Lately With Lila June 2022 | [Insert Kamala Harris Saying “We Did It, Joe” Here]

Hello, dear friends, how’s it going? I hope all is well and if not I hope brighter days head your way soon!

I realize I’ve been mostly gone this month, sadly. I regret to report that… I had an overwhelming amount of schoolwork due. Yes, it’s a sad excuse, but what’s even sadder is that it’s true! But I am finally free (!!!) of my schoolwork and my summer break has begun!

Of course, because I had school, I didn’t consume too much media. But let’s take a look at what did go down this past month…

what i posted

what i’m reading

👁️ The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake …*big sigh*… Are we even surprised anymore? But good news is I’m nearly done!! Truth be told, I didn’t do much reading at all, periodt, in June, so I’m excited to dive back into this book in July!

what i watched

⚔️ The Wheel of Time (Season 1) I finished this season of The Wheel of Time and…wow! This show reminded me of why I love high fantasy stories! I was totally swept away by the intrigue, the action, the adventure—the everything!!! I’ve never read the books that The Wheel of Time is adapted from, so I can’t comment on how well the show adapted the source material, but on its own…this show is breathtaking, y’all.

✈️ The Flight Attendant Honestly I feel kinda “meh” about this one? It was sold as an intrigue-filled mystery/thriller with light comedy sprinkled in, but truthfully I feel like the actual hook of the first episode wasn’t too strong. I also feel like the show hasn’t so far given the audience any good reason to be invested in the characters. I’m gonna give it a few more episodes to see if it manages to grab me, though, so for now the jury’s out on this one.

☀️ The Summer I Turned Pretty I’ve never read the book trilogy by beloved YA author Jenny Han that this Amazon series is based on, but nevertheless I love it! I feel like this show does a really good job of capturing the feeling of being a teenager (yes, I do remember it, even at the ripe, old age of 27 *sigh*) and I found myself feeling so wistful and nostalgic as I watched it. It’s also, like, the perfect summer show! Bottom line: I highly recommend The Summer I Turned Pretty.

what i listened to

🌊 The Kleio Files This is a fascinating audiodrama all about an archeological expedition investigating a mysterious sunken city discovered in the Indian Ocean. Funnily enough, I actually discovered this podcast via the book community, as it’s actually written and produced by a writer whose tweet I saw in passing. And I gotta say: I’m glad I discovered it!

high notes

🎶 “Quiet On Set” by Remi Wolf This is such a fun, youthful song that gives the feel of sneaking around with your friends and getting into teenage shenanigans!

🎶 “Blutooth” by Blu DeTiger and Chromeo I’ve come to really appreciatiate the bass-centric groove of Blu DeTiger and mixed with a hint of Chromeo’s pop-funk, it’s perfection!

🎶 “Otro Atardecer” by Bad Bunny and The Marias What a summery song!

🎶 “Spring 1 – 2022” Arr. Max Richter I love this arrangement of Vivaldi’s “Spring”! First off, Vivaldi has always been my favorite classical composer and second off this arrangement is AMAZING!! I feel like it really recaptures the freedom of the original work, with a slightly modern twist that’s not too overbearing.

what i bookmarked

what i did in june 2022

Have you ever given three speeches in a row??!?! Cause lemme tell ya—I had to this past month and even this here big ol’ extrovert was EXHAUSTED by the end of it!!! That being said, I managed to finish both of my courses exhausted but intact and with good grades! Success!! I’m still surprised that I somehow managed to pull it off, tbh. *wipes sweat from brow*

Not much happened aside from school, though! I was pretty fatigued and had a couple of bad pain flares through the month, which was unfortunate, but thankfully I’m feeling a bit better now.

what i plan on doing in july 2022

July is looking to be a fun month, seeing as I’m on summer break and already have a few plans! I’ll be headed to the Smithsonian’s Folklife Festival, so that’s bound to be a great time, plus I have a few other things up my sleeves that hopefully I’ll manage to pull off! It should also be pretty relaxing since, as I mentioned, I’m off school!

spill the beans, friends!

