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.

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.

Cazadora by Romina Garber/Romina Russell Book Review

Book Description

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?

Review

Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing me with an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Thoughts and Themes: This is book two in the Wolves of No World series, with book one being Lobizona. Before reading my review, go and read Lobizona so you don’t get any spoilers for that book.

Just like the first book, it took me a while to get into this one but I push through because I know how much I loved the first book. I knew that I would not be able to put this book down once I got past the more dense parts of it. I have a hard time with fantasy books because of the non-action moments but I do like those parts as that is where we learn about the world we are going to be immersed in through the story.

Something that I really enjoyed about this book was how much the world-building was expanded upon. The first book briefly introduced us to this magical world that Manu was now a part of but this one deep dived into that world. This book gives you so much information about this world and not just the magic involve din it but the politics as well.

I really liked that while this book is a fantasy book it still covers some important topics. The book goes over homophobia, colorism, and anti-immigrant sentiments. I like how the characters in this story point out how these things still exist in their world just like they do on Earth. I thought that was an important aspect of this story because it wasn’t as if Manu and her friends got this dream escape from Earth as they still faced some of the same struggles they would have on Earth.

Characters: In this book we continue reading about the characters that we grew to love in the first book and are introduced to a few more people. Mentioning the characters we are introduced to adds some spoilers so I won’t go into too much detail about those new people.

I loved the romance that happens between Manu and Tiago in this book and how that develops. I love how they quote books to each other to talk about their feelings and how so much of their relationship is just for them to understand.

I also really enjoyed how we get to see the friendships that Manu has developed in this world in which she can be herself. I loved how each of her friends accepts her regardless of if they understand her actions. I also really liked getting to see how her friends respond to some of the things that she does and how clear their emotions are.

Something great about this book is the way that each character’s emotions are captured. I love how the same emotion looks so different on each of these characters and how you can feel what they are feeling as you are reading. I like how you can feel the love that each of these characters have for Manu and the love that Manu eventually allows herself to feel for others.

This one is interesting because I found myself even liking the villains in this story, while still wanting them to lose. I liked learning about the bad guys and seeing how those parts of the story played out. I thought it was interesting to see who the bad guys were and how they played into Manu’s story and who was a bad guy and when.

Writing Style: This story is told through Manu’s perspective and this is probably the best part of this book along with so many other things. I liked how you fear for Manu as you are reading and this puts you in her shoes at times and at other times you are in her friend’s shoes. I loved that we get to know others through Manu’s eyes and we get closer to them depending on how she feels about each of them.

Author Information

Romina Garber is a NYT/International Bestselling YA author who also writes under pen name Romina Russell. Born in Buenos Aires and raised in Miami, Romina currently resides in Los Angeles but would much rather be at Hogwarts. As a teen, Romina landed her first writing gig—“College She Wrote,” a weekly Sunday column for the Miami Herald that was later picked up for national syndication—and she hasn’t stopped writing since. She is a graduate of Harvard College and a Virgo to the core. For more information about her books, follow her on Twitter/Instagram: @rominagarber.

Like Other Girls by Britta Lundin Blog Tour Post

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the LIKE OTHER GIRLS by Britta Lundin Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

About the Book

Title: LIKE OTHER GIRLS

Author: Britta Lundin

Pub. Date: August 3, 2021

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook

Pages: 384

Find it: GoodreadsAmazonKindle, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD, Bookshop.org

“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.

Events

Tuesday, August 3
Like Other Girls🎉 Launch Signing
Skylight Books
7-8:30pm
more details

Saturday, August 7
Like Other Girls🎉Virtual Event
Britta Lundin in conversation with Carly Usdin (filmmaker, author The Avant Guards)
noon PT/3pm ET
register here to get the link

Review

Thoughts and Themes: It took me a bit to really get into this book because of the amount of football talk that was in it. I am really not a sport person so that kind of deterred me but when I was able to look past that I found this was a great story.

Something that I liked about this book was how Carly and the other girls do point out that Mara is being just as bad as the guys with the misogyny. I liked how this book does address this idea of how girls can perpetuate this as well. I really liked that this was discussed and it wasn’t just dismissed throughout the whole book.

