Things We Couldn’t Say by Jay Coles Blog Tour Post

Book Description

Title: Things We Couldn’t Say 

Author: Jay Coles 

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Publication Date: September 21st, 2021

Genres: Young Adult Contemporary 

Synopsis:

From one of the brightest and most acclaimed new lights in YA fiction, a fantastic new novel about a bi Black boy finding first love . . . and facing the return of the mother who abandoned his preacher family when he was nine.

There’s always been a hole in Gio’s life. Not because he’s into both guys and girls. Not because his father has some drinking issues. Not because his friends are always bringing him their drama. No, the hole in Gio’s life takes the shape of his birth mom, who left Gio, his brother, and his father when Gio was nine years old. For eight years, he never heard a word from her . . . and now, just as he’s started to get his life together, she’s back.

It’s hard for Gio to know what to do. Can he forgive her like she wants to be forgiven? Or should he tell her she lost her chance to be in his life? Complicating things further, Gio’s started to hang out with David, a new guy on the basketball team. Are they friends? More than friends? At first, Gio’s not sure . . . especially because he’s not sure what he wants from anyone right now.

There are no easy answers to love — whether it’s family love or friend love or romantic love. In Things We Couldn’t Say, Jay Coles, acclaimed author of Tyler Johnson Was Here, shows us a guy trying to navigate love in all its ambiguity — hoping at the other end he’ll be able to figure out who is and who he should be. 

Book links

Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Book Depository ~ Barnes & Noble ~ IndieBound ~ Indigo

Review

Thank You to Colored Pages Tours for having me on this blog tour for the book Things we Couldn’t Say by Jay Coles. Check our the tour schedule here.

Thoughts and Themes: There was so much that I really enjoyed about this story. There is not enough stories about bisexual boys and I loved that in this story both the main character and David are bisexual. This story handles a lot of different things, from Gio figuring out his sexuality to him dealing with his feelings about his mother abandoning him when he was younger.

I also really liked the different mental health issues that are brought up through this story. There was a lot going on for both Gio and his brother, Theo when it comes to their mental health and I liked how that was a part of the story. We got to see them have real emotions and I loved that everyone around them took those emotions seriously. I liked that Gio was given permission by those around him to be vulnerable with them and how important that vulnerability was for him to be able to cope with what was happening in his life.

Characters: In this story you get introduced to several characters through their interactions with Gio. You get to meet Gio’s younger brother, Theo, his best friends, Ayesha and Olly, the love interest, David, and Gio’s step mother, dad, and birth mom.

I really enjoyed the dynamic between Gio and his younger brother and how protective he is of him. I also liked how Theo develops throughout this story and how essential he is to the development of Gio. I like how they discuss their feelings with each other and help each other navigate their mom trying to come back into their lives after abandoning them.

I really liked the friendship that Gio has with Ayesha and Olly, and then eventually develops with David. I like how they all keep things real with each other an dhow Gio feels like he can trust his friends with his feelings. I like how we get to see a friendship develop between Gio and David before a romance plot is even explored.

Writing Style: This story is written in first person through Gio’s perspective which was something that I enjoyed. I liked that the story allowed you to be inside of Gio’s head at every moment. This perspective allowed you to feel for Gio and also understand why he was acting certain ways with different people.

Author Information

JAY COLES is the author of critically acclaimed TYLER JOHNSON WAS HERE, a composer with ASCAP, and a professional musician residing in Muncie, Indiana. He is a graduate of Vincennes University and Ball State University and holds degrees in English and Liberal Arts. When he’s not writing diverse books, he’s advocating for them, serving with The Revolution church, and composing music for various music publishers. Jay’s forthcoming novel THINGS WE COULDN’T SAY is set to be released 9.21.21 with Scholastic! His novels can be purchased at Barnes and Noble or at Amazon. 

Author Links

Website ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ GoodReads ~ Tumblr

Fence Volume 1-3 by by C.S. Pacat (Author), Johanna the Mad (Illustrator), Joana LaFuente (Colorist), and Jim Campbell (Letterer) Book Review

Book Description

Nicholas, the illegitimate son of a retired fencing champion, is a scrappy fencing wunderkind, and dreams of getting the chance and the training to actually compete. After getting accepted to the prodigious Kings Row private school, Nicholas is thrust into a cut-throat world, and finds himself facing not only his golden-boy half-brother, but the unbeatable, mysterious Seiji Katayama…

Through clashes, rivalries, and romance between teammates, Nicholas and the boys of Kings Row will discover there’s much more to fencing than just foils and lunges. From acclaimed writer C.S. Pacat (The Captive Prince) and fan-favorite artist Johanna the Mad. 

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I had been putting off reading this book because it is always a hit or miss with books that revolve around sports. I figured I should finally read it though since I was going through all of the graphic novels really quickly. I’m glad that I decided to pick this one up as it was one that I couldn’t put down. I’m really sad that the library doesn’t have volume 4 since I need more of all these boys.

