Wrap Up: March 2020

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Hello everyone and welcome to another wrap up post.

What happened in March?

Unlike February, March was a slow month, but a good one too.

I read a total of 8 books in March,mostly because I was watching a lot of kdramas — which I’m really proud of because I’m terrible at watching movies and series — and I didn’t have the drive to read during the first 19 days of the month. 

I published 6 blog posts, 3 of which were reviews, the highest I’ve ever written in one month this year. I also started bullet journaling/ using a planner again because I noticed that I was slipping in almost every aspect of my life again and it made me feel terrible. Using a planner again helped me a lot, I was able to keep track of my achievements and my health. I wasn’t able to meet all my goals but given how stressful last month, I think I did good. 

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  • Love from A to Z by SK Ali

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐| 5 stars.

I read Love from A to Z for the Iqra trials in March. I absolutely loved this book and it was one of my favourite. This book was unapologetically Muslim. The rep, the romance, the themes; it was perfect. I can’t talk about about this book without gushing, but if you want to know more of my thoughts on it, you can read my review here

  • Stranded With a Billionaire by Jessica Clare

⭐⭐★| 2.5 stars

Stranded With a Billionaire was more of a comfort read, when I wasn’t feeling too good and I wanted to reread the books I read in secondary school. I mostly enjoyed it, it had a few themes that made me uncomfortable, some of them were talk about, but still… 

It was entertaining so it wasn’t a waste of time

  • SLAY by Brittney Morris

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|5 stars

Ok, no one should allow me talk about some books and SLAY is one of those books. First, loud screaming about how awesome this book is (aaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!!). Actually I started SLAY in February but with all the moving and just growing accustomed to physical books again, I didn’t finish it until last week. SLAY is such an amazing book. Like THUG, it explores racism but in the gaming community; as well as white entitlement and self hatred. There are so many things I can say about this book, but I’ll save it for the review I’m rounding up.

  • The Lost City by Amanda Hocking

⭐⭐★| 2.5 stars

Lost City is one of the ARCs I got on Netgalley. It was an entertaining read, but it felt a bit lacking. I didn’t connect with the characters and some things didn’t make sense. My full review will be up soon

  • Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed

⭐⭐| 2 stars

I’m just going to say I didn’t like this book much. The political and social commentary was even what made me rate it as high as this. You can read my full review here

 

  • The Opposite of Falling Apart by Micah Good

There’s no star rating yet, because this is one of books I was conflicted on how to rate. I really like it, I enjoyed the rep, but I felt like the pacing was too slow and too drawn out and it starting making me anxious. Like I said its good book, somewhere stuck in between 3.5 and 4 stars

  • The Fever King by Victoria Lee

Like The Opposite of Falling Apart, The Fever King is somewhere in between the 3.5 and 4 stars territory, but I feel its more of a 4 stars…at least at this moment. I really enjoyed it. Its dark, engrossing and kind of unexpected. 

  • And The Stars Were Burning Brightly by Danielle Jawando.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐| 5 stars

When I finished this book at 1am, which was technically April 1st but kindly ignore that lol, I was crying. I cry a lot, I often joke  with my friends that Cry Baby is the theme song of my life, but you’d know if I enjoyed a book if I shed a few tears. With ATSWB, I really cried, or mostly tried to stop myself from crying. If at 1am after waking from sleep, seeing negative stuff online and feeling numb, a book makes me want to bawl, it’s really good. ATSWB does a great job exploring bullying, grief and depression. There’s more to this book than that, so much more but I can’t say enough here and without feeling weepy. What Al went through? I can’t explain. This book deserves more attention than it gets. Its a new favourite.

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Conquest [Arc Review]

Audio Book Review: Yes No Maybe So

Book Review: Love From A To Z

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Wrap Up: January & February 2020

New Tbr System

Conquest [Arc Review]

Audio Book Review: Yes No Maybe So

Book Review: Love From A To Z

#Diveresereadsof2020: 10 2020 Releases With Aspec Characters.


Well, that’s a round up of almost everything that happened in March. I’m hoping for a better April


How did March go for you?


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#DivereseReadsof2020: 10 2020 releases with Aspec characters.

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Hello everyone and welcome to another Diverse Reads of 2020 post.

The Diverse Reads of 2020 is a series of blog posts organised by Taiwo (follow her blog!) in which book bloggers of different marginalisation make a list of books coming out this year based on their marginalisation.

This list wasn’t part of the original plan, but I wanted to do more and Taiwo seemed cool with it. And also ignore the fact that this list is coming so late. This was supposed to have up two weeks after the first one which was my post for books by Muslim authors (you can check that out here), but between clinical posting and being lazy, I couldn’t get to it.

And to the list!

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1. The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow.

Category: YAe

Genre: Science Fiction

Publication Date: February 25, 2020

Rep: Biromantic Demisexual; F/M pairing.

 

Can a girl who risks her life for books and an alien who loves forbidden pop music work together to save humanity?

Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population.

Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. Deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, humanity’s emotional transgressions are now grounds for execution. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her.

Born in a lab, M0Rr1S (Morris) was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does.

Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while making a story and a song of their own that just might save them both.

 

Is it obvious that I’m sad I don’t have a copy of this book yet? Because I’m sad I don’t. TSOS was one of my most anticipated books of this year. I’m really excited to read this book about a fat Black biromantic demisexual book someday. 

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2. Loveless by Alice Oseman

Category: YA

Genre: Contemporary

Expected Publication Date: July 9, 2020

Rep: Aromantic Asexual.

 

The fourth novel from the phenomenally talented Alice Oseman – one of the most authentic and talked-about voices in contemporary YA.

Georgia feels loveless – in the romantic sense, anyway. She’s eighteen, never been in a relationship, or even had a crush on a single person in her whole life. She thinks she’s an anomaly, people call her weird, and she feels a little broken. But she still adores romance – weddings, fan fiction, and happily ever afters. She knows she’ll find her person one day … right?

After a disastrous summer, Georgia is now at university, hundreds of miles from home. She is more determined than ever to find love – and her annoying roommate, Rooney, is a bit of a love expert, so perhaps she can help.

But maybe Georgia just doesn’t feel that way about guys. Or girls. Or anyone at all. Maybe that’s okay. Maybe she can find happiness without falling in love. And maybe Rooney is a little more loveless than she first appears.

LOVELESS is a journey of identity, self-acceptance, and finding out how many different types of love there really are. And that no one is really loveless after all.

I really can’t think of many books with aroace rep. We have so few books with aro/ace rep, aroace together is even rarer. As someone who is both on the aromantic and asexual spectrum and who is just getting comfortable with her identity, I really can’t wait for Loveless to be out.

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3. Belle Révolte by Linsey Miller

Category: YA

Genre: Fantasy

Emilie des Marais is more at home holding scalpels than embroidery needles and is desperate to escape her noble roots to serve her country as a physician. But society dictates a noble lady cannot perform such gruesome work.

Annette Boucher, overlooked and overworked by her family, wants more from life than her humble beginnings and is desperate to be trained in magic. So when a strange noble girl offers Annette the chance of a lifetime, she accepts.

Emilie and Annette swap lives—Annette attends finishing school as a noble lady to be trained in the ways of divination, while Emilie enrolls to be a physician’s assistant, using her natural magical talent to save lives.

But when their nation instigates a frivolous war, Emilie and Annette must work together to help the rebellion end a war that is based on lies

 

Publication Date: February 4, 2020

Rep: Biromantic Asexual; F/F pairing

I think I’ve talked about this book enough on my blog. I really can’t wait to read this one either.

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4. Six Angry Girls by Adrienne Kisner 

Category: YA

Genre: Contemporary

Expected Publication Date: June 2, 2020

Rep: Asexual questioning

A story of mock trial, feminism, and the inherent power found in a pair of knitting needles.

Raina Petree is crushing her senior year, until her boyfriend dumps her, the drama club (basically) dumps her, the college of her dreams slips away, and her arch-nemesis triumphs.

Things aren’t much better for Millie Goodwin. Her father treats her like a servant, and the all-boy Mock Trial team votes her out, even after she spent the last three years helping to build its success.

But then, an advice columnist unexpectedly helps Raina find new purpose in a pair of knitting needles and a politically active local yarn store. This leads to an unlikely meeting in the girls’ bathroom, where Raina inspires Millie to start a rival team. The two join together and recruit four other angry girls to not only take on Mock Trial, but to smash the patriarchy in the process.

