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?


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28 Books By Authors of Colour That Should Be On Your Lists This Spooky Season

‘Tis the season for scare and fear, for warm lights and colours, for spiders and skeletons, for sweaters and scarves, for pumpkins and pranks. Ok, I don’t know if any of that makes sense, but hello and welcome, because it’s fall again!

So I should probably say that I needed confirmation from my friends because I live in a tropical region and the closest thing we have to fall is still months away, which I’m sad about because it’s my favourite time to the year, but if it’s fall wherever you are do make sure to enjoy it for me.

So today in mood of the season, I bring you a list of 28 books by Black authors and authors of colour which fit the vibe of the season. Not every book in this list will be creepy, some are just dark, some are a bit disturbing and you might just find a ghost friend or boyfriend or two 👀


  • Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcia (Adult)

An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic aristocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . . .

From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes a novel set in glamorous 1950s Mexico. 

After receiving a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find – her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region. 

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom. 

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness. 

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind

Now I haven’t read this book yet, but my one of best friends loves this book so much and has recced it to me and I trust her taste in books.  Also have you read the blurb yet?! The entire vibe of this book just screams creepy so yeah.

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  • The Year of The Witching by Alexis Henderson (YA/Adult)

A young woman living in a rigid, puritanical society discovers dark powers within herself in this stunning, feminist fantasy debut.

In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy. Her mother’s union with an outsider of a different race cast her once-proud family into disgrace, so Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol, and lead a life of submission, devotion, and absolute conformity, like all the other women in the settlement.

But a mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood surrounding Bethel, where the first prophet once chased and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still lurking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the journal of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.

Fascinated by the secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realizes the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And she starts to understand that if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her.

First, screams! What do I have to do to make you read this book? Do I have to jump hoops, cry up a river, make a 99 slides PowerPoint? Anything!

I love this book so so much. It’s just chef kiss. It’s so deliciously creepy and dark, it’s a total heart eyes. The entire message of the book, the writing, the characters,the vibe. Everything is perfect. 

I need October to come real quick so I can have an excuse to reread.

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  • Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas (YA)

Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.

When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie up some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.

I promised ghost boyfriends, so here you go! Cemetery Boys is one of my most anticipated YA books of this year and all of my faves love too. I’ve only heard good things about this book and I am so excited to read it.

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  • Ghost Squad by Claribel Ortega (MG)

Coco meets Stranger Things with a hint of Ghostbusters in this action-packed supernatural fantasy.For Lucely Luna, ghosts are more than just the family business. Shortly before Halloween, Lucely and her best friend, Syd, cast a spell that accidentally awakens malicious spirits, wreaking havoc throughout St. Augustine. Together, they must join forces with Syd’s witch grandmother, Babette, and her tubby tabby, Chunk, to fight the haunting head-on and reverse the curse to save the town and Lucely’s firefly spirits before it’s too late. With the family dynamics of Coco and action-packed adventure of Ghostbusters, Claribel A. Ortega delivers both a thrillingly spooky and delightfully sweet debut novel.

Spooky middle grade! I just started reading MG again this year and Ghost Squad is one of the books on my October and Latinx Heritage Month TBRs. I lowkey hate the fact that I have to wait till next month to read this book, but maybe by then I can somehow convince my little sister to listen to the audiobook with me.

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  • The Girl and The Ghost by Hanna Alkaf (MG)

* Chosen as a 2020 Kirkus Prize Finalist for Young Readers’ Literature! *

A Malaysian folk tale comes to life in this emotionally layered, chilling middle grade debut, perfect for fans of The Book of Boy and The Jumbies.

I am a dark spirit, the ghost announced grandly. I am your inheritance, your grandmother’s legacy. I am yours to command.

Suraya is delighted when her witch grandmother gifts her a pelesit. She names her ghostly companion Pink, and the two quickly become inseparable.

But Suraya doesn’t know that pelesits have a dark side—and when Pink’s shadows threaten to consume them both, they must find enough light to survive . . . before they are both lost to the darkness.

Fans of Holly Black’s Doll Bones and Tahereh Mafi’s Furthermore series will love this ghostly middle grade debut that explores jealousy, love, and the extraordinary power of friendship.

Earlier this year for The Ramadan Readathon, I read Hanna Alkaf’s debut The Weight Of Our Sky and I adored it. For most of early this year, I was in an emotional capsule but this book made me feel and cry. I have been so excited for her sophomore book, The Girl and The Ghost, which is a book about a Malaysian girl, Suraya, and her ghost friend turned sinister, Pink.

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  • Zombierella: Fairy Tales Gone Bad by Joseph Coelho and Illustrated by Freya Hartas (PB)

A yellow moon hangs in a satin sky the night Cinderella, barefoot and in hand-me-downs, slips at the top of the stairs … and dies. But not for long. The Shadow of Death arrives to breathe life back into her bones and, for three nights only, Cinderella goes forth as ZOMBIERELLA. With her skin as cold as ice and her faithful horse Lumpkin back by her side, can she seek revenge on her three cruel, fake sisters, once and for all?

Crawl out of the grave and step into your mushroom carriage for this haunting and humorous adventure of the undead girl searching for her happily ever after. The first in a funny, deliciously dark, three-part series of twisted classics, written in verse by award-winning poet Joseph Coelho and illustrated by Freya Hartas.

Um, I don’t really read children’s book but Cinderella as a zombie coming back for revenge and written in verse? Sign me up for this!

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  • Gustavo, the Shy Ghost by Flavia Z. Drago (PB)

Gustavo is a ghost. He is good at doing all sorts of paranormal things, like walking through walls, making objects fly and glowing in the dark. And he loves playing beautiful music on his violin. But Gustavo also has a problem. He is SHY. Which means some things are harder for him to do, like getting in a line to buy eye-scream or talking to the other monsters. But Gustavo longs to be a part of something, he longs to be seen. More than anything, he wants to make a friend. So, plucking up all his courage, he sends a very special letter: “Dear Monsters, I would like to invite you to my violin concert at the Day of the Dead party…”

With exquisite detail and visual humour, Flavia Z. Drago’s vivid illustrations tell a sweet and offbeat story of belonging, bravery and friendship that is sure to be a treat for little ghouls and goblins everywhere.

