BLOG TOUR: Mayhem by Estelle Laure – Review

Thanks to the publisher Wednesday Books for giving me the opportunity to review this title via NetGalley.

A YA feminist mash up inspired by The Lost Boys and The Craft.

It’s 1987 and unfortunately it’s not all Madonna and cherry lip balm. Mayhem Brayburn has always known there was something off about her and her mother, Roxy. Maybe it has to do with Roxy’s constant physical pain, or maybe with Mayhem’s own irresistible pull to water. Either way, she knows they aren’t like everyone else.

But when May’s stepfather finally goes too far, Roxy and Mayhem flee to Santa Maria, California, the coastal beach town that holds the answers to all of Mayhem’s questions about who her mother is, her estranged family, and the mysteries of her own self. There she meets the kids who live with her aunt, and it opens the door to the magic that runs through the female lineage in her family, the very magic Mayhem is next in line to inherit and which will change her life for good.

But when she gets wrapped up in the search for the man who has been kidnapping girls from the beach, her life takes another dangerous turn and she is forced to face the price of vigilante justice and to ask herself whether revenge is worth the cost.

From the acclaimed author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back, Estelle Laure offers a riveting and complex story with magical elements about a family of women contending with what appears to be an irreversible destiny, taking control and saying when enough is enough.


a note from the author

Dear Reader,

Like Mayhem, I experienced a period of time when my life
was extremely unstable. I can still remember what it was like to
be shaken so hard I thought my head would come off, to watch
the room vibrate, to feel unsafe in my own home, to never
know what was coming around the next corner. I wanted to
run. I always wanted to run.

I ran to friends, but also movies and books, and although
girls were more passively portrayed in movies like The
Lost Boys back then, that feeling of teenagers prowling the
night, taking out bad people, being unbeatable . . . that got
me through it.

I guess that’s what I tried to do here. I wanted girls who feel
powerless to be able to imagine themselves invincible. And
yes, I used a rape as the seed for that fierce lineage, not without
thought. For me, there is nothing worse, and I like to think
great power can rise up as a result of a devastating trespass.

Please know I took none of this lightly. Writing this now, my
heart is beating hard and my throat is dry. This is the first time
I not only really looked at my own past, the pain of loss, the
pain of the loss of trust that comes when someone puts hands
on you without permission, the pain of people dying, the
shock of suicide, and put all of it to paper in a way that made
me feel victorious, strong, and warrior-like. It is also
terrifying.I know I’m not the only one who had a scary
childhood, and I know I’m not the only one who clings to stories as salve to
smooth over burnt skin. I am so sick of girls and women being
hurt. This was my way of taking my own vengeance and trying
to access forgiveness.

Thank you for reading and for those of you who can relate,
I see you and you are not alone.

Estelle Laure


Review + Thoughts

Before I start talking about what I enjoyed about this book I do want to emphasize that this is a heavy and darker read. I’m placing the content warnings that you can read from the author’s website about MAYHEM at the bottom of this review.

With that being said I thoroughly found this to be an excellent and nuanced exploration of these difficult experiences. I could feel the raw emotion in the writing and the anger coming off the pages. Girls being angry is the kind of thing I like to read about and MAYHEM fits so well into one of my super specific favorite genres, that is feminist revenge stories with magical elements mixed in.

I also love that MAYHEM contains complex, messy, and humanized characters. Troubled, messy, and hurt women such as her mother, Roxy, her Aunt Elle, her grandmother Julianna and Neve. Victims of the patriarchy wanting revenge and justice and peace. This also ties into a secondary plot of the story that revolves around the missing girls in Santa Maria.

This book is not for everyone but I think if you’re able to handle the content and want to read a story like this, you should check it out for yourself.


Content Warnings via Author’s Website

Rape: the Brayburn family’s backstory centers around the matriarch’s rape and explores the ensuing generational trauma and its effects on the women within its lineage. The rape is on the page but is not graphically depicted.

Suicide: a suicide takes place off the page.

Drug use: there is one scene in which multiple adolescents take hallucinogenic mushrooms. There is much use of pills and alcohol by one of the adults in the story as a coping mechanism for chronic pain and trauma.

Serial kidnapping and murder: part of the story centers around an active serial kidnapper and killer. There is also murder depicted throughout, sometimes on the page and sometimes off, including the murder of two of the children’s parents, which takes place in dialogue and is not explicitly on the page.

Child abuse: central to the story is a depiction of violence experienced by a child.

Domestic violence, intimidation, and emotional abuse: also central to the story is long-term domestic violence and its attendant cycle. This is mostly off stage, however there are several scenes of emotional manipulation and intimidation, and one scene that contains stalking and breaking and entering and a physical altercation.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Estelle Laure, the author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back believes in love, magic, and the power of facing hard truths. She has a BA in Theatre Arts and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and she lives in Taos, New Mexico, with her family. Her work is translated widely around the world.

