Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For the Second Half of 2020

Jun 30, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish meme, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week's topic is...

Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For the Second Half of 2020


Master of One by Jaida Jones & Dani Bennett (November 10) 🌈
The Ever Cruel Kingdom by Rin Chupeco (November 10) 🌈
Vampires of Portlandia by Jason Tanamor (September 29) | I've actually read an early copy already, but I've enjoyed it so much that I'm still (even more so) excited for the finished version.


Dating Makes Perfect by Pintip Dunn (August 18) | I will be on the blog tour for this, so watch this space on August 17th. 😊
A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha (December 1) 🌈
These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong (November 17)


Ruinsong by Julia Ember (November 24) 🌈
Burning Roses by S. L. Huang (September 29) 🌈
Beyond the Ruby Veil by Mara Fitzgerald (October 13) 🌈


This Is All Your Fault by Aminah Mae Safi (October 13) 🌈
Finding My Voice by Marie Myung-Ok Lee (October 1)
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (October 13)
Miss Meteor by Anna-Marie McLemore & Tehlor Kay Mejia (September 22) 🌈

♥ I know there's 13 books listed instead of 10, but what can you do
when you are unable to narrow it down any more than you already have?
What books are you anticipating to read for the remainder of 2020? ♥

{Story Diary} Hunted By the Sky by Tanaz Bhathena

Jun 29, 2020

I was supposed to be on a blog tour for Hunted By the Sky (with a company I no longer support) but never received an advanced review copy from the organizers and was declined on Edelweiss by the publisher. Thankfully, my former librarian boss and current friend was kind enough to lend me her copy. And I am so glad to have read it and that it was worth the wait!

Anyway, without further ado, read on to find out why you absolutely need to add Hunted By the Sky to your library, as well as favorite quotes, glossary, aesthetic and a collage of all the food!

hunted by the sky tanaz bhathena ownvoices desi fantasyHunted By the Sky by Tanaz Bhathena
Young Adult Fantasy, #ownvoices
June 23, 2020 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Gul has spent her life running. She has a star-shaped birthmark on her arm, and in the kingdom of Ambar, girls with such birthmarks have been disappearing for years. Gul's mark is what caused her parents' murder at the hand of King Lohar's ruthless soldiers and forced her into hiding to protect her own life. So when a group of rebel women called the Sisters of the Golden Lotus rescue her, take her in, and train her in warrior magic, Gul wants only one thing: revenge.

Cavas lives in the tenements, and he's just about ready to sign his life over to the king's army. His father is terminally ill, and Cavas will do anything to save him. But sparks fly when he meets a mysterious girl--Gul--in the capital's bazaar, and as the chemistry between them undeniably grows, he becomes entangled in a mission of vengeance--and discovers a magic he never expected to find.

Dangerous circumstances have brought Gul and Cavas together at the king's domain in Ambar Fort . . . a world with secrets deadlier than their own. Exploring identity, class struggles, and high-stakes romance, Hunted by the Sky is a gripping adventure set in a world inspired by medieval India.


hunted by the sky map svapnalok

Four kingdoms of Svapnalok:

✶ Ambar

Language: Vani

✶ Jwala

Language: Paras

✶ Prithvi

✶ Samudra

Reasons You Need to Add Hunted By the Sky to Your Library

♚ Wonderfully and unapologetically Desi, and medieval India inspired.
♚ It's essentially a revenge story. Gotta love a good revenge plot.
♚ The world-building is intricate, vivid, lush, and wholly Desi. 🛕
♚ The magic caste system is interesting to learn about and see how its utilized in the story. Unfortunately it also brings about the discrimination and separation between the magi (magic-wielders) and non-magi (non magic-wielders) people. ✨
♚ Strong and accurate (according to ownvoices readers/reviewers) cultural representation, influences and mythology.
♚ A chosen one prophecy that hasn't been [over-]done in mainstream YA before which is a breath of fresh air. 🌟
Fierce vengeful rebel women. There's a group of fierce rebel women warriors who trains in magic, attacks and weaponry to help (Gul) exact in revenge plots and how to be a leader in a rebellion. 🗡️🏹
♚ The main characters are passionately loyal to a fault and realistically flawed, and the way they flourish in their journeys will have you rooting for them and eager to see where they go as the story continues in the next book.
♚ Authentic Indian food. The descriptions will make you hungry and wanting to search from some kachoris and sev. 🤤
Social commentary on class differences, discrimination, injustices, grief and oppression.
♚ Sexual and gender identities and equality are normalized in this world. 🌈
♚ THE Y E A R N I N G. The reluctant and tender-hearted romance between these two opposite MC's is just *chef's kiss* Also, the fact that the romance isn't a huge part of the story may be appreciated by some. 💕💏
♚ The beautiful designs doesn't stop at the cover - it continues within the pages into the map and the chapter headers.
♚ The ENDING. It will have you needing book two immediately.