The books are a quick and easy read which made it a lot of fun to read in between my homework assignments. I loved that it really doesn’t matter if you know anything about fencing, I liked that they walk you through a lot of the fencing rules and the matches. I also really liked the shenanigans the boys get into when they aren’t fencing.

Characters: I loved all of these characters and how different they all are. I loved each of their distinct personalities and the friendships that they have with each other. I liked the rivalry between Seiji and Nicholas that is included in all three books and how that develops. I also love the friendship between the previous team members and Bobby and Nicholas.

I also really enjoyed the diversity in this book, you get a range of sexualities even if they aren’t explicitly stated. I also really liked the racial diversity in the characters as well as the diversity in economic status. I liked that we got to see both rich kids and then scholarship kids, and everyone else in the middle. I thought that was a great addition to be able to see that Nicholas was still a great fencer regardless of where and how he got his training.

Writing and Art Style: I loved the art style in this book, it is really cute but there is also some intense moments that you can clearly see from the looks of the boys’ faces. I love that you can see the feelings right on their faces without there having to be words and how the story tells itself through the images often times. Sometimes when I read graphic novels I can’t distinguish the characters from each other so I love how in this one they are all very different from one another. I like that they all have distinct looks.

Author Information

C.S. Pacat is the USA-Today best-selling author of Dark Rise, the Captive Prince trilogy, and the GLAAD-nominated graphic novels Fence.

Born in Australia and educated at the University of Melbourne, C.S. Pacat has lived in a number of cities, including Tokyo and Perugia, and currently resides and writes in Melbourne.

Snapdragon by Kat Leyh Book Review

Book Description

Snap’s town had a witch.

At least, that’s how the rumor goes. But in reality, Jacks is just a Crocs-wearing, internet-savvy old lady who sells roadkill skeletons online. It’s creepy, sure, but Snap thinks it’s kind of cool, too.

Snap needs a favor from this old woman, though, so she begins helping Jacks with her strange work. Snap gets to know her and realizes that Jacks may in fact have real magic—and an unlikely connection to Snap’s family’s past.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I’ve been reading a lot of graphic novels recently and have been enjoying them quite a bit. My only thing with them is sometimes they are too short and I’m left wanting more of the characters and their world. This one was different though because while I loved it so much, I felt that it was just the right length and everything was covered in the few pages it had.

There was so much to love about this book and most of it was in the characters and the diversity within those characters. I also really enjoyed the world that you get to explore in this book and how it gets introduced to you.

Characters: I really enjoyed all the characters that you get to meet in this book and loved the diversity that is included throughout. I loved that the majority of the characters in this book are LGBTQ+ or people of color. I thought that was great to see and to have magic exist for both of these communities when often times I don’t see magic with LGBTQ+ characters or people of color.

I really like how Snap and Jacks are both shown to outcasts with the people their age as well as the rest of the neighborhood. I think this adds to what draws them together and why their relationship gradually develops. I liked how Jacks

I really liked Snaps and Lu’s friendship and how that begins and unfolds. I liked how Lu was a part of what seemed to be the popular crowd but how Snap and her became friends because Snap didn’t question or judge Lu for being a Trans girl.

I really liked how the mystery of the demon that has been following Snap’s family unravels and how we figure out things about that. I thought that was a great addition to the book and liked how that character played out.

Writing and Art Style: I actually wouldn’t have normally picked this up just based on the cover because of the darker colors but I am glad that I did. I loved the art style in this one and how each character looked different. I loved how the colors added to the mystery of the story and added to the story telling. I also liked how we got to go back and forth between Snap and Jacks time together as well as Snap and LuLus time together.

Author Information

Kat Leyh is a Chicago based writer and artist. She’s best known as the current co-writer and cover artist for the series Lumberjanes, and for her queer superhero webcomic Supercakes. She’s also worked as a cover artist, and back-up writer/artist for several BOOM! Studios series.

The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen Book Review

Book Description

Caleb Michaels is a sixteen-year-old champion running back. Other than that his life is pretty normal. But when Caleb starts experiencing mood swings that are out of the ordinary for even a teenager, his life moves beyond “typical.”

Caleb is an Atypical, an individual with enhanced abilities. Which sounds pretty cool except Caleb’s ability is extreme empathy—he feels the emotions of everyone around him. Being an empath in high school would be hard enough, but Caleb’s life becomes even more complicated when he keeps getting pulled into the emotional orbit of one of his classmates, Adam. Adam’s feelings are big and all-consuming, but they fit together with Caleb’s feelings in a way that he can’t quite understand.

Caleb’s therapist, Dr. Bright, encourages Caleb to explore this connection by befriending Adam. As he and Adam grow closer, Caleb learns more about his ability, himself, his therapist—who seems to know a lot more than she lets on—and just how dangerous being an Atypical can be.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: Thank you to Tor Teen for sending me a copy of this book so that I could provide a review for it.

I decided to listen to this book on audio since I really enjoyed listening to A Neon Darkness and this was just as great. This book reminds me a lot of The Extraordinaries which was another one that I loved which was why I decided to read this one. I’ve been listening to The Bright Sessions podcast which this book is based on and that made this book so much better. I highly recommend listening to that podcast while reading or even after reading this book.

