I Love You Just the Way You Are by Riley Rian Book Review

Book Description

Kellan, star quarterback and secret manga artist, has fallen hard for Maddie, a trans-girl and Twitch streamer. They’ve gone to school together for years, but Kellan never noticed her until she started presenting as her authentic self. Now she’s all he can think about, even as the rest of his world is crumbling.

But she’s terrified that he’s deluded, not seeing her for who she really is. Will she take a chance and let him in? Will they be able to overcome a cruel society that would rather erase Maddie than accept her? Or will Kellan walk away when the pressure becomes too much?

Written by #OwnVoices transgender author Riley Rian, “I Love You Just the Way You Are” is a timely coming-of-age novel about opening your heart and discovering the power and magic of love.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I was so excited to get a chance to read this book and review it since I hardly find any books with Trans girls in them. I was a bit intimidated when it first showed up on my doorstep though because of how long the book is. I am so glad that I deided to give it a chance though because once I picked it up it was hard to put down, there was just so much to love about this book.

I really enjoyed how in this book you get to see different reactions to Maddie being Trans and we get to see what people say when she isn’t in the room. I liked that we get to see the ways in which Kellan is treated for having interest in a Trans girl by his friends, parents, and coach. I thought it was great to see how Maddie apologizes for this but Kellan recognizes that what people are saying to him is nothing in comparison to how Maddie is treated.

I really liked that this book also included Maddie being a streamer and how that played a large role in her life. I liked the pieces that described her playing games and the throwback to older games and consoles. I liked that streaming is how we get to see another side of Maddie along with Kellan which makes you like her as a character.

Characters: In this book you are introduced to several people through their interactions with Kellan and Maddie. You get to meet Maddie’s family, Kellan’s mom and dad, and both of their friends. I really liked the relationships that are shown throughout this book with all of the characters that are included.

I love the relationship between Kellan and Maddie even though there are times when they both annoy me and there are times that the relationship is toxic. I thought it was very accurate to a teenage relationship and both of their reactions to things were genuine. As a Trans person, Kellan is all I want in someone who loves me, just someone who sees me for me and I love that Maddie gets this. It’s always great to get to see Trans people find love in books and someone who genuinely loves who they are beyond their Trans identity.

While I did love the relationship between Kellan and Maddie at times, it is important to note that there are some issues with it. Kellan pursued Maddie after she consistently rejected him and he even pretended to be someone else to speak to her on her stream. Kellan also then stalks Maddie throughout the summer and stands up for her countless times even when she is uncomfortable with all of this behavior. We know that part of the rejection on Maddie’s end was out of fear but I also think its important to not show men that just being pushy and begging will eventually get you the girl. I also thought it was a bit problematic that Kellan was throwing away a lot of his hobbies, friends, and money to get this girl and I understand that some of these were a matter of his values not aligning with the others but I think there was a better way to go about showing how much he cared for Maddie.

I also really loved the relationship that Hugh has both with Maddie and Kellan. I love that we get to see him be supportive of his daughter and also be able to support Kellan in the way he needs. I liked that we get to see the big difference in Hugh and Kellan’s dad and the reason as to why Kellan may have been the way he was before meeting Maddie.

Writing Style: This story is told in first person through the perspective of Maddie and Kellan as it goes back and forth between each of them telling the story. I really liked getting a chance to watch this story unfold through both of their perspectives. I thought this was a great way to tell the story because it allows you to be inside each of their heads and see how they are processing these events. I also like that we get to see both of their concerns before they get together and even during.

Felix Ever After By Kacen Callender Book Review

Book Description

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

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

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

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

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I am so glad that this was the book I chose for stealing a book from someone’s TBR on the Read Your Own Adventure Challenge. I’ve had this book on my shelf for a while but have barely got to it and decided to listen to it on audio. I wish I would have read this book sooner because of how much I loved it. This is one of those books that I wound up tabbing a bunch because so much of it spoke to me.

There is so much that is included in this book that I really enjoyed. I love how throughout this book Felix is questioning their gender and we get to see how that affects him and the feelings that he has regarding love. I also really like how we get to see how Felix feels about relationships and being in love, and how much he wishes that he could have this experience.

Characters: In this book you meet several characters through their interactions with our main character, Felix. You get to meet Felix’s best friend, Ezra, his nemesis/person he is catfishing, Declan, some classmates, and his dad. Each of the characters that are included in this story are lovable and you can’t help but want to know more about them.

I really enjoyed the relationships that Felix has with each of the people that are included in this story. I really liked the relationship that Lucky and Declan have because they get to learn about each other when Declan doesn’t know that Lucky is Felix. I like how this is the way that we get to learn more about Declan.