Another children’s book rec! When I saw the cover and an excerpt for this book on the publishers Twitter I could not resist adding it because it’s seemed so cute and Gustavo seemed adorable. I promised a ghost friend, so y’all better read for Gustavo.

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  • A Song Of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A Brown (YA)

For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts Malik’s younger sister, Nadia, as payment into the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal—kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom.

But Karina has deadly aspirations of her own. Her mother, the Sultana, has been assassinated; her court threatens mutiny; and Solstasia looms like a knife over her neck. Grief-stricken, Karina decides to resurrect her mother through ancient magic . . . requiring the beating heart of a king. And she knows just how to obtain one: by offering her hand in marriage to the victor of the Solstasia competition.

When Malik rigs his way into the contest, they are set on a course to destroy each other. But as attraction flares between them and ancient evils stir, will they be able to see their tasks to the death?

The first in an fantasy duology inspired by West African folklore in which a grieving crown princess and a desperate refugee find themselves on a collision course to murder each other despite their growing attraction.

Hehe. You were probably expecting it and here it is! But seriously, did you think I was going to make a book recommendation list and somehow not manage to add my favourite YA fantasy to it? Eh, no.

Apart from being my favourite book, A Song of Wraiths and Ruin is perfect for spooky season because of its magic. With necromancy, magic wielders, grimfolk and magic creatures, gods and other powerful entities; what other book could be perfect for spooky season.

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  • Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko (YA) 

Nothing is more important than loyalty.
But what if you’ve sworn to protect the one you were born to destroy?

Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood. That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong somewhere. But The Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn—but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself?

And it is here also! Once you saw ASOWAR on the list, you should have know my other, but not less beloved, fave was going to be on the list! 

Raybearer is also a magical book with the Raybearers themselves, Hallows and redemptors. Some scenes in the book are really creepy (at least to me because of cultural significance). All I have to say is add this book to your list!

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  • The Girl from The Well Duology by Rin Chupeco (YA)

You may think me biased, being murdered myself. But my state of being has nothing to do with the curiosity toward my own species, if we can be called such. We do not go gentle, as your poet encourages, into that good night. 

A dead girl walks the streets.

She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.

And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.

Because the boy has a terrifying secret – one that would just kill to get out. 

The Girl from the Well is A YA Horror novel pitched as “Dexter” meets “The Grudge”, based on a well-loved Japanese ghost story. suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.

*Synopsis of The Girl from the Well

From all the reviews I’ve read, these books seems dark, creepy and gruesome, and I love it already. I also love Rin Chupeco’s writing. The Bone Witch, my introduction to their work was thoroughly engrossing. If there’s a book series that’s definitely on my spooky list, it’s this Duology.

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  • The Bone Witch Trilogy by Rin Chupeco (YA)

In the captivating start to a new, darkly lyrical fantasy series, Tea can raise the dead, but resurrection comes at a price.When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha-one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles and make a powerful choice.

I cannot make a spooky list without this gorgeous series. I started (I haven’t finished it yet because I’m a mess as usual) The Bone Witch last year October and if I hadn’t dropped it while I could, I’d have had a problem doing so which is bad when you have exams upcoming. The Bone Witch is a gorgeous book that starts the story of Tea’s, a young dark asha, descent to villainhood. It has necromancy, familiars, monsters and beautiful haunted girls.

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  • Skin Folk by Nalo Hopkinson (Anthology)*

A new collection of short stories from Hopkinson, including “Greedy Choke Puppy,” which Africana.com called “a cleverly crafted West Indian story featuring the appearance of both the soucouyant (vampire) & lagahoo (werewolf),” “Ganger (Ball Lightning),” praised by the Washington Post Book World as written in “prose [that] is vivid & immediate,” this collection reveals Hopkinson’s breadth & accomplishments as a storyteller.

I first got to learn about Nalo Hopkinson’s work in February during The Black Experience from Nelo @BookedUnicorn who gave so many recs of her books. I started on this one back then for the stress of the year got to me, and I loved Nalo Hopkinson’s writing. I’m hoping to finish this one this year.

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  • Brown Girl In The Ring by Nalo Hopkinson (YA) 

The rich and privileged have fled the city, barricaded it behind roadblocks, and left it to crumble. The inner city has had to rediscover old ways-farming, barter, herb lore. But now the monied need a harvest of bodies, and so they prey upon the helpless of the streets. With nowhere to turn, a young woman must open herself to ancient truths, eternal powers, and the tragic mystery surrounding her mother and grandmother.

She must bargain with gods, and give birth to new legends.

I have no commentary but it’s Nalo Hopkinson so read it!

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  • Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron (YA)

Magic has a price—if you’re willing to pay.

Born into a family of powerful witchdoctors, Arrah yearns for magic of her own. But each year she fails to call forth her ancestral powers, while her ambitious mother watches with growing disapproval.

There’s only one thing Arrah hasn’t tried, a deadly last resort: trading years of her own life for scraps of magic. Until the Kingdom’s children begin to disappear, and Arrah is desperate to find the culprit.

She uncovers something worse. The long-imprisoned Demon King is stirring. And if he rises, his hunger for souls will bring the world to its knees… unless Arrah pays the price for the magic to stop him.

I am currently reading this one and wow. I’m not more than 55 pages into it but I already love it and the fact that my mum loves it endorsement enough because she usually doesn’t say she likes books unless they’re historical romance. Kingdom of Souls has necromancy, blood magic, twisty plots and complex characters.

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  • Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee (YA)

Sirscha Ashwyn comes from nothing, but she’s intent on becoming something. After years of training to become the queen’s next royal spy, her plans are derailed when shamans attack and kill her best friend Saengo.

