Ten YA Novels By BIPOC Authors You Need To Check Out!

Hi all! Today I’ll be talking about some YA novels by authors of color that I believe need more recognition. I tried to pick books that aren’t necessarily as present in the book community so that you could discover some new voices!

Disclaimer: Some synopsis’ are summarized by me, others are taken from goodreads.)

(PS: To add the books to goodreads, simply press on the book covers.)

1. The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

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The story centers around seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan. By day, she works as a lady’s maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. By night, Jo writes for a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, “Dear Miss Sweetie.” And the story takes off from there in such an intriguing way.

This is a young adult historical novel about fighting racism and gendernorms, and I am 100% here for it!

2. Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

Raybearer (Raybearer, #1) by Jordan Ifueko

Raybearer revolves around Tarisai, a teen who 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. However, The Lady wants Tarisai to kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust, as she as compelled to obey this order. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn—but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself?

Doesn’t this sound like such a unique fantasy story? I definitely think so!

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3. Butterfly Yellow by Thanhha Lai

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Butterfly Yellow is a story about a young Vietnamese girl and her little brother. As they get ready to go to America, her brother Linh is ripped from her arms, leaving Hằng behind in Vietnam. After six long years, she makes it to Texas, USA as a refugee. Once Hằng finally reunites with her brother Linh, he doesn’t remember her! She has come so far, and will do anything to bridge the gap between them.

This is an incredibly heart wrenching and beautiful novel.

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4. The New David Espinoza by Fred Aceves

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The New David Espinoza revolves around a teenage boy named David. When a video of him getting knocked down by a bully’s slap goes viral at the end of junior year, David vows to use the summer to bulk up— do what it takes to become a man—and wow everyone when school starts again in the fall. Soon David is spending all his time and money at Iron Life, a nearby gym that’s full of bodybuilders. Frustrated with his slow progress, his life eventually becomes all about his muscle gains. As David falls into the dark side of the bodybuilding world, pursuing his ideal body at all costs, he’ll have to grapple with the fact that it could actually cost him everything. 

Male body dysphoria is something I rarely see present in books, so I’m happy to see the issue being addressed! This is also an own voices novel.

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5. This Train Is Being Held by Ismée Williams

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This is a young adult romance featuring two New York teens; Isabelle and Alex. Isabellle is a dancer, and Alex, a baseball player who wants to be a poet. Over the course of multiple subway encounters spanning the next three years, Isabelle learns of Alex’s struggle with his father, who is hell-bent on Alex being a contender for the major leagues, despite Alex’s desire to go to college and become a poet. Alex learns about Isabelle’s unstable mother, a woman with a prejudice against Latino men. But fate—and the 1 train—throw them together when Isabelle needs Alex most.

This is an authentic young adult drama with one of the best family dynamics I have ever seen!

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6. Once Upon an Eid by A Collection of Authors

Once Upon an Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices: Amazon.ca:  Ali, S. K., Saeed, Aisha, Alfageeh, Sara: Books

This is a collection of short stories that showcases the most brilliant Muslim voices writing today, all about the most joyful holiday of the year: Eid!

This book is just the cutest thing ever! If you’re looking for an own-voices Muslim rep, this is definitely the book for you!

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7. Want by Cindy Pon

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Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits that protect them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother, who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost. With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary. Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is or destroying his own heart?

This is a perfect novel for all the science fiction and dystopian lovers out there!

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8. Internment by Samira Ahmed

Internment

Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens. With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp’s Director and his guards.

Despite being fictional, Internment tells the story of many people today. It’s an eye-opening book perfect for those who enjoyed The Hate U Give.

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9. Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids by A Collection of Authors

Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids

This is a collection of intersecting stories set at a powwow that bursts with hope, joy, resilience, the strength of community, and Native pride. In a high school gym full of color and song, Native families from Nations within the borders of the U.S. and Canada dance, sell beadwork and books, and celebrate friendship and heritage. They are the heroes of their own stories.

If you want to read more Indigenous own voice books, then this is 100% the book for you!

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10. Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

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Pet is a rather unusual, but gripping tale about a girl named Jam. In her city Lucille, there are no more monsters anymore, or so the children in the city are taught. With doting parents and a best friend named Redemption, Jam has grown up with this lesson all her life. But when she meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colors and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told. Pet has come to hunt a monster, and the shadow of something grim lurks in Redemption’s house. Jam must fight not only to protect her best friend, but also to uncover the truth, and the answer to the question — How do you save the world from monsters if no one will admit they exist?

Pet is a bizarre yet astounding tale that I just know whimsical fiction lovers will come to adore!

I hope you found some great books to add to your TBR! Have you read any of these? I’d love to know. Stay safe everyone! 💙

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April Wrap-Up

Hiya! Today I’ll be talking about the books I read in April! I’m actually quite happy with this month’s results. I read more books in this month than I have ever read in any month before! Anyways, I hope you enjoy!

Novels I Read

Rogue Princess by B. R. Myers: ⭐⭐⭐ (3.5 out of 5 stars) This was a gripping Cinderella retelling that also had a lot of sci-fi elements. Read my full review here!

