Spoiler Free Mini Reviews: Faith Takes Flight & The Voting Booth

Title: Faith Takes Flight

Author:ย Julie Murphy

Pub. Date: July 7th 2020

Genre:ย YA Contemporary/Queer

Format: Audiobook ALC

Publisher:ย Balzer + Bray

Pages: 304 Pages

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๐Ÿ–คARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review๐Ÿ–ค

Faith Herbert in many ways is your average teenager living in a small town dealing with friendships, crushes, volunteer work & more. It’s easy to fall in love with Faith who is a plus size teen with a well known fan blog for The Grove, a popular tv series. Faith lives with her grandmother who she loves dearly & is one part of a trio of friends who are queer and super supportive of one another. This is her senior year in High School & things get a bit complicated when The Grove starts filming in her hometown. Faith finds herself having more than one crush, Johnny is very much the boy next door who is trying to get Dakota to notice him. Dakota Ash is the star of The Grove who also has her eyes on Faith & sets out to take her out on a date.

This was a cute superhero story that had its pacing issues & felt like two different books in one. The first half doesn’t see much plot movement, it really is just small town life as Faith goes about volunteer work at the Vet clinic & dating Dakota. The second half takes off at lightning speed with all sorts of new things introduced to the plot including missing teens, pets & a criminal operation. I’m still unsure about how Faith got a handle on her superhero powers & wished that we’d gotten more on that. What I loved about Faith is that she’s not your typical slim female superhero in tights. Faith is not only plus size but she also dates both genders & explores her sexuality, questioning herself at times but never labeling herself. I felt this came across as authentic for her age when really that’s exactly what is happening, self discovery. I did have some issues with how Faith handled her friends when consumed by her love life but I’m glad things get sorted out on the page. The friend trio itself is #Nerdgoals I LOVED them to pieces, especially Ches who is a queer witch that isn’t above lighting some sage to clear the room of negative energies! LOVED!


Title: The Voting Booth

Author:ย Brandy Colbert

Pub. Date: July 7th 2020

Genre:ย YA Contemporary

Format: Audiobook ALC

Publisher:ย Disney-Hyperion

Pages: 304 Pages

GOODREADS |ย BARNES & NOBLE | LIBRO.FM | AMAZON

๐Ÿ–คARC provided by author/Libro.fm in exchange for an honest review๐Ÿ–ค

If ever there was a timely read, this is it! at its core, The Voting Booth is about voter suppression in black communities. We meet Marva Sheridan, a black teen who has a passion for politics & making sure voter rights are upheld and protected. She is an activist who knows her life has a purpose, to make a difference in the world. Duke Crenshaw is a bi-racial teen on his way to cast his vote before class & also comes from a family who take voting pretty seriously. However, they also had a son who was an activist, who is no longer with them. This is something that Duke carries with him & has created an aversion to politics. As a son of divorced parents, Duke has had to relocate a few times and because of that, voting at the school he is registered under has now become a challenge. Marva steps in to assist Duke throughout the course of one entire day, met with many obstacles but never once being deterred. At the start of their story, Marva is dating someone who she has just found out has opted to not vote at all. She’s completely thrown off & diverts her energies towards helping Duke & in turn spends the day getting to know him. I was very grateful to the author in their decision to not throw Marva into Dukes arms. Boundaries were respected leaving me with the MOST satisfying of endings.

Interwoven throughout this story there’s discussion of police brutality, interracial dating & moments where the characters themselves question their identities within the black community. There’s Duke who until this day hasn’t really wanted to focus too much on his brothers political activism. Then there’s Marva who is attending a white school & recognizes her privilege. There’s so much to unpack but one thing rings loud & clear, that’s the need to end voter suppression. The importance of casting your vote & the change that is needed within communities of color where it is made most difficult to exercise this right.