And then Sirscha, somehow, restores Saengo to life.

Unveiled as the first soulguide in living memory, Sirscha is summoned to the domain of the Spider King. For centuries, he has used his influence over the Dead Wood—an ancient forest possessed by souls—to enforce peace between the kingdoms. Now, with the trees growing wild and untamed, only a soulguide can restrain them. As war looms, Sirscha must master her newly awakened abilities before the trees shatter the brittle peace, or worse, claim Saengo, the friend she would die for.

Danger lurks within the roots of Forest of Souls, an epic, unrelenting tale of destiny and sisterhood, perfect for fans of Naomi Novik and Susan Dennard.

Ok, I should admit that one tenth of the reason why I’ve been counting down to spooky season is so I can read this book. Forest of Souls is one of my anticipated reads of the year and the synopsis and all I’ve heard about it makes me want to read it even more.

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  • The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh (YA)

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.

I admit at the risk of my friends finding out and yelling at me that I have yet to read this book despite owning it for close to a year now. I honestly love the sound of this book and the lushness it promises. So this list is also a reminder for me to get my mess together and finally read this book.

(Ok, I started this book before this post went up and I am intrigued!)

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  • Forest of A Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao (YA)

An East Asian fantasy reimagining of The Evil Queen legend about one peasant girl’s quest to become Empress—and the darkness she must unleash to achieve her destiny.

Eighteen-year-old Xifeng is beautiful. The stars say she is destined for greatness, that she is meant to be Empress of Feng Lu. But only if she embraces the darkness within her. Growing up as a peasant in a forgotten village on the edge of the map, Xifeng longs to fulfill the destiny promised to her by her cruel aunt, the witch Guma, who has read the cards and seen glimmers of Xifeng’s majestic future. But is the price of the throne too high?

Because in order to achieve greatness, she must spurn the young man who loves her and exploit the callous magic that runs through her veins—sorcery fueled by eating the hearts of the recently killed. For the god who has sent her on this journey will not be satisfied until his power is absolute

Before you ask, I read almost 10 books at a time and my Goodreads reading shelf is absolutely chaotic. I started this book in late July and although I was loving it, I had my worst slump during that time and August and had no desire to read dark books, and make no mistake this book is quite dark. Although I’m only at the early chapters, I love the writing and I am very interested in reading about Xifeng’s descent to darkness.

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  • Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles (YA)

In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed.

This is another book that Zainab started but somehow even though she adores it hasn’t finished because well we all know she’s a mess. Where Dreams Descend is a lush and atmospheric dark fantasy following our MC, Kalia. From the very first page, I fell absolutely in love with this book. I could literally feel the atmosphere. I’m hoping now my slump is over, I’ll be able to finish this book.

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  • Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor (MG/YA)

Akata Witch transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in to the world of the Leopard People, where your worst defect becomes your greatest asset. Together, Sunny, Orlu, Chichi and Sasha form the youngest ever Oha Coven. Their mission is to track down Black Hat Otokoto, the man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. Will Sunny be able to overcome the killer with powers stronger than her own, or will the future she saw in the flames become reality?

I’ve always been sad that there aren’t enough books with albino main characters and I can’t forgive myself for not reading this book and especially as it’s also set in Nigeria. So one of my goals this spooky season is to read this book and get my sister to read it too.

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  • Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor (MG)

Nnedi Okorafor’s first novel for middle grade readers introduces a boy who can access super powers with the help of the magical Ikenga.

Nnamdi’s father was a good chief of police, perhaps the best Kalaria had ever had. He was determined to root out the criminals that had invaded the town. But then he was murdered, and most people believed the Chief of Chiefs, most powerful of the criminals, was responsible. Nnamdi has vowed to avenge his father, but he wonders what a twelve-year-old boy can do. Until a mysterious nighttime meeting, the gift of a magical object that enables super powers, and a charge to use those powers for good changes his life forever. How can he fulfill his mission? How will he learn to control his newfound powers?

Award-winning Nnedi Okorafor, acclaimed for her Akata novels, introduces a new and engaging hero in her first novel for middle grade readers set against a richly textured background of contemporary Nigeria.

I don’t have much to say about this book, but it looks great.

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  • Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson (YA/Adult)

It’s Carnival time, and the Carribean-colonized planet of Toussaint is celebrating with music, dance and pageantry. Masked “Midnight Robbers” waylay revelers with brandished weapons and spellbinding words. But to young Tan-Tan, the Robber Queen is simply a favourite costume to wear at the festival–until her power-corrupted father commits an unforgivable crime. 

Suddenly, both father and daughter are thrust into the brutal world of New Half-Way Tree. Here monstrous creatures from folklore are real, and the humans are violent outcasts in the wilds. Here Tan-Tan must reach into the heart of myth–and become the Robber Queen herself. For only the Robber Queen’s legendary powers can save her life…and set her free.

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  • Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas (YA)

A story about a dangerously curious young undergraduate whose rebelliousness leads her to discover a shocking secret involving an exclusive circle of students . . . and the dark truth beneath her school’s promise of prestige.

You are in the house and the house is in the woods.
You are in the house and the house is in you . . .
 

Catherine House is a school of higher learning like no other. Hidden deep in the woods of rural Pennsylvania, this crucible of reformist liberal arts study with its experimental curriculum, wildly selective admissions policy, and formidable endowment, has produced some of the world’s best minds: prize-winning authors, artists, inventors, Supreme Court justices, presidents. For those lucky few selected, tuition, room, and board are free. But acceptance comes with a price. Students are required to give the House three years—summers included—completely removed from the outside world. Family, friends, television, music, even their clothing must be left behind. In return, the school promises its graduates a future of sublime power and prestige, and that they can become anything or anyone they desire.

Among this year’s incoming class is Ines, who expects to trade blurry nights of parties, pills, cruel friends, and dangerous men for rigorous intellectual discipline—only to discover an environment of sanctioned revelry. The school’s enigmatic director, Viktória, encourages the students to explore, to expand their minds, to find themselves and their place within the formidable black iron gates of Catherine. 