 

A feminist book with angry girls, knitting, destroying patriarchy and asexual questioning rep? Sign me up!

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5. The State Of Us by Shaun David Hutchinson

Category: YA

Genre: Contemporary

Expected Publication Date: June 2, 2020

Rep: Demisexual; M/M

 

When Dean Arnault’s mother decided to run for president, it wasn’t a surprise to anyone, least of all her son. But still that doesn’t mean Dean wants to be part of the public spectacle that is the race for the White House—at least not until he meets Dre.

The only problem is that Dre Rosario’s on the opposition; he’s the son of the Democratic nominee. But as Dean and Dre’s meet-ups on the campaign trail become less left to chance, their friendship quickly becomes a romantic connection unlike any either of the boys have ever known.

If it wasn’t hard enough falling in love across the aisle, the political scheming of a shady third-party candidate could cause Dean and Dre’s world to explode around them.

It’s a new modern-day, star-crossed romance about what it really means to love your country—and yourself—from the acclaimed author of We Are the Ants and Brave Face, Shaun David Hutchinson.

Politics, falling in love with your mother’s political rival’s son and drama? Yes, please.

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6. Camp by Lev A.C. Rosen 

Category: YA

Genre: Contemporary

Expected Publication Date: May 26, 2020

Rep: Demisexual

 

From the author of the acclaimed Jack of Hearts (and other parts) comes a sweet and sharp screwball comedy that critiques the culture of toxic masculinity within the queer community.

Sixteen-year-old Randy Kapplehoff loves spending the summer at Camp Outland, a camp for queer teens. It’s where he met his best friends. It’s where he takes to the stage in the big musical. And it’s where he fell for Hudson Aaronson-Lim – who’s only into straight-acting guys and barely knows not-at-all-straight-acting Randy even exists.

This year, though, it’s going to be different. Randy has reinvented himself as ‘Del’ – buff, masculine, and on the market. Even if it means giving up show tunes, nail polish, and his unicorn bedsheets, he’s determined to get Hudson to fall for him.

But as he and Hudson grow closer, Randy has to ask himself how much is he willing to change for love. And is it really love anyway, if Hudson doesn’t know who he truly is? (

Camp sound like an intriguing book. I’ve seen comments on perfectly it handles identity, being femme and toxic masculinity. The fact that there is demisexual rep (although its a secondary character) and literally every other queer identity is a plus!

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7. Rick by Alex Gino

Category: MG

Genre: Contemporary

Expected Publication Date: April 21, 2020

Rep: Asexual questioning

From the award-winning author of George, the story of a boy named Rick who needs to explore his own identity apart from his jerk of a best friend.

Rick’s never questioned much. He’s gone along with his best friend Jeff even when Jeff’s acted like a bully and a jerk. He’s let his father joke with him about which hot girls he might want to date even though that kind of talk always makes him uncomfortable. And he hasn’t given his own identity much thought, because everyone else around him seemed to have figured it out.

But now Rick’s gotten to middle school, and new doors are opening. One of them leads to the school’s Rainbow Spectrum club, where kids of many genders and identities congregate, including Melissa, the girl who sits in front of Rick in class and seems to have her life together. Rick wants his own life to be that … understood. Even if it means breaking some old friendships and making some new ones.

As they did in their groundbreaking novel George, in Rick, award-winning author Alex Gino explores what it means to search for your own place in the world … and all the steps you and the people around you need to take in order to get where you need to be.

 

Rick sounds like a really sweet book. MG isn’t really my thing, but I’d love to read Rick.

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8. Elastoe by Darcie Little Badger 

Category: YA

Genre: Fantasy

Expected Publication Date: August 25, 2020

Rep: Asexual

Imagine an America very similar to our own. It’s got homework, best friends, and pistachio ice cream.

There are some differences. This America been shaped dramatically by the magic, monsters, knowledge, and legends of its peoples, those Indigenous and those not. Some of these forces are charmingly everyday, like the ability to make an orb of light appear or travel across the world through rings of fungi. But other forces are less charming and should never see the light of day.

Elatsoe lives in this slightly stranger America. She can raise the ghosts of dead animals, a skill passed down through generations of her Lipan Apache family. Her beloved cousin has just been murdered, in a town that wants no prying eyes. But she is going to do more than pry. The picture-perfect facade of Willowbee masks gruesome secrets, and she will rely on her wits, skills, and friends to tear off the mask and protect her family. (less)

 

First, that description! Next, omg the cover. Elastoe sound amazing and like something I’d enjoy reading and I’m so excited for it

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9. A Pale Light in the Black (NeoG #1)

Category: Adult

Genre: Science Fiction

Expected Publication Date: March 3, 2020

Rep: Asexual questioning

 

The book centers on the rivalry between military branches, which plays out through the Boarding Games—a competition pitting service members against each other to see just who is best in events like tactical problem is solving, piloting, fencing and martial arts, and, of course, boarding actions. And while other military science fiction features the exploration and defense of far-flung reaches of space, the Neo-G protects the area closer to home—a force we could very well see in our own lifetime. Made up of a band of retired veterans and raw recruits with sub-par equipment and the scorn of the military establishment, the NEO-G are the ultimate underdogs.

The first book in the NEO-G series comes out in hardcover in Spring 2020 from Harper Voyager, starting with A Pale Light in the Black. There are currently two books planned in the series, with the option to continue

This book doesn’t sound like my thing, but I’m excited for the rep.

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10. Full Moon in Leo by Brooklyn Ray

Category: Adult

Genre: Contemporary

Expected Publication Date: October, 2020

Rep: Demisexual ; M/M

A Yule-set romance in which a recently released ex-convict seeks the safety and solitude of his aunt’s small town, only to find himself unexpectedly charmed by the owner of the local apothecary—a handsome witch determined to show him both the joys of the holiday season and the magic in the mundane.

 

Witches, demis and unexpected love…okay! 

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Book Review: Love From A to Z

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BLURB

marvel: something you find amazing. Even ordinary-amazing. Like potatoes—because they make French fries happen. Like the perfect fries Adam and his mom used to make together.

An oddity: whatever gives you pause. Like the fact that there are hateful people in the world. Like Zayneb’s teacher, who won’t stop reminding the class how “bad” Muslims are.

But Zayneb, the only Muslim in class, isn’t bad. She’s angry.

When she gets suspended for confronting her teacher, and he begins investigating her activist friends, Zayneb heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break.

Fueled by the guilt of getting her friends in trouble, she resolves to try out a newer, “nicer” version of herself in a place where no one knows her.

Then her path crosses with Adam’s.

Since he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, Adam’s stopped going to classes, intent, instead, on perfecting the making of things. Intent on keeping the memory of his mom alive for his little sister.

Adam’s also intent on keeping his diagnosis a secret from his grieving father.

Alone, Adam and Zayneb are playing roles for others, keeping their real thoughts locked away in their journals.

Until a marvel and an oddity occurs…

Marvel: Adam and Zayneb meeting.

Oddity: Adam and Zayneb meeting

|CW: Islamophobia, cultural appropriation, chronic illness, racist microaggression, talk of rape, talk of family death, talk of war and war victims|

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Chinese-Canadian, Muslim, Multiple Sclerosis, POC.

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⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

5 stars

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A marvel of a book…

Love From A to Z was one of my most anticipated books of last year and you can’t imagine how happy I was when I somehow managed to convince my cousin to get me a copy for my birthday in July last year, and as I hoped it didn’t disappoint. When I finished this book, I was positively over the moon and I’d had another book I completely adored.

We follow the story of Adam and Zayneb (a character who shares my name, yay!) through their journals. Adam is a college student who has recently dropped out of his course following being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Zayneb (i won’t make any other name comment after this one i promise, but yay!) is a senior year high school who has been suspended from school for ‘threatening’ a wildly Islamophobic teacher. Somehow, maybe by the hand of fate, their paths cross. Two different people who share a journal.

I can’t begin to fully explain how much I love this book. Love From A to Z felt like the book I’ve been waiting my whole life for. I have so many feelings and not enough words to explain, but I’ll try.

I’ll start with the romance aka one of the most amazing things amongst all the amazing things in this amazing book. I know I’m being extra.