I really love how Caleb and Adam’s friendship develops and how this relationship allows for each of them to be vulnerable with each other. I don’t want to speak up too much about this because this really unravels at the end of the book. I just thought it was great to see how each of them reacts and how Caleb is trying to understand Adam’s reaction to him revealing certain things.

I also really enjoyed how this book includes mental health in it and how Caleb’s feelings are addressed in therapy. We also get to see that Adam is dealing with depression and some anxiety and we see how those feelings affect Caleb. I also liked how these feelings affect their friendship and even more so as they learn more about each other.

Characters: In this story you get to meet Caleb and Adam who are the main characters and then a few others through their interactions with them. You get to meet some of their families as well which I really loved.

I liked Caleb and Adam’s relationship with each other and watching how they navigate each other’s oddities. I liked seeing how they learn about each other, and how they react to finding out new information about each other.

Writing Style: This book is written in first person and goes back and forth between Caleb and Adam’s point of view. I liked getting the chance to be in both of their heads and not just see things through Caleb’s point of view. I liked that we got some of Adam’s feelings because of Caleb’s enhanced abilities, I thought it was best that we saw the truth of how Adam felt from him.

Author Information

Lauren Shippen is a writer most known for her work in fiction podcasts. She was the creator and sole writer of the popular audio drama The Bright Sessions, which ran from 2015 to 2018. She went on to executive produce The AM Archives and co-produce Passenger List before founding Atypical Artists, a company dedicated to audio storytelling. Most recently, she wrote MARVELS, an audio adaptation of the popular comic, set for release later this year by Marvel and Stitcher.

Lauren was named one of Forbes 2018 30 Under 30 in Media and one of MovieMaker Magazine and Austin Film Festival’s 25 Screenwriters to Watch. Her first novel, The Infinite Noise, will be released through Tor Teen in September 2019. Shippen grew up in New York, where she spent most of her youth reading and going to Panic! at the Disco shows. She now lives in Los Angeles, where she does the same thing.

An Ordinary Wonder by Buki Papillon Book Review

Book Description

An Ordinary Wonder is a story of the courage needed to be yourself.

Oto leaves for boarding school with one plan: excel and escape his cruel home. Falling in love with his roommate was certainly not on the agenda, but fear and shame force him to hide his love and true self.

Back home, weighed down by the expectations of their wealthy and powerful family, the love of Oto’s twin sister wavers and, as their world begins to crumble around them, Oto must make drastic choices that will alter the family’s lives for ever.

Richly imagined with art, proverbs and folk tales, this moving and modern novel follows Oto through life at home and at boarding school in Nigeria, through the heartbreak of living as a boy despite their profound belief they are a girl, and through a hunger for freedom that only a new life in the United States can offer.

An Ordinary Wonder is a powerful coming-of-age story that explores complex desires as well as challenges of family, identity, gender and culture, and what it means to feel whole.

Review

I just received the finished copy of this book and got the ebook recently as well so I am about halfway through and will provide a complete review when I finish it. This review is up to the half way mark of this book as I wanted to make sure to spotlight it on my blog today.

I have yet to read any book that centers an intersex main character so that was something that this book did that I really loved. I liked that this book explores being intersex and how culture informs people’s responses to someone being born intersex.

I also really enjoy how this book explores familial love, education, gender, sexuality, belonging, culture, folklore, and more. I really like how this story goes back and forth between a few years back and the current time with Oto because we get to see what lead to the current circumstances for him.

I can’t wait to continue reading this and see what happens to our main character and what happens in his relationships with his family members. I think that was something that I really want to read more of to see if his mom and his sister change perspectives on how they feel about Oto.

Author Information

Buki Papillon was born in Nigeria, lived in the UK where she studied law at the University of Hull, and is now settled in the US, where she has learned to find inspiration in the long winters. She has in the past been a travel adviser, events host and chef.

Her debut novel, An Ordinary Wonder, is forthcoming from Pegasus Books in the US on September 7, 2021, and was published by Dialogue Books (Little, Brown UK) in March 2021. Her work has been published in Post Road Magazine and The Del Sol Review.

She graduated  with an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. She has  received fellowships to The Key West Literary Seminars and Vermont Studio Center. She was awarded an Archie D. And Bertha. H. Walker Foundation Scholarship by the Fine Arts Work Center, and is an alumna of the VONA Voices Workshops.

In her downtime she loves taking long rambles in nature, making jewelry, cooking up a storm and, of course, epic levels of reading.

Her twitter account is @bukipapillon. Her website is http://bukipapillon.com.

