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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What Book Blogging Costs Me

Hello book lovers! Welcome back to my chaotic corner. Today I’ll be talking about something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

This post is mostly inspired by all the shit that has been going on in the book community lately, and by lately, I guess I can say for the past three or so months. These events aren’t limited to this short timeline, actually they’re recurring issues in the community but they’ve occurred far too much and too closely lately.

First I’d like to state a common and well known fact. Bloggers are unappreciated, international and marginalised bloggers even more so. If you’re a blogger, your effort isn’t as valued (well by publishers) as much as your counterparts on other platforms. Now, if you’re also international or/and marginalised, it’s going to be harder for you than for the average privileged (from location, race, identity and socioeconomic class) book blogger and that’s pretty difficult. And to be honest, being underappreciated or ignored is the easiest of the downsides of book blogging, the worst is the abuse or maybe I should be nicer and call it mistreatment. It’s the subtweeting, harassing, gaslighting and defamation from people a little higher up the chain than you are. It’s the ghosting and being taken advantage of. There’s a lot book bloggers go through for people who promote and market books for free. We do it for fucking free.

Now to the post proper. I should probably start by introducing myself again and properly. I mean stuff that should be on my about me page if I got my shit together long enough to finish it.

Hi! I’m a Black queer Muslim blogger from Nigeria, a third world country. My country is in a permanent recession (or are we in a depression right now?) and our currency isn’t worth much in the global stock market. Apart from that, we have a huge class difference and a high poverty rate. If you aren’t rich, you’re probably poor and the middle class is more close to the poverty line than anything. And my family isn’t rich! So in either place we fall in the class categories, it doesn’t look so good. My country also doesn’t have the fancy thing called libraries. Libraries here are few and only for educational pursuits.

I’m also a fourth year student of nursing science and I live with anxiety, persistent depressive disorder, and chronic pain. And I blog at my free time which is nonexistent. I should also mention that I don’t have a job because the way the educational system is structured in my country doesn’t give room for that, especially for medical and paramedical students.

Now that we’ve covered the basic things about me and the things that inadvertently affect my reading and blogging experience let’s talk about blogging costs me; financially, mentally and socially.

FINANCIALLY 

Yes, first we’re starting with money talk.

I’ve already established that: 1) I’m from a third world country in an economic crisis. 2) I’m not from a wealthy family and with the class difference, being part of the lower middle class isn’t much. 3) I am a student at a university and have no job, so in essence I’m fully dependent on my parents. 4) Libraries and accessibility of books is a dream here.

I have quite a lot to say in this segment and multiple angles to explore, so I’ll be breaking this down into subtopics.

  1. Books and Finance.
  2. The Cost of Running a Blog.
  • Books and Finance 

I’ve already given a brief introduction to this subject, but I’ll go deeper here.

Simply put, here in Nigeria we don’t have much of a reading culture. Not a lot of people read recreationally and it’s reflected in how accessible books are made.

Libraries aren’t created or funded or equipped for recreational reading. Bookstores usually have more self help, religious books and locally published books, most of which are available only because they’re included in the school curriculum. Some bigger bookstores sell fiction not entirely created for school reading, but for people who just love to read, but these books are mostly local published. International books are available only at a few bookstores and when they’re available, they are incredibly expensive.

One of the most laughable and unrealistic things I see from people online is when they talk about buying books and bookish content creation is a labour of love. I’m usually torn between being irritated or finding it adorable, because wow imagine thinking books are so readily accessible or affordable for everyone. It’s such a privileged and innocent take.

Now we’re talking books and money, let me roughly convert some major currencies to the Nigerian currency, Naira, or rather convert Naira to them. The equivalent of a US Dollar is 377.00 Naira. An euro converts to 444.67 Naira and a British pound is equivalent to 488.34 Naira. So in case you missed it somehow, with exchange rate and shipping, done by an individual or an enterprise, books are fucking expensive.

It also doesn’t help that we have very limited sources for books. Book Depository might ship to most corners of the world, but it hasn’t covered half of Africa yet and Nigeria is one of the forgotten places. Amazon Kindle is currently restricted in Nigeria so I guess no ebooks for us. Books on Kobo are hardly available to us too. Shipping with Amazon, would cost an arm and a leg for a student like me and sometimes costs even twice the amount of the book. Even if I’m able to buy a book and ship it safely, I’ll still have to pay a fee at the post office to get it. So again if you didn’t understand, books are expensive.

Books can be expensive enough to cost my groceries at school for a month. Sometimes a book costs as much as a banquet at a 5 stars hotel, and all that precious purity aside, I will without any hesitation or a second thought choose food over books. I apologise to the labour of love crowd, but I choose sustenance and treating myself once in a while.

The only avenues to get books available to us which I’m extremely grateful for are these few bookstores, Scribd and one I recently found thanks to Mafalda, Blackwells.

So please, next time you have your quirky or hot take to make, think about people like me that find it hard to access books and buy books. Think about all international bloggers.

  • The Cost of Running a Blog

Oh now I have so much to say or maybe not much because this is hard to articulate.

One of my greatest annoyances when someone comes on Twitter to bash book bloggers is they don’t know how much what we do costs us, particularly financially. Like I said before, book bloggers promote books for free but to be a book blogger is to prepare to spend money, a rather major fact I didn’t know before starting my blog.

The cost of running a book blog to the benefits of it, runs in negatives. To be a blogger who’s taken seriously, you need to be on the top of your game.

You need to be able to buy the latest or semi latest books. You need to be online and readily available on your social media because personality and approachability goes a long way. You need to have a decent looking blog, because nicer aesthetics does help get a larger audience. Sometimes you’ll have to have giveaways to grow your following. You need to be updated, and all these costs money.

