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.

In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens Book Review

Author Information


F.T. Lukens is an award-winning author of Young Adult fiction. A sci fi enthusiast, F.T. loves Star Wars and Star Trek and is a longtime member of their college’s science-fiction club. F.T. holds degrees in Psychology and English Literature and has a love of cheesy television shows, superhero movies, and writing. F.T. lives in North Carolina with their spouse, three kids, three dogs, and three cats.

F.T.’s urban fantasy novel The Rules and Regulations For Mediating Myths & Magic won several awards including the 2017 Foreword INDIES Gold Award for Young Adult Fiction, the 2017 IPBA Benjamin Franklin Gold Award for Best Teen Fiction and the 2017 Bisexual Book Award for Speculative Fiction. It was also named to the 2019 ALA Rainbow Book List.

Book Description

A young prince must rely on a mysterious stranger to save him when he is kidnapped during his coming-of-age tour in this swoony adventure that is The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Pirates of the Caribbean.

Prince Tal has long awaited his coming-of-age tour. After spending most of his life cloistered behind palace walls as he learns to keep his forbidden magic secret, he can finally see his family’s kingdom for the first time. His first taste of adventure comes just two days into the journey, when their crew discovers a mysterious prisoner on a burning derelict vessel.

Tasked with watching over the prisoner, Tal is surprised to feel an intense connection with the roguish Athlen. So when Athlen leaps overboard and disappears, Tal feels responsible and heartbroken, knowing Athlen could not have survived in the open ocean.

That is, until Tal runs into Athlen days later on dry land, very much alive, and as charming—and secretive—as ever. But before they can pursue anything further, Tal is kidnapped by pirates and held ransom in a plot to reveal his rumored powers and instigate a war. Tal must escape if he hopes to save his family and the kingdom. And Athlen might just be his only hope…

Review

I won this book in a giveaway from Turn the Page Tours so thanks to them and Netgalley I am able to provide a review for you all.

Thoughts and Themes: It took me quite a long time to be invested in this book as I kept going back and forth in my interest in it. The book starts off quite slowly which is the main reason as to why I wasn’t drawn in immediately to this story.

I really loved how this story is so much adventure and so much different layers kept getting added to this as I read more. I liked reading along as different things happen to Tal and trying to see what he would do next just to survive. I liked that this was a story about survival and the things that one is willing to do in order to survive.

I really enjoyed the world-building in this book and how that was part of the adventure in this story. I liked how there were things that Tal was figuring out about alongside the reader and liked how his family’s past played into the present times. I really enjoyed learning about the different types of magic that was in this book, not just the magic that Tal had but the mystical creatures that were involved and the powers that some of his family members possessed.

Characters: In this story you get introduced to quite a few characters through their interactions with Tal and each of them is unique in their own way. I loved all of the relationships that Tal has with each person who is important to him and I even liked the villains in this story.

I liked the way Tal and Athlen’s relationship develops and how it changes over time. I like how not only is Tal second guessing Athlen’s feelings throughout the whole story but as a reader you are questioning Athlen’s motives. This part was the best thing for me because I loved trying to figure out who was trustworthy in this story and who wasn’t. I felt like Tal who was also trying to figure this out for himself.

I also really enjoyed the relationships that Tal had with each of his family members and especially his siblings. I liked how supportive they are of Tal and how protective they are of him as their youngest sibling. I really liked the scenes in which we get to see all of them talking to him and getting upset with themselves for “allowing” him to have been harmed.

Writing Style: The story is told in third person point of view and follows Tal. I really liked the story being told in this way because it doesn’t seem to be an all knowing narrator. We still get Tal’s feelings and confusion even if he isn’t the one telling the story to us.

Fresh by Margot Wood Book Review

Author Information

Margot Wood is the founder of Epic Reads and has worked in marketing for more than a decade at publishing houses both big and small. Born and raised in Cincinnati, and a graduate of Emerson College, Wood now lives in Portland, Oregon and works in comic book publishing. She once appeared as an extra in the Love, Simon movie.

You can find her online at margotwood.com.

Book Description

A hilarious and vulnerable coming-of-age story about the thrilling new experiences––and missteps––of a girl’s freshman year of college

Some students enter their freshman year of college knowing exactly what they want to do with their lives. Elliot McHugh is not one of those people. But picking a major is the last thing on Elliot’s mind when she’s too busy experiencing all that college has to offer—from dancing all night at off-campus parties, to testing her RA Rose’s patience, to making new friends, to having the best sex one can have on a twin-sized dorm room bed. But she may not be ready for the fallout when reality hits. When the sex she’s having isn’t that great. When finals creep up and smack her right in the face. Or when her roommate’s boyfriend turns out to be the biggest a-hole. Elliot may make epic mistakes, but if she’s honest with herself (and with you, dear reader), she may just find the person she wants to be. And maybe even fall in love in the process . . . Well, maybe.

