Entry 132: The Downstairs Girl

Author: Stacey Lee
Genre: Historical Fiction ; Young Adult ; Romance
Publication: August 13th 2019 by Putnam
Pages: 374
Format Read In: Audiobook

Summary from Goodreads (GOODREADS LINK)

From the founding member of We Need Diverse Books comes a powerful novel about identity, betrayal, and the meaning of family.

By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, “Dear Miss Sweetie.” When her column becomes wildly popular, she uses the power of the pen to address some of society’s ills, but she’s not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender. While her opponents clamor to uncover the secret identity of Miss Sweetie, a mysterious letter sets Jo off on a search for her own past and the parents who abandoned her as a baby. But when her efforts put her in the crosshairs of Atlanta’s most notorious criminal, Jo must decide whether she, a girl used to living in the shadows, is ready to step into the light. With prose that is witty, insightful, and at times heartbreaking, Stacey Lee masterfully crafts an extraordinary social drama set in the New South.

My Review

Trigger warnings: racism (anti Asian, Black), brief mention of suicide of queer man, bullying, antisemitism, slurs

Continue reading “Entry 132: The Downstairs Girl”

[Book Tour] Battle of the Bullies by Fenyx Blue

Battle of the Bullies
Fenyx Blue
Publication date: October 27th 2020
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

Ebony, Eris, and Emani Robertson have been through so much more than most high school freshmen. When they were younger, they survived a school shooting that killed their friend and left their oldest sister unable to speak. After giving homeschooling a try, they enroll in a promising new academy, hoping for the best.The Robertsons soon discover, however, that their new classmates are anything but kind. A mysterious group of bullies known as the Dimes rules the hallways and spreads fear everywhere they go. All three sisters end up being targets of the gang and have to find a way to defend themselves.The triplets couldn’t be more different, but their loyalty to each other and to their school never fails. Along with diverse group of friends, the Robertsons do everything they can to uncover the identity of the Dimes and restore order to the school.As if their lives weren’t complicated enough, they also get sucked in to a much bigger game—discovering who was responsible for the attack on their old school. Can they bring down the Dimes and bring the murderer to justice, all while trying to make it through ninth grade?

Goodreads / Amazon


Author Bio:

If author Fenyx Blue actually had a tattoo, it would be a heart. Ms. Blue has written every book with love. Blue is a teacher, coach, mentor, and motivational speaker focused on women and youth empowerment. She has written a young adult novel about bullying entitled Who Failed Johnny?, a poetry book about purpose named The Blue Ink Movement, and a children’s book about the power of a solid father daughter relationship called Worth the Weight.

Fenyx believes in service to the community. After being chosen as teacher of the year for her school district, she continued to mentor teenagers and facilitate discussions about controversial topics like drugs, sex, violence, cyberbullying and mental health. She has been a guest poet for several women’s retreats and workshops and loves the energy she receives from a live audience.

Throughout her years as an educator and youth ministry leader, Blue created Team Bully-Free Forever, a poetry team for her school, and a mentoring group called D.I.V.A.S to address the needs of young people. She is dedicated to teaching the next generation to follow their dreams and feels it is her mission to equip them for the future. Ms. Fenyx Blue is a proud mother of three beautiful children who inspire her to write each day.

You can follow Ms. Fenyx Blue @FenyxBlueInk on Instagram and Youtube.

Youtube / Instagram

PROLOGUE

Anonymous

I can’t be late.

If I’m late, they won’t let me in. I’ll be disqualified. This is the year I win. I can’t be disqualified.

I glance in the mirror and adjust my heather gray hood, slide on my black sunglasses, tug on my gloves, and step out of the car. According to my navigation system, this vacant house is my destination, and I have arrived. Eight cars are already here.

The white FOR SALE sign in the lawn gives me some comfort that we may be safe here, but this annual meeting is risky. Having all of us in one place tonight could mean revealing our identities to outsiders. Anonymity is our strongest weapon. We can never lose it.

I glance at the cars, trying to match them to possible members in my mind. One license plate reads QT PIE. How can we be a secret organization with our cars on display like this? How can we remain secret if members refuse to be discreet?

