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The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna! [With Author Q&A!]

THIS BOOK IN THREE WORDS: Compelling, Captivating and Electrifying.

“The Gilded Ones” is about sixteen-year-old Deka who lives in dread of the blood ceremony, which will determine whether she will become a member of her village. But when her blood runs gold, the color of the impure, Deka knows she will face a consequence worse than death. So when an extraordinary woman comes to her with a choice, to stay in the village and surrender to her fate, or leave to battle for the emperor in an army of girls just like her, the decision she makes will change her life forever.

I immensely enjoyed reading “The Gilded ones”. Deka’s story was inspiring and a perfect read for those who are always trying to fit in. I loved how Deka began to discover who she was as the story went on, and I felt like I was journeying with her. Her story made me want to go for long walks by myself, but it also made me want to spend time with my family. [The best solution to that is to go for long walks with your family!]

All Deka wants is to be pure and accepted into her village, like the other girls who must go through the blood ceremony, but she gradually learns that she has the power to become so much more. [We ALL have the power to become so much more in our lives and I think this book will help people realize this and strive to succeed in their dreams!]

I love the message that no matter who you are or what you look like, you have the power to become whoever you want to be, and no-one else can take that from you. [I found this a very empowering thought!]

There are very [VERY!!!] few fantasy books I have read with all Black characters, so this book is very special to me as there are NOT ENOUGH books like it and I don’t know when I will find another! [Future Black writers! Write quicker! Future publishers of said Black writers! PUBLISH QUICKER! AND GENERALLY HURRY UP!]

I was one of the few lucky bloggers to get a coveted proof copy of “The Gilded ones”, and that made me feel honored. I have only been blogging for about half a year now so to get book proofs and be on blog tours is still an exiting thing for me.

Now it’s time for the TOTALLY AMAZING PART of this blog post!!!!!!!

PLEASE WELCOME, THE ONE, THE ONLY, NAMINA FORNAAAAAAAAA!!!!!! [Hosted by me and questions by me! Answers by Namina awesome face]

Author Q&A with Namina Forna

Q. Did you come up with the title? If you did, how did it come to you?

A. The title was a group effort. One of my editors—either Becky Walker or Kelsey Horton (darn it, I should’ve kept track), said something like The Gilded Ones, and I was like, huh… There it is, that’s the title!

Q. What do you think of the cover?

A. I love, love, LOVE the cover! I died when I first saw it, and honestly, I had this idea in my head of the cover being ominous—black and gold, maybe dripping golden blood or something. Then I saw the cover and I was like—WHOA, sold! I’m so glad my editor Kelsey had such a clear vision for it.

I think the cover gave me something I had not thought about with the book, the vulnerability of the girls. These are girls who have gone through a tremendous lot in their lives, but are still quite young. They could be any teenage girl you know, and the cover shows that.

Q. Would you rather be able to talk in any language you like, or have a pet unicorn?

A. ARRGH!!!! Such a difficult question!!!!! On one hand, I’d love to be able to talk in any language, but having a pet unicorn means that the world I would be living in was a magical world, and honestly, I’d rather live in one of those. Can I have the unicorn and the languages? I mean, why chose, right?

Q. How did you come up with the story of “The Gilded Ones”?

A. “The Gilded Ones” is a story that came in steps.

When I was a freshman in college, I started having dreams of a girl in golden armor, sword in hand about to kick butt. The dream always cut out before the girl could get to major ass-kicking and I always wondered what happened next.

At that time, I was going through a lot and needed a hero, so I think that girl was meant to be my subconscious telling me I would get through everything on my own. That I could be my own hero, instead of waiting for someone to rescue me.

Years later in film school, I’m in a class when these words trickle into my head. “I was nine years old when first I learned I could not die.” Those words would form the basis of the first iteration of “The Gilded Ones.”

Q. What type of animal IS Ixa? [Deka’s pet]

A. Hmmm… interesting question. On one hand, you could say Ixa is a shapeshifting water dragon. On the other hand, that’s not what he is at all. The mystery of Ixa, it’s one that unfurls over the course of the trilogy. You’ll just have to wait till book three to get a true sense of what he is.