Review

Thank you to Amulet Books for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Thoughts and Themes: From the first look at the cover and the description this isn’t the typical book that I would pick up, but I am so glad that I gave it a try since I winded up loving this story. This was a book that I just couldn’t put down once I picked it up.

This book instantly transported me back to my first year of college and while I was nothing like Elliot, I could still relate to the characters in this story. It was fun returning to this time in my life and also remembering what student’s lives are like when they are in college now that I work as an academic advisor. I thought that this story really captured the feeling of going away to college really well and all that comes along with being alone for the first time.

Something else that I really liked about this book was how sex positive it was. As an a-spec person, I tend to stray away from books that feature sex as I can find it overwhelming but I found this book wasn’t too much. I liked that we got a range of different opinions on sex in this book and how no one was shamed for their thoughts on it.

I really love the ending of this story and just screamed so much in the last 50ish pages of this book. I can’t say much more about this without ruining it but it was just too cute for my heart to handle.

Characters: In this story you get to meet Elliot, and several of the people she interacts with on a regular basis and her family members. I really enjoyed getting to read the pieces between Elliot and her younger sister. I loved the way their relationship was easy but you can feel how much she cares about Elliot.

I also really like the friendship between Elliot and her roommate, Lucy. I love the different challenges that they face through their friendship and how they navigate those challenges. I really like how we get to see the reality of several students at a private school through Lucy when she points out the privileges’ that Elliot has. I also like how different they are from each other especially when it comes to relationship and sex. What I really appreciated was how Elliot and Lucy respected each others perspective on things and supported each other’s decisions.

Writing Style: The story is told in first person point of view through the main character, Elliot, and it includes footnotes throughout. I really enjoy the footnotes that are included because it makes the book feel like I’m reading Elliot’s diary. The footnotes allow you to get her innermost thoughts and it also gives a chance to explain things outside of the main story. I also like how we only get the story through Elliot’s perspective because it reads like a college freshman trying to figure out her life.

The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass Book Review

Author Information

Ryan Douglass was born and raised in Atlanta, where he currently resides, cooking pasta and playing records. He enjoys wood wick candles, falling asleep on airplanes, and advocating for stronger media representation for queer Black people.

Book Description

Get Out meets Danielle Vega in this YA horror where survival is not a guarantee.

Jake Livingston is one of the only Black kids at St. Clair Prep, one of the others being his infinitely more popular older brother. It’s hard enough fitting in but to make matters worse and definitely more complicated, Jake can see the dead. In fact he sees the dead around him all the time. Most are harmless. Stuck in their death loops as they relive their deaths over and over again, they don’t interact often with people. But then Jake meets Sawyer. A troubled teen who shot and killed six kids at a local high school last year before taking his own life. Now a powerful, vengeful ghost, he has plans for his afterlife–plans that include Jake. Suddenly, everything Jake knows about ghosts and the rules to life itself go out the window as Sawyer begins haunting him and bodies turn up in his neighborhood. High school soon becomes a survival game–one Jake is not sure he’s going to win.

Review

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

Thoughts and Themes: I had only seen negative reviews on this book so I went into this one suspecting bad and I wish I had’t. I actually really enjoyed this book and the multiple things that were happening in the story. I usually don’t like for there to be many side plot lines because I worry that they will be left unresolved but I liked the side things happening in this story. I felt that the side things happening helped move the story forward and also allowed you to learn about the characters.

I liked how this book brought up the intersection of being Black and Gay and how that was very different than being just one or the other. I thought this was a important piece that was brought up. I can’t speak on the intersection of holding both of those identities so I suggest that you all read own voices reviews as well.

Something else that I enjoyed about this book was that there were moments in which I felt the characters were coming off the screen. I loved the scenes in which there are supernatural elements involved since I felt these features brought the book to life. It was like this book was a ghost in my own living room.

Characters: In this book you get introduced to quite a few characters through their interactions with Jake and through the journal entries that are provided from Sawyer. I liked the way that we get to meet the people who were in Sawyer’s life and get to understand Sawyer through the journal entries and not just his haunting of Jake.