I really like the friendship between Ezra and Felix and how oblivious Felix is to Ezra’s feelings which everyone else can see. I liked watching their relationship develops throughout the course of the book and how they eventually reveal their feelings for each other. I also liked how someone had to bring up the possibility to Felix before he even considers Ezra in that manner.

Writing Style: This story is told in the first person from Felix’s perspective. I like that we get to see the unsent emails that Felix is writing to his mom in hopes of having a relationship with her. I like that we also get to see Declan’s feelings regarding his father kicking him out of the house for being gay. I love that we get to see this idea of found family and chosen family through both of these characters and we also get a glimpse of this with Ezra as well.

Author Information

Kacen Callender is a Saint Thomian author of children’s fiction and fantasy, best known for their Stonewall Book Award and Lambda Literary Award-winning middle grade debut Hurricane Child. Their fantasy novel, Queen of the Conquered, is the 2020 winner of the World Fantasy Award and King and the Dragonflies won the 2020 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.

Callender is Black, queer, trans, and uses they/them and he/him pronouns. Callender debuted their new name when announcing their next young adult novel Felix Ever After in May 2019. 

Kings of B’More by R. Eric Thomas Book Review

Book Description

Two Black, queer best friends face their last day together with an epic journey through Baltimore in this magnetic YA debut by celebrated cultural critic and bestselling Here For It author R. Eric Thomas.

With junior year starting in the fall, Harrison feels like he’s on the precipice of, well, everything. Standardized testing, college, and the terrifying unknowns and looming pressures of adulthood after that–it’s like the future wants to eat him alive. Which is why Harrison is grateful that he and his best friend Linus will face these things together. But at the end of a shift at their summer job, Linus invites Harrison to their special spot overlooking the city to deliver devastating news: he’s moving out of state at the end of the week.

To keep from completely losing it–and partially inspired by a cheesy movie-night pick by his Dad–Harrison plans a send-off � la Ferris Bueller’s Day Off that’s worthy of his favorite person. If they won’t be having all the life-expanding experiences they thought they would, Harrison will squeeze them all into their last day. They end up on a mini road trip, their first Pride, and a rooftop dance party, all while keeping their respective parents, who track them on a family location app, off their trail. Harrison and Linus make a pact to do all the things–big and small–they’ve been too scared to do. But nothing feels scarier than saying goodbye to someone you love.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I was quite pleased when Penguin teen provided me with a copy of this book so that I could provide a review. While I haven’t seen the movie Ferris Bueller, I was intrigued because this book centered around two Queer, Black males, and their friendship which is something that I rarely see in books.

I tend to find Queer books focus so much on the romance that they leave the friendship piece out, or that if there’s another Queer person in the book it’s an automatic relationship so I loved that this book didn’t go that route. Throughout the whole time of reading this book, I was waiting for there to be some romantic gesture made and I just didn’t feel that spark between the two guys so I was happy that they didn’t have any romantic feelings toward each other. I do really love that this book talks about how this is different from a typical friendship and the love that they have for each other that is platonic but still so important and valid.

I love how this book was a take on Ferris Bueller and how the characters point out how different it is because they aren’t white, straight guys. I thought it was important that this was pointed out because some of the events that take place throughout this story are because they are Black, Gay guys.

Characters: In this book, you are introduced to several characters through their interactions with our main character, Harrison. You get to meet his best friend, Linus, his sister Corrine, his parents, and Linus’s dad, as well as some of their friends, Aparna.

I really loved the friendship between Harrison and Linus and how we see it develop throughout this book. I love that we get a chance to see how this friendship started and how they both feel about their friendship. I really enjoyed how they both didn’t have to say anything to just understand each other. This whole friendship reminded me of me and my best friend and how space and time don’t change things for us, it’s more than words can describe but this book put that friendship into words.

I also really enjoyed the relationship that Harrison has with each of his family members and how we see this throughout the book. I like how his parents explain why they are so protective of him and I like how close his sister is with him. I like that we also get to see her being protective of him throughout the book and how she also understands him.

Writing Style: This story is told in the third person through an outside narrator, and you also get some show notes from Aparna that are written in the first person. I really liked getting the chance to see both what Harrison and Linus were up to and what Aparna was getting into to keep their travels a secret.

I loved the pieces that were written by Aparna as I felt like she was the actual narrator for this whole story and she was retelling that day. I know that this isn’t the case but it’s nice to think that she just knows all because it fits her character.

I also really liked that this was told in the third person because we got to see what each person was thinking or what each of them was doing at different moments in time. While the majority of the book was focused on Harrison, you did get glimpses of Linus and his thoughts.

Author Information

R. Eric Thomas is a national bestselling author, playwright, and screenwriter. His books include, Here for It, or How to Save Your Soul in America, which was featured as a Read with Jenna pick on NBC’s Today, Reclaiming Her Time: The Power of Maxine Waters, co-authored with Helena Andrews-Dyer, and the YA novel Kings of B’more. For four years, he wrote “Eric Reads the News” a wildly popular daily humor column covering pop culture and politics on ELLE.com.