  • How was your June?
  • What are you looking forward to in July?
  • What’s on your July TBR?

#OwnVoices Middle Eastern Books To Check Out For Arab American Heritage Month

Marhaba and hello, dear friends! I hope all is well, and if not, I hope brighter days head your way soon!

Well, Indigenous American History Month was back in November, Black History Month was in February, and Women’s History Month was March, but the party isn’t coming to a halt just yet, because this month—April—commemorates yet another part of my heritage and identity! That’s right, dear friends: it’s Arab American Heritage Month! This month we celebrate the rich diversity of the various Arab ethnic groups and the many contributions of Arabs to the US, as well as to the world—from astronomy to algebra to the alphabet! And in celebration, I figured I’d share a bit of my Lebanese culture and top it off with some Middle Eastern book recommendations!

Some background: My mom’s side of the family is from the West Asian Mediterranean Arab country of Lebanon, which sits right on the coast between Syria and Palestine. My family is Maronite, meaning they are members of the Eastern Catholic Maronite Church (based mainly in Lebanon), and my great grandfather—an ambassador—immigrated from Beirut, Lebanon to the US around the turn of the 20th century.

Examples of Lebanese folk dress.

Lebanese people are known for our hospitality, our delicious food (think: hummus, lmao!), and our chic fashion sense (oh–and our beautiful people too, haha! 😉 ). Our traditional folk dance is dabke, and we love to break out into it when given literally any reason, lol!

The basics of Lebanese dabke

Like many Arab cultures, Lebanese people are very community oriented and social. The extended family “clan” unit is the center of your social life, and your close friends are often seen as extensions of your family as well. We also are very expressive—as most Arab cultures are. We are boisterous and speak with our hands a lot, haha!

I could go on forever, but that’s just a glimpse at the Lebanese part of my cultural heritage and identity and hopefully you’re interested in learning more! But let’s move to the book recommendations section!

PLEASE NOTE: I am including books by and about peoples originating from the MENA (Middle East & North Africa) region that are not all “Arab” in strict terms What does this mean? Imazighen, Persians, Kurds, etc. They are not Arab, nor do they self-identify as Arab. And I in no way wish to conflate any/all MENA cultures. All of us have beautiful and unique national and sub-national ethnic cultures! Unfortunately, in the US most people from the MENA area (and even some from Central Asia) are often lumped under the term “Arab,” despite the fact that not all of us are ethnically “Arab.” So, when the US designates months like “Arab American Heritage Month,” Persians, Imazighem, Kurds, etc. are simultaneously left out and also lumped into a cultural grouping that they don’t identify with. In this way, the US government erases the unique cultures of MENA and the nuanced experiences we all have in the US, in our countries of origin, and elsewhere. My “temporary solution” to this is to make this post a post including cultures from MENA aside from Arab, but also to make sure you know that those cultures are not the same as Arab. I want you to know those cultures too, to celebrate them as Middle Easterners/North Africans as much as you know of and celebrate Arabs. I hope these books can be a starting point to get you interested in knowing of and celebrating ALL of our beautiful cultures!

the stardust thief by chelsea abdullah

arab (general)

Neither here nor there, but long ago…

Loulie al-Nazari is the Midnight Merchant: a criminal who, with the help of her jinn bodyguard, hunts and sells illegal magic. When she saves the life of a cowardly prince, she draws the attention of his powerful father, the sultan, who blackmails her into finding an ancient lamp that has the power to revive the barren land—at the cost of sacrificing all jinn.

With no choice but to obey or be executed, Loulie journeys with the sultan’s oldest son to find the artifact. Aided by her bodyguard, who has secrets of his own, they must survive ghoul attacks, outwit a vengeful jinn queen, and confront a malicious killer from Loulie’s past. And, in a world where story is reality and illusion is truth, Loulie will discover that everything—her enemy, her magic, even her own past—is not what it seems, and she must decide who she will become in this new reality.

