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*

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!

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*

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!

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!

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!

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)!

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!

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!

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!