☀ Ancient India-coded
☀ Desi characters
☀ Indian and Persian mythology
☀ #ownvoices
☀ Chronically ill side character
☀ Sapphic side character
☀ Different religious faiths and non-believers

Content/Trigger Warnings

➤ Slavery
➤ Violence
➤ Murder
➤ Blood
➤ Death of parents
➤ Chronically ill parent
➤ Animal cruelty
➤ Implied sexual slavery

hunted by the sky tanaz bhathena moodboard aesthetic


Acharya: a scholar and religious leader
Almari: a cupboard
Ambarnaresh*: a title for the king of Ambar
Anandpranam*: the happiest of salutations
Angrakha: a long tunic that is tied at the left or right shoulder
Atashban*: a powerful magical weapon resembling a crossbow
Bhaiyya: brother
Chakra: a disc-shaped weapon with sharp edges
Chameli: Jasmine
Champak: an evergreen tree with fragrant orange flowers
Chandni Raat*: the night of the moon festival; native to Svapnalok
Choli: a short blouse; worn with a sari or ghagra
Dev Kah*: the era of the gods
Dhoti: a garment wrapped around the lower half of the body; passed between the legs, and tucked into the waistband
Dhulvriksh*: a desert tree with rootlike branches; native to the kingdoms of Ambar and he Brimlands
Didi: elder sister
Drishti jal*: a magical elixir used by Pashu to travel and communicate with each other; native to the kingdom of Aman
Dupatta: a shawl-like scarf
Ektara: a drone lute with a single string
Fanas: lantern
Ghagra: a full-length skirt; worn by women with a choli and dupatta
Ghat: a set of steps along a riverbank
Gulab: rose
Haveli: a mansion
Indradhanush*: a rainbow-hued metal; native to the Brimlands
Jambiya: a short, double-edged dagger
Jantar-mantar*: an illusion; derogatory term for false magic tricks in Svapnalok
Jatamansi: an herb used to darken hair
Ji: an honorific, usually placed after a person's name; can also be used as a respectful acknowledgement, in the place of "yes"
Jootis: flat shoes with pointed tips
Kabzedar: usurper
Kaccha sari: a sari wrapped in a manner similar to a dhoti, for ease of movement; worn with a choli
Kali: a flower bud (pronounced "kuh-lee"); not to be confused with the Hindu goddess Kali (pronounced "kaa-lee")
Lathi: a long wooden staff, used as a weapon
Levta: a black mudfish
Maang-teekan: a hair ornament; worn by women
Makara*: a Pashu who is part crocodile, part human
Neela chand*: refers to one's mate or soulmate in Svapnalok; literally translates to "blue moon"
Pallu: the loose ends of a sari
Paras*: the language of the kingdom of Jwala
Pashu*: a race of part-human, part-animal beings; native to the kingdom of Aman
Peepul: a sacred fig tree
Peri*: a gold-skinned Pashu who is part-human, part-bird
Putra*: son; when used as a suffix, it means "son of"
Putri*: daughter; when used as a suffix, it means "daughter of"
Raag: a melodic framework used for improvisation and composition of Indian classical music
Raj darbar: the royal court
Raja: king
Rajkumar: prince
Rajkumari: princess
Rajsingha*: a Pashu who is part lion, part lion
Rani: queen
Rekha*: a magical barrier
Rupee*: a silver coin
Sadhvi: a holy woman
Samarpan: the act of dedication, submission, and sacrifice to a person or cause
Sandhi: a symbiosis
Sangemarmar: a white marble; native to the kingdom of Jwala
Sant: saint
Sau aabhaar*: a hundred thank-yous
Shubhdivas*: good day
Shubhraat*: good night
Shubhsaver*: good morning
Shvetpanchhi*: a large, carnivorous bird with white and black feathers; native to Svapnalok
Simurgh*: a Pashu who is part eagle and part peacock with a woman's face
Surma: a black cosmetic, used to line the eyes
Swarna*: a gold coin
Talwar: a long sword with a curved blade
Thanedar: a police officer
Thhor: a multistemmed, cactus-like succulent found in the desert
Vaid*: a magical healer
Vani*: the language of the kingdom of Ambar
Yudhnatam*: a martial art
Yuvraj: heir apparent
Zamindar: an aristocratic landowner