Inspired by stories from One Thousand and One Nights, The Stardust Thief weaves the gripping tale of a legendary smuggler, a cowardly prince, and a dangerous quest across the desert to find a legendary, magical lamp.

The Stardust Thief is actually an upcoming May 2022 release that I am ridiculously excited for! It’s an #OwnVoices Arab fantasy based on multiple stories from 1001 Nights and it sounds AMAZING! I’ve heard rave reviews from readers with ARCs, so I’ve already preordered the audiobook in preparation!

mirage by somaiya daud

moroccan (amazighi)

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.

Mirage is an intricate and intrigue-filled YA fantasy sci fi that is based off of the author’s own Indigenous Moroccan (Amazighi) culture. With themes of colonialism, interpersonal racism, and political racism, Mirage is definitely a hard-hitting sci fi, while not being incredibly dense. Daud writes about these heavy topics with the delicate nuance required to help readers of all ages understand what they entail without beating the reader over the head. Mirage is definitely a must read to add to your TBR immediately!

this woven kingdom by tahereh mafi


Clashing empires, forbidden romance, and a long-forgotten queen destined to save her people—bestselling author Tahereh Mafi’s first in an epic, romantic trilogy inspired by Persian mythology.

To all the world, Alizeh is a disposable servant, not the long-lost heir to an ancient Jinn kingdom forced to hide in plain sight.

The crown prince, Kamran, has heard the prophecies foretelling the death of his king. But he could never have imagined that the servant girl with the strange eyes, the girl he can’t put out of his mind, would one day soon uproot his kingdom—and the world.

Perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo, Tomi Adeyemi, and Sabaa Tahir, this is the explosive first book in a new fantasy trilogy from the New York Times bestselling and National Book Award-nominated author Tahereh Mafi.

This is a recently released YA fantasy by beloved author Tahereh Mafi, and it is based on mythology from Mafi’s own Persian culture. The reviews have been stellar, from what I’ve seen, and this looks like one heck of an epic fantasy (pun intended 😉 )!

darius the great is not okay by adib khorram


Darius doesn’t think he’ll ever be enough, in America or in Iran.

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it’s pretty overwhelming—especially when he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything.

Sohrab makes sure people speak English so Darius can understand what’s going on. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understands that sometimes, best friends don’t have to talk. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he’s spending his days with Sohrab playing soccer, eating rosewater ice cream, and sitting together for hours in their special place, a rooftop overlooking the Yazdi skyline.

Sohrab calls him Darioush—the original Persian version of his name—and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab. When it’s time to go home to America, he’ll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.

I’ve heard so many rave reviews for Darius The Great Is Not Okay, ESPECIALLY from Persian American reviewers. In particular, I know that Hannah of the booktube channel A Clockwork Reader and Daria at the booktube channel FullOfLit (both of whom happen to be Persian American) are MASSIVE fans of this book and its sequel, often noting that it really resonated with them and touched their hearts. After hearing so many glowing reviews, this book has definitely slid up on my TBR.

aminah mae safi books

arab (general)

All of Aminah Mae Safi’s books are contemporary novels starring sapphic Arab girls and that fact alone has me cheering! In particular, I’m interested in reading This Is All Your Fault, which is about three teen girls teaming up to save the beloved bookstore they work at.

sara farizan books


Similarly, Sara Farizan’s works are all contemporary novels about queer Persian teens! Fun fact: Tell Me Again How A Crush Should Feel and If You Could Be Mine were the first books I ever became aware of with #OwnVoices sapphic representation, back when I was in high school in the early 2010s. Talk about Sara Farizan being ahead of a trend! Truthfully, I rarely hear from other readers about Farizan’s works, but when I do, it’s all glowing reviews! I definitely can’t wait for the day I pick one of these lovely books up!

habibi by naomi shihab nye

arab (palestinian)

An award-winning novel about identity, family, and friendship from renowned writer and editor Naomi Shihab Nye.