Note from Host: BOOK TWO?!?! WHY DID I NOT KNOW THIS!?!?

Q. Dose Deka’s story have a metaphor for real life?

A. Very much so.

All across the world, girls, boys, and all genders of people are put into little boxes and told that they have to be a certain way, according to tradition, or religion, or culture, or what have you.  I wrote “The Gilded Ones” specifically for people who are stuck in situations where others create a narrative about who they are and enforce it on them.

Note from host: I’m crying. I don’t want it to be true, but I know it is.

The idea I examine in this book is that you have to decide who you are, absent what everyone tells you and tries to enforce upon you. No matter where you are in the world, ask questions, seek knowledge, and create your identity for yourself.

Only you have the power to be who you want to be. 

Q. Do you have a pet?

A. At the moment, no. But I have, at different stages in my life, had dogs, cats, goats, monkeys, and an alligator with a faulty snout (that needed to be hand-fed and therefore could not be released back into the wild).

When I get more settled, I would like to have a dog and two cats—the bald kind, preferably. I’ve always been a sucker for cats with a face only a mother could love. I’ll name one Meowbellehbelleh the 2nd (after my dearly departed first pet, RIP) and the other one Lucifer.

Note from host:I love those names. LOVE SO MUCH.

Q. Do you think there is anything we can learn from Deka? If so, what?

A. Ask questions. Live your truth, instead of living as other people expect you to. Be brave. Be you.

Q. Would you rather be able to talk to animals or have major Ninja skills?

A. Talk to animals, 100%

Honestly, I’m quite lazy, and having ninja skills seems like a lot of work. I’d rather leave it up to the professionals and live in a house filled with animals who have very saucy opinions about my books.

Q. Will you be writing another book?

A. Oh, definitely! “The Gilded Ones” is a trilogy, so you’ll be seeing a lot more of Deka and her friends. And I love creating fantasy worlds, so hopefully, you’ll also see a MG novel I have brewing that’s set completely underwater and features different types of mermaids—not just the fish ones, but the octopus, jellyfish, shrimp and turtle ones as well.

A lot’s coming down the pipeline; I can’t wait for you to see it!

Last note from host: . . . THAT. IS. AWESOME.

THANK YOU NAMINA FOR ANSWERING MY QUESTIONS!!!!!

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Midsummer's Mayhem by Rajani Larocca

This book in three words: Appetizing, luscious, scrumptious.

Mimi comes from a large family. Her Dad is a renowned food writer, her Mom is a successful businesswoman, and her three older siblings all have their own accomplishments. Easy to feel unnoticeable in such an impressive family! [I feel just like that, I’m the oldest of four siblings plus Mum and Dad, can you imagine what it’s like when we go on holiday? MAYHEM, PURE MAYHEM]

Mimi’s dream of becoming a celebrity chef while also proving she is not the least-talented member of the family looks possible when she discovers a contest at the new bakery in town. But when Mimi’s dad returns from a business trip, he’s mysteriously lost his honed sense of taste. Without his help, Mimi will never be able to bake something impressive enough to propel her to gastronomic fame. But then Mimi meets Vik, a boy who brings her to parts of the forest she’s never seen. And as her adventure begins, she learns that in life, not everything is sweet.

I was hooked on the first page, like a fish on a hook, like jam stuck to cream on a delicious, sweet, crumbly scone, [fresh from the oven] on a hot summers day with not a cloud in the. . . wait, what was I talking about? Why am I talking about scones? Oh, yes, blog post, scrumptious book, awesome cover, scones, blah blah blah. . .

I loved how determined Mimi is, from the beginning, you can tell how brave she is, and she is set on her dream and nothing will stop her.

I want to be a chef when I’m older, maybe not a celebrity, just a normal chef in a normal cafe, so it felt nice thinking that me and Mimi have something in common.

I would recommend this book to everyone!! It a perfect read and great to read when either a)In the car, b) Waiting for your scones to bake or c) you want something to do.