He has written on the Peabody Award-winning series Dickinson on AppleTV+ and Better Things on FX. Off the page, Eric is also the long-running host of The Moth StorySlams in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., and has been heard multiple times on The Moth Radio Hour, NPR’s All Things Considered and It’s Been A Minute with Sam Sanders. Website: rericthomas.com

All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir Book Review

Book Description

Lahore, Pakistan. Then.
Misbah is a dreamer and storyteller, newly married to Toufiq in an arranged match. After their young life is shaken by tragedy, they come to the United States and open the Cloud’s Rest Inn Motel, hoping for a new start.

Juniper, California. Now.
Salahudin and Noor are more than best friends; they are family. Growing up as outcasts in the small desert town of Juniper, California, they understand each other the way no one else does. Until The Fight, which destroys their bond with the swift fury of a star exploding.

Now, Sal scrambles to run the family motel as his mother Misbah’s health fails and his grieving father loses himself to alcoholism. Noor, meanwhile, walks a harrowing tightrope: working at her wrathful uncle’s liquor store while hiding the fact that she’s applying to college so she can escape him—and Juniper—forever.

When Sal’s attempts to save the motel spiral out of control, he and Noor must ask themselves what friendship is worth—and what it takes to defeat the monsters in their pasts and the ones in their midst.

From one of today’s most cherished and bestselling young adult authors comes a breathtaking novel of young love, old regrets, and forgiveness—one that’s both tragic and poignant in its tender ferocity.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I had heard about this book all over bookstagram and booktok so when I got an advanced listening copy from libro.fm I was so happy to get a change to listen to it. I really enjoyed so much about this book regardless of the emotional roller coaster that it put me on. This book goes through grief, loss, betrayal, forgiveness, rage, and more.

Right from the start of this book, my heart was broken for Salahudin and Noor. This book makes you fall in love with a character to only take her away way too soon. This has to happen though in order for the rest of the events in this book to take place and go the way that they did.

Characters: There are quite a few characters that you get to meet throughout this book through the different interactions that they have with the main characters, Misbah, Salahudin and Noor.

I really enjoy the relationship between Nor and Sal and how that changes from the start of the book to the end. I love how these two trust each other over anyone else, and how that trust developed through their childhood and experiences that they share.

I like the relationship that you get to see between Misbah, her son, Salahudin, and Noor. I like how Misbah was like a mother figure to Noor, and what that meant for both of them. I really liked how Misbah allowed Noor to be herself and taught her about religion even if Noor’s uncle didn’t want that.

Writing Style: This book is told in the first person through the perspectives of Misbah, Salahudin, and Noor. The story goes back and forth from the past to the present. When you are hearing from Misbah, you are taken to the past and are in Pakistan, and when you are hearing from Sal and Noor, you are in the present in California.

I love how you learn more about each of the characters as you listen to the chapters that are written through each of their perspective. I also like that you not only learn about themselves but you learn about the past such as Sal’s childhood through Misbah’s section. I also like that hearing from each of them means you get to know more about this story than some are willing to share.

I really enjoyed how you got to see each of the characters feelings and while they tried to hide their feelings, you got to know them. I liked how in certain sections depending on who was speaking you couldn’t tell how the others felt in a situation but then you went into their chapter and learned exactly how they felt.

Author Information

Sabaa Tahir grew up in California’s Mojave Desert at her family’s 18-room motel. There, she spent her time devouring fantasy novels, raiding her brother’s comic book stash and playing guitar badly. She began writing An Ember in the Ashes while working nights as a newspaper editor. She likes thunderous indie rock, garish socks and all things nerd. Sabaa currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family. 

Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster by Andrea Mosqueda Book Tour Post

Book Description

Title: Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster

Author: Andrea Mosqueda

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Publication Date: May 24th, 2022 

Genres: Young Adult, contemporary, romance 

Synopsis:

In this voice-driven young adult debut by Andrea Mosqueda, Maggie Gonzalez needs a date to her sister’s quinceañera – and fast.

Growing up in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, Maggie Gonzalez has always been a little messy, but she’s okay with that. After all, she has a great family, a goofy group of friends, a rocky romantic history, and dreams of being a music photographer. Tasked with picking an escort for her little sister’s quinceañera, Maggie has to face the truth: that her feelings about her friends—and her future—aren’t as simple as she’d once believed.

As Maggie’s search for the perfect escort continues, she’s forced to confront new (and old) feelings for three of her friends: Amanda, her best friend, and first-ever crush; Matthew, her ex-boyfriend twice over who refuses to stop flirting with her, and Dani, the new girl who has romantic baggage of her own. On top of this romantic disaster, she can’t stop thinking about the uncertainty of her own plans for the future and what that means for the people she loves.

