All Posts By

Melissa Nikohl

  • Books I Can’t Wait to Read in 2022

    BOOKS I CAN’T WAIT TO READ IN 2022
    BOOKS I CAN’T WAIT TO READ IN 2022

    These are some of the books I’m excited to read in 2022! Since I have not read them yet, the descriptions of the books are not my own. If I love them, you’ll find them on a future book list.

    Just a friendly reminder, I am an Amazon and Bookshop Affiliate, so if you decided to use the links below to purchase the books, I do get a commission. The price of the books does not increase for you. ❤️

    The Maid by Nita Prose

    Adult Mystery/Thriller

    “A Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.” Read more here: Penguin Random House

    Released: 1/4/22

    Amazon Link

    Black Girls Must Be Magic by Jayne Allen

    Adult Fiction

    Sequel to Black Girls Must Die Exhausted

    “In this highly anticipated second installment in the Black Girls Must Die Exhausted series, Tabitha Walker copes with more of life’s challenges and a happy surprise—a baby—with a little help and lots of love from friends old and new.” Read more here: Harper Collins

    Expected Release: 2/1/22

    Amazon Link

    Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow

    Adult Historical Fiction

    “A spellbinding debut novel tracing three generations of a Southern Black family and one daughter’s discovery that she has the power to change her family’s legacy.” Read more here: Penguin Random House

    Expected Release: 4/5/22

    Amazon Link

    Amari and the Great Game by B.B. Alston

    Middle-Grade Fantasy

    Sequel to Amari and the Night Brothers

    “After finding her brother and saving the entire supernatural world, Amari Peters is convinced her first full summer as a Junior Agent will be a breeze.

    But between the fearsome new Head Minister’s strict anti-magician agenda, fierce Junior Agent rivalries, and her brother Quinton’s curse steadily worsening, Amari’s plate is full. So when the secretive League of Magicians offers her a chance to stand up for magiciankind as its new leader, she declines. She’s got enough to worry about!

    The Great Game is both mysterious and deadly, but among the winner’s magical rewards is Quinton’s last hope—so how can Amari refuse?” Read more here: Harper Collins Publishers

    Expected Release: 5/31/22

    Amazon Link

    Bloodmarked by Tracy Deonn

    Young Adult Fantasy 

    Sequel to Legendborn

    “All Bree wanted was to uncover the truth behind her mother’s death. So she infiltrated the Legendborn Order, a secret society descended from King Arthur’s knights—only to discover her own ancestral power. 

    But the ancient war between demons and the Order is rising to a deadly peak. And Nick, the Legendborn boy Bree fell in love with, has been kidnapped.

    Bree wants to fight, but the Regents who rule the Order won’t let her. To them, she is an unknown girl with unheard-of power, and as the living anchor for the spell that preserves the Legendborn cycle, she must be protected.

    When the Regents reveal they will do whatever it takes to hide the war, Bree and her friends must go on the run to rescue Nick themselves. But enemies are everywhere, Bree’s powers are unpredictable and dangerous, and she can’t escape her growing attraction to Selwyn, the mage sworn to protect Nick until death.

    If Bree has any hope of saving herself and the people she loves, she must learn to control her powers from the ancestors who wielded them first—without losing herself in the process.” Read more here: Simon and Schuster

    Expected Release: 11/8/22

    Amazon Link

     

    Vinyl Moon by Mahogany L. Browne

    Young Adult Coming of Age (Poetry)

    “A teen girl hiding the scars of a past relationship finds home and healing in the words of strong Black writers. A beautiful sophomore novel from a critically acclaimed author and poet that explores how words have the power to shape and uplift our world even in the midst of pain.” Read more here: Penguin Random House

    Released: 1/11/22

    Amazon Link

    Ashes of Gold by J. Elle

    Young Adult Fantasy

    Sequel to Wings of Gold

    “Rue has no memory of how she ended up locked in a basement prison without her magic or her allies. But she’s a girl from the East Row. And girls from the East Row don’t give up. Girls from the East Row pick themselves back up when they fall. Girls from the East Row break themselves out.

    But reuniting with her friends is only half the battle. When she finds them again, Rue makes a vow: she will find a way to return the magic that the Chancellor has stolen from her father’s people. Yet even on Yiyo Peak, Rue is a misfit—with half a foot back in Houston and half a heart that is human as well as god, she’s not sure she’s the right person to lead the fight to reclaim a glorious past.

    When a betrayal sends her into a tailspin, Rue must decide who to trust and how to be the leader that her people deserve…because if she doesn’t, it isn’t just Yiyo that will be destroyed—it will be Rue herself.” Read more here: Simon and Schuster

    Released: 1/11/22

    Amazon Link

     

    Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

    Adult Historical Fiction

    “In this moving debut novel, two estranged siblings must set aside their differences to deal with their mother’s death and her hidden past—a journey of discovery that takes them from the Caribbean to London to California and ends with her famous black cake.” Read more here: Penguin Random House

    Expected Release: 2/1/22

    Amazon Link

    Homicide and Halo-Halo by Mia P. Manansala

    Adult Mystery/Thriller

    Sequel to Arsenic and Adobo

    “Things are heating up for Lila Macapagal. Not in her love life, which she insists on keeping nonexistent despite the attention of two very eligible bachelors. Or her professional life, since she can’t bring herself to open her new café after the unpleasantness that occurred a few months ago at her aunt’s Filipino restaurant, Tita Rosie’s Kitchen. No, things are heating up quite literally, since summer, her least favorite season, has just started.

    To add to her feelings of sticky unease, Lila’s little town of Shady Palms has resurrected the Miss Teen Shady Palms Beauty Pageant, which she won many years ago—a fact that serves as a wedge between Lila and her cousin slash rival, Bernadette. But when the head judge of the pageant is murdered and Bernadette becomes the main suspect, the two must put aside their differences and solve the case—because it looks like one of them might be next.” Read more here: Penguin Random House

    Expected Release: 2/8/22

    Amazon Link

    Wahala by Nikki May

    Adult Mystery/Thriller

    “An incisive and exhilarating debut novel following three Anglo-Nigerian best friends and the lethally glamorous fourth woman who infiltrates their group—the most unforgettable girls since Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha.” Read more here: Harper Collins

    Released: 1/11/22

    Amazon Link

    Turning by Joy L. Smith

    Young Adult Novel 

    “In this raw, searingly honest debut young adult novel, a former aspiring ballerina must confront her past in order to move forward from a devastating fall that leaves her without the use of her legs.” Read more here: Simon and Schuster

    Expected Release: 3/1/22

    Amazon Link

     

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  • 29 Picture Books to Celebrate Black History Month

    Check out these picture books for Black History Month. This book list has 29 books that can help children and yourself highlight some of the known and relatively unknown members of the Black community.

    29 PICTURE BOOKS TO CELEBRATE BLACK HISTORY MONTH

    This book list has 29 books that can help children and yourself highlight some of the known and relatively unknown members of the Black community. 

    I intentionally picked these books because many of us tend to focus on the same few Black figures, and this list allows us to explore members of the community who deserve the same recognition.

    I’ve included a brief overview of their accomplishments but, I encourage you to learn more about each person.

    And remember these books can be shared all year long! Black history is American history.

    Just a friendly reminder, I am an Amazon and Bookshop Affiliate, so if you decided to use the links below to purchase the books, I do get a commission. The price of the books does not change for you. ❤️

    Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson

    1875-1950

    Accomplishments: Known as the Father of Black History Month, Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson was a historian who wanted to increase the study of African American History in the United States. 

    In 1912, he became the second Black American to receive a doctorate from Harvard University.

