The Black Experience 2.0: Black Anger

Hello and welcome to The Black Experience 2.0: Giving White Comfort The Backseat.

The Black Experience 2.0 is the second edition of The Black Experience which was held last year in February. The Black Experience is a month long blog series held in honour of Black History Month, which features Black authors and Black bookish content creators and aims at highlighting Black stories and experiences.

TBE 2.0 is especially about giving Black people the space to be fully them and share their stories while centring themselves and their experience of Blackness and without care for the white gaze.

Today on TBE 2.0, with the inclusion of a prelude from me, Mel (she/her/they) recommends in a YouTube video 5 books she finds cathartic and we talk about Black anger.


Black anger, or rather the suppression of Black anger to conform and fit into white palatability, is an important part of the experience of many Black people.

Just like joy, fear and pain, anger is a basic human emotion. Children as young as six months old feel and express anger, but when Black people show the slightest hint of this emotion, a problem arises.

Like I said in one of the earlier posts I wrote for The Black Experience 2.0, Black people don’t get to be imperfect or human. We are to remain perfect, placid and pleasant; the moment we deviate a little from this mold we become problematic, irrational, violent and aggressive. And it doesn’t take much for us to be categorised as such, a groundless perception from a non Black person is enough to label us the angry Black person. Whether or not our anger is justified or we’re truly angry, it matters not because Black people are perceived to be angry, indesirable, despite it being a universal emotion.

We do not get to outwardly process a basic emotion. Even in a world with severe inequalities and injustice that push us to the brink and right into the fold of said emotion. We do not get to react, to be upset, to be angry. We don’t get to deal with the bullshit.

Today in the last post for the original portion of The Black Experience 2.0: Giving White Comfort The Backseat, Mel recommends in a YouTube video, 5 books to help process the bullshit and deal with Black anger, frustration and racism and the response to racism; and all based on their personal experiences and emotions.

About Mel

Hey, I’m Mel from mel.theravengirl. I’m a booktuber, reader and actor. I talk about books that bring me joy whether that be a cheesy fantasy romance, or a collection of essays. (either way I’ll probably mention BTS.)

You can find Mel on Twitter @meltheravengirl and on their YouTube channel @mel.theravengirl.


We’ve officially come to the end of the original segment or part of TBE 2.0. While I’ll be adding more posts to this series at different points of the year or during the second celebration of Black History Month in October (UK Black History Month), TBE has originally planned this year ends with the post and the last day of February.

I hope all Black people all over the world had a great month and I hope you enjoyed this series.

Till next time and the next addition, I hope you stay safe and sound.

With love,

|Instagram |Twitter | Goodreads |

The Black Experience 2.0: Black Magic — New Black Magic Books I Love

Hello and welcome to The Black Experience 2.0: Giving White Comfort The Backseat.

The Black Experience 2.0 is the second edition of The Black Experience which was held last year in February. The Black Experience is a month long blog series held in honour of Black History Month, which features Black authors and Black bookish content creators and aims at highlighting Black stories and experiences.

TBE 2.0 is especially about giving Black people the space to be fully them and share their stories while centring themselves and their experience of Blackness and without care for the white gaze.

Today on TBE 2.0, author Alechia Dow (she/her) talks about the change in representation of Black people in the media and recommends some new Black magic books that make her squeal in the third sub segment of Black Magic. 

(Black Magic is a sub segment of TBE with the contributions of authors and bloggers recommending books by Black authors. With the exception of Hoodoo, Black Magic is a sub series of recommendation list)


When I was a kid, Black Magic didn’t exist outside the magical Negro narrative. You know the Black character who shows up on screen or in a book, says something the white protagonist needs to hear or does something for the white protagonist that they desperately need to happen for the story to progress, and then poofs out before you ever really knew their name or story… That’s the kind of representation I could hope for as a Black kid. Because if it wasn’t the good-doing magical Negro, it was the drug dealer/gang member/prisoner/villain or… in horror, it was the Black person, who was ultimately the first to die because they made a bad decision or sacrificed themself for the white folks. Or they were the Black kid who was really good at basketball but had nothing of substance to say off the court. That’s it. 

Now we have honest-to-goodness MAGIC. Black Magic. Where Black characters are centered, where they can live their best life while having an adventure. They can do spells, their words have power, they have love interests, best friends that “get” them, and they don’t exist to boost the white characters. They just get to exist and live and love and do magic. And maybe things aren’t so great, but you’re going to root for them, you want to see them succeed. And that’s what’s amazing about these books out and coming out. They’re beautiful, hopeful, and don’t cater to the white gaze.

Here’s my list of newer titles by Black Authors: 

Let’s kick it off with MIDDLE GRADE

Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston

Here’s the official synopsis: 

“Amari Peters knows three things.

Her big brother Quinton has gone missing.

No one will talk about it.

His mysterious job holds the secret …

So when Amari gets an invitation to the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, she’s certain this is her chance to find Quinton. But first she has to get her head around the new world of the Bureau, where mermaids, aliens and magicians are real, and her roommate is a weredragon.

Amari must compete against kids who’ve known about the supernatural world their whole lives, and when each trainee is awarded a special supernatural talent, Amari is given an illegal talent – one that the Bureau views as dangerous.

With an evil magician threatening the whole supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she is the enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t pass the three tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton …”

I chose this one because I’m reading it with my 7 year old right now, and WHEWWW it’s so good. She’s hooked and getting her hooked is hard. But she’s so into it, she wants to know everything about this world, and the adventure Amari’s going on, and what happened to Quinton!!! B.B. Alston, you genius! 

Some other fave MG: The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste, Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia, Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron

Now let’s talk my fave new YA

WINGS OF EBONY by J. Elle. 

Here’s the official synopsis:

“Make a way out of no way” is just the way of life for Rue. But when her mother is shot dead on her doorstep, life for her and her younger sister changes forever. Rue’s taken from her neighborhood by the father she never knew, forced to leave her little sister behind, and whisked away to Ghizon—a hidden island of magic wielders.

Rue is the only half-god, half-human there, where leaders protect their magical powers at all costs and thrive on human suffering. Miserable and desperate to see her sister on the anniversary of their mother’s death, Rue breaks Ghizon’s sacred Do Not Leave Law and returns to Houston, only to discover that Black kids are being forced into crime and violence. And her sister, Tasha, is in danger of falling sway to the very forces that claimed their mother’s life.

Worse still, evidence mounts that the evil plaguing East Row is the same one that lurks in Ghizon—an evil that will stop at nothing until it has stolen everything from her and everyone she loves. Rue must embrace her true identity and wield the full magnitude of her ancestors’ power to save her neighborhood before the gods burn it to the ground.

First of all, J. Elle is incredible. This is a love letter to her home, to her neighborhood, to sisterhood, and to #BlackGirlMagic. It’s one of those stories that you pick up and can’t put down. I seriously can’t wait for book 2! Also, J. Elle is writing a magical Black school middle grade which AHHH, and nonfiction. She’s a force to be reckoned with—don’t sleep on her books, this is just the beginning. 


Other recent YAs you have to read: Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi, Conquest by Celeste Harte, A Phoenix First Must Burn: Sixteen Stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance, and Hope edited by Patrice Caldwell, Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko, Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Baron, Given by Nandi Taylor, A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy,  and more. Ask me, I have HUGE lists! 