Squirrel Do Bad by Stephan Pastis Blog Tour Post

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the SQUIRREL DO BAD by Stephan Pastis Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

Book Description

Title: SQUIRREL DO BAD (Trubble Town #1)

Author: Stephan Pastis

Pub. Date: August 31, 2021

Publisher: Aladdin

Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Pages: 288

Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD, Bookshop.org

From the author of the “Pearls Before Swine” comic strip and New York Times bestselling Timmy Failure series comes a laugh-out-loud, heartwarming, full-color graphic novel series about a quirky town—just right for young readers starting to read longer books! Wendy the Wanderer has lived in Trubble Town her whole life but never had the chance to go exploring. For this reason, she thinks she was definitely misnamed. Her dad likes to know where she is to make sure she’s safe, so she’s never been anywhere on her own. Then, her dad leaves on a trip and the babysitter doesn’t reinforce all the usual rules. Or any of the usual rules! Suddenly, Wendy is free to do what she wants, and what she wants is to live up to her name…and find Trubble. Turns out, there’s lots going on in Trubble Town. As she encounters endearingly goofy animals and hilariously hapless townsfolk, Wendy’s very first adventure takes more twists and turns than she could have ever expected. She learns some really valuable life lessons and even teaches a few of her own.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I tend to enjoy reading middle grade graphic novels since they tend to be funny and cute in their own way and this was no different. I think that grades 2-5 would really enjoy this type of book and the randomness of each of the stories. I think the ending of each of the chapters would intrigue them as well rather than my reaction of ummmm why did that just happen?

I love how all the important people in this town are all animals and how few of the characters involved are people. It just makes for an interesting story as you wonder if this is an imaginary town that the girl made up because she is trapped inside due to the protective father.

Characters: In this book you get introduced to Wendy who is one of the main characters of the story but there are portions in which you think that Squirrely is our main character. I really enjoyed the chapters that focused on the Squirrel and the way the people in Trubble Town thought of him as a nuisance.

While the whole thing seems very random, there are pieces in the chapters that connect the characters together. That was something that I really enjoyed about this book, I liked how there was something that connected the whole book together rather than it seeming like random snippets of a story.

Writing and Art Style: I really liked how this story goes from one box to another and it makes it easy to follow. I also like the way each of the characters are drawn and how easy it is to tell each of them apart from one another.

Something else that I liked about this book was the chapter names since I thought they were each unique and funny. I liked that they aren’t clear about what is going to happen in each chapter as it adds to the randomness of this book.

Author Information

STEPHAN PASTIS is an attorney turned cartoonist. A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and the UCLA School of Law, he worked as a lawyer before trying his hand at cartooning. Pastis lives in the Bay Area, with his wife and two children.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon

Giveaway Details

3 winners will receive a finished copy of SQUIRREL DO BAD, US ONLY.

Enter Here

Tour Schedule

Week One:

8/2/2021Don’t Judge, ReadReview
8/2/2021BookHounds YAExcerpt
8/3/2021@curlygrannylovestoreadReview
8/3/2021Little Red ReadzReview
8/4/2021Rajiv’s ReviewsReview
8/4/2021Unconventional Quirky BibliophileReview
8/5/2021PickagoodbookReview
8/5/2021onemusedReview
8/6/2021A Gingerly ReviewExcerpt
8/6/2021Jazzy Book ReviewsReview

Week Two:

8/9/2021@fictitious.foxReview
8/9/2021Fyrekatz BlogReview
8/10/2021Adrianna.readsReview
8/10/2021Feed Your Fiction AddictionReview
8/11/2021booksaremagictooReview
8/11/2021Books a Plenty Book ReviewsReview
8/12/2021#BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee BlogExcerpt
8/12/2021The Momma SpotReview
8/13/2021Locks, Hooks and BooksReview
8/13/2021Two Points of InterestReview
8/13/2021Two Chicks on BooksExcerpt

August 2021 Wrap Up

This month I decided to read a lot of graphic novels as that was what I am currently into so I got through quite a few books. I think it’s funny how I used to not read this type of book because I wasn’t interested in them but right now it is all I want to read. There was only one book in which I read some of the stories in it and skimmed through some of the others. I included that one at the end of this wrap up.

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang 

Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmaker will steal your heart.

The Deep & Dark Blue by Niki Smith 

After a terrible political coup usurps their noble house, Hawke and Grayson flee to stay alive and assume new identities, Hanna and Grayce. Desperation and chance lead them to the Communion of Blue, an order of magical women who spin the threads of reality to their will.

As the twins learn more about the Communion, and themselves, they begin to hatch a plan to avenge their family and retake their royal home.While Hawke wants to return to his old life, Grayce struggles to keep the threads of her new life from unraveling, and realizes she wants to stay in the one place that will allow her to finally live as a girl. 

Witchlight by Jessi Zabarsky 

Jessi Zabarsky’s lushly illustrated shoujo-adventure comic that introduces Lelek the witch as she blows through town one day, kidnapping the peasant girl Sanja. The unlikely pair grow more entangled as they travel together, looking for the missing half of Lelek’s soul – the source of her true magical abilities. Both women are seeking to learn, in their own ways, how to be whole again. This book collects the serialized story all into a single volume, including the heart-gripping conclusion and other all-new material. 

Like Other Girls by Britta Lundin 

“What if I played football?” I ask. As soon as it’s out of my mouth, I feel stupid. Even suggesting it feels like I’ve overstepped some kind of invisible line we’ve all agreed not to discuss. We don’t talk about how Mara is different from other girls. We don’t talk about how Mara is gay but no one says so. But when I do stuff like this, I worry it gets harder for us all to ignore what’s right in front of us. I direct my gaze to Quinn. “What do you think?”
“I think it’s frickin’ genius,” he says.

