Featured

Blog Tour – Up All Night: 13 Stories Between Sunrise and Sunset

Synopsis

UP ALL NIGHT epitomizes teenage reckless abandon in 13 stories, unmasking that awe-inspiring moment of hope and fear when transformation feels inevitable, while unflinchingly facing the issues teens think about every day. In “Old Rifts and Snowdrifts” by Kayla Whaley, a blizzard leaves Eleanor, a wheelchair user, stranded in the flower shop where she works overnight. It’s dark and cold and Eleanor is all alone—except for her ex-best friend and current crush who she hasn’t spoken to in nearly a year. In Tiffany D. Jackson’s “Shark Bait,” a young girl falls in love on Martha’s Vineyard, where she and her mother settled to escape her father’s adultery. Only, her perfect summer romance is turned on its head by the casual racism and microaggressions perpetrated by her new boyfriend’s friends. In “Like Before” by Maureen Goo, Pepper misses the closeness she shared with her two best friends before they drifted apart during their last year of high school. In a Hail Mary effort to restore their relationship before graduation, she invites her besties to “The Baddest Mother-Effing Sleepover to End All Sleepovers.” In “Missing” by Kathleen Glasgow, four friends visit an abandoned women’s hospital in search of a ghost. The night takes an unexpected turn when Lissy, the strange little sister who had to tag along, gets a little too friendly with the paranormal.

Full list of Contributors: Brandy Colbert, Kathleen Glasgow, Maurene Goo, Tiffany D. Jackson, Amanda Joy, Nina LaCour, Karen M. McManus, Anna Meriano, Marieke Nijkamp, Laura Silverman, Kayla Whaley, Julian Winters, Francesca Zappia.


Review

When I cracked the spine of my ARC I was delighted to be greeted by an author whose work I had enjoyed. The first story Never Have I Ever by Karen McManus rocked me with its ending. I thought to myself if the rest of the stories are this good, then this is going to be a delicious treat. But there was a part of me that was nervous. I put the book down and paused, What if the other stories aren’t this good? I needn’t have worried. There was not one story in this collection I did not like.

When I got to Silverman’s Creature Capture the Pokenerd in me leaped for joy. But the game was just the setting. The real spark comes from this story’s message:

“Look.” Emily leans toward me, eyes conspiratorial, voice lowered. “I’ll let you in on a little secret. No one really cares about you–”

My stomach drops. Wait? What–

“–and no one really cares about me, and no one really cares about anyone all that much except for themselves. We’re all too focused being worried about what people think of us to spend time judging others, you know? So, like screw it. Be who you are.”

No one really cares.

. . .

I’ve spent so much of high school worried what other people will think of me, that I’m not like them, but maybe Emily is right. Maybe no one cares that I play Creature Capture or like knitting glow-in-the-dark scarves or think a wild Saturday night involves a Scrabble tournament with my parents. Maybe I should say screw it and just be me. And maybe, maybe then if someone does care, it’ll be in a good way.

There was a moment after reading Shark Bait where I turned the page to the next chapter, excited to see what would happen next. I got so lost in the story I forgot that was it. That was the end. Those characters were gone from me. I had to remind myself that this was a short story collection.

Up All Night was not only representative of many genres, but also had characters of different abilities, cultures and sexualities. There was a range of themes covering friendship, blended families, first love, new horizons, letting down your mask and being genuine to yourself and your feelings. There is something for everyone here young and old. I am glad that I got the chance to check out 11 new-to-me authors. My TBR just got larger and richer for it.


Laura Silverman, Editor

Laura Silverman is an author and freelance editor in Brooklyn, NY. She earned her MFA in Writing for Children at the New School. Her books include Girl Out of Water, You Asked for Perfect, It’s a Whole Spiel, and Recommended for You.

Where You Can Find Her

Featured

Maya and the Rising Dark

“Tell me everything.” Papa sucked in a deep breath. “From the beginning.”