Something that I really enjoyed about this book is that both Sawyer and Jake are gay males. I thought it was great to see how that identity played into their daily lives and also their interactions with each other. I thought that them both being gay added depth to the story and added more to the reason Sawyer was haunting Jake. I felt that this fact made Sawyer feel like he could relate with Jake, and slowly it felt like Jake was able to relate with Sawyer.

I also really enjoyed the brief romance that we got through this book between Jake and Allister. While the romance wasn’t front and center in this story, I liked the glimpses that we get of their relationship and how it develops.

Writing Style: This story is written in first person point of view through Jake’s perspective and it also includes some of the entries from Sawyer’s journal. I like that this book goes back and forth between Jake’s life and Sawyer’s journal entries. I liked getting to know who Sawyer was prior to the shooting and try to see why that event occurred. I also thought it was great to see that this journal was being read by Jake and it was informing him of why this ghost was now haunting him.

Impacted by Benji Carr Book Review

Author Information

As a child growing up in the South with cerebral palsy, Benji Carr developed an eye for the bizarre and quirky, which provided all of the stories he told his friends and family with a bit of flavor. Working as a journalist, storyteller and playwright, his work – whether the stories be personal tales of struggle and survival or fiction about cannibal lunch ladies, puppet romances, drag queen funerals, and perverted killer circus clowns – has been featured in The Guardian, ArtsATL and Pembroke Magazine. Onstage, his pieces have been presented at the Center for Puppetry Arts, Alliance Theatre, and as part of the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival in Manhattan. He lives in Atlanta and helps run the online literary magazine, Gutwrench Journal. Impacted is his first novel.

Book Description

With every trip he makes to the dentist, Wade’s pain only gets worse. His smile has faded. He’s clenching his jaw and grinding his teeth more, not because of bad oral hygiene or any mishaps in orthodontics. Wade’s teeth don’t need straightening out, but the rest of his life could use that kind of adjustment. Wade has fallen in love with handsome Dr. Emmett, and their office visits in the afternoon have become decidedly more personal than professional. And poor Wade is sure his girlfriend Jessa would punch him in the mouth if she found out.

After all, Jessa did just abandon her church and her family to be with him. And she did just have Wade’s baby. So their relationship has already caused enough gossip in the small Georgia town of Waverly.

When Wade tries to end the affair, the breakup takes a brutal turn, leaving Wade in a state of panic. His life is under threat. His secrets could be exposed, and his family may fall apart before he realizes what kind of person he wants to be.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: It took me a while to really get into this one and I made the mistake of looking at other people’s reviews in the middle of reading. I really didn’t see the humor in the story even if it was supposed to be dark humor. That being said, I did still enjoy the story that was told in this book.

I was a bit worried that the center would focus more on the relationship between Dr. Emett and Wade and I really didn’t want that. I was glad that we get to see more of Wade’s life with Jessa, Lydie, and his mom. I thought this was a good coming of age story as Wade figures out who he is and tries to cope with the mess he made, and then deal with being told he was abused.

Characters: In this book you get introduced to quite a few characters that all have different relationships with Wade. I really liked getting to know each of the characters that we meet and getting to see how their story comes together around Wade. There were some characters like the Reverand and Jessa which I was frustrated by and could’ve done with less of them.

I liked getting to see how much more of a mess Wade’s life gets with more people being introduced into the story. I thought it was great to see how these people play into his life and how they help him make sense of the things that have happened to him.

Writing Style: This story is told in third person with an knowing narrator as you read the story through jumping from one character to another. At first I really didn’t like that this book was going back and forth between characters and wished that we got more of Wade. As the book progressed, I understood the need to show us what was going on with the other characters to really tie them together and tie the loose pieces together.

Camp by L.C. Rosen Book Review

Author Information

Lev Rosen is the author of books for all ages. Two for adults: All Men of Genius (Amazon Best of the Month, Audie Award Finalist) and Depth (Amazon Best of the Year, Shamus Award Finalist, Kirkus Best Science Fiction for April). Two middle-grade books: Woundabout (illustrated by his brother, Ellis Rosen), and The Memory Wall. And two young adult novels: Jack of Hearts (and other parts) (American Library Association Rainbow List Top 10 of 2018) and Camp (School Library Journal Best Books of 2020, Elle Magazine Best Books of 2020). His books have been translated into different languages and sold around the world, nominated for awards and featured on many best of the year lists.

Lev is originally from lower Manhattan and now lives in even lower Manhattan, right at the edge, with his husband and very small cat. You can find him online at LevACRosen.com and @LevACRosen

Book Description

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

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

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

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I read this one as it was a pick for one of the book clubs that I am a part of. It was one that was already on my shelves so I was glad to have a reason to read it.