    In 1916, Woodson published the Journal of Negro History to help teachers with Black American studies. 

    In February of 1926, Dr. Woodson created Negro History Week, later (1976) turning into Black History Month. 

    His most popular book, The Mis-Education of the Negro was published in 1933. Buy on Amazon

    Florence Mills

    1896-1927

    Accomplishments: Florence Mills, also known as the Queen of Happiness was an international singer, dancer, actor, and prominent figure during the Harlem Renaissance. 

    Florence was given her first Broadway part at the age of four and was the first Black woman to headline on Broadway. 

    She was featured in Vogue in 1925 and was the first Black person featured on a full page. Florence Mills was also the first Black artist to sing at New York’s Aeolian Hall. Buy on Amazon

    Arturo Alfonso Schomburg

    1874-1938

    Accomplishments: Born in Puerto Rico, Arturo Schomburg was an Afro-Latino historian and curator of African-American artifacts. 

    Schomburg collected more than 10,000 artifacts that showed the achievements of Black people and members of the African diaspora.

    Schomburg was also a prominent figure during the Harlem Renaissance. Buy on Amazon

    Marian Anderson

    1897-1993

    Accomplishments: Marian Anderson is known for being a very talented opera singer. In 1955, Marian Anderson was the first African American to perform at the New York Metropolitan Opera. She performed the national anthem at President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration In 1961. And in 1963 President Kennedy honored her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Buy on Amazon

    Bass Reeves

    1838-1910

    Accomplishments: Bass Reeves was the first African American to become a U.S. Marshal in the West. He arrested more than 3,000 outlaws. Buy on Amazon

    Barbara Jordan

    1936-1996

    Accomplishments: Barbara Jordan was a congresswoman from Texas and was the first African-American congresswoman to come from the south.⁣ She is known for her powerful voice; her most well-known speech was her opening speech for Richard Nixon’s impeachment investigation. Buy on Amazon

    Charles “Charlie” Luther Sifford

    1922-2015 

    Accomplishments: Charles “Charlie” Luther Sifford was a professional golfer. He won United Golf Association National Negro Open six times. Sifford became the first African-American to play on the PGA Tour in 1961. In 2014, President Barack Obama awarded Charlie Sifford with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Buy on Amazon

    Raven Wilkinson

    1935-2018

    Accomplishments: Raven Wilkinson was a ballerina from Harlem who began dancing when she was nine. 

    In 1955, Raven signed a contract to dance with Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo of New York making her the first African American ballerina to join a major classical ballet troupe.

    Once Wilkinson retired, she began teaching ballet at the Harlem School of Arts and later became a mentor to Misty Copeland. Buy on Amazon

    Gordon Parks

    1912-2006

    Accomplishments: Gordon Parks was a photographer, film director, musician, and writer.  

    In 1969 Gordon directed The Learning Tree, making him the first African American to direct a major Hollywood film. 

    In 1970, Gordon Parks was part of the start up of Essence magazine and served as the editorial director for the first three years of its publication. 

    In 1971 Parks directed the box-office hit, Shaft.

    He would also become the first African American photographer at Vogue and Life magazines. Buy on Amazon

    Mabel Fairbanks

    1915-2001

    Accomplishments: Mabel Fairbanks was a Black-Native American figure skater. 

    As a young woman, Mabel was denied opportunities to compete in competitions and qualifying events for the Olympics because she was Black. 

    So, Mabel performed in shows nationally and internationally until she retired.  

    After she retired from skating, she became a coach and coached popular skaters like Scott Hamilton and Kristi Yamaguchi. 

    In 1997, she would become the first Black-Native American woman inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame. Buy on Amazon

    Ethel L. Payne 

    1911-1991

    Accomplishments: Ethel L. Payne was a journalist from the South Side of Chicago who would become the “First Lady of the Black Press.”⁣⁣⁣

    ⁣⁣⁣As a young woman, she began writing letters to newspapers about discrimination against African Americans, fueling her growing interest in politics. ⁣⁣⁣

    In 1945, she would travel to Japan as a reporter for a newspaper, where she would document her observations. Her writings about the African American soldiers’ experiences in World War II would put her name in households all over the United States. ⁣⁣⁣

    Ethel Payne was the first Black woman to join the White House Press corps and the first Black woman to be a commentator on a national radio and television network. 

    In 1982 Ethel L. Payne received the National Association of Black Journalists, Lifetime Achievement Award. Buy on Amazon

    Elizabeth Lizzie Jennings

    1827-1901

    Accomplishments: About 100 years before Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks, there was a school teacher named Elizabeth “Lizzie” Jennings. 

    In 1854, Lizzie tried boarding a streetcar in New York City but was denied a seat and brutally attacked. ⁣⁣

    Lizzie sued the company, driver, and conductor of the streetcar and won. 

    Her case helped the movement for equality on public transportation in New York. Buy on Amazon

    Effa Manley

    1897-1981

    Accomplishments: Effa Manley was the co-owner of the Negro League Team, the Newark Eagles. ⁣Under her ownership, In 1946 the Newark Eagles won the Negro World Series.

    Manley was also a civil rights activist and was the treasurer for the New Jersey NAACP.

    In 2006, Effa Manley became the first woman inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Buy on Amazon

    Jelly Roll Morton

    1890-1941

    Accomplishments: Jelly Roll Morton, Born Ferdinand Joseph Lamothe was an early jazz musician in the 1920s who is known by some as the creator of jazz.  

    Historians believe he may not have been the creator of jazz, but he was the first jazz musician to put his arrangements on paper.

     

    Augusta Savage

    1892-1962

    Accomplishments: Augusta Savage was a sculptor during the Harlem Renaissance.

    In 1934 Augusta was elected to the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors, making her the first Black woman to join the organization. 

    In 1934, she opened an art studio in Harlem called The Savage Studio of Arts and Crafts. It would later become the Harlem Community Art Center. At her studio, she taught many artists including Jacob Lawerence and Gwendolyn Knight.

    In 1939, Savage was one of two Black artists asked to present their art at the New York World’s Fair.

    Today, you can find the Gamin, one of her most famous busts, at the Smithsonian Museum. Buy on Amazon

    Melba Liston

    1926-1999

    Accomplishments: Melba Liston was a self-taught trombonist, arranger, and composer from Kansas City, Missouri.

    In the 1940s she was the first woman trombonist to play in big bands.

    As a trombonist, she worked with Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Billie Holiday, and Quincy Jones. 

    She was also an arranger for Motown and composed music for films.

    In the 1970s she was the director of popular music studies at the Jamaica Institute of Music. Buy on Amazon

    Fannie Lou Hamer

    1917-1977

    Accomplishments: Fannie Lou Hamer was a civil rights leader determined to make a change. 

    In the 1960s, Fannie Lou Hamer worked in Mississippi as a voting rights activist. 

    In 1964 she spoke at the Democratic National Convention as a representative of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP). The MFDP’s purpose was to challenge Mississippis’s all-white Democratic Party, which did not represent the rights and needs of its Black constituents.

    This televised speech led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

    Although she lost, in 1964 Hamer ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, to show other Black Americans that they can run for office. Buy on Amazon

    Bill Traylor

    1853-1949

    Accomplishments: Born enslaved, Bill Traylor discovered his love of art at a late age. When Traylor was 85 he began drawing. Using pencils and paint, he drew his artwork on the streets of Montgomery, Alabama. 

    In 1940 he had his first exhibit, Bill Traylor: People’s Artist. Buy on Amazon

    George Moses Horton

    1798-1884

    Accomplishments: George Moses Horton was a poet and was the first southern African American man to be published.