As the weeks wind down and the boundaries between friendship and love become hazy, Maggie finds herself more and more confused with each photo. When her tried-and-true medium causes more chaos than calm, Maggie needs to figure out how to avoid certain disaster—or be brave enough to dive right into it. 

Book links

Goodreads ~ Blackwells ~ Amazon ~ Book Depository ~ Barnes & Noble

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I was drawn to this book because of its title since it describes my life. I’m so glad that I got a chance to read this one because there was so much to love about this book.

I really enjoyed the way that this story was told, and how things unfolded in this book. I liked that this whole thing first starts as Maggie needing to find an escort to Alyssa’s Quincenera. I loved how Maggie uses her school project to express her feelings about the three people she is trying to select from to try and see if that provides any clarity.

I thought that the whole story was done really well and I love that Maggie talks about how she doesn’t want others to think she’s a bisexual stereotype because she can’t decide. I like that this book brings up biphobia in subtle ways and talks about how harmful it can be. I also really enjoyed how real Maggie’s feelings were and how you felt things along with her each time her heart was broken.

Characters: In this book you get to meet several characters through their interactions with your main character, Maggie. You get to meet her sisters, Alyssa and Veronica, her mom, her best friend, Amanda, her ex, Matthew, and some other friends, Dani and Jordan.

I really liked the relationship that Maggie has with each of the characters that you are introduced to in this book. I love how this book shows that you can love so many people and that love is felt differently and shown differently depending on the type of love.

I love how supportive Maggie’s family is of her sexuality and how they are always there to support her through whatever she is going through. I really liked getting to read about the relationship Maggie has with each of her sisters and see how that developed over time. I liked getting to know their past a little and why they were so close with each other. I also liked how Maggie and Alyssa both acknowledge the role that Veronica has in raising them and how they support her as well the best they can.

I loved Maggie’s relationship with each of the people that she is trying to choose from. I loved how she really did have feelings for each of them but she had to let go of past feelings to allow herself to have new ones. I liked that we got to see how those past feelings were still affecting her and how we also got a glimpse into why she may still be holding onto those feelings.

Writing Style: This book is told in the first person from the perspective of Maggie. The story included the Instagram post that was a part of Maggie’s project along with text messages that she exchanged with her friends.

I liked seeing the caption for the post that Maggie was putting on her page. I kept thinking that they were a little obvious so I had to keep reminding myself that the only people who had access to this page were Maggie and her teacher. I liked that Maggie poured out her true feelings onto this page and didn’t hold anything back.

I think that this story is being told from only Maggie’s perspective which was a good choice because we don’t know how the others feel about her. We only know the feelings that Maggie is projecting onto them and is assuming about them. I liked that when things are wrapping up we really aren’t sure what direction things are going to go in. We are hoping for the best just like Maggie, but we are unsure about the future.

Author Information

Andrea Mosqueda is a Chicana writer. She was born and raised in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley. She currently lives in Brooklyn with her partner and works in the publishing industry as an assistant editor. When she’s not writing or editing, she can be found doing her makeup, drinking too much coffee, and angsting over children’s media. Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster is her first book.

Author Links 

Goodreads ~Twitter ~Instagram ~ Tiktok

Book Tour Schedule

May 18th

Rampantreading – Favorite Quotes 

 Sanjariti – Instagram Feed Post

May 19th 

The Phantom of Booktube – Instagram Feed Post

@brittmariereadshere – Recommendations based on book

SheReadytoRead – Instagram Feed Post

May 20th 

Unconventional Quirky Bibliophile – Mood Board

Bookloversbookreviews – Reading vlog

May 21st

Purposely Unperfect – Playlist

Phobosxbooks – Instagram Feed Post

May 22nd

Mella’s Musings – Favorite Quotes

ReadWithKate – Favorite Quotes

May 23rd

Lemmi Bookmark That! – Blog Interview

cassiesbookshelves – Book recommendations based on the book

May 24th

Readwithatlas – Book recommendations based on the book

LadyReader – Instagram Feed Post

Books_and_Dice – Favorite Quotes

The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes Book Review

Book Description

Seventeen-year-old Yamilet Flores prefers drawing attention for her killer eyeliner, not for being the new kid at a mostly white, very rich, Catholic school. But at least here no one knows she’s gay, and Yami intends to keep it that way. After being outed by her crush and ex-best friend, she could use the fresh start.

At Slayton Catholic, Yami has new priorities: make her mom proud, keep her brother out of trouble, and most importantly, don’t fall in love. Granted, she’s never been great at any of those things, but that’s a problem for Future Yami.

