April-June 2020 Wrap Up // Returning to Blogging and Reading, and Continued Quarantine :((

I honestly can’t believe it’s already July.

A whirlwind of unexpected things have occurred this year, and it also doesn’t look like quarantine’s going to end any time from now. I recently saw a tweet talking about how everyone thought lockdown was only going to last 2 weeks and everything would be back to normal after spring break, and it’s probably the most relatable thing I’ve seen regarding COVID-19 . . . if only, though.

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Features Goodreads Could Implement to Better Its Site

I feel like for most Goodreads users, the site is pretty much like that one friend who’s incredibly annoying and unbearable, but someone you put up with anyway.

(Or, at least it is for me.) Goodreads’ design is ugly as hell and so are like, 99.99% of its users personalities, I said what I said :^) but for some reason I still spend hours on it weekly browsing its catalog and interacting with its users. I find that lately, I’ve been straying away from the site, but I still love reading so many people’s reviews on there and writing them myself!

And with the recent attention given to Goodreads alternatives (such as Booksloth and The StoryGraph), I thought it would be fun to discuss my qualms with and suggestions though we all know that Goodreads would never care to consider them . . . for the site!

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ARC Review: All the Things We Never Knew By Liara Tamani // Two Black Teens Finding Love Admist Pain And Confusion + Playlist

Every single one of you is paying this book dirt. DIRT.

Even while planning to read All the Things We Never Knew by Liara Tamani, I had no intentions of reviewing it on my blog, or at all honestly. But after how much even the first couple pages of it wowed me by its visceral writing and lovable characters, I knew I couldn’t just not say nothing about this book.

So, while yes, this review is a very spur-of-the-moment thing, it was something I initially did not think I would be doing, I really do want to support this book and its author as much as I possibly am able to, as I already do have the costless opportunity to read and review it . . . so here we are! Today I’ll be discussing all of the reasons I loved this book, and I really do hope this post inspires you to read it – it’s criminally unfair I’d never seen anybody mention this book before its publication date. I’ll also be featuring a playlist I made for this book, with reasons as why I connected songs and pieces on it to this book (because I refuse to shut up)!

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Are the Publishing Industry and YA Book Community Really the Inclusive and Safe Spaces They Claim to Be? // A Discussion on Performative Allyship and Anti-Blackness in the Book Community

I’m sure all of you know the recent BLM protests in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and countless other innocent Black people spurred several conversations and revelations on YA Book Twitter.

So many people have been speaking out about their past or current experiences of racism and anti-Blackness within the publishing industry, and the number of bookish organizations and people recently revealed to be racist bigots are in a word, appalling (but not entirely surprising, unfortunately). And after every single one of these things would happen, the thought of ‘who is there to trust, then?’ kept springing up in my mind.

Maybe you’re thinking that it’s not all white people, or the actions of a few people in the same group don’t determine those of the rest in it (if this is what you’re thinking, I request you keep your mouth shut). But why is it that whenever another white person fucks up for the 1000th time, they always claim to be the ‘best’ allies or to have previously committed actions which are completely averse to the ones they’re being panned for? And are white and nB people showing support for Black people because they genuinely care about what we have to say, or are they just doing so in avoidance of being canceled?

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Bookish Things I’ve Always Wanted to Do But Haven’t

In the bookish world, there are so many things to discover and love.

I’m pretty new to the bookish community, and while I’m accustomed with most of the various things this community has to offer, the list of new things to engage in is ever-growing and evolving. And despite the fact they seem so fun, some of these things seem so intimidating to get into. In honor of the previously mentioned, I thought today it would be interesting to discuss a couple of these things (and struggles)!

But before I start, I would like to bring attention to Black organizations you can support monetarily, petitions you can sign to support Black voices, and resources you can utilize to make yourself a better ally to Black people. No voice is too small, and using yours to do these things will help in such substantial amounts.

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Reviews on Two Not-Often-Talked-About Anthologies // A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell, and Out Now edited by Saundra Mitchell

Today I’m here doing something I’ve never done on this blog (or ever, really)!

And to be specific, it’s reviewing two well-anticipated anthologies of mine. Even though I’ve been wanting to step into the waters of anthologies* for a while, I’ve only read 2 others before reading the 2 I will be discussing in this post. Very regretfully at that, because there are so many amazing-looking anthologies on my TBR, but these 2 books, A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell, and Out Now edited by Saundra Mitchell were the perfect way to remedy that!