Now let’s hop on over to Adult: 

Song of Blood & Stone (Earthsinger Chronicles) by L. Penelope 

Here’s the official synopsis:

The kingdoms of Elsira and Lagrimar have been separated for centuries by the Mantle, a magical veil that has enforced a tremulous peace between the two lands. But now, the Mantle is cracking and the True Father, ruler of Lagrimar and the most powerful Earthsinger in the world, finally sees a way into Elsira to seize power.

All Jasminda ever wanted was to live quietly on her farm, away from the prying eyes of those in the nearby town. Branded an outcast by the color of her skin and her gift of Earthsong, she’s been shunned all her life and has learned to steer clear from the townsfolk…until a group of Lagrimari soldiers wander into her valley with an Elsiran spy, believing they are still in Lagrimar. 

Through Jack, the spy, Jasminda learns that the Mantle is weakening, allowing people to slip through without notice. And even more troubling: Lagrimar is mobilizing, and if no one finds a way to restore the Mantle, it might be too late for Elsira. Their only hope lies in uncovering the secrets of the Queen Who Sleeps and Jasminda’s Earthsong is the key to unravel them.

Thrust into a hostile society and a world she doesn’t know, Jasminda and Jack race to unveil an ancient mystery that might offer salvation.

So, I loved this book. It’s everything I love about fantasy (although CW about assault), but it’s got the romance, the magic, the otherworldly feel, the DRAMA… I hadn’t read adult in forever, so this was that book––that series––that brought me back to the genre. Go pick this up! 

Some other adult books I love: How Long ‘til Black Future Month by N.K. Jemisin, OCTAVIA BUTLER EVERYTHING, Some non-magical but amazing books: How to Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams, Hearts on Hold by Charish Reid, EVERY SINGLE BOOK BY TALIA HIBBERT, and more!! Feel free to ask me! 

Thank you all for reading and I hope you love any and every of these books. Let’s give Black Magic their due!!! 

Alechia. 


About Alechia Dow

Alechia Dow is a former pastry chef, food critic, culinary teacher, and Youth Services librarian. When not writing YA sci-fi featuring determined black girls (like herself), you can find her having epic dance parties with her daughter, baking, mentoring, or taking teeny adventures around Europe.

You can find Alechia on Twitter @alechiawrites and on Instagram @alechiadow. You can also visit her website https://www.alechiadow.com


|Instagram |Twitter | Goodreads |

The Black Experience 2.0: Black Magic — 5 Under-appreciated African SFF Authors

Hello and welcome to The Black Experience 2.0: Giving White Comfort The Backseat.

The Black Experience 2.0 is the second edition of The Black Experience which was held last year in February. The Black Experience is a month long blog series held in honour of Black History Month, which features Black authors and Black bookish content creators and aims at highlighting Black stories and experiences.

TBE 2.0 is especially about giving Black people the space to be fully them and share their stories while centring themselves and their experience of Blackness and without care for the white gaze.

Today on TBE 2.0, author Suyi Davies Okungbowa highlights five under appreciated African voices in SFF in the 2nd sub segment of Black Magic. 

(Black Magic is a sub segment of TBE with the contributions of authors and bloggers recommending books by Black authors. With the exception of Hoodoo, Black Magic is a sub series of recommendation list)


Often, when we think about science fiction written by authors on the African continent and its diasporas (or simply inspired by African-descended cultures and ethnicities), the scope seems broad at first. With the explosion in calls for literature and media diverse in culture and content, we have tended to see an uptick in such work in present times.

The pool, however, remains small. I don’t need to get into the myriad of issues that prevent a sizeable number of African-descended talent–from the continent or diasporas–from breaking through the glass ceiling of visibility in global publishing. What I will do, instead, is highlight five of such instances, in the hope that readers and lovers of SFF will seek them out and partake of their riches.

Lesley Nneka Arimah

Arimah could be described less as underappreciated, and more in the category of isn’t-being-screamed-loudly-enough-from-the-rooftops. What does it take for an African author whose work The Washington Post declared as “equally timely and timeless” to be one of the foremost voices in the genre? Winning the Caine or Commonwealth regional prize? The Kirkus Prize for Fiction? A New York Public Library Young Lions Award? Well, Lesley has won all those and more, with hits including her short story collection, What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky (Riverhead, 2017) and “Skinned” (McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Issue 59). Newcomers to her work can start anywhere, many of which are free to read online: “Glory” in Harpers, “Light” in Granta, “Who Will Greet You At Home” in The New Yorker, and more.

Tendai Huchu

Tendai (who is also T.L. Huchu sometimes) is another one of those names that intermittently flies a tad underneath the global SFF radar. Huchu actually has multiple novels published: The Hairdresser of Harare (Ohio University Press, 2010), The Maestro, the Magistrate and the Mathematician (Parthian Books, 2016) and his new novel forthcoming from Tor Books in June 2021, The Library of the Dead. The most impressive thing about Huchu’s work is that it manages to centre his native Zimbabwe, whether or not the stories are set there (his new novel is set in Edinburgh, where he lives). Readers can start by peeking into “The Marriage Plot,” the flash story that won him the 2017 Nommo Award for Best Speculative Short Story. After that, Hairdresser or any of his free-to-read short stories (“Ghostalker,” “Egoli,” etc) would be decent pathways to his new novel.

Tlotlo Tsamaase

Tlotlo is a strong example of an excellent, talented writer with a number of published stories in recognized venues under her belt. Publisher’s Weekly, in a starred review of her forthcoming fantasy-horror novella The Silence of the Wilting Skin, describes her work with words such as “atmospheric anticolonialist battle cry” and “tour de force.” The Motswana author is also a poet (one of her poems, “I Will Be Your Grave” was a 2017 Rhysling Award nominee) and writes architecture articles. One of her earliest stories, “Virtual Snapshots,” was published by Vice and is a good place for new readers to start. Other places to experience her work before The Silence of the Wilting Skin drops in May include: “Murders Fell from Our Wombs” in Apex Magazine; “Eclipse our Sins” and “The ThoughtBox,” both in Clarkesworld; “Behind Our Irises” in the Brittlepaper Africanfuturism anthology; and her most recent story in The Dark, “The River of Night.” Find her full body of work at tlotlotsamaase.com.

Wole Talabi

Wole is a Nigerian who lives and works in Malaysia as an Engineer, but is known more in global literary circles as a Writer and Editor. His 2019 collection, Incomplete Solutions contained the novella “Incompleteness Theories” which won the 2020 Nommo Award for Best Novella. Prior to that, he was shortlisted for the 2018 Caine Prize for African Writing with “Wednesday’s Story” (Lightspeed, 2016) and won the 2018 Nommo Award for Best Short Story with “The Regression Test” (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, 2017). Wole’s writing has been touted to examine “what it means to be human in a world of accelerating technology, diverse beliefs, and unlimited potential, from a uniquely Nigerian perspective.” This he also does as an editor, by spotlighting work uniquely examining speculative realities as imagined from the African continent. The anthologies Lights Out: Resurrection and the recent Brittlepaper Africanfuturism anthology are two good examples of these. New readers can start anywhere on his extensive list of publications.