    Horton published his first book of poetry in 1829, called the Hope of Liberty. He would go on to publish three more books. 

    In 1978 Chatham County, North Carolina declared June 28 as George Moses Horton day.

    He is also the namesake of George Horton Middle School in North Carolina.

    George Moses Horton was inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 1996. Buy on Amazon

    Althea Gibson

    1927-2003

    Accomplishments: Althea Gibson was a fierce tennis player and golfer. 

    In 1950 Althea was the first Black tennis player to compete in the U.S. National Championship.

    In 1951 she was the first Black player to compete at Wimbledon.

    Gibson won the French Open in 1956 and 1957-1958 she won Wimbledon and The U.S. Open two years in a row. 

    Making Althea the first Black tennis player to win The French Open, Wimbledon, and The U.S. Open.

    ⁣She also would become the first Black golfer in the Ladies Professional Golf Association in 1964.

    In 1971, Gibson was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Buy on Amazon

    Vivien Thomas

    1910-1985

    Accomplishments: Vivien Thomas was a medical researcher during the Great Depression that had dreams of going to medical school. He worked hard to save money to go to school but lost all his savings during the Great Depression. In 1930, he became a laboratory assistant that quickly excelled in the medical field. 

    With his research and inventions, in 1944 he assisted in the first open-heart surgery of a child. He helped create what is known as the Blalock-Taussig shunt. Blalock and Taussig never gave credit to Thomas when the procedure was documented in a medical journal. To this day, it is still commonly known as the Blalock-Taussig shunt.

    Thomas was presented with an honorary doctorate from Johns Hopkins University in 1976.

    In 2004, HBO released a film about Vivien Thomas called, Something the Lord Made.

    Mamie Johnson

    1935-2017

    Accomplishments: Mamie “Peanut” Johnson was the first female pitcher to play in the Negro Leagues and only one of three women in the league.

    Mamie Johnson began playing for the Indianapolis Clowns in 1953. She pitched and played second base, eventually replacing her teammate Hank Aaron. 

    Johnson credited Satchel Paige for perfecting her curveball. 

    In 2008 Johnson and other Negro League players were drafted by MLB franchises. Mamie Johnson was drafted by the Washington Nationals. Buy on Amazon

    Junius G. Groves

    1859-1925

    Accomplishments: Today, we would consider Junius G. Groves an agricultural scientist. In one year, he grew around twelve million potatoes. Rightfully earning the name, The Potato King. 

    His success in farming would make him one of the wealthiest Black Americans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

    He was so successful, Union Pacific Railroad built a railroad spur (similar to a stop) to his property because of how many potatoes he shipped from his property. 

    He also built a community center, church, and golf course (for Black citizens) in Edwardsville, Kansas. Buy on Amazon

    Raye Montague

    1935-2018

    Raye Montague was an engineer that worked for the U.S. Navy.

    During the Vietnam War, she was given a month to design a warship. Montague completed it in 19 hours.

    In 1972 Raye Montague received the U.S. Navy’s Meritorious Civilian Service Award for her design.

    Raye Montague also taught at U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland 

    Known as the U.S. Navy Hidden Figure, many of her ship designs are still used today. Buy on Amazon

    Lewis H. Michaux

    1895-1976

    Accomplishments: Lewis H. Michaux was a civil rights activist and owned the National Memorial African Bookstore (1932-1974) in Harlem. 

    The bookstore not only sold books but was a meeting place for some of the most notable African Americans at this time. Muhammed Ali, W.E.B. Dubois, Langston Hughes, Earth Kitt, and others were regular visitors of The National Memorial African Bookstore. 

    Malcolm X was known to give his speeches at the bookstore. 

    Lewis Michaux’s bookstore would become the most prominent place to find books by and about African Americans during this time. Buy on Amazon

    Mary Fields

    1832-1914

    Accomplishments: In 1895, Mary Fields also known as Stagecoach Mary would become the first Black woman to become a mail carrier. Her official title was a Star Route Carrier, and she would travel by stagecoach during the harsh weather of Montana. 

    Mary did whatever it took to ensure her cargo was delivered safely. She fought off wolves, thieves, and had no problem traveling the dangerous mountain trails.⁣⁣

    Stagecoach Mary was a Star Route Carrier for 8 years, quitting in her early 70s. Buy on Amazon

    Patricia Bath

    1942-2019

    Accomplishments: Dr. Patricia Bath was an inventor and ophthalmologist. 

    Dr. Bath became the first African American to finish an ophthalmology residency in 1973. 

    In 1983 she helped create UCLA’s ophthalmology residency program and would become the chair of the program. Being the first woman to hold that position in the U.S. 

    In 1986 Dr. Patricia Bath invented the Laserphaco Probe, a device to treat cataracts. In 1988 she received a patent for her invention and she became the first female Black doctor to receive a patent for a medical device. She also has patents in Japan, Europe, and Canada. Buy on Amazon

    James Van Der Zee

    1886-1983

    Accomplishments: James Van Der Zee was a photographer known for his photos from the Harlem Renaissance. Van Der Zee photographed celebrities and people around Harlem.  

    In 1969, the Metropolitan Museum of Art displayed an exhibition called Harlem on My Mind, that showcased Jame Van Der Zee’s work. 

    In 1979 he was awarded the Living Legacy Award by President Jimmy Carter and the recipient of the International Black Photographers. Buy on Amazon


    Bessie Smith 

    1894-1937 

    Accomplishments: Bessie Smith was a blues singer known as the Empress of the Blues.

    Bessie worked with many performers, including Ma Rainey, who helped Smith navigate the vaudeville circuit. 

    Bessie’s unique voice helped her become a successful recording artist, Downhearted Blues was one of her first tracks and sold about 800,000 copies.

    By the end of the 1920s, Bessie Smith would become one of the highest-paid Black performers at that time. 

    This list was so much fun to create! I hope you found some new faces to recognize all year long!

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  • YA Mystery/Thriller Books to Read in 2022

    YA MYSTERY/THRILLER BOOKS TO READ IN 2022

    YA MYSTERY/THRILLER BOOKS TO READ IN 2022

    These YA Mystery/Thriller novels are must-reads for 2022! I’ve said this a few times, but I’m extremely jealous of the variety of Young Adult novels available today. I remember as a kid jumping straight from middle grade to adult novels because of the lack of books available. 

    On this list, you’ll find ghosts, murder, and mysteries to solve. Enjoy!

    Just a friendly reminder, I am an Amazon Affiliate, so if you decided to use the links below to purchase the books, I do get a commission.

    I’m also a Bookshop Affiliate. Bookshop works with local independent bookstores to deliver books to your door. You can shop this entire list on Bookshop here.

    Firekeeper’s Daughter

    After a family tragedy, Daunis decides to attend a local school for her first year of college. I’ve come across very few YA novels with natives (Daunis is half native) as the main character. 

    Goodreads gives out awards each year and I was disappointed when my choice, Ace of Spades, didn’t win the Young Adult category. So, I wanted to read the book that beat out my favorite. And Firekeeper’s Daughter rightfully won. It’s really good yall! 

    Firekeeper’s Daughter Bookshop Affiliate Link

    White Smoke 

    Marigold and her family leave Cali to move to the midwest after her mother gets an opportunity to move to a new house for free. When they pull up to their new home, something is instantly off. The people in this neighborhood aren’t welcoming and are a little creepy. Marigold and her family find out quickly that this golden opportunity to start over, may not be so golden after all. 