The thing is, it’s hard to fake being straight when Bo, the only openly queer girl at school, is so annoyingly perfect. And smart. And talented. And cute. Either way, Yami isn’t going to make the same mistake again. If word got back to her mom, she could face a lot worse than rejection. So she’ll have to start asking, WWSGD: What would a straight girl do?

Told in a captivating voice that is by turns hilarious, vulnerable, and searingly honest, The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School explores the joys and heartaches of living your full truth out loud.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: The minute that I heard about this book I was so excited to read it. I kept seeing this book all of the social media of some of my favorite authors which is also part of what intrigued me to read it, if they all loved it so much then I think I would too.

Thank you to Books Forward for the chance to read an advanced reader’s copy of this book.

There was so much that I really enjoyed about this book and it was really hard to put down once I started reading. I really enjoyed how Catholicism was tied up in this book, and how we have characters who are really connected to their faith and others who aren’t. I really liked how Catholicism’s views on Gay people are challenged by some of the characters in this story. Books that include queerness and religion, especially Catholic religion, will always have a special place in my heart . This books show me that the two can co-exist and how queer people have made this religion into something that serves them rather than letting it take away parts of them.

Characters: In this book you get introduced to several characters through their interactions with our main character, Yamilet. You get to meet some of her school friends, Hunter, Bo, Amber, and David, along with her brother, Cesar, her “boyfriend”, Jamil, and her mom and dad.

I really enjoyed getting to know all of the characters that you meet throughout this book and I really enjoyed the relationships that Yamilet has with each one of them. I really liked the connection between Yamilet and Cesar and how their bond is strengthened because of the secret that they share. I thought this was a great addition to this book as we see how two seperate characters are dealing with similar issues and have similar fears.

I liked getting to see Yami’s relationship with her dad and how much she relies on him throughout the book. I like how she finds him to be the only one she can trust and also how she believes he’s the only one who believes in her. I like how we get to know her dad through her thoughts about him and the brief conversations she has with him.

I also really enjoyed Yamilet and Bo’s friendship throughout the book and how that develops. I love how Yamilet is trying to keep her feelings from Bo a secret throughout this book and how we know exactly why she is scared of revealing those feelings. I also like how her reason to keep those feelings to herself changes throughout the book.

Writing Style: This book is written in the first person and told through the perspective of Yamilet. I really liked getting to see everything through her perspective because we get to see her feelings. I also liked that we don’t get to know what the others are thinking or get to see how anything is affecting them. I think this makes you a lot more interested in reading to know what is going to happen to those relationships. I also liked things being in her perspective because we get a chance to feel what she feels along with her.

Author Information

Born and raised in Arizona, Sonora Reyes writes fiction full of queer and Latinx characters in a variety of genres, with current projects in both kidlit and adult categories. Sonora currently lives in Arizona in a multi-generational family home with a small pack of dogs who run the place. Outside of writing, Sonora loves dancing, singing karaoke, and playing with their baby niblings.

Alyse Diaries by B. Danielle Watkins Book Review

Book Description

““The Alysé Diaries”, a riveting new series by acclaimed author B. Danielle Watkins, is a controversial drama vastly different from the previous “No Other Man” tragedy series. Volume one, befittingly entitled “Curious”, deals with Sentury’s innate yearning to being in sexual relationships with women. As a star basketball player at Montana College, Sentury is highly sought after, but not in the ways she previously envisioned. Plagued with the ideals of religion and society, Sentury is forced to submerge her feelings and move towards the life she thought she wanted. Juggling basketball, women, and a serious relationship with a man, Sentury has until the WNBA draft to figure out the ultimate life she wants to lead.

“The Alysé Diaries”, written as diary entries from begin to end. Every word, every description, every conversation will be depicted as Sentury saw through her eyes. This story is not only impeccable, but it details many things that women go through when battling within themselves. Touching on topics like religion, government, safe-sex, polyamory relationships and more. “The Alysé Diaries” proves to be not only a thrilling story, but an eye-opening experience to the world of down-low lesbianism.”

Review

Thoughts and Themes: This is one that I decided to read because I was drawn in by the description of the book when I was asked to provide a review for it. I am glad that I read it though even if it was different than my typical read.

Right from the very few pages you know how this story is going to end but I forgot about that as I was reading and was invested in the story and not so much the ending. I really liked how this story drew you in and you wanted to hear more about the main character and go along her journey with her.

Characters: In this book you are introduced to several characters through their interactions with the main character, Sentury. While you are introduced to many characters, you dont really get to know anyone in depth. I really liked how you only get to know side characters on a surface level because that’s how our main character views them. I love that you only get to know side people if the main character is close with them and trusts them.

Writing Style: This story is told in diary entries which I found rather interesting. I liked that it was written through diary entries because it made for a unreliable narrator. There were times where I wanted to know things from the other character’s perspectives but I thought it was good that we didn’t get to know what others thought. The fact that all we know is how Alyse has experienced things makes it so that it is easy to sympathize with her.