I also really liked that this is a coming of age book where Mara is learning about who she is and how she can exist in this small town of hers. I liked that we got to see Mara have other queer people serve as her mentors because I found that quite important.

Characters: This book has several characters that you are introduced to through their interactions with the main character, Mara. You get to meet her brother, Noah, several of the guys on the football team and the Elkhorn Five.

I really liked watching how the relationship between Mara and Carly develops. I love that this story is enemies to lovers because you get the whole build up before anything happens. I also like how oblivious Mara is of Carly’s feelings throughout the whole thing and how angry that makes Carly.

I also really liked how Mara and her brother’s relationship shifts throughout the whole story. I like how his feelings about her being on his team change and how she calls him out for this. I also like how Mara realizes things about her best friend, Quinn and the type of person who he really is.

Writing Style: This book is written in first person through Mara’s point of view. I liked that things were told through her point of view because when conflict arises there is no one else’s side being seen. I think it is important that we don’t really get to see other people’s point of view and just see how Mara feels about everything.

About Britta Lundin

Britta Lundin is a TV writer and author.

She’s written for shows such as Riverdale, Betty, and The Big Leap and is the author of the young adult novels Like Other Girls (out August 2021) and Ship It.

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she lives with her wife, kid, and dog in Los Angeles.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Goodreads | Amazon

Giveaway Details

3 winners will receive a finished copy of LIKE OTHER GIRLS, US Only. Enter Here!

Tour Schedule

Week One:

8/1/2021Tween 2 Teen Book ReviewsReview
8/2/2021BookHounds YAExcerpt
8/3/2021Rajiv’s ReviewsReview
8/4/2021Kait Plus BooksExcerpt
8/5/2021Lifestyle of MeReview
8/6/2021onemusedReview
8/7/2021booksaremagictooReview

Week Two:

8/8/2021EveryonesLibrarianReview
8/9/2021@curlygrannylovestoreadReview
8/10/2021BRITTREADSALATTEBOOKSIG Post
8/11/2021A Bookish DreamReview
8/12/2021Nonbinary Knight ReadsReview
8/13/2021Unconventional Quirky BibliophileReview
8/14/2021Fyrekatz BlogReview

Week Three:

8/15/2021@coffeebooksandmascaraReview
8/16/2021MidnightbookloverIG Post
8/17/2021A Gingerly ReviewExcerpt/IG post
8/18/2021The Bookwyrm’s DenReview
8/19/2021@drewsim12Review
8/20/2021Adrianna.readsReview
8/21/2021Mallory BooksReview

Week Four:

8/22/2021GivernyReadsReview
8/23/2021popthebutterflyReview
8/24/2021@pagesofyellowReview
8/25/2021My Fictional OasisReview
8/26/2021PerusewithcoffeeReview
8/27/2021The Phantom ParagrapherReview
8/28/2021Eli to the nthReview

Week Five:

8/29/2021@fictitious.foxReview
8/30/2021BibliosiniReview
8/31/2021Two Points of InterestReview

How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with The Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland Book Tour Post

I am excited to be on this book tour for How Moon Fuentez fell in Love with the Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland through TBR and Beyond Tours. Check out the rest of the tour here.

Book Description

Book Info

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

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Publishing Date: August 10, 2021

Synopsis:

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?

Book Links

Goodreads~ Amazon~BarnesandNoble~ Book Depository~ Indigo~ Indiebound

Review

TW: Emotional abuse, Fatphobia, Physical abuse, Sexual content, Suicide, and Mental illness

Thoughts and Themes: At first it took me a big to really get into this book but once I did, I finished it in three days. There was so much to love about this book and I never wanted to put it down. I love a good romance story and this book has exactly that, we got enemies to lovers in here but we also have Moon learning to love herself and realize she’s worth so much more than what others made her believe.

I love a book where our main character learns to let others love them and more so learns their self worth. This is my favorite type of story because I feel like it’s something I’ll always need, I’ll always need to be reminded of my worth and want others to see how much they are worth.

I really liked each of the chapter titles in this book as they were unique and gave you a hint as to exactly what would happen in that portion of the book. I also like that each chapter felt like its own story in it of itself. I liked how through these chapters we got snort snippets of different parts of Moon’s life and her relationships with different people.