To have a professional looking website/blog, you’ll have to spend on it and if you can’t you’ll have to learn to make it work somehow. Which means graphic making attempts which you’ll have to be on the internet to do (which also costs money). Being active on social media also requires constant internet. 

Like I said before, I’m just a uni student with no job and a lot of stress. I run my blog independently and pay all the costs that come with it myself. To help my platform grow, I’m almost constantly online. I’m either on social media talking about books and things related to books or researching stuff for my blog or supporting other bloggers or making graphics or trying to improve my blog. I do all this at a self acquired cost. To constantly be online, my already sky high because of school and school related research internet usage shoots high each month and each month I pay for it myself from my monthly allowance.

It’s part of the reason, I’m not really on bookstagram much because I need to manage my finances and not spend all the money I should use on myself on my blog and bookstagram. Also speaking of bookstagram, it’s quite hard for me to navigate the highly material trends as a perpetually broke uni student in a third world country.

A chunk of my finances go to running this blog and it hurts so much when someone says I’m not worthy of compensation or decides to harass me for my work.

MENTALLY 

I’m about to get very real with you all here. I’ve talked a lot about how much book blogging costs me financially but for me the largest cost has been mentally.

If you recall, I said I was a 4th year student of Nursing science living with anxiety, persistent depressive disorder and chronic pain. What I didn’t say before is as a 4th year nursing student, I’ve had 2 years starting from my second year of almost no holidays, writing exams just before or after festive breaks and dedicating my semester breaks to clinical work experience which for reference is also unpaid. Another thing I didn’t say is I spent at least ¾ of the past two years in on and off depressive episodes , and as I write this post I’ve been recently diagnosed with severe depression in addition to my dysthymia which means I’ve felt like absolute shit for most of the year.

Studying nursing is rough. Very rough. One of my best friends (who isn’t in the profession) says it’s a full time job. For me and the other students at my uni, it’s studying for a minimum of 22 course units (which I just get to take this year) each semester and a maximum/steady rate of 24 units. It’s having classes from 9am to 4pm every weekday with one day dedicated to a full shift at the hospital. It’s also having classes on the weekends because your syllabus is too broad to fit into the schedule. It’s spending your nights up trying to finish assignments and during exam season sleeping for less than 4 hours for a month. It’s wanting to cry and if you’re me crying because the pressure is so much. It’s studying your butt off because less than a 50% is an F and you also use a CGPA system. Being a nursing student in my country is to have your mental limits constantly exceeded.

And there’s book blogging. There’s having to be online and active. There’s having to draft posts, participate in tags, write reviews and plan readathons. It’s having my nonexistent free time dedicated to book blogging. To making TBRs, reaching my Goodreads goals and getting on top of my ARC lists. It’s another stress I don’t need as a depressed nursing student.

I also love book blogging sometimes. Sometimes it’s this fun thing to do to destress from the pressure of school. But that’s not all the time because I also do have an audience to work for and sometimes it’s too much for me.

SOCIALLY 

Here comes the funny and very short part.

If you’re my friend or have ever interacted with me, you already know I’m very shy and awkward well until I become comfortable enough to unleash my chaos. Suffering from anxiety doesn’t help either and one of my goals for the end of uni was to be more social, more open and do more things. But with the limited free time and how I dedicate a huge chunk of it to blogging it’s really hard.

I do enjoy blogging, but I don’t think if you’re not a blogger you know the amount of time creating content for a blog takes. 


I love book blogging. Sometimes it’s fun, like really fun, but sometimes it feels like a chore. Book blogging is so much more complicated than y’all paint to be. It’s so much work and book bloggers deserve so much better. This is my experience or a small condensation of it. My experience is not universal but I think all book bloggers who read this have something they can relate to.

So please treat us dignity and listen to what we say because it’s the least you can do for us. We put in so much and we don’t get enough. A book blogger asking for compensation isn’t unethical, I think it’s a good work ethic, knowing your time is worth something. Have the decency to talk things out respectfully with us and please stop ghosting us.

Support your favourite book bloggers. Boost our works, let us know when you tried something out because of us. Tip us because it goes a long way. Just treat us the way you want to be treated.

Goodnight (because it’s night, my time) from me. Support me and people of my community. Be a decent human being.

Also remember my Kofi link (if you want to tip me) is below!

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Celebrating 30+ Nigerian voices in Publishing

Hello to you and a happy new month! If you’re Nigerian, happy Independence Day! And if you’re Black anywhere in the world, it’s Black History Month and Black people deserve to be celebrated all year, so Happy Black History Month to you too.

Today 60 years ago, on the 1st of October 1960, Nigeria won her independence. While my and every Nigerian’s relationship with our motherland is complicated, in that we love her but things are to be best put complicated too, Independence Day for me is more than celebrating Nigeria herself, it’s celebrating her people — the strongest people I know. It’s about celebrating these people who live in one of harshest conditions, but still make do. That still smile, laugh and love, despite all we go through. And on here today, I want to celebrate a certain sect of Nigerian making things happen in the world.

Today on my blog, I’m celebrating 30+ Nigerian voices in publishing.


  • Akwaeke Emezi 

Author of PET, Freshwater and The Death of Vivek Oji.

Born in Umuahia and raised in Aba, Nigeria, Emezi was awarded a Global Arts Fund grant in 2017 for the video art in their project The Unblinding, and a Sozopol Fellowship for Creative Nonfiction. Their writing has been published by T Magazine, Dazed Magazine, The Cut, Buzzfeed, Granta Online, Vogue.com, and Commonwealth Writers, among others. Their memoir work was included in The Fader’s ‘Best Culture Writing of 2015’ (‘Who Will Claim You?’) and their film UDUDEAGU won the Audience Award for Best Short Experimental at the 2014 BlackStar Film Festival.