For Ines, Catherine is the closest thing to a home she’s ever had, and her serious, timid roommate, Baby, soon becomes an unlikely friend. Yet the House’s strange protocols make this refuge, with its worn velvet and weathered leather, feel increasingly like a gilded prison. And when Baby’s obsessive desire for acceptance ends in tragedy, Ines begins to suspect that the school—in all its shabby splendor, hallowed history, advanced theories, and controlled decadence—might be hiding a dangerous agenda that is connected to a secretive, tightly knit group of students selected to study its most promising and mysterious curriculum.

Sketchy schools, hidden secrets, dark academia like vibes…I am looking.

Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop

  • Vampires of Portlandia by Jason Tanamor (Adult)

When Marcella Leones relocates her family of aswang vampires from the Philippines to Portland, Oregon, she raises her grandchildren under strict rules so humans will not expose them. Her only wish is to give them a peaceful life, far away from the hunters and the Filipino government that attempted to exterminate them. 

Before she dies, she passes on the power to her eldest grandchild, Percival. He vows to uphold the rules set forth by Leones, allowing his family to roam freely without notice. After all, they are aswangs.

However, when the aswang covenant is broken, the murder rate in Portland rises drastically. Who is behind the murders? And who is behind the broken covenant? Along with sensie Penelope Jane, Percival must find the truth.

It’s then they discover that there are other breeds of aswangs—werebeasts, witches, ghouls, and viscera—who have been residing in Portland for years.

Based on Filipino folklore (aswang), “Vampires of Portlandia” is a fantastical tale of different monsters coexisting in the weirdest city in America.

Filipino vampires? Yes, please!

Goodreads

  • Daughters of Nri by Reni K Amayo (YA)

A gruesome war results in the old gods’ departure from earth. The only remnants of their existence lie in two girls. Twins, separated at birth. Goddesses who grow up believing that they are human. Daughters Of Nri explores their epic journey of self-discovery as they embark on a path back to one another.

Strong-willed Naala grows up seeking adventure in her quiet and small village. While the more reserved Sinai resides in the cold and political palace of Nri. Though miles apart, both girls share an indestructible bond: they share the same blood, the same face, and possess the same unspoken magic, thought to have vanished with the lost gods.

The twin girls were separated at birth, a price paid to ensure their survival from Eze Ochichiri, the man who rules the Kingdom of Nri. Both girls are tested in ways that awaken a mystical, formidable power deep within themselves. Eventually, their paths both lead back to the mighty Eze.

But can they defeat the man who brought the gods themselves to their knees?

I thought whether or not I should add this but what better time is there for Black girl magic, deities, Igbo mythology and culture than spooky season. Also the cover made it impossible to ignore lol.

Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop

  • Lakewood by Megan Giddings (Adult)

A startling debut about class and race, Lakewood evokes a terrifying world of medical experimentation—part The Handmaid’s Tale, part The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

When Lena Johnson’s beloved grandmother dies, and the full extent of the family debt is revealed, the black millennial drops out of college to support her family and takes a job in the mysterious and remote town of Lakewood, Michigan.

On paper, her new job is too good to be true. High paying. No out of pocket medical expenses. A free place to live. All Lena has to do is participate in a secret program—and lie to her friends and family about the research being done in Lakewood. An eye drop that makes brown eyes blue, a medication that could be a cure for dementia, golden pills promised to make all bad thoughts go away.

The discoveries made in Lakewood, Lena is told, will change the world—but the consequences for the subjects involved could be devastating. As the truths of the program reveal themselves, Lena learns how much she’s willing to sacrifice for the sake of her family.

Provocative and thrilling, Lakewood is a breathtaking novel that takes an unflinching look at the moral dilemmas many working-class families face, and the horror that has been forced on black bodies in the name of science.

I’m ashamed to say that I almost forgot about this book. I first knew about this book in February when I was making my compilation of books by Black authors this year and this book peaked my curiosity. I can’t believe I haven’t read it yet, but during this season I will.

Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop

  • The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones (Adult)

Seamlessly blending classic horror and a dramatic narrative with sharp social commentary, The Only Good Indians follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives. Tracked by an entity bent on revenge, these childhood friends are helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in a violent, vengeful way.

The creeping horror of Paul Tremblay meets Tommy Orange’s There There in a dark novel of revenge, cultural identity, and the cost of breaking from tradition in this latest novel from the Jordan Peele of horror literature, Stephen Graham Jones.

Ok, this book sounds absolutely creepy and I’m not sure I whether or not to read it for my own sake.

Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop

Anthologies 

  • Vampires Never Get Old: Tales With Fresh Bite (Anthology)

Eleven fresh vampire stories from young adult fiction’s leading voices!

In this delicious new collection, you’ll find stories about lurking vampires of social media, rebellious vampires hungry for more than just blood, eager vampires coming out―and going out for their first kill―and other bold, breathtaking, dangerous, dreamy, eerie, iconic, powerful creatures of the night.

Welcome to the evolution of the vampire―and a revolution on the page.

Vampires Never Get Old includes stories by authors both bestselling and acclaimed, including Samira Ahmed, Dhonielle Clayton, Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker, Tessa Gratton, Heidi Heilig, Julie Murphy, Mark Oshiro, Rebecca Roanhorse, Laura Ruby, Victoria “V. E.” Schwab, and Kayla Whaley.

I have only one to say…vampires!

Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop

  • His Hideous Heart (Anthology)

Thirteen of YA’s most celebrated names reimagine Edgar Allan Poe’s most surprising, unsettling, and popular tales for a new generation.

Edgar Allan Poe may be a hundred and fifty years beyond this world, but the themes of his beloved works have much in common with modern young adult fiction. Whether the stories are familiar to readers or discovered for the first time, readers will revel in Edgar Allan Poe’s classic tales, and how they’ve been brought to life in 13 unique and unforgettable ways.