This story reminded me of the time that I went to Trans camp and how that made me finally feel at home and at ease with who I am. I love the idea of LGBTQ+ kids getting a space where they are free to be who they are amongst others who are also like them.

When I first started this book there were so many times that I was annoyed with it and the stereotypes that were being shown. It felt that the whole thing was stereotypes and trying to go through so many tropes in a few pages. I was also worried that we would see a lot of stereotypes and problematic behavior without any commentary on it. I was pleased that this shifted mid way through the book as Randy gets called out for his plan and things between him and Hudson shift as the truth is revealed.

I liked that this book focuses on toxic masculinity within the gay community as well as internalized homophobia. The book doesn’t straight out say that that’s what it is addressing which is something that I like. These topics get addressed through conversations that Randy has with Hudson and conversations that he has with his friends. I like that there isn’t a sudden shift in the way Hudson’s parents think because it makes the story relatable.

I teared up at the conversation that Connie has with Randy about Hudson and his parents. It was just so real and relatable. I really felt for Hudson as he shifts back into someone his parents are more comfortable with for his safety and well-being back at home.

Characters: I really enjoyed all of the characters that you meet throughout this story even if Hudson and Randy would annoy me at times. There were times that I just couldn’t stand Randy at the beginning of the story and halfway through as well. My feelings towards Randy shift as he develops as a character and begins to understand where he went wrong.

I love that each of these characters learns more about themselves as the story goes on and we learn more about them. I love that they change throughout the course of this book and they aren’t one dimensional. I really enjoyed the side characters throughout this book and thought that they really added complexity to the story. I like the side story between George and Brad, as well as Ashleigh and Paz.

Something else I loved is that we get a demisexual character in this story. I have yet to read a book that has a demisexual character so it was really nice to see my sexuality represented.

Writing Style: The story is told in first person through the perspective of Randy which is something that I like because we don’t really get into the other’s thoughts. I like that when there is problems occurring we only get to see Randy’s side and feelings because it makes you angrier with him. I think it is good that we don’t get to really sympathize with Hudson until later on and we don’t find him a likeable character immediately. Well at least I didn’t find him likeable as it seemed he was trying to trick Randy into something Randy wasn’t ready for.

A Neon Darkness Book Review

Thank you to Netgalley and Tor Teen for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Author Information

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

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

Book Description

The second Bright Sessions novel from creator Lauren Shippen that asks: “What if the X-Men, instead of becoming superheroes, decided to spend some time in therapy?”

Los Angeles, 2006. Eighteen-year-old Robert Gorham arrives in L.A. amid the desert heat and the soft buzz of neon. He came alone with one goal: he wants to see the ocean. And Robert always gets what he wants.

At a very young age, Robert discovered he had the unusual ability to make those close to him want whatever he wants. He wanted dessert instead of dinner? His mother served it. He wanted his Frisbee back? His father walked off the roof to bring it to him faster. He wanted to be alone? They both disappeared. Forever.

But things will be different in L.A. He meets a group of strange friends who could help him. Friends who can do things like produce flames without flint, conduct electricity with their hands, and see visions of the past. They call themselves Unusuals and finally, finally, Robert belongs.

When a tall figure, immune to their powers, discovers them, the first family that Robert has ever wanted is at risk of being destroyed. The only way to keep them
all together is to get his powers under control.

But control is a sacrifice he might not be willing to make.

A Neon Darkness is the origin story of Damien and the second stand-alone story
in the Bright Sessions Novels.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: There are so many things that I love about this book and the main thing is the narrator of the story. The narrator makes the story really easy to follow and makes it so easy to get caught into the story. I listened to this one while following along with the e-book because I find that this way of listening to audiobooks worst best for me.

I have so much notes on this book that I ran out of space for notes in the page that I was using. Most of these notes are focused on the characters so that I could tell them apart but there is also a lot of notes about the world building. I really enjoyed the back story that you get for each of the characters and how things are slowly elaborated on.

I really like how often they point out to Robert that he is an adult and responsible for his actions. I love how they point out that Robert is a White guy who has power of persuasion and what that means for his friends and everyone else. I really like how Robert just doesn’t get what his powers mean for others and only focuses on how his powers affect him. This is such a frustrating thing but such an important part to this story.

Characters: There are several characters that you get introduced to throughout this book and I actually liked each one of them. I even managed to like Marley who seems to be the character not everyone would like. I was confused about their ages and wondered if they were all within the same age range or not.