Author’s social handles
o Twitter: @starlaure
o Instagram: @estellelaurebooks

BUY YOUR COPY OF MAYHEM HERE: https://wednesdaybooks.com/galaxies-and-kingdom/mayhem/

Out Now: Queer We Go Again! edited by Saundra Mitchell: Blog Tour Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Out Now: Queer We Go Again!
By Saundra Mitchell
On Sale: May 26, 2020
Inkyard Press
YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Diversity & Multicultural | YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Romance/LGBT
9781335018267; 1335018263
$18.99 USD
 416 pages

about the book

A follow-up to the critically acclaimed All Out anthology, Out Now features seventeen new short stories from amazing queer YA authors. Vampires crash prom…aliens run from the government…a president’s daughter comes into her own…a true romantic tries to soften the heart of a cynical social media influencer…a selkie and the sea call out to a lost soul. Teapots
and barbershops…skateboards and VW vans…Street Fighter and Ares’s sword: Out Now has a story for every reader and surprises with each turn of the page! This essential and beautifully written modern-day collection features an intersectional and inclusive slate of authors and stories.


As we enter the first week of Pride Month 2020, I recommend those of you that want to start reading LGBTQIAP+ books from queer authors read Out Now, which is in fact OUT NOW. This book contains short stories each with their own unique story set mostly in the modern day such as the first story from Candice Montgomery, Kick. Push. Coast about skateboarding, Julian Winter’s Victory Lap about finding a prom date and being on the swim team. Some with more fantastical and sci-fi elements in them such as Caleb Roehrig’s What Happens in the Closet which features vampires, Tara Sim’s One Spell to Many featuring Bi witches running a bakery and Fox Benwell’s Once Upon a Seastorm about trans selkies.

The diversity is a major plus for this anthology. We see teens that are trans, gay, lesbian, ace, bi, pan, demisexual, questioning, non-binary, Black, Choctaw, fat, Taiwanese, Pakistani, Latinx. It’s a beautiful thing to see so much diversity in not only the main characters of each story but the subtle representation of side or mentioned characters. I appreciated to see not only the stories where the characters are PROUD of who they are but also their struggle with their identities. There’s a big emphasis on romance, but also with friendships and family.

As with most anthologies, not ever story is going to be the perfect match. There were a few stories were a bit more fleshed out than others. Some stories i actually wished were full on novels. But I’m overall just satisfied to see these kind of stories in 2020. We need these stories and these authors to be flourishing.

MY PERSONAL FAVORITES

Kick. Push. Coast by Candice Montgomery
What Happens in the Closet by Caleb Roehrig
Victory Lap by Julian Winters
Floating by Tanya Boteju
One Spell Too Many by Tara Sim


about the author

Saundra Mitchell has been a phone psychic, a car salesperson, a denture deliverer and a layout waxer. She’s dodged trains, endured basic training and hitchhiked from Montana to California. She teaches herself languages, raises children and makes paper for fun. She is the author of Shadowed Summer and The Vespertine series, the upcoming novelization of The Prom musical, and the editor of Defy the Dark. She always picks truth; dare is too easy. Visit her online at http://www.saundramitchell.com.

Social Links:
Author website: wwww.saundramitchell.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Saundra-Mitchell/164136390442617
Twitter: @saundramitchell
Instagram: @smitchellbooks
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52172088-out-now

Buy Links:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Out-Now-Queer-We-Again/dp/1335018263
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/out-now-saundra-mitchell/1133810272
IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335018267
Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Out-Now/Saundra-
Mitchell/9781335018267?id=4861510030088
AppleBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/out-now/id1481649552
Google Play:
https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Saundra_Mitchell_Out_Now?id=0SeyDwAAQBAJ


Thanks for reading!

May 2020 TBR + Goals

May is here and here I am, still making TBRs and goals despite not ever really following through with them. But I’m persistent and stubborn and I want to make them anyways because at least I’m making goals for myself. Even if I never achieve them!

I haven’t blogged in a while because of not only the COVID-19 pandemic and me having to work different hours and being stressed about that, but also because of lack of inspiration and energy for blogging and reading. My mental health over the years has been going through major ups and down, particularity these couple of months of 2020 have been huge down months where I was tired and unmotivated. I have had some terrible days. My struggle with my depression and anxiety is still a work in progress much like this blog and my love for reading. So I just didn’t do anything which made me feel worse but at the same time, I probably needed the break.

But now I’m hoping to get back into this and even If I’m not the best I’m going to do the best I can.

Now let’s transition to the blog stuff, I want to blog hop and comment more. Which is a goal I will always have set for myself. I also want to be productive by writing blog posts ahead of time that way I don’t have to struggle.

I also want to revive my bookish Instagram account. The one I’m barely active on and have only posted 3 things since making it. If anyone wants to give me some ideas on what I could post or some helpful tips let know. Link some blog posts or whatever! I’ll be glad to read anyone’s tips on IG.