Contributors include Kendare Blake (reimagining “Metzengerstein”), Rin Chupeco (“The Murders in the Rue Morge”), Lamar Giles (“The Oval Portrait”), Tessa Gratton (“Annabel Lee”), Tiffany D. Jackson (“The Cask of Amontillado”), Stephanie Kuehn (“The Tell-Tale Heart”), Emily Lloyd-Jones (“The Purloined Letter”), Hillary Monahan (“The Masque of the Red Death”), Marieke Nijkamp (“Hop-Frog”), Caleb Roehrig (“The Pit and the Pendulum”), and Fran Wilde (“The Fall of the House of Usher”).

Not gonna lie, they had me at Rin Chupeco and Tiffany D Jackson. 

Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop


And that’s it from me today! I hope you’ve found one or two books you’d love to read on this list and you have an amazing new season (if it’s fall for you and if it isn’t I hope you still have an amazing few weeks ahead).

Till next time!


Tell me about your favourite creepy book!

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BLOG TOUR: PUNCHING THE AIR REVIEW

Title: Punching the Air

Author(s): Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam

Publisher: Balzer+Bray

Publishing Date: Sept. 1st 2020

Pages: 400

Age Category & Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, Fiction, Poetry

BLURB

From award-winning, bestselling author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five comes a powerful YA novel in verse about a boy who is wrongfully incarcerated. Perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds, Walter Dean Myers, and Elizabeth Acevedo.

The story that I thought

was my life

didn’t start on the day

I was born

Amal Shahid has always been an artist and a poet. But even in a diverse art school, he’s seen as disruptive and unmotivated by a biased system. Then one fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy. “Boys just being boys” turns out to be true only when those boys are white.

The story that I think

will be my life

starts today

Suddenly, at just sixteen years old, Amal’s bright future is upended: he is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. This never should have been his story. But can he change it?

With spellbinding lyricism, award-winning author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam tell a moving and deeply profound story about how one boy is able to maintain his humanity and fight for the truth, in a system designed to strip him of both.

|CW: racism, microaggression, violence, use of racial slurs|

Rating: 5 out of 5.

5 stars for Punching the Air

|Disclaimer: I was provided with this advanced review copy by HarperCollins International and Edelweiss for in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.|

Punching the Air is a realistic and touching story about a sixteen year old Black Muslim boy, Amal Shahid, who is wrongly incarcerated for a crime he didn’t commit.

This book blew me away with how simply brilliant it was. If it was possible for me to highlight the entire ARC, I think I would have. From the very beginning, Punching the Air literally had punched me in the guts, but quite seriously this book hooked me and had me emotional.

Punching the Air explores, or rather displays, racism, judicial racism, the prison industry and the reality of being Black in the US or anywhere else in the world where we’re seen as other.

Amal is an example of thousands of other Black boy, and in extension Black people, are wrongly sentenced by a broken system or maybe it isn’t truly broken but simply designed that way. A system that criminalises and dehumanises Black bodies. A system that calls Black teens and babies adults. A system that would call a Black sixteen year old boy a young man, but a white boy of the same age a mere boy. A system that is supposed to be fair and see in black and white, and it does see in Black and White. It sees that Black is guilty and evil, and White is innocent and pure.

Punching the Air is a story that shows how this system, which exists almost everywhere, harms Black people. How Black people are judged by the colour of our skins, because our skins must tell our entire stories, right?

While I must stay the message in Punching the Air makes it a masterpiece already, the writing itself is a wonder on its own.

I’ve never read a full story in verse, and I’m glad Punching the Air was my introduction to this beautiful form of writing. Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam’s writing conveyed the story expertly. They had me feeling everything Amal was feeling. For the duration of time I was reading this book, I was this sixteen year old boy who loved poetry and art, who had high hopes, dreams and aspirations, who just had my life uprooted and my story rewritten. That is how good the writing and delivery was.

A must read…

I feel like I haven’t done this book justice and I probably won’t ever be able to even if I had all the right words because how can I ever put them all together.

This is one of the best books I’ve ever read and I’d like to thank the authors for enriching my life with this work.

Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Book Depository | Goodreads


About the Authors

Ibi Zoboi was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and holds an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her novel American Street was a National Book Award finalist and a New York Times Notable Book. She is also the author of Pride and My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich, a New York Times bestseller, and Punching the Air with co-author and Exonerated Five member, Yusef Salaam. She is the editor of the anthology Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America. Raised in New York City, she now lives in New Jersey with her husband and their three children.

Dr. Yusef Salaam was just fifteen years old when his life was upended after being wrongly convicted with four other boys in the “Central Park jogger” case. In 2002, after the young men spent years of their lives behind bars, their sentences were overturned. Now known as the Exonerated Five, their story has been documented in the award-winning film The Central Park Five by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon and in Ava DuVernay’s highly acclaimed series When They See Us. Yusef is now a poet, activist, and inspirational speaker. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from President Barack Obama, among other honors. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife, Sanovia, and their children. You can find him online at http://www.yusefspeaks.com.


Giveaway

Enter below to win a copy of Punching the Air! This giveaway is open internationally and sponsored by HarperCollins International. And will end on September 30, 2020.

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You can check out the rest of the tour here


Have you read Punching the Air yet? What’s a book you adored lately?

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Raybearer Blog Tour: Interview with Jordan Ifueko+ ARC Review

raybearer blog tour banner

Hello everyone!

Today, I’m so excited to interview the author of one of my favourite books of this year, Jordan Ifueko, who is this the author of the African inspired YA fantasy, Raybearer; and also to share my review of her brilliant debut.  

This interview is done in collaboration with Hear Our Voice Book Tours. You can check out the other posts on the tour here .

Q: Hello, Jordan! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today. Before I go on with the interview, congratulations on your debut Raybearer, I’m so excited to read your book. So, can you tell us a little about you and your book?

A: Thanks for having me!

I’m a Nigerian American Anxious Afro Dream Girl. I write about magic Black girls who aren’t magic all the time, because sometimes they need a vacation.