My phone says 9:59 p.m. I throw it in the back seat where it slides under my AP Physics book. I have to be inside this house by 10:01 p.m. Forget force, mass, or acceleration. I need to run.

Ten steps. I climb ten more giant steps, sliding into the room as the clock hand clicks into place.

10:01.

A girl locks the door behind me.

An envelope with my pseudonym written on it is on my chair. I am the ninth girl to sit down. I resist the urge to sit at the head of the table, but inside I know this is where I deserve to sit.

One year of effort comes down to this moment. I did my best. Ten people dropped out of school because of me. No one at this table should be able to beat that stat.

Last year, tears fell because of me! Terror reigned because of me! Break ups, friendships lost, hearts broken….all due to me! But will it be enough to be Number One?

We open our envelopes simultaneously. Three years, I have ranked in the top five. This is my senior year. There’s no more time to compete. I want to win. I deserve this victory.

I slide the paper out, trying to avoid eye contact with the other members in the room knowing they will attack if they sense fear. Sadly, this envelope contains what I feared: A Picture.

An envelope with a Picture that does not contain a dime means I have a new target for the school year. It also means someone in this room outranks me. It means I am not Number One. Last year’s Number One did not choose me. She had the final say. I should have had enough votes to win if everyone voted based on the evidence.

One at a time, we slide our Pictures toward the center of the table. Strangely, the eighth picture I see looks just like the picture from my envelope. Do we have twins in this year’s mix?

I look in my envelope once more thinking I might have overlooked my dime. Could Number One have made a mistake and forgotten to put the coin in my envelope?

I hear the sound of a dime hitting the glass table. The dime is reserved for Number One. Number One rises from her seat and walks toward the head of the table. There are nine heather gray hoods around the table, but only she wears the bedazzled crown.

I watch her toss the dime on the table. When it lands flat on its side we are allowed to speak.

Silence is replaced with the sound of nervous chatter. I watch and listen trying to memorize each voice, height, weight, or any distinguishing feature like a tattoo or a signature scent. Nine heather gray jogging suits. No jewelry. No nail polish. Gray gym shoes. Gray socks.

I believe I may know the identity of everyone in this room, but I’d love to be one hundred percent certain. I have only worked directly with seven of them. Four years of battling with and against them, but I still don’t know every member.

“Enough of the whining!” Number One exclaims. “The results are final. This is a new year. This is a new battle. We don’t have time to fight one another.”

Chastened, the room quiets instantly. Hesitantly, another member points to the two pictures that seem to show the same caramel colored girl with almond eyes and asks, “Are we…changing the rules? I mean, are we putting two girls on the same target? Or are they identical twins?”

Number One adjusts her black sunglasses.

“No,” she replies with a fake British accent. “Actually, they are triplets.” She pulls out the Picture from her own envelope, showing the group a face with an X drawn across it. It’s the same face as the one in my picture, but the triplet in the picture has dimples.

Number One explains that the person who gets both their target and this triplet with the deep dimples to drop out of school will wear the crown. I know that person will be me. I don’t care which member will rank last, but I will rank first this year even if it is only for a semester.


GIVEAWAY!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Hosted by:
XBTBanner1

Entry 131: Riot Baby

Author: Tochi Onyebuchi
Genre: Fantasy ; Novella ; Speculative ; Science Fiction
Publication: January 21st 2020 by Tor
Pages: 176
Format Read In: Ebook

Summary from Goodreads (GOODREADS LINK)

Ella and Kev are brother and sister, both gifted with extraordinary power. Their childhoods are defined and destroyed by structural racism and brutality. Their futures might alter the world. When Kev is incarcerated for the crime of being a young black man in America, Ella—through visits both mundane and supernatural—tries to show him the way to a revolution that could burn it all down.