Chikodili Emelumadu (Chịkọdịlị Emelụmadụ)

Emelumadu is a British-Nigerian author whose work has flirted with various awards: The Shirley Jackson Awards in 2015 (for “Candy Girl” in Apex Magazine); the Caine Prize in 2017 and 2020 (first for “Bush Baby” and then for “What to do when your child brings home a Mami Wata,” in The Shadow Booth: Vol. 2); and the Nommo Award for Best Short Story in 2020 (for “Sin Eater” in Omenana), which she eventually won in a tie. Emelumadu describes her work as examining tensions “between conservative and liberal, contemporary and traditional,” and this she does via rooted tales with dark undertones and strong familial leanings. Though without a website listing publications, readers can start anywhere with Emelumadu’s work, including her forthcoming, Dazzling (publication date TBA), with which she snagged representation with Curtis Brown UK after emerging winner of their inaugural First Novel Prize in 2019.

About Suyi Davies Okungbowa

Suyi Davies Okungbowa is the author of Son of the Storm (Orbit, May 2021), first in The Nameless Republic epic fantasy trilogy, and the godpunk novel, David Mogo, Godhunter (Abaddon, 2019). His shorter works have appeared internationally in periodicals like Tor.com, Lightspeed, Nightmare, Strange Horizons, Fireside, and anthologies like Year’s Best Science Fiction and FantasyA World of Horror and People of Colour Destroy Science Fiction. He lives between Lagos, Nigeria and Tucson, Arizona where he teaches writing at the University of Arizona and completes his MFA. He tweets at @IAmSuyiDavies and is @suyidavies on Instagram. Learn more at suyidavies.com.


|Instagram |Twitter | Goodreads |

The Black Experience 2.0: Black Joy

Hello and welcome to The Black Experience 2.0: Giving White Comfort The Backseat.

The Black Experience 2.0 is the second edition of The Black Experience which was held last year in February. The Black Experience is a month long blog series held in honour of Black History Month, which features Black authors and Black bookish content creators and aims at highlighting Black stories and experiences.

TBE 2.0 is especially about giving Black people the space to be fully them and share their stories while centring themselves and their experience of Blackness and without care for the white gaze.

Today on TBE 2.0, author Celeste Harte (she/her) and booktuber Ashley (she/her) talk about Black joy, the need for more stories about Black joy and how being Black is more than just pain and trauma even if it’s what the media is more interested in. And in a small Instagram picture addition, Sumayo (she/her) talks about how Black joy and love is an act of resistance.

(This post is divided mainly into two parts; an article and a linked YouTube video with the addition of an Instagram post)


Celeste Harte: The Need for Black Joy

Black entertainment has always been a two edged sword, in my opinion. Black people have been able to sing, dance, and perform for people for a long time. And obviously make money from it. But whenever you see those old videos, when the camera panned out on those black and white screens, you saw a lot of white faces. Not Black ones.

But this was the Jim Crow era! Why would white people want to watch Black people sing and dance knowing they would benefit from it, one might ask.

That’s because white people actually do enjoy Black entertainment. To some degree, I believe they expect it. We’ve always been marveled at. But there’s a difference between being enjoyed and being respected. Those performers still had to leave out the back, and go through the “for colored people” exits, and go back to their “for colored people” lives. Because those white people *only* saw those Black people as entertainment. Yes, Black people enjoyed Black music and performances, but they couldn’t afford to see them live. So the entertainment was made by Black people, for white people, even though Black people happened to enjoy it.

The same goes for entertainment today. I get a bad taste in my mouth when I see slave movies come out and white viewers are the main ones that enjoy it. Or when Black books highlighting our pain are more popular than books highlighting our victories.

I feel like we’re still only providing entertainment that white people enjoy. It technically puts money in our pocket, but by the time we go home, nothing has changed. Because we’re still not respected. We’re just entertaining.

Books featuring Black Joy are important because they have nothing to do with the white audience. It’s not about educating white people on how not to be racist, it’s not about making them aware to how different our situation is from theirs. Because at the end of the day, those stories don’t benefit Black readers at all. They already know what their lives are like. What does an educational book do for them? It may be cathartic to some degree, yes, but sometimes we just want to escape to some fantasy land where there are other problems than skin color and oppression. We want to see ourselves falling in love and having a happily ever after. To some degree, racism may always be part of it, because that’s the reality of our lives, but the story doesn’t have to always center it to be accurate. 

So therefore, these stories highlighting Black pain simply become another form of entertainment, by Black people, for white people. White people enjoy being the center of attention, whether it’s negatively or positively, apparently. And stories that don’t center them simply don’t get attention because they don’t care to read or support them.

Black Joy reads are important for non-Black readers to stop having to be taught about our experience and just read these books because they’ve been missing. Read them because they’re needed. Because there’s more to us than just our oppression and being entertaining. These books should be read so that readers can stop getting the idea that Black people have a duty to educate the world on our oppression and start simply supporting us because it’s what we’re due.

We’re due the experience of not having to be entertaining for other people. We’re due being able to write stories about us simply being.

So don’t read a book just so you can feel sorry for us. Read a book that simply cheers us on. Because that’s what we deserve.


Ashley: Where’s The Joy? | Black Joy Books You Should Read

I grew up loving sci-fi, loving fantasy as I said but never seeing myself represented in those books. I never got to see Black girls, Black boys in fantasy stories, sci-fi stories, fighting aliens, taking down dragons, storming castles, rescuing princesses the whole nine yards[…]but people who looked like me, my friends and my family did not exist in them. We got Black trauma narratives.

AShley (PaGES IN THE STARS)

Sumayo: Black Joy Is An Act of Resistance (Instagram post)


About Celeste Harte

Celeste Harte is an African-American writer living in Spain. She loves reading and writing sci-fi and fantasy, and is obsessed with all 

things mermaids and dragons.

You can find Celeste on Twitter and Instagram @celesteharte and @celeste_harte respectively.

About Ashley

Ashley is a booktuber, bookstagrammer and a huge Stars Wars fan.

You can find her on Twitter @TheJediAshCash, on Instagram @pagesinthestars and on her YouTube channel Pages In The Stars


|Instagram |Twitter | Goodreads |

The Black Experience: Black Magic — Hoodoo

Hello and welcome to The Black Experience 2.0: Giving White Comfort The Backseat.

The Black Experience 2.0 is the second edition of The Black Experience which was held last year in February. The Black Experience is a month long blog series held in honour of Black History Month, which features Black authors and Black bookish content creators and aims at highlighting Black stories and experiences.

TBE 2.0 is especially about giving Black people the space to be fully them and share their stories while centring themselves and their experience of Blackness and without care for the white gaze.

Today on TBE 2.0, author Amber McBride(she/her) talks about Hoodoo/Rootwork, the problem with mainstream exploitation of Hoodoo and some book recommendations that incorporate rootwork, in the first post in the subsegment Black Magic.

(Black Magic is a sub segment of TBE 2.0 with the contributions of authors and bloggers recommending books by Black authors. With the exception of Hoodoo, Black Magic is a sub series of recommendation list)


HOODOO – ROOTWORK – BLACK MAGIC

To put it simply Hoodoo, also known as Rootwork or Conjure, is an African American magic system that arose in the Americas after enslaved Africans were stolen from their homelands and stripped of their way of life. Hoodoo and its many practices are as unique as regions in North and South America, but the pillars of Hoodoo include—the elevation of ancestors, knowledge of and working with herbs, roots, candles, sticks and bones, oneness with nature and balance.