TBR

I’m splitting TBR into groups. What I need to read (as in ARCs or books I’ve been given to from giveaways and publishers) and What I want to read (which obviously doesn’t need an explanation) I have plenty of older ARCs I still need to read as well as ARCs that I need to since they are coming out soon and some I’m a part of blog tours. I want to read ARCs so I can actually advocate for future releases and help promote them. Also I just really want to get my NetGalley ratio up so I can request more to read/never read.

Then for the books I want to read, since its Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month I want to read books from Asian & Pacific Islander authors. Then I have Spinning Silver which is a book I started in April, which HI want to finish and then start on Uprooted, because I really enjoy this writer’s work. I also have These Witches Don’t Burn on here because the sequel comes out this month and I want to be on board before I read that. Granted my TBR could change and this isn’t definite.

ARCS TO READ

PHYSICAL/DIGITAL BOOKS I OWN TO READ


Thanks for reading 🙂

Monthly Most Anticipated – May 2020

So yeah it’s been a hot minute and everything is just…chaotic. I haven’t blogged in a while and I am going to talk about that more in a future post. But I want to get back into it and be more active than I have been before.

To get to the point of this post, these are some things coming out this month I’m excited for. A lot of stuff I initially would have put in here have been changed because of the coronavirus pushing release dates of many things further into year or even into next year.


BOOKS

MAY 5

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Elizabeth Acevedo’s third book featuring two half-sisters who are connected by the death of their father set in New York City and the Dominican Republic. First of all I love the cover and the title. Secondly, I know I’m going to enjoy this book because Elizabeth Acevedo is a master with words and this one is told in verse like her debut, The Poet X.

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

This book is about a Black, queer, and transgender teen by a Black, queer, transgender author. I’ve heard good things about this author’s other books and I’m excited to start with this one from them.

The Life and (Medieval) Times of Kit Sweetly by Jamie Pacton

This is described as A Knight’s Tale meets Moxie which is intriguing enough for me. I like the concept of a YA taking place in Medieval Times-esque restaurant. I’m interested to see what the humor will be like and how it deals with sexism and gender.

Last Girls by Demetra Brodsky

The doomsday prepper scenario mixed in with possibly cult stuff? I’m in. When it comes to anything about cults, secret societies/compounds, I’m for some reason really int those kind of stories.

MAY 12

The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

Described as “When Dimple Met Rishi meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this rom com about two teen girls with rival henna businesses”, The Henna Wars is F/F enemies to lovers that many have been waiting with two girls of color. Also it’s set in Ireland which is actually a place I have yet to read about.

By the Book by Amanda Sellet

Not gonna lie that the cover and the pun-tastic title drew me in. So I intentionally am not setting my expectations high only because I’m in for the cuteness.

MAY 19

We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez

I’m not the type of person who would normally bring up Book Twitter controversy but if you wanted to know my stance on a certain book that was brought up at the beginning for the year for having garbage representation of the Mexican migration experience, fuck American Dirt and read a book about immigration from an Own Voices author.

This Coven Won’t Break by Isabel Sterling

This is the sequel to These Witches Don’t Burn which I started last year but then put on hold and its been that ever since. I was barely getting into the story of the first one but I am interested see where it all goes, continue on with it, and possibly read this one.

MAY 26

Out Now: Queer We Go Again edited by Saundra Mitchell

I’m actually apart of a blog your this for this title and I cannot wait. The synopsis alone sounds so interesting and fun.

“A follow-up to the critically acclaimed All Out anthology, Out Now features seventeen new short stories from amazing queer YA authors. Vampires crash prom, aliens run from the government, a president’s daughter comes into her own, a true romantic tries to soften the heart of a cynical social media influencer, a selkie and the sea call out to a lost soul. Teapots and barbershops, skateboards and VW vans, Street Fighter and Ares’s sword: Out Now has a story for every reader and surprises with each turn of the page!”

FILMS

I would have put more here but most movies are either being delayed later in the year or into next year. That being said there is one film that I’ve been anticipating that wasn’t affected by the coronavirus.

THE HALF OF IT

I’ve already watched this and I plan on reviewing on it because I just want to rave about it. I highly recommend this beautiful coming of age story. This is from a Chinese-American lesbian creator so please support this film so we can get more stories like this in mainstream media.

TV SERIES

There’s only two series that I’m interested right now. I also have a lot of shows I’m still “currently watching”.

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power – Season 5

The final season of She-Ra is upon us. It really feels so sudden since this show has only been on Netflix for 2 years. I would have really liked this to have had more episodes/seasons but I am fine with what they have put out and hopefully with what will come. The previous season left off with some interesting cliffhangers and there is so much that needs to be resolved. I’m excited to see how it all ends.