Website/Works

  • Faridah Àbíké Íyímídé

Author of Ace of Spades (10th June 2021)

Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé is a writer from South London who has dreamt of writing books about black kids saving (or destroying) the world all her life. She is an avid tea drinker, and a collector of strange mugs. She currently studies English Literature at a university in the Scottish Highlands.

Her debut novel ACE OF SPADES will be published by Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan in the US (1st June 2021) and by Usborne in the UK (10th June 2021).

Website/Works

  • Suyi Davies Okungbowa

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

Website/Works

  • Nnedi Okorafor 

Nnedi Okorafor is a Nigerian-American author of African-based science fiction and fantasy (Africanfuturism and Africanjujuism). Okorafor has won a Hugo, a Nebula, a World Fantasy Award, and a Locus Award, and her many fans include Neil Gaiman, Rick Riordan, John Green, and Ursula Le Guin. She is writing a series for Marvel about Shuri, Black Panther’s sister, and has a number of book-based projects in development for film and TV – including HBO’s adaptation of her novel Who Fears Death, with George R. R. Martin signed on as executive producer. Okorafor is also co-writing the screenplay of an adaptation of Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed with filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu for Amazon Prime Video, with Viola Davis producing. Her novel Akata Warrior (of the Akata Series) is the winner of the Lodestar and Locus Award for Best Young Adult Novel.

Website/Works

  • Jordan Ifueko 

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

Website/Works

  • Bolu Babalola 

Author of Love In Colour 

Website/Works

  • Tomi Adeyemi 

Tomi Adeyemi is a Nigerian-American writer and creative writing coach based in San Diego, California. Her debut novel, CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE, comes out March 6th, 2018 and the movie is currently in development at Fox with the producers of Twilight and The Maze Runner attached. After graduating Harvard University with an honors degree in English literature, she received a fellowship that allowed her to study West African mythology and culture in Salvador, Brazil. When she’s not working on her novels or watching Scandal, she can be found blogging and teaching creative writing to her 3,500 subscribers at tomiadeyemi.com. Her website has been named one of the 101 best websites for writers by Writer’s Digest.

Website/Works

  • Tochi Onyebuchi 

Tochi Onyebuchi is the author of Beasts Made of Night, its sequel Crown of Thunder, War Girls, and his adult fiction. debut Riot Baby, published by Tor.com in January 2020. He has graduated from Yale University, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Columbia Law School, and L’institut d’études politiques with a Masters degree in Global Business Law.

His short fiction has appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Omenana, Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America, and elsewhere. His non-fiction has appeared in Uncanny Magazine, Nowhere Magazine, Tor.com and the Harvard Journal of African-American Public Policy. He is the winner of the Ilube Nommo Award for Best Speculative Fiction Novel by an African and has appeared in Locus Magazine’s Recommended Reading list.

Born in Massachusetts and raised in Connecticut, Tochi is a consummate New Englander, preferring the way the tree leaves turn the color of fire on I-84 to mosquitoes and being able to boil eggs on pavement. He has worked in criminal justice, the tech industry, and immigration law, and prays every day for a new album from System of a Down.

Website/Works

  • Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ 

Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ is the author of STAY WITH ME, which was shortlisted for the Kwani? Manuscript Project as a work in progress in 2013. After it was published in 2017, it was shortlisted for the Baileys Prize for Women’s Fiction, the Wellcome Book Prize and the 9mobile Prize for Literature. It was also longlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize. STAY WITH ME was named a Notable Book of the Year by The New York Times and a Best Book of the Year by The Guardian, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal and many other publications. Ayọ̀bámi was born in Lagos, Nigeria.

Website/Works

  • Lola Shoneyin 

Shoneyin is an award winning British Nigerian author and poet who was named Africa Literary Person of the Year in 2017.

Her work includes three books of poems: So All the Time I Was Sitting on an Egg (1997), Song of a Riverbird (2002) and For the Love of Flight (2010) and two children’s books. Mayowa and the Masquerades(2010) won the 2011 Atiku Abubakar Prize for Children’s literature in Nigeria.

. Her bestselling novel,The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives was nominated for the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2011 and went on to win the PEN Oakland 2011 Josephine Miles Literary Award and the 2011 Ken Saro-Wiwa Prose Prize. It is being adapted for Netflix by Mo Abudu as part of the streaming platform’s commitment to original African content. It has also been adapted for the stage and was performed at the Arcola Theatre in London.

Works

  • Wole Soyinka

Wole Soyinka is the author of numerous plays. Awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature for his work that “in a wide cultural perspective and with poetic overtones fashions the drama of existence.

  • Azeenarh Mohammed 

Azeenarh Mohammed is a trained lawyer and a queer, feminist, holistic security trainer who specializes on training non-for-profit organizations on tools and tactics for digital security, physical security, and psycho-social well being.

She has worked as a state counsel prosecuting gender focused crimes against the state, as brand manager for LoveNigeria Foundation, Project Manager for Gender Democracy at Heinrich Boell Stiftung, and as a digital security fellow at Open Technology Fund.

Azeenarh is active in the queer women’s issues in Nigeria and has written on gender rights, queerness, and technology for publications like Guardian, This is Africa, Perspectives, and Premium TimesNG.

Works

  • Lara T Kareem 

Lara Tommy Kareem is a literary publicist, editor, enthusiast and blogger based in Lagos, Nigeria. She is the author of A Guide to Self-Publishing and Not Just Another Interlude a romance novel.