The elevator pitch for my debut novel, RAYBEARER:

In a global empire, a love-starved prodigy is coerced by her mother to join a divine crown prince’s council. Her mission? Earn his trust. Swear her love. And to her horror…kill him.

Q:  I believe in starting an interview with something light to ease any seriousness and this particular question started as a joke on Twitter, but I love it still. What’s your favourite Winne the Pooh character

A: You know what? Even as a kid, I had a deep abiding sympathy with Rabbit. I knew I was supposed to laugh at him for being crabby, but I never could. Of course he’s grumpy! People keep disturbing his nice sensible gardens! He’s the only adult in the room!

Q: It’s known that I have a bias to African inspired fantasies being an African myself and I’m always curious and pleased when I read one by a Black author and my question now is this; what was your biggest inspiration to write Raybearer?

A: Storytelling in the tradition of griots, who are oral historians/musicians in West African culture, feature prominently in RAYBEARER, albeit with a fantasy twist. I grew up with a lot of folktales from my parents, like those of Anansi the Spider. However, I’m a blend of many cultures. Nigeria was a British colony until the 1960s, so British literature and fairytales are a major influence of mine as well.

I started writing RAYBEARER 13ish years ago, when I was 13! RAYBEARER features a group of children who are handpicked to be raised in isolation with the future emperor, and groomed to someday rule the empire of Aritsar. At the time, I was attending a tiny school of close-knit kids–my graduating class was only 17 people. We took ourselves extremely seriously, so it wasn’t hard to imagine we would someday rule the world, ha

RAYBEARER also deals with the trauma we inherit from our ancestors, and so the book explores some difficult familial relationships as well.

Q: A lot of authors from marginalised communities write things they wish or want to read into their books. Did you do this in Raybearer, and what are these themes/elements/tropes?

A: I wrote what I wanted to read as a young teen Black girl. One thing I often grew up reading in Eurocentric fantasy are female characters that are treated with reverence, protected physically, and waited on by servants. I remember distinctly realizing that Black women and girls are rarely treated this way in fiction (and of course, rarely ever in real life). That’s why Tarisai, RAYBEARER’s protagonist, is given a lot of societal privilege from the get-go– I was tired about stories about Black girls treated roughly by their environments.

Q: Writing is like any other creative process, writers have their favourite and least favourite parts of their works. What were your favourite parts to write?

A: I love writing descriptions of places, food, and clothing. I am a plantain enthusiast and own an embarrassing amount of fabric, but I can’t stop buying it–there’s something so sensual about beautifully woven textiles, especially West African ones.

Q: Were there any parts of the book that didn’t quite make it to the final stage and how did you feel to let those parts go?

A: Many, many interactions between Tarisai and her council family ended up being cut, because they didn’t move the plot forward in a significant way. I still miss those parts, because teen me would have loved to live in an Afrocentric castle with my best friends!

Q: To close this interview, I’ll be asking you the same question I ask every author I interview. If you could pitch your book in 7 words, what will they be?

A: Bonds. Purpose. Empire. Sacrifice. Dynasties. Afros. Longing.

Publisher: Amulet Books

Release Date: August 18, 2020

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

BLURB

The epic debut YA fantasy from an incredible new talent—perfect for fans of Tomi Adeyemi and Sabaa Tahir

Nothing is more important than loyalty.

But what if you’ve sworn to protect the one you were born to destroy?

Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood. That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong somewhere. But The Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn—but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself? With extraordinary world-building and breathtaking prose, Raybearer is the story of loyalty, fate, and the lengths we’re willing to go for the ones we love.

|CW: parental neglect, manipulation, off page rape, off page sex scenes (consensual), on page sex scene (consensual), misogyny, regicide, fire, child abuse, domestic abuse, attempted murder, death, fascism, colonisation, enslavement|

Black, POC (several races), anxiety, PTSD

5 full stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Disclaimer: I was provided with this advanced review copy by Hear Our Voices Book Tours and Amulet Books in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

A lush fantasy that explores so many themes and complexities, Raybearer is a brilliant debut.

Raybearer is a beautiful West African inspired fantasy. Set in the fictional world of Aritsar, almost completely by a singular and ancient empire, it follows love and touch starved Tarisai who befriends the young prince and joins his council while under a compulsion to kill him when he loves her the most.

Raybearer takes place over a somewhat broad timeline, covering parts of Tarisai’s childhood and spanning into her adulthood.

One thing I adored about Raybearer is its application of themes and tropes. Raybearer contains a multitude of themes and tropes, many native to YA fantasy but the application of these is just simply brilliant. It takes all these tropes, some overused and overdone, some not overdone but ever present, and some new and dream-like especially for Black folks and weaves them so perfectly and makes the old seem new, and the new magical. Tropes and themes, I’ve always wished to see Black characters and POC in, are just here in the book and wonderfully done too. Themes and tropes Black people and POC have never had the chance to see ourselves in, characters we haven’t had the chance to be. Black royalty and Black people being loved. Soft Black boys and boys of colour. Found family and close friendships. Seeing all this left me feeling full.

I cannot talk about the things I loved about this book without mentioning the amazing world building. Aritsar, the world Raybearer is set in, is as solid as any world I’ve ever read in a book. With different cultures, most based on real life cultures and regions, magic system, lore and its complex politics. But I must say my favourite thing about the world is the infusion of West African cultures, most noticeably Yoruba culture. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of seeing my culture in books and Raybearer is one of the books that incorporates it so well. The names,the food, the dresses, the naming and belief about certain landscapes and some of the myths have roots in these cultures . Make no mistake, the world building of  Raybearer is its own, but these little additions were just everything to me.

The writing in Raybearer was also as good. You know those books that have wonderful concepts and world building,but lack execution? That’s not Raybearer.

The writing is atmospheric and engages all your senses. I loved Jordan Ifueko’s writing. It was clear and easy to follow, while also magical. You feel every characters feels and its just amazing. The pacing was also great. The book started off slowly, building the background and the grew faster as it went on. The transition in the pace was smooth and nice. 