I liked the mystery of the bad guy and how we don’t know much about him. I also like how the mystery of each character is kept until the ending chapters. We get a little bit of each person revealed to us through their conversations with each other and as they learn more about themselves and each other.

I was so glad that we got several queer characters in this story and that their queerness is spoken about. I also like the relationships that we are shown throughout this book and the ones that are developed or restored. I liked that we get to see Indah and Neon struggle through establishing their relationship and what they mean to each other. I also like how different each of the characters are from each other and then also seeing their similarities.

“Understanding is like love, you can’t tell someone how to do it” There are so many things in the last few chapters of this book that I really enjoy. I love watching Robert develop and go back and forth with who he is. He makes me so angry because he doesn’t understand how his influence is affecting anyone because he hasn’t used it for bad. He doesn’t understand the problem with using his influence on anyone and it’s so frustrating but I love when his friends speak out against what he’s done to them.

Writing Style: This story is written in first person and told through Robert’s perspective, though there are times when it switches to third person with Indah’s view point or Blaze’s view point. I also listened to this story as an audio book so I’ll also be commenting on the narrator in this section. I thought the narrator was great and easy to listen to. This is one that the voice could’ve changed with each character that was speaking but I was glad that the voices were all similar. It made it so the story flowed better and there were no breaks between characters changing.

Who’s Your Daddy Book Tour Post

Thank You to Poetic Book Tours for allowing me to be on this book tour to let others know about this book coming out March 2021.

Author Description

ARISA WHITE is a Cave Canem fellow, Sarah Lawrence College alumna, an MFA graduate from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and author of the poetry chapbooks Disposition for Shininess, Post Pardon, Black Pearl, Perfect on Accident, and “Fish Walking” & Other Bedtime Stories for My Wife won the inaugural Per Diem Poetry Prize. Published by Virtual Artists Collective, her debut full-length collection, Hurrah’s Nest, was a finalist for the 2013 Wheatley Book Awards, 82nd California Book Awards, and nominated for a 44th NAACP Image Awards. Her second collection, A Penny Saved, inspired by the true-life story of Polly Mitchell, was published by Willow Books, an imprint of Aquarius Press in 2012. Her latest full-length collection, You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened, was published by Augury Books and nominated for the 29th Lambda Literary Awards. Most recently, Arisa co-authored, with Laura Atkins, Biddy Mason Speaks Up, a middle-grade biography in verse on the midwife and philanthropist Bridget “Biddy” Mason, which is the second book in the Fighting for Justice series. She is currently co-editing, with Miah Jeffra and Monique Mero, the anthology Home is Where You Queer Your Heart, which will be published by Foglifter Press in 2021. And forthcoming in February 2021, from Augury Books, her poetic memoir Who’s Your Daddy.

Book Description

Who’s Your Daddy is a lyrical genre-bending coming-of-age tale featuring a young, queer, black Guyanese American woman who, while seeking to define her own place in the world, negotiates an estranged relationship with her father.

Who’s Your Daddy?, a hybrid memoir combining poetry and creative nonfiction, is a meditation on paternal absences, intergenerational trauma, and toxic masculinity. Who’s Your Daddy? asks us to consider how the relationships we are born into can govern us, even through absence, and shape the dynamics we find and forge as we grow. White lyrically moves across distance and time, from Brooklyn to California to Guyana. Her book enacts rituals that plumb the interior reaches of the heart to assemble disconnected and estranged parts into something whole, tender, and strong. 

Review

Thoughts and Themes: This review was a little difficult to write as this type of story telling is one that I had not read before. I have read memoirs in the past but I had not read one that used the methods that this book has used. I really liked the way that this book makes you think about how relationships dictate so many aspects of our lives as we watch relationships change the narrative in this memoir.

Something that I really like about the way that this story is being told is how it feels like a conversation with someone. This memoir feels like the narrator is sitting down to tell you this story which made it so that this story felt a lot more relatable.

Characters: There is one main character throughout this book even as she talks about others that come along in her journey. The main character is the same person who is narrating this story and it was nice to be able to connect to the story teller in a different method.

Writing Style: I really enjoyed how each poem is kept on a separate page so that the story flows really well. I thought that the choice to have a portion of the first sentence in bold was a great way to give you a glance at what the focus of this poem was going to be. I thought that this was an interesting way to write a memoir and really liked the way that poetry was combined with creative nonfiction.

I recommend this to those of you who enjoy reading memoirs and may want a new way of reading them.