The day after Liyana got her first real kiss, her life changed forever. Not because of the kiss, but because it was the day her father announced that the family was moving from St. Louis all the way to Palestine. Though her father grew up there, Liyana knows very little about her family’s Arab heritage. Her grandmother and the rest of her relatives who live in the West Bank are strangers and speak a language she can’t understand. It isn’t until she meets Omer that her homesickness fades. But Omer is Jewish, and their friendship is silently forbidden in this land. How can they make their families understand? And how can Liyana ever learn to call this place home?

This is a special book to me, as it was actually the first ever #OwnVoices Arab American book I’d ever read (I read it back when I was 14 and it’s stuck with me ever since). The story is about a mixed White/Palestinian teen girl who’s grown up in America but her family suddenly decides to move to her father’s homeland of Palestine. It does address themes of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, of course, but it also addresses themes of what it means to be Arab in America versus what it mean to be an Arab in The Middle East and also general themes of religion, identity, and girlhood. The blurb makes it seem like Habibi is very focused on the relationship between Liyanna (the main character) and her friend, an Israeli boy named Omer, but really the book (from what I remember) is more focused on Liyanna’s understanding of her identity as a Palestinian American girl and her relationship to her cultural heritage. In all honestly, I can’t say whether or not this book would hold up today (after all, I read it 13 years ago), but I can say that it will definitely always have a special place in my heart!

So, that’s all for today, dear friends! I’ve had so much fun sharing about part of my cultural heritage and also giving some book recommendations. Happy Arab American Heritage Month and I hope I helped you find a book or two that you might like!

spill the beans, friends

  • Have you read any of these books? If so, what are your thoughts?
  • Are any of these books on your TBR?

Reviewing My Reading | 2021 Mid-Year Stats Plus Discussion of My Reading Year (So Far)

Well, friends, lemme tell ya: we are six months into 2021 and for me it has already been a year! The major theme of my 2021 so far seems to be burnout. I’ll be real with y’all: I loathe remote learning with a burning passion. Beyond just being a poor match for my learning style (I’m a mixture of a social and a kinesthetic learner), but it also aggravates the normal difficulties I experience due to my ADHD and my physical disabilities. And after a year and a half of remote learning, I’m so physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted that it’s drastically affected my life beyond academics. Which brings me to my 2021 reading year thus far…

general bookish stats

number of books read per month

So, I’m not gonna lie: as you can see from my stats, my 2021 reading has fallen pretty flat. More so than in past years, it’s just really felt like in 2021 I’ve lacked the motivation, focus, and clarity to read. This has been made worse by the fact that I’m totally burnt out from two and a half semesters of online remote college courses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Within the past four to five months, it’s felt like even when I want to read, I’ve just completely lacked the mental, physical, and emotional energy to actually pick up a book for more than a brief and fleeting period of time. I guess you could say I’m in more of a “reading funk” than a reading slump. 😭

The good news? I’ve still managed to read seven whole books, which, given my complete and total state of burnout, is quite an accomplishment in my humble opinion! The bad news? Sadly, most of those books were ones I found to be mediocre or below average. Out of seven books, I only rated two books above a three star rating! This is wild to me because I had been on a glorious streak of reading mainly four and five star books for the past two to three years! But I suppose all things must eventually come to an end, including my high ratings streak. That being said, it could definitely be worse and I count myself as lucky that I’ve only been reading largely boring books this year, as opposed to books I all-out hate. Sooo…ummm…thank god for small favors??? Lissen, I’m tryna make the best out of a dismal situation, okay?!

diverse reading stats

representation on the page

I’m really pleased to see that the majority of my reading this year involved reading books with POC and/or queer main characters! I’ve never tracked diversity stats before, but I had a general feeling that, when it comes to race/ethnicity and sexual orientation, my reading has been getting progressively more diverse—and these stats pretty much confirmed my hunch! To pivot slightly—While they’re definitely not at the levels I want them to be, I’m also not super surprised about the lack of religious diversity and gender diversity in my 2021 readings. I primarily read fantasy and often authors take the liberty of either omitting religion entirely from their stories or just making up a totally new religion for their fictional worlds. And when it comes to gender, I absolutely need and want to improve. I tend to (often subconsciously) be drawn to books about characters who, like me, identify as female, but I think it’s time to acknowledge that habit and branch out where I can.