A book about finding self, the characters in Raybearer were amazing

 

The brilliant plot, world building and writing apart, I think the characters were my favourite thing about this book.

The characters in Raybearer and their relationships are complex. The characters with their flaws and faults; their inspirations and complexities. And the relationships equally as complex. Not quite as simple, not quite definable. Some sweet and soothing like the relationship of the council siblings. Some hard and so damn complicated, like the relationship between Tarisai and The Lady, her mother, and the relationship between The Lady and the world that made her as she is.

My favourite characters are pretty easy to guess, at least some of them are. Tarisai and her council siblings, especially Dayo, Kirah and Sanjeet. And some are unexpected especially if you’re just starting the book; The Lady, a truly complex character, Woo In, Mbali and Ye Eun.

The character development and arcs were amazing too. For Tarisai, it was learning about herself. About her dreams, her wants, her purpose, her belly song. For The Lady, we see how she became as she is. The Lady is one of the best characters in this book. She is the perfect anti-hero. Her character is so layered. It’s hard to hate her, it’s impossible to forgive her actions, but you can understand her. I still can’t believe she made me cry, but she is the character. 

Another character central character who deserves another mention is Ẹkundayọ (yes, i will always be too extra 😌✨. and the only reason the name isn’t fully extra is because i suck at intonation) Kunleo. Dayo is such a sweet and gentle character. He’s the definition of baby. I just want to pick him up and put him in my pocket along with Sanjeet who is also as soft and my child, Tarisai. I loved his character so much, the softness in him that Black boys in fiction aren’t allowed to have. His love for his council siblings and his understanding for Tarisai. He’s honestly one of the purest Black boys I’ve ever read and the fact that he’s also biromantic and asexual made my heart squeal because of representation!

Raybearer is a story about self discovery and agency, about justice and setting the scales right, about loyalty and love.

I feel like I’ve rambled all too much about this book, but I can’t end it yet without mentioning the core themes here. Raybearer is a compelling story about justice, the length one is willing to go to get it and how they extract it. It’s about birthright, power, purpose, loyalty and love. In my placeholder review on Goodreads, I mentioned comparing Raybearer to my other favourite YA fantasy of this year and realising they aren’t the same. I’ll repeat what I said that Raybearer is like homecoming. It’s that book I didn’t know I needed or I knew. It’s like home — achingly familiar, magical, warming and wonderful. Like a hug. 

A million times recommended. Wake me up when the sequel is out because I don’t know how to exist anymore.

Links:

Indiebound | Target | Barnes & Noble | Powells | Amazon | Waterstones | AUDIOBOOK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jordan Ifueko is a Nigerian-American author of Young Adult fiction. She stans revolutionary girls and 4C curls. RAYBEARER is her debut novel.

GoodreadsTwitterInstagram | Website


Thank you again to Jordan Ifueko for taking out some of her time to chat with me and to HOV Book Tours for this opportunity. I hope y’all buy and love this book because it has all of my heart.

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Series Review: The Feverwake Duology

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|Content warnings: Racism, xenophobia, generational trauma, manipulation, domestic abuse, violence, gore, death, blood, rape, murder, depression mention of an eating disorder, mention of suicide and suicidal ideation, loss of a love one, fascism, addiction, ableist language, slut-shaming|

(this is combined list of content/trigger warnings for both books)

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Bisexual Jewish mc, gay POC Jewish mc/li, Jewish major sc, Black side characters, sapphic side character, queer side characters, biracial mc

The Fever King

BLURB

In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

(minor spoiler in review)

The Fever King, the first book of the Feverwake duology follows Noam, the son of Altantian immigrants in Carolina, a futuristic United States (or more accurately a part of it) from when he wakes up in a containment centre after surviving a strain of the deadly virus, Magic, marking him as ‘Witching’ and as the joins the highest ranks of witchings working for the state, Level IV. Set in this pandemic filled state, it follows Noam’s rise from a significantly powerless immigrant to one of the rarest and most powerful witchings, all the while planning the downfall of the government he works for.
The Fever King is a dark and rich novel about the complexities of power, politics and corruption, with themes on racism and xenophobia.
I find it a bit ironic that I read this book about pandemic during one, and that I also happened to enjoy it. The Fever King has to be one of the most impressive books I’ve read since the start of the year. Despite the number of times I was going to be shocked by this book and how prepared I was, it didn’t really hit me until it did…especially Lehrer.
I won’t lie, but the one thing I found most impressive about this novel and the duology in total, more than the themes of racism and xenophobia,was the villain Lehrer and his perfect manipulations. Lehrer is one of the best written villains I’ve read and even if I didn’t love this duology, Lee deserves my respect for writing him. Just when you think you had him figured out, he surprises you.
I guess another thing is that the darkness of the book and the villain more impactful is the main character. Noam is a naive character with an astonishing single minded tenacity. It’s one of the reasons he’s likeable and one reason the book is as intense as it is.
Now to the reason I didn’t rate this book above 4 stars, two reasons actually. Noam and Dara’s relationship is one of my favourite things about this book. Seeing my two precious baby gays (technically only Dara is gay and Noam is bi) together was sweet. While their relationship wasn’t entirely a smooth sailing, it was cute…mostly cute. One of the issues I had is tied to their relationship. Minor spoiler here: When Dara tells Noam he had read this mind, which was I guess inevitable because of Dara’s presenting ability, I didn’t feel right with me. Yes, I understand he can’t resist it and it’s presenting power but it felt wild and violatory to me. The second reason was the ending of the book didn’t seem to fit in smoothly into the book. It seemed more like an epilogue which I guess it’s what it actually is, but it would have been a lot better for me if it had been called an epilogue.
All in all it was a great book. Lee weaves a perfectly dark and twisty novel and I would definitely recommend it.