Vampires Never Get Old by by Zoraida Cordova; Natalie C. Parker Book Tour Post

I am so excited to get a chance to be a part of this book tour hosted by Hear our Voices Book Tour . Make sure you check out the rest of the posts that are a part of this tour by looking at the schedule for the tour found here. 

Book Description

Heidi Heilig

by Zoraida Córdova (Editor), Natalie C. Parker (Editor)

Publisher: Imprint
Release Date: September 22nd 2020
Genre: YA Paranormal Anthology

Eleven fresh vampire stories from young adult fiction’s leading voices!

In this delicious new collection, you’ll find stories about lurking vampires of social media, rebellious vampires hungry for more than just blood, eager vampires coming out―and going out for their first kill―and other bold, breathtaking, dangerous, dreamy, eerie, iconic, powerful creatures of the night.

Welcome to the evolution of the vampire―and a revolution on the page.

Vampires Never Get Old includes stories by authors both bestselling and acclaimed, including Samira Ahmed, Dhonielle Clayton, Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker, Tessa Gratton, Heidi Heilig, Julie Murphy, Mark Oshiro, Rebecca Roanhorse, Laura Ruby, Victoria “V. E.” Schwab, and Kayla Whaley.

You can find the book at:

GoodreadsAmazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ 

Books-A-Million ~ Bookshop.org ~ Kobo ~ Eso Won Books

Review

4 Stars

I normally review books by talking about my thoughts and themes, the characters, and then the writing style. This review has to be a little different thought as there isn’t just one story being told by one person, but a range of stories being told by different people, meaning the characters change constantly and the writing style varies from page to page.

I’ve always been a fan of vampires because of their mysterious nature and all the they can stand for that this book does a great job of exploring. I love how each of the stories that are included in this book talks about different characteristics about vampires and the different lore that is around about them. The vampires in this book all differ from one story to the next and that is part of what is intriguing about this book, you never know what you are in for.

While there were stories that left me wanting more from them, I did think that they all wrapped up well. Something that I enjoyed was the pieces that were included after a story that gave a slight explanation of the story. I really enjoyed these for the stories that I wasn’t sure if I got the message the author wanted me to but I also liked that each posed a question.

I thought about how to review this book and the best way for me to do this is by giving you a short review of each of the stories in this book.

Seven Nights for Dying by Tessa Gratton

This story talks about the transformation into a vampire and puts a different twist on it as the main character is given 7 days to decide if she wants to make the full transformation into a vampire. This story goes a little into the topics of grief, loss, and moving on. I liked that this story gave you a bisexual or pansexual main character, and also introduces a transgender vampire too.

Mirrors, Windows, and Selfies by Mark Oshiro

This story was one of my favorites and brought me back to my years as a teenager when I spent all my time on Xanga (blog site). I was brought back to those days where I felt alone and as if the only people who could understand me were the people I was blogging for or the people whose blogs I was reading.

I really enjoyed reading about the superstitions surrounding mirrors and also getting to learn about why vampires can’t see themselves in them. I also thought it was great to be able to think about Cisco’s parents keeping secrets from him and in a way hiding him from himself.

The House of Black Sapphire by Dhonielle Clayton

This is one of the stories that I was glad a explanation came after because while I liked the story I wasn’t sure what the messaging was supposed to be or what I was supposed to question. I liked that this story brought in other beings not just the vampires and we got to see how they interacted with vampires. I thought it was interesting to see the house reimagined as coffin as I did not understand that point until after the description and that made the re-reading of this story so much better.

The Boys from Blood River by Rebecca Roanhorse

This is another one of my favorite stories and this is one that I had to put the book down for because I made the mistake of trying to read at night and in the dark. I loved how spooky the setting of this one is and how these vampires appeared to be good at first but then things suddenly changed. I liked how this made you think about sacrifice and what you are willing to sacrifice.

Senior Year sucks by Julie Murphy

I was glad to be able to read a story in which we get a body positive character who is confident about themselves. I loved that this story centered around a vampire slayer who was not your typical slayer. I liked reading about her encounter with Alma as it was funny and cute. I wanted more of this story so that I could get more of these two.

The Boy and the Bell by Heidi Heiling

In this story you get a transgender main character who is trying to study in order to become a doctor. I liked how this story focuses on the ways people would try to ensure that the dead didn’t become vampires in the past. I thought this was a great take on the Victorian era when they would bury the dead with a breathing tube and a bell so that they can ask for help if they were not dead. I liked that it was a take on this gone terribly bad for the main character and how this time maybe he wishes that this way of burying people was not a thing.