    White Smoke Bookshop Affiliate Link

    The Taking of Jake Livingston

    So this book is more on the Thriller/Paranormal side. It wasn’t what I expected, but I couldn’t put it down. Jake can see dead people. They are all pretty harmless until he meets one who left the living world after committing an unspeakable act. Producers love turning books into movies and I would love to see this novel on the big screen.

    The Taking of Jake Livingston Bookshop Affiliate Link

    One of Us is Lying

    Detention isn’t supposed to be deadly. But after detention at Bayview High a classmate is found dead. And he didn’t die of natural causes, he was murdered. The victim was set to reveal some juicy secrets about his classmates before his untimely death. Now, everyone in the room is a suspect. I thought the ending was surprising! There is a sequel, One of Us Is Next, but I haven’t had a chance to read it just yet. 

    Everything on film these days is from a book, and you can check out the tv show based on this book on PeacockTV. I haven’t seen the show, so let me know how it is in the comments!

    One of Us is Lying Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Ace of Spades

    Devon and Chiamaka attend the prestigious Niveus Private Academy. These talented seniors expect their last year of high school to go as planned, but when they start receiving texts, exposing their darkest secrets, they realize that their senior year is nothing like they expected. The author, Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé is a fan of Gossip Girl and she does a great job of using her love to create this YA thriller.

    Ace of Spades Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Monday’s not coming 

    ​​Claudia has been gone all summer. On her first day of school, she expects to see her best friend Monday. When she arrives at school, Monday is a no-show, and nobody but Claudia seems to notice. Claudia instantly knows something is wrong and begins looking into her disappearance immediately. And she doesn’t stop until she finds Monday.

    Monday’s Not Coming Bookshop Affiliate Link

    A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder

    If you’re looking for a murder mystery, then this is the book for you.

    Everyone thinks that high school senior Andie Bell was killed by her boyfriend, Sal. But Pip, a student from the same high school, doesn’t believe that’s true. So, for a school project, she decides to dig up the truth.

    I couldn’t put this book down! Since I’ve read this book, it has turned into a trilogy, Good Girl, Bad Blood and As good As Dead. You’ll definitely want to finish the series after reading the first book.

    A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder Bookshop Affiliate Link

    There are a few more books I may add to the list. I want to finish reading them first! If they’re added, I share them on IG first! Be sure to follow me.  

    Let me know in the comments if there’s a YA Mystery/Thriller that I should check out next year!

    Related Book Lists

  • Books to Read in 2022

    BOOKS TO READ IN 2022

    BOOKS TO READ IN 2022

    At the beginning of the year I always start fresh with a brand new book list. I usually add new releases of course, but my favorite books to add are books I wasn’t able to read the previous year. 

    So I created this list to help you create a great reading list for 2022! These books are my favorite books I read in 2021. Think of this as a in case you missed it list. 

    On this list you’ll find nonfiction, YA novels, middle grade novels, and picture books perfect for 2022!

    Just a friendly reminder, I am an Amazon Affiliate, so if you decided to use the links below to purchase the books, I do get a commission.

    I’m also a Bookshop Affiliate. Bookshop works with local independent bookstores to deliver books to your door. You can shop this entire list on Bookshop here.

    Just as I Am

    Before Cicely Tyson left us, she gave us a gift, her story. And it is a beautiful autobiography. I listened to the audiobook, and I was cracking up at the stories about her as a little girl. She was a feisty thang. 

    We walk with her through motherhood, marriage, and how she fell into acting. If you’re into Hollywood gossip, Ms. Tyson has all the stories. She knew everybody! From Marilyn Monroe to Denzel Washington, she had a story about them all. My favorite story was about Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet. 

    This book is easily one of my favorite books of all time, so much so after I listened to the audiobook, I bought a physical copy. And it’s a BEAUTIFUL BOOK! Bookshop Affiliate Link.

    Bag Man: The Wild Crimes, Audacious Cover-up, and Spectacular Downfall of a Brazen Crook in the White House

    I love Rachel Maddow! Her storytelling is top-notch. So, after I listened to The Bag Man Podcast, I had to read the book. Bag Man is all about a vice president that many of us millennials don’t know.  

    Spiro Agnew was the 39th Vice President of the U.S. and served with Richard Nixon. He was forced to resign after being investigated for criminal conspiracy, bribery, extortion, and tax fraud. Once you read this book or listen to Maddow’s Podcast, you find similarities with someone who recently lived in the White House. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Making Our Way Home: The Great Migration and the Black American Dream 

    Making Our Way Home is a beautiful book written by the incredibly smart and talented Blair Imani. I’d never heard of Imani until I read this book, but she creates a lot of content on Youtube about politics and history. 

    This book covers different issues within the Black community during the Great Migration. It also highlights the experience of some well-known members of the Black community. This is a book to read from the library and then own in your home. Bookshop Affiliate Link

     

    Arsenic and Adobo (A Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery)

    Arsenic and Adobe is a super cute (yes cute!) murder mystery book that I couldn’t put down! Lila has just moved back home after her failed relationship and she starts working at her family’s restaurant. One afternoon, a familiar face shows up for a meal, but suddenly drops dead. And of course, Lila is the number one suspect. 

    There’s a sequel that is expected to be released in 2022! Bookshop Affiliate Link

    SLAY

    Slay is a YA novel about a Black game developer (Kiera) who wants to create a safe space for Black gamers from around the world. So she develops a virtual reality game called SLAY.

    Kiera is a senior in high school who is struggling to manage her duties as a developer, her complicated relationship with her boyfriend Malcolm, and the big decision of college.

    ⁣I loved that this book took me back to my senior year and had me reflect on the choices I made that year. 

    And I loved how they highlighted that Black Girls can be gamers too! Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Legendborn 

    Just months prior, Bree’s mother dies. She jumps at an opportunity to attend the University of North Carolina-Capel Hill’s summer program for high schoolers. But instantly, it isn’t what she thought it would be. Magic is the last thing Bree expects to encounter.

    Bree finds herself in the middle of a secret society of demon hunters. Yup, demon hunters.

    Legenborn is set to be a series, and I definitely see why. It is a page-turner full of action and teenage drama! Bookshop Affiliate Link.

    Ace of Spades

    Devon and Chiamaka attend the prestigious Niveus Private Academy. These talented seniors expect their last year of high school to go as planned, but when they start receiving texts, exposing their darkest secrets, they realize that their senior year is nothing like they expected. The author, Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé is a fan of Gossip Girl and she does a great job of using her love to create this YA thriller. Bookshop Affiliate Link

     

    Amari and the Night Brothers (Supernatural Investigations, 1)

    It’s pretty obvious why Marsai Martin is turning this book into a movie.⁣

    Amari & The Night Brothers is the first book in the Supernatural Investigations Trilogy.⁣

    ⁣Amari’s brother is missing, and she’s just gotten in big trouble at school.⁣

    ⁣When Amari receives a nomination to attend a summer camp where her brother worked, she jumps at the opportunity to attend, intending to find out what happened to her brother.⁣

    Amari has no idea that this secret summer camp is going to throw her into the supernatural world.⁣

    Every time I read a fantastic middle-grade novel, I wish I still had my 5th graders! Ugh! They would have loved this book!⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Clean Getaway

    Scoob and his Grandma go on an unforgettable road trip that doesn’t end as expected.⁣

    ⁣Scoob learns that his Grandma and Grandpa took the same road trip years earlier with the help of The Green Book.⁣

    ⁣I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It had excellent historical references that could lead to more research and discussions with your students or children. There are so many things you could do with this book. If I still had 5th graders. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    The Awakening of Malcolm X

    In The Awakening of Malcolm X, we meet him minutes before he’s sent to prison. ⁣

    Throughout the book, we go back in time to learn about Malcolm X’s past. 