Happy reading! [Or baking, I’d really like a scone right now]

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Why re-reading books is important / With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

OK, first of all, I would like to wish you all a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

If you follow my blog [you should, I’m an awesome person who loves eating cake and reading about Black kids like me] or have been looking through all the blog posts I have done in the past, you would have seen a post I did on “With the fire on high” by Elizabeth Acevedo [WHO IS AMAZING and has equally amazing hair], and I have no shame in admitting that I am not proud of that post. [In short, RUBBISH]

It was short and bland and I didn’t write about how it made me feal or why I enjoyed it, so today, I’m going to fix that and I also want to talk about why it is good to re-read books.

[Story time!]

For the past few days, I have been dreaming. Dreaming about who I could be and where I could go when I’m old enough.

And reading about characters who want to do that too, I find, is really helpful to me , it helps me feel that I CAN do this and I WILL succeed.

So I started looking for a book like that, first in book stores and then on my own book shelf, there was one book that my eyes kept coming back to but I was unsure, I think I just didn’t want to re-read it, mostly because it was a signed hardback and I didn’t want it to get battered about because that normally happens when I keep re-reading books, but also because I was not sure it was the right book for me at that moment [I was wrong]

So for the next few days [About 20 minutes probably but that’s not the point], I was [sort of] lost, I didn’t know what to read, and I kept looking back to that book, so finally, I was so fed up that I bought myself a paperback copy of that book and ever since then it has not left my side. [And it probably never will]

“With the fire on high” By Elizabeth Acevedo is an amazing book to read and re-read. Emoni [Pronounced E-Mah-Nee] is seventeen year old mother still at school, and the the one place she can stop worrying about her grandmother, daughter, and being short of money is the kitchen where she has [as her grandmother says] “Magical hands”.

In my mind, Emoni is living my dream, she wants to go to college, she has a job [though it doesn’t pay very well], she has proper friends, and she is learning culinary arts from a real chef [I’m home schooled, we have just moved house, and we have not got a proper kitchen yet].

Re-reading books is important [in my view] for three reasons:

  1. You understand the story better. You might think you understand it the first time round, but once you read it again, you might read bits that you didn’t read before or realize what a word means in that sentence that you didn’t get before.
  2. You can think more deeply about what the whole story means to YOU.
  3. It’s fun.

I would recommend “With the fire on high” By Elizabeth Acevedo to all wanna-be chefs and cooks, and to all the people out there who just don’t know what to read.

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💜Five Brilliant Books I Want to Read January to May 2020!!!!! 💜

Book One: January 2020

Wonder Woman: Warbringer: The Graphic Novel based on a book by Leigh Bardugo, adapted by Louise Simonson. Illustrated by Kit Seaton

She will become one of the world’s greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning.

My mum is always telling me to be strong, like Wonder Woman, and I love her for that. My dad took me to see the Wonder Woman movie when I was 12, which was amazing. And I have always thought that Wonder Woman was really cool.

And now they have made a Graphic Novel! I can’t wait to read about Diana’s story, but I’m also really looking forward to reading about the Black woman who is next to Diana on the cover.

Book Two: February 2020

The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow 

Can a girl who risks her life for books and an alien who loves forbidden pop music work together to save humanity?

I love the idea of a character who would risk their life for books and I really want to read this to my younger brother, who loves looking for mythical beasts. I know he would like a book like this, and I love looking for stars and I love road trips, so this book sounds perfect!

I’m looking forward to reading about the alien who loves pop music because I like pop too. [If my brother is reading this then: “DUDE!! I AM NOT AN ALIEN!!!! OK!!??”

Book Three: March 2020

A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell

Authors include Elizabeth Acevedo💜💙, Amerie, Dhonielle Clayton, Jalissa Corrie, Somaiya Daud, Charlotte Davis, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Justina Ireland, Danny Lore, L.L. McKinney, Danielle Paige, Rebecca Roanhorse, Karen Strong, Ashley Woodfolk, and Ibi Zoboi.