Something else that I really enjoyed about this book is that we get some queer side characters. I like the idea of queerness co existing with religion and I really liked the complexity of that in this story. Being a Catholic Queer isn’t easy ever and I love how this book touches a bit on that even if it isn’t a central plot point.

Characters: In this story you get to meet several characters through their interactions with Moon. You meet her sister, Star, the love interest, Santiago, other influensters on this tour, Moon’s aunt/Tia, and more.

Moon and Star’s relationship is complicated and made this way more so by the way the mom treats them. I found it interesting to read their dynamic and why Star sees Moon the way she does. I liked how the relationship shifts as Moon stands up for herself and starts to see how she isn’t just Star’s sister.

I really liked Moon’s relationship with Santiago and how this all started as them being enemies with each other. I liked how that developed but mostly I liked how he likes her for who she is. I liked how they both opened up to each other and learned to trust each other. I don’t want to give too much spoilers but just know that the relationship is cute and to die for.

Writing Style: This story is told in first person through the perspective of Moon. I really enjoyed having the story told through her perspective because when things go wrong we don’t get to hear what anyone else thinks. I like that we only get everything through her eyes because we don’t get things colored by any other lens.

Author Information

Raquel Vasquez Gilliland is a Mexican American poet, novelist and painter. She received her MFA in poetry from the University of Alaska, Anchorage in 2017. She’s most inspired by fog and seeds and the lineages of all things. When not writing, Raquel tells stories to her plants and they tell her stories back. She lives in Tennessee with her beloved family and mountains.

Author Links

Website ~Twitter~Instagram~ Goodreads

The Prince and The Dressmaker by Jen Wang Book Review

Author Information

Photo by Sean Culligan

Jen Wang is the award-winning NYT Bestselling author and illustrator of several graphic novels for young readers including Stargazing, The Prince and The Dressmaker, In Real Life (co-written with Cory Doctorow), and Koko Be Good. She is also a co-founder and organizer for Comic Arts LA. She lives in Los Angeles.

Book Description

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. 

Review

Thoughts and Themes: The minute that I opened this book and started reading it, I knew it was going to be one that I loved. When I finished reading it I cried and I’ll let you all read to see if those were happy or sad tears. I immediately wanted to re-read it over and over again but had to hold myself back because I have so many other books to get through.

There’s a scene in the book where the prince tells his mother “this is who I am. I’m a prince who likes dresses.” I paused when reading that and put the book down because this finally captured my gender perfectly. I’m a boy who likes dresses, like its that simple but also so complex for others to understand.

Characters: This story centers around two main characters, the prince and his dressmaker. I love each of the main characters and how supportive they are of each other’s dreams. There are some moments in which the way the prince treats Frances in a less than ideal manner and I both am annoyed with him but also sympathize with him.

Writing and Art Style: I loved the art style of this book and how clearly you can see the emotions on each of their faces. There is no need for words in some of the panels because the picture says it all. I liked seeing the difference in the prince and Lady Crystallia and how not only were they dressed differently but their personality, mannerisms, and feelings were different.

Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfold, and Nicola Yoon Book Review

Book Description

Six critically acclaimed, bestselling, and award-winning authors bring the glowing warmth and electricity of Black teen love to this interlinked novel of charming, hilarious, and heartwarming stories that shine a bright light through the dark.

A summer heatwave blankets New York City in darkness. But as the city is thrown into confusion, a different kind of electricity sparks…

A first meeting. 

Long-time friends. 

Bitter exes. 

And maybe the beginning of something new.

When the lights go out, people reveal hidden truths. Love blossoms, friendship transforms, and new possibilities take flight.

Beloved authors—Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon—celebrate the beauty of six couples and the unforgettable magic that can be found on a sweltering starry night in the city. Book Description

Review

Thoughts and Themes: Have you ever read a book that made you believe in love again? A book that made you feel like it was giving you a hug and telling you that everything will be okay. I’ve read several books that have felt like a hug, like someone telling me that it was going to be okay but none quite like this one. This book told me you can find love in the darkest places and that everyone deserves their chance at love even if it means getting that chance more than once.

It is hard for me to put into words how much I loved this book, right from finishing the first story in it, I knew I was going to want more when it was all done. I really enjoyed each of the short stories that were included in this book and how they built on each other. I really enjoyed how one story was split into different pieces with the other stories mixing with that one, it really tied everything together.