(ARC) Made In Korea by Sarah Suk: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4.75 out of 5 stars) I adored this!! Made In Korea is essentially a book about rival high school businesses but make it K-Beauty, and it was so much fun. 😆 I buddy read this one with Rania and Ritz. Do check out their blogs as well! Full review and blog tour stop to come.

Yesterday Is History by Kosoko Jackson: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4 out of 5 stars) I read this one in two days! It was so intriguing! Yesterday Is History is a touching and quick read on time travel and love. Review to come!

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A Place Called Perfect by Helena Duggan: This was my first middle grade read of the year, and it did not disappoint! The premise is incredibly unique. Review and rating to come!

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(ARC) The Other Side of Perfect by Mariko Turk: This was a sweet coming of age about dance and musicals. Review/rating and blog tour stop to come!

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Scritch Scratch by Lindsay Currie: This was a chilling middle grade novel about a ghost that follows a girl home. Review and rating to come!

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Graphic Novels and Manga read

Blue Lock Volumes 1-11 by Muneyuki Kaneshiro and Yuusuke Nomura: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5 out of 5 stars) I may or may not have binged this series. It was THAT good. I don’t think I’ve ever read something so interesting! I can’t recommend it enough.

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Shortcake Cake Volumes 3-6 by Suu Morishita: ⭐⭐⭐ (3 out of 5 stars) This was just okay. The art is incredibly stunning, but I have major issues with a lot of things in the series.

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Ao Haru Ride Volumes 12-13 by Io Sakisaka: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4.75 out of 5 stars) Only one more volume left! It feels so bittersweet, but I’m glad I enjoyed the series.

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The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4 out of 5 stars) I didn’t like the Prince much, but it was still a cute story nonetheless.

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Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds: ⭐⭐⭐ (3 out of 5 stars) This was just okay. I didn’t love the art style, and the ending felt rushed.

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(ARC) Star⇄Crossed!! Volume 1 by Junko: ⭐⭐⭐ (3.5 out of 5 stars) This was a fun and light hearted manga on switching bodies with a J-Pop idol.

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Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho and Dung Ho: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4.5 out of 5 stars) This was so adorable!! I loved it! You can read my full review here!

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Total Number Of Books Read: 30 (A new record!)

Total Number Of Posts Published: 7

Average Rating: 7.2/10 or 3.7 out of 5 stars

First, let’s recap! Last month I said I’d read three novels and post some of the things I was tagged to try. Luckily, I read five novels!! However, I only posted one tag. I don’t mind though. 🙂

Some of my goals for May include…

  • Finish all netgalley ARCs
  • Read five novels
  • Drink lots of water

And that’s a wrap! I hope you enjoyed reading about my April in books, I’d love to read about yours too! Have a lovely day!

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Three Bookish Things Tag!

Hiya! It’s been a while since I’ve done a tag, so I thought why not do the three bookish things tag! I was tagged by the lovely Isha @ Paperbacktomes. Do check out their blog as well. 😀

Three Read Once and Loved

I absolutely adored Castle in the Clouds by Kerstin Gier! It was the perfect cozy mystery. I can’t wait to read more books by them. Made In Korea by Sarah Suk was such a great book too, I loved it so much! History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera had very gripping writing, I couldn’t put it down.

Three Titles I’ve Watched but Not Read

I have watched The Hunger Games, Moxie, and Shadow and Bone. I’ve never read them though. I’m absolutely loving Shadow and Bone so far!

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Three Characters I Love

I adored Bao from “A Pho Love Story.” He was kind and genuine. Valarie from “Made In Korea” and Zayneb from “Love From A to Z” were both goal driven and compassionate people. I loved reading about them!

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Three Current Favorite Book Covers

I absolutely love the cover of Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé. A Place Called Perfect by Helena Duggan has a stunning cover too. Thanks A Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas has such a cute cover. I really love it.

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Three Favorite Authors

Deborah Ellis is a middle grade favorite of mine. I adore SK Ali‘s writing style and characters. Yoshitoki Ōima creates such heart-wrenching and emotional stories, I love their work.

I hope you enjoyed the tag. 😄 Have you read or watched Shadow and Bone? If so, what are your thoughts on it? I’d love to know. Have a great day everyone!

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Blog Tour: In Deeper Waters // An Author Interview, Journal Spread and a Review!

Hey everyone! I am super excited to bring you a blog tour stop of In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens! Thank Turn The Page Tours for the lovely opportunity. On today’s agenda we have an author interview, a journal spread, and a review. So grab some popcorn, and let’s get into it!

Book Info

Title: In Deeper Waters

Author: F.T. Lukens

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

RELEASE DATE: April 20th, 2021

GENRE(S): YOUNG ADULT FICTION–Historical, Fantasy, Romance

BUY LINK: https://bookshop.org/a/11727/9781534480506

Synopsis

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…

Book Review

I received an advanced reader copy via Netgalley and Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The synopsis of In Deeper Waters sounded very promising, and I’m happy to report that the story really held up! It was easy to understand, and the world building was done incredibly well. There was no info dumping, nor was it written vaguely. The adventure was such a fun time too. I adored every minute of it!

