Reviews

A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow

*Spoiler free*

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Tavia is already at odds with the world, forced to keep her siren identity under wraps in a society that wants to keep her kind under lock and key. Never mind she’s also stuck in Portland, Oregon, a city with only a handful of black folk and even fewer of those with magical powers. At least she has her bestie Effie by her side as they tackle high school drama, family secrets, and unrequited crushes. But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation; the girls’ favorite Internet fashion icon reveals she’s also a siren, and the news rips through their community. Tensions escalate when Effie starts being haunted by demons from her past, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice during a police stop. No secret seems safe anymore—soon Portland won’t be either.

Siren stories are always intriguing to me, but it always seems to take me awhile to get to them. A Song Below Water was no different. I knew I wanted to read it because it sounded so good. Two best friends grapple with their world. A world that has mythical creatures like sirens. Effie has secrets to unravel and Tavia is trying to keep her voice under wraps. Trigger warnings: past suicide attempt, self-harm, anxiety

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Reviews

The Sound Of Stars by Alechia Dow

*Spoiler free*

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Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population. Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. Deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, humanity’s emotional transgressions are now grounds for execution. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her. Born in a lab, M0Rr1S (Morris) was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does. Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while making a story and a song of their own that just might save them both.

I wasn’t sure of this book at first. Books about books or music usually don’t mesh well with me. I’m not sure why, it’s weird. The cover drew me in, so it was on my radar somewhat. Though, I started hearing all kind of love about it online, so I thought I would give it more of a shot. Plus, an alien and a girl going on a dangerous road trip to try and save the world sounds incredibly intriguing. Trigger warnings: colonization, violence, execution, oppression, brainwashing and mind control, anxiety, panic attacks

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Reviews

8 Reasons You Should Read Kingdom Of Souls by Rena Barren

*Spoiler free*

Arrah is a young woman from a long line of the most powerful witch doctors in the land. But she fails at magic, fails to call upon the ancestors and can’t even cast the simplest curse. Shame and disappointment dog her. When strange premonitions befall her family and children in the kingdom begin to disappear, Arrah undergoes the dangerous and scorned process of selling years of her life for magic. This borrowed power reveals a nightmarish betrayal and a danger beyond what she could have imagined. Now Arrah must find a way to master magic, or at least buy it, in order to save herself and everything she holds dear.

I feel like this book came out of nowhere for me. I didn’t know about it and suddenly excitement for it was everywhere I looked online. Plus, once I found out what it’s about I was even more intrigued. A girl yearns for magic of her own in a family of powerful witchdoctors. Children are going missing and a Demon King is stirring. It sounded like something that would be right up my alley, so I was eager to read it! Trigger warnings: violence, sacrifice, blood magic, and parental abuse

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Reviews

We Free The Stars by Hafsah Faizal

*Spoiler free, but spoilers for We Hunt The Flame*

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Thank you so much to Farrar, Straus and Giroux and Edelweiss for the e-ARC!

The battle on Sharr is over. The dark forest has fallen. Altair may be captive, but Zafira, Nasir, and Kifah are bound for Sultan’s Keep, determined to finish the plan he set in motion: restoring the hearts of the Sisters of Old to the minarets of each caliphate, and finally returning magic to all of Arawiya. But they are low on resources and allies alike, and the kingdom teems with fear of the Lion of the Night’s return. As the zumra plots to overthrow the kingdom’s darkest threat, Nasir fights to command the magic in his blood. He must learn to hone his power into a weapon, to wield not only against the Lion but against his father, trapped under the Lion’s control. Zafira battles a very different darkness festering in her through her bond with the Jawarat—a darkness that hums with voices, pushing her to the brink of her sanity and to the edge of a chaos she dare not unleash. In spite of the darkness enclosing ever faster, Nasir and Zafira find themselves falling into a love they can’t stand to lose…but time is running out to achieve their ends, and if order is to be restored, drastic sacrifices will have to be made.

After reading We Hunt The Flame, I was incredibly eager for We Free The Stars. The way that the previous book ended left me wanting more, wanting to know what was going to happen to the zumra, with magic, and with Arawiya. I knew this book would probably thrust many feelings upon my heart, but I wanted to see what those feelings were going to be. Trigger warnings: mentions of abuse (physical and emotional), blood, gore

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Reviews

Raybearer by Jordan Ifeuko

*Spoiler free*

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Nothing is more important than loyalty. But what if you’ve sworn to protect the one you were born to destroy? Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood. That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong somewhere. But The Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn—but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself? With extraordinary world-building and breathtaking prose, Raybearer is the story of loyalty, fate, and the lengths we’re willing to go for the ones we love.

The cover of this one was what initially drew me in. With a cover like that, it’s hard not to be intrigued. Some of my friends read and adored this book, which of course shot it straight up on my list of books to pick up. There was also tons of love for this one online. Plus, the fact that this book is about a love starved girl going to compete for spot on the prince’s council made me even more eager to read this book. Trigger Warnings: parental emotional abuse, blood magic, death of children, rape

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Reviews

Crier’s War by Nina Varela

*Spoiler free*

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After the War of Kinds ravaged the kingdom of Rabu, the Automae, Designed to be the playthings of royals, took over the estates of their owners and bent the human race to their will. Now, Ayla, a human servant rising the ranks at the House of the Sovereign, dreams of avenging the death of her family… by killing the Sovereign’s daughter, Lady Crier. Crier, who was Made to be beautiful, to be flawless. And to take over the work of her father. Crier had been preparing to do just that—to inherit her father’s rule over the land. But that was before she was betrothed to Scyre Kinok, who seems to have a thousand secrets. That was before she discovered her father isn’t as benevolent as she thought. That was before she met Ayla. Set in a richly-imagined fantasy world, Nina Varela’s debut novel is a sweepingly romantic tale of love, loss and revenge, that challenges what it really means to be human.

