten pushed back in my TBR but you know I’ll get to it! Thank you for being my first interview for Bookish Girl Magic, by the way! Now, I’ll get to the questions and let’s keep this as spoiler free as possible, please and thank you!


BGM: How many books are set to be in this series? I need to know so I can get my coins together!
RC: The HUNDRED NAMES FOR MAGIC series is a trilogy!

BGM: I gotta make sure I have my coins together then!


BGM: What is your favorite favorite fairy tale from your childhood? Have you ever cosplayed it? Are there pictures and can we see (LOL but really doe)?
RC: Haha, I never even thought about cosplaying fairy tales before! My fairy tale would have been so obscure that no one would have been able to tell! I love two – Maria Makiling, whose story is very important to Tala’s bloodline, as she is a descendant, and this very obscure tale called The Traveling Companion. Both are actually integral plots in the series. It’s obvious as to what for Maria Makiling, but The Traveling Companion is about a man who did good things without expecting a reward, and as a result one of the people he helped in turn helps him gain a kingdom and a princess – but with a very poignant twist at the end, when it’s revealed that his companion was a corpse he’d saved from robbers, who regained life only long enough to aid him. This one plays a bigger role in the sequel, though I won’t say who this tale affects!


BGM: What event or person motivated you to finally sit down and write this book so I…I mean the world could have it in our hands?
RC: I was bad at finishing books, because I felt disheartened (writing wasn’t a livable career in the Philippines) and so many people dissuaded me from even attempting. But then a local writing contest was announced that was being sponsored by a Big Name Author whose books I love. So for the first time ever I finished a short story, sent it in, and won third! Part of the prize was a dinner with said author, and when I mentioned feeling disheartened he told me writers ought to write – and since I was a writer, I should keep doing it. I wrote WICKED AS YOU WISH the following year! He was my main source of motivation for that.
The author? Albert Einstein.
(It was actually Neil Gaiman.)

BGM: Are there any people, in particular, that the characters are modeled after? This is such a diverse cast of characters & I’m not just talking about ethnic backgrounds!
RC: For most of them it was about my identities, split into different characters. I’m Filipino, so that was obviously Tala. But I’m also Chinese, albeit one who’s removed from a lot of Chinese culture that I only relearned it when I was older, and that was Loki. I’m also enby like them (they originally had he/she/they pronouns, but I couldn’t figure out how to write it without being confusing, so I thought they/them was a good compromise.) West has a bit of Asperger’s, something I’m also familiar with, and both Alex and Zoe sort of channels my rage, though Alex is more obvious about it in the first book. A lot of the rest I based on friends! Ken was somewhat based on my husband (an amalgamation of him and me, really), who is also the most cheerful person on this planet. Zoe is based on my best friend, and Nya on one of the oldest and closest friends I have – the first ever one I befriended online when I was a teen.

BGM: Awwwwwwwwwww, now I’m a little in my feelings!

BGM: Which character is the most like you and in what way? *tents fingers together in anticipation*
RC: The firebird! You know that if it could speak in human words it would constantly be sassing everyone and making sarcastic remarks about everything, which was very much teen me. Among the humans, I would say Ken is the closest with his constant needling and comebacks, though I’m not really one to have optimism and cheerful energy (that part was based on my partner!).

BGM: Why is the firebird the way it is? I mean, it’s my favorite character but you can’t take the firebird anywhere and Tala & the crew can’t seem to have nice things because of it!
RC: That’s the biggest reason why I chose the firebird for this! In the original Ivan Tsarevich tales that feature the firebird, the implication always is that the firebird in the fairy tales represent something that is powerful and beautiful that everyone always wants to have, but that it will always bring misfortune to its owners in the process. And that’s the theme coming into the book: if you want to control the firebird, you’re going to get hurt a lot. Every spell in WAYW has an accompanying curse, and this is its curse. That’s the nature of firebirds – you’re always gonna get burned.

BGM: If you had to go on an adventure of any type to save a world from destruction, who would you pick to be in your crew? It could be characters from any of your books, celebrities, authors…sky’s the limit!
RC: Every Marvel, DC, and anime character I know sounds like a great place to start!! If I’ve had to limit them to maybe three, though… I’d say Scarlet Witch, Son Goku from Dragonball, and Superman! And me with the Infinity Gauntlet! Or inside the Hulkbuster, at least!


BGM: Will Alex get his life together in book 2 or will I expect to be yelling at him/the book?… Because I really wanted to knock his ass out at times!
RC: That was intentional! He’d been constantly on the run since he was a kid, he’d seen his parents killed, and he’s never really had anything to call home until meeting Tala. Before that he was always someone’s responsibility, being shuffled off from ally to ally and never getting the chance to bond with anyone. And then he sees how his whole kingdom has been wrecked and how nobody even seems to care that Avalon is gone, and all he hears is about other countries’ interest in the magic he technically owns, and how they can get at it… so naturally, there’s a lot of anger that’s building up there, and it also translates into his inability to trust anyone, even if it’s Tala, since he feels like he’s been used his whole life. Even the love interest he’d managed to have seemed to have given up on him so easily, plus he can’t manage a decent love life anyway because one of the effects of the destruction of Avalon was him getting cursed with the ability to turn people into frogs! I think I wanted to show the various reasons why he’s always so angry and mistrustful, even when you don’t always approve of his actions. I can’t say yet if it gets better in the sequel, but he’s definitely taking some steps toward stabilizing his life!

BGM: If you were to write any celebrity in the acknowledgements in this book (or future ones) like you did in The Bone Witch Series, who would it be? What would you say and why? (You know I love you for life for the Idris Elba mention but I’ll also fight for him…not his wife but other people, LOL).
RC: I did write a celebrity into my acknowledgements for WICKED! Rory McCann is one of my favorite actors, and in my head he is absolutely my dream cast for Kay Warnock. I might be biased because he played Sandor Clegane, one of my most favorite characters, but I’ve adored him since Hot Fuzz!

BGM: What do you hope the biggest takeaway from this book will be for readers?
RC: That it’s ok to sometimes feel like you’re an outsider, because it’s normal to worry about whether you belong or not, and that it’s more important to stay true to who you are. That mythologies and tales from other countries should be discussed on equal footing with Western fairy tales, and that your unfamiliarity with one doesn’t make them any less relevant or interesting! That diverse identities build a book up, not bring it down!
BGM: *Allllllllll the Hearts*

BGM: What was you biggest lesson/takeaway/challenge from this book?
RC: It’s all about perseverance. It took me ten years from writing this book to seeing it published, and it taught me that it’s more important to stick to my principles and do what I think is the best for the book than to publish it immediately and make bad compromises that will both make it worse and also make me regret agreeing to it!
BGM: *Runs around victory lap style* YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

BGM: Last question…WHY YOU LEAVE US LIKE THAT with the ending Rin?! Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?! *lightly sobs*
RC: =) In that case, you might also hate the ending of the sequel!
BGM: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO *Falls out*

BGM: I hope you had a good time with these questions just as I have! And I do hope you come back to NY soon so I can have you sign yet another stack of books…also known as “your stuff”, lol! *And End Scene* LOL

I hope you all enjoyed my very first author interview! I seriously loved this book and I think you all will love it too! Go out and get it…and just make sure to let your people know you won’t be hanging out because you won’t want to put this book down, it is that good! Thanks for reading y’all! Bookish Love to you all!

I got to meet Rin at her launch for The Never Tilting World at Books of Wonder…my smile was from both my excitement and Tochi Onyebuchi making me laugh as he took our picture!
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Of Curses And Kisses Is A Beauty of A Story

  • Sandhya Menon
  • 4th published book; Book 1 of a Series-St. Rosetta’s
  • Genre: YA Contemporary Fairy tale Retelling
  • Heritage/Background: Indian-American
  • IG: @sandhyamenonbooks; Twitter: @smenonbooks
  • Website: http://www.sandhyamenon.com/
  • Release: 2/18/2020 (You don’t have to wait! YAY!)
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse
  • Favorite Character: Isha! She is a real ass, down to Earth girl with a big heart who happens to be royalty! Isha lives her best life and tells it like it is…I’m just drawn to characters like her! Daphne Elizabeth came in a close second and Rahul (he’s hella funny, don’t sleep on him, y’all)!
  • Favorite Quote(s): “Mmm, no I’m totally listening. It’s just that I’m also having a foodgasm.”-Daphne Elizabeth (DE)… As a foodie, I felt this deep down in my Spirit…I will never forget the way my knees buckled when I took my first bite into a brownie bite from babycakes (I believe their name has changed doe)… NEVER! When you experience it, Savor that moment, my friends… saaaaaaaaavor it!

I’m going to preface this by saying that I am a HUGE Sandhya Menon fan. She had me wrapped around her literary finger from When Dimple Met Rishi and she has not disappointed me with her subsequent 2 books (From Twinkle, With Love and There’s Something About Sweetie) and her fourth, Of Curses And Kisses, which is pretty different from the others but enhances my love for her work! Sandhya is also a Hufflepuff, so that means that we totally get each other and she has my loyalty (#HufflesFoLyfe)! When I met her at Bookcon, I was doing flips internally because I love her work THAT much! She’s also a sweetheart & if you’ve met her, you would agree!

When Sandhya announced this project, I was 100% here for it. A fairy tale retelling with the main character being a POC, more specifically an Indian Princess…AB-SO-FUCKING-LUTELY (I’m lightweight obsessed with the Indian culture; you can thank my best friend of 20+ years Khaivchandra & a study abroad trip to India for that)! The works of L.L. McKinney’s A Blade So Black & A Dream So Dark (Alice And Wonderland Retelling with a Badass Black Girl as the main character) and Anna-Marie McLemore’s Dark And Deepest Red (Red Shoes retelling with brown girls at the center) really made me excited about retellings that I could see myself in. Sandhya adding to that list with Of Curses And Kisses really makes my heart swell with gladness (is that corny? It’s totally okay if it is).