After getting kicked off the basketball team for a fight that was absolutely totally not her fault (okay maybe a little her fault), Mara is dying to find a new sport to play to prove to her coach that she can be a team player. A lifelong football fan, Mara decides to hit the gridiron with her brother, Noah, and best friend, Quinn-and she turns out to be a natural. But joining the team sets off a chain of events in her small Oregon town-and within her family-that she never could have predicted.

Inspired by what they see as Mara’s political statement, four other girls join the team. Now Mara’s lumped in as one of the girls-one of the girls who can’t throw, can’t kick, and doesn’t know a fullback from a linebacker. Complicating matters is the fact that Valentina, Mara’s crush, is one of the new players, as is Carly, Mara’s nemesis-the girl Mara fought with when she was kicked off the basketball team. What results is a coming-of-age story that is at once tear-jerking and funny, thought-provoking and real, as Mara’s preconceived notions about gender, sports, sexuality, and friendship are turned upside down.

Britta Lundin’s sophomore novel will give readers all the feels, and make them stand up and cheer.

The Other Side of the Sky (The Other Side of the Sky #1) by Amie Kaufman , Meagan Spooner 

New York Times bestselling author duo Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner have crafted a gripping tale of magic and logic, fate and choice, and a deadly love. Perfect for fans of Laini Taylor and Brandon Sanderson.

Prince North’s home is in the sky, in a gleaming city held aloft by intricate engines, powered by technology. Nimh is the living goddess of her people on the Surface, responsible for providing answers, direction—hope.

North’s and Nimh’s lives are entwined—though their hearts can never be. Linked by a terrifying prophecy and caught between duty and fate, they must choose between saving their people or succumbing to the bond that is forbidden between them.

How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

The Hating Game meets I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter in this irresistible romance starring a Mexican American teen who discovers love and profound truths about the universe when she spends her summer on a road trip across the country.

When her twin sister reaches social media stardom, Moon Fuentez accepts her fate as the ugly, unwanted sister hidden in the background, destined to be nothing more than her sister’s camerawoman. But this summer, Moon also takes a job as the “merch girl” on a tour bus full of beautiful influencers and her fate begins to shift in the best way possible.

Most notable is her bunkmate and new nemesis, Santiago Phillips, who is grumpy, combative, and also the hottest guy Moon has ever seen.

Moon is certain she hates Santiago and that he hates her back. But as chance and destiny (and maybe, probably, close proximity) bring the two of them in each other’s perpetual paths, Moon starts to wonder if that’s really true. She even starts to question her destiny as the unnoticed, unloved wallflower she always thought she was.

Could this summer change Moon’s life as she knows it?

On a Sunbeam (On a sunbeam #1-2) by Tillie Walden 

Throughout the deepest reaches of space, a crew rebuilds beautiful and broken-down structures, painstakingly putting the past together. As new member Mia gets to know her team, the story flashes back to her pivotal year in boarding school, where she fell in love with a mysterious new student. Soon, though, Mia reveals her true purpose for joining their ship—to track down her long-lost love.

An inventive world, a breathtaking love story, and stunning art come together in this new work by award-winning artist Tillie Walden.

One Year at Ellsmere by Faith Erin Hicks 

With revamped art and now in full color, One Year at Ellsmere is a middle grade friendship story from Faith Erin Hicks!

Was boarding school supposed to be this hard?

When studious thirteen-year-old Juniper wins a scholarship to the prestigious Ellsmere Academy, she expects to find a scholastic utopia. But living at Ellsmere is far from ideal: She is labeled a “special project,” Ellsmere’s queen bee is out to destroy her, and it’s rumored that a mythical beast roams the forest next to the school.

Cazadora (Wolves of No World #2) by Romina Garber, Romina Russell 

In Cazadora, Romina Garber weaves together Argentine folklore and what it means to be illegal in a timely, intimate, and emotionally powerful narrative.

Werewolves. Witches. Romance. Resistance.

Enter a world straight out of Argentine folklore…

Following the events of Lobizona, Manu and her friends cross the mystical border into Kerana–a cursed realm in Argentina–searching for allies and a hiding place. As they chase down leads about the Coven–a mythical resistance manada that might not even exist–the Cazadores chase down leads about Manu, setting up traps to capture and arrest her.

Just as it seems the Cazadores have Manu and her friends cornered, the Coven answers their call for help. As Manu catches her breath among these non-conforming Septimus, she discovers they need a revolution as much as she does.

But is she the right one to lead them? After all, hybrids aren’t just outlawed. They’re feared and reviled. What happens when the Coven learns of Manu’s dual heritage? Will they still protect her? Or will they betray her?

And after running this far, for this long–how much farther can Manu go before her feet get tired, and she stops to take a stand?