Hoodoo unlike Voodoo is not a religion rather a series of rituals and traditions that when applied properly can bring good fortune and ward off bad energies. Many enslaved African Americans were not permitted to practice the religions/traditions of their homelands and therefore many elements of Hoodoo were hidden in plain sight. This is why often Hoodoo uses Bible verses or psalms in tandem with many spells.

Those who practice Hoodoo have an enormous respect for nature and therefore all herbs and roots should be sourced ethically. If a particular root is rare or going extinct it is important to find a substitute. Tree bark should not be continuously taken from the same tree. Any bones used should come from animals that have already passed on. Furthermore, as articulated in Sticks, Stones and Bones by Stephanie Rose Bird, metals (silver, copper, lead, iron) often share similar properties to bones and can be used as replacements.

In recent years Hoodoo has been exploited by mainstream media. Often linked to Voodoo or Witchcraft. It is easy to see the similarities, but these practices are each unique and should be respected for their profound differences.

The problem with Hoodoo being seen as something new and profitable by the mainstream is that shops sell products that are not ethically sourced and therefore carry bad charges. If the roots, oils, candles are not carrying the right energies more harm than good can be done. In short, capitalism got its hands on Hoodoo and went wild.

Hoodoo’s links to African and African American ancestors make it a uniquely African American practice. With this said, Hoodoo does borrow and give to many traditions, including Native American rituals. Many belief systems around the world that utilize storytelling, respect for ancestors and admiration of nature have similarities to Hoodoo. These practices have conversations with each other, but nuance is important when learning and respecting any belief system in and of itself.

I am not here to say that only people of African descent can practice Hoodoo, but an extensive knowledge of African and African American traditions is needed to practice it in any substantial regard.

Practicing Hoodoo is different for each Conjurer or Rootworker, but respect for the ancestors and the living world around you is of paramount importance.

 

Books That Incorporate Hoodoo

*Book title = Buy link

Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith

Twelve-year-old Hoodoo Hatcher was born into a family with a rich tradition of practicing folk magic: hoodoo, as most people call it. But even though his name is Hoodoo, he can’t seem to cast a simple spell.—HMH Books

Sticks, Stones & Bones by Stephanie Rose Bird

This book gives a comprehensive overview of Hoodoo/Rootwork and the importance of sticks, stones and bones in the practice. It is an excellent introduction into Hoodoo.

Me (Moth) by Amber McBride

Moth has lost her family in an accident. Though she lives with her aunt, she feels alone and uprooted. Until she meets Sani, a boy who is also searching for his roots. If he knows more about where he comes from, maybe he’ll be able to understand his ongoing depression. And if Moth can help him feel grounded, then perhaps she too will discover the history she carries in her bones.—Macmillan

Root Magic by Eden Royce

Debut author Eden Royce arrives with a wondrous story of love, bravery, friendship, and family, filled to the brim with magic great and small.

—Harper Collins

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Filled with mystery and an intriguingly rich magic system, Tracy Deonn’s YA contemporary fantasy Legendborn offers the dark allure of City of Bones with a modern-day twist on a classic legend and a lot of Southern Black Girl Magic.—Simon and Schuster


About Amber McBride

Amber McBride is an English professor at the University of Virginia. She also low key practices Hoodoo and high key devours books (150 or so a year keep her well fed). In her spare time she enjoys pretending it is Halloween everyday, organizing her crystals, watching K-dramas and accidentally scrolling through TikTok for 3 hours at a time. She believes in ghosts and she believes in you.

Website: amber-mcbride.com

Twitter: @ambsmcbride

Instagram: @ambsmcbride


|Instagram |Twitter | Goodreads |

The Black Experience 2.0: 21 of 21 — YA Releases by Black Authors

Hello and welcome to The Black Experience 2.0: Giving White Comfort The Backseat.

The Black Experience 2.0 is the second edition of The Black Experience which held last year in February. The Black Experience is a month long blog series held in honour of Black History Month, which features Black authors and Black bookish content creators and aims at highlighting Black stories and experiences.

TBE 2.0 is especially about giving Black people the space to be fully them and share their stories while centring themselves and their experience of Blackness and without care for the white gaze.

Today on TBE 2.0, I’ll be sharing a list of 21 YA books by Black authors releasing this year. 

(21 of 21 is a sub segment of TBE which showcases 21 books by Black authors in different categories releasing in 2021.)



Ace of Spades by Faridah Abike Iyimide

Genre: Thriller

Expected publication date: 1 June (US); 10 June (UK)
Blurb:

An incendiary and utterly compelling thriller with a shocking twist that delves deep into the heart of institutionalized racism, from an exceptional new YA voice. Welcome to Niveus Private Academy, where money paves the hallways, and the students are never less than perfect. Until now. Because anonymous texter, Aces, is bringing two students’ dark secrets to light. Talented musician Devon buries himself in rehearsals, but he can’t escape the spotlight when his private photos go public. Head girl Chiamaka isn’t afraid to get what she wants, but soon everyone will know the price she has paid for power. Someone is out to get them both. Someone who holds all the aces. And they’re planning much more than a high-school game…

Amazon | Goodreads | Storygraph 

Rising by Celeste Harte

Genre: Science fiction 

Expected publication date: 4 May 2021

Blurb

The K’sundii royals must prove themselves to the mystical Dragons Kings, and to their people. But time is running out.

Kahmel and Jashi don’t have much time to win over their people by finding the remaining three Dragon Kings and having a fighting chance against the Zendaalans when they go to war. The Courts and the Equalizers are getting tired of warning them against their brazen attitudes, and warnings may soon turn to very real threats.

Jashi is still getting used to her role as Faresha and rebel member, and it doesn’t help that Kahmel has been as distant as ever since they found the first Dragon King. She’s worried it’s because of a gap of trust.

She’s hoping to prove her worth both to the country and herself by doing her part in the research of the dragons and bettering herself as a dragon rider by researching something called the “Drake Bond”.

But she can’t fight the feeling that it won’t be enough.

Goodreads | Storygraph

Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee

Genre: Contemporary/Romance

Expected publication date: 4 May 2021

Blurb:

Felix Ever After meets Becky Albertalli in this swoon-worthy, heartfelt rom-com about how a transgender teen’s first love challenges his ideas about perfect relationships.

Noah Ramirez thinks he’s an expert on romance. He has to be for his popular blog, the Meet Cute Diary, a collection of trans happily ever afters. There’s just one problem—all the stories are fake. What started as the fantasies of a trans boy afraid to step out of the closet has grown into a beacon of hope for trans readers across the globe.

When a troll exposes the blog as fiction, Noah’s world unravels. The only way to save the Diary is to convince everyone that the stories are true, but he doesn’t have any proof. Then Drew walks into Noah’s life, and the pieces fall into place: Drew is willing to fake-date Noah to save the Diary. But when Noah’s feelings grow beyond their staged romance, he realizes that dating in real life isn’t quite the same as finding love on the page.