OCAK is a Beauty And The Beast retelling that takes place at a boarding school in Aspen, Colorado. I’m not one for writing synopsis but for the sake of context (and blog tour purposes) here is a brief one: Sisters & Princesses Jaya and Isha Rao are sent to St. Rosetta’s Boarding school after a scandal *shocked face* hits their family. The intent of their time there is to dip out of the spotlight back home but that intent changed for Jaya when she discovers that her family’s centuries long rival (because Colonialism was a thing) youngest heir, Grey Emerson (Lord Northcliff if you’re nasty, lol) is there. Now Jaya plots out (to no one else’s knowledge) a way to bring the Emerson Name & Grey down in the most unconventional of ways…through his heart! Hopefully that synopsis has done the story justice, gave no spoilers and sold it for you *insert Angel face emoji here*!

Part of what I love about Sandhya’s work is how poetic she is in the building of her story, the characters and the scenery. I really saw the world of St. Rosetta’s (or St. R’s as Grey calls it) as I read the book, which says a lot because I’ve never been to Colorado or any sort of mountains (thissssss *points to herself* Black woman does not hike or ski and it’s really not a shocker if you’ve met me, lol). I also loved how she introduced each character and the timing behind each one coming into the story, it felt deliberate yet seamless. I’m a fan of DE and the crew (Leo and Rahul), how they ride for Grey despite his off-putting disposition (read: Grumpy cat in human form and really tall)…friends who are willing to see the Beauty in you (pun intended *drum beat*) and always show up for you when you aren’t even showing up for yourself are pretty rare. One time for the Real Ones of the world, outchea being true riders for their friends, EYE appreciate you! The build up between Jaya and Grey is also so good. I’m hella into rom-coms and it has some of that feel to it but doesn’t drop the ball when it comes to bringing aspects of Beauty And the Beast into it. It had its innocent moments along with some steamy mixed in there. I felt it was a great balance throughout! Sandhya did an amazing job with making this retelling her own.

Because I’m me and am a nerd of sorts, I have to take a moment to appreciate the fact that Sandhya brings in some history in the mentions of colonialism and how the British pillaged India (and really all of the countries it colonized). I feel like colonization gets glazed over, if it is brought up, but Jaya doesn’t ever forget what it/the British did to her country and her people. No, she doesn’t go into long winded rants about the wrongs of the Emersons and the British (though they would be valid) but she says enough that you get the point of the problems that this practice caused and really still hasn’t been fully atoned for (this is not even talking about in real life)…but I digress!

Seriously y’all, it is so easy to fall in love with this story and the characters. I finished this book in two days because I was so enamored with the world that Sandhya created. This book is the first of a series and I can’t wait to see where the other books go! The next book’s retelling and title hasn’t been announced yet buuuuuut good things come to those who wait, so keep watch of Sandhya’s pages (links are at the top of the page for your convenience) for those updates *wink* *wink*! Go pick up this book and get lost in the world of Jaya, Grey and St. Rosetta’s; you won’t regret it! Happy Reading y’all *waves as the screen fades out*!

When I met Sandhya at Bookcon…of course, I had to rep our house…HUFFLEPUFF! #WandsUpForTheHouseOfHufflepuff
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Bookish Girl Magic Luhs Da Kids

So on instagram, I mentioned to a fellow book lover & educator, (shoutout to @woketeachersbelike) that I had read two children’s books last year but did not include them in the list in my I’ve Been Gathering Myself post. She asked why not and I didn’t have a good answer but I mused that I would do a separate post and thus, this is post is born! Here are some Children’s books that are written by Authors of Color that I either have in my personal collection, purchased for my students in the past or have found in searches!

  • Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o, illustrated by Vashti Harrison
  • Freedom Soup by Tami Charles
  • Little Leaders by Vashti Harrison
  • Little Dreamers by Vashti Harrison
  • Dream Big, Little One by Vashti Harrison
  • Think Big, Little One by Vashti Harrison
  • Little Legends by Vashti Harrison
  • Maybe Something Beautiful by F. Isabel Campoy & Theresa Howell
  • Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter by Kenard Pak
  • Little Mole’s Wish by Sang-Keun Kim
  • The Kindergartener’s Handbook: Bilingual (English/Mandarin) by Dayna Martin
  • Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry
  • Festival Of Colors by Surishtha Sehgal
  • The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad with S.K. Ali
  • I’m A Pretty Black Girl by Betty K. Bynum
  • MMMMM! Soup Joumou by Carline Smothers
  • Fanmi Mwen (My Family) by Carline Smothers (in Kreyol)
  • Auntie Luce’s Talking Paintings by Francie Latour
  • Aisha the Great by Aisha Doris
  • Good Night, Wiggly Toes by Roda Ahmed
  • Mae Among The Stars by Roda Ahmed
  • ABC And Me by Roda Ahmed
  • Malcolm Little by Ilyasah Shabazz
  • Betty Before X by Ilyasah Shabazz with Renee Watson
  • Radiant Child by Javaka Steptoe
  • A Is For All The Things You Are: A Joyful ABC Book by Anna Forgerson Hindley
  • You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen by Carole Boston Weatherford
  • Zora And Me by Victoria Bond & T.R. Simon
  • Baby Goes To Market by Atinuke
  • Please, Baby, Please by Spike Lee & Tonya Lewis Lee
  • Please, Puppy, Please by Spike Lee & Tonya Lewis Lee
  • Giant Steps To Change The World by Spike Lee & Tonya Lewis Lee
  • The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
  • I Am Enough by Grace Byers
  • Woke Baby by Mahogany L. Browne

So here are just a few books…hopefully I can come up with a more comprehensive list in the future, and I know more books are coming out this year! I hope this helps you find books for your [favorite] little ones or classrooms/centers! *kool-aid smile*

By the way, the title of this post is a Martin (the show) reference, in case you were wondering (*looking at those born after the late 90’s/early 2000’s*), lol! Have a great rest of your week!

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I’ve Been Gathering Myself

Hey everyone! I started writing this post in the last minutes of 2019 so we can say that this is my last post of 2019 and the first of 2020 so depending on your time zone, HAPPY NEW YEAR and for my fellow Haitians, HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!

I know I have been quiet for a while, which I sincerely apologize for, adulting has been kicking my ass in the most major of ways! Everything has pretty much taken a back seat to my work but it doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten about this blog or that I’ve stopped reading…I just didn’t want to post half assed or half hearted posts because work was draining the life out me & impacted my writing/brain! Hence the silence but I plan to do MUCH better in this new year! I figured I would share all the books I’ve read over the last year and hopefully, a title or two jumps out at you that you decide to pick up! I also completed the Free Black Women’s Library challenge to read 30 books by Black Female authors (the authors can use the pronouns She or They)! It was really amazing, I actually went on to surpass the 30, not to brag or anything, lol! Anyway, here goes the list:

  1. Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America Anthology ARC Edited by Ibi Zoboi
  2. Black Leopard/Red Wolf ARC by Marlon James
  3. On The Come Up by Angie Thomas
  4. A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney
  5. The Field Guide To The North American Teenager by Ben Philippe
  6. Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
  7. The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon
  8. Binti: The Complete Trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor
  9. Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
  10. Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths by Elizabeth Acevedo
  11. The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae
  12. Marley Dias Gets It Done And So Can You by Marley Dias
  13. Internment by Samira Ahmed
  14. Into White by Randi Pink
  15. As Kismet Would Have It E-Novella by Sandhya Mennon
  16. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
  17. Girls of Paper And Fire by Natasha Ngan
  18. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
  19. The Bone Witch #1 by Rin Chupeco
  20. The Heart Forger #2 by Rin Chupeco
  21. The Shadow Glass #3 by Rin Chupeco
  22. The Girl From The Well #1 by Rin Chupeco
  23. The Suffering #2 by Rin Chupeco
  24. With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo
  25. Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo
  26. There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Mennon
  27. I Believe In A Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
  28. Front Desk ARC by Kelly Yang
  29. Let Me Hear A Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson
  30. My So Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma
  31. Ash by Malinda Lo
  32. Queen Of The Conquered ARC by Kacen Callender
  33. Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender
  34. Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
  35. Jackpot ARC by Nic Stone
  36. The Jumbies #1 by Tracey Baptiste
  37. Rise of the Jumbies #2 by Tracey Baptiste
  38. My Life As An Ice Cream Sandwich ARC by Ibi Zoboi
  39. Magical Negro Poems by Morgan Parker
  40. There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce by Morgan Parker
  41. Symptoms of A Heartbreak ARC by Sona Charaipotra
  42. SLAY ARC by Brittney Morris
  43. Color Me In ARC by Natasha Diaz
  44. Who Put This Song On? ARC by Morgan Parker
  45. Kingdom Of Souls ARC by Rena Barron
  46. I’m Not Dying With You Tonight ARC by Kimberly Jones & Gilly Segal
  47. Obviously ARC by Akilah Hughes
  48. A River Of Royal Blood ARC by Amanda Joy
  49. Girls Of Storm & Shadow ARC by Natasha Ngan
  50. Riot Baby ARC by Tochi Onyebuchi
  51. Ghost (Track Series #1) by Jason Reynolds
  52. Patina (Track Series #2) by Jason Reynolds
  53. Sunny (Track Series #3) by Jason Reynolds
  54. Lu (Track Series #4) by Jason Reynolds
  55. Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi
  56. Crown of Thunder by Tochi Onyebuchi
  57. The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert
  58. Permanent Record ARC by Mary H.K. Choi
  59. Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite & Maritza Moulite
  60. The Jumbie God’s Revenge #3 by Tracy Baptiste
  61. For Black Girls Like Me by Mariama J. Lockington
  62. Some Places More Than Others by Renee Watson
  63. A Match Made In Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai
  64. The Vicious Deep #1 by Zoraida Cordova
  65. The Savage Blue #2 by Zoraida Cordova
  66. The Vast And Brutal Sea #3 by Zoraida Cordova
  67. Dealing In Dreams by Lilliam Rivera
  68. WarGirls ARC by Tochi Onyebuchi
  69. A Dream So Dark by L.L. McKinney
  70. The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis
  71. Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds
  72. The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring
  73. I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest
  74. Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
  75. Pride and Prejudice And Mistletoe by Melissa De La Cruz
  76. Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
  77. Broken Places & Outer Spaces by Nnedi Okorafor
  78. The Dark Fantastic: Race and The Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games by Ebony Elizabeth Thomas
  79. Children Of Virtue And Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi
  80. Daughters of Nri by Reni K Amayo
  81. Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett
  82. The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee
  83. The Iron Will of Genie Lo ARC by F.C. Yee

Typing out that list made me realize just HOW much I’ve read this past year! I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have read all these amazing books and now I get to share my reactions with all of you! Which, from now on, I’m not going to call my posts Book Reviews, they will be Book Reactions because I’m reacting to these books rather than writing out reviews or ratings! I hope that’s cool with you all, I really just want to be authentic!