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Spoiler Free Review: All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

Title: All Boys Aren’t Blue

Author: George M. Johnson

Pub. Date:ย April 28th. 2020

Genre: YA LGBTQIA+ Memoir

Format:ย Libro.fm/audiobook

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Pages: 304ย Pages

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It’s no surprise to me by now the level of procrastination I take on whenever I’m to review a favorite book. I listened to this memoir told in a series of personal essays on Libro.fm & strongly believe this was the best way to go. I love when authors narrate their own books & this truly felt like I was sitting at the table with George listening to him recount stories from his childhood/young adult years. Going back to his childhood days spent with his grandmother & cousins, we see the support he received as he embraced his sexuality. We Journey with him as he goes through the awkward dating years & then ventures into the rites of passage that comes with Fraternities in college. George starts his story in New Jersey discussing some of the issues he experienced as a queer black boy. The shedding of toxic masculinity as well as exploring gender issues & the decision to change his name are just a few of the things shared in this memoir. There were also some personal essays on his first sexual encounters, the topic of consent, and the boundaries he learned to create while learning his body.ย Some of ย my favorite essays were those that gave us an inside look to some of the cherished family members who supported George from the very beginning. They say it takes a village to raise a child & we definitely see that when meeting family & friends who left a lasting impression.

It is important when reading Queer Lit that we’re looking to also read books that speak on intersectionality. This memoir gives us a look at what it’s like to navigate the challenges of being a queer black man in America. There were moments I smiled at fond memories shared while other times I felt the pangs of grief when speaking on the loss of a loved one. I don’t believe I have ever personally read a memoir written for Young Adults but after reading All Boys Aren’t Blue, I wondered out loud how many teens could’ve found wisdom and/or solace in these stories. These often untold stories are the ones I want on my home shelves. Although I listened to this on Libro.fm (phenomenal service btw), I most definitely am hauling my own physical copy <3’s!


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Review: The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

Title: The City We Became

Author:N.K. Jemisin

Pub. Date:ย March 24th. 2020

Genre: Sc-Fi/Urban Fantasy

Format:ย Physical

Publisher:ย Orion

Pages: 464ย Pages

GOODREADS | BARNES & NOBLEย | AMAZON

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I’m just going to preface this review by saying I can 100% understand now why so many are deeply awed and at the same time intimidated by N.K. Jemisin’s writing. This author doesn’t pull any punches & completely trusts you as a reader to keep up & decipher whatever she’s throwing at you which is a WHOLE lot! this story takes off running with the introduction of New York as an avatar which is essentially a soul. There are five boroughs in NYC: Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx and Staten Island. They are all repped in this book by an avatar for the city of New York that is in danger of never being born…yea I know, try wrapping your head around that one!

All five boroughs must find their way to each other & save the main Avatar which is NYC himself. At the very start they aren’t all aware that they’ve been chosen as avatars but as their paths cross, things start to connect. One thing is clear! they love their city & won’t let anyone/thing threaten its birth. This was my first N.K. Jemisin read but I had heard from other bookish friends that the real treat is the social commentary embedded which I can now attest to. We have a villain who is referred to as The Woman in White who I came to understand, represents a threat to all that which makes the city of New York culturally diverse. The five avatars that are each a personification of the boroughs, range in ages & cultural backgrounds. This alone makes this one hell of a unique story because of its inclusivity & diversity which is exactly what I’d like to see more of in the Fantasy genre. The Bronx is repped by a woman in her 70’s who is a Native-American Lesbian & art administrator, Brooklyn is a middle aged black politician woman who was once a Hip Hop artist, Manhattan is a black male who is in Grad school & arrives in the city to meet his Trans roommate. Queens is repped by a young female Mathematician/Immigrant & Staten Island is the daughter of a homophobic, racist, Xenophobic cop. She’s never left the Island & lives in fear of Manhattan since it represents all the evil her father has warned her about.