Website/Works

  • Tade Thompson

Tade Thompson is a British born Yoruba psychiatrist who is best known for his science fiction novels.

He lives and works in the south of England. His background is in medicine, psychiatry and social anthropology. His first novel Making Wolf won the Golden Tentacle Award at the 2016 Kitschies. His second novel Rosewater is on the 2016 Locus Recommended Reading List, and his short story “The Apologists” has been shortlisted for a British Science Fiction Association award. He enjoys jazz, comics, and baking deformed bread.

Works

  • Louisa Onome 

Louisa Onomé is a contemporary YA writer based in the Toronto area.

She is Nigerian-Canadian, holds a BA in professional writing, and works in counselling. She is also an all-around cheerleader for diverse works and writers.

When she is not writing, her hobbies include picking up languages she may never use, crying over her favourite video games, and perfecting her skincare routine.

Website/Works

  • Jane Igharo

Jane Abieyuwa Igharo was born in Nigeria and immigrated to Canada at the age of twelve. She has a journalism degree from the University of Toronto and works as a communications specialist in Ontario, Canada.

She writes about strong, audacious, beautifully flawed Nigerian women much like the ones in her life. When she isn’t writing, she’s watching “Homecoming” for the hundredth time and trying to match Beyoncé’s vocals to no avail.

Her debut novel Ties That Tether will be released by Berkley (Penguin Random House) in September 2020.

Website/Works

  • Viano Omoh

Viano Oniomoh is a passionate reader and writer, who was born and raised in Nigeria. She spends fifty percent of her time writing, forty percent reading, and the other ten listening to BTS. She may or may not use magic to get everything else in her life done. She also has no idea how to write about herself in the third person.

Website/Works

  • Deborah Falaye 

Deborah Falaye is a Nigerian-Canadian young adult author. She grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, where she spent her time devouring African literature, pestering her grandma for folktales and tricking her grandfather into watching Passions every night. When she’s not writing about fierce Black girls with bad-ass magic, she can be found obsessing over all things reality tv. 

Deborah currently lives in Toronto with her husband and their partner-in-crime yorkie, Major. 

BLOOD SCION is her first novel.

Works

  • Ijeoma Umebinyuo 

Ijeoma Umebinyuo is a Nigerian author. She was born in Lagos, Nigeria. She is the author of Questions for Ada, her first published collection of prose poems and poems. Her writings have been translated to Portuguese, Turkish, Spanish, Russian and French. In 2016, Ijeoma Umebinyuo was named one of the top ten contemporary poets from sub-sharan Africa by wrtivism.org.

Website/Works 

  • Ijeoma Oluo

Ijeoma Oluo is a Seattle-based writer, speaker, and Internet Yeller.  She’s the author of the New York Times Best-Seller So You Want to Talk about Race, published in January by Seal Press. Named one of the The Root’s 100 Most Influential African Americans in 2017, one of the Most Influential People in Seattle by Seattle Magazine, one of the 50 Most Influential Women in Seattle by Seattle Met, and winner of the of the 2018 Feminist Humanist Award by the American Humanist Society, Oluo’s work focuses primarily on issues of race and identity, feminism, social and mental health, social justice, the arts, and personal essay. Her writing has been featured in The Washington Post, NBC News, Elle Magazine, TIME, The Stranger, and the Guardian, among other outlets.

Website/Works

 

  • Reni K Amayo

Reni K Amayo is a british Nigerian author and co-founder of Onwe Press, an independent publishing company focused on highlighting unique stories from diverse voices. Reni was born and raised in London to two Nigerian immigrant parents. She has spent many years studying the intricacies of different African and specifically Nigerian, cultures, mythology & anthropology to unearth a rich history that has been obscured and forgotten across the globe. Reni’s debut novel Daughters of Nri is set in ancient Igbo land and follows two twin goddesses who have been separated at birth on their epic journey of self discovery as they embark on a path back to one another.

Works

  • Oyinkan Braithwaite 

OYINKAN BRAITHWAITE is a graduate of Creative Writing and Law from Kingston University. Following her degree, she worked as an assistant editor at Kachifo, a Nigerian publishing house, and has been freelancing as a writer and editor since. In 2014, she was shortlisted as a top-ten spoken-word artist in the Eko Poetry Slam, and in 2016 she was a finalist for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. She lives in Lagos, Nigeria.

Website/Works

  • Chimeka Garricks

Chimeka Garricks was born in Dublin, and raised in Port Harcourt (the city which, like all first loves, still inexplicably holds his heart). He is the author of the acclaimed novel, ‘Tomorrow Died Yesterday’. He started writing short stories, and eventually, ‘A Broken People’s Playlist’ to avoid working on his second novel. He would rather choose soundtracks for movies or be a DJ, but lawyering, and, erm, writing a second novel stand in his way. He lives with his wife and three children in Lagos.

Works

  • Emma Dabiri

Emma Dabiri is an Irish-Nigerian author, academic, and broadcaster. Her debut book, Don’t Touch My Hair, was first published in 2019.

Dabiri is a frequent contributor to print and online media, including The Guardian, Irish Times, Dublin Inquirer, Vice, and in academic journals. She is known for her outspokenness on issues of race and racism.

She now lives in London, where she is completing her PhD while also teaching and continuing her broadcast work.

Works

  • Chigozie Obioma

​Chigozie Obioma is the author of The Fishermen, which was a finalist for the Man Booker prize 2015, and a winner of four other awards, including an NAACP Image award, the FT/Oppenheimer prize for fiction, and several nominations. The novel, which is being translated in 26 languages, is also being adapted into a stage play. Obioma was named one of Foreign Policy’s 100 Influential People of 2015. His second novel, An Orchestra of Minorities was published in January 2019 to wide acclaim and is being translated into 18 languages. The novel was also a finalist for the Booker prize, making Obioma one of only two writers in history to be a finalist for all their published books. He is a professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and in Nigeria where he runs various projects.