The main characters where especially likeable. Tal was so nice and genuine. From the start I could tell I’d love him! Athlen was also very wholesome. At first, I wasn’t particularly fond of him. However, as the story progressed, I found myself absolutely adoring his character!

Moreover, the side characters where one of the best parts of the book! I love how each and every one of Tal’s siblings had their own distinct personalities. Kest was courageous and kind, much like Tal. On the other hand, Garret was spontaneous and outgoing. His sisters where also strong and resilient. Adding on to that, I really loved how In Deeper Waters contains such powerful women. From Tal’s bodyguard, to a fiery sea captain, women can do it all!

In addition, the dialogue was very heartwarming. I enjoyed reading Tal’s conversations with his siblings. They each had a special way of interacting, and it was just too cute! Athlen and Tal’s conversations where at times mysterious, and this only made me want to read more. However, the dialogue between all the characters where mostly joyous or emotional.

At first I couldn’t resonate much with the writing style. Third person writing is not my thing, but In Deeper Waters has changed my perspective on it. The writing was eccentric and fresh. It always had me at the edge of my seat! Furthermore, the talk about classism intrigued me quite a bit. It’s not something I see discussed much in historical fiction, so I’m glad it was mentioned.

The overall enjoyment level of In Deeper Waters is very high. It took a little while for me to be fully engrossed in the story, but once I got into it, the book was immensely enjoyable! All in all, this novel is an exceptionally refreshing read that’s perfect for spring! It’s the epic high fantasy you’ve been waiting for!

Age Rating: 15 and up

TW: Torture, violence, death

Final Rating: 9.5/10 or 4.75 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Journal Spread

Google very much distorted the quality of the image. 😢 Nevertheless, I still hope you like it.

Author Interview

1. I’m so happy to be holding this interview/blog tour stop with you today, it’s lovely to have you! Do you mind telling us a bit about yourself?

F.T. Lukens: Hi! I’m FT Lukens and I’m the author of In Deeper Waters. I am a lover of sci-fi and fantasy especially comedy and romance. I also love cryptozoology and superhero movies and television shows about magic.

Saniya: That’s very cool!

2. In Deeper Waters has an absolutely stunning cover! Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration and process of creating it?

F.T. Lukens: It’s such a great cover! I was so happy when I saw the initial sketches. The artist, Sam Schechter, did a wonderful job of bringing Tal and Athlen to life in both their poses and expressions. I think there was maybe one change from the original sketch to the finished product and it was a small detail. The illustrator had captured them so perfectly from the start. Also, the colors are beautiful – the sunset on the water. It really screams fantasy romance. It’s the first illustrated cover I’ve had for a book and I adore it.

Saniya: That’s lovely! It truly is beautiful.

3. Do you have a favorite place to write? Or a specific writing routine?

F.T. Lukens: I actually don’t have a favorite place to write. I have a desk that is surrounded by art and Funko Pops and posters that I use the most often that is my creative space. Unfortunately, now that I work my day job from home, I sit at that desk for eight hours a day already. So sometimes I migrate to the couch or dining room table. As for writing routine, I write best when others are writing with me. It may sound weird, but if I have a writing partner then I achieve much more than just by writing alone. I love writing sprints. I love writing during NaNo. I love participating in a writing discord. It motivates me to see other succeeding and helps me see a project through to the finish.

Saniya: It’s so cool that you love writing with others!

4. What is the most spontaneous thing you have ever done?

F.T. Lukens: I’m not a spontaneous person. I thrive with routine and don’t like surprises, so I had to really think about this question. The best answer I could come up with is that I adopted a puppy a couple of years ago from a shelter on a whim. He was part of a litter of nine. They were born in November and were given the name of Santa’s reindeer. (His name was Prancer, but we renamed him Zuko.) I fell in love with his picture online and I sent in an adoption request and was approved. They told me he was a lab via email. When I went to pick him up… Reader, he was not a lab. He is a redbone coonhound which is definitely not a lab. He howls. He chases things. On our walks, his nose is always on the ground. He’s strong and lean and ready to run at all times. I still love him, and he’s mellowed out as he’s grown older, but wow that was a rough first year. LOL.

Saniya: Awww that sounds adorable~! I love the name Zuko too!

5. Is there a character in your new novel In Deeper Waters that you resonate with the most?

F.T. Lukens: Probably Tal. He is the fourth of five siblings and at the beginning of the novel, he’s unsure of his place in his family and in the world. I remember being that way when I was a teenager. I was the fourth of four myself and I was just hitting that awkward teenage phase while my siblings were all grown up and established, married, having kids, off at college etc. It was a weird space to be in where you feel both left behind because the people you’ve been raised with have moved on and have started creating their own lives and families, but also like you’re not ready to follow them.  

6. Do you have a favorite scene in In Deeper Waters

F.T. Lukens: I do! But it’s at the very end of the book so I don’t want to spoil it. But it was the scene that I was writing toward when developing the first draft. It was the scene that I’d come up with really very early on in the planning and writing of the book and it was both a joy and a relief when I was finally able to write it.