My Review

Trigger warnings: gang violence, police brutality, prisoner abuse, attempted suicide, medical negligence, surveillance

Continue reading “Entry 131: Riot Baby”

[RECOMMENDED] Entry 130: Clap When You Land

Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Genre: Contemporary ; Poetry ; Young Adult ; LGBTQA+
Publication: March 24th 2020 by Orbit
Pages: 432
Format Read In: Audiobook

Summary from Goodreads (GOODREADS LINK)

In a novel-in-verse that brims with grief and love, National Book Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

My Review

Trigger warnings: sexual harassment, brief mention of colourism, pressuring queer person to come out, death of a parent, airplane accident, victim blaming, difficult pregnancy scene, sexual molestation, grief, attempted rape

Continue reading “[RECOMMENDED] Entry 130: Clap When You Land”

Entry 129: Catherine House

Author: Elisabeth Thomas
Genre: Mystery ; Thriller (Psychological) ; Contemporary ; Science Fiction ; Dark Academia
Publication: May 12, 2020 by Custom House
Pages: 320
Format Read In: Audiobook

Summary from Goodreads (GOODREADS LINK)

A story about a dangerously curious young undergraduate whose rebelliousness leads her to discover a shocking secret involving an exclusive circle of students . . . and the dark truth beneath her school’s promise of prestige.

You are in the house and the house is in the woods.
You are in the house and the house is in you . . .


Catherine House is a school of higher learning like no other. Hidden deep in the woods of rural Pennsylvania, this crucible of reformist liberal arts study with its experimental curriculum, wildly selective admissions policy, and formidable endowment, has produced some of the world’s best minds: prize-winning authors, artists, inventors, Supreme Court justices, presidents. For those lucky few selected, tuition, room, and board are free. But acceptance comes with a price. Students are required to give the House three years—summers included—completely removed from the outside world. Family, friends, television, music, even their clothing must be left behind. In return, the school promises its graduates a future of sublime power and prestige, and that they can become anything or anyone they desire.

Among this year’s incoming class is Ines, who expects to trade blurry nights of parties, pills, cruel friends, and dangerous men for rigorous intellectual discipline—only to discover an environment of sanctioned revelry. The school’s enigmatic director, Viktória, encourages the students to explore, to expand their minds, to find themselves and their place within the formidable black iron gates of Catherine.

For Ines, Catherine is the closest thing to a home she’s ever had, and her serious, timid roommate, Baby, soon becomes an unlikely friend. Yet the House’s strange protocols make this refuge, with its worn velvet and weathered leather, feel increasingly like a gilded prison. And when Baby’s obsessive desire for acceptance ends in tragedy, Ines begins to suspect that the school—in all its shabby splendor, hallowed history, advanced theories, and controlled decadence—might be hiding a dangerous agenda that is connected to a secretive, tightly knit group of students selected to study its most promising and mysterious curriculum.

My Review

Trigger warnings: suicide, death, blacking out due to drinking and drugs, suicide mentioned, human experimentation (not graphic), teacher-student relationship mentioned, sex (not graphic), day drinking, animal experimentation, harm to animals

Continue reading “Entry 129: Catherine House”

[Book Blitz] A Flood of Posies by Tiffany Meuret

A Flood of Posies
Tiffany Meuret
Publication date: February 9th 2021
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction

*2020 Cygnus Book Award for Science Fiction Long List*

It’s 2025.

Sisters, Doris and Thea, exist worlds apart, despite living within a few miles of one another. Doris with her regular home and regular husband and regular job, and Thea slinking along the edges of society, solitary and invisible. When a storm of biblical proportions strikes, the wayward sisters are begrudgingly forced together as the rain waters rise, each attempting to survive both the flood and each other.

One year later, Thea—now calling herself Sestra—floats throughout a ravaged, flood soaked world. Her former life drowned beneath metric tons of water, she and her only companion, Robert, battle starvation, heatstroke, and the monstrous creatures called Posies that appeared alongside the flood. When they run across what they assume to be an abandoned tugboat, their journey takes a new turn, and the truth about the flood and the monsters seems more intricately linked to Thea’s past then she may realize.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play

EXCERPT:

Nobody tells you about the boredom. There isn’t much to do after the terror and shock subsides. Just floating and sitting and getting dizzy from the hamster-wheel laps of the brain thinking about an entire lifetime of floating and sitting. It’d been a year of sitting around waiting to die. Rob swore it was only nine months, as if he fucking knew the difference. He spent all his time lost somewhere in his head, and Sestra couldn’t be sure of his grip on reality, let alone his basic math skills. She wasn’t so sure about herself either. It’s not like it mattered much.