Anyways, here’s to another decade of reading and excitement over books! Bookish Regards to you all! Peace!

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A River Of Royal Blood Gave Me Life

  • Amanda Joy
  • Debut, Book 1 of a Duology
  • Genre: YA Fantasy
  • Heritage/Background: Black (Black People Magic runs through her veins y’all)
  • IG: @amandajoywrites; Twitter: @amandajoywrites (she’s hella fun to follow, by the way!)
  • Release: 10/29/2019 (not too many sleeps now!)
  • Publisher: Putnam (Penguin Random House)
  • Favorite Character: Aketo…who doesn’t like a dude who is comfortable and confident in who they are?! Baccha comes in a close second!
  • Favorite Quote(s): “I used to hate my magick. For a long time, I couldn’t understand where my feelings ended and everyone else’s began. It was overwhelming. I spent most of my time alone until I was ten.”-Aketo As an empath, I feel this so hard. It’s REALLY rough when you are doing fine and someone around you starts to feel sad or angry…it sucks, especially with children because crying can come easy for some (I’m around them all day so I know) *deep sigh*! One more cause its so good: “I should warn you, Eva. I can feel you.”-Aketo…I think EYE blushed when I read that and I KNEW what he meant (see previous statement)! And THIS, My Gentlepeople is WHY Aketo is my favorite, LOL!

First, let me just say that I sincerely apologize for not having my post up on Thursday, As I’ve been doing to try to keep consistent…let’s just say that drama, adulting, pretty much life has been kicking a sista’s ass. I know I’m a day (or two) late but hopefully not any content short…I had a great fucking time revisiting all my feels (and DMs to Amanda) around this story to write this out and hopefully you get a chuckle or two out of it! Also, I curse A LOT in this one so if you are sensitive to that, proceed with caution (also know that I’m grown and as a grown woman, I curse a lot…I let all the words rip). So let’s get it, let’s GO!

A few months ago at the Schomberg Lit Fest, I was blessed with a copy of A River Of Royal Blood (ARORB, to keep it short from now on) at the Penguin Teen booth but prior to that, I had heard about this book and knew that I wanted to read it! Even if I had not, who wouldn’t be drawn to a cover with 2 dueling Black Girls, welding their magick like its nothing?! This cover is nothing short of fierce and it gave me every last bit of my life! Not only is the cover stunning but the story…GAH! I ate this book up in like 3-4 days staying up until unspeakable hours in the morning to read it as if I didn’t have adulting to do later…I believe I finished at like 2 am and you know what…#WorthIt!

As someone with a sibling…one that is not uncommon to have “spats” with, I felt this book so hard. Only difference is that I’m the older sibling (Eva is the youngest) & to my dismay, am not a royal (I am, in fact, a magical Black Girl *snap & neck roll combo*). I couldn’t imagine going after my sibling in the way that Isa did Eva because I’m of the philosophy of “Don’t Start No Shit, Won’t Be No Shit” but I’m also of the mindset of if I have to choose between me & you, I’m #TeamMe all day, every day & bitch, you gotta go like Isa…and that’s about where she & I’s similarities end because Isa was on some extreme hoe shit in this book! Like I told Amanda, Isa is a hoe x10 (so much like Efiya in Kingdom Of Souls…see post –>Here<–). You know I’m not about taking lives (I’m vegan for fucks sake)…though I will snatch a scalp or two when fucked with and thus was happy when Eva dug deep within her ovaries and started to fight back. Thinking about it, this book was like an episode of Snapped: Literary Sibling Edition because shit was BANANAS…*cues Gwen Stefani* B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

Not only was Isa on some hoe shit but so was her mom…like ma’am, you should be like all parents outchea on their “I don’t have a favorite” shit that we ALL KNOW isn’t true but know they say to make themselves feel better…like go change some shit so that Eva and Isa don’t have to you know attempt to kill each other. Also, Fuck her (yes, I’m still salty with her, let me be)…If I could’ve knocked her block off, I would have but she’s a character in a book so not possible! Side Note: What the fuck is up with these literary mothers?! I felt the same way about Arrah from KOS‘s mother, Arti…she’s a hoe ass hoe and don’t you ever forget that…*pauses…takes a deep breath* moving on. She, Eva’s Mom, genuinely pissed me off…I think my blood pressure skyrocketed in those scenes with her mother and it is rising thinking about her now…

That was me then and now…

I’mma switch to something that gave me all the feels which is Eva’s love for her daddy…as a former daddy’s girl (my sister stole that title), I felt like a meme where a heart is being squeezed into little pieces. The way Eva loves her daddy, just melts my heart. Her daddy & her love for him was so ingrained in this book that even though he wasn’t present often, it felt like he was because of how often Eva thought of & spoke about him. It was so clear that he was a positive influence to her & loved her very much…it was a little sickening…ly sweet. Their connection had me in my feelings, for real for real & made my eyes leak a little…I’m here for it doe.

Speaking of males in Eva’s world…Falun, Aketo & Baccha…they are like the holy grail of homies/road dawgs/besties! Like where do I sign up to find homeboys like them because I could surely use ride-or-dies like them! Falun is like the friend that knows you almost better than you know yourself, calls you on your shit but still let’s you know that he’s still gotchu no matter what…he’s like the best homie & you can’t sma- I mean cuddle & date, the homie (at least, you should not). We know he is beautiful but Eva gotta be careful outchea, especially when she know her sister is waiting for the time to come to kill her (which is not tah-day, Bish), so there is that.

While we are talking about beautiful and sma- I mean cuddling & dating because that would be a thing…AKETO! He stole my heart (what was left of it because Zan from Jackpot took a chunk of it & I’m still waiting for it back). I mean, who doesn’t love a dude who is confident, intelligent, has swagger for dayssssss, is a gentleman AND can talk with sexy double meaning?! I sure do! From the moment he set foot into Eva’s universe, I was like “ohhh, I like him” & “Eva betta claim him quick” (I know he’s not property, so calm down if you got in your feelings), you have to read the book to truly understand why I feel the way I do about Aketo!

Last, but certainly not least, Baccha is like that annoying but hella funny & dedicated friend you can’t stand at times but you love their ass so much you deal with their “moments”…sometimes Baccha made me want to fight him, like slap boxing fight because a magickal fight wouldn’t end well for me, but at other parts, I wanted to squeeze him until he awkwardly asks me to let him go or attempts to wiggle out. He has so many zingers in this book, which I think it a big part of why I like him, outside of the fact that he’s a fucking guru of sorts…and who doesn’t like a guru?! He’s far from the Yoda type but he gets the job done…dude is about his bizness! Eva’s squad is seriously some real ones!

Saving the best for last, Eva is such a great main character. She’s so kind and warm, yet she hardens the edges that are necessary to get through all the shit she has to deal with. It felt like all she wanted was freedom like a typical teen but she also was responsible & respectable as fuck! She never forgot who she was while discovering all these new parts of herself as she goes through this journey of self-preservation in dealing with a tradition that cared nothing for her life, just that blood flowed from someone (ah HA *lightbulb goes off*… just take some time to think about it and your AH HA moment will come too). I’m telling you, when you back a Black Girl/Woman in a corner, just know that earrings come off and asses will be beat! I’m so here for Eva though and she does have a dope ass crew that helps her get through all the shenanigans!

Needless to say, I loved this book & I need people to talk to about specifics with outside of Amanda soooooo please go get ARORB when it comes out (10/29/2019) or now if you are reading this after that date. Deadass, ARORB is SO GOOD & is such a worthwhile read (Amanda DID THAT)! I had dreams of various outcomes…so when a book world shows up in dreams, you know that book is good than a muthafucka. Now go get this book so you can get your entire life like I did!

While I still have your attention, I just wanted to note that this is my 10th review for this blog (BGM will be 2 months old soon) & I couldn’t be having a better time with it…I hope you are as well! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for joining me bookish and non-bookish boos! Now come, follow me on IG @bookishgirlmagic, twitter @bookishgrlmagic (I really cut up on there) and facebook Bookish Girl Magic if you haven’t already!

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War Girls Bodied My Spirit

Just LOOK AT THIS COVER! *swoons*
  • Tochi Onyebuchi
  • 3rd Novel; Book 1 of a Duology
  • Genre: YA Fastasy
  • Heritage/Background: Nigerian-American
  • IG: @treize64, twitter: @TochiTrueStory (his cover photo is hilarious and brilliant); www.tochionyebuchi.com
  • Release: 10/15/2019
  • Publisher: Razorbill Books
  • Favorite Character: Chinelo! I love how playful and funny she is but also how serious & kick ass she could be. I also loved how grounding she was for Onyii and how she complimented her. Chinelo is definitely “bout it, bout it” (TM Master P & Silk The Shocker).
  • Favorite Quote: “But Onyii, I already get high marks. Let me sleep-oh!”-Ify… Ify is me and I am Ify! I felt this quote on a spiritual level! I feel it every single morning, only I’m not in school anymore but I stay busy working/adulting/wishing I was a kid again.

For months, I’ve been trying to get my hands on the arc for War Girls. I kept missing it *hangs head and shakes slightly* and lightweight tantrummed about that fact around anyone who would listen (including Tochi but at least he knew I was serious about reading his book) when I would miss it yet another time (seriously, it happened on like 3 or 4 different occasions)! I had resigned myself to having to wait until Onyii was unleashed unto the world but fate smiled down on me at Brooklyn Bookfest when I answered book trivia questions at the Sneak Peek Panel! I was so excited to show Tochi that I got it (and there was a mini celebration had, at least in my mind there was) when I took it to him to sign! And you know what? War Girls was worth the effort and wait to obtain (I’m waiting to receive my finished copy because I believe in supporting authors)!