Saniya: I love every scene in the book, but I think I know which one you’re talking about. If I’m right, it’s my favorite one too. 🙂

7. Lastly, what is the main message you would like your readers to take away from the novel?

F.T. Lukens: I really hope that readers will just enjoy the book. I hope they can curl up with it and lose themselves in a fairy tale for a few hours and be happy. One of the main messages is about remaining kind in a world that’s not been kind to you while still standing up for yourself and your family when necessary. So I hope readers will take away some strength, and peace, and joy.

Saniya: This is such a beautiful message, I love it!

About The Tour

Tour Schedule Link!

Giveaway Information

Up for grabs, we have ONE (1) physical copy and ONE (1) digital copy of In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens. This giveaway will end on April 26th at 11:59 PM CST. The physical copy will be available to win by US residents only and the digital copy will be available to win by INTL residents only. To enter, click the link below!

RAFFLECOPTER LINK: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1e4a114d36/?

About The Author

F.T. Lukens is the author of four young adult novels published through Interlude Press, and her book Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic was a 2017 Cybils Award finalist in YA Speculative Fiction, won the ForeWord INDIES Book of the Year Gold Award for YA Fiction, and the Bisexual Book Award for Speculative Fiction, and it was also recently named to ALA’s 2019 Rainbow List. F.T. lives in North Carolina with her husband, three kids, three dogs, and three cats. Visit her at FTLukens.com.

And that’s a wrap! I hope you all enjoyed this tour stop, because I had so much fun making it. Have a wonderful day, and stay safe! 💟

Spring TBR 2021

Hey everyone, I hope you’re doing spectacularly. Before we get into it I just want to say…Happy Spring!!! As displayed in today’s post thumbnail, the change of seasons is really just an excuse for me to use Studio Ghibli clips. 😆 Anyways, I hope you enjoy!

(PS: Click on the covers of the books to add them to goodreads.)

First, let’s recap!

In my Winter TBR post, I said I’d read five novels. I’m happy to report that I read all of them! With that said, onto the actual TBR!

1. Rogue Princess by B.R. Myers

Rogue Princess by B.R. Myers

This is a gender-bent science fiction retelling of Cinderella, which sounds so unique! I’ve actually been meaning to read this one since November, so it’s about time I pick it up.

2. The Other Side of Perfect by Mariko Turk

The Other Side of Perfect by Mariko Turk

I love middle grade novels, and this one just seems to be amazing! I can’t wait to delve into it!

3. Made In Korea by Sarah Suk

Made in Korea | Book by Sarah Suk | Official Publisher Page | Simon &  Schuster Canada

This YA novel sounds so exciting! I love how it’s about entrepreneurship too!

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4. Jelly by Clare Rees

Jelly, Book by Clare Rees (Hardcover) | www.chapters.indigo.ca

Survival stories have always keened my interest. However, for the most part, they seem to follow a similar format. But a group of teens trapped on a giant jellyfish? Now that’s different! And just look at this sick cover!

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5. We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Solomon

We Can't Keep Meeting Like This: Solomon, Rachel Lynn: 9781534440272: Books  - Amazon.ca

This is an exciting rom-com about two teens whose parents are involved in the wedding business. One’s parents are wedding planners, and the other’s are wedding caterers. The premise sounds super fun and I can’t wait to read it!

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6. Yesterday Is History by Kosoko Jackson

Yesterday Is History: Amazon.ca: Jackson, Kosoko: Books

This seems like a heartbreaking read that reminds me of History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera…Let’s shed some tears!

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7. Scritch Scratch by Lindsay Currie

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This is an eerie middle grade novel about a girl who’s being followed. As long as I don’t read it at night, I’m sure it won’t be too scary. 😂

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8. Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay

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This gives me major Zuko from Avatar The Last Airbender vibes, and I am totally here for it. 😆

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9. Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Vicious: Schwab, V. E.: 9781250183507: Books - Amazon.ca

I’ve been putting this one off for a while, so I think it’s finally time I give it another go. This’ll also be my first V.E. Schwab book!

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10. Ao Haru Ride by Io Sakisaka

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I’m hoping to finish the remaining three volumes this spring. This series is such a fun ride about being in high school. (Really bad pun intended) I hope to pick up the author’s newest series too!

I hope you enjoyed reading my TBR list. What are some books on your spring TBR? I’d love to know! Have a fabulous day!

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Book Tour: My Last Summer With Cass// Author Interview With Mark Crilley & Top 5 Reasons to Read This Book!

Hey everyone! Today’s post is a very exciting one because I’m going to be hosting a blog tour stop for the lovely graphic novel My Last Summer With Cass by Mark Crilley! Before we get into the tour, here is a bit about the author’s newest graphic novel.

Book Info

Title: My Last Summer With Cass by Mark Crilley

Genre: Young Adult Graphic Novel

Publishing Date: March 16, 2021

Synopsis

This One Summer meets The Edge of Seventeen in this poignant coming-of-age YA graphic novel about two childhood friends at a crossroads in their lives and art—-from the author of Mastering Manga. Megan and Cass have been joined at the brush for as long as they can remember. For years, while spending summers together at a lakeside cabin, they created art together, from sand to scribbles . . . to anything available. Then Cass moved away to New York.

When Megan finally convinces her parents to let her spend a week in the city, too, it seems like Cass has completely changed. She has tattoos, every artist in the city knows her—she even eats chicken feet! At least one thing has stayed the same: They still make their best art together.