In this charming novel by Emery Lee, Noah will have to choose between following his own rules for love or discovering that the most romantic endings are the ones that go off script.

Amazon | Goodreads | Storygraph

A Chorus Rises by Bethany C Morrow

Genre: Fantasy 

Expected publication date: 1 June 2021

Blurb:

The Hate U Give meets Shadowshaper in Bethany C. Morrow’s A Chorus Rises, a brilliant contemporary fantasy set in the world of A Song Below Water.

Teen influencer Naema Bradshaw has it all: she’s famous, privileged, has “the good hair”— and she’s an Eloko, a person who’s gifted with a song that woos anyone who hears it. Everyone loves her — well, until she’s cast as the awful person who exposed Tavia’s secret siren powers.

Now, she’s being dragged by the media. No one understands her side: not her boyfriend, not her friends, nor her Eloko community. But Naema knows the truth and is determined to build herself back up — no matter what.

When a new, flourishing segment of Naema’s online supporters start targeting black girls, however, Naema must discover the true purpose of her magical voice.

Amazon | Goodreads | Storygraph

Me (Moth) by Amber McBride

Genre: Fantasy/Poetry 

Expected publication date: 17 August 2021

Blurb

A debut YA novel-in-verse that is both a coming-of-age and a ghost story.

Moth has lost her family in an accident. Though she lives with her aunt, she feels alone and uprooted.

Until she meets Sani, a boy who is also searching for his roots. If he knows more about where he comes from, maybe he’ll be able to understand his ongoing depression. And if Moth can help him feel grounded, then perhaps she too will discover the history she carries in her bones.

Moth and Sani take a road trip that has them chasing ghosts and searching for ancestors. The way each moves forward is surprising, powerful, and unforgettable.

Here is an exquisite and uplifting novel about identity, first love, and the ways that our memories and our roots steer us through the universe. 

Amazon | Goodreads | Storygraph

So Many Beginnings: A Little Women Remix by Bethany C Morrow.

Genre: Historical Fiction/Retellings

Expected publication date: 7 September 2021

Blurb

Four young Black sisters come of age during the American Civil War in So Many Beginnings, a warm and powerful YA remix of the classic novel Little Women by national bestselling author Bethany C. Morrow. 

North Carolina, 1863. As the American Civil War rages on, the Freedmen’s Colony of Roanoke Island is blossoming, a haven for the recently emancipated. Black people have begun building a community of their own, a refuge from the shadow of the old life. It is where the March family has finally been able to safely put down roots with four young daughters:

Meg, a teacher who longs to find love and start a family of her own.

Jo, a writer whose words are too powerful to be contained.

Beth, a talented seamstress searching for a higher purpose.

Amy, a dancer eager to explore life outside her family’s home.

As the four March sisters come into their own as independent young women, they will face first love, health struggles, heartbreak, and new horizons. But they will face it all together

Amazon | Goodreads | Storygraph

Muted by Tami Charles

Genre: Contemporary 

Publication date: 2 February 2021

Blurb

A ripped-from-the-headlines novel of ambition, music, and innocence lost, perfect for fans of Elizabeth Acevedo and Jason Reynolds!

Be bold. Get seen. Be Heard.

For seventeen-year-old Denver, music is everything. Writing, performing, and her ultimate goal: escaping her very small, very white hometown.

So Denver is more than ready on the day she and her best friends Dali and Shak sing their way into the orbit of the biggest R&B star in the world, Sean “Mercury” Ellis. Merc gives them everything: parties, perks, wild nights — plus hours and hours in the recording studio. Even the painful sacrifices and the lies the girls have to tell are all worth it.

Until they’re not.

Denver begins to realize that she’s trapped in Merc’s world, struggling to hold on to her own voice. As the dream turns into a nightmare, she must make a choice: lose her big break, or get broken.

Inspired by true events, Muted is a fearless exploration of the dark side of the music industry, the business of exploitation, how a girl’s dreams can be used against her — and what it takes to fight back.

Amazon | Goodreads | Storygraph

Wings of Ebony by J. Elle

Genre: Fantasy 

Publication date: 26 January 2021

Blurb

In this riveting, keenly emotional debut fantasy, a Black teen from Houston has her world upended when she learns about her godly ancestry–and with evil sinking its claws into humans and gods alike, she’ll have to unearth the magic of her true identity to save both her worlds. 

Perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Tomi Adeyemi, and The Hunger Games.

“Make a way out of no way” is just the way of life for Rue. But when her mother is shot dead on her doorstep, life for her and her younger sister changes forever. Rue’s taken from her neighborhood by the father she never knew, forced to leave her little sister behind, and whisked away to Ghizon—a hidden island of magic wielders.

Rue is the only half-god, half-human there, where leaders protect their magical powers at all costs and thrive on human suffering. Miserable and desperate to see her sister on the anniversary of their mother’s death, Rue breaks Ghizon’s sacred Do Not Leave Law and returns to Houston, only to discover that Black kids are being forced into crime and violence. And her sister, Tasha, is in danger of falling sway to the very forces that claimed their mother’s life.

Worse still, evidence mounts that the evil plaguing East Row is the same one that lurks in Ghizon—an evil that will stop at nothing until it has stolen everything from her and everyone she loves. Rue must embrace her true identity and wield the full magnitude of her ancestors’ power to save her neighborhood before the gods burn it to the ground.

Amazon | Goodreads | Storygraph

Chlorine Sky by Mahogany L Browne

Genre: Contemporary/Poetry 

Publication date: 12 January 2021

Blurb

A novel-in-verse about a young girl coming-of-age and stepping out of the shadow of her former best friend. Perfect for readers of Elizabeth Acevedo and Nikki Grimes. 

She looks me hard in my eyes

& my knees lock into tree trunks

My eyes don’t dance like my heartbeat racing

They stare straight back hot daggers.

I remember things will never be the same.

I remember things.

With gritty and heartbreaking honesty, Mahogany L. Browne delivers a novel-in-verse about broken promises, fast rumors, and when growing up means growing apart from your best friend.

Amazon | Goodreads | Storygraph

A Psalm of Song and Silence by Roseanne A Brown

Genre: Fantasy 

Expected publication date: 31 August 2021

Blurb

The highly anticipated second—and final—book in the immersive fantasy duology inspired by West African folklore that began with the New York Times bestselling A Song of Wraiths and Ruin, from author Roseanne A. Brown. Perfect for fans of Tomi Adeyemi, Renée Ahdieh, and Sabaa Tahir.

Karina lost everything after a violent coup left her without her kingdom or her throne. Now the most wanted person in Sonande, her only hope of reclaiming what is rightfully hers lies in a divine power hidden in the long-lost city of her ancestors.

Meanwhile, the resurrection of Karina’s sister has spiraled the world into chaos, with disaster after disaster threatening the hard-won peace Malik has found as Farid’s apprentice. When they discover that Karina herself is the key to restoring balance, Malik must use his magic to lure her back to their side. But how do you regain the trust of someone you once tried to kill?

As the fabric holding Sonande together begins to tear, Malik and Karina once again find themselves torn between their duties and their desires. And when the fate of everything hangs on a single, horrifying choice, they each must decide what they value most—a power that could transform the world, or a love that could transform their lives.