* Note (from the author): many terms common to our world and the former empire of Svapnalok. However, there are a few words that differ slightly in meaning and/or used specifically in the context of Svapnalok. These have been marked with an asterisk (*) wherever possible.

[Glossary can be found in the back of the book]

"Every heart holds a warrior. Some are born, some are made, while some choose to never take up arms. What you are and who you will become will be entirely up to you."

--Tanaz Bhathena, Hunted By the Sky

"People have tongues that wag far too often and minds that don’t think as much."

--Tanaz Bhathena, Hunted By the Sky

"Power comes in many shapes and forms. You keep doubting yourself, Gul. That’s your biggest weakness. When you don’t, you can take down men twice your size."

--Tanaz Bhathena, Hunted By the Sky

"The sky has fallen, a star will rise."

--Tanaz Bhathena, Hunted By the Sky

[Quotes are taken from an advanced review copy and is subject to change in the final copy]


hunted by the sky tanaz bhathena indian food collage

Bajra roti: a flatbread made with pearl miller
Chaas: a cold drink made of yogurt
Chandrama*: a sweet, circular pastry, garnished with edible foil and rose petals
Ghee: clarified butter
Kachori: a round, fried pastry stuffed with a sweet or savory filling
Kadhi: a cream-colored gravy, made of yogurt, chickpea flour, spices, and vegetables
Khichdi: a rice-and-lentil dish
Khoba roti: a thick flatbread made with indents on the surface
Madira: alcohol
Mawa: a sweet paste made by simmering milk on the stove
Methi bajra puri: a fried flatbread made with spinach and pearl miller
Moong dal: split green gram
Paneer: a type of curd cheese
Pakoda: a vegetable fritter
Prasad: food used as a religious offering, normally consumed after worship
Pulao: a rice dish made with spices and vegetables and/or meat
Rabdi: a sweet, creamy dish made with condensed milk and nuts
Rajnigandha: tuberose
Sabzi: cooked vegetables
Sev: vermacelli
Sohan halwa: a sweet made of ghee, milk, flour, and sugar
Tulsi: holy basil

Tanaz Bhathena writes books for young adults. Her sophomore novel, The Beauty of the Moment, won the Nautilus Gold Award for Young Adult Fiction and has also been nominated for the Ontario Library Association’s White Pine Award. Her acclaimed debut, A Girl Like That, was named a Best Book of the Year by numerous outlets including The Globe and Mail, Seventeen, and The Times of India. Her latest book, Hunted by the Sky, (releasing June 23 2020) is the first of a YA fantasy duology set in a world inspired by medieval India. Her short stories have appeared in various publications including The Hindu, Blackbird, Witness, and Room.

Born in India and raised in Saudi Arabia and Canada, Tanaz lives in Mississauga, Ontario, with her family.

{Watch, Read, & Listen} The Trans List, The Black Flamingo, & Bronze Avery

♥ watch, read & listen is a weekly feature where I share and recommend
my current movie, book, music and podcast obsessions every monday. ♥

Watch: The Trans List 🌈

The Trans List explores the range of experiences lived by Americans who identify as transgender (an umbrella term for people whose gender identity does not conform to that typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth). No two experiences of trans people are exactly alike. Transgender, transsexual, gender-queer, bi-gender, and non-binary are just a few of the multitude of self-identifiers in the trans community. This film gives a platform to a diverse group of eleven individuals to tell their stories in their own words of their experience with identity, family, career, love, struggle and accomplishment.