There was a panel (*taps chin* I think at Bronx BookFest, *cues TuPac* I get around-I’m not ashamed *shrugs*) where Tochi said “Onyii bodies EVERYBODY!” with great fervor. I believed him but I seriously underestimated his statement. Onyii seriously DOES body everybody…imagine an augmented Angela Bassett in Waiting To Exhale walking away from a burning car (Google for that gif/visual) but envision a mech…yea, she’s even more badass than THAT! She’s intense, loyal, a fierce protector and she will come for anyone that steps to her & her home girls sideways. I feel like Onyii is an awe-inspiring literary personification of what a Black woman is and a doper version of the Terminator had he been Black and female! I bit my nails A LOT while reading in anticipation of what would happen next, thought “What Would Onyii Do” (WWOD) and how she would body anyone who would dare challenge her. Seriously, Onyii was Ev.er.y.thing…a futuristic Oya really (Google her, she’s a badass Orisha that you would NOT want to go into battle against) and I’m here for it & her and all the souls she snatches throughout this book!

When I think of Ify, Onyii’s sister, I couldn’t help but think about Shuri from Black Panther…Shuri is my forever favorite of the characters I’ve experienced in the MCU thus far (I’m not a comic person so I have to say the movies but I’d wager that my feelings would would remain the same if I did read them). She’s extremely brilliant, talented, has a big heart for others and is slightly mischievous; which is a solid recipe for a great character, IMO. I loved how resilient she was though she was a bit naive at times (before you come at me, I know no character is perfect, I still love her like a sister from another mister). She had a rough time in this story but she handled so much of it like a G…other times, I wanted to shake her & scream to wake the f**k up because reasons… Ify’s still a teen so I had to show some compassion in those moments since our girls, real or fictional, deserve that. I couldn’t help but admire her tenacity, her fighting spirit, her magic, traits she definitely shares with her sister.

Something that I really appreciated about this book is that the war girls always felt present in the story, whether any one of them were in a scene or not. It could be in a memory or a situation that happens but no matter what, they aren’t forgotten. They are more than secondary characters…they are each other’s driving force. The war girls are a family brought together through war but also through Spirit and purpose. This group of warrior women not only fought for freedom, they fought for & beside each other, which is also a beautiful notion. They always had each others backs and were seriously about that life….they ARE #BlackGirlMagic! Onyii and her crew, her fellow war girls (and later, abd), were a reminder that family isn’t always people connected by name and blood line but also by commonalities such as the desire for the betterment of their nation, their fierceness, the blood they shed and the peace they really wanted. The war girls rode for each other until the wheels fell off or rather the mechs went down & their comm systems went black (read the book to learn about that) and even then, they didn’t abandon each other. They gave me just as much life as they took throughout this book! It truly spoke to the Spirit of a People who will fight to the very end for the preservation of their history & the longevity of their people (which remains true to this day).

Speaking of mechs, the setting of Nigeria in the future was brilliant! I felt drawn to the descriptions and felt like I was experiencing what the future could be…and it would be quite incredible (sans war but judging how the world is looking right now………..*sideeye emoji*) but equally as scary because of the reality we currently face. I also feel like so much of the advanced structures & systems are absolutely possible because well…Black people are amazing (all my bias is showing *shrugs*)… There are so many talented people in Africa (and around the world) that I believe can bring to life the tech in War Girls (and if not now, there will be). Though… I’m not found of the idea of mechs being used like common household appliances… so to the future geniuses that will make the advanced tech in this book possible, please create responsibly, thanks!

War Girls was an experience from start to finish… it was seriously one hell of a roller coaster that seemed to change its tracks at the most unexpected of moments! My eyes really stung at parts (okay, they leaked too)…which, I did not expect to happen. I felt the emotions the characters experienced and I felt invigorated & powerful as well. I hope that anyone who experienced the Nigerian War (or any sort of war, really) reads War Girls feels seen & validated that their history will not be ignored and their story will be told. Go pick up War Girls and launch yourself onto this roller coaster ride of an experience…it’s definitely worth your time and your coins!

*Shameless Plug* Go follow me on the ‘Gram @bookishgirlmagic, twitter @bookishgrlmagic (I cut up on there, so join in on my shenanigans) and Like on facebook Bookish Girl Magic as well as share this page with all your peeps! K, thanx! *Runs Off To Go Read*

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Jackpot For The Win!

  • Nic Stone
  • 3rd Novel
  • Genre: YA Contemporary
  • Heritage/Background: African American mixed with Goddess (no seriously, she’s stunning)
  • IG: @nicstone & @booklookz, Twitter: @getnicced, www.nicstone.info
  • Release: 10/15/2019 (see tour dates here)
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing
  • Favorite Character: Zan…what can I say? I’m a sucka for compassionate, funny, charming, intelligent guys who can play the Steve Urkel & Stephan card simultaneously (google it if you don’t get the reference)!
  • Favorite Quote: I had so many favorites but I’m going to go with ‘”Unfrosted?!” He looks up at me. “Jesus, Danger, you’re a Neanderthal!”‘-Zan from Rico’s perspective. I felt the same way as Zan did in this moment. I mean, I get why she got unfrosted but it still doesn’t change the fact that unfrosted toaster pastries are blasphemous (debate the person next to you if you disagree).

I’m a Nic Stone stan, periodt! When she announced that she had Jackpot coming out, it was like a gavel banged in my head and a declaration was made that I would read this book… I got lucky (blessed, really) when I got a copy of Jackpot at bookcon. It was like the heaven’s opened up and angel’s sang with voices like India.Arie (or whoever your favorite singer is) when it was placed in my hands. I’m pretty sure I clutched it to my chest at some point & I definitely referred to it as “the precious”…yea, it was that big of a deal to me. Jackpot did not disappoint and it is my favorite of her books thus far!

I adored Rico, she’s so persistent and devoted to her family which drove every action she took during this book…I know I’m down for my family but Rico is truly a real one. Her DNA test said she’s 100% that chick (Shout out to Lizzo). Rico is not only devoted but she is also intelligent, focused, resilient, sarcastic, funny and a fashionista of sorts (something I wish I was, I’m more in the vein of I put on clothes and hope they match whereas Rico makes whatever she wears work & it works out in her favor). She made me think of myself but also other girls/women I know… I also couldn’t help but think of Nic based upon Rico’s description and her voice which made this book a little more special. Who doesn’t want to imagine one of their favorite authors as a teenager?! Because of Rico’s drive to work and get through school, she was a bit of a lone wolf, something else I could relate heavily to…when you are a lone wolf in any way, it’s easier to have tunnel vision, to see what is in front of you, what your mission/goal is and for Rico, it’s taking care of her family. It was amazing to witness her development but also how she had moments to be a teen (truly, she deserved more but she handled those curveballs like a G, like so many Black girls/women would).

Another favsie of mine is Rico’s brother Jax who is flippin hilarious and adorable (I imagine)…if I had a little brother (and I’ve always wanted one), I’d want him to be like Jax…funny, witty, sweet and honest. If I were Rico, I’d do anything possible for him too! As Rico described Jax, it seemed like he’s the greatest balance of sweet and annoying…but if anyone were to mess with him, they would be laid out before they could finish their statement because no one talks about her sibling but her (that was me with my real life sibling)… so I totally get Rico’s protective nature of him (if he were real, I’d adopt him as my little brother & protect him too). I loved how Rico spoke about him with such love and affection (you could practically see the hearts popping out of the page), like he was her best friend and the most precious gift…it was really endearing and special (*insert heart eyes emoji*). I haven’t read a sibling relationship like theirs in a while, which increased my love for this book. Jax also said some funny ish in this book that endeared him to me even more…especially when he talks about certain dreams (*giggles to myself*). When you read this book, you’ll see/read why Jax is so lovable.

Now, let’s talk about the literary version of Stephan (no machine necessary) for a second- Zan! Who doesn’t love a nerdy, hot, hacker dude who is observant, charismatic, compassionate and attentive?! By the end of this book, I had quite the crush on Zan, to be honest (thank goodness he’s legal…I’m not a cougar though, I promise). Zan was so much more than the surface presented at the beginning. As Rico’s perceptions of Zan changed, so did mine and I began to understand him. I understood his need for his & Rico’s adventures (and loved how it brought out his mischievous nature), seeking out Rico’s attention and how helpful he wanted to be. Zan just took my heart and I’m still trying to get it back (*shakes fist* give it back man, I need it)! He was also well informed about money matters, thanks to his personal experiences, but he didn’t try to force it on Rico or anyone else…yet another reason to love him because he’s so respectful of others (outside of how many assumptions he made about other’s time). I just really loved his character, he’s definitely one of my favorites of this year (a position of honor, really)!

Another thing I loved about this book is about the element of different perspectives which I will not say what they were because I believe in the no-spoiler life and surprises. I think it added to the story in such a unique way and just made it funnier. Of course, I have a favorite perspective and I can’t wait for you to read Jackpot so you can share yours too (see what I did there? LOL)! I also really enjoyed the adventures that Zan and Rico went on and looked forward to them when they planned them. I loved their preparedness and what they learned about each other along with Rico’s persistence in finding what they were looking for. Their adventures made me wish I had adventures like theirs when I was a teen but I did basic teenager things (they were a little shy of hoodrat things) with my friends that was pretty close to home…I lived vicariously through Rico & Zan’s eyes (too bad there aren’t time machines, huh?). There is are so many other things that Nic touched on such as race, societal pressures/standards, perception of others/outward appearances, and even the dreaded question “what are you?” (if you have been asked that question, feel free to roll your eyes and let out a frustrated sigh with me) which I didn’t talk about but also appreciated.

Anywaysssss, you should take yourself to your local bookstore on Tuesday October 15th (or if you’re reading this after this date then go right now) and pick up Jackpot! I read it every spare moment I had and finished it in a few days (like 2 or 3). What can I say, I’m completely here for characters with a great sense of humor that spoke sarcasm as a second (or third) language. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did! Happiest of reading sessions friends!

I was telling Nic about the bracelet i was guided to make her after she showed me she was wearing it…I was elated and it was the best moment of the entire con for me!
My eyes are kind of open here and our lip colors are similar, which also brings me joy!

Oh yea, go follow my IG @bookishgirlmagic, twitter as @bookishgrlmagic and FB Bookish Girl Magic…thaaaaaaanks!