Amazon | Goodreads | Storygraph

Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury

Genre: Fantasy 

Expected publication date: 15 June 2021

Blurb

A rich, dark urban fantasy debut following a teen witch who is given a horrifying task: sacrificing her first love to save her family’s magic. The problem is, she’s never been in love—she’ll have to find the perfect guy before she can kill him.

After years of waiting for her Calling—a trial every witch must pass in order to come into their powers—the one thing Voya Thomas didn’t expect was to fail. When Voya’s ancestor gives her an unprecedented second chance to complete her Calling, she agrees—and then is horrified when her task is to kill her first love. And this time, failure means every Thomas witch will be stripped of their magic.

Voya is determined to save her family’s magic no matter the cost. The problem is, Voya has never been in love, so for her to succeed, she’ll first have to find the perfect guy—and fast. Fortunately, a genetic matchmaking program has just hit the market. Her plan is to join the program, fall in love, and complete her task before the deadline. What she doesn’t count on is being paired with the infuriating Luc—how can she fall in love with a guy who seemingly wants nothing to do with her?

With mounting pressure from her family, Voya is caught between her morality and her duty to her bloodline. If she wants to save their heritage and Luc, she’ll have to find something her ancestor wants more than blood. And in witchcraft, blood is everything.

Amazon | Goodreads | Storygraph


Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant

Genre: Contemporary/Romance

Publication date: 5 January 2021

Blurb:

Jane the Virgin meets To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before in this charming debut romantic comedy filled with Black Girl Magic. Perfect for fans of Mary H. K. Choi and Nicola Yoon, with crossover appeal for readers of Jasmine Guillory and Talia Hibbert romances.

Sixteen-year-old Tessa Johnson has never felt like the protagonist in her own life. She’s rarely seen herself reflected in the pages of the romance novels she loves. The only place she’s a true leading lady is in her own writing—in the swoony love stories she shares only with Caroline, her best friend and #1 devoted reader.

When Tessa is accepted into the creative writing program of a prestigious art school, she’s excited to finally let her stories shine. But when she goes to her first workshop, the words are just…gone. Fortunately, Caroline has a solution: Tessa just needs to find some inspiration in a real-life love story of her own. And she’s ready with a list of romance novel-inspired steps to a happily ever after. Nico, the brooding artist who looks like he walked out of one of Tessa’s stories, is cast as the perfect Prince Charming.

But as Tessa checks off each item off Caroline’s list, she gets further and further away from herself. She risks losing everything she cares about—including the surprising bond she develops with sweet Sam, who lives across the street. She’s well on her way to having her own real-life love story, but is it the one she wants, after all?

Amazon | Goodreads | Storygraph

Yesterday is History by Kosoko Jackson

Genre: Historical fiction/Science fiction

Publication date: 2 February 2021

Blurb:

A romantic, heart-felt, and whimsical novel about letting go of the past, figuring out what you want in your future, and staying in the moment before it passes you by.

Weeks ago, Andre Cobb received a much-needed liver transplant.

He’s ready for his life to finally begin, until one night, when he passes out and wakes up somewhere totally unexpected…in 1969, where he connects with a magnetic boy named Michael.

And then, just as suddenly as he arrived, he slips back to present-day Boston, where the family of his donor is waiting to explain that his new liver came with a side effect—the ability to time travel. And they’ve tasked their youngest son, Blake, with teaching Andre how to use his unexpected new gift.

Andre splits his time bouncing between the past and future. Between Michael and Blake. Michael is everything Andre wishes he could be, and Blake, still reeling from the death of his brother, Andre’s donor, keeps him at arm’s length despite their obvious attraction to each other.

Torn between two boys, one in the past and one in the present, Andre has to figure out where he belongs—and more importantly who he wants to be—before the consequences of jumping in time catch up to him and change his future for good.

Amazon | Goodreads | Storygraph

Some Other Now by Sarah Everett

Genre: Contemporary/Romance

Expected publication date: 23 February 2021

Blurb:

This Is Us for teens, this luminous and heartbreaking contemporary novel follows a girl caught between two brothers as the three of them navigate family, loss, and love over the course of two summers. For fans of Far From the Tree, Emergency Contact, and Nina LaCour.

Before she kissed one of the Cohen boys, seventeen-year-old Jessi Rumfield knew what it was like to have a family—even if, technically, that family didn’t belong to her. She’d spent her childhood in the house next door, challenging Rowan Cohen to tennis matches while his older brother, Luke, studied in the background and Mel watched over the three like the mother Jessi always wished she had.

But then everything changed. It’s been almost a year since Jessi last visited the Cohen house. Rowan is gone. Mel is in remission and Luke hates Jessi for the role she played in breaking his family apart. Now Jessi spends her days at a dead-end summer job avoiding her real mother, who suddenly wants to play a role in Jessi’s life after being absent for so long. But when Luke comes home from college, it’s hard to ignore the past. And when he asks Jessi to pretend to be his girlfriend for the final months of Mel’s life, Jessi finds herself drawn back into the world of the Cohens. Everything’s changed, but Jessi can’t help wanting to be a Cohen, even if it means playing pretend for one final summer.

Amazon | Goodreads | Storygraph

Dear Miss Metropolitan by Carolyn Ferrell

Genre: Literary fiction

Expected publication date: 6 July 2021

Blurb:

Introducing an extraordinary and original writer whose first novel explores the intersections of grief and rage, personal strength and healing–and what we owe one another.

Fern seeks refuge from her mother’s pill-popping and boyfriends via Soul Train; Gwin finds salvation in the music of Prince much to her congregation’s dismay and Jesenia, miles ahead of her classmates at her gifted and talented high school, is a brainy and precocious enigma. None of this matters to Boss Man, the monster who abducts them and holds them captive in a dilapidated house in Queens. 

On the night they are finally rescued, throngs line the block gawking and claiming ignorance. Among them is lifetime resident Miss Metropolitan, advice columnist for the local weekly, but how could anyone who fancies herself a “newspaperwoman” have missed a horror story unfolding right across the street? And why is it that only two of the three girls—now women—were found? The mystery haunts the two remaining “victim girls” who are subjected to the further trauma of becoming symbols as they continuously adapt to their present and their unrelenting past. 

Like Colson Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys, Ferrell’s Dear Miss Metropolitan gives voice to characters surviving unimaginable tragedy. Inspired by real events, the story is inventively revealed before, during, and after the ordeal in this singular and urgent novel.

 Amazon | Goodreads | Storygraph 

Off The Record by Camryn Garrett 

Genre: Contemporary 

Expected publication date: 18 May 2021

Blurb

The behind-the-scenes access of Almost Famous meets the searing revelations of #metoo in this story of a teen journalist who uncovers the scandal of the decade.

Ever since seventeen-year-old Josie Wright can remember, writing has been her identity, the thing that grounds her when everything else is a garbage fire. So when she wins a contest to write a celebrity profile for Deep Focus magazine, she’s equal parts excited and scared, but also ready. She’s got this.

Soon Josie is jetting off on a multi-city tour, rubbing elbows with sparkly celebrities, frenetic handlers, stone-faced producers, and eccentric stylists. She even finds herself catching feelings for the subject of her profile, dazzling young newcomer Marius Canet. Josie’s world is expanding so rapidly, she doesn’t know whether she’s flying or falling. But when a young actress lets her in on a terrible secret, the answer is clear: she’s in over her head.