Punch Me Up to the Gods: A Memoir by Brian Broome, Yona Harvey (Introduction) 

NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS’ PICK • A TODAY SUMMER READING LIST PICK  • AN ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY BEST DEBUT OF SUMMER PICK  • A PEOPLE BEST BOOK OF SUMMER PICK

A poetic and raw coming-of-age memoir about Blackness, masculinity, and addiction

Punch Me Up to the Gods introduces a powerful new talent in Brian Broome, whose early years growing up in Ohio as a dark-skinned Black boy harboring crushes on other boys propel forward this gorgeous, aching, and unforgettable debut. Brian’s recounting of his experiences—in all their cringe-worthy, hilarious, and heartbreaking glory—reveal a perpetual outsider awkwardly squirming to find his way in. Indiscriminate sex and escalating drug use help to soothe his hurt, young psyche, usually to uproarious and devastating effect. A no-nonsense mother and broken father play crucial roles in our misfit’s origin story. But it is Brian’s voice in the retelling that shows the true depth of vulnerability for young Black boys that is often quietly near to bursting at the seams.

Cleverly framed around Gwendolyn Brooks’s poem “We Real Cool,” the iconic and loving ode to Black boyhood, Punch Me Up to the Gods is at once playful, poignant, and wholly original. Broome’s writing brims with swagger and sensitivity, bringing an exquisite and fresh voice to ongoing cultural conversations about Blackness in America.

Spinning by Tillie Walden 

Poignant and captivating, Ignatz Award winner Tillie Walden’s powerful graphic memoir, Spinning, captures what it’s like to come of age, come out, and come to terms with leaving behind everything you used to know.

It was the same every morning. Wake up, grab the ice skates, and head to the rink while the world was still dark.

Weekends were spent in glitter and tights at competitions. Perform. Smile. And do it again.

She was good. She won. And she hated it.

For ten years, figure skating was Tillie Walden’s life. She woke before dawn for morning lessons, went straight to group practice after school, and spent weekends competing at ice rinks across the state. It was a central piece of her identity, her safe haven from the stress of school, bullies, and family. But over time, as she switched schools, got into art, and fell in love with her first girlfriend, she began to question how the close-minded world of figure skating fit in with the rest of her life, and whether all the work was worth it given the reality: that she, and her friends on the figure skating team, were nowhere close to Olympic hopefuls. It all led to one question: What was the point? The more Tillie thought about it, the more Tillie realized she’d outgrown her passion–and she finally needed to find her own voice.

Both Sides Now by Peyton Thomas 

Gilmore Girls meets Red, White and Royal Blue in this witty and warm-hearted novel about a trans teen finding his place in the world.

There’s only one thing standing between Finch Kelly and a full-blown case of high school senioritis: the National Speech & Debate Tournament. Taking home the gold would not only be the pinnacle of Finch’s debating career, but the perfect way to launch himself into his next chapter: college in Washington, D.C. and a history-making career as the first trans congressman. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, for starters, Finch could develop a teeny tiny crush on his very attractive, very taken, and very gay debate partner, Jonah. Never mind that Finch has never considered whether he’s interested in more than just girls.

And that dream of college in DC? Finch hasn’t exactly been accepted anywhere yet, let alone received the full-ride scholarship he’ll need to make this dream a reality.

Worst of all, though, is this year’s topic for Nationals: transgender rights. If he wants to cinch the gold, and get into college, Finch might have to argue against his own humanity.

People say there are two sides to every argument. But, as Finch is about to discover, some things–like who you are and who you love–are not up for debate.

Flamer by Mike Curato 

Award-winning author and artist Mike Curato draws on his own experiences in Flamer, his debut graphic novel, telling a difficult story with humor, compassion, and love.

I know I’m not gay. Gay boys like other boys. I hate boys. They’re mean, and scary, and they’re always destroying something or saying something dumb or both.

I hate that word. Gay. It makes me feel . . . unsafe.

It’s the summer between middle school and high school, and Aiden Navarro is away at camp. Everyone’s going through changes—but for Aiden, the stakes feel higher. As he navigates friendships, deals with bullies, and spends time with Elias (a boy he can’t stop thinking about), he finds himself on a path of self-discovery and acceptance. 

The Best We Could Do (The Best We Could Do) by Thi Bui 

This illustrated memoir is about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.

At the heart of Bui’s story is a universal struggle: While adjusting to life as a first-time mother, she ultimately discovers what it means to be a parent—the endless sacrifices, the unnoticed gestures, and the depths of unspoken love. Despite how impossible it seems to take on the simultaneous roles of both parent and child, Bui pushes through. 

The Bride Was a Boy by Chii, Beni Axia Conrad (Translator) 

The heartwarming transgender love story, based on true events!

Drawn in the style of diary comics with an upbeat, adorable flair, this is a charming tale about Chii, a woman assigned male at birth. Her story starts with her childhood and follows the ups and downs of exploring her sexuality, gender, and transition–as well as falling in love with a man who’s head over heels for her. Now they want to get married, so Chii’s about to embark on a new adventure : becoming a bride! 

My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness (My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness #1) by Kabi Nagata, Jocelyne Allen (Translator) 

The heart-rending autobiographical manga that’s taken the internet by storm!