Rob, however despondent, was never short of criticisms of her performance. “Get your hands out of the water if you ain’t even gonna try.”

Sestra draped her right arm over the boat platform. She said she was catching fish, but her arm had fallen asleep ages ago. All she’d done to pass the time was flip-flop between numbness and a painful pins-and-needles sensation. Since she passed most of her days in similar fashion, her arms from the elbows down were the only parts of her not turned to jerky from the sun and an overabundance of sea salt.

“That water’s not safe,” Rob said.

“Jesus, is it noon already?”

“Ain’t nothing saving you when a shark grabs those fingers.”

“What a pity,” she said, keeping her arm exactly where it was.

Her stomach lurched. By now she thought she’d have gotten used to being starved all the time, but it never got easier. Rob seemed to handle it better than her. He’d close his eyes and lean back as if to nap, looking so damn peaceful while Sestra’s organs tore her apart from the inside out. Before the flood, she’d heard stories of people who’d slipped into euphoric comas, their brains leaching sedating hormones as their bodies ate themselves alive. Sestra counted the hours until that moment came, but it hadn’t yet. She was miserable every second that passed, angry at everything, feeling herself ripped apart as her cells died bit by bit.

She couldn’t understand how Rob just closed his eyes. The times she tried to copy him, the agony of her insides just roared louder, as if silencing one of her senses just made the rest of them more aggressive. She’d chuck water at Rob’s face sometimes, just to shock him out of it, afraid he might never open his eyes again. Sometimes she’d just start talking and talking so that she had something to do, forming coherent sentences being its own sort of chore nowadays.


Author Bio:

Tiffany Meuret is a writer of monsters and twisted fairy tales. Her publications include Shoreline of Infinity, Luna Station Quarterly, Ellipsis Zine, and others. When not reading or writing, she is usually binge watching comfortable sitcoms from her childhood or telling her kids to put on their shoes for the tenth time. She lives in sunny Arizona with her husband, two kids, two chihuahuas, gecko, and tortoise.

Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Instagram


GIVEAWAY!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Hosted by:
XBTBanner1

Entry 128: Meddling Kids

Author: Edgar Cantero
Genre: Urban fantasy, LGBTQA+, horror, mystery
Publication: July 11th 2017 by Doubleday Books
Pages: 322
Format Read In: Audiobook

Summary from Goodreads (GOODREADS LINK)

1990. The teen detectives once known as the Blyton Summer Detective Club (of Blyton Hills, a small mining town in the Zoinx River Valley in Oregon) are all grown up and haven’t seen each other since their fateful, final case in 1977. Andy, the tomboy, is twenty-five and on the run, wanted in at least two states. Kerri, one-time kid genius and budding biologist, is bartending in New York, working on a serious drinking problem. At least she’s got Tim, an excitable Weimaraner descended from the original canine member of the team. Nate, the horror nerd, has spent the last thirteen years in and out of mental health institutions, and currently resides in an asylum in Arhkam, Massachusetts. The only friend he still sees is Peter, the handsome jock turned movie star. The problem is, Peter’s been dead for years.

The time has come to uncover the source of their nightmares and return to where it all began in 1977. This time, it better not be a man in a mask. The real monsters are waiting.

My Review

Trigger warnings: violence towards elders, verbal sexual harassment, violence, poor treatment of mental illness

Continue reading “Entry 128: Meddling Kids”

The Mystery Blogger Award

I big thank you to the wonderful Laura @ The Corner of Laura for the nomination!

Rules:

  • Display the award logo on your blog.
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Mention Okoto Enigma, the creator of the award.
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
  • Answer 5 questions from the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate 10 – 20 bloggers.
  • Notify your nominees by leaving a comment on their blog.
  • Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice, including 1 weird or funny question.
  • Share the link to your best post.

Continue reading “The Mystery Blogger Award”