    The flashbacks are great for readers who haven’t read his autobiography because they give readers the background information they need to understand who Malcolm X was before we went to prison.⁣

    And the ending was perfect because it was just the beginning. ⁣

    If this book is your introduction to Malcolm X, it will leave you wanting more. ⁣

    His daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz and Tiffany D. Jackson did a phenomenal job putting this novel together. ⁣Just wow.❤ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Stella’s Stellar Hair 

    When I saw the cover I immediately knew that the illustrator was the same illustrator from Honeysmoke…so I was already sold.⁣

    And I’m glad I picked it up!⁣

    Stella doesn’t know what to do with her hair!⁣

    So, Stella hops on her hoverboard to get help from her Aunties…who live on different planets in the solar system. 🌌⁣

    My favorite part of the book is the back, where we get facts about the planets and what hairstyles would be best for each planet. ⁣

    So cute!⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Every Night is Pizza Night 

    Pipo thinks Pizza is the best meal in the whole wide world. And she thinks that everyone thinks the same thing until she cooks dinner with her neighbors. Pipo learns that everyone has their favorite meal that they can eat over and over again! I love books about food and this is a book I need to add to my PICTURE BOOKS ABOUT FOOD FROM AROUND THE WORLD book list. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Help Wanted: Must Love Books

    Shailey loves bedtime stories with her dad. ⁣

    When her dad gets a new job and no longer has time for her, she FIRES him!🤣⁣

    And then she puts up a Help Wanted sign.🤣⁣

    She begins interviewing our favorite storybook characters to fill the position, but it doesn’t work out so well!⁣

    My students were yelling and jumping in their seats when they saw a character they knew.⁣

    They also started rolling their eyes at Shailey’s pickiness.⁣

    They loved this book! ⁣

    Of course, the book ended happily ever after!⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    THIS IS MY ROOM! (NO TIGERS ALLOWED)

    Do you love books with unexpected endings?⁣

    I do!⁣

    I know I say this ALL the time, but this book is super cute!

    I’m definitely adding it to my books as gifts list.⁣

    Jojo decides this is the night she is sleeping on her own.⁣

    But, she gets some unexpected guests that make it really hard for her to stay out of her big sister’s room!⁣

    My students and I used this book to work on making predictions and my students had so much fun. They were shocked at the ending…literally, their mouths were open!😲⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    That’s my list! I hope some of them caught your eye and you’ll bring in the new year with a great book! 

    What were your favorite reads of 2021? Let me know in the comments below.

    Related Book Lists

  • Houston Hosts 2021 Black Bloggers

    Houston Hosts 2021 Black Bloggers

    Houston Hosts 2021 Black Bloggers

    Almost a month ago, I got a chance to go to Houston for a cultural event of a lifetime. Some dope bloggers in Houston invited bloggers from all over the United States to share with us some of their favorite Black businesses. The event started Friday afternoon and was jammed packed with activities until Sunday evening. 

    The hosts kept saying Houston was full, but I felt like this trip was a way to convince us to move. So it’s definitely on my radar now. 

    In this post, I’ll share everything we did during our Houston Hosts Black Bloggers 2021 experience.

    Friday

    We kicked off the weekend with lunch at Micos Hot Chicken. Unfortunately, I was late, so I only got to nibble, but it was good! Their chicken sandwiches with coleslaw were the perfect mix of texture and flavor. 

    Kale Me Crazy Houston

    Our second stop was Kale Me Crazy, a restaurant that offers healthy alternatives, perfect for after a workout of a light meal that won’t make you feel heavy. They also have a variety of lattes and health shots to get that energy boost you need. 

    After taking a quick break at our hotel, we got picked up in our Alto and headed to Kindred Stories. You’ve seen my booklists! You know I was in heaven! It was the cutest bookstore and the best place for happy hour. We had drinks and snacks and, of course, bought books. 

    After happy hour we went to the famous Lucille’s. We all met upstairs to have a special chef’s dinner just for us. We got to meet the owner (who was celebrating the ownership of the land) and the chef. It was three courses of yumminess, and drinks came with each meal.

    Saturday

    We met at Inner Me Studios for a morning pole workout session and breakfast. Donuts were from Glazed The Doughnut Cafe. They had every kind of donut you could think of and more!

    Glazed the Doughnut Cafe

    After our workout, we got changed hopped on the bus to start our Nom Noir Cultural Tour. This tour was amazing! And I’ve done food tours nationally and internationally. 

    Our first stop was The Breakfast Klub. The line was around the corner, but we were able to jump the line and head straight to our table. We had fried chicken, grits, spinach and mushroom omelet, and these fried muffins.

    Next, we headed over to a Jamaican spot called, The Reggae Hut. We had plantains, meat patties, jerk chicken, rice and peas, and shrimp.

    The Reggae Hut Houston

    We drove around the famous Third Ward and got a history lesson. We also stopped by (we stayed on the bus) Beyonce’s childhood home and continued on our way. 

    Our next stop was Ray’s BBQ Shack, where we had bbq, of course! 

    We continued our tour through Third Ward and got to see the George Floyd Street Mural.

    Project Row Houses was our next stop. The nonprofit turned row houses into mini museums. Each house hosts an artist’s work for several months.

    Project Row Houses

    I don’t think our tour would be complete if we didn’t stop and get some sweet treats! Right around the corner from the Project Row Houses is a fantastic bakery called Crumbville. The Blueberries & Cream Cheesecake was to die for yall!

    Saturday Night

    We only made two stops Saturday night, but they were the icing on the cake. 

    First, we had some bomb bbq at Fainmous BBQ. And I’m picky about my bbq yall. I have pitmasters in my family that can run circles around a lot of bbq joints. But I was thoroughly impressed by Tennessee-style bbq. The food was on point, including the sides! Oh, and Makers Mark was there to serve us up some delicious cocktails. And I love a good cocktail.

    Fainmous BBQ

    After dinner, we went to Kiss. It’s a nice-sized lounge with great food (yes, we ate again) and great drinks. 90s r&b is my thing, and the DJ played all the hits. 

    Sunday

    First of all, I’m so glad I took off work Monday because Sunday Funday was, as the kids would say, lit! 

    We started our day at 5015 Bar. They had a DJ, bomb drinks, and good food! Then, I got a chance to put some non-Texas friends on to Ranch Water. I completely forgot it was a Texas thing! 

    We left the bar and went to My Southern Brand’s event, where we had catfish and spaghetti! I’m from St. Louis, and everyone from the Midwest knows that catfish and spaghetti are a paired meal (argue with yo mama). The catfish was fried to perfection! 

    The Gumbo Club

    My flight was delayed, so I could make one more stop before heading back to Dallas. Candle-making class at Love and Make. I love candles, so this was a super fun experience, especially blending our fragrances.

    And that’s it, folks. That’s my rundown of the Houston Host Black Bloggers 2021. It was a beautiful, community-building experience that indeed highlighted some of the best Black businesses in Houston.

    Make sure you follow all the super talented hosts on Instagram: Black Girls Who BrunchThe Queen of YumDash of JazzMy Southern BrandBless the Belly, and Houston Hosts

    Our sponsors showed us so much love too! Thank you, H-E-B (I can’t wait to see you in Dallas). Alto rideshare (use code MNIKOHL10 for $10 off your first two rides) drove us everywhere in Houston, and I don’t know if you know about Houston traffic, but they were a lifesaver. And finally, Houston First and Black Restaurant Week.