But when one girl betrays the other’s trust on the eve of what is supposed to be their greatest artistic feat yet, can their friendship survive? Can their art?

Find out more about My Last Summer With Cass with these links!

//Goodreads//Amazon//Barnes and Noble//Book Depository//Indigo//IndieBound//

Here is the tour schedule link! If you have time, do check out the other amazing tour stops as well!

Top 5 Reasons to Read My Last Summer with Cass

1. The Friendship

Anyone who has been through a friendship breakup or has had conflict with their close friends will deeply relate to what Megan and Cass go through. The kind of bond the two share is so incredibly precious yet so hard to come by. The novel displays their relationship in such a heart-wrenching way, and I am totally here for it.

2. The Exploration of Different Art Styles

My Last Summer With Cass features unique characters, with even more unique art styles. One person only uses two different shades of one color! Another creates their art very abstractly. However, my most favorite art pieces are the ones Megan and Cass create together. You can really see their different art styles work together in such an interesting way!

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3. The Setting

The story takes place in the bustling city of New York. In my opinion, the city Cass lives in (New York City), really resonates with her personality. It’s busy and creative, just like Cass. I thoguht the setting was depicted in such an intriguing way, and I really do believe that Mark Crilley draws the best atmospheres I’ve ever seen. Crilley creates scenes that draw you in, and only let you go once you’ve finished the book.

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4. The Captivity

My Last Summer With Cass is a graphic novel that you won’t want to put down. As mentioned early, the way the art is drawn is so incredibly intriguing. It allows the readers to feel as though they are in the story, and to me, that’s incredibly beautiful.

5. The Colors

The author uses colors that I’ve never seen any artist use consistently throughout graphic novels. I liked how their wasn’t much use of black. It was very refreshing to see. To top it all off, purple and blue are used quite a bit, and are used in such different emotional context as well. The colors were used in a way that portrayed every emotion the characters where experiencing in such unique ways!

Here is my bookstagram post for the tour! Simply press the image to view it on my bookstagram account.

Without further ado, here is the interview!

1. I just want to say thank you so much for being here with us today! Before we begin, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Mark Crilley: I grew up in Detroit, Michigan, where I was fascinated with drawing from my very earliest years. I continued honing my skills throughout elementary school and high school, and when I became an art major at Kalamazoo College in 1984, I had the good fortune to study under the great children’s book writer and illustrator David Small. A few years later, while teaching English in Japan, I challenged myself to create a comic book, one page per week. Upon my return to Michigan, that story– Akiko on the Planet Smoo– was eventually published, and it led to a career in comics that has continued to this day.

Saniya: That’s such a fascinating journey, thank you for sharing!

2. My Last Summer with Cass is a beautiful story. Did any real life occurrences or experiences influence the making of the book?

Mark Crilley: Thank you! Actually, this graphic novel is the most directly autobiographical story I’ve ever done, and there are many parallels between Megan’s life and my own. The character of Cass was inspired by a dear friend of mine who I first met in high school: John Walter. John eventually settled in New York City, where he became an award-winning film editor and director. I visited John in the city several times, and saw that he was moving in much more sophisticated circles than I was, and was investigating far more adventurous types of art, music, and literature than I ever had. John and I never came into conflict with each other, happily! But all of these real-life experiences, and the fact that two good friends could have such dramatically different artistic instincts, became the main source of inspiration for My Last Summer with Cass.

Saniya: That’s so cool!

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3. What was the illustration process like? Was there a certain mood or feel you wanted to portray in the art style?

Mark Crilley: I wanted the artwork to be reminiscent of artist’s sketches rather than polished, slick illustrations. So I resolved not to have any inked lines in the whole book. While I used Photoshop to push the colors in certain directions, almost everything you see in the book is hand-made art, created with pencil, markers, pastels, and white gouache. This hopefully gives the art a more organic look, with a human touch that accentuates the messy imperfections of the two main characters’ lives.

Saniya: I think it looks amazing, and totally gives off such an organic look!

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4. My Last Summer with Cass has an abundance of unique and memorable characters. Which character’s art style resonates the most with your personality?

Mark Crilley: It’s an interesting question, since all of the artist characters in the story are making artwork that was, naturally enough, actually made by me. And while Megan resembles me in terms of her personality, I have presented her as an artist who has not yet discovered her own style. When I was in college, part of me was actually quite attracted to the idea of minimalism. In this sense, the relatively minor character of Taja, who creates all her paintings from just two different shades of the same color, is probably the one whose art would resonate with me most if I saw it in real life.

Saniya: That’s very interesting.

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5. What is the main message you would like your readers to take away from this (absolutely stunning) graphic novel?

Mark Crilley: Well, wow, first let me thank you for your kind words! You know, the story builds toward a theme of how good friendships can go bad, and how important it is to not give up on them. So surely that’s the main one. But there’s a lot of other messages woven into the story, I think. The value of getting out of your comfort zone and being exposed to new things. The importance of choosing your own path in life, rather than one dictated to you by your parents. The danger of comparing yourself to others, and allowing that to make you feel insecure about yourself. All of this is in there, but hopefully in a quiet way. Really I just wanted to tell a good story, one in which readers would genuinely care about these characters, and want to see how things would work out for them.