Website/Works

  • Chibundu Onuzo

Chibundu Onuzo was born in Nigeria in 1991 and is the youngest of four children. She is currently studying History at Kings College, London. When not writing, Chibundu can be found playing the piano or singing.

Works

  • Chinelo Okparanta

Chinelo Okparanta was born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, and relocated to the United States at the age of ten. She received her BS from The Pennsylvania State University, her MA from Rutgers University, and her MFA from the University of Iowa. She was one of Granta’s six New Voices for 2012 and her stories have appeared in Granta, The New Yorker, Tin House, Subtropics, and elsewhere.

Website/Works

  • Chika Unigwe

Chika Unigwe is a Nigerian writer who now lives in the United States. She is the author of four novels, as well as numerous short stories and essays.

Website/Works

  • Yvonne Fly Onakeme Etaghene

Yvonne Fly Onakeme Etaghene is an Ijaw and Urhobo Nigerian lesbian performance activist, poet, dancer, educator, actress and mixed-media visual artist. She engages a radical vulnerability and candor in her artwork and uses storytelling to build authentic human connection through passionate artistic expression. Etaghene has produced four solo art exhibitions and performed internationally. She is the founder of Sugarcane, an LGBTQ Of Color writing workshop based in the principles of June Jordan’s Poetry for the People. She wrote and performed in two multi-media one-woman shows, Volcano’s Birthright{s} and GUAVA. Etaghene has published 4 chapbooks of poetry: afrocrown: fierce poetry (2000), write or die (2004), tongue twisted transcontinental sista (2006) and skin into verse (2014.) She released an album of poetry and music entitled liberty avenue, nigeria, usa (2004.) Etaghene is the author of For Sizakele, a novel that addresses transcontinental identity, intimate partner violence, queer gender, and how we love as illuminators of who we are.

Website/Works

  • Bunmi Laditan

Bunmi Laditan is a contributor to Parenting.com, Mothering.com, iVillage.com, and The Huffington Post. She lives with her family outside of Montreal. The Honest Toddler is based on her youngest child. Not potty trained, not trying, HT enjoys attention, cake, television, running & games.

Works 

  • Aiwanose Odafen

 Aiwanose Odafen is an essayist and a new author. Her debut novel Tomorrow I Become a Woman is set to be published by Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, in spring 2022.

You can find Aiwanose on Twitter @aiwahannah 

  • Femi Fadugba 

The Upper World is the debut novel of Togo-born British-Nigerian, Femi Fadugba. Fadugba has a Master’s from Oxford University where he published in Quantum Physics and was a Thouron scholar at UPenn. He previously worked in consulting and in solar energy and has written for the Financial Times and Huffington Post. He currently lives between Peckham and Baltimore.

The Upper World is slated for publication in winter 2022.

The Upper World on Goodreads

  • Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki is a Nigerian writer and editor. 

He has been recognised by the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest, which awarded him two Honourable Mentions. His award winning short story “The Witching Hour,” published in Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores, made the Tangent Online recommended reading list for 2018 with two stars and won the Nommo award for best speculative fiction story by an African. He has been published in Dwart online, Anotherealm, African Writer, Strange Horizons, Selene Quarterly and other venues. 

He is a member of the African Speculative Fiction Society, Codex, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

Website

  • Uzodinma Iweala

Uzodinma Iweala received the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, all for Beasts of No Nation. He was also selected as one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists. A graduate of Harvard University and the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, he lives in New York City and Lagos, Nigeria.

Works

  • Atinuke

Atinuke is a Nigerian-born author who started her career doing traditional oral storytelling. Her books include a Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Winner, a Notable Book for a Global Society, a Cybils Award Winner, and an Africana Award Winner. She lives in Wales.

Website | Works 

  • Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani 

Adaobi Tricia Obinne Nwaubani is a novelist, essayist, journalist and humorist. She was born in Enugu, Nigeria, to Chukwuma Hope Nwaubani and Patricia Uberife Nwaubani. (Her mother named her ‘Adaobi’, meaning ‘first daughter of the family’, and ‘Tricia’, signifying that she was ‘from Patricia’. Her father named her ‘Obinne’, meaning ‘heart of a mother’ or ‘mother’s desire’ or ‘precious to her mother’). As a teenager, she secretly dreamed of becoming a CIA or KGB agent. She studied Psychology at the University of Ibadan. Her first income was from winning a writing competition at the age of 13. In her first year at university, she was a member of the Idia Hall Chess Team, and also a member of the university’s (classical music) choir.

Website/Works

  • Olumide Popoola 

Olumide Popoola is a London-based Nigerian German writer and speaker who presents internationally.

Her novella This Is Not About Sadness was published by Unrast Verlag in 2010. Her play Also by Mail was published in 2013 by Witnessed (edition assemblage) and the short story collection breach, which she co-authored with Annie Holmes, in 2016 by Peirene Press. Her full-length novel When we Speak of Nothing was published in the UK and Nigeria in 2017  and in 2018 in the US (Cassava Republic Press).

Her publications also include critical essays and creative non-fiction, hybrid pieces and poetry.

Website

  • Rafeeat Aliyu 

Rafeeat Aliyu is a writer, editor and documentary filmmaker. Her short stories have been published in Strange Horizons, Nightmare, FIYAH and more. She is a proud graduate of the Clarion West workshop (2018).