Starring: Buck Angel, Kyler Broadus, Caroline Cossey, Lavern Cox, Alok Vaid-Menon

Read: The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta 🌈

A fierce coming-of-age verse novel about identity and the power of drag, from acclaimed UK poet and performer Dean Atta. Perfect for fans of Elizabeth Acevedo, Jason Reynolds, and Kacen Callender.

Michael is a mixed-race gay teen growing up in London. All his life, he’s navigated what it means to be Greek-Cypriot and Jamaican—but never quite feeling Greek or Black enough.

As he gets older, Michael’s coming out is only the start of learning who he is and where he fits in. When he discovers the Drag Society, he finally finds where he belongs—and the Black Flamingo is born.

Told with raw honesty, insight, and lyricism, this debut explores the layers of identity that make us who we are—and allow us to shine.

Listen: Boys! -- Bronze Avery 🌈

Please continue to support Black lives by signing petitions (BLM carrds update daily), donating if/when you can, volunteering with Black-owned/run orgs, shopping at Black-owned businesses, protesting, calling state/city officials and police commissioners/DA/AG, vote, and educating yourself and family members. Links to resources of petitions, action guides, and orgs to donate to can be found on the sidebar. 

Top Ten Books I Enjoyed But Rarely Talk About | Top Ten Tuesday Turns 10!

Jun 23, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This Tuesday is a special one as it marks the 10th anniversary of Top Ten Tuesday! There are two options to pick to do this week: 1.) Pick a past TTT topic you've done and update/redo it, or 2.) pick a past TTT topic you wish you'd done but didn't get a chance to do.

The topic I chose this week is...

Top Ten Books I Enjoyed But Rarely Talk About


Between the Stars and Sky by David James (🌈 - side characters)
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon 🌈
Pax Novis by Erica Cameron 🌈
The Prophecy by Jennifer L. Armentrout


The Melody of You and Me by M. Hollis 🌈
If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio 🌈
Daughters of Nri by Reni K. Amayo
The Ascent to Godhood by JY Yang 🌈
In the Vanishers' Palace by Aliette de Bodard 🌈

♥ Have you read any of the books mentioned above?
If you've participated, what TTT topic did you do? ♥

{Watch, Read, & Listen} Love, Victor, Felix Ever After, & Girl, Let's Talk To... Podcast

Jun 22, 2020

♥ watch, read & listen is a weekly feature where I share and recommend
my current movie, book, music and podcast obsessions every monday. ♥

Watch: Love, Victor on Hulu (2020- ) 🌈

Victor is a new student at Creekwood High School on his own journey of self-discovery, facing challenges at home, adjusting to a new city, and struggling with his sexual orientation.

Starring: Michael Cimino, Rachel Hilson, Anthony Turpel

Created by: Isaac Aptaker, Elizabeth Berger

Read: Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender 🌈

From Stonewall and Lambda Award–winning author Kacen Callender comes a revelatory YA novel about a transgender teen grappling with identity and self-discovery while falling in love for the first time.

Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.

When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle....

But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve.

I listened to the audiobook and IT. IS. EVERYTHING. Wow, this book. I can't recommend it enough. All the praises and starred reviews its received are all well-deserved. Please request it at your libraries, schools, recommend it to your local book sellers. Felix Ever After is required reading.

Listen: Girl, Let's Talk To... Podcast

Girl, Let's Talk To.. is a podcast that takes deep dives with Black romance authors. If you're in the market or wanting to step into the romance genre, I recommend listening to this podcast which features Black romance authors in each episode and book recommendations.

Please continue to support Black lives by signing petitions (the BLM Cardds updates daily), donating, volunteering at Black-owned/focused orgs, educating yourself and family members, making calls to your local officials and police commissioners/DA/AG, voting, and more. Resources of petitions and orgs to donate to can be found on the sidebar. 