Saniya: That’s so intriguing. I for one felt very attached to the girls’ stories, it was incredibly poignant and beautiful.

About The Author

Mark Crilley was raised in Detroit, Michigan. After graduating from Kalamazoo College, he traveled to Taiwan and Japan, where he taught English for nearly five years. It was during his stay in Japan that he created the Eisner Award–nominated comic Akiko on the Planet Smoo, which spawned a series of graphic novels and prose novel adaptations. In 1998, Mark Crilley was named to Entertainment Weekly’s It List of the 100 most creative people in entertainment.

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Thank you so much for reading this tour stop post, I hope you enjoyed! I hope you decide to check out My Last Summer With Cass. Have a fabulous day!

Author Interview With Aamna Qureshi

Hey everyone! Today’s post is a special one because the lovely Aamna Qureshi is here to answer some of my questions. I am beyond excited to have her here with us today! Before we get into the interview, here is a bit about her upcoming novel; The Lady or the Lion.

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(Synopsis from goodreads)

Crown princess of Marghazar, Durkhanai Miangul will do anything to protect her people and her land. When her grandfather, the Badshah, is blamed for a deadly assault on the summit of neighboring leaders, the tribes call for his head. To assuage cries for war, the Badshah opens Marghazar’s gates to foreigners for the first time in centuries, in a sign of good faith. Enter Ambassador Asfandyar Afridi, a wry foreigner who admits outright that he is a spy. Stubborn, proud, and suspicious of foreigners, Durkhanai does not appreciate that he won’t bow to her every whim and instead talks circles around her.

And yet, she has to make him her ally to expose those truly responsible for the attack as more ambassadors from neighboring tribal districts arrive at court, each one of them with their own agenda and reasons to hide the truth. When a mysterious illness spreads through the village and the imperialists push hard on her borders, Durkhanai must sort through the ever shifting loyalties at court and her growing feelings for Asfandyar. Will she be able to leave the antics of a spoiled princess behind and become what her people need-a queen?

Without further ado, here is the interview!

1. Hi there Aamna! I’m super happy that you’re here with us today. Before we start, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Aamna: Hi! Thanks for having me! A little bit about myself is that I’m twenty-one, I have an intense love for period dramas, I am really close with my family, I constantly miss Pakistan, and I am currently living the dream as an author!

Saniya: That’s wonderful!

2. I cannot wait to read The Lady or the Lion! May I ask, what inspired the making of this novel?

Aamna: I was inspired by the short story “The Lady or the Tiger?” and my love for Pakistan. My main influences were The Winner’s Curse trilogy by Marie Rutkowski and The Wrath and the Dawn duology by Renee Ahdieh. 

Saniya: Ooo that’s very interesting!

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3. Do you have a specific writing routine? 

Aamna: I try to! When I first get an idea for a story, I usually compile a document of snippets and scenes and quotes that come to me in images and bursts, then I try to turn that into a general outline, then expand that into specific chapters, then finally, I tackle the drafting. It helps me to have a schedule and to set a deadline for myself. I aim to write 2,000 words a day, five days a week when I am on that deadline — but of course, some days are good, some are bad. 

Saniya: That’s such a cool routine!

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4. Is there a character in The Lady or the Lion that you resonate most with?

Aamna: The protagonist, Durkhanai. She feels things so intensely, which is definitely something I relate to. 

Saniya: Sounds awesome! I can’t wait to meet all the characters!

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5. The Lady or the Lion is inspired by Pakistan. That’s so cool! On your website, you showcase beautiful pictures of the country. Do you have a favorite memory of your time there?

Aamna: There’s so many! But my favorite memories are ones that encompass absolute peace and contentment: lying on a charpai outside, watching the clouds move; my head by my grandmother’s lap, her fingers stroking my hair; sitting in a room filled with family members, everyone laughing and talking over one another. 

Saniya: That is so beautiful, thank you for sharing.

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6. The cover of the novel is absolutely stunning! What inspired the making of the cover?

Aamna: Thank you! The cover is actually a painting by Asrar Farooqi, and then designed by Maryann Appel at CamCat Books, who did a stunning job. I have been a longtime fan of Farooqi, who is a Pakistani painter, so when it came time to design the cover, I really wanted to commission something by him. I described the setting to Farooqi, and he took over in his style. My publishing team was great with letting me be involved in the whole process, and I am so happy with the way it came out! 

Saniya: It truly is a stunning cover.

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7. Lastly, if I may I ask, can you please describe the storyline of The Lady or the Lion with emojis?

This question was heavily inspired by Ahaana @ Windows To World. They did a blog tour stop and author interview for the novel ‘Hot British Boyfriend.’ Please do check out their post as well right here!