Website/Works

  • Erhu Kome

Erhu Kome is an Urhobo writer of speculative fiction, mostly for young adults. She believes reading Twilight started it all. Her debut novel Dawsk, is a Paranormal Romance Novel published by Love Africa Press. Her Urban Fantasy Bizarro novella, one of her favorite books in the world, will be published by Eraserhead Press, 2020.

She is an Otaku. Someday she hopes to live in a place with narrow cobblestone streets, an ocean side view and roaring green forests. 

She also hopes to speak Spanish and Japanese one day without stuttering.

Erhu currently lives in Asaba, Nigeria.

Works


That’s it for this post. To all my Nigerians along the diaspora and at home, despite it all, Happy Independence Day. Twale, I salute you.

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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.

Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop

  • 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.

Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop

  • 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.

Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop

  • 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.

Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop

  • 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.

Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop

  • 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!

Amazon | Goodreads

  • 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.

Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop

  • 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.

Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop

  • 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!

Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop

  • 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.

Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop

  • 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.

Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop

  • 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.

Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop

  • 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!

Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop

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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.

Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop

  • 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.

Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop

  • 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!)

Amazon | Goodreads| Bookshop

  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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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!

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  • 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. 

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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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15 Books With Bisexual Representation by Authors of Colour

It’s Bisexual Visibility day! Happy Bi-visibility day to all my bisexxis! I hope y’all have a great day.

Since it’s about bisexuals today, I’m here on the blog with a list of books with bisexual characters by Black authors and authors of colour.


  • The Black Veins by Ashia Monet

In a world where magic thrives in secret city corners, a group of magicians embark on a road trip—and it’s the “no-love-interest”, found family adventure you’ve been searching for.

Sixteen-year-old Blythe is one of seven Guardians: magicians powerful enough to cause worldwide panic with a snap of their fingers. But Blythe spends her days pouring latte art at her family’s coffee shop, so why should she care about having apocalyptic abilities?

She’s given a reason when magician anarchists crash into said coffee shop and kidnap her family.

Heartbroken but determined, Blythe knows she can’t save them alone. A war is brewing between two magician governments and tensions are too high. So, she packs up her family’s bright yellow Volkswagen, puts on a playlist, and embarks on a road trip across the United States to enlist the help of six strangers whose abilities are unparalleled—the other Guardians

And of course I’m starting this list with one of my favourite books with a bi main characters. Apart from having an aromantic and bisexual Black main character and a Black bisexual side character, TBV has a whole of cast of queer characters.

Buy The Black Veins | Goodreads

  • I’ll Be The One by Lyla Lee

The world of K-Pop has never met a star like this. Debut author Lyla Lee delivers a deliciously fun, thoughtful rom-com celebrating confidence and body positivity—perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Julie Murphy.

Skye Shin has heard it all. Fat girls shouldn’t dance. Wear bright colors. Shouldn’t call attention to themselves. But Skye dreams of joining the glittering world of K-Pop, and to do that, she’s about to break all the rules that society, the media, and even her own mother, have set for girls like her.

She’ll challenge thousands of other performers in an internationally televised competition looking for the next K-pop star, and she’ll do it better than anyone else.

When Skye nails her audition, she’s immediately swept into a whirlwind of countless practices, shocking performances, and the drama that comes with reality TV. What she doesn’t count on are the highly fat-phobic beauty standards of the Korean pop entertainment industry, her sudden media fame and scrutiny, or the sparks that soon fly with her fellow competitor, Henry Cho.

But Skye has her sights on becoming the world’s first plus-sized K-pop star, and that means winning the competition—without losing herself. 

On all accounts, I haven’t read this book yet but it’s high up my TBR. I’ll Be One seems like a cute, fun book and it’s also about the kpop industry which is a plus for me.

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  • Work For It by Talia Hibbert

For men like us, trust doesn’t come easy.

In this village, I’m an outcast: Griffin Everett, the scowling giant who prefers plants to people. Then I meet Keynes, a stranger from the city who’s everything I’m not: sharp-tongued, sophisticated, beautiful. Free. For a few precious moments in a dark alleyway, he’s also mine, hot and sweet under the stars… until he crushes me like dirt beneath his designer boot.

When the prettiest man I’ve ever hated shows up at my job the next day, I’m not sure if I want to strangle him or drag him into bed. Actually—I think I want both. But Keynes isn’t here for the likes of me: he makes that painfully clear. With everyone else at work, he’s all gorgeous, glittering charm—but when I get too close, he turns vicious.

And yet, I can’t stay away. Because there’s something about this ice king that sets me on fire, a secret vulnerability that makes my chest ache. I’ll do whatever it takes to sneak past his walls and see the real man again.

The last thing I expect is for that man to ruin me.

Ok, I’m trying to remain calm, but I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH. It’s true I love Talia Hibbert’s writing and her books, but I really do love this book. It’s one of the books that made me happy during a low time last month and the depression rep also means so much to me.

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  • Avatar: The Rise Of Kyoshi by F.C. Yee

F. C. Yee’s The Rise of Kyoshi delves into the story of Kyoshi, the Earth Kingdom–born Avatar. The longest-living Avatar in this beloved world’s history, Kyoshi established the brave and respected Kyoshi Warriors, but also founded the secretive Dai Li, which led to the corruption, decline, and fall of her own nation. The first of two novels based on Kyoshi, The Rise of Kyoshi maps her journey from a girl of humble origins to the merciless pursuer of justice who is still feared and admired centuries after she became the Avatar

I’m admitting this at my own risk, but I haven’t read this book yet but it is very high up my TBR. And before my friends come to drag me on this post or on Twitter, I still have till the end of October to read it. Anyway, read this book! So many of my faves love it and I know I will too.