Everytime that I read a book about romance or love, I remember how much I really do enjoy this genre when I can get over how much I feel that it isn’t for me. The idea of love and romance feels so foreign to me now that it seems untouchable even if a book form. This book was different, it didn’t feel like it was far away or if it wasn’t for me, it felt like it was saying so much in so little words.

Characters: There are several characters in this book that you get to meet as each short story has their own set of characters. I loved each of the characters that you get to meet in the story as they are all unique from each other. There was nothing not to love about these characters and how they each fell in love. Throughout the whole book, you are just rooting for them to find happiness, with someone else or within themselves.

Writing Style: This book was quite different from the anthologies that I am used to reading but I enjoyed the way it was written. The main story centered around there being a blackout in New York City and the rest of the stories went from there. I liked how interconnected all of the stories are from one another. My only complaint is that there were stories I wanted to see more of, I mean they closed beautifully but I fell in love with the people in it and wanted more of them.

Author Information

Dhonielle Clayton

Born and raised in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., Dhonielle spent much of her childhood hiding beneath her grandmother’s dining table with a stack of books. As an English teacher at a ballet academy, Clayton rediscovered her passion for children’s and young adult literature. To ground herself in the canon, she pursued her Masters in Children’s Literature from Hollins University before receiving her MFA in Writing for Children at the New School. She is a former middle school librarian, where she pestered children to read and curated a diverse collection. An avid traveler, Dhonielle’s lived in several foreign countries, but she’s now settled in Harlem, where you’ll find her writing late into the night, lurking in libraries, and hunting for the best slice of New York pizza. She is the COO of We Need Diverse Books and the co-founder of Cake Literary. The co-author of the dance dramas Tiny Pretty Things and Shiny Broken Pieces, as well as the upcoming Rumor Game, Dhonielle is the author of the New York Times bestselling YA fantasy series The Belles. Find her on the web at DhonielleClayton.com or on Twitter @brownbookworm.

Tiffany D. Jackson

Tiffany D. Jackson is the New York Times Bestselling author of YA novels including the Coretta Scott King — John Steptoe New Talent Award-winning Monday’s Not Coming, the NAACP Image Award-nominated Allegedly, Let Me Hear A Rhyme, and her 2020 title GROWN. She received her bachelor of arts in film from Howard University, her master of arts in media studies from the New School, and has over a decade in TV/Film experience. The Brooklyn native is a lover of naps, cookie dough, and beaches, currently residing in the borough she loves, most likely multitasking.

Nic Stone

Nic Stone was born and raised in a suburb of Atlanta, GA, and the only thing she loves more than an adventure is a good story about one. After graduating from Spelman College, she worked extensively in teen mentoring and lived in Israel for a few years before returning to the US to write full-time. Growing up with a wide range of cultures, religions, and backgrounds, Stone strives to bring these diverse voices and stories to her work.

Stone lives in Atlanta with her husband and two sons. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram at @getnicced or on her website nicstone.info.

Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi as indicated by her accent. She is a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine with a picture included. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University and an unofficial degree in Hip Hop. She can also still rap if needed. She is an inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Meyers Grant 2015, awarded by We Need Diverse Books. Her debut novel, The Hate U Give, was acquired by Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins in a 13-house auction and will be published in spring 2017. Film rights have been optioned by Fox 2000 with George Tillman attached to direct and Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg set to star.

Ashley Woodfolk

Ashley Woodfolk has loved reading and writing for as long as she can remember. She graduated from Rutgers University and worked in children’s book publishing for over a decade. Now a full-time mom and writer, Ashley lives in a sunny Brooklyn apartment with her cute husband, her cuter dog, and the cutest kid in the world. Her books include The Beauty That Remains, When You Were Everything, and the Flyy Girls Series.

Nicola Yoon

Nicola Yoon is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything and The Sun Is Also a Star. She is a National Book Award finalist, a Michael L. Printz Honor Book recipient and a Coretta Scott King New Talent Award winner. Both her novels have been made into major motion pictures. Nicola grew up in Jamaica and Brooklyn, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, novelist David Yoon, and their family.