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A Match Made In Mehendi Is Hella Ship Worthy

  • Nandini Bajpai
  • Debut Novel, stand alone; she’s written children’s books in India!
  • Genre: YA Contemporary
  • Heritage: Indian-American
  • IG: @nandinirb; www.nandinibajpai.com
  • Release: 9/10/2019
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Favorite Character: Noah, Simi’s BFF & ride-or-die fo’ lyfe! I love how invested he was in Simi and his friendship though there were times I wanted to shake him to wake him up! He’s a good friend and they are hard to come by!
  • Favorite Quote:And it’s the Amandas of the world who choose who else should matter. But I’m tired of waiting around for someone to deem me worthy. Nope. This year, I’m taking it into my own hands, and so is Noah.“-Simi. *Slams Fist On The Keyboard* DAMN RIGHT SIMI! YOU BETTA TELL EM GURL! I felt this so much as someone who often felt like an outsider (I sometimes still do) and was bullied as a kid/teen. No one should determine your worth but you and you betta make the price high!

Before I go into this review, I have a fun story! While waiting on the signing line for Jason Reynolds at bookcon, Nandini was standing in front of myself and another lady. I don’t know what brought on the conversation but she casually mentioned that she wrote a book & I can’t remember if she just mentioned the name first or if I asked so I could look out for it but when she said “A Match Made In Mehendi“…Y’all…*dramatic pause* I almost screamed in this woman’s face but I kind of contained myself & was my usual excited self and told her that her book was one of my most anticipated reads of the year and even had it written on my dry erase board (I shit you not, I have a list of books with their release dates by the entrance of my apartment, LOL, #JudgeMe #IDC). Nandini was extremely cool and it made me even more excited to support her work. A Match Made In Mehendi was definitely worth the wait! You can find a picture from when we met at the end of this post!

A Match Made In Mehendi had me cracking up from start to almost finish. I felt like if Simi were a person, we’d be like close relatives or possibly sisters who actually got along. Where Simi is a visual artist, I was all about writing (I can draw but I’m not awesome at it). Her sense of humor, klutziness, resolve and love of bubble tea (she even said my favorite kind people) are aspects that I heavily related to. Like Simi, I also had my BFF for many years going into school that shared in my misery in high school and that would hype me up & I would do the same for her… we also were hardheaded about things we weren’t ready to accept so some epic disagreements were had (20+ years later, we are still best friends and I wouldn’t trade her; I imagine Simi & Noah would be the same). My best friend and her family also always fed me like Simi’s family did for Noah (I love to eat so this was okay by me as well). I saw bits of my own life in this story that made me think back on my high school days (mostly good ones because if I thought on bad ones, it would’ve really dampened this book’s lightheartedness).

I loved how Simi spoke about the hierarchy (as it seemed) of the school (see favorite quote for reference). So many of us have had our fair share of run ins with the Amandas-Of-The-World (as teens and as adults). The Amandas I faced when I was younger were actually not of the Caucasian persuasion but sometimes we are rougher and more cruel to our own…and later on in life (i.e. undergrad), I learned about Caucasian persuasion Amandas. To be honest, any of the Amandas I’ve encountered can catch these hands because…reasons *shrugs* =0/ Annnnnnd moving on. This story depicts the belief that so many kids have that their worth is hinged upon this one person or group of people and what that belief can do to a person. What I hope that teens gain from this book is knowing & recognizing your own worth is determined by you and ONLY YOU. Tell them bishes about themselves/read them for filth then tell them where they can put their unsolicited opinions of you. I was extremely proud, like big sister proud, of how Simi found her voice and how she used it in certain situations.

One of the things that also struck me is the level of dedication Simi & Noah had for their friendship (I know I talked a bit about it but I want to talk more about it). The way they held space for each other, rode for each other and kept it real with one another at the right moments (meaning that they knew each other so well that they knew when was a good & bad time to approach a subject). It was beautiful to read and see play out on the page. I stan for friendships like that because I have a few like that IRL (shocking, I know…or maybe not, I’m actually quite lovable once you get to know me, LOL..I’m a Hufflepuff for crying out loud)! The way they leaned on each other was also great, they saw each other’s strengths and pumped each other up so their weak points weren’t things that sent them spiraling. I’m all about the hype up so Noah has my heart on that. Moral of the story: Gas each other up, it makes the dark moments seem lighter! So if you have a friend going through a tough time, call them up or show up at their door step in a non-creepy way & hype them up…be the Noah to their Simi and let them do the same for you!

I also enjoyed the role that culture and tradition played in this book and how we may push back so much at it that we can miss the Beauty of it. We may not fall in line with it but it is ingrained in us, in some way, shape or form. For Simi, it’s the matchmaking gift/being a Vichole (which, if I liked being set up, I wouldn’t mind having someone like her in my circle but alas, I don’t so if you know me, you already know not to try it), for others it could be career fields or personality traits (which can be improved upon). I think there is immense strength in non-conformity because autonomy is a thing but if you have a palpable gift, don’t look it in the face and say “nah” then shut the door before seeing if it could work for you. You may not know how it could come in handy or help in the future…but if you try it out and then decide on that “nah” then #Respeck. I enjoyed the talk of food (we established that I like to eat already) and how it brought me back to times in my best friend’s (she’s Guyanese-Indian) kitchen or living room, eating some of the foods mentioned in the book, chatting or watching Bollywood Movies/Music Videos (my favorite movie is Devdas, in case you wanted to know…I miss my best friend and the days we did this *sigh* being an adult sucks a lot of the time). Being surrounded by your friend’s family is a very special feeling (when they are nice people… I’m lucky to have friends with lovely families) that is beautifully captured in this book…I felt like I was in their family kitchen with them!

To wrap this up because I can talk a lot longer about A Match Made In Mehendi, I seriously enjoyed this book and the characters (most of them; there are so many I didn’t talk about but know there are some really great people around Simi). I finished this book so fast because I wanted to know what happened next/how certain scenarios would play out. The pacing was great and it was super funny! Go out and grab this book so you can crack up…and also get hungry like I did (so maybe have snacks near by)! Happy Reading (and snacking)!

The fateful day I met Nandini Bajpai in the Jason Reynolds’ signing line at Bookcon!

Pssssst….by the way, follow my IG page @bookishgirlmagic, facebook @bookishgirlmagic (hopefully, that is correct) and now Twitter @bookishgrlmagic! *Angelic Smile*

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For Black Girls Like Me Is A Black Girl’s Dear Diary

  • Mariama J. Lockington
  • Debut, Stand alone
  • Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary
  • Background: Black, Transracial Adoptee
  • IG: @forblackgirlslikeme, https://mariamajlockington.com/
  • Release Date: Out Now!
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Favorite Character: Lena! Not just because she is Haitian (adopted from Haiti; there is a kindredness though) but because she keeps it real and she reminds me of myself (and maybe you can call me on my bias, LOL).
  • Favorite Quote(s): “I’M NOT WHITE. THAT’S JUST MY PARENTS.”-Lena…my response was “YOU BETTA TELL ‘EM LENA!” I think people forget that children are their own people, adopted or not…this is just an outward display of that. Also “Don’t ever forget that I am your #ashyforlife bestie and I will fight Katy (with my words) to defend your honor. You are a queen. A QUEEN I tell you.”-Lena. First of all, who told Mariama she could write my personality doppelgänger?! *claps* This *claps* is *claps* me *claps*! I would fight anyone for my besties (ask them, they will tell you I have) with words but I’ve been willing to throw bows. I also tell my students to use their words (but I be wanting folks to catch these hands) and I’m all about lifting folks up. This also shows how important it is for us as black girls & women to lift each other up… how we always have to…

When I was reading For Black Girls Like Me, I felt like I was reading a diary, and at parts, my own. As a black girl [grown woman], I related so much to Makeda and what she dealt with…both when I was younger and as an adult. With Makeda being adopted, she had some things to face head on that I couldn’t imagine dealing with…especially grappling with whiteness day in & day out and minimal exposure to her own culture & blackness. As a black girl, that exposure helps to serve as a bit of a roadmap of where you come from (there are universal themes in black girlhood & womanhood) and where you can go as well as understand the experience of being a black girl/woman.

There were so many incidents that made my jaw drop, where I just wished I could’ve screamed in the characters’ faces. The passive aggressive nature of her family was maddening for me so I can only imagine for Makeda could be even more bonkers (#NoCountryForPassiveAggressivePeople). The way her parents and sister spoke to her, the tasks they asked of her, the level of expectation on her showed a level of entitlement that was mind boggling but was not far fetched based upon my own past experiences…and I think other people of color could pick up on those things. It’s a reality that what we experience is different depending on racial background, location, gender identity, sexuality…it’s upsetting but the ish is what POC deal with, holla at your favorite POC (or don’t & do your own research) if you don’t believe me but make sure you LISTEN *cues “Listen, Linda, Listen” kid* or read carefully.

As a kid who has moved, I felt Makeda on another level because that ish is disorienting. You’re leaving your home (possibly the only one you’ve known), your friends and your school. At the same time, you may be developing…so that is like being tossed into a fire and being told “water doesn’t put it out so just let it die down on it’s own…it will eventually *shrug*” and the chuck the deuces as they walk away…WHAT?! You get my point, right? *raises eyebrow* The choice is taken away from you and so little can be done about it…ish is messed up dude (dude is gender neutral for me, by the way, think Kel’s Dude song in Good Burger)!

I moved when I was in 4th grade (around Makeda’s age) and I remember that heartbreak like it was yesterday so if I could hug Makeda IRL, I definitely would. The most painful part of moving seems to be leaving your friends…I feel like leaving your best friend is like leaving a piece of yourself…how, how, HOW can you do that and not fall apart (I did)?! Makeda is a tough one to go through that and not lose it completely…she also has a bomb ass BFF that wouldn’t let her. They were both so present for each other, despite their distance, that is heartwarming. Lena is that ride-or-die friend that you hope for and are lucky to find (shout out to all the ride-or-dies out there)!

I love how this book tackles blackness in white spaces, self-discovery & exploration, depression and mental illness…it is simply brilliant. I felt like Makeda was gut punched throughout the book but she was like a G, standing up after each hit (with some struggle) holding out her arms shouting “YOU HIT LIKE A B-WORD” (because she doesn’t curse, she’s a good girl y’all). Navigating blackness in white space is tough but doing it at home, I can’t even imagine and on top of that, not having someone around to help understand what it means to be a black girl and eventually a black woman *long, slow whistle* makes it tougher. I could talk about this forever but I want want you all to gon’ about your lives and come back next week! Mental illness is really difficult to understand and experience for the person going through it/with the diagnosis (from what I have heard from friend’s who are open about their diagnosis) but it is also difficult to understand from the outside, knowing how best to support that person as they work through it. Makeda was so compassionate and loving, showing a grace that was not always extended to her…I was incredibly proud of her!