Aamna: 👸🏻👀🤔🥰💗🤒🤬🤭🥺🤪🤤😨🤯😭🦁👩🏻👑💔

Saniya: Ooo mysterious! 😆

About The Author

Aamna Qureshi is a Pakistani, Muslim American who adores words. She grew up in a very loud household, surrounded by English (for school), Urdu (for conversation), and Punjabi (for emotion). Through her writing, she wishes to inspire a love for the beautiful country and rich culture that informed much of her identity. When she’s not writing, she loves to travel to new places where she can explore different cultures or to Pakistan where she can revitalize her roots. She also loves baking complicated desserts, drinking fancy teas and coffees, watching sappy rom-coms, and going for walks about the estate (her backyard). She currently lives in New York. Look for her on IG @aamna_qureshi and Twitter @aamnaqureshi_ and at her website.

Add The Lady or the Lion to goodreads here!

Thank you once again Aamna for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer some of my questions, and thank you all for reading! Have a fabulous day everyone!

February Wrap-Up

Hey everyone! Here is my February wrap-up! A couple books were not listed as I haven’t finished them yet. Anyways, let’s get right into it! I hope you enjoy!

(PS; Click on the post thumbnails to view the posts!)

Novels I Read (In order)

A Castle In The Clouds by Kerstin Gier: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4.25 out of 5 stars) This was such a cozy book! It’s a mystery novel perfect for winter. It’s also translated from German to English. I highly recommend it! You can read my review for it here!

Together, Apart by A Collection of Authors: ⭐⭐⭐ (3.5 out of 5 stars) This was a collection of short stories by numerous authors. It dealt with COVID-19, and was very cute and relatable. I recommend this book to anyone wanting a fun and light novel to read. Review to come!

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: I haven’t finished it yet, but I am enjoying it. This is also the first Jane Austen novel I’m reading, and I’m doing a buddy read with Cherry @ Letters To The Lost!

Graphic Novels and Manga read

Blue Flag Volume 2 by Kaito: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4.5 out of 5 stars) This is honestly such a melancholy series. It’s so happy, yet so sad? I can’t necessarily relate to the characters, and I think that’s what makes it such an intriguing story. I don’t know what happens next, hence why I cannot wait to get my hands on volume three!

The Way of the Househusband Volume 4 by Kousuke Oono: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4 out of 5 stars) I will admit that the humor was starting to get old in the third volume. However, this addition proved to be both hilarious and unexpected. 😂

Something Is Killing The Children Volume 2: ⭐⭐⭐ (3.75 out of 5 stars) This particular volume wasn’t as exciting as the first volume, but was as intriguing as always! We also got introduced to some new characters, which I am super excited to get to know more about in the future. Can’t wait for volume three to come out!

Ao Haru Ride Volume Volume 10 by Io Sakisaka: ⭐⭐⭐ (3.5 out of 5 stars) Io Sakisaka sure knows how to write a heart wrenching story! The art is absolute perfection as always.

The Promised Neverland Volume 18: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4.75 out of 5 stars) Incredibly expressive art style as always, I’m sad to say that there are only two volumes left! The journey has been incredible, and I’m sad to see it end. I highly recommend you read this one, it’s such a mind boggling series!

Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles Volume 2 by Naru Narumi: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4 out of 5 stars) This was both an educational an entertaining read that left me very hungry!

Shortcake Cake Volume 1 by Suu Morishita: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4.75 out of 5 stars) If you’re looking for something light and cute, this is the book for you! It’s filled with such unique and well developed characters. And to think that it’s only the first volume!

SPY×FAMILY Volume 1: I haven’t finished this volume yet, however, I am absolutely loving it! It’s about a spy family. I mean, how cool is that?

Total Number Of Books Read: 11

Total Number Of Posts Published: 7

Average Rating: 7.25/10 or 3.75 out of 5 stars

First, let’s recap! Last month, I said I wanted to read all of the books on my eARC TBR. That didn’t necessarily go as planned, and that’s okay. 😆 I did however, manage to stay hydrated throughout the days.

Some of my goals for March include…

  • Finish my eARC TBR
  • Post more on bookstagram

I might not have read that much this year, but I did enjoy the books I read this month more than the ones I read last month, so I am happy about that. My schedule has gotten progressively busier, so I might not be able to post as much. I will try my best to interact with all of you lovely people though! You can read last month’s wrap-up here! And with that, I bid you adieu. Have a fabulous day and a wonderful March!

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Let’s Discuss; Does Re-Reading Books Destroy The Magic?

Hey everyone, today I bring you my first discussion post! Let’s just get right into it! First let’s analyze the pros and cons of re-reading…

Some feel as though they are re-experiencing the magic. Many people love their favorite books so much, that they just want to read it again and again! This is a great way to re-experience all of your favorite scenes!

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You pick up on things you wouldn’t have picked up if you only read the book once. If I’m reading a book I love, I tend to binge-read it. This can result in skimming the pages. Therefore, when a novel is re-read, it’s almost as if you’re rediscovering the story in a new light!

Surprise Anime GIFs | Tenor

The magic and excitement is lost. Have you ever been watching a show and your friend spoils the ending for you? It’s definitely not the most exhilarating feeling. That’s kind of what it’s like for some people when they’re re-reading novels

ANIME THINGS: Books 📚 uploaded by ⌕ㅤꭹꭺꭱꭺ on We Heart It

You find controversial things within the book. Maybe there was a comment made in a book that wasn’t inherently nice, but hadn’t noticed it until after reading it again for the second time. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however it might affect the overall enjoyment level of the story.