Dead to Me – Season 2

This was a show I didn’t expect to enjoy as much as I did last year. This had a lot of great twists as well as comedy and great moments concerning grief and trauma. The last episode of the first season ended with a major ciffhanger as shit was hitting the fan.


That’s what I’m looking forward to this month let me know what you’re looking forward to in May and we can chat about it in the comments below.

Thanks for reading 🙂

March 2020 TBR – A Magic 8 Ball Controls My TBR

Well I hope everyone is doing fine in spite of everything that’s happening in the world right now! If you’re reading this and you happen to not be from Earth, help us. Anyways with the COVID-19/coronavirus stuff going on, I feel like I’ll have more time to read since the best thing to do right now is stay at home. So more time for reading!

Lately I’ve had a hard time deciding to what to read from TBR, because I either want to read everything or nothing at all. So what I had in mind, and this is an idea I’ve had brewing for a while now, is to let a magic 8 ball choose what I read. With a magic 8 ball by side, who knows what it’ll let me read. I’m going to post a stack of a few selected books I’m in the mood for and see what my results are!

Also please don’t judge my poor photography skills and my chipped nail polish.


NINTH HOUSE BY LEIGH BARDUGO

WHAT THE MAGIC 8 BALL SAID: MOST LIKELY.

So that means I’m reading it. I’ve had this on my TBR for a while and I’ve been interested in this one. I’ve seen some people have either super positive or super negative reviews for this, so I can’t wait to see where I fit in.

SORCERY OF THORNS BY MARGARET ROGERSON

WHAT THE MAGIC 8 BALL SAID: OUTLOOK NOT SO GOOD

My blurriest but I didn’t bother to retake it because laziness I guess. Also my phone’s camera WOULD NOT FOCUS. So not only is the picture “not so good” but neither is my this choice because I did really want to read this but I always have April.

WITCHES OF ASH AND RUIN BY E. LATIMER

WHAT THE MAGIC 8 BALL SAID: WITHOUT A DOUBT.

YAY! I’m excited to read more witchy YA. This one is Celtic inspired and it just sounds so cool.

I HOPE YOU GET THIS MESSAGE BY FARAH NAZ RISHI

WHAT THE MAGIC 8 BALL SAID: IT IS DECIDEDLY SO.

I’ve had on my TBR since I saw that stunning cover. This was one of my most anticipated from last year so it’s quite mind boggling that I haven’t even read it yet.

FOUL IS FAIR BY HANNAH CAPIN

WHAT THE MAGIC 8 BALL SAID (PART 1): REPLY HAZY TRY AGAIN

WHAT THE MAGIC 8 BALL SAID (PART 2) : IT IS CERTAIN

REVENGE! SHAKESPEARE! ANGRY GIRLS! CAN’T WAIT TO READ!

THE MIDNIGHT LIE BY MARIE RUTKOWSKI

WHAT THE MAGIC 8 BALL SAID: SIGNS POINT TO YES

Okay so this is apparently a part of the author’s previous series, The Winner’s trilogy. But I don’t think you have to read that to understand this. At least I hope not. F/F FANTASY FOR THE WIN.

THE BELL JAR BY SYLVIA PLATH

WHAT THE MAGIC 8 BALL SAID: AS I SEE IT YES

So yeah I’ve always wanted to read this. I tried reading it last year and the yea before but I never got around to it.

NEVER LET ME GO BY KAZUO ISHIGURO

WHAT THE MAGIC 8 BALL SAID: MY REPLY IS NO

NOOOOOOOO. I’ll have read this another month but I’m definitely reading THIS BOOK THIS YEAR.


Monthly Most Anticipated – March 2020

I started this last month so I thought I’d more of this. This month will have way more books than anything else because WOW what a solid month for book releases and especially when there’s a whole day full of amazing books. Anyways these are things I’m interested in that’s happening during the month of March. Let me know some things y’all are anticipating this month!

BOOKS

It’s a good mix of a lot of YA and a few literary fiction releases that really interested me. But this is a huge month of for amazing book releases in my opinion.

march 3

Anna K. by Jenny Lee

When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey

Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco

The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkowski

Havenfall by Sara Holland

The Winter Duke by Claire Eliza Bartlett

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer

march 10

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

The Deep by Alma Katsu

Harley in the Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman

A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell

When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk

march 17

The Electric Heir by Victoria Lee

Beheld by TaraShea Nesbit

Darling Rose Gold by Staphenie Wrobel

The Eighth Girl by Maxine Mei-Fung Chung

march 24

Lakewood by Megan Giddings

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

The Herd by Andrea Bartz

march 31

Days of Distraction by Alexandra Chang

We Are Totally Normal by Rahul Kanakia

The Sisters Grimm by Menna van Praag

VIDEO GAMES

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

I’M SO EXCITED FOR THIS!!! I haven’t pre-ordered it yet but I plan on it because I want my hands on this game now. I’ve been getting back into Pocket Camp so I can get used to the mechanics of the game. I love using the Switch and I think this game will be so much fun on it. The hype

MOVIES

I only have two movies releasing this that I’m remotely interested watching.