These characters are complex & multi-faceted, they come bearing the weight of many of the stereotypes placed upon them. This isn’t your average Fantasy/World-building either, we don’t see any specific magic being used. Instead, a lot of their power comes from within and from the positive & negative life experiences they’ve each had. We see them learn to manipulate their powers once they notice the city react & come to life to help them in their battle against the woman in white. I am still thinking about these characters & all of the possibilities of where this story could unravel. NYC is just one of the cities being birthed, we also met Sao Paulo and Hong Kong personified. It is the duty of the last city birthed to help along the next & on the very first page there’s a map with some other possible cities. I’m very intrigued to see this series grow & while I wait, can now finally pick up The Broken Earth trilogy which is also by this author & very well loved.


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WWW Wednesdays 6/17/2020

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted byย Sam @ Taking On a World of Wordsย and to participate all you have to do is answer the three Wโ€™s listed below. Once youโ€™ve posted your WWW, drop a link to your post in Samโ€™s comments <3โ€™s!

The questions:
1. What are you currently reading?
2. What did you recently finish reading?
3. What do you think youโ€™ll read next?

Hello Bookworms! I’m currently trying not to think of how many reviews I’m behind *failing* cause the urge the read has returned & so I’m finishing books at lightning speeds. I’m also thanking the universe for Librofm which has been the only thing to keep me actively reading. As I slowly make my way back to my TBR’s & eARCS, I have it in mind to read and boost black voices. Most importantly to read books that highlight intersectionality since we don’t see enough of these being spoken about in the bookish community. We have made great strides recently but that’s just the beginning, I will always do my part here on Lair Of Books to read, review & boost Diverse books. June being pride month means there are some amazing recommendations posts & videos in the community I encourage you to seek out.

Earlier this month, a friend reached out with the purpose of doing her part in boosting black voices with a Giveaway on my Bookstagram. This giveaway will be running through the month of June Internationally, five winners will be chosen to select from any of the books listed below. If you’re interested in entering, please click on the link below & see the original post on IG for details:

LAIR OF BOOKS

The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon– I am about 40% into this audiobook having received an early copy from Librofm’s arc program. I was STOKED up until a few of my trusted bookish friends started giving mixed reviews. I didn’t let that deter me from starting my copy but I can honestly say that I agree so far with them. I love the friendship that forms between Somaya, London, and Taylor which is why I haven’t DNF’d. I say this because although it has a strong start, the mid-section dips & now I’m just kind of wondering if it’ll pick up again. We shall see…

The City of Brass (The Daevabad trilogy #1) by S.A. Chakraborty– 70% into this wonderfully complex fantasy and loving every minute of it. I’ll admit I’ve been reading this book for a while now but tbh with the state of the world being what it is, escapism wasn’t something I felt I could indulge in. It wasn’t until recently when I took a step back for self care that I’ve managed to read this book in doses. It is no doubt worth all the hype it received back when it first released, full review to come.

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta– I listened to this one on Librofm as well & loved it so much! narrated by the author, this is a coming of age story of a mixed-race gay teen. We follow Michael from childhood into college years where he finds a home within the Drag Queen club on campus. If you’re looking for more books with supportive families, this is definitely one to pick up. Full review to come.

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson– Another Librofm listen cause I will never not listen to an audiobook where the narrator is the author themselves. Here we have a memoir written as a series of short personal essays on the authors life as a black queer child up until his adult years. I cannot stress this enough! If you only read 1 book this year, please make it this one. I have a full RTC where I’ll try my best to get my reasons across for why this book is important. How there currently isn’t anything like this on YA shelves & yet there are many black queer teens who can & will relate to George Johnson. This is a definite for my Top 20 of 2020!

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson– I purchased this book from Librofm after hearing so many glowing reviews from my trusted few. I purposely didn’t read the synopsis but know this is a F/F contemporary that takes place in a small town in Indiana. Stoked to take this one on the road this weekend.

I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick– This may seem like an odd selection for this month however I was granted an eARC by Simon & Schuster that I’d like to review in time for its publication date. This book hits the shelves on June 30th & other than it being a YA Thriller that is reccommended for those who loved the Podcast SERIAL (it me), I didn’t look into this one too much. I have a feeling I’m going to enjoy the read *fingers crossed* but we shall see…


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