Author Information

WHO IS B. DANIELLE WATKINS?

New York is not only known for its famous hot wings, its historical museums, and it’s beautiful

One World Observatory where you can see the skyline and the stars from high above, it is also the “City of Dreams”, and the place where rising star B. Danielle Watkins began her journey. B. Danielle Watkins, international award-winning filmmaker, and author is a native of Buffalo, New York. Watkins is on top of her game, rapidly paving her way to success with her many accomplishments.

Danielle began laying the groundwork for her career at the age of nine, not aware that her gift of writing would take her to higher heights in her future endeavors. By the age of 15, Watkins had her first poem published in the “Poetry Gems Collection”, presented by the Famous Poets Society.

It did not stop there, this tenacious young lady put her talents to work by publishing  a three novel trilogy entitled “The No other Man Three Part Tragedy” released in 2011/2012. In 2013, Watkins began working her way up the ladder to join the ranks of some of the greats when she was officially named the head of the Creative Writing Department for M Power Productions, LLC based out of Atlanta, Georgia, the same place that the great Tyler Perry studios is located.

Working with M Power productions allowed this fierce lady to advance her way onto stage and screenwriting. In 2014, Watkins produced her first sold out show respectively titled “BlacButterflii: The Saigon Ruse Story” which premiered in Atlanta, Georgia. During this time, she was also creating a name for herself in the industry. B. Danielle decided to try her hand in writing the Gender Diverse Digital Series, “Girls Just Don’t Do That”, giving way to a fresh new perspective of the LGBTQ community and the real-life circumstances that are addressed and often marginalized. This series portrayed an open honest common-sense view to relationships, hardships and intimacy.

In January 2016, Watkins made major power moves by launching her own production company named Dream N 1 Productions based out of Las Vegas, NV. Later the same year her newly found production company produced its first major production entitled “Parallel the Documentary” based on her true-life experiences as the first African-American Filmmaker at the first all lesbian film festival in Paducah, Kentucky. This documentary has since been screened internationally in two countries, winning awards such as Best Director and Audience Choice, and causing her name to circulate through the film festival circuit.

Taking her career to the next level Ms. Watkins became the first and only African American filmmaker to write, produce and star in a REVRY original series, “3030”. 2019 proved to be one of her most defining years in her film career. After winning four Telly Awards for the documentary entitled “GRRRL: The Beauty of the Beast” and launching the second season in her original series “3030”. She has earned a plethora of accolades and acknowledgements in the film industry, making her an alchemist in the game.

Adding to the list of talents Watkins added journalist to her resume when she became Staff Writer for MIM Magazine.  A graduate of the HBCU Winston Salem State University, and a member of the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. B. Danielle Watkins gives new meaning to the saying “Black Girls Rock”; Author, Filmmaker, Screenwriter, Actress, producer breaking barriers and shattering glass ceilings and propelling her way to the top. Watkins is a woman on the move, a rising star, and as Hip-Hop Artist Tobe Nwigwe would say it’s time to “EAT”!

Surviving Home by Katerina Canyon Book Review

Book Description

Concisely arresting and challenging the beliefs of family and the fantasies of tradition, the poems in Surviving Home show that home is a place that you endure rather than a place where you are nurtured. With unyielding cadence and unparalleled sadness and warmth, Katerina Canyon contemplates the prejudice and limitations buried in a person’s African American heritage: parents that seem to care for you with one hand and slap you with the other, the secret desires to be released from the daily burdens of life, as well as the surprising ways a child chooses to amuse herself. Finding resilience in the unexpected, this collection tears down the delicate facades of family. 

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I’ve been reading quite a bit of poetry lately so I was glad to get a chance to read this book. Each of these poems is filled with so much emotion and there were so many poems that I really enjoyed. So many of these poems captured the author’s love for their parents while also feeling betrayed by them, and expressing how those mixed emotions shaped her childhood and upbringing. There were two poems that really stood out to me and those were “My pain is sculpted into art for you to consume” and “I left out “bells and whistles” written with a little help from Webster’s dictionary”. I found that these two poems were really powerful pieces and a great addition to her story.

Writing Style: I like that Canyon used poetry to express her feelings about a lot of things from her childhood and what being Black means to her now and what it meant to her then. I like that while we are hearing about her childhood at no time do you believe that this could be told from a child’s perspective but it is rather an adult writing from painful memories. I really liked how this went from early years to later years and it took you through those moments in a chronological order. I think while each poem elicits different emotions and is a roller coaster ride, the story is tied together well.

Author Information

Katerina Canyon is an Award Winning Poet, Best Selling Author, civil rights activist, essayist, and poet. She grew up in Los Angeles and much of her writing reflects that experience.