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  • Untouchable by Talia Hibbert

Sleeping with the staff wasn’t part of the plan.

Sensible, capable, and ruthlessly efficient, Hannah Kabbah is the perfect nanny… until a colossal mistake destroys her career and shatters her reputation. These days, no-one in town will hire her—except Nathaniel Davis, a brooding widower with a smile like sin and two kids he can’t handle.

Prim and proper Hannah is supposed to make Nate’s life easier, but the more time he spends around his live-in nanny, the more she makes things… hard. He can’t take advantage of her vulnerable position, but he can’t deny the truth, either: with every look, every smile, every midnight meeting, Nate’s untouchable employee is stealing his heart.

The trouble is, she doesn’t want to keep it. Forbidden love isn’t high on Hannah’s to-do list, and trust isn’t one of her strengths. When dark secrets threaten to destroy their bond, Nate’s forced to start playing dirty. Because this reformed bad boy will break every rule to finally claim his woman.

Please be aware: this book contains depictions of depression and anxiety that could trigger certain audiences.

Ok, this post would have been a love letter to Talia Hibbert but I had to tone down my recs of her books to just three. Untouchable is an amazing book with an autistic and depressed bisexual Black female character and it’s also such a cute romance.

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  • Take A Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert 

Talia Hibbert returns with another charming romantic comedy about a young woman who agrees to fake date her friend after a video of him “rescuing” her from their office building goes viral…

Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom.

When brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and ex-rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Now half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along. Turns out, his sports charity for kids could really use the publicity. Lying to help children? Who on earth would refuse?

Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. The trouble is, grumpy Zaf’s secretly a hopeless romantic—and he’s determined to corrupt Dani’s stone-cold realism. Before long, he’s tackling her fears into the dirt. But the former sports star has issues of his own, and the walls around his heart are as thick as his… um, thighs.

Suddenly, the easy lay Dani dreamed of is more complex than her thesis. Has her wish backfired? Is her focus being tested? Or is the universe just waiting for her to take a hint?

To my fellow Hibbert Hoodlums, I apologise for not having read this book yet, but I will. Take A Hint, Dani Brown is the second book in the Brown Sisters series and I absolutely loved the first book, Get A Life Chloe Brown, which is one of my favourite ever books. Plus this book has Ku a Muslim love interest too 💜

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  • If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann

High school finally behind her, Winnie is all set to attend college in the fall. But first she’s spending her summer days working at her granny’s diner and begins spending her midnights with Dallas—the boy she loves to hate and hates that she likes. Winnie lives in Misty Haven, a small town where secrets are impossible to keep—like when Winnie allegedly snaps on Dr. Skinner, which results in everyone feeling compelled to give her weight loss advice for her own good. Because they care that’s she’s “too fat.”

Winnie dreams of someday inheriting the diner—but it’ll go away if they can’t make money, and fast. Winnie has a solution—win a televised cooking competition and make bank. But Granny doesn’t want her to enter—so Winnie has to find a way around her formidable grandmother. Can she come out on top? 

Did you think I won’t recommend a book about a polyamorous aromantic and bisexual fat Black girl? You didn’t.

I loved Claire Kann’s debut book, Let’s Talk About Love, which was an amazing book about a biromantic and asexual Black girl. Her sophomore book is one the many books I really want to read but just haven’t gotten to yet.

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  • The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi 

Named one of the year’s most anticipated books by The New York TimesHarper’s BazaarBuzzFeed, and more

What does it mean for a family to lose a child they never really knew?

One afternoon, in a town in southeastern Nigeria, a mother opens her front door to discover her son’s body, wrapped in colorful fabric, at her feet. What follows is the tumultuous, heart-wrenching story of one family’s struggle to understand a child whose spirit is both gentle and mysterious. Raised by a distant father and an understanding but overprotective mother, Vivek suffers disorienting blackouts, moments of disconnection between self and surroundings. As adolescence gives way to adulthood, Vivek finds solace in friendships with the warm, boisterous daughters of the Nigerwives, foreign-born women married to Nigerian men. But Vivek’s closest bond is with Osita, the worldly, high-spirited cousin whose teasing confidence masks a guarded private life. As their relationship deepens—and Osita struggles to understand Vivek’s escalating crisis—the mystery gives way to a heart-stopping act of violence in a moment of exhilarating freedom.

Propulsively readable, teeming with unforgettable characters, The Death of Vivek Oji is a novel of family and friendship that challenges expectations—a dramatic story of loss and transcendence that will move every reader.

I thought deeply about whether or not I should add this book, but it belongs on this list. If you don’t know or haven’t witnessed my crying on Twitter or Instagram stories, I love this book with everything in me. The Death of Vivek Oji is one the best books and most important books I’ve read as queer Nigerian. This book also has an ensemble of bisexual characters and one of the major characters in this book is bi.

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

  • Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore 

Love grows such strange things.

For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.

So I read Blanca y Roja in June or July this year and I fell in love. I absolutely love Anna-Marie McLemore’s writing and I’ve been planning to catch up with their books and I think Wild Beauty will be the next one.

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  • Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

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

After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.

A flying demon feeding on human energies.

A secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt the creatures down.

And a mysterious teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” and who attempts—and fails—to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw.

The mage’s failure unlocks Bree’s own unique magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that Bree knows there’s more to her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, she’ll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn as one of their initiates.

She recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn with his own grudge against the group, and their reluctant partnership pulls them deeper into the society’s secrets—and closer to each other. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur’s knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down—or join the fight. 

Ok, how can I express how excited I am to read this book? King Arthur retelling plus Black Girl Magic? Sign me up! Honestly, I didn’t need anymore convincing after THAT cover.