“Which beginning? The beginning when I stood at the chalkboard while black lightning cut across the sky? The beginning in which a man made of ribbons drained the color from our neighborhood in a dream? The beginning when shadows reached out of the darkness and grabbed my arms? The beginning where werehyenas threatened to eat me and my friend?”


Maya and the Rising Dark is a middle grade book full of action, adventure and magic.

Twelve year old Maya seems like your average girl. All she wants to do is to go to Comic Con and spend time enjoying the summer with her two besties Eli and Frankie. That is until she starts seeing things. Things she cannot explain but scare her very much. Then her father goes missing. While trying to find him she learns that he is the Orisha Elegua who holds the keys between worlds. Apparently the veil that separates our world from the dark has been torn and the Lord of Shadows has come seeking his revenge. But he is not alone. He has an army of darkbringers who are hell bent on destroying our world and everything in it.

This book is reminiscent of mythology based adventure tales like Percy Jackson and the Olympians. My entire family enjoyed that series. While I remember getting excited every time Riordan dropped the name of a god I had learned about in grade school, I was exhilarated to discover the Yoruba Orishas who served as Maya’s neighbors and protectors.

The characters were vividly drawn. Maya and her friends were like the three strands of a braid united in their power, equal in their importance.

Young readers will be so enchanted by the story they won’t even realize they are learning something new. Would recommend to readers seeking fast paced adventure with a strong sense of community.


Coming September 21st!

In this highly anticipated sequel, Maya and the godlings must return to the sinister world of The Dark to retrieve the one thing keeping the veil between the worlds from crumbling: her father’s soul. Perfect for fans of Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky and Willa of the Wood. 

The threat from The Dark is far from over. Twelve-year-old Maya knows this. After crossing the veil between the two worlds, saving her father, and narrowly escaping the sinister clutches of the Lord of Shadows, tensions between the human world and The Dark are higher than ever. And even worse, Maya’s orisha powers as a godling are out of control.

Now a guardian in training, Maya spends her days patching up veils with her father and cleaning up near-disasters like baby wormholes that her erratic powers create. But when Maya and her friends discover that something went terribly wrong during their journey to bring her father back to the human world, they are forced to return to The Dark and restore what they left behind, the one thing keeping the veil from falling: her father’s soul.

The Lord of Shadows is mobilizing his forces for an all-out war against the human world. And this time, Maya and her friends will need all the help they can get. Even if that means teaming up with their greatest enemies, the darkbringers.

Featured

My Reading Journal Journey

In the beginning there was the Family Journal.

This was a fun way to commemorate our Summer Reading challenge. We simply used a looseleaf binder with alphabetical tabs. Back then I was big on finding pictures that tied into the book. Star ratings were included as part of the header along with the title.

Then I found Peter Pauper.

I realized that I was reviewing less and forgetting more as my schedule did not allow me to type of reviews right away. The kids fell off from reviewing books as school and sports picked back up. But it wasn’t enough for me to simply read the book. I wanted to be able to discuss it when I bumped into other bookish people as well as remember how it made me feel. I started just jotting down my initial imoressions. Now my reviews are more lengthy as I sometimes journal as I read. I also feel less inhibited as I am not required to share these with anybody. I can include all the spoilers I want and I don’t have to worry if I have an unpopular opinion.

2018: First impressions while reading a book
2021: New Journal Review format

Notice the post it tabs in the “first impressions” photo? That was how I marked off the pages of my reading challenges. While I liked the idea of having the freedom and the space to express my viewpoints, this setup did not motivate me to complete my challenges. My new system includes both a traditional journal and a bullet journal (BuJo). I keep my reviews in my Peter Pauper but have migrated all of my reading challenges to the front of my bullet journal.

In addition to writing reviews I try to prioritize my reading by writing out my obligations (NetGalley vs. Book club for example) and recording what I actually read. Below is the old and new set ups. Notice that the bullet journal spread also tracks dates read, ratings, reading challenges and monthly stats.