My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness is an honest and heartfelt look at one young woman’s exploration of her sexuality, mental well-being, and growing up in our modern age. Told using expressive artwork that invokes both laughter and tears, this moving and highly entertaining single volume depicts not only the artist’s burgeoning sexuality, but many other personal aspects of her life that will resonate with readers. 

Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now by Dana L. Davis 

I’ve got seven days to come clean to my new dad. Seven days to tell the truth…

For sixteen-year-old Tiffany Sly, life hasn’t been safe or normal for a while. Losing her mom to cancer has her a little bit traumatized and now she has to leave her hometown of Chicago to live with the biological dad she’s never known.

Anthony Stone is a rich man with four other daughters—and rules for every second of the day. Tiffany tries to make the best of things, but she doesn’t fit into her new luxurious, but super-strict, home—or get along with her standoffish sister London. The only thing that makes her new life even remotely bearable is the strange boy across the street. Marcus McKinney has had his own experiences with death, and the unexpected friendship that blossoms between them is the only thing that makes her feel grounded.

But Tiffany has a secret. Another man claims he’s Tiffany’s real dad—and she only has seven days before he shows up to demand a paternity test and the truth comes out. With her life about to fall apart all over again, Tiffany finds herself discovering unexpected truths about her father, her mother and herself, and realizing that maybe family is in the bonds you make—and that life means sometimes taking risks.

Little Girls by Nicholas Aflleje, Sarah Delaine (Contributor), Ashley Lanni (Contributor), Adam Wollet (Contributor) 

Sam and Lielet are two new friends living in Ethiopia who are dealing with the kind of problems that all kids have: judgemental social cliques, condescending adults, alienation, and a legendary brain-eating monster of folklore. Sure, it’s not going to be easy, but all they have to do is live through it.

Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now by Dana L. Davis

Book Description

I’ve got seven days to come clean to my new dad. Seven days to tell the truth…

For sixteen-year-old Tiffany Sly, life hasn’t been safe or normal for a while. Losing her mom to cancer has her a little bit traumatized and now she has to leave her hometown of Chicago to live with the biological dad she’s never known.

Anthony Stone is a rich man with four other daughters—and rules for every second of the day. Tiffany tries to make the best of things, but she doesn’t fit into her new luxurious, but super-strict, home—or get along with her standoffish sister London. The only thing that makes her new life even remotely bearable is the strange boy across the street. Marcus McKinney has had his own experiences with death, and the unexpected friendship that blossoms between them is the only thing that makes her feel grounded.

But Tiffany has a secret. Another man claims he’s Tiffany’s real dad—and she only has seven days before he shows up to demand a paternity test and the truth comes out. With her life about to fall apart all over again, Tiffany finds herself discovering unexpected truths about her father, her mother and herself, and realizing that maybe family is in the bonds you make—and that life means sometimes taking risks. 

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I’ve had this book sitting on my shelves for a bit so I was glad to finally get a chance to read it. I winded up listening to this one on audio and following along with the physical copy.

I really liked the narrator of this story as they were easy to listen to and there were different tones and voices for each of the characters. I found that the way this book was read really allowed you to get lost in this story.

Something else that I really enjoyed about this story is that it is one of few books that I have read that have a character that deals with anxiety. I liked the way that anxiety is portrayed in this story and how we not only see Tiffany’s response to it but we see other’s responses as well. I like that we get to see multiple responses to Tiffany being on medication for her anxiety and how she takes in each of those responses.

Characters: In this book you get introduced to several characters through their interactions with Tiffany. I liked listening as Tiffany develops different relationships with her father, step-mother, new sisters, and the students in her classes. I really liked seeing how different her new life was from the one she used to have and how she was adjusting to that.

I liked getting to see how Tiffany’s relationship with her dad changes over time and I liked seeing how that relationships shifts when someone else might be her father. I thought the character development that we see with the dad was great because you get to see who he was before Tiffany and how Tiffany entering his life has changed him for the better.

I also liked seeing the friendship between Marcus and Tiffany develop. I liked trying to figure out if there was a reason why her dad didn’t want her hanging out with the neighbors beyond the surface reasons that Tiffany had guessed at.

Writing Style: This story is told in first person through Tiffany’s perspective which I really enjoyed. I thought it was great that we were getting this story through her view as if an adult were telling the story it would be very different. I liked the way that Tiffany processed the things that were happening in her life and how she responded to each event.

Author Information

Dana L. Davis is a novelist and Hollywood actress with previous series regular roles as: Carmen Phillips on TNT’s Franklin and Bash and modern day mimic Monica Dawson on NBC’s cult series Heroes.

She currently stars on the animated series Star Vs. the Forces of Evil,Craig of the Creek, and She-Ra. Dana has guest-starred in over 20 prestigious primetime series, including 911,ScorpionCode Black, Grey’s Anatomy, and CSI. She made her film debut in Coach Carter with Samuel Jackson.

In addition to her work on screen, Dana has become a motivational speaker for teens. Her stirring assemblies empower and encourage youth, helping them to redefine what it means to win and lose.