I love romance. I love halal romances, because they’re like peak Muslim, lol. Teen halal romances? Hell yes! But Love from A to Z has to be the most adorable halal romance ever. Most adorable halal teen romance.

What makes Love from A to Z superior over every other halal teen romance I’ve ever read? (which isn’t much, oop)
Its because it really explores being young and in love. I absolutely love how it explores teen emotions and love connect to being Muslim. I don’t think any other book as gotten being a Muslim teenager in love and today’s world completely right, but this book pretty much did. I’m going to combine this with the cute and relatable moments, lol.

Meeting a cute boy on the plane and finding out he’s Muslim too? Yes. Finding out said boy might actually like you too? Scream worthy yes. Inviting each other out, but with a family member or friends around to keep it halal? Yes. Texting each other random stuff? I’m crying but, yes. The feelings, the lust (which people try to shy away from, but yes teenagers can be lustful), but remembering Astagfirullah you’re entering forbidden territory? Yes!

Yes, the romance was everything but Love from A to Z was more than just the romance. It highlighted so many things central to the Muslim identity and also being a Muslim teenager in the twenty first century. While it’ll be false to say all Muslims share the same experiences, practice faith the same way; there are things we have all experienced even in small doses, and we have seen happening to people like us and this book shows different perspectives and experiences.

Despite all its cuteness, Love From A to Z, brought up difficult topics like Islamophobia, disability, wars and grief. Islamophobia in its different forms, and it means to be visibly Muslim today. I absolutely loved how SK Ali handled the MS rep. I don’t have words.

The writing was amazing, although a bit unconventional but it made the book even more amazing. I haven’t read a book that uses journal entries instead of titles, but SK Ali makes it work so well I really don’t think if it had been writing the ‘normal’ way, I’d feel so close to the characters. Writing the titles gave me an idea of what the chapter was and added to its impact, and reading their journals made me feel more connected to the characters.
I know I’m repeating myself but SK Ali is a genius.

The characters, my babies, my heart…

You know that book with characters so amazing you’ll fight anyone and everyone for? That’s Love From A to Z. It has to have one of the most lovable and relatable characters.

Being a character centred book, the characters didn’t just hold the story together, but gave its magic.

I adored the main characters, Adam and Zayneb. They’re like two polar opposites that just seem to attract each other. Like poles on a magnet. Adam is a laid back, quiet, soft spoken and gentle guy and Zayneb? Zayneb is fiery, passionate and a bit volatile like a storm or the sea after a rain. That’s Adam and Zayneb. Adam is like a sweet, gentle rain or the sea on a calm day and Zayneb is the opposite of that. Their differences are even made more obvious by the entries in their journals. Adam enters more marvels and Zayneb, the oddities.

The character relationships and development was just great also. I loved Adam’s relationship with his family. How he cares for his sister and her for him. His memories of his mum and the overall family relationship. Zayneb’s relationship with her family too was also amazing. And more than their families, I loved the friendships.

Love From A to Z had well rounded characters, I cannot stress how much the characters developed. Adam comes to terms with his diagnosis and realises he can be happy, and Zayneb being unapologetically Zayneb once more. I really don’t think I can care about book characters anymore than I care about these two.

It was a masterpiece…

I feel like despite all I’ve said I haven’t really been able to do this book one bit of justice. It’s so amazing, I just can’t say enough. All I can say is that you need to read this. This book deserves more recognition than it gets. Thank you, SK Ali for writing this. I really have no words. I should end this before I start crying again.

2000% recommend. All of my heart belongs to this book.

 

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Have you read this beautiful gem of a book? What did you think?

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Audio book review: Yes No Maybe So

 

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BLURB

New York Times bestselling authors Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed have crafted a resonant, funny, and memorable story about the power of love and resistance.

YES
Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state senate candidate—as long as he’s behind the scenes. When it comes to speaking to strangers (or, let’s face it, speaking at all to almost anyone), Jamie’s a choke artist. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.

NO
Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is canceled, and now her parents are separating. Why her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing—with some awkward dude she hardly knows—is beyond her.

MAYBE SO
Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer—and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural romance of the century is another thing entirely

|CW: racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, gaslighting, parental separation and divorce| 

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Muslim, Jewish, Pakistani- American, Queer, MlM side characters

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⭐⭐

2 stars

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Yes No Maybe So was not for me…

Yes No Maybe So is a contemporary romance novel that follows two high schoolers — Jamie, a white Jewish boy  and Maya, a Pakistani-American Muslim girl, the summer before their senior year as the canvas for the upcoming senatorial election in their state.

That’s where my hesitation starts from the White boy x Muslim girl trope. The pretty much only rep Muslim girls are worthy of in media. Its like we can’t exist outside this trope. It will be unthinkable. Don’t get me wrong there are certain books that use this trope unproblematically and flawlessly, All American Muslim for example. I absolutely adored this book and I rooted so hard for the main couple, Allie and Wells. Well I guess, Yes No Maybe So also did that somewhat unproblematically, but I won’t act like it didn’t affect my reading experience.

For the first about 30% of the book I couldn’t bring myself to really care about the book. Jamie, the male mc, seemed too cringy and I’m not talking about his social anxiety, I got that and I’m so happy about the rep, but Jamie himself was a huge cringe. I guess it’s because I don’t understand crushing so hard on someone, but almost always thinking of Maya was really cringy. I guess what kept me for this part of the book was I was invested in their family lives and I wanted to see where this was going. Maya’s family was practically falling apart, her parents were separating and she felt out of balance, and as someone who’s had a somewhat similar experience I understood her and I felt just as frustrated and scared as she was. On Jamie’s end, it was the pressure of being a big brother with his sister’s, Sophie’s, bar mitzvah coming up, and being an eldest child too, I got that.

It also didn’t help also that Jamie was also a bit oblivious about something about being Muslim, Ramadan in particular. It drove me up a wall and I just couldn’t believe that anyone would be that oblivious, but it seems he really didn’t know (I’m still not a fan of those scenes either) and he improved on his knowledge, so I couldn’t hold it over him again.

At about 30-33%, I got really involved in this book. I actually began to care. I should also say clearly, that the political and social commentary was actually why I stayed invested in this book and even why I rated it two stars. But this part peaked for me and I actually began to care about whatever was going on between Jamie and Maya. What happened here both politically, was just wow. It was so accurate and felt so real, and I was impressed with how correctly the authors got this and finally invested in the book.

Back to the romance, at this point I actually started liking them together, very begrudgingly. It seemed natural at this point, just two teens falling for each other. I’m not so staunch against Muslims dating or dating non Muslims. I’d obviously prefer Muslim/Muslim relationships, and doing it halal because that’s basically the ruling, but I’m not going act hypocritical and act like this doesn’t happen or isn’t some of our realities. I don’t think anyone acts that way, but where it becomes a problem is when it’s the only type of relationship you see in the media, and you just KNOW that that rep is not for you. I’m not going to say Yes No Maybe So doesn’t fall under this category, but it wasn’t handled completely terribly.

Now everything was going ok for me until about 85% and I was just done. I wish authors would know not to use certain harmful tropes, I might not say ever, but in this case it was unnecessary. I’ll tie this back to an issue I just realised after reading Yes No Maybe So, Maya’s relationship with her faith. At first I didn’t realise it because I’m used to such bad Muslim representation, and Maya was better than most of these, so the bar was set pretty fucking low. The more I think of it, the more I see that Maya’s Muslimness is actually seen as secondary to the plot and everything else, and when you have a book that’s about Islamophobia and other forms of prejudice, shouldn’t we get more representation than just fasting during Ramadan and Eid. That’s the problem, most of the book is set during Ramadan and the extent of Maya’s faith is just fasting. Wow. I understand that everyone is at a different stage in their deen, but it was Ramadan. Our ‘try harder, be more extra, work harder on your faith’ month. And our Muslim mc just fasted. In the month of literal magic and peace, with a family that’s falling apart, when you know prayers will be answered, you didn’t think about turning to God.  Just one line with this will have sufficed. She did say fasting brought her peace, but that was for Jamie’s benefit, and that was the end of it. 

