Author: Bethany C. Morrow Publication date: June 2, 2020 Genre: young adult, fantasy My rating: 3.5/5 stars
First, I want to make something abundantly clear: this is a tremendously important book. It deals with lots of major issues that the Black community is currently facing, and has been facing for a long time, and it uses a highly unique premise (some very literal Black Girl Magic) to convey those ideas. I feel like I need to stress that part because this was one of those books that I loved in theory, just not in execution. I don’t want this review to be taken as, “This book isn’t important.” I think it is a book that is very, very much worth reading. However, it would be disingenuous for me to rate it higher, because it faltered in its actual writing, on technical elements like worldbuilding and pacing.
Author: Omar Holmon Publication date: May 12, 2020 Genre: poetry My rating: 4/5 stars
In his quick, lively debut collection, poet Omar Holmon delivers a rollercoaster of emotions chronicling everything from the death of a parent to racism to love to the pride in being a nerd. This is a book that will make you laugh, but will also make you think, often in the same poem. It may not be hugely advertised, but this is a solid addition to Button Poetry’s catalog, as well as an excellent testament to the experiences of a Black nerd trying to navigate family and this complicated world we live in.
Author: Phil Stamper Publication date: March 4, 2020 Genre: young adult, contemporary, LGBTQIA+, romance My rating: 3.5/5 stars
Once again, I’m finding myself in a position where I’m a little too worn out to write full reviews, but I do have thoughts I want to share on books! To that end, I present you with this mini-review of a cute, if not remarkable, queer YA contemporary (with a splash of romance, a ton of commentary on media, and a hefty dose of outer space).
Author: Bethany C. Morrow Publication date: June 2, 2020 Genre: young adult, urban fantasy, contemporary Publisher: Tor Teen
If ever there was a good book to promote now, given the widespread Black Lives Matter protests in the United States, this is it. Written by a Black author, and dealing with topics including systemic racism, social justice, body image, and misogynoir, the relevance of this book to today’s situation cannot be overstated. The characters attend Black Lives Matter protests. They discuss everything from natural hair and gospel music to traffic stops and police brutality. And above all, this book is a celebration of literal Black Girl Magic–this is a story about sirens, and in its world’s mythos, only Black women can be sirens.
As I mentioned before, I’ve been digging into a lot of middle-grade books this month, including quite a few on audiobook. You know the drill: mini-reviews are all coming up next. This time, we have a contemporary told from the point of view of a gorilla who lives in a mall (currently one of my favorite books of the year), a touching novel-in-verse about a girl who immigrates to the US from Syria, and a cute-and-spooky book that is loosely part Coco and part Ghostbusters.
Up first: the book that OH MY GOD I WAS NOT EMOTIONALLY PREPARED FOR.
Author: Seanan McGuire Series: Wayward Children, #5 Publication date: January 7, 2020 Genre: fantasy, portal fantasy My rating: 4.5/5 stars
Let me start this by saying that Seanan McGuire is an absolute gem. Her writing is always brilliant, and I absolutely adore all the worlds she created in this series, so I of course was looking forward to getting to further explore them in this latest installment. In fact, after Down Among the Sticks and Bones, Jack and Jill quickly became my favorite characters in the series (alongside Kade, but alas, he hasn’t gotten his own book yet). However, this wasn’t a five-star read–honestly, it’s on the lower end of the 4.5-star rating. I guess I just didn’t quite feel the same “spark” with this one that I did with some others from the series. (Was that a pun referencing the excessive lightning in the Moors? Maybe…)
Anyway, given that it is a short book, I don’t quite feel up to a full review, but here is the publisher’s blurb, followed by my thoughts in a quick bulleted list for your enjoyment/reference. Please be aware, there aresome spoilers in here for the earlier books in the series, if you haven’t read them yet–though, of course, no spoilers on this particular installment!
Author: Roshani Chokshi Series: Pandava Quartet, #1 Publication date: March 27, 2018 Genre: middle grade, fantasy My rating: 4/5 stars
This was a cute and enjoyable read, for sure, with a delightful voice, a feisty and salty protagonist who was a little too relatable, and so much mythological fun. Obviously the #OwnVoices take on Indian mythology was a strong point in its favor. Seriously, props to Rick Riordan for helping support authors from other cultures in getting their mythologies into stories to be published and loved as much as his own Percy Jackson was. He could have written those books himself, but instead he decided to step away and let #OwnVoices authors take the spotlight. But I digress–let’s start with the publisher’s blurb!
Oh boy, more audiobooks! Yaaaayyyy! In lieu of a long intro, I’ll just describe them quickly and then get straight to the mini-reviews. We have, in order, a social science book about miscommunication, a super-queer YA fantasy with genderfluid and genderqueer main characters, and a thoroughly-researched book detailing the lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper.
Hello, lovelies! With all the pandemic craziness going on in the world, I’ve been slacking on some of my reviews, but I’ve still been reading plenty (I think I’m at 23 books since shelter-in-place started?). A lot of that reading has been via audiobook as I go on walks in my neighborhood, drive to my grandma’s house to help her with things, or work on the endless task of cleaning in my room (seriously, how is it that I can clean everything and still have a disaster just days later?).
All that is to say, I have a lot of audiobooks to offer some opinions on, and you know what that means: another round or two of mini-reviews! This time, we have the striking story of a sexual assault survivor, a children’s classic, and a memoir of one of the stars of Queer Eye. Let’s get started!