I think of all these statistics, the one that frustrates me the most here is the total lack of physically disabled and/or neurodiverse characters in the books I’ve read so far this year. While I feel like these two stats are more reflective of the fact that I haven’t read a lot this year, it also goes to show just how little the bookish community values and prioritizes physically disabled and/or neurodiverse authors and on-page representation. My favorite genre is fantasy and I can only think of one book with a physically disabled main character, and I don’t think the author is even physically disabled. Same goes for neurodiversity. Not only that, but ableist tropes are also still rampant in the fantasy and sci fi genre and are rarely—if ever—called out. It’s sad because those of us who are disabled and/or neurodiverse deserve to go on wild adventures too without being seen as “held back” by our disabilities and/or neurodiversity.

author identity

* NOTE: All of the books I’ve read so far in 2021 have been cis women, but the graph glitched 😭

I’m not gonna hide the fact that these particular stats are absolutely abysmal! I realize part of the reason that is is that I’ve only read seven books, but I still feel like that’s not the best excuse. That being said, I definitely plan on diversifying this area given what I have access to working with.

So, that’s all for today, friends. I feel like this was quite a dismal post, but the silver lining is that there’s still another six months in 2021 in which I might be able to reset my mindset and start reading more. But, you know what? Even if I don’t read more in the coming half year, it’s okay. I read solely for fun and that means that some years I’ll read more than others and that’s not a bad thing!

Anyhoo, dear friends, I’ve got a cup of tea and a good book waiting for me, so I’d better get back to it! Until next time, friends…

spill the beans, friends!

  • How has your reading year been so far?
  • Do you have any reading goals for the rest of the year?

check out my carrd for info on how to change the world!

Celebrating My Birthday By Sharing The Library Of My Life!

Hello, friends! Happy belated Thanksgiving to my friends in the US and to those who don’t celebrate I wish you a happy day! Aside from Thanksgiving this week is an exciting one for me as it also happens to be my 26th birthday today! I know we’re in the midst of a global pandemic and a tumultuous US election power transition, but I feel like that’s even more reason to take moments of happiness when we can, even if it means celebrating just with my mom (who I live with) and me!

Anyhoo, I wanted to do a tiny blog celebration by doing the “Library of My Life” post-thing that I’ve seen around, which was created by one of my favorite booktubers: Tiana Tea!

This “challenge” of sorts was created by Tiana to give a bookish “spin” to Teen Vogue‘s “Playlist of My Life” YouTube segment, in which Teen Vogue lets celebrities create a playlist of songs that they feel have been important to them throughout their life. For Tiana’s version, instead of making a playlist of songs that shaped you, you’re making a mini library of books that’ve shaped you throughout your life!

I thought this was a great idea, especially as something to do for a birthday post, so here I am, accepting the challenge! So, without any further ado, let’s dive right into the fun!

✵.* • : ★ .•


Divergent by Veronica Roth

If you’ve been around here a while, you might know bits and pieces of why this book is so important to me, but if you want the TL;DR version: Divergent was a MAJOR factor in helping get me through when I was first diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder/academic anxiety. Now for the longer version…Basically, Veronica Roth graduated from the first university I attended—Northwestern University—and wrote Divergent partially during her time there. During my time at Northwestern I became very ill and as a result developed severe depression and anxiety. Reading about Tris’s initiation into the Dauntless faction and how she learned to understand and face fear helped me to understand and face my own fear. In addition, certain parts of Divergent also feel…eerily close to Northwestern’s culture and my experience there. Pretty much, this book came to me at the perfect time, right when my heart and soul needed something like it to help me through one of the most difficult periods of my life. I’m doing much better now than I was then, and I know that Divergent is part of what I have to thank for that change.