Right, harmful trope… I don’t care how fucking upset a character is. I don’t care about them trying to make a situation easier for themselves, but you do not use a trope that has been used to villainise your people ever. The ‘my parents will never allow this and I can’t be with you because they’re so restrictive/strict’. Hold up. First, all Maya’s mother told her was that relationships are complicated and a lot of work, especially when you’re so young (which is correct) and being a senior in high school, she’ll have her energy expended on other things, and that many parts of relationships are sacred. And I was like, sis where did you get that from. Yes, its true that a lot Muslim teens aren’t allowed to date in high school and its true that some parents are pretty strict about this, but I didn’t for once get that vibe from Maya’s mom. And Jamie’s reaction wasn’t helping either.

Despite the negatives, in this book there were a few positives. Although the romance was…you know my view, I enjoyed the themes on friendship and growing apart (yes, this book has a friend break up and make up), family, being a brown Muslim woman in today’s world or in fact being anything but white cishet and Christian. I also really liked that the authors explored the invasiveness of people on social media and how unkind people can be on there, and the obliviousness to other marginalised people’s struggles which a lot of people are guilty of.

I also did love the narration. I think it’s part of the reasons I stuck till the end. If I was reading an ebook or physical book, I’d have thrown the book and given up a long time ago. The narration was amazing. The voice actors did a good job voicing different characters and relaying the emotion. If you ever want to read this book, I recommend the audiobook.

The characters just were…

I’m going to make this part short, because I spent a lot of time rambling on the first part. 

I found most of the characters of Yes, No Maybe So mostly tolerable, and the ones I didn’t were annoying. I didn’t love any of the characters.

Jamie, the male mc, was just a sweet guy who wanted to change the world and that was really sweet, except his existence mostly hung on thoughts of Maya and his awkwardness. 

Maya, on the other hand, was pretty ok for a regular teenager, but her Muslimness was mostly missing. She was mostly a normal American teen, and not much of a Muslim teen.

They were as I said, tolerable and at this point I think my favourite characters were Boomer and Willow, the pets.

I was disappointed…

I came into this book with extremely low expectations and still somehow I ended up being disappointed. The tropes, the characters, the executive and the end, just didn’t work out for me.

Yes, No Maybe So isn’t a book I’ll be revisiting.

 

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Goodreads


Have you read Yes No Maybe So? Did you enjoy it? If you haven’t read it, will you be reading it?

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Conquest [ARC Review]

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BLURB

Jashi Anyua has been arranged to be married to the leader of her nation, the Great Faresh. To help her escape her engagement, her future husband’s enemies offer her an out; become their spy and they’ll give her a new name and identity somewhere the Faresh will never find her.

But Jashi gets to know the Faresh, she starts to wonder if she put her loyalties in the right place. Even moreso when she realizes that the Faresh shares the abilities she’s had to keep secret her whole life, and he might be the only one that can train her to use them.

|CW: Animal abuse, fires, threats|

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4 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Dragons, royalty, and unexpected themes; Conquest was an amazing book!

 

When I started Conquest late last year, I did expect to enjoy it as much as I did. I mean I did have high hopes for it, but I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

Conquest follows the story of Jashi Anyua, a ‘regular’ citizen of K’sundi under the Equalisation regime, and Kahmel Omah, the Faresh (king/ruler of K’sundi). In an unlikely turn of events, Jashi ends up engaged and married, in a traditional arranged marriage, to Kahmel becoming the Faresha, even when she doesn’t trust him or his motives.

I initially came into Conquest expecting to be carried with the enemies-to-lovers subplot (yes, it has enemies to lovers!), Black royalty and dragons, which I was, but there was more to Conquest that kept me engaged than that.

Conquest is set in the fictional world of Hemorah, a world just like Earth in more ways than one. Hemorah is a planet with a vast number of races and species, all united by a common Equalisation law. 

Now that I come to think of it, Conquest is low-key a dystopian science fantasy (its a cross of science fiction and fantasy, so that’s why I call it a science fantasy), and also very much like our narrative in reality. A common Equalisation law/regime, that should be obeyed without question and any nation that doesn’t follow these laws blindly will be hexed out. Very dystopian.

Another thing about Conquest that stood out to me is the commentary on colonisation. The Zendalaans, the creators and enforcers of Equalisation aren’t native to Hemorah. They’re a race of cyborgs with unknown origins who settled in Hemorah and basically took over, enforcing their will on the indigeneous inhabitants of the planet. Sounds familiar, right?

The events in Conquest show just how much colonisation can affect a people. How it steals away the individuality of people by presenting itself as the one good, ‘peaceful’ factor in the face of their barbaric practices. 

I could talk on forever about these subtle and unexpected themes in Conquest, but I’d probably give away the plot. Well give away more than I already have.

Back to the less heavy or thought invoking themes, I loved the worldbuilding in Conquest. We talk about wanting magic in modern or futuristic settings and Conquest delivers. Think about it flying cars and dragons? Sounds cool, right?

I also enjoyed the writing, Celeste weaves the different layers of the plot together almost seamlessly and the writing style is easy to follow.

The only thing I didn’t quite enjoy (it wasn’t bad actually) in the structure of the book was the pacing. The first half of the book started a bit slow in comparison to the second half, but I guess it was to introduce us to the book. The second half was more fast paced and more enjoyable. Its my favourite part of the story, everything unravels and makes sense their and certain characters redeem themselves. I also need to say the last few chapters were wow

Characters who are more like me than I’ll like to admit.

I think I’ll start this section with the female main character, Jashi Anyua, because that heading is about her.

To be honest in the first chapters of Conquest, I didn’t like Jashi much. She frustrated me to no end, but I ended up…understanding her, which I found shocking. I also loved the way her character developed in the later parts of of book, it made me feel proud of her.

So I more or less said Jashi is like me, here’s why. Jashi starts off as a naive character, an extremely naive one, who has internalised the teachings of Equalisation. She doesn’t question some of things, acts a little impulsively, and doesn’t quite see what’s in front of her till its too late. 

These traits seemed frustrating at first, but as the book progressed and I thought more about it, I understood and identified with it. Jashi had grown up under the Equalisation era, had been taught everything approved by the Equalisation in school and has seen the consequences of Equalisation. When you grow up hearing about how a certain group brought salvation to your people you tend to believe it especially when they’re accompanied with stories of how people like are/were lesser and real life repercussions for opposition; how can you think any different? 

This is the kind of psychological grooming neocolonisation perpeuate and as someone from an ex-colony, I understood that.

Bottom line, Jashi became a character I absolutely loved, especially after all the ways she improved.

 

Jashi, was the only character I loved. I loved the secondary characters, especially her best friend and her Nana, and I loved the male main character, Kahmel. 

Kahmel is the embodiment of gruff but soff. I absolutely loved his character, his sense of justice and honour and his drive to do better for his people. 

Just read it, ok…

There are so many amazing things about this book. So many things I wish I could say, but I’d end up spoiling. I think everyone needs to read Conquest. Its a 200% recommend from me and I can’t wait for the next book.

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Amazon

Goodreads

 


Have you read Conquest yet? If you haven’t, will you be reading it? 

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New TBR System

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Last year, when I first started blogging I began using TBRs to organise my reading and as a way of challenging myself. It was really fun at first, but I’m also a huge mood reader, so I found myself ditching formal TBRs.

At the end of the year, seeing my year in books on Goodreads, I noticed I got a little too carried away mood reading. While sometimes, using TBRs was hard, it helped me keep to a certain goal. My year in books at the end of 2019 ended up looking too white, allocishet, abled and definitely not diverse and I found that distressing.

Earlier this year, in January, I was trying to compile a list of books by Muslim authors I owned to create a spread for The Iqra Trials (a year long, reading challenge to read books by Muslim authors by the booktuber Tahirah @sincerelytahiry) when I came up with a new idea on how to organise my reading. I wanted a system that would provide an in between for mood reading and the organisation using a TBR gives, so I came up with my own reading/TBR system.

My TBR system is basically a reflection of the kind of books I want to read while still giving myself the space to choose as I like depending on my mood. Basically its about organisation and freedom, which is very much my style.

So to the list itself; it took a while to finalise on what I want and despite that, this reading system is still work in progress. I might end up refining it later if I discover I need to make new accommodations, but here’s what I have for now.

For each month, I’ll try to read:

  • 3 books by Black Authors
  • 3 books by Authors of Colour
  • 1 book by a Muslim Author
  • 1 book with neurodivergent/disabled/ mental illness/ chronic illness rep
  • 3 books with queer characters
  • 2 fantasy/sci-fi books.

