A Song Below Water By Bethany C. Morrow: A Review

“Sirens, the say and anyone listening knows it’s a dirty word. Danger, they report and they’re talking about the danger she posed, never the danger we face.”

In her debut novel, Morrow tackles a plethora of black experiences in America such as racism, sexism, and the stigmatism of black hair, while simultaneously providing a colorful and deeply moving modern fantasy of two sisters navigating self-discovery and friendship. The story begins with the murder trial of an African American woman named Rhoda Taylor who was suspected to be a siren. Tavia, along with the rest of her family, is nervous about her safety as she sees Rhoda as herself: a black woman who is seen as a threat rather than a victim of violence. While Effie is determined to protect her sister’s secret, she too is secretly dealing with unexplainable magic of her own that is slowly threatening to reveal her true identity of which her family has prevented her from knowing since birth. Together, Tavia and Effie rely on each other more than ever as their community seeks justice for the many killings of unarmed black victims.

In all honesty, I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that incorporates Greek mythology, European mythology, fantasy, and American history all in one. Morrow took it upon herself to tell a very unique story that combines both mythical and supernatural creatures while weaving together real-life black experiences. She transports her readers to an unusual world with sprites and sirens, but she also adds very familiar issues. While effectively delivering an irresistible story of friendship and power, Morrow masterfully blends issues like the lack of media coverage of black female victims and the pervasiveness of racial profiling by police officers so as to educate her readers in a mild approach while still entertaining them. Her writing is powerful and the message is eternal. There were countless moments throughout this book where I was deeply moved and inspired.

“We’ve got a secret, and as far as my dad’s concerned, everything threatens to give us away.”

Along with her creative storytelling, Morrow uses alternating points of view which not only allows her readers to get a deeper insight into Tavia and Effie’s complicated issues but also highlights the world they live in, which mirrors our very own.

All in all, not only is this book timely, but I would also say it’s the first step to understanding a few important issues about black struggles for those who aren’t quite ready to dive headfirst into America’s complicated relationship with her African American citizens. It’s irresistibly compelling without shying away from the many painful truths within the black community.

Happy Reading!

Eight Books You’ve Probably Already Read Haul

Yes, I know exactly what you’re thinking. It’s a bit bold of me to assume that you’ve read some, if not all, of these books that are featured above. However, if you haven’t, then we’ll just ignore that part for the sake of this post. I’m sort of joking. You see, I’ve had a few too many experiences of spending money on books that were slightly expansive, yet completely tedious. Presently, I now hold back from purchasing novels, especially on their release date, without doing some sort of research that goes beyond just reading the synopsis. I’ll read a few non-spoiler reviews, check out the author’s previous work, and watch a few book review videos on YouTube. I know my method might sound a bit much, but it definitely helps me from being disappointed later. Sadly, I have to admit this strategy of mine has a little drawback. By the time I finally buy the books, they’re already old news in the book community. In fact, I’m often so late to the game that an adaptation film is already out in theaters! In any case, the most important takeaway here is that I have obtained these precious gems. So, without further ado, let’s take a wander through my new book collection of which I’m almost certain you’ve had a chance to read at some point.

  • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson — OK, I honestly purchased this book because I saw the movie and I was eager to know what part of the story didn’t make it to the screen.  I have been a fan of Bryan Stevenson since the moment I saw him featured on the Netflix documentary tilted, 13th. This book follows Stevenson’s early years of practicing law and defending those who were wrongly condemned. I am so excited to read this novel.
  • Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman — One of my favorite BookTubers decided to read this book on a whim and recorded her experience in her reading vlog. She was so moved by this story that she nearly cried a few times as she is able to connect with the main character and the issues that are mentioned in this publication. This debut novel is about a half-Japanese teen who’s struggling with both social anxiety and identity, along with a crippling relationship with her mother, as she strives to embrace her true self.
  •  The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames — I’m not sure why I’m so drawn to World War II historical fiction books, but here’s another exciting read. This is a richly told debut book about a young woman named Stella Fortuna who uses her toughness to protect her slower sister while fighting for her independence and dealing with an ancient and twisted family drama.
  • Crave by Tracy Wolf — New series alert! Although I was annoyed by the Twilight series, I am a sucker for a juicy vampire romance read. I came across this one while browsing online and decided to give it a chance. In this book, Grace is shipped off to a prestigious boarding school after the death of her parents. She soon realizes that Alaskan is no ordinary boarding school, as she is surrounded by paranormal creatures. Then, of course, there’s this hot vampire named Jaxon Vega with a deadly secret. Oh, so delicious! I can’t wait to start this one.
  • The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes — Another historical novel about the real-life Pack Horse Library project in rural Kentucky. A group of women on a journey to promote literacy during the depression era sounds so interesting and I look forward to devouring this book.
  • Nevernight by Jay Kristoff  — This hardback is super popular in BookTube and I’ve heard nothing but great things about this author’s writing. Simply put, Mia Corvere is a trained assassin seeking personal revenge towards those who have destroyed her family. A girl kicking butt—what’s not to love?
  • The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson — I’d read anything regarding Winston Churchill. This man was a true titan of his time. Unlike the so-called leadership we see today, Larson highlights Churchill’s undeniable skills to bring a country together during one of the world’s darkest moments. I’m already predicting this a five-star read.