For Black Girls Like Me was such a beautiful read, one that I could see myself in as a black woman but she also spoke to the experiences of girlhood universally. Mariama did an amazing job of giving black girls a platform…it was as if she pointed at them (us, really) and said “I see you” complete with a charismatic wink and a tight hug at the end of the book. Please get this book for any and all black girls that you know, any girls (and boys) who are adopted, and any & all kids that you feel could use a hug in book form…it’s a loving way to show them that you see them too! *Angelic Smiley Face*

Shameless plug: Feel Free to follow me on Instagram at @bookishgirlmagic and facebook @bookishgirlmagic!

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My Life As An Ice Cream Sandwich Spoke To My Blerd Girl Heart

  • Ibi Zoboi
  • Debut Middle Grade, 3rd Published Novel; Book 1 of 2
  • Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary
  • Heritage: Haitian-American (*waves Haitian Flag*)
  • IG: @ibizoboi; www.ibizoboi.net
  • Release date: 8/27/2019 (gon’ on and get this book!)
  • Publisher: Penguin Random House
  • Favorite Character: Ebony Grace also known as Cadet E-Grace Starfleet *Salutes*. I think she is dope and I loved how she let things roll off of her shoulders but also attempts to remind people of themselves/the person she knew in a positive light. She wanted to be a little girl & maintain her imagination station and she did…she dared to dream and dreamed really big!
  • Favorite quote: “Still, I don’t trust all that laughing and fun because ain’t nothing funny about No Joke City! “It’s a trap,” I whisper to myself.”-Ebony Grace talking about NYC (and she’s right). “I used a Jedi mind trick to sneak past the Funkazoids standing guard and make my way into the empty kitchen where our lunch plates are still on the table. Momma won’t be able to see how I didn’t clean up after myself, and Daddy doesn’t seem to care.”-EG…I love her stealth modes and her reasoning is totally what I would’ve come up with at her age.

I have to open this by saying that I’m a fan of Ibi Zoboi. It is because of her book American Street, that I was able to see a part of myself in a book since the main character is Haitian (which if you read my post about Dear Haiti, Love Alaine, you’ll recall that that means a lot to me) and that was (still is) a big deal for me. If you haven’t read American Street (or Pride where the main character is Haitian & Dominican), you need to fix that ASAP! Ibi is a dope writer and I’m grateful for the day I decided to pick up her book at Barnes & Noble on Court Street in Brooklyn (Brooklyn Stand Up! It’s one of the locations I frequent *Shrugs*…Judge Me If You Want).

When I started My Life As An Ice Cream Sandwich, I didn’t know what to expect but I was already down for whatever path Ibi was going to take me on. Just look at the cover, it’s dreamy and full of #BlackGirlMagic! Ebony Grace, Also Known As E-Grace or EG is a peculiar kind of girl but in the best of ways. She is intelligent, quirky, strong-willed, active in her imagination (her imagination station), loyal and is all about outer space. While I’m not a trekky like Ebony is, as a big Harry Potter/Wizarding World fan (I have been since freshman year of high school), I could relate to the love that she has for the vastness of space, the world/story that she and her grandfather created around it and how dedicated she was to it. She didn’t allow people’s comments about her impact her in a devastating way, she remained true to herself the entire time (#ShoutOut to her Uncle Rich for acknowledging her uniqueness in a positive way). Ebony held fast to her dreams and I appreciated that because too often, brown girls and boys dreams are too quickly snatched from them & other matters are shoved in their faces and down their throats. E-Grace dared to dream and it didn’t matter to her if others joined in or approved of said dream. I also love that her grandfather was a big contributor to her imagination & dreams.

One of the biggest things I related to in this story is her relationship with/closeness to her grandfather. This aspect was really personal to me since my grandpa is the reason I have such a love for reading, libraries, history (he’s a retired librarian) and he even taught me Ballet when I was younger (he’s a classical music and Ballet enthusiast). Like E-Grace’s grandpa, my grandpa told me stories and encouraged my sense of exploration & imagination. I loved their connection and how she would reach for her grandpa, whether it was over the phone or through her memories (I do the same…*nods* clearly). I believe it is important that we retain these connections to ourselves & our histories through our elders as they are a part of us and illuminate what maybe dark in our understanding. I hope young people read the relationship between EG & her grandpa and reach for that connection with their own grandparents/elders.

Throughout this book, E-Grace remained herself; she didn’t allow others’ to tear down her sense of Self like others would in real life (it was a total “sticks and stones” vibe). EG had this “forget chu den (then)” sort of outlook and I was totally here for it. *Steps On Soap Box* Our children are so easily influenced, forgetting or detouring from who they are evolving into…they become “too grown” (which is so overrated, what ever was I thinking wishing to become an adult *shakes head*) before they ever had the chance to be a child. Ebony is the epitome of Black Girl Innocence & that is so beautiful to me. I hope that we allow our little boys and girls to remain in that child-like space for as long as they possibly can, to see the world with fresh eyes and learn from there, maturing at a more organic rate. *Steps Off Soap Box*

This book was set a little more than 2 years before I was born but I could still see myself in the story. My father was a definite hip-hop fan so I grew up listening to some of the music of this time period. Dance and double dutch also played roles & tied in with the music in this story which brought my heart great joy. I could *shakes hand* kinda sorta hold my own (once upon a time because I have bad knees now & feel older than I look) and I could bust a move on the dance floor (not break dancing doe, I was never meant for that life, I’ll gladly put a $1 in a break dancer’s hat & let them be great…no dance battle challenges shall come from my lips) but not so much on Ebony Grace’s end! I love that Ibi was specific with the songs mentioned so you could look them up and feel even more apart of Ebony’s world. So if you want to dive a little deeper, look up music from 1984 and really get into the grove of the story (now I wish I had done that).

Ebony displayed the Beauty of embracing who you are and not giving a flying rocket (see what I did there, *kool-aid smile*) whether or not other’s accept you. Everyone has their tribe & while it may not be big, it would be authentic to them (in this case, her tribe is her grandpa, which I doubt is an issue for Ebony Grace). Another beautiful notion is that the members of said tribe may change or increase as you change and/or people gain an understanding of you and which is all good too…Ebony may or may not find out about this on this journey (her dad maybe included). A quote that applies here is “why fit in when you were born to stand out?”-Dr. Seuss (*sage nod* wise words). Ebony was clearly meant to stand out and stand out she did in the most splendid of ways! She didn’t fight for anyone’s acceptance nor did she try to fit into anyone’s box in the name of making friends (*coughs* looks at Bianca *coughs*). E-Grace seriously occupies a piece of my Blerd (#BlackNerd) Girl Heart!

I loved how Ibi approached this story, the pacing of it, the characters and how everything came together. She thought of that one (or few) kid(s) that sit to themselves with their book, science experiment or game cards…mentally pointed to them and said “I See You and it’s okay to be who you are”. Ibi made that part of myself feel incredibly seen. If you are the nerdy type *pushes up glasses* (#ShoutOut to all the members of #TheGlassesTribe), love outer space, 80’s era of Harlem, Ibi Zoboi or a combination of all of the above, you should go out and get this book! As you read, let Ebony Grace speak to your inner (or outer) nerd & use Wonder Woman‘s Bracelets of Submission to *pew* *pew* *pew* away any gibberish lasers that may come your way =0)! Happy Space Travels…I mean, Happy Reading!

Ibi Zoboi And I at the launch for My Life As An Ice Cream Sandwich and For Black Girls Like Me at Books Of Wonder!
My now 93 year old Grandpa & I at his 90th birthday celebration…I was telling a story of how I used to pull his beard (I’m the first to ever do it of his grandchildren because I’m the first, LOL) but I imagine E-Grace and her grandpa’s connection is similar to ours.

*Psst* By the way, feel free to follow my IG account for this blog @bookishgirlmagic and/or the facebook account Bookish Girl Magic!

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Dear Haiti, Love Alaine Had Me In My Feelings

  • Maika & Maritza Moulite (Sisters)
  • Debut, Stand alone
  • Genre: YA Contemporary
  • Heritage: Haitian-American (*waves Haitian Flag*)
  • IG: @maritzamoulite, @maikamoulite; www.maikaandmaritza.com
  • Release: 9/3/2019 (Go get it NOW!)
  • Publisher: inkyard press
  • Favorite character: It’s a tie between Alaine and her mother, they’re like mirror images of each other, stubborn, willful, snarky and super dope!
  • Favorite Quote: (Or in this case, quoteS) “(Seriously, I’ve done so much adulting these past few weeks I’ve been looking into retirement options.)”-Alaine…well, I’ll be damned if that isn’t how I feel every day! “I followed her suggestion to kiss the air and give each of her relatives’ cheeks a little bump.”-Alaine about greeting her friend Tatiana’s family (they are also Haitian)…one of the things I hate the most when going to someone’s house is this greeting… I don’t like people enough for that but I have home training (Grandma, Grandpa, Dad, If you are reading this, I give you all actual kisses on your cheeks, I promise I’m not a savage…Love Y’all!)! There are so many more statements I loved but I’m not going to give away more, read the book & find your own favorite quotes!

Alright, how do I kick this off…hmmmm? *Taps chin* I have to start by saying that I loved Dear Haiti, Love Alaine so flipping much…I loved it so much that I purchased multiple copies after finishing it (as a receipt, see picture above) & I know I will purchase more in the future! The last time I purchased multiple copies of a book was Children of Blood And Bone over a period of time but I’m definitely on track to purchase more copies than I did of CBB (I purchased like 7 copies). I purchased a copy for my grandparents (fun fact, my grandpa is a retired librarian), just to drive home the point that I really loved DHLA!