Her first book of poetry, Changing the Lines, was released in August 2017. This work is a conversation between mother and daughter as they examine what it means to operate within the world as black women.

Katerina Canyon is a 2020 and 2019 Pushcart Prize Nominee. Her stories have been published in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and Folks. Her poetry has been published in CatheXis Northwest, The Esthetic Apostle, Into the Void, Black Napkin, and Waxing & Waning. From 2000 to 2003, she served as the Poet Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga. During that time, she started a poetry festival and ran several poetry readings. She has a B.A. in English, International Studies and Creative Writing from Saint Louis University and a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University.

Katerina moved to Seattle three years ago. She is currently running a civil rights campaign against police brutality. More information can be found at www.vdaycampaign.org.

Zara Hossain is Here by Sabina Khan

Book Description

Zara’s family has waited years for their visa process to be finalized so that they can officially become US citizens. But it only takes one moment for that dream to come crashing down around them.

Seventeen-year-old Pakistani immigrant, Zara Hossain, has been leading a fairly typical life in Corpus Christi, Texas, since her family moved there for her father to work as a pediatrician. While dealing with the Islamophobia that she faces at school, Zara has to lay low, trying not to stir up any trouble and jeopardize their family’s dependent visa status while they await their green card approval, which has been in process for almost nine years.

But one day her tormentor, star football player Tyler Benson, takes things too far, leaving a threatening note in her locker, and gets suspended. As an act of revenge against her for speaking out, Tyler and his friends vandalize Zara’s house with racist graffiti, leading to a violent crime that puts Zara’s entire future at risk. Now she must pay the ultimate price and choose between fighting to stay in the only place she’s ever called home or losing the life she loves and everyone in it.

From the author of the “heart-wrenching yet hopeful” (Samira Ahmed) novel, The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali, comes a timely, intimate look at what it means to be an immigrant in America today, and the endurance of hope and faith in the face of hate.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I don’t recall why I waited so long to read this book, I just know it has been on my shelves for a while before I decided to request the audiobook from my library. I’m glad that I finally got to this book because it covers a lot of important topics and I found that it handled those things quite well. There is the main plotline of this book in which a student, Tyler, is harassing Zara Hossain due to her race/ethnicity, and then there are side events that occur along with this.

This book covers Islamophobia, sexuality and religion, hate crimes, friendship, family, and more. While there is a lot going on in this book, I think that the transitions occur seamlessly and there is no moment in which you are overwhelmed with everything going on. Well you are overwhelmed because of events that happen just like the family in this story is overwhelmed but that makes you feel all the emotions of this book more.

I also really enjoy how this book discusses children following in the shoes of their parents due to their upbringing. I like how we get to see both discussions regarding this, with Zara explaining how she doesn’t agree that Tyler only did things because of his dad’s beliefs. I liked seeing how she points out how Tyler can think for himself and he only feels bad because he has gotten caught. I like that they point out how people of color are responsible for several generations when white people aren’t ever held responsible for their actions, it’s like there is always an excuse for the things that they do.

I also really like that we get to see white people’s reactions to Tyler and his actions including his attempt at an apology for his father’s actions. I thought it was important to see that alongside Zara and her family’s response as they aren’t able to just move past the events that took place. I also like that we get to see people who are on Zara’s side and those who believe her family deserved what happened. I thought it was good to see that these thoughts still exist even if people like to hide their beliefs and only let them out in microaggressions.

I really liked the way Zara has to explain why it was difficult for her to make a decision between staying in Texas or going back to Pakistan. I liked that she shows how it’s difficult regardless of what decision she makes. I think it was important that she shows if she stays in Texas she deals with racism but if she goes back to Pakistan she has to hide her sexuality and that is leaving a piece of her behind.

Characters: I really love all the characters that are introduced throughout this book as I felt that they were all well-developed and added something to the story. In this book, you get to meet several characters through their interactions with Zara. You get introduced to her family, her friends, her girlfriend, some teachers and staff at the school, as well as the kid who is bullying her.

I really loved the relationship between Chloe and Zara that you get to see developing through the beginning of the book. I liked how Zara was able to introduce Chloe to her family and they talked about coming out to their families. I also liked how both of their experiences with their queerness is different because of their family’s beliefs. I thought it was great to see Chloe try to explain how her parent’s religion dictates how they respond to things that she does. I also really like how while Zara doesn’t understand how Chloe’s religion impacts her being queer, Chloe will never understand what it’s like being a person of color.

I really enjoyed the relationship between Zara and all of the adults that are in her life. I liked seeing how much support she has from her family as well as other people in her life. I liked learning about the SJC and the instructor who is responsible for hosting them. I love the moment in which Zara’s mother defends her daughter against someone else talking about her daughter’s sexuality. I really liked how people come to Zara’s defense when it comes to her sexuality and religion, it was great to see what support should look like for LGBTQ+ youth.