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

  • A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

The first time the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now she’s trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew.

Life in real-world Atlanta isn’t always so simple, as Alice juggles an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA. Keeping the Nightmares at bay is turning into a full-time job. But when Alice’s handsome and mysterious mentor is poisoned, she has to find the antidote by venturing deeper into Wonderland than she’s ever gone before. And she’ll need to use everything she’s learned in both worlds to keep from losing her head . . . literally.

I’ll do y’all a favour and not get into how much I love this book because I love this book! A Blade So Black is one of those books that are a source of joy for me. This book manages to be magical, soft and 

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

  • Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

From Stonewall and Lambda Award-winning author Kacen Callender comes a revelatory YA novel about a transgender teen grappling with identity and self-discovery while falling in love for the first time.

Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.

When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….

But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve

I really don’t have much to say about this book except my faves love it and I’m currently reading it and it seems cute.

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

  • The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late. 

Ah, this book that is about to destroy my heart and crush my soul and it’s bi disasters. So much love and y’all I’m scared…the pain awaiting me.

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

  • Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

Look I’m reading this book and I’m just a huge 👀👀. A poisonous princess, a debt to a monster, a sapphic relationship…yes!!

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

  • The Wicker King by K Ancrum 

When August learns that his best friend, Jack, shows signs of degenerative hallucinatory disorder, he is determined to help Jack cope. Jack’s vivid and long-term visions take the form of an elaborate fantasy world layered over our own—a world ruled by the Wicker King. As Jack leads them on a quest to fulfill a dark prophecy in this alternate world, even August begins to question what is real or not.

August and Jack struggle to keep afloat as they teeter between fantasy and their own emotions. In the end, each must choose his own truth.

Y’all, I’ll like to confess to a sin, I haven’t read this book yet or any book by K Ancrum. It’s shameful I know but I’ll like to remedy soon and I hope y’all are at least doing better.

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads


That’s it for today’s post! I wish all my bisexual friends a great and colourful day. I love you all!

Also, tell me your favourite book with a bisexual main character.

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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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ARC Review: The Lost City

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BLURB

New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking returns to the magical world of the Trylle with The Lost City, the first book in the final Trylle arc.

Nestled along the bluffs of the forested coast lays the secret kingdom of the Omte—a realm filled with wonder…and as many secrets.

Ulla Tulin was left abandoned in an isolated Kanin city as a baby, taken in by strangers and raised hidden away like many of the trolls of mixed blood. Even knowing this truth, she’s never stopped wondering about her family.

When Ulla is offered an internship working alongside the handsome Pan Soriano at the Mimirin, a prestigious institution, she jumps at the chance to use this opportunity to hopefully find her parents. All she wants is to focus on her job and the search for her parents, but all of her attempts to find them are blocked when she learns her mother may be connected to the Omte royal family.

With little progress made, Ulla and Pan soon find themselves wrapped up in helping Eliana, an amnestic girl with abilities unlike any they have ever seen before—a girl who seems to be running from something. To figure out who she is they must leave the city, and possibly, along the way, they may learn more about Ulla’s parents.

|CW: aphobia |

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1 star

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The Lost City is an urban fantasy which follows our MC, Ulla Tulin, a troll of mixed ancestry who was abandoned as a child and goes on to try her parents and her ancestry at a prestigious institute with a special program for trolls like her.
I don’t have much to say about this book so I’ll just go on. The Lost City was a pretty easy read. Kind of a light fantasy, but not really engrossing, which I think was my issue with it.
The Lost City started as a book about Ulla finding her parents and trying to make sense of her place in her world, which I actually liked, but later it became more about finding about the origins of the mysterious Illaria, some troll-like girl with bright hair who literally fell out of the sky. I didn’t care for this part of the plot, the entire thing felt too idealistic for me. I, a wholeass Nigerian, found taking in someone you don’t know, and who seems strange, very unbelievable even for a fantasy novel.
Now to the things that I didn’t particularly like about this book. While the topic of gatekeeping who writes queer books and non own voices writers writing queer books is rightfully complicated because not everyone has the privilege to be out, I would love for authors who do not identify with an identity whether quietly or loudly to please do their research.
The Lost City has a character that’s supposed to be asexual and this character is a just a bag of stereotypes. She’s cold and seemingly uncaring, a stereotype used to demonise aspec folks and she says and I quote “I’m an ace, so I don’t date”. Although the character does say that for different people it can mean different things, she goes on to say that for her it means she’s never been attracted to anyone at all (type of attraction not specified) and she doesn’t feel the urge to be with anyone romantically.
It really does irritate me how the author conflates sexual and romantic attraction together. Is your character also aromantic? Then state it. Writing it so vaguely gives the impression of conflating both together and erases non-aromantic asexuals and feels like just inserting an ace character for the sake of being able to say you added one. And the language “I’m an ace”, it comes off offensive and has the same energy as “I am a gay”, with the addition of I don’t date in the manner it was written makes it seem like all asexuals don’t date and is very invalidating to ace folks who do.
This misrepresentation wasn’t my only issue with this book. I felt like the story did nothing to resolve some of the plot questions, and left too many things unanswered to be properly wrapped up, while I understand they’ll be a sequel, it still felt empty.
The Lost City also didn’t feel very engaging and it was very lite and superficial like diluted regular fantasy.
I guess in total, I do not recommend it. The misrepresentation left a bitter taste in my mouth and the failure of the book to properly engage and engross me didn’t help at all.

Goodreads

Amazon

Book Depository

Bookshop.org


What book with good ace rep have you read lately? I need something to ease me of my anger and displeasure at this book.


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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

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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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