“By the time I finally buy the books, they’re already old news in the book community.”

Supporting Black Authors

This isn’t a new trend for me. I have always and will continue to support black writers above all. Although there aren’t many African Americans authors in comparison to white authors, I am extremely proud that both readers and literary businesses are promoting black authors in solidarity against racism, given the recent tragedies in America. With that, here are some hardcovers I look forward to reading:

  • Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson — Claudia’s best friend, Monday Charles, is missing and no one seems to know when they saw her last. While Monday’s family strangely isn’t willing to help, Claudia will stop at nothing to find her friend.
  • On the Come Up by Angie Thomas — Struck with financial hardship and impending eviction, sixteen-year-old Bri is determined to help her family the one way she knows how: battling other MC rappers to make it big in the music industry.
  • Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds —Jack meets Kate at a party and is instantly smitten by her. Shortly after introducing Kate to his friends, Jack is devastated by Kate’s sudden death. Yet, Jack finds himself reliving those special moments with Kate as he tries to prevent her death no matter what.
  • Making Our Way Home: The Great Migration and the Black American Dream by Blair Imani, (Foreword by Patrisse Cullors) — An illustration collection of prominent figures’ experiences that have contributed to the fight against voting rights, domestic terrorism, discrimination, and segregation within the African American community.
  • Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes — Donte is framed by the captain of the fencing team, “King” Alan, and is suspended from school and arrested for something he didn’t do. Frustrated,  Donte seeks the help of a former fencing olympian, so as to confront his bullies and the blatant racism that exists in his nearly all-white prep school. 

All in all, I’m usually not bothered by how long it takes me to obtain a popular book, let alone read it. How I see it, so long as you have the publications in your possession, it shows your willingness to read it at some point in the future. No harm done!

Adios, and happy reading!

If I Was Your Girl Review: Big-Hearted Novel About Being Who You Are By Meredith Russo

If I Was Your Girl Review: Big-Hearted Novel About Being Who You Are By Meredith Russo


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Eighteen-year-old Amanda Hardy is ready for a fresh start at Lambertville High School. After being severely bullied at her old school and ending up in the hospital with multiple injuries, Amanda wants nothing more but to survive her senior year and move far away from the south after graduation. However, unlike her life back in Smyrna, Georgia, Amanda is the new it-girl and is finally creating genuine friendships. Yet, she has a deep secret that she is desperately trying to keep from ruining her new life. In her old school, Amanda was known as Andrew. After meeting the cute and easygoing Grant, Amanda’s resolve is put to the test as she gets closer to him.

This book is absolutely a page-turner from the very beginning. However, what makes this publication so beautiful is that it is a fantastic work of fiction by an actual transgender author. In her debut novel, Meredith Russo perfectly communicates the experience of being a transgender teenager very clearly, while indirectly highlighting the importance of being true to oneself and maintaining a level of self-worth. I enjoyed this story so much because of what Amanda Hardy had to endure. In high school, bullying is a social norm, and Amanda—being as different as she is—makes for an easy target. Yet, it’s usually how one deals with being bullied that will either help them to push forward or lead them to fall apart. At the beginning of the story, we meet Amanda who is extremely terrified and shy, crumbling inside when she receives awkward looks or hurtful comments. But towards the end, Amanda develops the courage to be proud of who she is and refuses to apologize for choosing to live her true self.