2018 – 2020: My TBR vs. What I actually read
2021: Bujo TBR spread

The Versatility of a Bullet Journal

In my bullet journal I also track my moods, ARC release dates, the source of my books and whether I am reading books I already own. I’m enjoying using my BuJo as a creative outlet and find that I am more organized. Lately I’ve been experimenting with adding more elements to my BuJo like health and spending trackers. I’m excited for my 2022 setup and have already started planning out my spreads.

2021 Yearly Reading Statistics – # Read, # Reviewed, # Pages and Source
Tracking how many books I own will hopefully curb my book spending.
Black-a-thon Reading Challenge

Sources of Inspiration

Amanda Rach Lee

Jashii Corrin

Shayda Campbell

Brittany the Bibliophile


Supplies

  • Peter Pauper acid free, archival lined journal; Retail $15.99 (purchased on sale at Barnes & Noble)
  • Carnet Artist’s dotted journal 120 gsm, 180 pages; Retail $8.99 (purchased with 20% coupon at Michael’s)
  • Tombow Dual Brush pens 12 pc Tropical palette set; Retail $26.99 (purchased 50% off at Michael’s)
  • Artist’s Loft glue tape, 4 pack; Retail $6.99
  • Sakura Pigma Micron Fine Line pen set Black 005, 02, 08; Retail $9.99 (purchased with 20% coupon at Michael’s)
  • Pentel Hi Polymer Eraser
  • Sharpie markers
  • Washi tape (can be found in Michael’s sales bins for as little as a dollar)
  • Stickers, craft paper, colored pencils (Dollar Tree)

Featured

Blog Tour: Local Woman Missing

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis

People don’t just disappear without a trace…
Shelby Tebow is the first to go missing. Not long after, Meredith Dickey and her six-year-old daughter, Delilah, vanish just blocks away from where Shelby was last seen, striking fear into their once-peaceful community. Are these incidents connected? After an elusive search that yields more questions than answers, the case eventually goes cold.
Now, eleven years later, Delilah shockingly returns. Everyone wants to know what happened to her, but no one is prepared for what they’ll find…
In this smart and chilling thriller, master of suspense and New York Times bestselling author Mary Kubica takes domestic secrets to a whole new level, showing that some people will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.


Review

This book gets all the stars! Kubica kept ratcheting up the tension. So much so that I was getting paranoid for the characters. I was that crazy ole book lady screaming at the book “Get out! Get away! No, don’t do it! Don’t trust her.” It was like running through a maze and hitting wall after wall. Kubica would leads you down one avenue having you think you know what’s going on and then Nope! Nope! Nope! Nope! Wrong again. Then she gives you a perfectly rational reason for what happened and sends you in an entirely different direction. I was twisting and turning throughout and I loved it.


Meet the Author

Mary Kubica is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of six novels, including THE GOOD GIRL, PRETTY BABY, DON’T YOU CRY, EVERY LAST LIE, WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT, and THE OTHER MRS. A former high school history teacher, Mary holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in History and American Literature. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two children. Her last novel THE OTHER MRS. was an instant New York Times bestseller; is coming soon to Netflix; was a LibraryReads pick for February 2020; praised by the New York Times; and highly recommended by Entertainment Weekly, People, The Week, Marie Claire, Bustle, HelloGiggles,Goodreads, PopSugar, BookRiot, HuffingtonPost, First for Women, Woman’s World, and more.Mary’s novels have been translated into over thirty languages and have sold over two million copies worldwide. She’s been described as “a helluva storyteller,” (Kirkus Reviews) and “a writer of vice-like control,” (Chicago Tribune), and her novels have been praised as “hypnotic” (People) and “thrilling and illuminating” (Los Angeles Times).  LOCAL WOMAN MISSING is her seventh novel. 

Where You Can Find Her

Featured

Teaser Tuesdays 2/23

The Teaser

Giles leaned back in his chair. Relief washed over him. Oliver had come through after all. And his timing couldn’t have been better. Old university chums always came in handy. Even old university enemies.

p. 186

Without Prejudice

by Nicola Williams

Synopsis

A gripping, propulsive courtroom thriller following barrister Lee Mitchell as she uncovers the dark secrets of London’s obscenely rich

Lee Mitchell is a thirty-year-old barrister from a working-class Caribbean background: in the cut-throat environment of the courtroom, everything is stacked against her.