  • Fantasy Novels About Black Girls With Magic

    FANTASY NOVELS ABOUT BLACK GIRLS WITH MAGIC

    FANTASY NOVELS ABOUT BLACK GIRLS WITH MAGIC

    Are you ready for some Black Girl Magic? Check out these Fantasy novels featuring Black girls. I know I would have loved the fantasy genre much more had these books been available when I was a kid. There is a mix of Young Adult and Middle-Grade novels on this list.

    Enjoy these novels all about Black girls who own their magic!

    Just a friendly reminder, I am an Amazon Affiliate, so if you decided to use the links below to purchase the books, I do get a commission. The price of the books does not change for you. ❤️

    I’m also a Bookshop Affiliate. Bookshop works with local independent bookstores to deliver books to your door. You can shop this entire list on Bookshop here.

    Wings of Ebony (Young Adult)

    H-Town where you at? Rue hasn’t had the easiest life growing up in Houston, especially after witnessing her mother’s murder. But, Rue soon finds out why her life was full of challenges. 

    Rue finds out she is half-god and half-human, and if that isn’t enough, she gets snatched from her life in Houston to live on the hidden island Ghizon. A magical city full of people just like her.

    Rue has had enough and breaks Ghizon’s biggest law, and returns to Houston to check on her sister. But, unfortunately, when she goes back to her neighborhood, it is not the neighborhood she remembers. So Rue tries to find a way to save her sister and her community before more lives are ruined. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Root Magic (Middle Grades)

    This middle-grade novel takes us back in time (the 1960s) and to the coast of South Carolina, home of the Gullah. The Turner family has just lost their matriarch, and twins Jez and Jay are struggling to deal with this tremendous loss. 

    Their hometown is full of evil, and it has nothing to do with the long history of root magic that runs in the Turner family. 

    My millennial friends will instantly connect to this book if they remember the Nickelodeon show, Gullah Gullah Island. Root Magic is a great historical fiction book perfect for middle grades. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Legendborn (Young Adult) 

    I couldn’t put this one down!⁣

    Legendborn is a young adult fantasy novel that is an absolute page-turner. ⁣

    ⁣It’s been a few days since I’ve finished it, and I still don’t have the words to give this book the review it deserves. ⁣

    ⁣But here’s the rundown.⁣

    ⁣Bree Matthews just lost her mother in an accident. So when she gets the opportunity to attend a program for high schoolers at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, she gladly accepts. ⁣

    ⁣Her first night on campus throws her into a world she never knew existed. And it forces her to recognize some strange abilities that she didn’t know she had.⁣

    Legendborn is my favorite book on this list! Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Amari and the Night Brothers (Middle Grades)

    It’s pretty obvious why Marsai Martin is turning this book into a movie.⁣

    Amari & The Night Brothers is the first book in the Supernatural Investigations Trilogy.⁣

    ⁣Amari’s brother is missing, and she’s just gotten in big trouble at school.⁣

    ⁣When Amari receives a nomination to attend a summer camp where her brother worked, she jumps at the opportunity to attend, intending to find out what happened to her brother.⁣

    Amari has no idea that this secret summer camp is going to throw her into the supernatural world.⁣

    Every time I read a fantastic middle-grade novel, I wish I still had my 5th graders! Ugh! They would have love this book!⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    The Gilded Ones (Young Adult)

    When we meet Deka, she is anxiously waiting on the blood ceremony to determine if she is pure and a rightful member of her village. But, of course, her blood is determined to be impure, and Deka is in fear of her life. 

    Deka thinks her life is over until she meets a stranger who makes her an offer she really can’t refuse. Deka gets an opportunity to leave her village and become a warrior and fight to save the empire with a group of girls just like her. 

    I really enjoyed The Gilded Ones. It had major Lord of the Ring vibes.  Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Children of Blood and Bone (Young Adult)

    Children of Blood and Bone is the first novel in the Legacy of Orïsha Series.

    It was on my to-read list forever, and my only regret is that I didn’t read it sooner. 

    Zélie lives in Orïsha, a village that was once full of magic and love. Unfortunately, magic and life were taken away by a merciless king, leaving Zélie without a mother and the village unrecognizable.

    When Zélie gets the opportunity to bring magic back to her home, she does everything in her power to make sure her village returns to that once place it once was. 

    I’m a big audiobook fan, and I believe that all books aren’t meant for audio; this was one of them. You’ll want a physical copy to enjoy it the best. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Blood Like Magic (Young Adult)

    Voya Thomas is an indecisive teen witch from Canada waiting for her calling (her powers). Voya cannot get her powers until she completes the task assigned by her ancestors. Voya soon finds out that her completion of this assignment doesn’t just impact her, but also the future of her family. Indecisive Voya is forced to make a decision, something that she doesn’t know how to do. 

    There is a sequel expected to be released in 2022. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    A Song Below Water   (Young Adult)

    Effie and Tavia are best friends (more like sisters) that live in Portland, Oregon. Tavia is a siren who tries daily not to reveal her mythical ability to the world. Effie struggles with understanding her identity in a world that doesn’t like people who are different. Eventually, Tavia’s and Effie’s secrets are revealed and no one is prepared for what to do next. 

    It took me a few times to get into this book, but once I was hooked, I couldn’t put it down. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel A Chorus Rises. Its focus in on Effie and Tavia’s enemy Naema. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Raybearer (Young Adult)

    Tarisai is pretty much abandoned by her mother, The Lady. But this doesn’t stop The Lady from shipping Tarisai off to the capital with a murderous task to complete. Tarisai must decide if she’ll betray the mother she never really had or follow her own path. 

    I mentioned that another book on this list isn’t a great audiobook, Raybearer isn’t either. There are too many details that you have to pay close attention to. I recommend reading a hard copy of this book. 

    The sequel, The Redemptor is on my to read list. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    This book list took me months to complete because I pride myself in reading all the books I post. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I do. 

    Related Posts

  • Long Distance Running Must Haves

    Long Distance Running Tips

    Long Distance Running Tips

    If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I started training for the Dallas BMW Half Marathon in late July. It’s been a challenging journey, and now that I’m towards the end, I wanted to share some of my long-distance running must-haves. These things have helped make my long-distance running experience safer and more comfortable.

    Body Glide– This has been the newest addition to my list. A few weeks ago, I started chafing on one of my shorter runs (6 miles). Yeah…I never want to experience that again. I used it for a 10-mile run and had no issues. 

    Compression Socks- When I ran the Tour De Fleurs Quarter Marathon, I felt a little rub in my shoes that I knew could eventually cause some problems. I knew I had to dump the Hanes and upgrade to something better. And I fell in love as soon as I put them on! I literally wear them around the house sometimes just because they make my feet feel so good!


    Gu Energy Gels– Gels work best for me to keep me fueled up on my longer runs. I tried them out with shorter runs near my home first, because fuel supplements can do different things to people, specifically stomach things lol. 

    Running Belt– I keep all my odds and ends in my belt. My favorite part about this one is that it comes with two water bottles. One holds water, and the other has my electrolyte water.


    Nuun Sport Electrolyte Tablets– These are my two favorite flavors that help keep me hydrated. I use the Lemon Chamomile flavor for after-workouts. 


    Cap Light– This light is so I can see during my early morning runs. I know there are brighter ones out there, but this worked well for me. I could see a safe distance in front of me without blinding passing runners. The light can also fold down so you can clip it to your running belt too!


    Safety Lights– These lights are so bikers and other runners can see me. When it’s pitch black, you need all the light you can get!

    Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments! Happy running!

  • Diverse Young Adult Novels

    Check out these new young adult novels perfect for any high school library. These books are perfect for any high school novel study.