Top Ten Books on My Summer 2020 TBR

Jun 16, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week's topic is...

Top Ten Books on My Summer TBR


Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliot (July 7) 🌈
Crowning Soul by Sahira Javaid (August 9)
The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho (June 23) 🌈


Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko (August 18)
The First Sister by Linden A. Lewis (August 4) 🌈
The Thirty Names of Night by Zeyn Joukhadar (May 19) 🌈


I'll Be the One by Layla Lee (June 16) 🌈
The Assignment by Liza M. Wiemer (August 25)
Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust (July 7) 🌈

The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska (August 4) 🌈

♥ What books are on your TBRs this summer?
Link yours below! ♥

{Watch, Read, & Listen} The Covington Witches, I'll Be the One, & Mr. Officer

Jun 15, 2020

♥ watch, read & listen is a weekly feature where I share and recommend
my current movie, book, music and podcast obsessions every monday. ♥

Watch: The Covington Witches

When magic is in your blood, life, love, lust, greed, obsession, and jealousy can get complicated. Meet the Covington Witches, an affluent family of African American witches, living, loving, and bewitching in Philadelphia, with strong family ties and stronger ancestral magic.

Starring: D.A. Manson, Kiyneeanay Dykes, Ozz Gomez

Read: I'll Be the One by Layla Lee 🌈

The world of K-Pop has never met a star like this. Debut author Lyla Lee delivers a deliciously fun, thoughtful rom-com celebrating confidence and body positivity—perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Julie Murphy.

Skye Shin has heard it all. Fat girls shouldn’t dance. Wear bright colors. Shouldn’t call attention to themselves. But Skye dreams of joining the glittering world of K-Pop, and to do that, she’s about to break all the rules that society, the media, and even her own mother, have set for girls like her.

She’ll challenge thousands of other performers in an internationally televised competition looking for the next K-pop star, and she’ll do it better than anyone else.

When Skye nails her audition, she’s immediately swept into a whirlwind of countless practices, shocking performances, and the drama that comes with reality TV. What she doesn’t count on are the highly fat-phobic beauty standards of the Korean pop entertainment industry, her sudden media fame and scrutiny, or the sparks that soon fly with her fellow competitor, Henry Cho.

But Skye has her sights on becoming the world’s first plus-sized K-pop star, and that means winning the competition—without losing herself.

Publication date: June 16, 2020

Listen: Mr. Officer -- Tee Grizzley x Queen Naija x Detroit Youth Choir

Please continue to support black lives. Sign petitions, donate (if/when you can), call your reps, vote, volunteer, educate yourself and family members, protest and more. Resources to petitions and orgs to donate to can be found on the sidebar. 

{Watch, Read, & Listen} The Flip Side, You Should See Me In a Crown, & 2020 Riots

Jun 8, 2020

♥ watch, read & listen is a weekly feature where I share and recommend
my current movie, book, music and podcast obsessions every monday. ♥

Watch: The Flip Side (2001)

In this satiric comedy-drama, a family of Filipino-Americans find themselves at odds as they simmer at different temperatures in the American melting pot. Mom and Dad Delacruz (Ester Pulido and Abe Pagtama) are a pair of immigrants from the Philippines who settled in Southern California some years ago and have raised three children, now aged from their late teens to early twenties. The Delacruzes are mindful of their cultural heritage but also try to blend in with the mainstream of American culture; their kids, however, each have a different view of where they fit into the world around them.

Starring: Verwin Gatpandan, Jose Saenz, Manong Peping Baclig

Director/Writer: Rod Pulido

Read: You Should See Me In a Crown by Leah Johnson 🌈

Liz Lighty has always believed she's too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it's okay -- Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.

But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz's plans come crashing down . . . until she's reminded of her school's scholarship for prom king and queen. There's nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she's willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.

The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She's smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?

Listen: 2020 Riots: How Many Times -- Trey Songz

This song really hits home and is a must-listen. Please take the time to sign petitions, donate if you can, make calls, vote and protest if you can to support Black Lives Matter. Links to ways you can support here, here, and much more can be found on the sidebar ➔
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