A Quiet Place: Part II

I never saw A Quiet Place in the theater and I might not actually see this in theater since I like watching horror movies alone. But this is a movie I’m genuinely excited to more from. I’m not going to spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t watched the first one but if you’re looking for a unique horror premise or just like Emily Blunt being amazing, go watch these movies.

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Yeah I’m a film snob and I follow along with what airs at film festivals like Sundance and Cannes. This one caught my eye because I like coming of age films. I’ll insert a little description of the plot in case you’re also interested.

“A teenage girl in rural Pennsylvania hops on a Greyhound bus and goes on a long, expensive and distressing pilgrimage to New York City to find an abortion clinic”.


That’s it for what I’m excited about this month. I’m pretty sure I’ll find out that some more things I like will be out this month because I’m always late to the party.

Let me know some things you’re excited for in March.

Top Ten Tuesday – Books With Single-Word Titles on My TBR

This Top Ten Tuesday topic comes from Kitty from Kitty Marie’s Reading Corner. Books with Single-Word Titles is a great topic and I have plenty of those on my TBR. So I turned this into a TBR thing. Which is a mix of old and future releases.

If you’re interested in seeing future topics and learning more about Top Ten Tuesday click here.

HORRID BY KATRINA LENO

First of all LOVE THE COVER, which itself is horridly beautiful. But I love this title because its such a great horror title. This is described as “a haunting contemporary horror novel that explores themes of mental illness, rage, and grief, twisted with spine-chilling elements of Stephen King and Agatha Christie”. All of that makes me want this book now.

LOBIZONA BY ROMINA GARBER

Again with another stunning cover! But I love the title because it comes from the Argentinian word, lobizón, for werewolf. Werewolves have never been a huge interest for me. Except for the movie Ginger Snaps which is really amazing and y’all should watch it if you like movies like Jennifer’s Body and The Craft. But I really like to see novels that explore horror lore from the perspective of other cultures and mythology (meaning non-Western/American). I actually have an arc of this and can’t wait to dig into this world.

RUINSONG BY JULIA EMBER

As described by the author this is “a queer Phantom of the Opera retelling with music magic and girls wearing pink ballgowns and ribbons while brutally destroying their enemies”. I’M SOLD! Also I love titles that have the word song in it. Another good example is Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

INCENDIARY BY ZORAIDA CORDOVA

Incendiary is such a good word. It’s the chief’s kiss of words. With fiery word comes a flaming hot cover. This is loosely based on the Spanish Inquisition with some magic thrown in. This will be one of Zoraida’s next series. I really enjoyed Labyrinth Lost so I can’t wait to see what’s in store for this story.

RUNNING BY NATALIA SYLVESTER

With the upcoming election, I think its great to see YA about elections. The title probably refers to many things. One that the protagonist’s father is running for president. Also running to find oneself. IDK But I think its a title that could suggest more.

MAYHEM BY ESTELLE LAURE

Mayhem is actually the characters name which is interesting enough but I honestly was sold by this being described as “a YA feminist mash up inspired by The Lost Boys and The Craft“. TWO THINGS I ADORE. Bring the mayhem on.

WENCH BY MAXINE KAPLAN

This sounds fun as heck. “A funny, fiercely feminist YA epic fantasy—following the adventures of a tavern wench”. Also I love the sound of a YA Fantasy that isn’t about royalty, a knight or some magical being. We need more tales about the average people in fantasy.

REVERIE BY RYAN LA SALA

Described as Inception meets The Magicians, Reverie sounds fantastical and enchanting. It’s also very gay so that’s fantastic.

PET BY AKWAEKE EMEZI

I’ve been interested in reading this more lately. This is a weird little tale about a world with no monsters…or maybe there is? Pet is a creature that emerges from the MC’s mother’s painting. Yes very weird but this sounds so unique and unlike anything I’ve ever heard of.

DIG BY A.S. KING

Dig seems like a boring word but it can mean so many things. I actually haven’t look a lot into this because I feel like it’s going to be a 5 star read. I know that its about rich people and exploring privilege which is always something I’m interested in seeing how an author explores it.


Thanks for reading and let me know some great single word titles!

My Must-Read 2020 Releases by Black Authors

Hey everyone! I wanted to share some books being released by Black authors this year. Also especially since this is Black History Month and I really want to hype up Black authors coming out with some of my most anticipated books of the year. Add these to your TBR because you don’t want to miss out on these amazing books. I mostly feature young adult but I do have a few adult releases that piqued my interest. Genres range from hit hard hitting contemporaries to

This post was originally going to come out earlier this month but there were many covers revealed. Covers that I think are important to highlight because of the visual representation of Black teens on covers.