Author Information

Sabina Khan is the author of the upcoming YA novel MEET ME IN MUMBAI, as well as ZARA HOSSAIN IS HERE and THE LOVE & LIES OF RUKHSANA ALI. She is an educational consultant and a karaoke enthusiast. After living in Germany, Bangladesh, Macao, Illinois and Texas, she has finally settled down in beautiful British Columbia, Canada, with her husband, two daughters and the best puppy in the world.

Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Sabina_Writer
and Facebook:
www.facebook.com/SabinaKhanAuthor/
Find out more at
https://sabina-khan.com/ 

Heartbreak Symphony by Laekan Zea Kemp Book Tour Post

Book Description

Heartbreak Symphony by Laekan Zea Kemp

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance

Publishing Date: April 5, 2022

Synopsis:

Clap When You Land meets On the Come Up in this heart-gripping story about navigating first love and overcoming grief through the power of music.

Aarón Medrano has been haunted by the onstage persona of his favorite musician ever since his mother passed away. He seems to know all of Aarón’s deepest fears, like that his brain doesn’t work the way it should and that’s why his brother and father seems to be pushing him away. He thinks his ticket out is a scholarship to the prestigious Acadia School of Music. That is, if he can avoid blowing his audition.

Mia Villanueva has a haunting of her own and it’s the only family heirloom her parents left her: doubt. It’s the reason she can’t overcome her stage fright or believe that her music is worth making. Even though her trumpet teacher tells her she has a gift, she’s not sure if she’ll ever figure out how to use it or if she’s even deserving of it in the first place.

When Aarón and Mia cross paths, Aarón sees a chance to get close to the girl he’s had a crush on for years and to finally feel connected to someone since losing his mother. Mia sees a chance to hold herself accountable by making them both face their fears, and hopefully make their dreams come true. But soon they’ll realize there’s something much scarier than getting up on stage—falling in love with a broken heart.

Book Links

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

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I decided that I had to read this book as I loved the author’s debut novel. I was so pleased to find that while this book is also a romance like the first one it was significantly different but just as great. There are so many sections of this book that I highlighted on my kindle because of how these lines spoke to me.

Something that I really enjoyed about this book was how our main characters communicate with each other and the world through music. It reminded me of how I use songs to convey my feelings and sometimes only songs or books completely understand the way that I am feeling. I liked that these two main characters were able to pour themselves into music and how music shapes their lives.

Something else that I loved about this book was the way that it handled grieving and how we see different ways in which people are handling grief. I thought it was great to see both guys and girls dealing with grief, and how both Aaron and Mia lost their parents in different ways. I think because of the way that they lost their parents, the grief that they experience is different and while one of each of their parents is alive, they still are grieving because it is the loss of the parent they had before.

I really enjoyed how this book added the musician into the story and how he was an important part of Aaron’s life and grieving process. I thought it was a great way to show how everyone can have mental health issues and I loved the way he took care of himself. I don’t want to spoil that for you so I’ll let you read to see more about him.

Characters: There are several characters that you get to meet through their interactions with our main characters, Mia and Aaron. You get introduced to Mia’s siblings, friends, and family, and Aaron’s family and friends too.

I loved reading the interactions that Mia has with her brothers and how they try to heal each other. I liked getting to see how they raised her and also getting to see each of them show their grief in a different way. I really liked getting the chance to see how one of her brothers was healing through poetry but how he was still hiding and he only gets the courage to present to show her that it is possible.

I also really enjoy the theme of found family in this book which you really see through the people in the neighborhood. I loved getting the chance to meet Mr. Barrero who takes care of both Mia and Aaron when they need an adult figure in their lives. I really liked seeing how this man has shaped both of these people’s lives and how important he is to them. I also like how we get to see his back story as well to understand why he feels the way he does about Mia.

Writing Style: This story is written from a dual point of view that goes back and forth from our main characters, Aaron and Mia. I really liked getting to read this story from both of their perspectives since I think they both add different things to the story. I really liked getting to go back and forth between these two characters because they had things going on in both of their lives that weren’t intertwined with each other.

Author Information

Laekan Zea Kemp is a writer living in Austin, Texas. Her debut novel, Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet was a 2021 Pura Belpré Honor Recipient. In addition to writing she’s also the creator and host of the Author Pep Talks podcast, as well as a contributor to the Las Musas podcast. She has three objectives when it comes to storytelling: to make people laugh, cry, and crave Mexican food. Her work celebrates Chicane grit, resilience, creativity, and joy while exploring themes of identity and mental health.

Author Links

Website ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Goodreads

Tour Schedule

https://tbrandbeyondtours.com/2022/02/15/tour-schedule-heartbreak-symphony-by-laekan-zea-kemp/