These aren’t set figures, but more like what I should read on an average. I can end up reading 5 books by Black authors in a month, but so long as I reach my goal for books by Black authors, that category of the TBR is complete.

Also some books with intersectionals might count for more than one category. For example, my current read And The Starts Were Burning Brightly counts in both books by Black authors and books with mental illness rep.

I’m really excited to start with this new system.


What do you think of it? Would you do be doing something like this or do you already have one in place?

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Wrap Up: January & February 2020

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Its time for another wrap up! Ignore the fact its late.

This is going to be wrap up for two months, January and February, because I didn’t make a wrap up post for January.

 

What happened in January and February?

January wasn’t really a month for blogging for me, it was more about planning. I spent most of January planning for the now finished blog series in February, The Black Experience. The Black Experience was a month long blog series in honour of Black History Month about uplifting Black stories and voices.

January was a bit stressful with planning The Black Experience, clinical posting at school and being sick for majority of the month, but I had some amazing moments. I don’t talk much about real life or school here but, in January I went to the cinema for the first time (yes, i’m that much of a homebody, and about that perpetually broke) for a movie marathon with my ex-roommates, worked in obstetrics and gynaecology unit, which I mostly enjoyed and saw some deliveries (babies are cute, but i’m still undecided about the pregnancy business). January while it might have been frustrating some times was still a good month.

February was a lot more stressful than January. The Black Experience went live and I published 26 posts for almost everyday of the month; continued clinical posting but in other units and fields (my anxious ass finally vaccinated children 😭, i’m so proud), was sick again, developed a new theme on bookstagram and had to move rooms.

Doing The Black Experience in February was really fun, especially with some posts where I allowed myself reach peak weirdness. I worked with some amazing authors, and bloggers; people I admired and didn’t ever dream of working with. I won’t say it wasn’t without its problems though. It was a bit stressful to get back from the community or the hospital, take care of myself and post, especially when WordPress and my network provider were hellbent on creating problems for me. I had posts deleted before or just after they were published. I once woke up at midnight with bad cramps to see the post for the previous day deleted. I cried being in pain, having this happen and being stressed working in the hospital without any break after the previous academic year.

My mental health wasn’t so great either. Having no break after the previous year, the anxiety that comes with planning a huge project, especially with it being my first project, the stress of moving, losing someone I cared for and my mental health already being unbalanced for months made my mental health a wild thing.

On the bright side, Harmattan lasted till mid February this time! Its been a while since my favourite season lasted this long, at least in my state. For the first time in over four years, I had dry, chilly air till mid February, feeling the chill every morning and the seeing the sun up made me smile and made things a bit better.

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I read 22 books in these two months, that’s almost a third of what I read last year.

I enjoyed some of the books, some I didn’t and I dnf’d one book and it felt amazing.

  • The Wicked King by Holly Black

5 stars| ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Like The Cruel Prince last year, TWK was my first read of the year. I read it in one sitting. This book is perhaps my favourite book of the series. I left my shocked, stomped on my heart and said I deserve no rights.

  • The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

5 stars| ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I love, love, love QoN. I love the entire series even, its one of my favourite series ever. QoN was the final book we deserved. It ended me, destroyed me and rebirthed me. I’m Holly Black trash. The revelations, the closure. I’m doing a reread of the entire series soon.

  • Conquest by Celeste Harte

4 stars| ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I can say I started this year with amazing books. Conquest is a beautiful book. The setting, the characters and the little undertones got to me. I loved Conquest, a futuristic fantasy novel with dragons, royalty and a kind of royalty

  • Throw Like A Girl by Sarah Henning

3.5 stars| ⭐⭐⭐★

TLAG was a cute book. The story itself was more ok, but what I was impressed with was the knowledge of the sports the author hard. I literally felt like I was in book, watching the match. I also enjoyed how the characters, were genuine teenagers, real and messy

  • Wicked and The Wallflower by Sarah McLean

4 stars| ⭐⭐⭐⭐

In case you didn’t know, I love Sarah McLean. She’s one of my favourite historical romance authors, I’m absolute trash for her books. This book absolutely didn’t disappoint. Devil and Felicity were sweet.

  • The Neighbours by Nicole Gill

DNF at 25%

I wasn’t feeling this book. The main character made me angry most of the time and it seemed too slow.

  • That Can Be Arranged by Huda Fahmy

5 stars| ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Lets talk about one of my favourite books of this year. This graphic novel is so cute, funny and relatable, I read it alk in one sitting. No feelings, heart full.

  • Temptations of A Wallflower by Eva Leigh

2 stars| ⭐⭐

I can’t remember much of this book, but I can remember not being very impressed

  • A Duke By Default (Reluctant Royals #2) by Alyssa Cole

4 stars| ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I loved this book. I loved Tavish and Portia. I love seeing Portia work on and discover herself. I absolutely loved this book. The amazing mental illness and neurodivergence rep, the characters. I loved it.

  • Royals (Royals #1) by Rachel Hawkins

3 stars| ⭐⭐⭐

Royals was just a cute book. A little cliche, but cute.

  • Marriage of Inconvenience by Debbie Macomber

2 stars| ⭐⭐

This was a reread. I read this book in high school and I loved it then. Now, I wonder what crack fourteen year old was on, because I dislike it now.

  • Stand-In Wife by Debbie Macomber

2 stars| ⭐⭐

Same thoughts as for Marriage of Inconvenience.

February

  • Can’t Escape Love by Alyssa Cole

4 stars| ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I loved this book. I enjoyed the disabled and neurodivergent rep. I’d recommend this novella to anyone looking for a short, sweet read.

  • Muslim Girl by Umm Zakiyyah

2 stars| ⭐⭐

I read this book for Iqra trials in February and I feel terrible because how much I dislike this book. I have so much to say and its best I finish the review.

  • Indigo by Beverly Jenkins

5 stars| ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I am a newly converted fan of Ms Bev. Indigo was my first ever audiobook and I loved it. I loved the narration, the story itself and the characters. Its of my favourite books ever.

  • Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

4 stars| ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The only thing I can say is IGNIFEX!!!! This was such an unexpected Beauty and Beast retelling and the heartbreak 😭

  • Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge

2.5|⭐⭐★

It was pretty average and a little disappointing after reading Cruel Beauty.

  • The Princess Trap by Talia Hibbert

3 stars| ⭐⭐⭐

The process of me becoming Talia Gilbert trash began last year with Get A Life, Chloe Brown, and I haven’t looked back since then. The Princess Trap was a really good book, even though I rated it 3 stars. I loved the rep and the characters. I love the male main character and that’s more than I can say for most romances.

  • A Girl Like Her (Ravenswood #1) by Talia Hibbert

5 stars| ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I can’t explain how much I love this book. I loved the characters so much, Ruth and Evan are sweetest couple ever. Evan is one of my favourite male characters. He’s so thoughtful and sweet. AGLH has amazing autistic and depression rep as well as commentary on abusive relationships. This book is just amazing.

  • Untouchable (Ravenswood #2) by Talia Hibbert

4 stars| ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I basically loved all the books in this particular series. I loved Untouchable. It had great depression and anxiety rep. I also loved the conversation it had about sex. It was an amazing book.

  • Through The Storm by Beverly Jenkins

3.5 stars| ⭐⭐⭐★

After reading Indigo, I wanted to see if Raimond had his own story. I liked Through The Storm, but I didn’t love it like I did Indigo, but its a great book.

  • That Kind Of Guy (Ravenswood #3) by Talia Hibbert

4.5 stars| ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I LOVE this book so much. If I have to talk about books that made me feel seen, That Kind Of Guy is of them. Its the second book with a demisexuality I’ve ever read and its so important to me. The demi rep, how Zach felt made me so happy. I’m going to make a post of my favourite quotes from this book, because sometimes when reading I felt I could cry. I’m now unchangeably a Talia Hibbert stan.

