Ignite the Sun – blog tour (ARC review + GIVEAWAY!!!)

Author: Hanna C. Howard
Publication date: August 18, 2020
Genre: young adult fantasy
My rating: 3/5 stars

Ignite the Sun is a quick, simple, straightforward YA fantasy that makes the whole light-versus-dark concept quite literal. Set in a world where the sun has been blocked from view by an enormous shield of darkness, the story follows a reluctant heroine on a quest to overthrow a corrupt leader and restore light to the world. Though certainly not a perfect book, and though it is a bit predictable (which isn’t quite my taste), this story is nevertheless a great choice for younger YA readers.

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Shielded – blog tour (ARC review + GIVEAWAY!!!)

Author: KayLynn Flanders
Publication date: July 21, 2020
Genre: young adult fantasy
My rating: 4/5 stars

Familiar yet fresh, and filled with some of my favorite character-related tropes (including badass warrior princesses, royalty in disguise, and a “mutual pining” sort of romance), Shielded was an enjoyable read and a solid start to what promises to be an interesting new fantasy series.

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The Mall – blog tour (ARC review)

Author: Megan McCafferty
Publication date: July 28, 2020
Genre: young adult, (recent) historical fiction
My rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Mall is a book that, I kid you not, made me nostalgic for a time period I didn’t even live through. I was born in the mid-90’s, and this book takes place in ’91, but this fun-filled romp through teenage drama and self-discovery resonated with truths that are still relevant today, while seasoning them with a distinct 90s flair that I couldn’t help enjoying. Was it cheesy? Sure. But it was the good kind of cheesy, the sort of fluffy read that is perfect for a summer day.

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Unravel the Dusk – ARC review

Author: Elizabeth Lim
Series: The Blood of Stars, #2 (find my review of Book 1 here!)
Publication date: July 7, 2020
Genre: young adult fantasy
My rating: 3.5/5 stars

Spin the Dawn was one of my favorite books of last year, so I was beyond ecstatic when I was approved for the sequel on NetGalley. Unfortunately, while this was not necessarily a bad read, it pales in comparison to its predecessor, which made me a very disappointed K-Specks. Although still beautiful, Unravel the Dusk lacked the same magic and emotional pull that made me so enamored of Spin the Dawn.

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A Song Below Water – review

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.

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We Were All Someone Else Yesterday – review + quotes

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.

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The Gravity of Us – mini-review

Author: Phil Stamper
Publication date: March 4, 2020
Genre: young adult, contemporary, LGBTQIA+, romance
My rating: 3.5/5 stars

You’ve got to admit, no matter what you think of the book, that this is a gorgeous cover.

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).

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A Song Below Water – blog tour and GIVEAWAY!!!

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.

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Audiobook review blitz – MG edition! (feat. The One and Only Ivan, Other Words for Home, & Ghost Squad)

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.

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Come Tumbling Down – mini-review

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 are some 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!

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