As you may or may not know, I’m half Haitian (*Biggie Smalls voice* If you don’t knowwwwwwww, now you knowwwww baybahbaby) so when I saw this book shouted out, it was instantly placed on my anticipated reads list. I missed the ARCs but I knew I was buying this book. As I read, DHLA proved why I was looking forward to it and why it was worth the wait but even more so, it became deeply personal for me. I grew up around my father’s side (the Haitian side) of the family, most holidays as well as lots of free time spent with them (my grandpa has attended every graduation of mine, he represented for my grandma who could not travel) and yet, I didn’t learn as much about the rich history of Haiti as I would’ve liked to and not to mention the language (I understand a little but I’m going to change that) nor have I been there (something I feel disappoints my Haitian grandma & you never want to do that so I must change that as well).

As a mixed kid (as previously stated in my post about Permanent Record), it bothered me that I was lacking in this arena but DHLA lit a fire under my ass after it broke me (my therapist thinks seeing it as enlightening rather than breaking is better way of putting it), made my eyes leak but also helped put me back together. I’m proud to be of Haitian descent, to have blood that runs through my veins of such a resilient & strong people and to have ancestors that would never let me forget the stock that I come from… This book reminded me of that as the acknowledgement of that part of myself had become dormant in my mind (but not my heart). I cried for like 20+ minutes after reading the acknowledgements though I did not expect to…this is because that piece of myself needed to be seen, felt and heard (well, in this case read; #RepresentationMatters). So so so so so many thanks to Maritza and Maika for that gift (I’m listening to Kompa as I write this :0), you should pull some up on youtube or the Kompa/Zouk Spotify playlist as you read this).

Enough about me, let’s talk about Alaine! Ole’ girl is HILARIOUS! She’s intelligent/a know it all, sarcastic (she spoke my language so beautifully), slightly awkward around boys (me too Alaine, me too), creative, a problem solver and determined. Though she didn’t always demonstrate it, Alaine also had grace…how she didn’t end up in juvie dealing with certain classmates is beyond me because I would be in prison rather than my apartment typing this right now (I really wanted to crawl into the book and snatch a few wigs y’all)…but in Alaine’s case, thank goodness for divine intervention (Baby Jesus wrapped in fleece) and a hyper vigilant Haitian Father that she wasn’t fated for that ending!

Another thing to note is Alaine’s love for peanuts & food (my grandpa used to make a chicken dish with peanuts he imported from Haiti that was everything to me but that was BV-Before Vegan [I will find a vegan way to make that dish some day])…Haitian food is amazing, especially djon djon/black rice (my favsies)… I feel like when it is home cooked, it’s a means of showing love & care, it was for my grandpa (but he’s passing the torch, he’s 93 y’all); I feel like Alaine captured that perfectly in how she spoke about food. I love how Alaine described food with such fondness in the details she gave, I could see it in my mind & could smelled it which triggered memories of my grandpa in the kitchen & my grandma asking if we ate (I seriously love my grandparents, if you haven’t noticed by now). When Alaine talked about her mom cooking/baking & throwing down or criticizing, she also made me think of my mom in the kitchen (my mom is Trini but moms/aunts/grandmas in the kitchen is like a universal language)… Basically this book felt like a love letter to family as well… like a heart beat that sounds melodic and comforting in its presence.

Alaine’s sense of humor, how she wrote and how she responded to people & situations reminded me a lot of myself at her age and now (aye, I’m still growing even though I’m technically a grown ass woman *shrugs*). Like I said, Alaine is hella funny and I laughed a whole lot throughout this book. I loved how she interacted with the people around her as well as her surroundings. When she was in Haiti, it was like a newborn seeing for the first time and since I haven’t been (yet), it was the same for me. As she described the sounds that she experienced, I felt just as overwhelmed as she seemed to be (this is why I wear headphones all the time out in these skreets…New York is hella loud y’all). I experienced it all as if I was standing right next to her!

There were various ways in which Alaine interacted with others such as emails, phone/text as well as in person. I really enjoyed how she communicated with her dad in various ways especially when he baked (who doesn’t love a man who can bake?!) and there is a hilarious text between them that had me rollin’ (read the book to see it). You can also see the different dynamics between Alaine and her mom, her dad, her aunt, etc. It’s really interesting how she communicates and how free she may feel in her expression based upon who she was speaking with. My favorite interactions are between Alaine and her Tante (aunt) Estelle, how her aunt would check her by bringing the receipts (I could feel the mic drops happening in my Spirit when she did that) but it was still very much the “cool” aunt and her favorite niece accompanied by the two finger tap on the shoulder vibe.

I loved and appreciated that there are different mediums throughout the book such as tweets, articles, letters, historical documents along with Alaine’s first hand account. With DHLA being co-authored, everything is seamless in how it reads, it felt as if one person wrote Alaine and the voices of others are distinctly different as if more than two people wrote them (as they should be…it would be weird in a Stepford WivesChildren of the Corn type way if all the voices were singular)…what I’m getting at is that there is no way to tell who wrote what because Maika & Maritza’s voices flowed together so beautifully. Each medium added to the experience, building rich layers in Alaine’s world, piecing together what is impacting Alaine and how it is impacting her without being super obvious (my jaw dropped a few times as the lightbulbs went off in my head). I enjoyed the letters the most since there is something so personal (to me) about the formatting of letters. Seriously, I just think this book was masterfully written!

There aren’t enough words in English, French or Kreyol that could express how much I loved this book. I learned new things about Haiti & it affirmed what it means to BE Haitian… Dear Haiti, Love Alaine was hysterical, heartwarming and it reconnected me to the pride of being Haitian. I seriously cannot say enough good things about this book. It was such a beautiful love letter to Haiti (#AyitiCherie), the ancestors and the people who are SO MUCH more than what the world thinks they are because of circumstances beyond their control & how those circumstances have been presented. Haitians are a people of strength, resilience, spirit & pride and there is so much Beauty in that…I hope that when people pick up this book (with this stunning Black girl on the cover), they feel that as they read Dear Haiti, Love Alaine. If you don’t have this book…*shouting emoji* GET IT NOW! If you have it but haven’t read it yet, move it to the top of your TBR ASAPually! Bon lekti (Happy Reading)!

I attended the launch event at Books Are Magic and had the best time talking to Maika & Maritza! And as you can see, red lipstick was the move for the evening!

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Permanent Record Is Deadass Hilarious!

  • Author: Mary H.K. Choi
  • 2nd Book, Stand alone
  • YA Contemporary
  • Heritage/Background: Korean-American
  • IG@choitotheworld; www.choitotheworld.com
  • Release date: 9/3/19 (It’s out now so cop it!)
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Favorite Character: I’m going with the main character, Pablo cause dude was f*cking hilarious. His brother Rain comes in a close second.
  • Favorite Quote: There were mad funny things said throughout the book but I’m going with “But he’s Puerto Rican and Dominican, which is why he’s a hothead. The inner conflict he says is like being Trini and Jamaican.” Pab about his roommate Miggs. As a Trini and Haitian, I FULLY get this! Close second is Tice saying he’s the most Killmonger because he’s Haitian…I feel you on that Tice, I definitely feel you.

Where do I start? Permanent Record was f*cking hilarious from jump! I was reading in a cafe and someone asked me what I was reading & said I was glowing (it could’ve been that they were trying to hit on me or that I was really glowing from laughing so hard *shrugs*, the world may never know). My eyes leaked (I’m a G so books don’t make me cry #TheLiesWeTellOurselves) and my belly moved (I’m not pregnant, just FYI) I laughed so hard while reading this book!

This book was so New York…the usage of deadass to talking about the bodega cat (#RespectTheBodegaCat) just made me feel right at home because it IS my home (most of my life has been spent living in New York, I was born & bred here *screams in Ja Rule’s voice* NY BAYBAYYYYYYY). I could see myself in this story, feel the slosh of the dirty snow, the biting cold in a too thin jacket because you underestimated how cold it would be…and also how valued the bodega is (not every store on the corner is a bodega..remember that sh*t). I live where Papi’s who tell you to smile run the bodega world…bodegas are an NY cornerstone my dude!

Pablo is funny as ffffffffffffffff*ck y’all! His wit, his sense of humor & sarcasm led me to believe that he and I could’ve been the best of friends had he been a real person. I think though that he would make fun of the fact that I’m vegan all the time but I’m sure we could still work and he would find awesome snacks for me via his bodega hookups! Also, his feelings of being lost, lonely, drowning [in financial sh*t] and unsure of his purpose felt way too close to home (#ItMe, this has been me a lot in my adult life). I have to note that, like me, Pab is a #MixedKid and he wrestled with a lot of the same issues I do such as not speaking the language of your respective heritages (thanks Dad…*deep sigh*), where you belong, if you belong more to one than the other and people playing that bullsh*t guessing game of what your background is/asking “what are you?” (I’m human muthaf*cka, the f*ck you think…this is what I think in my mind but I usually sideeye the person, clarify their question then answer).

Pab had a dope ass support system, even though he didn’t always acknowledge that…from his family to his homies, he had a lot more than he realized. His parents seemed like the type of people that you would say “man, I love your parents, I wish my parents were like yours” (I have several friends with parents like that) and somewhat resembled my own. While his mom was strict, it was clear she would do anything for her children (like my dad) & his father was sweet and super supportive (like my mother). Reading this book, they seem like the unlikeliest of matches but also worked in an interesting way! Pab’s brother Rain was also hysterical, serious when necessary but snarky at all the right times…especially with a school situation…you have to read read it to get it…Pink machinery is all I will say (ROTFLMAO).

Pablo’s crew is hella cool, the way they look out for each other & chin check one another. Being that Tice is one of my people (#ShoutOutToTheZoes), he was my favorite of Pab’s friends (I’m biased *shrugs*). He met Pab blow for blow in verbal interactions but also showed he cared about him & what he thought. I sincerely appreciated his Come-To-Jesus Meetings with Pab (I’ve had a few of those with friends, initiated & brought into), I think it’s something that Haitians are just really good at (another biased statement *shrug*). I also have to say that I LOVED that all of Pab’s friends were different mixtures and backgrounds and the fact that he mentioned their backgrounds gave some insight to their character traits. As someone who has friends from a cornucopia of backgrounds, I sincerely appreciated that and it made me feel even closer to the story.

The meet-cute between Lee & Pablo was like the beginning of the ultimate NY love story…like what could be more New York than “we met in a bodega” (#DeadassDeadass) ?! I loved their chemistry, interactions, mutual love for food/snacking (I felt them on that) as well as their care for one another. For sure, I was cheering for them and you may as well! They both made dumb moves in this story but it is also apart of our reality…unfortunately, the dependency on social media and text messages is a real thing (the psychology behind that is mind-blowing) and plays a role in their relationship. Low-Key High-Key depression plays a pretty big part in this too and those dealing with it (*coughs* Pablo *coughs*) take a while to see it.