This is a collection of awesome short stories by awesome sounding people, that explore the Black experience through fantasy, science fiction and magic.

I love this idea, and I love the cover SO MUCH!!

I have read Elizabeth Acevedo and I think her books are amazing! [I have also met her and she is a really nice woman and I hope I will be able to meet her again soon! P.S. If Elizabeth Acevedo is reading this then: “HI!!!!!!!!!!”]

I’m also looking forward to reading the other authors work and choosing the ones I like most!! [Which by the sound of it WILL BE VERY VERY HARD!!]

Book Four: April 2020

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

” Nothing is more important than loyalty. But what if you’ve sworn to protect the one you were born to destroy?”

The cover of this book is simply beautiful. I love all the patterns and how kind the face is in the middle.

I’m looking forward to reading about Tarisai, she sounds like a cool Black character who wants to choose her own path [like me!!!!]

Book Five: May 2020

Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron

“After her father goes missing, 12-year-old Maya uncovers that he is the keeper of the gateway between our world and The Dark. To find her father, she’ll need to unlock her own powers and fight a horde of creatures set on starting a war. “

POWER COVER OF AWESOME-NESS!!!!! HOW CAN YOU NOT WANT TO READ THAT!!!????

This book looks like a really fun read, and I think that my mum or brother will love it too!

I’m looking forward to reading about the powers Maya unlocks and why she has such a cool staff on the cover.

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"Daughters of Nri" by Reni K Amayo

ILOVEITSOMUCHTHECOVERISAWAZINGIAMSOHAPPYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!

OK, I’m calm now, lets try this again.

The book is about twin sisters Naala [The wild one], who has grown up seeking adventure in her quiet and small village, and Sinai [the quiet one] resides in the cold and political palace of Nri.

They have never met, separated at birth [a price paid to ensure their survival] by the same man who brought the gods to their knees. They have the same face, the same blood and the same magic that was thought to have vanished years ago with the lost gods.

If I say any more, I’ll ruin the book for you, I’ve said too much already.

This a really awesome book to read, and I recommend reading this in bed while listing to whale song and curling up in about 18 soft and fluffy blankets.

Just before I leave I wold like to say one last peace of wisdom . . .

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL HAPPY READING!!!!

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“Somebody Give This Heart a Pen” by Sophia Thakur.

Lets just say that I LOVE the title!

The poems are totally AMAZING, and I loved reading them.

It’s a real quick read and is beautifully written, and I’m planning on reading it to my brother soon! [It’s a good book to read out loud, I’ve been trying it out in my room and the words just roll off my tongue]

I looked up Sophia Thakur on YouTube and found her reading some of her work, and was amazed at how powerful her poems are. I loved listening to her. [I would definitely suggest you listen to “Sophia Thakur – Poetry For The Mandem: FEDS ” I promise that you will NOT regret it].

If Sophia is reading this, PLEASE WRITE ANOTHER BOOK!!!!

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Bookshelf Reader’s All Black Believathon [November] Books

BELIEVATHON IS AWESOME!!!!!!!!

I wanted to do an all Black Believathon because Black has always felt like an important part of my life [I’m dual heritage, my mum is White and my dad is Black].

I love reading books by Black writers with Black characters, it makes me feel like I have friends that understand how I feel about race and racism and identity. And it helps me feel stronger about who I want to be in life.

BOOKSHELF READERS BELIEVATHON BOOKS [All by Black writers] :

A book with Magic – “M.F.K.” by Nilah Magruder

Beautiful story, amazing art, and awesome magic. I NEED MORE NILAH! PLEASE! I NEED MORE!

“A fantastic adventure following the story of Abbie, a deaf girl with a mysterious power, who is traveling across a vast desert to scatter her mother’s ashes. In a world of sleeping gods, a broken government, and a fragile peace held in the hands of the corrupt, one youth must find the strength to stand up against evil and save humanity.”

A book with Myth – “Pet” by Akwaeke Emezi

I have tried to read this before but couldn’t manage it, but when I finally read it I fell in love. I found it amazing how Akwaeke Emezi made the book feel so real, it felt to me that she made some important points about speaking out and being heard.