Continue reading “If I Was Your Girl Review: Big-Hearted Novel About Being Who You Are By Meredith Russo”

Five Feet Apart Review: grab the tissues now!

Five Feet Apart Review: grab the tissues now!


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Seventeen-year-olds, Stella Grant and Will Newman are cystic fibrosis (CF) patients who meet in a hospital where they experience falling in love for the first time while dealing with the uncertainty of their future. Stella’s a rule follower and control freak who is determined to increase her lung functionality in order to be approved for a lung transplant. She is meticulous in taking her medications and treatments, efficiently. Will, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. He’s a rule breaker who is tired of medications, treatments, and drug trials, which are often unsuccessful. Since he has also contracted B. cepacia on top of having CF, Will’s goal is to travel the world and live life to the fullest until his very last breath. However, as the two get to know each other, feelings are developed and the physical barriers of remaining six feet apart are tested.

Continue reading “Five Feet Apart Review: grab the tissues now!”

The Wicked King by Holly Black

“You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring. The first lesson is to make yourself that strong. “

It’s been five months since Jude Duarte successfully secured the royal crown of Elfhame onto Prince Cardan’s head, which in turn bounded his loyalty to her for a year and a day. However, holding on to her new power and role as seneschal to the High King is proving to be difficult when Jude learns that someone close to her means to betray her and threaten the lives of everyone she loves. With the political climate of Elfhame growing increasingly dangerous, how will Jude uncover the identity of the traitor, protect those she most dearly cares for and maintain control over The Wicked King?

Continue reading “The Wicked King by Holly Black”

Children of Blood And Bone By Tomi Adeyemi

“You crushed us to build your monarchy on the backs of our blood and bone. Your mistake wasn’t keeping us alive. It was thinking we’d never fight back.” –Zelie

Seventeen-year-old Zelie Adebola is tired of the injustices against her people. Seventeen-year-old Zelie Adebola is tired of the injustices against her people. Under the king’s rule, Majis are targeted and killed daily for merely who they are. With the help of her brother, Tzain, and an unexpected friendship with a noble girl, Zelie is determined to bring back magic to all Majis in order to fight back against all the injustices. Will Zelie be able to bring back change for her people in time or will she be killed by the king’s guard trying?


Rating: 5 out of 5.

This book was absolutely terrific and an emotional read for me. For one main reason, this is a West African fantasy novel. I think it’s safe to say there aren’t many books out there in this genre that focuses on black cultThis book was absolutely terrific, and an emotional read for me. I think it’s safe to say that there aren’t many books out there in this genre that focuses on black culture or history. Tomi Adeyemi did a fantastic job of presenting the Orisha mythology while weaving together an undeniable truth of African American struggles in a heart-wrenching story.

One of the many things Adeyemi does well is catching the emotions of her readers with her beautiful writing style. There are many parts in this book where the rawness of her description utterly wrecked me. Here’s an example:

” She hung from a tree like an ornament of death in the center of our mountain village . . .”

(P. 501)

Adeyemi doesn’t just write to tell a story—she writes to touch the soul. I cried, laughed, and screamed countless times while reading.

Also, Adeyemi brilliantly mirrors the condition of African Americans to that of the Majis people.

“We are the people who filled the King’s prisons, the people our kingdom turns into laborers. The people Orishans try to chase out of their features, outlawing our lineage . . .” (P. 27)

After magic disappears, Majis are targeted and killed. They are forced to live in poor conditions, and when they enter the “stocks,” or prison, it’s hard for them to leave. Today, African Americans are facing a similar plight, such as dealing with living restrictions due to gentrification within their communities and along with battling the statistics showing that the prison system is primarily filled with African Americans.

“Those stuck in the stocks toil endlessly, erecting palaces, building roads mining coal, and everything in between . . . It’s no more than a state-sentenced death sentence. An excuse to round up my people . . .” (P. 28)

It’s hard to overlook the significant message Adeyemi was sending to her readers. The hate that separates the people in this novel is the same hate we experience and give in reality today. I was entertained and educated. I was able to see how we perpetuate our negativity to justify survival and superiority. You’ll learn, if you haven’t already, why movements matter, why taking power back matters, why change is worth everything you have to give.

Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely! This is definitely my first five-star rating of this year! If you’re interested in rich history, power struggles, and fantasy, be sure to add Children of Blood and Bone to your reading list!