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Your taste has changed. As we grow older, our interests can shift. Of course this isn’t always the case, but it can happen, even if we don’t notice it. I couple months ago, I re-read Red Wolf by Jennifer Dance. It’s a lovely historical novel. However, I preferred that specific genre more when I was younger, so unfortunately I didn’t enjoy it as much as before.

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Overall, the cons seem to outweigh the pros. Re-reading books can be fun and comforting. However, it can shed light on an otherwise boring or unappealing story, and that’s totally okay. Personally I’ve never been one to re-read often, as it doesn’t quite work out for me. I completely respect all of those who love re-reading books though!

So, do you enjoy re-reading? Let me know down below!

Also, I am so sorry for the inactivity over the past week. My schedule has gotten extremely busy. I barely have time to blog, let alone read. I promise I’ll try my best to look at all of your amazing posts, and will hopefully post more often in the future. (Stay tuned for my February Wrap Up coming sometime this week!) And with that, I bid you adieu. Have a wonderful day!

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Author Interview With Amy Parks

I hope you are just as excited as I am to be introducing the lovely Ms. Amy Parks! Amy is the author of the new YA novel; The Quantum Weirdness of the Almost-Kiss. Before we jump right into it, here is a bit about her newest book!

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(Synopsis from goodreads)

Seventeen-year-old Evie Beckham has never been interested in dating. She’s been fully occupied by her love of mathematics and her frequent battles with anxiety (and besides, she’s always found the idea of kissing to be a little bit icky). But with the help of her best friend and her therapist, Evie’s feeling braver. Maybe even brave enough to enter a prestigious physics competition and to say yes to the new boy who’s been flirting with her.

Caleb Covic knows Evie isn’t ready for romance but assumes that when she is, she will choose him. So Caleb is horrified when he is forced to witness Evie’s meet cute with a floppy-haired, mathematically gifted transfer student. Because Caleb knows the girl never falls for the funny best friend when there’s a mysterious stranger around, he decides to use an online forum to capture Evie’s interest. Now, he’s got Evie wondering if it’s possible to fall in love with a boy she’s never met.

Without further ado, here is the interview!

1. Was there anything that inspired the making of The Quantum Weirdness of the Almost-Kiss? If so, what inspired it?


Amy: I was feeling sad after the 2016 election and I wanted to write something happy. I’ve always loved physics and mathematics, so the idea of writing a love story that drew on themes from these disciplines was pretty appealing. Plus, Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe are one of my favorite love stories of all time, so I was really excited to create a story about two friends where the boy has been in love with the girl forever, while she remains oblivious.

Saniya: That is so cool! I love how math was incorporated in the book as well!

2. If you could give your past writer self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Amy: Honestly, I feel like I could use some advice of my own right now! Seeing your work go out into the world is so hard. I guess I’d tell myself to really enjoy that time when my work was just my own. In the moment, you’re in such a hurry to rush through that part, but really there was something joyful about living in that private world.

Saniya: That sounds lovely!

3. Did you always want to be a writer Ms. Parks? Or did you have something else in mind?

Amy: Well, I am an associate professor of education, so yes, I have something else in mind. I prepare elementary school teachers to teach mathematics, and I do truly love that job. Writing–for all the trials of publishing–still feels very much like something I do for fun.

Saniya: That sounds like a very interesting job, I’m glad you enjoy it!

4.  The Quantum Weirdness of the Almost-Kiss has by far the most beautiful cover ever! I absolutely adore it! What inspired the cover? 

Amy: I love it too. Andi Poretta was the artist who drew Evie and Caleb and I really feel like she captured not just the look of the characters, but their relationship with each other and the mood of the book. Hana Anouk Nakamura was the designer and it was her idea to do those three different versions of Evie and Caleb–which plays into the idea of quantum weirdness nicely, I think.

Saniya: Yes, totally! All the elements play out very nicely!

5. Do you have a specific writing routine? Is there a certain time of day that you write the most?

Amy: Before the pandemic, I would stop at a coffee shop on the way to work and write for an hour or so. Now that we’re all at home, it’s harder. I try to grab an hour or two here and there when everyone is occupied, but it’s much less of a routine now.

Saniya: I hope you find more time in the future to write more amazing books!

6. What is the main message you would like your readers to take away from The Quantum Weirdness of the Almost-Kiss

Amy: Hmm…I don’t think there is a message, exactly. But I think the idea behind the love story is that you want to choose someone who makes you the best version of yourself. I met my husband at 18, and I know I’ve been braver in the world because of my relationship with him. 

Saniya: That is so beautiful, thank you for sharing!

Thank you once again Ms. Parks for taking the time out of your day to answer some of my questions, and thank you all for reading! Before we conclude the interview, here is some information about the author and their books…

  • Add The Quantum Theory Of The Almost-Kiss to goodreads here!
  • You can find and buy The Quantum Theory Of The Almost-Kiss from an Indie Book Store near you here!
  • Be sure you’re on the lookout for the author’s upcoming middle grade novel ‘Summer Of Brave’ which will be releasing on March 1st 2021! You can add it to goodreads here!
  • Ms. Parks’ Twitter