In a very me way, it was the second I found out this book was queer was the second I knew I wanted to read it. (Yes, it might have taken me a little bit to get to it, but I wanted to read it the whole time.) This was a queer fantasy book. A queer fantasy with the enemies-to-lovers trope and a very intriguing world, a world with Automae ruling over humans. It sounded amazing.

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Reviews

Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

*Spoiler free*

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Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt. But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process. Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl–he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to humans. He’s drawn to her anyway. With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s.

A seemingly doomed friendship, maybe something more. Miyoung, a gumiho must feed on the energy of men to survive. Jihoon, a boy who sees her nine tails and who Miyoung leaves alive. I have seen so much love for this book online, since before it even came out (which is when I started to want to read it). I sounded like such a fascinating, alluring story, and I was very eager to see what I thought about it. Trigger warnings: death of a family member, grief, blood

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Reviews

The Life And (Medieval) Times Of Kit Sweetly by Jamie Pacton

*Spoiler free*

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Working as a wench ― i.e. waitress ― at a cheesy medieval-themed restaurant in the Chicago suburbs, Kit Sweetly dreams of being a knight like her brother. She has the moves, is capable on a horse, and desperately needs the raise that comes with knighthood, so she can help her mom pay the mortgage and hold a spot at her dream college. Company policy allows only guys to be knights. So when Kit takes her brother’s place and reveals her identity at the end of the show, she rockets into internet fame and a whole lot of trouble with the management. But the Girl Knight won’t go down without a fight. As other wenches join her quest, a protest forms. In a joust before Castle executives, they’ll prove that gender restrictions should stay medieval―if they don’t get fired first.

I’ve been wanting to read this book since before it came out. I knew it was sort of a renaissance book, which sounded beyond awesome. And after reading Well Met, I knew I wanted to read a book with anything to do with medieval times. Plus, this book sounded fierce and Kit sounded like a fantastic main character: wanting the chance for non cis men to become Knights at the restaurant she works at. I had also heard amazing things about it online. All this means that I was incredibly eager to read it.

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Reviews

Hot British Boyfriend by Kristy Boyce

*Spoiler free*

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Thank you so much to HarperTeen and Edelweiss for the e-ARC!

After a horrifying public rejection by her crush, Ellie Nichols does what any girl would do: she flees the country. To be more precise, she joins her high school’s study abroad trip to England. While most of her classmates are there to take honors courses and pad their college applications, Ellie is on a quest to rebuild her reputation and self-confidence. And nothing is more of a confidence booster than getting a hot British boyfriend. When Ellie meets Will, a gorgeous and charming Brit, she vows to avoid making the same mistakes as she did with the last guy she liked. Which is why she strikes up a bargain with Dev, an overachieving classmate who she’s never clicked with, but who does seem to know a lot about the things Will is interested in—if he helps her win over her crush, then she’ll help him win over his. But even as Ellie embarks on a whirlwind romance, one that takes her on adventures to some of England’s most beautiful places, she still needs to figure out if this is actually the answer to all her problems…and whether the perfect boyfriend is actually the perfect boy for her.

From the title, this book made me a bit wary. It sounded like it’d be the kind of cheesy that would lean towards cringey for me. But, the cover and synopsis completely changed my thought process. The cover is ADORABLE. It’s brilliantly smart. The characters hanging out on a teacup? Amazing. Plus, the synopsis made it sound hilarious and adorable. A girl flees the country, for a travel abroad program, to escape her embarrassment and hopefully find comfort in the arms of a British boyfriend. I was willing to give it a try!

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Reviews

Color Me In by Natasha Diaz

*Spoiler free*

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Who is Nevaeh Levitz? Growing up in an affluent suburb of New York City, sixteen-year-old Nevaeh Levitz never thought much about her biracial roots. When her Black mom and Jewish dad split up, she relocates to her mom’s family home in Harlem and is forced to confront her identity for the first time. Nevaeh wants to get to know her extended family, but one of her cousins can’t stand that Nevaeh, who inadvertently passes as white, is too privileged, pampered, and selfish to relate to the injustices they face on a daily basis as African Americans. In the midst of attempting to blend their families, Nevaeh’s dad decides that she should have a belated bat mitzvah instead of a sweet sixteen, which guarantees social humiliation at her posh private school. Even with the push and pull of her two cultures, Nevaeh does what she’s always done when life gets complicated: she stays silent. It’s only when Nevaeh stumbles upon a secret from her mom’s past, finds herself falling in love, and sees firsthand the prejudice her family faces that she begins to realize she has a voice. And she has choices. Will she continue to let circumstances dictate her path? Or will she find power in herself and decide once and for all who and where she is meant to be?

This book has been on my radar since before it came out and I’ve been wanting to read it since then. I knew it was about a biracial girl coming to terms with her identity and privilege, which was more than enough for me to want to read it. I was eager to get to it! Trigger warnings: racism, racist microaggressions

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