One woman’s account leads to another and another. Josie wants to expose the man responsible, but she’s reluctant to speak up, unsure if this is her story to tell. What if she lets down the women who have entrusted her with their stories? What if this ends her writing career before it even begins? There are so many reasons not to go ahead, but if Josie doesn’t step up, who will?

From the author of Full Disclosure, this is a moving testament to the #MeToo movement, and all the ways women stand up for each other. (less)

Amazon | Goodreads | Storygraph

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Baron

Genre: Fantasy 

Expected publication date: 29 June 2021

 Blurb

Briseis has a gift: she can grow plants from tiny seeds to rich blooms with a single touch.

When Briseis’s aunt dies and wills her a dilapidated estate in rural New York, Bri and her parents decide to leave Brooklyn behind for the summer. Hopefully there, surrounded by plants and flowers, Bri will finally learn to control her gift. But their new home is sinister in ways they could never have imagined–it comes with a specific set of instructions, an old-school apothecary, and a walled garden filled with the deadliest botanicals in the world that can only be entered by those who share Bri’s unique family lineage.

When strangers begin to arrive on their doorstep, asking for tinctures and elixirs, Bri learns she has a surprising talent for creating them. One of the visitors is Marie, a mysterious young woman who Bri befriends, only to find that Marie is keeping dark secrets about the history of the estate and its surrounding community. There is more to Bri’s sudden inheritance than she could have imagined, and she is determined to uncover it . . . until a nefarious group comes after her in search of a rare and dangerous immortality elixir. Up against a centuries-old curse and the deadliest plant on earth, Bri must harness her gift to protect herself and her family.

From the bestselling author of Cinderella Is Dead comes another inspiring and deeply compelling story about a young woman with the power to conquer the dark forces descending around her

Amazon | Goodreads | Storygraph

Where The Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass

Genre: Contemporary/Romance 

Expected publication date: 11 May 2021

Blurb

Seventeen-year-old Reyna has spent most of her life at her family’s gorgeous seaside resort in Tobago, the Plumeria. But what once seemed like paradise is starting to feel more like purgatory. It’s been two years since Reyna’s mother passed away, two years since Aiden – her childhood best friend, first kiss, first love, first everything – left the island to pursue his music dreams. Reyna’s friends are all planning their futures and heading abroad. Even Daddy seems to want to move on, leaving her to try to keep the Plumeria running.

And that’s when Aiden comes roaring back into her life – as a VIP guest at the resort.

Aiden is now one-third of DJ Bacchanal – the latest, hottest music group on the scene. While Reyna has stayed exactly where he left her, Aiden has returned to Tobago with his Grammy-nominated band and two gorgeous LA socialites. And he may (or may not be) dating one of them…

Inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Where the Rhythm Takes You is a romantic, mesmerizing novel of first love and second chances.

Amazon| Goodreads | Storygraph

Home Is Not a Country by Safia Elhillo 

Genre: Literary Fiction/Poetry 

Expected publication date: 2 March 2021

Blurb

A mesmerizing novel in verse about family, identity, and finding yourself in the most unexpected places–for fans of The Poet X, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, and Jason Reynolds.

Nima doesn’t feel understood. By her mother, who grew up far away in a different land. By her suburban town, which makes her feel too much like an outsider to fit in and not enough like an outsider to feel like that she belongs somewhere else. At least she has her childhood friend Haitham, with whom she can let her guard down and be herself. Until she doesn’t.

As the ground is pulled out from under her, Nima must grapple with the phantom of a life not chosen, the name her parents didn’t give her at birth: Yasmeen. But that other name, that other girl, might just be more real than Nima knows. And more hungry.And the life Nima has, the one she keeps wishing were someone else’s. . .she might have to fight for it with a fierceness she never knew she had.

Nothing short of magic…One of the best writers of our times.– Elizabeth Acevedo, New York Times Bestselling author of The Poet X

Amazon | Goodreads | Storygraph

Hurricane Summer by Asha Bromfield 

Genre: Contemporary 

Expected publication date: 4 May 2021

Blurb

In this sweeping debut, actress Asha Bromfield takes readers to the heart of Jamaica, and into the soul of a girl coming to terms with her family, and herself, set against the backdrop of a hurricane.

Sometimes the storm is inside of you…

Tilla has spent her entire life trying to make her father love her. But every six months, he leaves their family and returns to his true home: the island of Jamaica.

When Tilla’s mother tells her she’ll be spending the summer on the island, Tilla dreads the idea of seeing him again, but longs to discover what life in Jamaica has always held for him.

In an unexpected turn of events, Tilla is forced to face the storm that unravels in her own life as she learns about the dark secrets that lie beyond the veil of paradise—all in the midst of an impending hurricane.

Hurricane Summer is a powerful coming of age story that deals with colorism, classism, young love, the father-daughter dynamic—and what it means to discover your own voice in the center of complete destruction. 

Amazon | Goodreads | Storygraph

Like Home by Louisa Onome 

Genre: Contemporary 

Expected publication date: 23 February 2021

Blurb

Fans of Netflix’s On My Block, In the Heights, and readers of Elizabeth Acevedo and Ibi Zoboi will love this debut novel about a girl whose life is turned upside down after one local act of vandalism throws her relationships and even her neighborhood into turmoil. 

Chinelo, or Nelo as her best friend Kate calls her, is all about her neighborhood Ginger East. She loves its chill vibe, ride-or-die sense of community, and her memories of growing up there. Ginger East isn’t what it used to be, though. After a deadly incident at the local arcade, all her closest friends moved away, except for Kate. But as long as they have each other, Nelo’s good.

Only, Kate’s parents’ corner store is vandalized, leaving Nelo shaken to her core. The police and the media are quick to point fingers, and soon more of the outside world descends on Ginger East with promises to “fix” it. Suddenly, Nelo finds herself in the middle of a drama unfolding on a national scale. 

Worse yet, Kate is acting strange. She’s pushing Nelo away at the exact moment they need each other most. Nelo’s entire world is morphing into something she hates, and she must figure out how to get things back on track or risk losing everything⁠—and everyone⁠—she loves.

Amazon | Goodreads | Storygraph


Afternote: There are a lot more than 21 YA books by Black authors coming out this year and for several reasons I can’t include them all on this post.

A good resource for finding YA books by Black authors (releasing this year and anytime) is Melanin in YA. You can follow on Twitter, Instagram and check out their website.

Also, I only included the Amazon links here because it’s a lot easier for me, but if you’re able to, and particularly if you live in the US or UK, do patronise your local indie or check at Bookshop.org and give Black owned bookstores priority (even if you only do this for this month).


I hope you enjoyed this post and see in you in the next one.

|Instagram |Twitter | Goodreads |

By The Cover: YA 2021 Book Covers I Adore

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” has to be the worst advice I’ve heard especially when it’s taken quite literally… in literature (i know that was a good one).

Hello and welcome to By The Cover! By The Cover is a small (I do think for now) blog series about book covers and the books they represent, because the truth is covers do represent books. Book covers are the face of books, like how you have a person or group of people as the face of an organisation, book covers work just like that. In By The Cover, I celebrate book covers or give my thoughts on them and sometimes evaluate books by their covers.