A Phoenix First Must Burn is a YA speculative fiction anthology centered around Black girls, and I’ve been anticipating ever since spring of last year. I’m still so salty I wasn’t able to get an ARC of it (apparently my 3 long odes, 3 because I requested it 3 times on Edelweiss and was declined on every single one, talking about why I would pretty much die at being offered the chance to read the book early were not enough to Penguin). But it was thankfully released late this March and was able to get my hands on a finished copy of it, and since I was so excited to read it the only right choice concerning this would to be review it here and shout about it as much as I can! While many stories did disappoint unfortunately, there are stories I liked a lot that I think make this book worth reading.

And for Out Now – it’s a YA contemporary anthology about the queer experience. I actually hadn’t heard of its release until I was browsing Edelweiss about three weeks ago, but was accustomed with its anthology of the same editor, All Out (a queer YA historical fiction anthology). But to say I was anticipating it as soon as I saw it is an absolute understatement, and seeing the wide range of sexualities, gender identities, racial backgrounds, and general experiences of the authors and the characters in their respective stories made me so filled with joy. It released on May 26th and it was an absolute honor to be able to read the book upon its release, and review it here now! I haven’t heard much buzz about Out Now at all so you all better be adding this to your TBRs, because I really think there’s a story for everyone in this.

So, without further ado, let’s get to reviewing these anthologies! When I first had the idea of reviewing these books in the same post, I had no idea how long that would make it, (5k words). I thought I would be able to read both books and read and review them in a single day, but I was 100% wrong – it took me 8. I briefly considered not posting this at all due its length, or breaking it up into two posts, but I’m petty and not letting 8 days of reading and reviewing nonstop go to waste . . . so.

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Being My True Self When I’m Blogging, and Producing ‘Good Content’ // A Discussion On Having an Authentic Blogging Voice as Opposed to Creating a False Image of Myself

As some of you may know, I started this blog in January of 2019.

In the first year of blogging here, I was a very very sporadic poster, and never really stuck to a schedule or ‘niche,’ if you will. I had no idea on earth as to what I was doing; most of my posts were wrap-ups (which weren’t at all great . . .), and the few posts I did have which weren’t didn’t have much direction or meaning. I had no post headers, or graphics, and while this isn’t by no means a bad thing, my terribly-written posts didn’t make up for my lack of visual aesthetic.

But if you read the title of this post, you’re probably wondering what exactly the above has to do with the title, and to give that answer: along with the lackluster blog content I created, nothing about my posts felt ‘me’ at all. I tried to use a blogging voice that wasn’t mine, I was terribly-joke heavy even though my humor was so, so forced—and at that, completely missed the mark because I wasn’t near to being funny—and even while I wasn’t prolific with posts, I prioritized quantity over quality with my posts and would write them just to get the post out, rather than being content and proud with what I was posting. Even though blogging was something I wanted to partake seriously, but still purely for fun, I always felt sapped of motivation to actually write any posts. Writing the most simple descriptions of books took so much time because I was continually writing in this voice that wasn’t at all me, and rather a voice I thought would appeal to others.

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ARC Review: Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender // On Trans, Queer, and Black Identity and Why I Adored this Book So Much

I have a solid feeling Felix Ever After will be my favorite book of 2020.

Ever since I read the synopsis of this book, my expectations for it were soaring, and after reading it my love for it was even higher. Felix Ever After was such a joy to read, but it also felt as if each page wrapped around my heart and saw the deepest corners of my soul. Sometimes, I feel as if this book was written just for me, as a nonbinary queer Black person.

So in this review, I’ll be discussing why I loved this book so much, but also how my love for it closely binds with the identities and experiences I shared with the main character, and even others. Approaching this review was something for me, that took a lot: I feel as if I’m maybe oversharing even, but I think talking about my personal experiences is necessary to convey my love for this book.

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ARC Review: Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo // Well, I’m Conflicted.

When am I never disappointed by a book?

This question, which strikes true too many times than wanted, is especially relevant for a recent read of mine: Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo. I had so many hopes for it, but was unfortunately left underwhelmed and disappointed after finishing it. And while there were many redeeming qualities to it, they sadly did not overpower the things I didn’t like about it.

So, today I’m here to discuss the things that made Clap When You Land a sore disappointment for me, which does hurt to write. But I guess I can’t enjoy everything I’m excited for.

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