These past few days, I have been thinking long and hard about what I, a white woman from Canada, have to offer to the Black Lives Matter Movement. I desperately wanted to offer my support, but was unsure how I could do so in a meaningful way. Then one night, I realized that I already had a platform – this blog, my Bookstagram, and my other social media accounts – that I could use to support and promote books written by black authors.
This post, focused on #BlackVoices in Young Adult Literature, is the third in a series of posts highlighting literature created by black authors and illustrators. It is by no means a comprehensive list of books, but I hope that it inspire readers of all ages to bring more diverse books into their own lives. This list, in comparison to my previous lists about Black Voices in Kids Literature and Middle Grade Literature, is longer, if only because this is the demographic I read most often, and I wanted to include as many of my favourite reads by black authors as possible.
I look at books as being a form of activism. Sometimes they’ll show us a side of the world that we might not have known about.
– Angie Thomas, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of The Hate U Give and On The Come Up
Hello Bookworms! Despite the unrelenting insanity going on in the world around us, I hope that you are all well, and finding some solace in the fictional worlds of your favourite books, whether they be Fantasy, Science Fiction, Contemporary, or something else entirely. With much of our daily lives changed for the foreseeable future, I have found myself struggling to commit to reading – or to anything really. Instead I have been spending time exploring some of my other hobbies, including photography and painting!
Another big change to my life was the launch of Distance Learning for public schools here in Ontario, which was both a welcome challenge, and a huge learning curve. Teaching Kindergarten online is not something that I ever imagined I would be doing – and yet here I am! Initially, I managed to balance my time between work and “play” (so to speak) relatively well, but as the weeks wear on, I find Distance Learning engulfing more and more of my time – so much so that I have almost completely ceased doing much beyond teaching and preparing to teach. It has been exhausting, to say the least, yet rewarding – as teaching always is.
Well Bookworms, this month has certainly been a month to remember. With much of our daily lives changed for the foreseeable future, I have found myself struggling to commit to reading – or to anything really. Instead I have been spending time exploring some of my other hobbies, including gardening and painting! Another big change in April was the launch of Distance Learning for public schools here in Ontario, which was both a welcome challenge, and a huge learning curve. Teaching Kindergarten online is not something that I ever imagined I would be doing – and yet here I am!
While I didn’t get as much reading done as I had hoped to this month, I did finish The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon! This is hugely exciting, because The Priory of the Orange Tree had been sitting in my to be read box since June 2019. Some other books that I read include The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi, The Silvered Serpents (ARC) by Roshani Chokshi, The Hating Game by Sally Thorne, and Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. That being said, I really do have to catch up on my book reviews as well!
Released on January 15, 2019, The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi is a YA Fantasy novel set in an alternate-Paris during a time of extraordinary change – one that is full of mystery, decadence, and dangerous desires…
No one believes in them. But soon no one will forget them. It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance. To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood. Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history – but only if they can stay alive.
Released in North America on March 3, 2020, Havenfall is Sara Hollan’s newest Young Adult Fantasy novel. In Havenfall, Sara Holland has taken the lush fantasy that captured readers in Everless and Evermore and woven it into the real world to create a wholly captivating new series where power and peril lurk behind every door.
Hidden deep in the mountains of Colorado lies the Inn at Havenfall, a sanctuary that connects ancient worlds–each with their own magic–together. For generations, the inn has protected all who seek refuge within its walls, and any who disrupt the peace can never return. For Maddie Morrow, summers at the inn are more than a chance to experience this magic first-hand. Havenfall is an escape from reality, where her mother sits on death row accused of murdering Maddie’s brother. It’s where Maddie fell in love with handsome Fiorden soldier Brekken. And it’s where one day she hopes to inherit the role of Innkeeper from her beloved uncle. But this summer, the impossible happens–a dead body is found, shattering everything the inn stands for. With Brekken missing, her uncle gravely injured, and a dangerous creature on the loose, Maddie suddenly finds herself responsible for the safety of everyone in Havenfall. She’ll do anything to uncover the truth, even if it means working together with an alluring new staffer Taya, who seems to know more than she’s letting on. As dark secrets are revealed about the inn itself, one thing becomes clear to Maddie–no one can be trusted, and no one is safe…
Set to release in North America on June 2, 2020, The Dark Tide is Alicia Jasinka’s debut novel. This gripping, dark fairy-tale fantasy is The Wicked Deep meets A Curse So Dark and Lonely, as worlds collide in a tale about two girls who must choose between saving themselves, each other, or their sinking island city.
DISCLAIMER: Thank-you to Raincoast Books for providing me with an Advance Readers’ Edition of The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinka, in exchange for an honest review.
Every year on Walpurgis Night, Caldellas Witch Queen lures a boy back to her palace. An innocent life to be sacrificed on the full moon to keep the island city from sinking. Convinced her handsome brother is going to be taken, sixteen-year-old Lina Kirk enlists the help of the mysterious Tomas Lin, her secret crush, and the only boy to ever escape from the palace. Working together, they protect her brother, but draw the Queens attention. When the Queen spirits Tomas away instead, Lina blames herself and determines to go after him. Caught breaking into the palace, the Queen offers Lina a deal: she will let Tomas go if Lina agrees to take his place. Lina accepts with a month before the full moon, surely she can find some way to escape. But the Queen is nothing like she envisioned, and Lina is not at all what the Queen expected. Against their will, they find themselves falling for each other. As water floods Caldellas streets and the dark tide demands its sacrifice, they must choose who to save: themselves, each other, or the island city relying on them both.
Well Bookworms, I write to you from a much different position than I did a month ago, upon the creation of my March 2020 Reading List. To say that the events of the past month were unexpected would be, in my humble opinion, a tad bit of an understatement. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine widespread school closures, emergency measures, and the kinds of heartbreak and catastrophe that are even now shaping our world. And yet, here we are, and I find myself looking towards the little joys and victories in life, rather than focusing on the uncertainties around me.
Set to release in North America on June 2, 2020, A Song Below Water is Bethany C. Morrow’s newest YA Fantasy novel. A Song Below Water promises to be a story for today’s young readers – a captivating modern fantasy about black mermaids, friendship, and self-discovery set against the challenges of today’s racism and sexism.
DISCLAIMER: Thank-you to Raincoast Books for providing me with an Advance Readers’ Edition of A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow, in exchange for an honest review.
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.
Tweet Cute by Emma Lord, which was released in North America on January 21st, 2020, promises to be a witty romantic comedy that turns classic romantic tropes on their heads, taking readers down a path of family, love, and life.
DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of Tweet Cute by Emma Lord from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review.
Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming – mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account. Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time. All’s fair in love and cheese – that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life – on an anonymous chat app Jack built. As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate – people on the internet are shipping them?? – their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.