Hiroshima by John Hersey

This book is a graphically explicit, journalistic account of the Hiroshima bombing and its aftereffects. It goes into excruciating detail about the history of the bombing, the medical and biological effects of the bombing, and the political ramifications of the bombing. I say this to say, right off the bat: this is not an easy book to read and if you plan on reading it, I definitely advise that you make sure you are in a good place. So, why is such a grim and tragic book significant to me? Because, as horrific as Hiroshima is, it was the first time I learned about the biological effects of nuclear physics and that created an obsession with nuclear and biological physics that I carried with me up to this very day to the point that I’m currently a physics major in college. I remember reading about the biological and medical effects of the bombing and being so fascinated by the fact that radiation caused plants to grow insanely fast, but also caused humans to be fatally ill with radiation sickness. I wanted—and still want—to know more about how radiation affects humans on an atomic level. Basically, reading Hiroshima left me with a lifetime of questions that I’m still seeking the answers to today and that’s how it’s earned its spot on this list!

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

This is on the list because it was one of the first three YA books I ever read! It’s particularly memorable as I first read this book 12 years ago, when I was 14 and to this day Cassie Clare is still publishing books in The Shadowhunter Chronicles! So I’ve been with this particular world for a looooong time! This is also one of the few books where I actually vividly remember the first time I ever laid eyes on it. Weirdly enough, there’s nothing particularly remarkable about the memory, so I don’t know why or how it’s stuck with me all these years, haha! I remember I was sitting in my eighth grade homeroom and I turned around to say something to the girl behind me, but noticed a book on her desk. I picked up the book and read the back cover synopsis and found it interesting enough that I asked the girl if I could read the first few pages. She (very graciously) said I could and I remember getting so engrossed that I read for the next five minutes straight until the teacher called us to attention. I remember rushing home to tell my mom all about how I just had to get my hands on The City of Bones, so that I could finish up the rest of it. And that Easter, as a present, my mom bought me the first two books in The Mortal Instruments—which I pretty much immediately devoured. I think what stands out to me about the series is that it was the first time post Twilight that I experienced just being so obsessed with a YA series! It was so much fun to read the books as they released and to theorize on where they were going and see if I was right. So, that’s why this book holds a special place in my memory!

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

This one is quite simple to explain: I absolutely ADORED Madeline as a kid! I, myself, was a sweet, yet sassy and rambunctious little girl bursting with energy, so I always identified with book characters like Madeline and Eloise (another one of my faves). I remember my mom reading me the Madeline books over and over again and just adoring hearing about Madeline’s adventures with Miss Clavel and the girls and Pepito and Genevieve the dog! Whenever I see a copy of Madeline, I’m always filled with such fond memories of the book and my childhood, so I just had to add it to this list!

Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

Vanishing Girls is special to me because it’s actually the first book I ever reviewed, way back in 2015 when Hardcover Haven was just a little Tumblr blog known as The Bookkeeper’s Secrets! Can you believe it?! This is the book that would be the springboard from which I launched myself into the online book community! Funnily enough, Vanishing Girls isn’t even one of my favorite books—although I did enjoy it very much at the time. When I read it, though, I remember feeling a deep need to really dissect the novel, and thus, I wrote a review and my blog was born!

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

I will always remember The House on Mango Street as one of the first books that truly made me feel seen. While Latinx heritage and culture is a big part of this book and I’m not Latina (and so I didn’t relate in that way), The House on Mango Street also focuses a lot on what it’s like to live in poverty in the US and I felt so very seen with respect to that particular aspect of the book. I’ve lived in poverty since I was eight years old and I almost never see fiction books really delve into the experience of poverty. It wasn’t until reading The House on Mango Street that I fully realized how alienated that lack of representation had made me feel. It felt so wonderful to feel so authentically acknowledged and represented so in literature for the first time in my experience and that fact made The House on Mango Street an instant addition to this list.