YOUNG ADULT

The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow

ADD TO TBR

Aliens + Music + Demi-Ace Rep = A fantastic sounding book. Also I’ve been waiting for more alien books in YA.

A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow

ADD TO TBR

BLACK GIRL SIRENS!!! Like I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t think this sounds cool. But it sure fucking is. I’ve been in the mood for fantasy set in the contemporary/modern world and this fits the bill.

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

ADD TO TBR

A queer black girl who decides to run for prom queen only to fall for the competition! This sounds fun and the representation sounds amazing. Add this if you want more F/F romance from Black sapphic authors!

A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice C. Caldwell

ADD TO TBR

“Evoking Beyoncé’s Lemonade for a teen audience, these authors who are truly Octavia Butler’s heirs, have woven worlds to create a stunning narrative that centers Black women and gender nonconforming individuals” This sells this whole anthology for me. I’ve been wanting to read more speculative fiction from black authors and I feel like this is a perfect remedy for that. Also the cover is out of this world.

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

ADD TO TBR

This is a West African inspired fantasy that deals with immortal people, demons, and powers. This is the first in a series and I can’t wait to see how it turns out. Also the cover is so gorgeous!

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

ADD TO TBR

We have another West African inspired fantasy. This features one of my favorite romance tropes, enemies to lovers!!!

Now That I Found You by Kristina Forrest

ADD TO TBR

“A YA novel about searching for answers, love, and your eccentric grandma in all the wrong places”. You had me at eccentric grandma! I’m iffy on stories about famous people but this sounds super cute and also I think its important to support cute love stories featuring Black teens because we need to see Black teens in every kind of story.

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

ADD TO TBR

This is a Nigerian inspired fantasy. This one sounds like it has some found family stuff and dark magical stuff. Which are top notch things I like to see.

Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

ADD TO TBR

Tiffany D. Jackson is known for writing stories that have twists and darker themes. This one sounds like its tackling an issue that has hit the music industry as of late, that of predatory men. I can’t wait to see what the author will do this difficult topic.

The Summer of Everything by Julian Winters

ADD TO TBR

I LOVE BOOKS ABOUT SUMMER. I LOVE BOOKS ABOUT BOOKSTORES. I’ve heard nothing but great things about this author’s other books and I’m here for any book about a black queer boy. As much as we need stories about hard topics and “issue” books about Black teens, its just as important and necessary to also have contemporaries with low stakes.

Early Departures by Justin A. Reynolds

ADD TO TBR

A “smart, funny, and powerful stand-alone YA contemporary novel, with a speculative twist in which Jamal’s best friend is brought back to life after a freak accident . . . but they only have a short time together before he will die again” Speculative contemporary is one of my favorites and this sounds so good. I still haven’t’ read Opposite of Always yet but I really hope to read that one soon.

Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

ADD TO TBR

I saw this on Twitter pitched as “Queer Black girls overthrowing the patriarchy” and that alone is enough to sell me on reading this. Fairytale retellings are so common nowadays but I think they’re still worth looking into especially if there is a unique and diverse spin on a classic one such as Cinderella. I like that this is taking a darker fantasy approach.

The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert

ADD TO TBR

Yay to books about teens voting! Yay to books set on one day. Yay to YA contemporaries by Brandy Colbert. I’ve only read one book by her, Little & Lion, but I instantly fell in love with her writing style. Her stories are very slice of life and that’s my favorite kind of contemporary.

When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk

ADD TO TBR

While its get to have a plethora of YA about romantic breakups, I think its refreshing to see one about friends breaking up.

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

ADD TO TBR

Elizabeth Acevedo’s debut The Poet X gave me chills. It was so powerful and I’ll read anything she writes. This is about two half sisters whose father dies. I adore books that explore complicated family dynamics and I’m excited to see what this talented author does.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

ADD TO TBR

Do you want to read an Arthurian inspired YA story that doesn’t feature another white dude because society has convinced us Arthurian figures need to be white (they don’t because they weren’t REAL PEOPLE lol).? Then I think we should all look into this new YA series featuring Southern Black Girl Magic. I’ve also been following this authors twitter account I love her personality and taste (she’s a Loki fan). I decided to stan once I made that discovery.

Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh

ADD TO TBR

Through reading books like The Poet X and Blood Water Paint I discovered I really love novels told in verse. “Every Body Looking is a heavily autobiographical novel of a young woman’s struggle to carve a place for herself–for her black female body–in a world of deeply conflicting messages”. I cannot wait for this. Also this is apparently this is the first in a series and I kind of really want contemporary series to be bigger thing.

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed

ADD TO TBR

Based off true life events, the Rodney King Riots during 1992 Los Angeles, this is also a coming of age story about a wealthy Black girl and the events that unfold during that period of unrest and injustice . Fun fact this had already been optioned for an adaptation!