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Blog Tour: Throw Like A Girl Review

#Diversereadsof2020: 20+ Books By Muslim Authors Releasing In 2020

The Black Experience: Introductory Post

1st Blogiversary And Post Of The Year

The Black Experience: Debut Black Releases In 2020

The Black Experience: Books by Black Authors in 2020 (Part 1)

The Black Experience: Debut Author Corner

The Black Experience: Race Isn’t A Trend

The Black Experience: The Need For More Black Representation

The Black Experience: Favourite books by Black Authors

The Black Experience: The Case For Black Mediocrity

The Black Experience: Fantasy Books Inspired By Caribbean & African Lore

The Black Experience: Being An African Blogger

That Can Be Arranged [ARC Review]

The Black Experience: Books by Black Authors in 2020 (Part 2)

The Black Experience: Favourite books with Black characters in love

The Black Experience: Favourite Black Content Creators

The Black Experience: The Danger Of The Single Story

The Black Experience: Books with Black Aromantic characters/ by Black Aro Authors

The Black Experience: Being Black And Muslim

The Black Experience: Anime recs with Black Characters

The Black Experience: Unicorn At The End Of The Rainbow — Black Muslims In Media

The Black Experience: Graphic Novels/Comics With Black Representation

The Black Experience: Classifying Nigerian Music Genres As Book Genres

The Black Experience: Books With Black Characters That Made Me Feel Seen

The Black Experience: Tokenism In Literature — Black Bodies As Love Interests And Sidekicks

The Black Experience: Queer Books By Black Authors

The Black Experience: Colonial Mindset — The Nigerian Case

The Black Experience: Books By Black Authors In 2020 (Extra)

The Black Experience: The Òrìṣà Inspired Book Tag

Plans for March

This month, I intend to catch up on all my ARCs; continue participating in the #Iqratrails, supporting Black, Muslim, queer and other diverse stories. I also plan on putting out more reviews and catching up on my outstanding reviews, and finally using mg new TBR system.

I also want to get back into writing, I’ve missed it, and give more attention to my critique partner, who has been so understanding these past few months.

I hope all my plans go well.


What are your plans for this month?


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The Black Experience: The Òrìṣà Inspired Book Tag

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Hello, everyone!

Welcome to The Black Experience, a month long blog series through February, in honour of Black History Month, which features Black bloggers, booktubers and authors. This project aims at highlighting Black stories and experiences both in real life and in publishing, as well as showing our individual and collective struggles.

Today for the final post, I’ll be sharing an original book tag, The Òrìṣà (Orisha) Inspired Book Tag. This post was originally a tentative idea, it would or won’t have been published depending on whether I had the time, but here we are. This tag compares some of attributes of the Òrìṣà mentioned to characters who possessed the same characteristics. I hope you enjoy it!


RULES/ BASIC INFO

Just a few basic things ❤

  • Make sure you tag me in your post. I’m not so sure anyone would want to partake in this, but if you do, I want to see all your answers!
  • You don’t have to use my graphics, you can make yours, if you want to!
  • Tag as many friends as you want

That’s all there is! Now to the prompts


 

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YEMỌJA: A MOTHERLY CHARACTER

Yemója is the Yoruba divinity of rivers/waters/water resources, motherhood and the Mother Deity. 

Blythe Fulton from The Black Veins. I didn’t have to think hard about this one, when I first thought of the tag, the next thing that came to me was Blythe’s name. I guess there more characters that could fit this tag but, Blythe seems like the best choice because she was just a teenager like the rest of the team, but she became their unofficial leader and mother hen.

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Ọ̀ṢUN: A SENSUAL CHARACTER

Ọ̀ṣun is the Yoruba divinity of love, beauty, intimacy, diplomacy and fertility. She is also one of the river deities, under Yemọja.  Ọ̀ṣun is second wife of Ṣàngó, the Òrìṣà of thunder, lightning and virility. She and Ọya are said to strong rivals. She is associated with grace, beauty and sensuality.

Ọ̀ṣun is the patron of River Osun and birth mother of Ibejí.

Joshua ‘Jay’ Hoffman from The Black Veins. I took a while to think of character, but then I remembered my son, Jay and it just felt right. If you haven’t read TBV yet, Jay has this magneticism and sensuality to him, as the Guardian of Body, and he’s also oppresively pretty.

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ÈṢÙ: A TRICKSTER CHARACTER

Èṣù is Òrìṣà of chance, accident and unpredictability. He/She is the divine messanger and Ọlọrun’s linguist and therefore the messenger. Èṣù is said to be lurk at gateways, highways and crossroads where they brings chance and accidents into the life of humans. Èṣù is one the genderqueer divinities (please don’t argue this with me, i won’t be nice about it as i’ll take it as queerphobic and if you think its incorrect please go read up sexuality and gender orientation in precolonial yorubaland)

Ignifex from Cruel Beauty. Igni-fucking-fex (excuse my language). You know those characters that when you see a tag you’re like ‘you, yes you’, that’s what I thought after creating this tag, I just knew it was Ignifex. Who else is better than my sweet, evil Gentle Lord, who makes roundabout bargain for this tag? The one who’ll make you bargain and laugh at how naive you’ve been. My beautiful one eyed baby who’d introduce you to accident and misfortune. *sobs* I love my child. So yes, the love of my life, Ignifex.

Locke from Folk Of The Air Series. I might hate this fucker, but I agree he’s the man for the job. Locke is just…I have nothing good to say. He’s a trickster, one of the worst kinds, so he’s good for this tag.

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Ọ̀RÚNḾÌLÀ:  A WISE/KNOWLEDGEABLE CHARACTER 

Ọ̀rúnḿìlà is the Yoruba deity of wisdom, knowledge, divination and fate. Ọ̀rúnḿìlà is the grand priest and custodian of the Ifá oracle. In the tale of origin, Ọ̀rúnḿìlà was one of the Òrìṣà to be sent down to make the Earth habitable for man. Ọ̀rúnḿìlà is known as the second in command of Olodùmarè (Igbakeji Olodumare) and a witness to fate.

Yetu from The Deep. Perhaps, if I thought deeper (ok, I see that pun there), but when Yetu came to mind, I thought she was the perfect character. Yetu is basically the custodian of knowledge for her people, the wajinru, and every Rememberance see passes that knowledge about their history to them as the wajinru are gifted to forget. Yetu, like, Ọ̀rúnḿìlà can be seen as a priest of sorts, as her people worship her in a way. 

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ṢÀNGÓ: A HOTHEADED CHARACTER

Ṣàngó, is the Yoruba deity of thunder, lightning, justice, dance and virility. Ṣàngó was the third Alaafin of Oyo, and is said to be deifitied posthumously. Ṣàngó had three wives, Ọbá, Ọ̀ṣun and Ọya. A little at odds with his title, Ṣàngó was a little bit hot tempered and his reign was full of wars. Ṣàngó is one the most popular Òrìṣà and his dance is the Bata dance.

Jude Duarte from Folk of The Air Series. Now, Jude is more angry than hot tempered. She perpetually angry because anger is better than fear, which is what she is truly is. 

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ỌYA: A LOYAL CHARACTER

Ọya is the Yoruba divinity of storms, cemeteries, change and rebirth. Ọya is third wife of Ṣàngó and was the one stood with him till the very end. Ọya is also a powerful Òrìṣà is often described as the Tempest. Ọya and her immediate senior wife, were bitter rivals, a rivalry that wasn’t only borne for the love of their husband, but also because of the right to Ibejí. 

Ọya is the patron of River Niger and the adopted mother of Ibejí.

I know 99 loyal characters, but can’t think of the perfect character of this, phew.

Dean from We Hunt The Flame. I thought really hard about this one, and I think he fits. Dean, might have been in love with Zafira, but you can’t dismiss his loyalty. He was also so sweet and kind, I can’t *sobs*.

Also, Laia from An Ember In The Ashes. I know I’ve talked about this in another tag, but Laia’s loyalty and what she goes through for her only remaining family is one of the reasons I love her.

 


I’m tagging Saoudia , Nelo, Tanya, Em, Fadwa, Olivia , Taiwo and anyone who wants to play. Booktubers and bookstagrammers are welcome to participate in the tag; just tag me in your videos or post or even on twitter if you participate.

Thank you for being here till the end of the month. Again, Happy Black History Month!


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The Black Experience: Books by Black Authors in 2020 (Extra)

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Hello, everyone!

Welcome to The Black Experience, a month long blog series through February, in honour of Black History Month, which features Black bloggers, booktubers and authors. This project aims at highlighting Black stories and experiences both in real life and in publishing, as well as showing our individual and collective struggles.