    Check out these new young adult novels perfect for any high school library. These books are perfect for any high school novel study.

    I wish these young adult novels were available when I was a teen. Honestly, there are so many diverse YA novels available now, I’m extremely jealous. While there is still room for improvement, finding diverse characters in young adult novels isn’t as hard as it was 20 years ago.

    Here are a few books I’m loving on! Check out the audiobook versions too, they are equally amazing. 

    I will update this list as I find more books! Follow me on Instagram to get updates and ideas for other picture books! If there’s a book you think I should add, comment below!

    Just a friendly reminder, I am an Amazon Affiliate, so if you decided to use the links below to purchase the books, I do get a commission. The price of the books does not change for you. ❤️

    I’m also a Bookshop Affiliate. Bookshop works with local independent bookstores to deliver books to your door. You can shop this entire list on Bookshop here.

    Legendborn

    Just months prior, Bree’s mother dies. She jumps at an opportunity to attend the University of North Carolina-Capel Hill’s summer program for high schoolers. But instantly, it isn’t what she thought it would be. Magic is the last thing Bree expects to encounter.

    Bree finds herself in the middle of a secret society of demon hunters. Yup, demon hunters.

    Legenborn is set to be a series, and I definitely see why. It is a page-turner full of action and teenage drama!

    Legendborn Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Felix Ever After

    Kids these days are so lucky to see so many diverse characters in their books. I know there’s still room to grow, but I’m so jealous of all the options they have!⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    When I was a teen, I gave up on YA novels because of the lack of diversity and jumped straight into adult novels.⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    Felix Ever After is about a transgender teen questioning his identity and dealing with being harassed online.⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    This book made me so happy that social media was not a thing when I was in high school. Whew…the drama!⁣⁣

    Felix Ever After Bookshop Affiliate Link

    SLAY

    Slay is a YA novel about a Black game developer (Kiera) who wants to create a safe space for Black gamers from around the world. So she develops a virtual reality game called SLAY.

    Kiera is a senior in high school who is struggling to manage her duties as a developer, her complicated relationship with her boyfriend Malcolm, and the big decision of college.⁣

    Yall know I love it when I can make connections to a book, and I made so many in just the first few chapters.⁣

    Just like Kiera, I got accepted to the HBCU Spelman. I decided not to attend because of financial reasons. But, this book brought back memories I haven’t thought about in years. And a lot of what-ifs and wondering.⁣

    This book took me back…but in a good way.

    Slay Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Parachutes

    Have you heard of a parachute? Parachutes are Asian teenagers who are sent to live in homes in the U.S. while their parents (wealthy, of course) stay in Asia. Claire Wang’s parents decide to pull her out of her school in Shanghai and ship her off to California.

    Dani De La Cruz and her mother are Claire’s Californian host family. Dani and Claire’s differences make it hard to live with each other under the same roof. Until forced, they struggle to find common ground.

    Parachutes Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Monday’s Not Coming

    Claudia has been gone all summer. On her first day of school, she expects to see her best friend Monday. When she arrives at school, Monday is a no-show, and nobody but Claudia seems to notice. Claudia instantly knows something is wrong and begins looking into her disappearance immediately. And she doesn’t stop until she finds Monday.

    Monday’s Not Coming Bookshop Affiliate Link

    With Fire on High

    I checked the book out at least three times but never had time to read it.⁣

    Omg! Once I started it, I couldn’t put it down.⁣

    Emoni is a teen mom who got pregnant her freshman year of high school. But, this doesn’t stop her from continuing school or finding her passion, cooking. Her talents in the kitchen provide her with an opportunity to go on a culinary trip to Spain.

    With Fire on High made me smile, cry, and laugh!

    It had it all!⁣

    With Fire on High Bookshop Affiliate Link

    A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder

    If you’re looking for a murder mystery, then this is the book for you.

    Everyone thinks that high school senior Andie Bell was killed by her boyfriend, Sal. But Pip, a student from the same high school, doesn’t believe that’s true. So, for a school project, she decides to dig up the truth.

    I couldn’t put this book down! And, there’s a sequel, Good Girl, Bad Blood, that I can’t wait to read! Do yourself a favor and grab the audiobook; the narrators are so good!

    A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Dear Haiti, Love Alaine

    Alaine is a Haitian American from Miami. When she gets suspended from school, her parents ship her off to her family in Haiti.

    As part of her suspension, Alaine has to work at her aunt’s nonprofit to complete a school project,

    While in Haiti, Alaine learns a lot about herself and family secrets that were never meant to be uncovered.

    Alaine quickly learns that her time in Haiti will not be a vacation.

    Dear Haiti, Love Alaine Bookshop Affiliate Link

    The Black Kids

    I judge books by their covers.⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    And The Black Kids didn’t disappoint.⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    When The Black Kids begins, we are taken back to 1992 in LA. Tensions are high after the murder of Latasha Harlins and the beating of Rodney King.⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    Ashley Bennett is in the middle of two worlds, never fully belonging to either side. ⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    This book weaves history into the imperfect life of Ashley. Who sometimes is hard to like. But all teenagers are hard to like sometimes🤣. And really, she is just a kid trying to figure it all out. ⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    Some of the decisions she makes get herself and others in trouble.⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    I found myself saying girllll,a few times while reading. Ashley raised my pressure just a bit.🤦🏾‍♀️ ⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    I loved the big and tiny references. Flo-Jo and her nails were my favorite. ⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    The best part about references is that they pull you deeper into books.⁣⁣

    The author, Christina Hammons Reed, surely had no idea how 2020ish this book would be. ⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣
    Sadly, The Black Kids could be the same story if it took place in 2020.⁣⁣
    Just replace Latasha Harlins with Breonna Taylor and Rodney King with George Floyd.⁣⁣

    The Black Kids Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Add these young adult novels to your to-read list!  I’m reliving my teenage years through these amazing YA novels that take me back to those crazy teenage years. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

    Related Posts

  • Picture Books with Diverse Characters

    Check out these picture books with diverse characters! This booklist will help you add some diversity to your classroom or home library.

    Check out these picture books with diverse characters! This booklist will help you add some diversity to your classroom or home library.

    Diversity matters! It is important that kids not only see themselves in books but that they see others. This booklist will help add diversity to your classroom or home library.

    I will update this list as I find more books! Follow me on Instagram to get updates and ideas for other picture books! If there’s a book you think I should add, comment below!

    Just a friendly reminder, I am an Amazon Affiliate, so if you decided to use the links below to purchase the books, I do get a commission. The price of the books does not change for you. ❤️

    I’m also a Bookshop Affiliate. Bookshop works with local independent bookstores to deliver books to your door. You can shop this entire list on Bookshop here.

    This is My Room! (No Tigers Allowed)

    Do you love books with unexpected endings?⁣

    I do!⁣

    I know I say this ALL the time, but this book is super cute!⁣

    I’m definitely adding it to my books as gifts list.⁣

    Jojo decides this is the night she is sleeping on her own.⁣

    But, she gets some unexpected guests that make it really hard for her to stay out of her big sister’s room!⁣

    We used this book to work on making predictions and my students had so much fun. They were shocked at the ending…literally, their mouths were open!😲⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Federico and the Wolf

    I don’t know why I love different variations of Little Red Riding Hood, but I do!⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣

    Federico has to go visit his Abuelo but his grandfather looks a little strange. 