ADD TO TBR

I feel like people are going to say that this is a “The Hate U Give” knockoff but I say that we’ll always need stories like this especially with the current state of America. We need to read about about stories about the racial injustices of the past and the ones happening now.

ADULT

ADD TO TBR

2020 is the year of the witches not only in YA but also in adult fiction. This is a dark fantasy about witches of course but also about living in a Puritan society that sounds very cult like (which is always something I’m weirdly interested in).

ADD TO TBR

This is described as part The Handmaid’s Tale, part The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Both of which explore the darker sides of the patriarchal and whiteness that is Western society. There looks like there will be some body horror as it deals with experimentation on humans.

ADD TO TBR

Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing is one of my favorite novels ever and I’ve been waiting so long for another from her. Pretty much an auto-buy author. “Transcendent Kingdom revolves around a young woman named Gifty, now studying to become a neuroscientist, who grapples with faith, salvation, and science after her brother, once the star of his high school basketball team, becomes addicted to opiods”.

ADD TO TBR

I take special interest in debuts novels that sound like an author whose written several books already. This take places during the Civil War in the U.S. and from three POVS; a mother, a daughter, and the daughter of a slave owner. The mother and daughter can heal so there’s a magical element.

ADD TO TBR

Riot Baby is both a global dystopian narrative an intimate family story with quietly devastating things to say about love, fury, and the black American experience” YES TO ALL OF THIS.

ADD TO TBR

This piqued my interest because it sounds similar to Nella Larson’s Passing which is a classic novel that is also about being a white passing black person. This one is about two generations of women. One side who live as Black women. and the other who live as White women.

ADD TO TBR

The synopsis for this is so vague. Ancient evils trying to take over New York City is still such a great premise. I have no clue whether this could be some Lovecraftian/Eldritch horror stuff or Mythology. But I love not knowing what I’m getting into (sometimes). Also NK Jemisin is such a prolific author and I know this is probably going to be amazing.

ADD TO TBR

Atmospheric Gothic mystery about an elite prestigious school? This sounds like it has dark academia vibes and I’m here for it.

ADD TO TBR

I’m not going to lie and say my interest in this book only goes as far as one of the protagonist is the young black babysitter rather than the white mom blogger.This is in fact as like all the books on here own voices and it seem like it will tackle the “whit savior” trope that is found in media about black women. Also if Reese Witherspoon puts her sticker on it there’s probably a good reason.

ADD TO TBR

I’ve seen this hyped recently. I also need to read more from queer black men so I’m up to read this.


Thanks for reading and y’all found some new books for your TBR!

Monthly Most Anticipated – February 2020

BOOKS

BELLE REVOLTE BY LINSEY MILLER

  • YA high fantasy with French influences
  • all the characters are queer
  • ace rep

ALL THE STARS AND TEETH BY ADALYN GRACE

  • YA fantasy
  • SEA FANTASY WITH PIRATES AND MERMAIDS

THE SHADOWS BETWEEN US BY TRICIA LEVENSELLER

  • YA dark fantasy
  • enemies to lovers ship
  • morally grey characters

THE KING OF CROWS BY LIBBA BRAY

  • YA historical paranormal series
  • I CAN’T BELIEVE ITS HERE AND ITS ENDING!!!

THE SOUND OF STARS BY ALECHIA DOW

  • YA sci-fi
  • fat black girl MC + she’s ace
  • girl meets alien
  • music and books!

NIGHT SPINNER BY ADDIE THORLEY

  • YA fantasy retelling of Hunchback of Notre Dame
  • set in a tundra environment

FOUL IS FAIR BY HANNAH CAPIN

  • YA contemporary
  • TW: sexual assault; rape; violence
  • revenge story !!!
  • Kill Bill vibes

MOVIES

BIRDS OF PREY (AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN)
Release Date: Feb 7

This is the most invested I’ve been in a film within the DCEU since Wonder Woman and it looks like it’ll live up to my own hype built around it. It looks FUN and that’s pretty much all I can ask for when going to see a superhero flick. Also its directed by a woman of color Cathy Yan and produced by Margot Robbie herself. The SOUNDTRACK IS COOL.

EMMA
Release Date: Feb 21

Emma (2020) may be the Emma adaptation that will sell me on reading the Austen classic (besides Clueless). Not a huge fan of the Gwyneth Paltrow one. I like the actress Anya Taylor Joy especially for her performance in The VVitch. Also Bill Nighy as Mr. Woodhouse is a huge sell for me and an excellent casting choice. Basically reminds of me the casting for Little Women with Bob Odenkirk as Mr. March.

THE INVISIBLE MAN
Release Date: Feb 28

Moreso taken from the Universal film than the book this looks terrifying and dark. Also not too familiar with either the book or the many adaptations of it.


TV SERIES

HIGH FIDELITY on HULU

Listen just tell me Zoe Kravitz is in it and I’ll watch it. BUT seriously this sounds promising for an adaptation of a film about a white dude in the U.S. which is also an adaptation of a book from a white British guy. I love things about music and record stores and this looks fun.