In Kind by Kayla Whaley

TW: Caregiver Abuse

What I really liked about this one was the idea that even if the main character became a vampire it didn’t suddenly mean that she could walk. I liked that the main character felt that if that was granted to her it would take away part of who she is and she would not longer be herself. This story makes you think about people’s takes on disabilities and being disabled and how their lives are not any less valuable due to those disabilities.

A Guidebook for the Newly Sired Desi Vampire by Samira Ahmed

I liked this books take on colonialism and how to go about getting rid of those people but also being careful not to colonize a place as well. I thought that many of the pieces of this story were funny and light, and liked the way they were easing the new vampire into being a vampires. I liked the references that were made to Indian culture and how this story talks about tourists who come in and do not respect the culture.

Bestiary by Laura Ruby

I liked the way the main character in this story connected to animals. This one was a bit slower for me and one that I wasn’t as much enjoying as the others. I did like some aspects of it and liked the transformation piece about it and thinking about what animal I would transform into if I were a vampire.

Vampires Never Say Die by Zoraida Cordova & Natalie C. Parker

This story goes back and forth between two characters who are best friends. I really enjoyed the back and forth between these two and how she comes to the rescue of her friend. It really spoke on the value of friendship and what you are willing to do for others.

First Kill by Victoria “V.E.” Schwab

I loved the back and forth between the two characters in this one and the idea that they can both be the “bad guy”. I loved having both a vampire and a hunter in this story. This story left me wanting more from both of these characters. I want to know more and I need to know what happens, who wins?

Author Information

Zoraida Cordova

Zoraida Córdova is the author of many fantasy novels, including the award-winning Brooklyn Brujas series, Incendiary, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge: A Crash of Fate, and The Way to Rio Luna. Her short fiction has appeared in the New York Times bestselling anthology Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View, Star Wars: Clone Wars Stories of Light and Dark, and Come On In. She is the co-editor of Vampires Never Get Old. She is the co-host of the writing podcast, Deadline City, with Dhonielle Clayton. Zoraida was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador and raised in Queens, New York. When she’s not working on her next novel, she’s finding a new adventure.

Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Website ~ Goodreads

Natalie C. Parker

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Natalie C. Parker grew up in a Navy family finding home in coastal cities from Virginia to Japan. Now, she lives surprisingly far from any ocean on the Kansas prairie with her wife where she writes and edits books for teens including the acclaimed Seafire trilogy.

Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Website ~ Goodreads

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Samira Ahmed

Samira is the New York Times bestselling author of Love, Hate, & Other Filters and the forthcoming, Internment (March 2019) and Mad, Bad, & Dangerous to Know (April 2020).

These days, Samira lives in Chicago, Illinois. When she’s not writing or reading, she can be found on her lifelong quest for the perfect pastry.

Her writing is represented by Jo Volpe at New Leaf Literary.

Dhonielle Clayton

Dhonielle Clayton was born in the suburbs of Washington, DC and spent her childhood Saturdays at the comic book store with her father and most evenings hiding beneath her grandmother’s dining room table with a stack of books. She earned a BA in English at Wake Forest University. She was an English teacher for three years and worked with educational curriculum. Being surrounded by children, Dhonielle re-discovered her love of children’s literature and earned a masters in children’s and young adult literature from Hollins University. Currently, she is working on both middle grade and young adult novel projects. She moved to NYC where she earned her MFA at the New School’s MFA Program. She is co-founder of CAKE Literary, a literary development studio committed to bringing diversity to high concept content.

Tessa Gratton

Tessa Gratton is the author of adult SFF The Queens of Innis Lear and Lady Hotspur from Tor Books, as well as the YA series The Blood Journals and The United States of Asgard. Her most recent YA is the original fairy tale Strange Grace from McElderry Books and the upcoming Night Shine. Tessa’s novels and short stories have been translated into twenty-two languages, nominated twice for the Tiptree Award, and several have been Junior Library Guild Selections. Though she has lived all over the world, she currently resides at the edge of the Kansas prairie with her wife.

Heidi grew up in Hawaii where she rode horses and raised peacocks, and then she moved to New York City and grew up even more, as one tends to do. Her favorite thing, outside of writing, is travel, and she has haggled for rugs in Morocco, hiked the trails of the Ko’olau Valley, and huddled in a tent in Africa while lions roared in the dark. She holds an MFA from New York University in Musical Theatre Writing, of all things, and she’s written books and lyrics for shows including The Time Travelers Convention, Under Construction, and The Hole. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, son and their pet snake, whose wings will likely grow in any day now. In her debut, The Girl from Everywhere, Heidi Heilig blends fantasy, history, and a modern sensibility with witty, fast-paced dialogue, breathless adventure, and enchanting romance.