    If you have non Spanish speakers in your class, this is an excellent book to use to teach context clues. Spanish words are sprinkled throughout the book and there are great context clues to help readers figure out what those words mean.⁣⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    ⁣Help Wanted, Must Love Books

    Shailey loves bedtime stories with her dad. ⁣

    When her dad gets a new job and no longer has time for her, she FIRES him!🤣⁣

    And then she puts up a Help Wanted sign.🤣⁣

    She begins interviewing our favorite storybook characters to fill the position, but it doesn’t work out so well!⁣

    My students were yelling and jumping in their seats when they saw a character they knew.⁣

    They also started rolling their eyes at Shailey’s pickiness.⁣

    They loved this book! ⁣

    Of course, the book ended happily ever after!⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    My Rainy Day Rocket Ship

    What do you like to do on a rainy day?⁣

    That’s what I asked my students after we read this book. ⁣

    This week we are focusing on making connections and this was an excellent book to make students make text to self connections!⁣

    It was a great way to get to know my students more too!⁣

    My Rainy Day Rocket Ship is about a little boy who uses his imagination to have a blast on a rainy day!⁣

    This book reminded me of playing indoors with my brothers on rainy days. We had a gigantic playroom that we would destroy!🤣⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Stella’s Stellar Hair

    When I saw the cover I immediately knew that the illustrator was the same illustrator from Honeysmoke…so I was already sold.⁣

    And I’m glad I picked it up!⁣

    Stella doesn’t know what to do with her hair!⁣

    So, Stella hops on her hoverboard to get help from her Aunties…who live on different planets in the solar system. 🌌⁣

    My favorite part of the book is the back, where we get facts about the planets and what hairstyles would be best for each planet. ⁣

    So cute!⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    The Paper Kingdom

    Daniel’s parents have a night job. When they are unable to find a babysitter, he has to go with them. Using his imagination, he’s able to turn a boring office into his very own kingdom. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Saturday

    Ava is super excited that it’s Saturday because she gets to spend time with her mom. Her mom works Sunday through Friday, and this is the only day of the week they can be together. Everything starts great and then BOOM, there’s one bump after another in their plans. I mean, their day was jacked y’all.⁣⁣
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    But, Ava realizes that the most important thing was that they got to spend time together. They recognize that although the day was not what they wanted, it was still a good day. ⁣⁣Bookshop Affiliate Link
    ⁣⁣

    The Boy From the Dragon Palace

    The Boy From the Dragon Palace is a Japanese folktale and it’s really good!

    One day a flower seller receives a gift from the Dragon King, it’s a snot-nosed boy. 😂⁣

    The snot-nosed 🤧 boy brings the man everything he needs and wants until he crosses the line!⁣

    After I read this book with my students we talked about needs vs. wants. I read it around Christmas and a lot of my students talked about making their lists just a little bit shorter lol. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Lucia the Luchadora

    When Lucia is told that girls can’t be a luchador (wrestler), she proves that girls are not just made of sugar and spice.⁣⁣⁣
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    This book is full of figurative language and gives plenty of opportunities to teach context clues. ⁣⁣⁣Bookshop Affiliate Link

    If you like this collection of books, check out my Ultimate List of Diverse Picture books! You’ll never run out of books to read!

    Are you looking for diverse picture books to add to your classroom or home library? Do you want to add diverse picture books to your collection, but you don’t have time to search for them? Are you a teacher that wants to use more diverse texts but are unsure how they will fit in with your units or curriculum? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need this list! #diversepicturebooks #diverseclassroomlibraries #diversebooksforkids

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  • Diverse Middle Grade Novels

    Are you looking for diverse middle grade books? Then, this list is perfect. It has a great selection of books for students in upper elementary and middle school. Check them out!

    DIVERSE MIDDLE GRADE NOVELS

    If you’re looking for a diverse group of middle-grade books (books geared for kids in upper elementary to middle school), then this is the list for you!

    The characters in these books are from all around the world and allow readers to experience a variety of cultures!

    I will update this list as I find more books! Follow me on Instagram to get updates and ideas for other picture books! If there’s a book you think I should add, comment below!

    Just a friendly reminder, I am an Amazon Affiliate, so if you decided to use the links below to purchase the books, I do get a commission. The price of the books does not change for you. ❤️

    I’m also a Bookshop Affiliate. Bookshop works with local independent bookstores to deliver books to your door. You can shop this entire list on Bookshop here.

    Front Desk

    Mia and her family have recently moved to the United States from China.⁣

    ⁣An opportunity arises for her family to manage a motel in Anaheim, California, where Mia decides to run the front desk. The front desk isn’t exactly Mia’s first job, but it the first job she keeps longer than a few hours.⁣

    ⁣What I enjoyed most about this book is that it encourages the reader to stand up for what is right. If I had fifth graders this school year, this would be our first novel of the year. ⁣

    ⁣Mia’s job at the front desk is a nonstop adventure! Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Clean Getaway

    Scoob and his Grandma go on an unforgettable road trip that doesn’t end as expected.⁣

    ⁣Scoob learns that his Grandma and Grandpa took the same road trip years earlier with the help of The Green Book.⁣

    ⁣I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It had excellent historical references that could lead to more research and discussions with your students or children. There are so many things you could do with this book. If I still had 5th graders. Bookshop Affiliate Link

    The night diary

    The Night Diary takes place in 1947 right after India was free from Britain’s rule. India is divided, and part of the country becomes Pakistan. Nisha is half Hindu and half Muslim and must leave her home because it has become too dangerous for Muslims. ⁣

    ⁣We follow Nisha and her family, who are now refugees as they make the dangerous trip to their new home. This is another book on this list with historical references that will leave kids wanting to learn more.  Bookshop Affiliate Link

    New Kid

    Class Act

    Jordan Banks and Drew Ellis are just a few of the Black students at RAD Middle School. Some days they fit right in, while other days they feel like outcasts. Through the ups and downs, they learn how to build friendships and survive middle school. 

    New Kid: Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Class Act: Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Save Me a Seat


    Most of my students LOVE Save Me a Seat. Ravi. who is a star student back home struggles is new to the United States and Joe is misunderstood. Both are outcasts, but find that they have a lot more in common than they think.  I pair physical copies of the book with the audiobook. Bookshop Affiliate Link

     

    The Only Black Girls In Town

    Alberta is a true California girl who loves to surf. She’s also the only Black girl in her class. That is until a new family moves into the bed and breakfast next door. Edie and her mother move to the small beach town for a fresh start. Alberta and Edie don’t have much in common but connect instantly. 

    While hanging out in the B&B, they find some old journals that contain a mystery that they have to solve! Bookshop Affiliate Link

     

    Becoming Muhammad Ali

    In Becoming Muhammad Ali, young Ali and his best friend Lucky take turns telling the story about how one of the greatest boxers in the world came to be. ⁣

    ⁣One of my former students is a boxer and would LOVE this book. I’m emailed his parents to let them know about this book!

    ⁣Although this book takes us back to the 50s, Ali’s childhood experiences are easily relatable to kids today.⁣

    ⁣Also included are moments in history like the murder of Emmitt Till and the integration of schools.⁣

    ⁣We also learn how Ali struggled in school because he was dyslexic.⁣

    ⁣Becoming Muhammad Ali is written in prose and verse. It was fitting that Ali’s voice is written as poetry, making his voice stand out. ⁣ Bookshop Affiliate Link

    Isaiah Dunn is My Hero

    This is such a sweet story about 10 year Isaiah who is learning how to navigate life without his dad. ⁣

    I loved how so many adults in his life supported his interests and looked out for his well-being.⁣

    His relationship with the barber is soooooo sweet. I may or may not have teared up reading one of their interactions.  Bookshop Affiliate Link

    These middle grade novels will make a perfect addition to any home or classroom library!

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