BETTER CALL SAUL SEASON 5 on AMC

I really need to catch up with this show before the new season airs but I really appreciate this show. I’ve mostly kept up with it since it aired and it always surprises me every week.

I AM NOT OKAY WITH THIS SEASON 1 on NETFLIX

So I JUST HAPPENED TO discover this through making this post. This is apparently an adaptation of a graphic novel by the guy who did The End of the F***ing World (WHICH I LOVE) and it also stars Sophia Lillis who I really enjoyed in the Sharp Objects miniseries and the new IT films. Its been described as Sex Education meets Stranger Things because its the coming of age story about sexuality, growing up and whatnot BUT the MC having superpowers. From what little I’ve seen there is a queer storyline with the MC being in love her best friend. I know nothing else so this could go haywire and be bad but I’m hoping it’s good and for success.


That’s that for what I’m looking forward to in February. What are you most anticipating this month?

Don’t Read the Comments by Eric Smith – Blog Tour Stop Review

Don’t Read the Comments
Eric Smith
On Sale Date: January 28, 2020
9781335016027, 1335016023
Hardcover
$18.99 USD, $23.99 CAD
Ages 13 And Up
368 pages

SUMMARY

Divya Sharma is a queen. Or she is when she’s playing Reclaim the Sun, the year’s hottest online game. Divya—better known as popular streaming gamer D1V—regularly leads her #AngstArmada on quests through the game’s vast and gorgeous virtual universe. But for Divya, this is more than just a game. Out in the real world, she’s trading her rising-star status for sponsorships to help her struggling single mom pay the rent.

Gaming is basically Aaron Jericho’s entire life. Much to his mother’s frustration, Aaron has zero interest in becoming a doctor like her, and spends his free time writing games for a local developer. At least he can escape into Reclaim the Sun—and with a trillion worlds to explore, disappearing should be easy. But to his surprise, he somehow ends up on the same remote planet as celebrity gamer D1V.

At home, Divya and Aaron grapple with their problems alone, but in the game, they have each other to face infinite new worlds…and the growing legion of trolls populating them. Soon the virtual harassment seeps into reality when a group called the Vox Populi begin launching real-world doxxing campaigns, threatening Aaron’s dreams and Divya’s actual life. The online trolls think they can drive her out of the game, but everything and everyone Divya cares about is on the line…

And she isn’t going down without a fight.


I honestly won’t have too much to say but this book was so delightful and fun!

WHAT I LIKED

  • DIVYA AND AARON – Both of the main characters are truly likable and feel so much like the teen I used to be. Which is super nerdy and trying so hard. I liked that both of their stories centered around these wanting to achieve their dreams but also wanting to support their families because its harder than it looks.
  • Both Divya and Aaron are teens of color (Divya is
  • Divya loves her mom and I do too (love Divya’s mom and my mom that is)
  • I overall just really liked the family element in this story.
  • I also love reading about supportive friendships (my fave being Divya and Rebekah)
  • THE REFERENCES!!! I adored the video game references (shouout to Garrus the Cat!) There’s also references to bookstagram and some popular YA titles! Overall the references were well done, relevant, and not forced.
  • Also shoutout to the author for referencing the very good game Remember Me!!!!
  • Cute romance that isn’t a big focus but it still amused me
  • The conflict between Divya/Aaron and their harassers is well done and important given concern over racism and sexism within the gaming community which is something that needs to be addressed towards teens especially going into these communities and being bullied.
  • The video game itself Reclaim the Sun sounds so cool. It’s this open world sci-fi adventure game. I wish I could play it.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE

  • I can’t play Reclaim the Sun in real life

Anyways that’s my review and if you like video games and want more YA about it, it’s OUT NOW!!!

BUY IT HERE:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Read-Comments-Eric-Smith/dp/1335016023
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dont-read-the-comments-eric-smith/1131303425#/
Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Dont-Read-Comments/Eric-Smith/9781335016027?id=7715580291810
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/don-t-read-the-comments
Indie Bound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335016027
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Eric_Smith_Don_t_Read_the_Comments?id=Go6PDwAAQBAJ

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Smith is an author, prolific book blogger, and literary agent from New Jersey, currently living in Philadelphia. Smith cohosts Book Riot’s newest podcast, HEY YA, with non-fiction YA author Kelly Jensen. He can regularly be found writing for Book Riot’s blog, as well as Barnes & Noble’s Teen Reads blog, Paste Magazine, and Publishing Crawl. Smith also has a growing Twitter platform of over 40,000 followers (@ericsmithrocks).

SOCIAL LINKS:

Author website: https://www.ericsmithrocks.com/
Twitter: @ericsmithrocks
Instagram: @ericsmithrocks
Facebook: @ericsmithwrites