In today’s post, I’ll be giving another list of books by Black Authors releasing in 2020. Due to the sheer number of books by Black authors releasing this year, the original post was been divided into two i.e Part 1 and Part 2. (that list did not include books by Debut authors as it will be redundant when there is already a list of that) but as new books came up while curating the original list I decided to make an extra so I don’t leave anyone out. Please note this list should not be taken as a list of ALL books by Black authors coming out this year, there are so many authors — trad, indie and self published — and sadly, I can’t reach them all.

 Please take this list as a continuation of the other existing lists, has it will be numbered as such.


(The complete list of Books by Black authors in 2020 begins with the list of books by Black debut authors, you can view those HERE , and two other preexisting lists with books by non debut Black authors HERE  and HERE)

 

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69. Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

Genre: Fantasy

Category: YA

Expected Publication Date: April 4, 2020

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 Eleven. 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.

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(Jordan Ifueko is a debut author. Her book will be moved to the debut authors post at the end of the blog series.)

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70. Zo by Xander Miller

Genre: Romance

Category:

Expected Publication Date: August 11, 2020

A riveting, gorgeously written debut novel—a contemporary Romeo and Juliet saga with great emotional power, set in Haiti during the 2010 earthquake and its aftermath.

When we first meet Zwazo Delalun—Zo—he is a young orphan in a fishing village. Although he’s been told he may be the “poorest boy in the Western Hemisphere,” he possesses every trademark of a hero: he’s strong, honest, and courageous, and he dreams of a better life. As he grows up, Zo travels the island, working in the cane fields and almond orchards and out at sea—but he longs for something work can’t earn him: love. Then one morning, while hauling cement under the broiling sun, he meets Anaya, a beautiful nursing student sipping cherry juice under a tree. Their attraction is instantaneous, fierce. Anaya uses her knowledge of medicine to cure Zo of the malaria that’s plagued him for months, even as she intoxicates him with a love more potent than any he could have imagined.

But Anaya’s father, a prominent doctor, cannot accept that a poor, uneducated man is destined for his daughter, and he takes measures to stop their union. Zo and Anaya nevertheless find a way to be together—making a new home in the hills outside Port-au-Prince—until the unthinkable happens: an earthquake roils the ground. Homes, hospitals, and churches topple; roads crack. Zo watches as the city—where Anaya is in class—is reduced to rubble in a searing instant. Even before the dust has settled, Zo is ready to risk his life to rescue her—if he can only find her, and keep himself alive in the meantime.

Suspenseful, heartrending, written in lyrical prose, Zo captures the sensory splendor of Haiti at a moment of historic crisis and transformation, as it tells the unforgettable story of one remarkable man’s life and love.

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(Xander Miller is a debut author. His book will be moved to the debut authors post at the end of the blog series.)

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71. Tristan Strong Destroys The World by Kwame Mbalia

Genre: Fantasy

Category: MG

Expected Publication Date: October 6, 2020

No information available

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[Cover to be revealed]

72. Speculation by Nisi Shawl

Genre: Fantasy

Category: MG

Expected Publication Date: 2020

In this historical fantasy inspired by the works of Edward Eager, Winna Cole discovers a pair of magical spectacles that reveal both the friendly ghosts of her African-American ancestors and a dangerous family curse.

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73. Stormsong (The Kingston Cycle #2) by C.L. Polk

Genre: Fantasy

Category: Adult

Publication Date: February 11, 2020

After spinning an enthralling world in Witchmark, praised as a “can’t-miss debut” by Booklist, and as “thoroughly charming and deftly paced” by the New York Times, C. L. Polk continues the story in Stormsong. Magical cabals, otherworldly avengers, and impossible love affairs conspire to create a book that refuses to be put down.

Dame Grace Hensley helped her brother Miles undo the atrocity that stained her nation, but now she has to deal with the consequences. With the power out in the dead of winter and an uncontrollable sequence of winter storms on the horizon, Aeland faces disaster. Grace has the vision to guide her parents to safety, but a hostile queen and a ring of rogue mages stand in the way of her plans. There’s revolution in the air, and any spark could light the powder. What’s worse, upstart photojournalist Avia Jessup draws ever closer to secrets that could topple the nation, and closer to Grace’s heart.

Can Aeland be saved without bloodshed? Or will Kingston die in flames, and Grace along with it?

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74. Gloom Town by Ronald L. Smith

Genre: Fantasy

Category: Kidlit/ MG

Expected Publication Date: February 11, 2020

When twelve-year-old Rory applies for a job at a spooky old mansion in his gloomy seaside town, he finds the owner, Lord Foxglove, odd and unpleasant. But he and his mom need the money, so he takes the job anyway. Rory soon finds out that his new boss is not just strange, he’s not even human—and he’s trying to steal the townspeople’s shadows. Together, Rory and his friend Isabella set out to uncover exactly what Foxglove and his otherworldly accomplices are planning and devise a strategy to defeat them. But can two kids defeat a group of ancient evil beings who are determined to take over the world?

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75. Arcade and the Dazzling Truth Detector (The Coin Slot Chronicles #4) by Rashad Jennings

Genre: Fantasy

Category: MG

Expected Publication Date: September 1, 2020

Join Arcade Livingston and his friends on their most important time-travelling, globe-trotting adventures yet in this fourth and final book in the Coin Slot Chronicles series, where all the questions about the mysterious and powerful Triple T Token will finally be answered.

What does the last T on the Triple T Token stand for? Where did it come from? What did Arcade’s mom do with the token when she had it? And why does Arcade have it now?

Arcade and Zoe Livingston have been on a quest for truth ever since the mysterious lady gave Arcade the token, said, “Happy Travels,” then vanished. Now, Arcade Livingston has just one wish on his twelfth birthday: to experience the ests of life.

From the highest, lowest, deepest, coldest, and hottest places on Earth; to some of the greatest, most influential moments in history—Arcade will get his wish and much more than he could ever dream as the Triple T Token takes him and Zoe back in time and to the top (and bottom!) of the world. It’s a whirlwind journey of self-discovery in some of the most exciting and unusual places on the planet.

So, hang on tight, because these final Arcade adventures are filled with magic elevator rides you’ll never, ever forget.

Read as part of the series or as a stand-alone novel! Arcade and the Dazzling Truth Detector is the fourth book in the humorous and imaginative Coin Slot Chronicles series by New York Times bestselling author, former NFL running back, and Dancing with the Stars champion Rashad Jennings.

Great for reluctant readers
Black and white illustrations included

 

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76. Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark

Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction

Category:

Expected Date Of Publication: October 13, 2020

Nebula, Locus, and Alex Award-winner . Djèlí Clark returns with Ring Shout, a dark fantasy historical novella that gives a supernatural twist to the Ku Klux Klan’s reign of terror

D. W. Griffith is a sorcerer, and The Birth of a Nation is a spell that drew upon the darkest thoughts and wishes from the heart of America. Now, rising in power and prominence, the Klan has a plot to unleash Hell on Earth.

Luckily, Maryse Boudreaux has a magic sword and a head full of tales. When she’s not running bootleg whiskey through Prohibition Georgia, she’s fighting monsters she calls “Ku Kluxes.” She’s damn good at it, too. But to confront this ongoing evil, she must journey between worlds to face nightmares made flesh–and her own demons. Together with a foul-mouthed sharpshooter and a Harlem Hellfighter, Maryse sets out to save a world from the hate that would consume Nebula, Locus, and Alex Award-winner . Djèlí Clark returns with Ring Shout, a dark fantasy historical novella that gives a supernatural twist to the Ku Klux Klan’s reign of terror

D. W. Griffith is a sorcerer, and The Birth of a Nation is a spell that drew upon the darkest thoughts and wishes from the heart of America. Now, rising in power and prominence, the Klan has a plot to unleash Hell on Earth.

Luckily, Maryse Boudreaux has a magic sword and a head full of tales. When she’s not running bootleg whiskey through Prohibition Georgia, she’s fighting monsters she calls “Ku Kluxes.” She’s damn good at it, too. But to confront this ongoing evil, she must journey between worlds to face nightmares made flesh–and her own demons. Together with a foul-mouthed sharpshooter and a Harlem Hellfighter, Maryse sets out to save a world from the hate that would consume it.

Add on Goodreads

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77.  The Fruit (Wrath & Athenaeum#3) by Na’amen Gobert Tilahun

Genre: Fantasy

Category: YA

Expected Publication Date: August 18, 2020

Following The Root and The Tree, the final novel in the Wrath & Athenaeum, a compelling urban fantasy set in a San Francisco merged with a dimension filled with gods and magic.