After she takes on the high-profile case of notorious millionaire playboy Clive Omartian – arrested along with his father and stepbrother for eye-wateringly exorbitant fraud – the line between her personal and professional life becomes dangerously blurred. Spiraling further into Clive’s trail of debauchery and corruption, she finds herself in alarmingly deep waters.

Can she survive her case, let alone win it?

‘A highly-charged and fast-paced page turner’ Irish Times


Without Prejudice is part of Bernardine Evaristo’s Black Britain Writing Back series. This collection highlights previously published books that exemplify the diversity of the black experience in Britain. In the author’s words – “these books will take the reader from 18th-century London to 1920s Trinidad; from inside the heads of women in the mental health system to inside the life of a working-class Black woman barrister making her way in a white, middle-class, male profession; from the ethics of stolen African artefacts in British museums and into a family home haunted by past that lingers in the present.”

Featured

Teaser Tuesdays 2/16

The Teaser

Beating the others doesn’t mean anything because they’re not really trying. This leaves Zinhle with no choice but to compete against herself. Each paper must be more brilliant than the last. She tries to finish every test faster than she did the last one. It isn’t the victory she craves, not exactly; the satisfaction she gains from success is minimal. Barely worth it. But it’s all she has.

Valediction, p. 151

How Long ’til Black Future Month?

by N. K. Jemison

Synopsis

In these stories, Jemisin sharply examines modern society, infusing magic into the mundane, and drawing deft parallels in the fantasy realms of her imagination. Dragons and hateful spirits haunt the flooded city of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow south must figure out how to save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises. And in the Hugo award-nominated short story “The City Born Great,” a young street kid fights to give birth to an old metropolis’s soul.


I was originally drawn to this book because of its cover. Name a book that you have read because of cover lust.

Featured

Teaser Tuesday – 2/9

The Teaser

Even if she wanted to move, she cannot, so firmly do these memories hold her still, so that when a stinging lash falls across her back and her eyes fly open with her mouth in the surprise of pain without origin, Lala considers that the true source of her pain is not the current cruelty, but the fact that she cannot do anything to avoid it, even if she wanted to.


How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House

by Cherie Jones

Synopsis

A debut novel in the tradition of Zadie Smith and Marlon James, from a brilliant Caribbean writer, set in Barbados, about four people each desperate to escape their legacy of violence in a so-called “paradise.”

In Baxter Beach, Barbados, moneyed ex-pats clash with the locals who often end up serving them: braiding their hair, minding their children, and selling them drugs. Lala lives on the beach with her husband, Adan, a petty criminal with endless charisma whose thwarted burglary of one of the Baxter Beach mansions sets off a chain of events with terrible consequences. A gunshot no one was meant to witness. A new mother whose baby is found lifeless on the beach. A woman torn between two worlds and incapacitated by grief. And two men driven by desperation and greed who attempt a crime that will risk their freedom — and their lives.


How many books by debut Black authors have you read or plan to read this Black History Month?

Featured

Teaser Tuesday 2/9

The Teaser

There was no two ways about it. But the truth was a sticky thing. A thing that could stretch and shift and blow up and pop at the prick of a pin. Like gum. Who was she to force it down other people’s throats?


The Synopsis

In the aftermath of a deadly outbreak—reminiscent of the 1962 event of mass hysteria that was the Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic—a city at the tip of Africa is losing its mind, with residents experiencing hallucinations and paranoia. Is it simply another episode of mass hysteria, or something more sinister? In a quarantined city in which the inexplicable has already occurred, rumors, superstitions, and conspiracy theories abound.