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Julie Murphy

Julie Murphy lives in North Texas with her husband who loves her, her dog who adores her, and her cats who tolerate her. After several wonderful years in the library world, Julie now writes full-time.

When she’s not writing or reliving her reference desk glory days, she can be found watching made-for-TV movies, hunting for the perfect slice of cheese pizza, and planning her next great travel adventure.

She is also the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the young adult novels Dumplin (now a film on Netflix), PuddinRamona Blue, and Side Effects May VaryDear Sweet Pea is her debut middle grade novel.

Mark Oshiro

Mark Oshiro is the author of Anger is a Gift (Tor Teen), winner of the 2019 Schneider Family Book Award and nominated for a 2019 Lammy Award (in the LGBTQ Children’s/Young Adult category). Upcoming novels include Each of Us a Desert (Tor Teen), a YA Fantasy novel out September 15, 2020, and The Insiders (Harper Collins), a MG Contemporary with magical elements out Fall 2021. When they are not writing, crying on camera about fictional characters for their online Mark Does Stuff universe, or traveling, Mark is busy trying to fulfill their lifelong goal: to pet every dog in the world.

Rebecca Roanhorse

Rebecca Roanhorse is a NYTimes bestselling and Nebula, Hugo and Locus Award-winning speculative fiction writer and the recipient of the 2018 Astounding (Campbell) Award for Best New Writer.

Her novel Trail of Lightning (Book 1 in the Sixth World Series) won the Locus Award for Best First Novel and is a Nebula, Hugo and World Fantasy finalist. It was also selected as an Amazon, B&N, Library Journal, and NPR Best Books of 2018, among others. Book 2 in the Sixth World Series, Storm of Locusts, has received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and Booklist, is a Locus Award Finalist, and has been named an Amazon, Powell’s, and Audible Best of 2019. Her novel, Resistance Reborn, is part of Star Wars: Journey to The Rise of Skywalker and a USA Today and NYTimes bestseller. Her middle grade novel Race to the Sun for the Rick Riordan Present’s imprint was a New York Times Bestseller and received a starred review from Kirkus. Her next novel is an epic Fantasy set in a secondary world inspired by the Pre-Columbian Americas called Black Sun, out Oct 13, 2020.

She lives in Northern New Mexico with her husband, daughter, and pups. She drinks a lot of black coffee.

Laura Ruby

A two-time National Book Award Finalist, Laura Ruby writes fiction for adults, teens and children. She is the author of the Printz Medal Winning novel Bone Gap, as well as Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All. Other works include the Edgar®-nominated children’s mystery Lily’s Ghosts, the ALA Quick Pick for teens Good Girls (2006), a collection of interconnected short stories about blended families for adults, I’m not Julia Roberts (2007), and the York trilogy. She is on the faculty of Hamline University’s Masters in Writing for Children Program. She makes her home in the Chicago area.

Victoria Schwab

Victoria “V.E.” Schwab is the #1 NYT, USA, and Indie bestselling author of more than a dozen books, including Vicious, the Shades of Magic series, and This Savage Song. Her work has received critical acclaim, been featured by EW and The New York Times, been translated into more than a dozen languages, and been optioned for TV and Film. The Independent calls her the “natural successor to Diana Wynne Jones” and touts her “enviable, almost Gaimanesque ability to switch between styles, genres, and tones.”

Headshot of a white woman with blonde hair and glasses. She has her left hand near her face. She wears a neutral expression, not quite smiling.

Kayla Whaley

Kayla Whaley lives outside Atlanta, Georgia where she buys too many books and drinks too many lattes. She holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Tampa and is a graduate of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop. She was named one of Bustle‘s inaugural “Rule Breakers” in 2018.

Whether writing fiction, nonfiction, or the extremely occasional poem, she is fascinated by disability, sexuality, and the body. Among other venues, her work has appeared at CatapultBustleMichigan Quarterly ReviewUncanny MagazineBook Riot, and in the anthologies Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World (Algonquin) and Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux).

She has also appeared on the first season of Reese Witherspoon’s podcast How It Is and Slate’s popular Dear Prudence podcast.

Whaley spent four years as senior editor at Disability in Kidlit, an award-winning site dedicated to examining portrayals of disability in middle grade and young adult fiction, and she is currently on the Advisory Board for Research on Diversity in Youth Literature, a peer-reviewed journal published by St. Catherine University. She also holds a Master’s in Public Administration, which is languishing somewhere in her closet, so the less said about that, the better.