The ravenous darkness threatening the twin worlds of Earth and Corpiliu is trapped . . . for now. But the alliance of two societies is fragile: new species clash with existing ones, monster-like Antes enslave humans, and humans hunt the “invaders” down.

Meanwhile, young warrior Erik has left everything behind to wander the world keeping order, haunted by visions of his lost love. But is it a trick like before—or the real thing? And even as word of Erik’s deeds begins to spread, his own father, now fallen to the darkness, is spreading hatred and gathering legions.

Elsewhere, seer Tae and dream-visionary Melinda must learn how to defeat the forces arrayed against them, but they’ll need the help of gods driven beyond morality and sanity. And as Lil adapts to her new world, her magical powers grow beyond her control and threaten everything she’s working for.

When all of these powers collide, the world will break. And the one created afterward may not be what anyone expected. . . .

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78. The Hero of Numbani by Nicky Drayden

Genre: Science Fiction

Category: MG

Expected Publication Date: May 5, 2020

In the technologically advanced African city of Numbani, in the not-so-distant future, humans live in harmony with humanoid robots known as omnics. But when a terrorist tries to shatter that unity, a hero named Efi Oladele rises!

Efi has been making robots since she was little-machines to better her community and improve people’s lives. But after she witnesses Doomfist’s catastrophic attack on the city’s OR15 security bots, Efi feels the call to build something greater: a true guardian of Numbani.

While Doomfist sows discord between humans and omnics, Efi engineers an intelligent and compassionate robot, Orisa, named after the powerful spirits who guide her people. Orisa has a lot to learn before she’s ready to defeat Doomfist, but Efi has some learning to do, too, especially when it comes to building-and being-a hero. With Doomfist rallying his forces, and the military powerless to stop him, can Efi mold Orisa into the hero of Numbani before it’s too late?

This action-packed novel features the fan-favorite characters Efi, Orisa, Doomfist, and Lúcio in an all-new, original story straight from the minds of the Overwatch game team and critically acclaimed author Nicky Drayden

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79. Cry of Blood and Bone (Earthsinger Chronicles #3) L. Penelope

Genre: Fantasy

Category: YA

Expected Publication Date: August 2020

Six weeks after the fall of the Mantle, former warring nations Elsira and Lagrimar are now one country. But the unification of centuries-old enemies comes with a price. Not only do hatred and mistrust flow from both sides, but a new foreign threat looms on the horizon.

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[Cover to be revealed]

80. A Crown So Cursed (The Nightmare-Verse #3) by LL. McKinney

Genre: Fantasy

Category: YA

Expected Publication Date: 2020

No information available yet

Add onGoodreads

[Cover to be revealed]

81. Unti Teen by Ibi Zoboi

Genre: Science Fiction

Category: YA

Expected Publication Date: September 7, 2020

No information available yet

Add on Goodreads

[Cover to be revealed]

82. The Fires of Vengeance (The Burning #2) by Evan Winter

Genre: Fantasy

Category: Adult

Expected Publication Date: July 16, 2020

The Sequel to “The Rage Of Dragons”

Add on Goodreads

[Cover to be revealed]

83. Kingdom Of Souls #2 by Rena Baron

Genre: Fantasy

Category: YA

Expected Publication Date :September 7, 2020

No information available yet

Add on Goodreads

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84. All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

Genre: Nonfiction

Category: YA

Expected Publication Date: April 28

Farrar, Straus and Giroux has bought world rights to journalist and LGBTQ+ activist George M. Johnson’s YA memoir, All Boys Aren’t Blue. The memoir takes stories from his life growing up as a queer black teen to show readers how they can fight for themselves or be allies in the struggle for equity and equality. Publication is set for winter 2020.

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(All Boys Aren’t Blue is the first book by this author and would be moved to the debut author post after this series)


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The Black Experience: Colonial Mindset — The Nigerian Case

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Hello, everyone!

Welcome to The Black Experience, a month long blog series through February, in honour of Black History Month, which features Black bloggers, booktubers and authors. This project aims at highlighting Black stories and experiences both in real life and in publishing, as well as showing our individual and collective struggles.

Today’s post is a bit personal and its a discussion post. I’ll be talking about one of the greatest effects of colonisation, The Colonial Mindset/Mentality and how it has affected my life and experiences, as well as that of the people around me.


Like many countries in Africa, Nigeria gained her independence in the previous century. In 1960, Nigeria became an independent country, no longer a colony of Great Britain, or so we like to tell ourselves.

The European quest to conquer The New World aka Africa began in the sixteenth century. They dealt their first devastating blow with the Transaltantic slave trade, then they barged right back into our kingdoms and communities with their explorations, exploiting our resources and tried to bring us to civilisation by building their colonies, ignoring the fact that we already had our systems, our own styles of civilisation. But wasn’t the whole conquest built on the need to exploit and the unfounded belief in their superiority, and our inferiority.

In my opinion, which is also a hill I’d die on, the greatest weapon the European colonisers had, and still have, was mindfuckery. They excelled so much at this that they sold their beliefs and ingrained them in our minds.

The activities of the Europeans brought so much damage to the continent, many we’re to recover from, and one of them is the colonial mindset. That sense of inferiority that they’ve instilled in our minds.

Growing up as a child, my first taste of neo-colonisation was the belief that anything that tied be to being mostly Nigerian or Yoruba was uncultured, local. Being a child, I wholly gobbled it down. I tried to distance myself as much as possible from my culture, which wasn’t truly possible because of my family. While my parents didn’t put too much pressure on me to fully engage in cultural practice (except for having basic knowledge of Yoruba, because well I needed good grades at school), they, especially my mum didn’t hide their displeasure. She would always say “You know those Oyinbo you’re trying so much imitate, most of them speak their native language.” She would make example of European cultures, and POC too, like Latinx folks, but I didn’t feel that applied to me. I’m Black afterall, African even, I was inferior. It didn’t help that in most of History or Civic Education class before I got to Senior Secondary School, colonisation was always romanticised.

I grew up not speaking my first language unless it was absolutely necessary like in class or Grandma asked me to. Because of my disuse of the language, I was and I’m still extremely rusty, but I’ll to believe I’m better than I was at speaking Yoruba than I was 4 years ago. 

This way of thinking didn’t just affect my relationship with my culture and my family too — because most of my extended family spoke Yoruba and while I did understand, years of not replying in Yoruba as made the knowledge of Yoruba more of a thing of theory — it affected my reading habits. 

For years, with the exception of what was included in school curriculum, I didn’t read any books by African, especially Nigerian authors, and other Black authors. I felt they were of inferior quality, which made no fucking sense since I read many amazing children books written by Nigerian authors when I was younger, and some of the books I read at school were pretty good. It makes even less sense because we have authors like Chimamanda Adochie, Wole Soyinka, China Achebe and other amazing authors, but anything Nigerian must be inferior right, even our music — which I’m been exploring more the past few years. There are other reasons why I stopped reading Nigerian books too, that’s a topic for another day, but I can’t pretend internalised anti-Blackness wasn’t the major reason I stopped.

A while back, I saw a post by another Nigerian blogger whom and I admire saying she once had the same opinion I onced had, and it saddening.

While other people might not have had experiences as extreme as mine, the colonial mindset is something almost every Nigerian has internalised. Almost everyday, you hear statement about how white people are better than us. I once had a conversation with someone I admired, another Nigerian, and he said something derogatory about Black people and in reference to how white people are better than us, and I felt both angry and sad. It made me think back to every conversation I’ve overheard about race from people around me and the single factor they all had in common — people like me echoing why were inferior. Its no wonder I had and most likely have, that warped way of thinking.

Mindfuckery as I said is their greatest weapon. And that weapon has robbed me of so many things. At 19, I still can’t hold a full conversation comfortably in my mother tongue, without hitches. I couldn’t have good, complete conversations with my late great grandmother before she passed. I felt like a outsider among my cousins, because I couldn’t mesh with them in the most basic ways and make jokes with them in Yoruba. I missed out so many amazing books, which I plan on rectifying.

Perhaps it was my fault I took all of those teachings to heart, but should never have existed in the first place. I shouldn’t have had any basis to think of myself and my people as less.

Self hatred is a heady drug, and I’m tired of hating the bests parts of myself.



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