“There are no more monsters anymore, or so the children in the city of Lucille are taught. With doting parents and a best friend named Redemption, Jam has grown up with this lesson all her life. But when she meets Pet, a creature made of horns and colours and claws, who emerges from one of her mother’s paintings and a drop of Jam’s blood, she must reconsider what she’s been told. “

A book set in Real Life – “Ghost” by Jason Reynolds

I love Jason Reynolds other work. [“LONG WAY DOWN” is amazing I have posted a review here ] It is a really good book and it has a really amazing story.

” Ghost. Lu. Patina. Sunny. Four kids from wildly different backgrounds with personalities that are explosive when they clash. But they are also four kids chosen for an elite middle school track team—a team that could qualify them for the Junior Olympics if they can get their acts together. “

A book set in the past – “Freedom” by Catherine Johnson

My mum recommended it to me and after reading the first page I just didn’t want to stop. It’s sad, but a wonderful story and I really enjoyed it.

” Nathaniel doesn’t want to move to England with his master’s family, leaving behind his mother and sister on the Jamaican plantation. But then he remembers what his mother told him: once a slave sets foot on English soil, they’re free.  “

A book with a strong Friendship – “Jackpot” by Nic Stone

The cover is amazing, and the story makes me think about who I want to be. [I’m thirteen and I have NO plans whatsoever for my future [yet]. It’s an amazing story and was a joy to read.

“Meet Rico: high school senior and afternoon-shift cashier at the Gas ‘n’ Go, who after school and work races home to take care of her younger brother. Every. Single. Day. When Rico sells a jackpot-winning lotto ticket, she thinks maybe her luck will finally change, but only if she–with some assistance from her popular and wildly rich classmate Zan–can find the ticket holder who hasn’t claimed the prize .”

A creepy book – “Ghost boys” by Jewell Parker Rhodes

I read a sample on my kindle ages ago and have been after it ever since. [It’s a really sad book but beautifuly written.]

” Twelve-year-old Jerome is shot by a police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real threat. As a ghost, he observes the devastation that’s been unleashed on his family and community in the wake of what they see as an unjust and brutal killing. “

A book with an animal character – “The Tunnels Below” by Nadine Willd-Plamer

I just love the cover so much. The story was full of adventure and fun, and I loved reading it!

” On her twelfth birthday, the last thing Cecilia expected was to find herself lost in a labyrinth of tunnels beneath London. Afraid, alone, but determined, she sets to work on her escape, and soon realises that perhaps there is a reason she and the mysterious marble her sister gave her have ended up so far from home. “

A children’s classic – “The Tales of Uncle Remus: The adventures of Brer Rabbit

Wonderful and really funny! I loved reading some of the stories to my little brother and mum.

Easy to read out loud and good as a bedtime read.

” Whether he is besting Brer Fox or sneaking into Mr. Man’s garden, Brer Rabbit is always teaching a valuable lesson. These classic tales are full of wit, humor, and creativity, and Julius Lester brings an added contemporary sense to these forty-eight timeless stories. “

A personal favourite – “Funky Chickens” by Benjamin Zephaniah

This was wonderful read! It was so funny and it gave me lots of ideas for my own poems [none of them very good].

“Enter the crazy world of rap poet Benjamin Zephaniah!
A reissue of the wonderfully irreverent collection of poetry for young people, touching on anything from vegetables to the Queen and from sewage to the sun. There’s plenty of humour as well as poems on racism, pollution and the murder of a cat. “

A seasonal book – “Race to the frozen north” by Catherine Johnson

Absolutely amazing!!!!!!! I loved reading this and would recommend it to all ages!

“Matthew Henson was simply an ordinary man. That was, until Commander Robert E. Peary entered his life, and offered him a chance at true adventure. Henson would become navigator, craftsman, translator, and right-hand man on a treacherous journey to the North Pole. Defying the odds and the many prejudices that faced him to become a true pioneer. “