Hello readers and welcome or welcome back to my bookish blog. Today we are doing a tag post. I know my last post was a tag as well, but I promise my next one will not be! This tag is inspired by the new Shaded Choice Awards, which are essentially the Goodreads Choice Awards, but focused on diversity, specifially POC authors. The first round of voting is now up, if you would like to vote.
In 2020, I managed to get to 14 new releases. That number is way higher than 2019, when I read 2 new releases. Out of those 14 books, 11 of them were diverse in some aspect, and 8 of them were by POC authors. Of the 8 books, 4 of them were nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award. I have heard that a book has to have over 3.5 rating to be qualified to be nominated, and two of the other four I read do have over 3.5 stars. One of the books, Silence of Bones by June Hur, I wrote into 3 different categories, and it didn’t make it to the semi-final round on any of them.
This year I read some of the Goodreads Choice Awards winners. In 2021, I am going to do the same AND go ahead and read the winners of these awards as well.
I am not sure if I have to answer only 2020 releases for this tag, or books that I read in 2020. I will try my best to use a 2020 release, but it may be a book I read that is not. Make sure to fill in the form at the bottom of this page if you would like to be notified via email when I post! AND, make sure to comment down below and let me know which 2020 releases you feel like were unfairly snubbed by the Goodreads Choice Awards. Lastly, make sure to cast your votes for the Shaded Choice Awards! The first round starts today and ends on the 15th.
1. a new black/poc author that you read this year.
The author I have picked for this is Elizabeth Acevedo. Acevedo is an afro/latinx author, stemming from the Dominican Republic. I read all three of her books this year. You can see her Dominican heritage in all her books, and she narrates them herself. I started with Poet X and With the Fire on High in January, and read her new release, Clap When You Land, in August. I loved all three of these books, and I now consider her to be one of my favorite authors.
2. a debut book that you’ve read.
Almost all the 2020 releases I read this year were debuts, but I am picking one that is not a 2020 release being Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan. Emily X. R. Pan is a Taiwanese and Chinese-American author. I dreaded reading this book for a long time. My father passed away in 2016, and I didn’t know if I would be able to mentally handle reading a book like this. If you don’t know, this book is about a girl named Leigh, who loses her mother to suicide. She has to deal with the grief, but this book also follows her finding her family in Taiwan that she has never met. She struggles trying to communicate with them, because she does not speak Mandarin. There is a little bit of magical realism sprinkled in there as well. I absolutely loved it.
Synopsis: Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird. Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life. Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.
3. A 2020 release that you haven’t read yet?
For this one, I am choosing King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender. Callender is a nonbinary Saint Thomian indigenous author from the US Virgin Islands. This book is on my TBR for this month, as it is a middle grade. I want to read a lot of the books in the middle grade category on the GCA and I have heard only good things about this book, and their book Felix Ever After.
Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Kingston James is sure his brother Khalid has turned into a dragonfly. When Khalid unexpectedly passed away, he shed what was his first skin for another to live down by the bayou in their small Louisiana town. Khalid still visits in dreams, and King must keep these secrets to himself as he watches grief transform his family. It would be easier if King could talk with his best friend, Sandy Sanders. But just days before he died, Khalid told King to end their friendship, after overhearing a secret about Sandy—that he thinks he might be gay. “You don’t want anyone to think you’re gay too, do you?” But when Sandy goes missing, sparking a town-wide search, and King finds his former best friend hiding in a tent in his backyard, he agrees to help Sandy escape from his abusive father, and the two begin an adventure as they build their own private paradise down by the bayou and among the dragonflies. As King’s friendship with Sandy is reignited, he’s forced to confront questions about himself and the reality of his brother’s death.
4. A fav author that released a new book this year.
I think I would go for Elizabeth Acevedo, again. I did read all of her books this year, including Clap When You Land. This one is another book about grief. It follows two half-sisters, who do not know one another, their mutual father dies, and it follows their unique journeys. One lives in the US, and the other in the Dominican Republic. It was such an amazing story about grief, and I highly recommend it!
Synopsis: 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.
5. What’s your favorite genre, and what book would you vote to win in that genre?
This year, I decided to venture out of my comfort zone in genres, and I tried mystery/thriller, which I had previously written off. In 2020, mystery/thriller is my most read genre, and is now one of my favorites. I voted for Silence of Bones by June Hur. Hur is a Korean born author, who now lives in Canada. On the Goodreads Choice Awards, I wrote this book in for mystery/thriller, historical fiction, and debut novel. The semi-final round started today, and it did not make it into any of those categories. I personally found this book because of the Koreadathon that happened this year. It was the first time I ever participated, and I didn’t regret it. If you struggle to read historical fiction, and you love mystery novels, I would recommend this one for you!