I loved this book so much, I stayed up until ridiculous hours reading because I wanted to know what would happen next, what wild thing would he say & when Pab would turn things around. Permanent Record was a page turna like a muthaf*cka! Even though I finished this book, I’m still laughing about sh*t that happened (Rain is such an ass, a loveable one but still an ass). This was my first exposure to Mary H.K. Choi but I’ve already picked up Emergency Contact & can’t wait to read it, I’m also sold on whatever else she writes in the future! GO *clap* COP *clap* THIS *clap* BOOK *clap*! Deadass, my stomach hurt from laughing so hard…be prepared for the ab work you’ll do from all the laughter but it’s worth it B.

I attended I attended the Book Launch at Strand Bookstore and got a picture with Mary (she’s gorgeous and hilarious, btw)!

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SLAY Was a WORD in Book Form

  • Brittney Morris
  • Debut, Stand Alone
  • YA Contemporary
  • Heritage/Background: Black (read black, black, bliggity black)
  • IG: @brittneymmorris, www.authorbrittneymorris.com, www.slaythebook.com
  • Release date: 9/24/2019
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse
  • Favorite character: Steph-she is no-nonsense, ride or die, knowledge dropping and isn’t here for anyone’s [hotep] antics…basically black girl magic!
  • Favorite quote: For me, the dedication is EVERYTHING! “For everyone who has ever had to minimize who you are to be palatable to those who aren’t like you.” Dear GAWD, I wish I had someone to say this to me as a teen!

First of all, *claps* first *claps* of *claps* ALLLLLLLL… There are not enough words to describe how much I LOVED this book! Like, it was was EVERY.DAMN.THING! Hands Down, one of my top 5 reads of the year! From the moment I saw the cover, I knew I had to read it! Not only is there a nerdy Black Girl with natural hair on the cover (#NerdyBlackGirlsRock, #GlassesTribeForever) but the title and color scheme drew me in. I want to say that SLAY was mentioned to me but it doesn’t even matter now because I read it and it Rocked my Entire being! It was happenstance that I got a copy of this ARC as I missed them at bookcon but went to a book meet up and SLAY was one that was up for grabs. When I saw it, I instantly went for it and I only had eyes for SLAY. Everyone let me be great and take it home (thanks for that Book babes!).

Kiera is dope As F*ck, though she hid some of that dopeness from those around her. Being the creator so something so big internationally is like peak Black Girl Magic but hiding such as accomplishment from loved ones has been a trend amongst Black Women for centuries (though this is coming to an end). When Kiera spoke about having a space JUST for US, I felt that in my Spirit! Kiera (Brittney through her) put to words how so many people of color feel. The need to have a space for us, to express ourselves, to feel free and not fear having these expressions & feelings taken from us. She was seriously preaching throughout this book but Brittney hooked me with that!

Kiera/Brittney also spoke about the varying expressions of Blackness…from the shades of our skin (oh how I love the different hues of our skin), mannerisms, cultures, languages, fashion but our commonality IS OUR BLACKNESS! Another thing she touched on is when you are one of few or the only black person/POC in a space and being asked to speak on behalf of an entire race… I’m pretty sure that I screamed out “THAT’S NOT HOW THIS WORKS!” (I’ve been in this position, I hated it.) We already know/see when we are one of few or are the only POC present (which can be uncomfortable AF) but being asked to speak for ALL ANDDDDDD not even say what you want to…*Falls Out*!

Kiera has some amazing people in her life from her sister to her co game programmer and even people who play the game! Another brilliant thing about this book is how Brittney depicted what different support systems can look like as well as what Blackness could look like. I loved how there were multiple perspectives in the book which added even more to the experience of the book. I’m not a gamer but I could understand, wholeheartedly, how this cast felt throughout. There are also some not so great or rather annoying people in Kiera’s world as well. At times, I hated how she handled them but it shed light on how much we, as black people (I’m black too, in case you haven’t guessed), have to step back & not say what we want or need to out of fear of retribution or judgement (I’m ready for those days to end). Part of why I loved Kiera’s sister, Steph, is because she was not afraid to keep it real…we need more Stephs in the world (and they are emerging).

Not only does this book beautifully depict the levels and layers of blackness but it also drops so much knowledge. Deadass (I’m so New York), my geek side screamed out “YESSSS” so many times throughout this read both internally and externally, it wasn’t even funny! I loved the history gems, talks of historical Black figures and cultures as well as places that black people live/exist that one may not think. I was here for ALLLLLL of IT! I also loved the mention of things so many of us experience though the game cards such as Boo-Boo The Fool (we know who he ain’t), having MacDonald’s money (boy, if that didn’t bring up childhood discussions), Black Love (I think it is magnificent and beautiful) as well as AAVE (African American Vernacular English) & the arguments around it’s usage/validity (it’s totally valid, whether used or not by a black person) AND the need to Code-Switch!

Honestly, I can talk all day about this book and how important it is! It knocked me on my ass and picked me back up again before knocking me down again (in a good way)! Seriously, Brittney wrote a brilliant book that really paid homage to blackness and it’s many forms/textures. You need to pre-order SLAY or get it the day that it comes out! It is seriously amazing, well written and speaks to what so many black people encounter in this world. SLAY preached in a way that you want to hear/read! Get this book for everyone you know so you will have someone or a group of people to talk to about it. Also know, you will struggle to put it down so have time carved out to read (like hours), it is THAT engaging/great! SLAY is so unapologetically Black that it is Beautiful, Magnificent and Magical! Also #WakandaForever!

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Kingdom Of Souls Snatched My Edges

  • Author: Rena Barron
  • Debut-Book 1 of a Trilogy (*deep sigh*)
  • Genre: YA Fantasy
  • Background-Black with West African Ancestry
  • IG-@Renathedreamer
  • www.renabarron.com; www.kingdomofsoulsbook.com
  • Release Dates: 9/3/19 (US), 9/19/19 (UK)
  • Publisher: Epic Reads
  • My Favorite Character-Rudjek…what can I say, I’m a sucker for a charismatic, sarcastic, funny & charming man child!
  • Favorite Quote-‘”I’ll make do.” Then under his breath, he says, “I can be quite crafty.”‘-Rudjek from Arrah’s perspective (and he was right).

Months ago, Dhonielle Clayton told me about Kingdom of Souls so it had been on my radar. When bookcon came and I had the chance to participate in an ARC drop where KOS was one, I got in line as fast as I could and prayed I’d get a copy. When I tell you I clutched this book to my chest, I actually did (and also called it “the precious” in my mind, lol) and it was worth every moment spent waiting in line.

This book is like a roller coaster ride that I didn’t want to get off of (and I hate roller coasters in real life). I had a hard time putting this book down, opening it up every free moment I had & even slept with it next to me since I would read it late into the night as if I didn’t have work the next morning. I loved how Rena described the sceneries, the characters and the “situations” (which there were a lot of). I felt like I was seeing everything from Arrah’s eyes and felt her emotions as she went through her journey, which is my favorite type of book to experience/read. I LOVED the magic and the Orishas woven throughout the book. The Orishas were their own cast but was also very much so a part of the tapestry of the story. KOS was rich in the textures of the magic and the tribal traits as well!

Not only is Arrah this dope ass black girl that has a strong resolve and big heart; she has the best ride or dies to call her crew. Her friends are the types that would give you the two finger tap, tell you to have a seat and look at your life & your choices. Arrah’s circle are the type of people you hope to find in your lifetime because friends like those are hard to come by. On top of having the best friends anyone could ask for, she has this amazing and hella loving dad that is the type of dad you would want to hug & never let go of, he’s so full of wisdom & stories and is so cool & sweet. I could see why Arrah was so attached to him, I would be too (actually I am, lol).

As dope as so many of the people in Arrah’s story are, there are some not so awesome characters. Arrah’s mother & eventual sister are the antithesis of her…they are both hoes and a halves for their shenanigans! Seriously, if I could’ve slapped them, I would’ve happily done so…with bricks. I’m not about that spoiler life so you have to read the book in order to understand why I felt that way!

I loved this book so much and I have been talking about it to anyone who would possibly listen (or read). This book is worth your dollars or check outs (if you are about that library life), time, attention, and space on your shelves. Get this book for everyone you know because you will want to talk about it…with multiple people. Suggest it to your book clubs, your co-workers, teens and strangers on the street (if you are extroverted enough)! This book IS available for pre-order and is coming out soon so you won’t have to wait for very long! Hopefully, we won’t have a long wait for book 2 *crosses fingers*!

Check out this list of the Epic Reads Tour for the chance to meet Rena!

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What’s The 411 Hun-Blog Post 1

How This Is Gonna Go…

First, I’m not doing stars or number ratings. No shots at or shade to those who follow that system but that’s not what I’m about. Even as a teacher, I’m not in a field where I give grades. Authors work their asses off to put their work out into the world and feel some level of anxiety about how people/readers will feel once their books are in their (readers) hands and out of their (authors) control; I will not contribute to that anxiety. It isn’t my job, nor my place, to put that sort of judgement on their work, their art, their babies; and I want to respect the time and effort these authors put into their craft.

As a [fellow] reader, I can only share how their work made me feel and how I connected to their work. I also won’t post the book synapses/descriptions because I can share the links to those or you can pick up the book & read the covers/dust jackets. Hopefully, what I write will be enough to motivate you to pick up or pre-order the book!

What I will share is the authors’ background/heritage, if they are a debut or not, favorite quotes & characters, links & of course, how I felt about the book. I’m also going to be writing about books I have felt the most passionate about so that this blog stays positive…I’ve been lucky to read tons of books that I enjoyed but there are some that stand out more than others (such is life). I ask (which is bold being new) that you trust this approach and that my love for these books will make for a good review (if it can be called a review) *kool-aid smile & eye-lash flutter*. I’m not going to post about every book that I read because I read AHHHHHH LOT so this blog will feature more recent book releases and ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies for my new to the book world peeps)!

Soooooooo, with all that being said…Let’s Get It, Let’s Go…review/talk about some books!