So you might be thinking why this? Why pick something so superficial? Well because humans are a superficial race, or maybe I should stop here and talk about myself. Yes, to some extent I am superficial. I love aesthetics and pretty things, and when I want to get something one of the requirements is does it look nice? Will I feel happy just by looking at it? Will I be proud to show it off? Being able to look past appearances is great, it’s a very good thing actually but I can argue with book covers appealing to the aesthetic/superficial nature of people is the best strategy. So I say again that the advice don’t judge a book by its cover doesn’t apply to actual books because like it or not book covers are an important marketing strategy.

Today on the opening issue of By The Cover, I’ll be starting by showcasing some of my favourite 2021 book covers that have been revealed so far and a surprise book cover reveal 👀 (The cover has already been revealed on Twitter, but I can’t change this part of the post now). This list was hard to curate because there are so many book covers already revealed that I loved and I wanted to have a manageable number of books on this list. 

My list, as usual, contains mostly diverse books — which means they feature authors or characters from marginalised backgrounds. And today to kick this series off, I’m going to start with a rather gorgeous surprise that I know you’ll all love! 


  • Unveiling the Cover (Cover Reveal): A Psalm of Storms and Silence by Roseanne Brown 

BOOK AND COVER INFORMATION 

TItle: A Psalm of Storms and Silence 

Date: June 1, 2021

Preorder link: Click here 

Cover Artist: Tawny Chatmon

Cover Designer: Jessie Gang 

Models: Tania Toussaint and Aidan Wheeler 

Where to find the author: @rosiesrambles both on IG and Twitter

Surprise! I know you loved that cover because have you seen it?! *sobs uncontrollably*

It was so hard keeping this a secret for most of the week because I needed to scream about it to someone. The models, the outfits, the colours, the brilliance… I think the people who are truly relieved about the fact that I can show y’all this cover are my mum and sister because they must be tired of seeing me flailing and trying not scream around the house.

But yes, that is the cover! No, I am still not ok. How is it possible to love a cover so much?

Remember to check out Rosie’s Twitter and IG for her announcement also and follow her!

  • A Chorus Rises by Bethany C Morrow

Is it possible to tattoo an image on your brain? Because I’ll like to have this cover tattooed on my brain so I can never forget the brilliance of it. The colours, a dark skinned Black girl on the cover, her facial expression, the magic of it all. Wake me up when the book is out already.

Preorder 

  • Witches Steeped In Gold by Ciannon Smart

I can say a lot about this cover. The colours and the homage to the Jamaican flag, the illustrations, it’s overall beauty. Black authors are winning in 2021.

Preorder 

  • Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee

If this book cover had a smell or taste, I bet it’d smell and taste like pink bubblegum. This cover is the cutest thing I’ve seen, just looking at it raises my serotonin levels. It is so C-U-T-E. My heart feels so full from the adorableness

Preorder 

  • Descendants of The First by Reni K Amayo 

On the day this cover was revealed, I tweeted that I wasn’t ok and I am delighted to announce that I am still not ok. The details on this cover! The Black and Igbo excellence. I need to lay down.

Preorder 

  • The Forest of Stolen Girls by June Hur

Ok, Zainab. Deep breaths. You are fine. I am not fine! This cover is absolutely gorgeous. Who gave the cover artist the right? I need to have a word with them.

Preorder 

  • The Ones We’re Meant To Find by Joan He

If I was given the choice to go back to the moment before I saw this cover, despite how this book lives rent free in my find and the beauty haunts my dreams, I won’t take it. This cover is just…

No words.

Preorder 

  • Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean

I mean they already had me at synopsis so I don’t understand the need to reduce my lifespan with a cover this gorgeous because whew.

Preorder 

  • The Infinity Courts by Akemi Dawn Bowman

I just want to stare at this cover for the rest of my days.

Preorder

  • Love Is A Revolution by Renée Watson

*takes a full minute to sob* I will never get over Black girls and boys on book covers. I will never get over dark skinned Black girls and boys on book covers. I will never get over seeing Black love displayed on covers, but this cover is just everything. The colours, the illustrations, having a fat dark skinned Black girl on the cover, the loud and proud celebration of Black love. I love this so much.

Preorder 

  • The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore 

The fact that this book is by Anna-Marie McLemore so I didn’t need any convincing to add it, but that cover *screams*. The cover! The colours, the angles, proportioning…*deep breath*

Preorder 

  • Jay’s Gay Agenda by Jason June

Not gonna lie, they already had me at the name and the cover is so cute omg. I love illustrated covers.

Preorder 

  • Simone Breaks All The Rules by Debbie Rigaud 

I mean given all that pink, it’s no surprise this cover is on my list and also the cover is freaking gorgeous.

Preorder 

  • Angel of Greenwood by Randi Pink
    I. Love. This. Cover. So. Much.

I am once again saying that Black girls on covers! And the colours. Oh my God the colours are so bold. I cannot.

Preorder

  • Like Home by Louisa Onome 

I know this sounds kinda punny, but the cover also feels like home. It’s soft, warm and gives this happy energy like what home should feel like. It’s a perfect cover for this book.

Preorder 

  • The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

I’ve known about this cover for almost a year and I still can’t believe how gorgeous it is.

Preorder 

  • Xoxo by Axie Oh 

I love how warm this cover is, the art itself and honestly, it’s about Kpop idols so I don’t even need any other reason to yell about it.

Preorder 

  • The Other Side of Perfect by Mariko Turk

The colours, omg! This cover is just so beautiful.

Preorder

  • Sisters Of The Snake by Sarena & Sasha Nanua

I’m actually speechless because of the beauty of this 

Preorder

  • Rising Like A Storm by Tanaz Bhatena 

The only thing I can say is I am looking…quite respectfully I must add.

Preorder 

  • Broken Web by Lori M Lee

When I saw the cover to prequel I was properly wowed, but the cover actually tops it.

Preorder 

  • One of The Good Ones by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite 

I love this cover so much! The details, the Black girls on the cover and the variations in their skin tone, the way it showcases Black hair, it’s absolutely brilliant and I just want to hold the book.

Preorder 

  •  We Free The Stars by Hafsah Faizal 

Let me do everyone a favour and not start with this cover because it is so gorgeous 

Preorder 

  • When Night Breaks by Janella Angeles

First, I need a minute to feel pleased about how well this cover matches its prequel. Second, I can’t…pretty.

Preorder 

  • She’s Too Pretty To Burn

I love the colours on this cover so much and the illustration is beautiful.

Preorder 

  • In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens

I have nothing to say, the cover speaks for itself.

Preorder 

  • A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer 

It’s so boldly and beautifully red, I’m in awe.

Preorder 

  • Darling by K. Ancrum 

This cover is just…wow. It’s so gorgeous. I know I’ve been talking about colours a lot but the colours!

Preorder 

  • Lost In The Never Woods by Aiden Thomas

Ok, I’m losing steam and my knee is hurting bad now, but I don’t love this cover any less than the others. I love the colours and the eerie vibes.

Preorder 


That’s it for today’s post. I hope you have/had a lovely day

What 2021 YA book covers do you love?


|Instagram |Twitter | Goodreads |