During these strange days, Faith works as a fulltime corpse collector and a freelance “truthologist,” putting together disparate pieces of information to solve problems. But after Faith agrees to help an orphaned girl find her abducted baby brother, she begins to wonder whether the boy is even real. Meanwhile, a young man named Sans who trades in illicit goods is so distracted by a glimpse of his dream woman that he lets a bag of money he owes his gang partners go missing-leaving him desperately searching for both and soon questioning his own sanity.

Over the course of a single week, the paths of Faith, Sans, and a cast of other hustlers—including a data dealer, a drug addict, a sin eater, and a hyena man—will cross and intertwine as they move about the city, looking for lost souls, uncertain absolution, and answers that may not exist.


This book found its way on my TBR through the Tournament of Books. Otherwise I would have overlooked it as it centers on a pandemic. How comfortable are you reading books about quarantines, viruses and epidemics now that this is our reality? Do you avoid them or seek them out?

Featured

Teaser Tuesday – 1/26

Welcome to Teaser Tuesday, the weekly Meme hosted by The Purple Booker. It’s super easy and anyone can join in the fun!

1: Grab your current read
2: Open to a random page
3: Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page


The Teaser

Now I realize being a girl is heavy business. It’s like a basketball game with no referee. Just two teams and everybody play by their own rules.

Chlorine Sky by Mahogany L. Browne

  • Young Adult/Poetry
  • Hardcover, 192 pages
  • Published January 12th 2021 by Crown Books for Young Readers

A novel-in-verse about a young girl coming-of-age and stepping out of the shadow of her former best friend. Perfect for readers of Elizabeth Acevedo and Nikki Grimes.

She looks me hard in my eyes
& my knees lock into tree trunks
My eyes don’t dance like my heartbeat racing
They stare straight back hot daggers.
I remember things will never be the same.
I remember things.

With gritty and heartbreaking honesty, Mahogany L. Browne delivers a novel-in-verse about broken promises, fast rumors, and when growing up means growing apart from your best friend.


Chlorine Sky was one of my most anticipated reads for 2021. I’m glad I was able to get my hands on it so soon. Is it on your TBR? What are some of your most anticipated reads?

Teaser Tuesday 12/15

Welcome to Teaser Tuesday, the weekly Meme hosted by The Purple Booker. It’s super easy and anyone can join in the fun!

1: Grab your current read
2: Open to a random page
3: Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

Memorial is one of the 77 titles on the 2021 Tournament of Books longlist. This battle of the books takes place in March and pits the top 16 (or 18) books of the year against each other. Just think March Madness for book nerds. Right now most of us who follow this competition are in a mad dash to read the list. We are snatching up sales, searching our local libraries and waiting with bated breath for the shortlist to come out. So guess how lucky I felt when my library sent me the notification that Memorial was a hot pick for the day.

Teaser

Mike’s never promised me anything. Only delivered or didn’t. He always said that promises were only words, and words only meant what you made them.


Synopsis

A funny, sexy, profound dramedy about two young people at a crossroads in their relationship and the limits of love.

Benson and Mike are two young guys who live together in Houston. Mike is a Japanese American chef at a Mexican restaurant and Benson’s a Black day care teacher, and they’ve been together for a few years — good years — but now they’re not sure why they’re still a couple. There’s the sex, sure, and the meals Mike cooks for Benson, and, well, they love each other.

But when Mike finds out his estranged father is dying in Osaka just as his acerbic Japanese mother, Mitsuko, arrives in Texas for a visit, Mike picks up and flies across the world to say goodbye. In Japan he undergoes an extraordinary transformation, discovering the truth about his family and his past. Back home, Mitsuko and Benson are stuck living together as unconventional roommates, an absurd domestic situation that ends up meaning more to each of them than they ever could have predicted. Without Mike’s immediate pull, Benson begins to push outwards, realizing he might just know what he wants out of life and have the goods to get it.

Both men will change in ways that will either make them stronger together, or fracture everything they’ve ever known. And just maybe they’ll all be okay in the end. Memorial is a funny and profound story about family in all its strange forms, joyful and hard-won vulnerability, becoming who you’re supposed to be, and the limits of love.