Synopsis: 1800, Joseon (Korea). Homesick and orphaned sixteen-year-old Seol is living out the ancient curse: “May you live in interesting times.” Indentured to the police bureau, she’s been tasked with assisting a well-respected young inspector with the investigation into the politically charged murder of a noblewoman. As they delve deeper into the dead woman’s secrets, Seol forms an unlikely bond of friendship with the inspector. But her loyalty is tested when he becomes the prime suspect, and Seol may be the only one capable of discovering what truly happened on the night of the murder. But in a land where silence and obedience are valued above all else, curiosity can be deadly. June Hur’s elegant and haunting debut The Silence of Bones is a bloody tale perfect for fans of Kerri Maniscalco and Renée Ahdieh.
6. What is your favorite book release from 2020 by a Black/POC Author?
Without picking Silence of Bones, I will go for Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust. Bashardoust, pronounced BASH-ar-doost, is a Persian/Iranian author. Girl, Serpent, Thorn is a retelling of a Persian myth about a Princess who cannot touch anyone, or they will die. I went into this book not knowing what to expect, but I ended up really loving it.
Synopsis: There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story. As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison. Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.
7. Who’s a Black/POC Author/book that deserves more recongization?
One of the books I read this year that surprised me the most was Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow. I read this book because of the Brown Girl Book Club, which I will mention more of in question 9. Her next book isn’t coming out until 2022. This book is kind of like Fahrenheit 451, but with aliens. It follows a girl named Ellie, who has a secret library, when all forms of media are illegal. The aliens do not like people who consume books, music, TV, or any art forms, as they consider them to be free thinkers. The other MC, and romantic interest, is an alien named M0Rr1S, which they pronounce as Morris, who loves music. He knows he should destroy music when it is found, but he keeps it for himself. I usually do not like sci-fi, but this one had me on the edge of my seat until the end. It was a genuinely shocking ending, and I loved it!
Synopsis: Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population. Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. Deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, humanity’s emotional transgressions are now grounds for execution. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her. Born in a lab, M0Rr1S (Morris) was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does. Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while making a story and a song of their own that just might save them both.
8. What’s a book you’d recommend that you don’t directly identify with that’s still POC
For this one, I want to pick Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi. Zoboi is afro/latinx author, stemming from Haiti. This book is written in verse, and is about a 16-year-old teen who is wrongfully convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, without any real evidence that he did. It is such a short read, but an impactful one. Black men in America are 7 times more likely to be wrongfully convicted of a crime than white men. I personally cannot imagine the terror of being a teenager, looking at a conviction that would alter your life permanently, and spending your life, that you could never get back, in a jail cell. This book is the highest rated book on the list of Goodreads Choice Awards for YA Fiction, but we all know, the most read usually wins, not the highest rated. This book had me on the edge of my seat until the end to find if they would exonerate him or not.
Synopsis: Amal Shahid has always been an artist and a poet. But even in a diverse art school, he’s seen as disruptive and unmotivated by a biased system. Then one fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy. “Boys just being boys” turns out to be true only when those boys are white.
Suddenly, at just sixteen years old, Amal’s bright future is upended: he is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. This never should have been his story. But can he change it? With spellbinding lyricism, award-winning author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam tell a moving and deeply profound story about how one boy is able to maintain his humanity and fight for the truth, in a system designed to strip him of both.
9. Black/POC content creators recommendations
Bee, But Bookish is a nonbinary book blogger and booktuber. They also host a monthly bookclub called Pages and Prose Book Club that focuses on diverse books! I just discovered this blogger recently, and I look forward to joining this book club in the future.
The next person, I discovered through Twitter because of her book club called The Brown Girl Book Club, which focuses on reading books by women of color, her name is Jessica Nicole Dickerson. I have been really bad about reading book club books lately, and I need to get better at it in 2021. I first discovered the book club when they were reading Sound of Stars. I really enjoyed reading a book from an ace perspective, as I am ace, and so is Jessica.
The next person, I also found from Twitter, they are Chanelle from ChanelleTime on Booktube. She also has a book club, which I love, called The Crusty Club. The Crusty Club is centered around reading diverse books. I discovered my favorite book of the year from her bookclub called Radio Silence by Alice Oseman. She is a lover of Kpop, and so am I, and I will follow any book community member who also loves Kpop.
Next up is Jesse Owens, who I learned about these awards because of. Jesse has a series on Youtube called Book CommuniTEA, which I look forward to watching every week. She only started her channel 4 months ago, and I have watched almost all of her videos. I really enjoy her content and her personality, and I highly recommend her!
The last person I am mentioning is Daijah from Daijah’s Book World. I discovered her back in September during Bookoplathon. She hosted one of the 24 hour readathons. Most Saturdays she will do live reading sprints, and I am loving those lately! She has just over 1000 subs on Booktube, and I think she deserves much more attention in the book community. She is actually starting a readalong in December, with some other people, of the ACOTAR series. I won’t be reading book one for that, as I just read it a few months ago, but I will be watching the live show and reading along afterwards.