Rating: 4 stars (⭐⭐⭐⭐)
Links

Storygraph

Goodreads

Bookshop

Book Depository

Amazon

The Electric Heir

BLURB

In the sequel to The Fever King, Noam Álvaro seeks to end tyranny before he becomes a tyrant himself.

Six months after Noam Álvaro helped overthrow the despotic government of Carolinia, the Atlantians have gained citizenship, and Lehrer is chancellor. But despite Lehrer’s image as a progressive humanitarian leader, Noam has finally remembered the truth that Lehrer forced him to forget—that Lehrer is responsible for the deadly magic infection that ravaged Carolinia.

Now that Noam remembers the full extent of Lehrer’s crimes, he’s determined to use his influence with Lehrer to bring him down for good. If Lehrer realizes Noam has evaded his control—and that Noam is plotting against him—Noam’s dead. So he must keep playing the role of Lehrer’s protégé until he can steal enough vaccine to stop the virus.

Meanwhile Dara Shirazi returns to Carolinia, his magic stripped by the same vaccine that saved his life. But Dara’s attempts to ally himself with Noam prove that their methods for defeating Lehrer are violently misaligned. Dara fears Noam has only gotten himself more deeply entangled in Lehrer’s web. Sooner or later, playing double agent might cost Noam his life.

The Electric Heir, the second and final book of the duology picks up six months after The Fever King and after Noam has succeeded in helping Lehrer overthrow the sitting government. Noam has become Lehrer’s favoured pawn and has remembered what happened six months ago, but he is still yet a subject to Lehrer’s whim. Noam plays the dangerous double game of working to bring down Lehrer while remaining by his side as his perfect prodigy.
The Electric Heir is literally an extension of The Fever King, but this sequel is much darker than the first book.
Noam, our still extremely naive and stubborn main character — well now, one of the main characters —, is in a huge mess, one he had a hand in creating. Being both heavily burdened with the guilt of the things he’s done for Lehrer, under his command and trying to find a way to defeat him, while wanting him to believe he’s on his side.
Dara also is back in town, but changed. Like Noam, Dara has one main objective to take Lehrer down and maybe reconnect with the boy he loves, but things aren’t the way he left them six months and just like him, Noam has changed.
I feel the most striking thing about this book is the conversations on abuse and healing. Noam finds himself in a predatory and abusive relationship, where he has significantly less power and is manipulated by his partner, and Dara, himself, had once been the one Noam was in this relationship. While Noam struggles with being trapped in this toxic relationship, Dara is currently trying to recover from the effects of it
The Electric Heir talks about hard topics like rape, statutory rape, major depressive disorder, anxiety, alcoholism and suicidial ideation. It’s not a pretty book, its dark, darker than its predecessor and heartbreaking.
While I felt the climax of the book was a little underwhelming, I really did love this book. The twists in plots and the sheer brilliance of the villain, like I said in my review for The Fever King, once when you think you’ve figured Lehrer out, he does something to surprise you.
I loved the resolution of the book. It made me so happy to see the main characters happen, in love and recovering.
The Feverwake Duology is a definite recommend.
Rating: 4.5 stars (⭐⭐⭐⭐★)

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Have you read the Feverwake duology? How did you feel about it?


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ARC Review: And The Stars Were Burning Brightly

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BLURB

 

An emotionally rich and current story of suicide, mental health, bullying, grief and growing up around social media.

When fifteen-year-old Nathan discovers that his older brother Al has taken his own life, his whole world is torn apart.
Al was special.
Al was talented.
Al was full of passion and light…so why did he do it?
Convinced that his brother was in trouble, Nathan begins to retrace his footsteps. And along the way, he meets Megan. Al’s former classmate, who burns with the same fire and hope, who is determined to keep Al’s memory alive. But when Nathan learns the horrifying truth behind his brother’s suicide, one question remains – how do you survive, when you’re growing up in the age of social media?

CW: Bullying, depression, suicide, loss of a loved one, racism, homophobia, grief

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Black mc, gay side character

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⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

5 stars 

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A brilliant book about grief, mental health and bullying, And The Stars Were Burning Brightly is one of the best books I’ve ever read

I read this book on the last day of March and didn’t review back then because I knew if I thought too deeply and tried to analyse this book I’ll be bawling at 1am. That is how good this book is.

And The Stars Were Burning Were Burning Brightly is a story told in dual POVs, following Al’s brother and best friend, Nate and Megan has they deal with their grief after he dies by suicide.

So I know there’s no way I’ll write this review without crying. This book has one of best representations of grief and how odd it truly is. How you think you’re over the loss of someone and something happens or you lose someone else, and you don’t how to separate your pain and grief and you don’t know whether you’re mourning for now or then. The depression and bullying rep too is perfect, so because of how brilliant this book is I’ll put myself through pain.

Nate and Megan had different ways of handling their grief. For Nate, he wanted to know what happened to his brother, because the Al he knew was brilliant as the stars he loved and it didn’t make sense to him. And Megan wanted Al to be remembered for what he really was, a brilliant artist and a wonderful person. Reading from both their perspectives and seeing tiny snippets of who Al was made this book even more beautiful and heartbreaking.

ATSWBB does a brilliant job exploring the duality social media and cyberbullying. Al’s bullies used social media to torment so bad he gave up and his best friend, Megan uses this same vast network to ensure he’s remembered for the star he was.

ATSWBB was an amazing book also because of the writing. Danielle Jawando’s writing is honest and poignant, and her style of writing is simply amazing. I love when Black authors write not following the rules of standard English, but how the language styles of their communities. I was a little shocked when I came into the book, but the writing style helped me connect with the book even more.

Characters like the stars…

The characters of And The Stars Were Burning Brightly were amazing. I found them really relatable and so dear to me.

They were as messy, angry and vulnerable as teenagers can be. I love them so much and I could say something more constructive, but I don’t quite have the words.

An always recommend…

And The Stars Were Burning Bright is a book I’ll recommend to anyone and everyone. It’s a beautiful book about grief, depression, escape and life in the age of social media.

1000% recommend and don’t forget the tissues.

 

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