Extremely versatile, Dana is a screenwriter and a trained Violist with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music from Loyola Marymount University. She volunteers for nonprofits like Empowering Lives International, an organization which provides training, resources, and encouragement to underprivileged East African children.

Dana also created her own nonprofit organization Culture For Kids, LA, an organization which gifts inner city children tickets and transportation to see performing arts shows around the Los Angeles area. 

Dana was raised in the Midwest and currently resides in Los Angeles with her 9-year-old daughter.

The Deep and Dark Blue by Niki Smith Book Review

Book Description

After a terrible political coup usurps their noble house, Hawke and Grayson flee to stay alive and assume new identities, Hanna and Grayce. Desperation and chance lead them to the Communion of Blue, an order of magical women who spin the threads of reality to their will.

As the twins learn more about the Communion, and themselves, they begin to hatch a plan to avenge their family and retake their royal home. While Hawke wants to return to his old life, Grayce struggles to keep the threads of her new life from unraveling, and realizes she wants to stay in the one place that will allow her to finally live as a girl.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I am so glad that I picked this book up randomly at the library when I saw it. I really enjoyed so much about this book and am glad I took the chance with it. I really didn’t expect a middle-grade novel to be this emotional and hard-hitting.

I really enjoyed the way this book covers Grayce’s exploration of her gender. I thought that this was done in a good manner and I liked how supportive everyone was of her exploration.

I liked the magic elements that are include din this story but I wanted more of the world-building. I wanted more of why the Communion of Blue exists and the different types of girls that are in there. This is a short book so I understand that it couldn’t cover everything, so I hope that we get to see more of these characters and this world.

Characters: In this book you get introduced to a few different characters through their interactions with the main characters, Grayce and Hawke. I liked each of the characters that you meet in the Communion of Blue and how they worked with Grayce and Hawke to avenge their family.

Writing and Art Style: I really enjoyed the colors that were included in this story and how distinct it was when they were in the Communion of Blue vs being in other settings. I loved how vibrant the different shades of Blue were and how using only a few shades of colors, really catches your eye.

Author Information

Artist, writer, lover of fine comics (and some pretty trashy ones too). Niki Smith grew up in Kansas and now calls Germany home, and is dedicated to filling the world with queer and diverse stories.

Both Sides Now by Peyton Thomas Book Review

Book Description

There’s only one thing standing between Finch Kelly and a full-blown case of high school senioritis: the National Speech & Debate Tournament. Taking home the gold would not only be the pinnacle of Finch’s debating career, but the perfect way to launch himself into his next chapter: college in Washington, D.C. and a history-making career as the first trans congressman. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, for starters, Finch could develop a teeny tiny crush on his very attractive, very taken, and very gay debate partner, Jonah. Never mind that Finch has never considered whether he’s interested in more than just girls.

And that dream of college in DC? Finch hasn’t exactly been accepted anywhere yet, let alone received the full-ride scholarship he’ll need to make this dream a reality.

Worst of all, though, is this year’s topic for Nationals: transgender rights. If he wants to cinch the gold, and get into college, Finch might have to argue against his own humanity.

People say there are two sides to every argument. But, as Finch is about to discover, some things–like who you are and who you love–are not up for debate.

Review

Thank you to Penguin Random House for the advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Thoughts and Themes: I had to pause several times while reading this book just to give it a hug and I don’t hug books too often. There was just too much to love about this book and so many relatable moments.

I enjoyed the debate aspect of this book a lot and how Finch tries to see both sides in each of the debates that he is in. I really liked how we get to see Finch attempt to debate both for and against Transgender rights. I liked the way this book goes about discussing this topic because you get to see how this makes Finch feel and how these types of conversations and this rhetoric really affects Trans people.

I liked getting to see each of the character’s feelings about multiple things on the page. You get to see them angry, sad, torn, heartbroken, and more, and each of those feelings was unique to each person but very realistic.

Characters: In this story you get introduced to Finch and several other characters through their interactions with Finch. You get to meet Finch’s sister, Roo, his best friend, Lucy, his debate partner, Jonah, his parents, his competition, and some other people at his school.

I loved each of the characters that you got to meet in this book and I loved the different relationship that Finch has with each of them. I loved the interactions that Finch has with his sister and how important Roo is to him. I love watching as Finch tries to protect his sister, and seeing him in this light.

I also enjoy watching as Finch and Jonah’s relationship develops and changes throughout the book. I liked seeing how much each of them care for the other and how Jonah knows how to calm Finch down.

Writing Style: This story is told in first person through Finch’s perspective. I loved that this story is told through Finch’s perspective because we get to see his feelings about everything going on in his life. We get to see his inner turmoil regarding his sexuality, his feelings about his home life, and his feelings about debate and the topic that was chosen for that year.

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Author Information

PEYTON THOMAS is a freelance journalist with bylines in PitchforkBillboard, and Vanity Fair. He was a 2016 Lambda Literary Fellow, studying under Benjamin Alire Sáenz. He lives in Toronto. Both Sides Now is his debut novel.