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

Of all the books on this list, The Golden Compass is probably the one I hold closest to my heart. When I was nine, my mom and I were living in a homeless shelter, and we came across the audiobooks of The Golden Compass and its sequels in the shelter’s book donation drive. Every night, we’d snuggle together in our room and listen to a new chapter of the story. The story was so mesmerizing and allowed me a bit of a fantastical reprieve from the struggle of being homeless. In fact, that particular memory means so much to me and my mom that I recently gifted her the special edition of The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage so she and I could read along to the audiobook, which I purchased when it was first released! This book and series will always mean so much to me for letting me get lost in my imagination during a dark period of my life and I’ll always remember it fondly!

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

This book/series is on this list because it was the first YA book/series where I saw my Middle Eastern heritage represented. Prior to reading this book, most (if not all) of the YA books that I’d read starred a White protagonist and I had never come across a YA book—let alone a fantasy—that starred a Middle Eastern protagonist. Even though this book isn’t own voices, it’s very clear that Ahdieh is well acquainted with Middle Eastern culture and took care to try to get it right. Plus, it helps that Shahrazad has always been my favorite Middle Eastern fairy tale! I remember how excited and proud I was to finally see a protagonist who shared a part of my heritage and culture! It was lovely to see Middle Easterners represented so well and so kindly and for that plus the stellar storytelling The Wrath and the Dawn will always be a favorite of mine!

Salt in His Shoes by by Deloris Jordan and Roslyn Jordan

From the time I was born, my mom really tried to surround me with books and stories by and about BIPOC—especially Black POC—because she wanted me to see that girls like me had a place in stories. Salt in His Shoes was one of those books and was also one of my favorite books as a kid, largely because the message really became impressed upon my brain. It’s about Michael Jordan (who, as a kid, I thought was the greatest basketball player of ALL TIME) and how he loved basketball but was too short to be considered great at it as a kid. His mother put a pinch of salt in his shoes each night, telling him not to give up because the salt would work its magic and one day he’d be tall enough to play basketball with the greats. Michael practiced and practiced and his mom continued to put a pinch of salt in his shoes and slowly, Michael began to grow taller and to get better and better at basketball—just like his mom had promised he would! I remember loving the story because as a kid I loved playing basketball and was also small for my age. The story impressed upon me the importance of practice, patience, determination, and having faith in yourself. It’s definitely a book whose lessons I carry with me to this day, so, naturally, it had to be in the library of my life!

✵.* • : ★ .•

Okay, friends, that’s a wrap on this one! You know, it’s funny…I never really stopped to consider much the hand books have had in shaping who I am until I wrote this post. Turns out books have played an even larger role in making me who I am today than I’d previously thought. I hope you enjoyed this post and that maybe it got you thinking about what books have been important to you across your life! I think that’s my cue to get off stage and grab a slice of cake but until next time, I hope you have a lovely day!

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  • Have books played a big role in making you who you are?
  • What books would you put in the “library of your life”?
  • What’s your favorite bookish memory?

Lately With Lila September 2020 | Bookopolathon, Meddling Teen Detectives, The Start of Spooky Season, & Sbooktober TBR!

PLEASE NOTE: This post contains affiliate links for, for which I receive a free audiobook if you use to purchase a subscription.

Hello, dear friends, I hope you are all safe, happy, and healthy (and if you are not, I am wishing good vibes your way)! Well, it seems we can cross yet another month off the seemingly unending list that is 2020—can you believe it? It feels like March was just yesterday but also an eternity ago? And also it feels like next year is just around the corner yet also eons away?? What a strange year we’ve had…

Anyhoo, strange years aside, I’m happy to say that September was a relatively prosperous reading month for me. After months on end of only managing to finish at most two books, I actually managed to finish…wait for it, y’all…three books! I know in the bookish community that’s not a lot, but when you consider that I’ve only finished one or two books per month for the past year and a half? Um? I’ll take it! So let’s take a look at those books, as well as my other September 2020 favorites!

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  • Buffy The Vampire Slayer Vol. 1: High School Is Hell by Dan Mora and Jordie Bellaire (★★★☆) Coming from a total Buffy newb—this graphic novel was awesome! It’s a modern “retelling” of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and it’s a very easy place to pick up and start with no real background knowledge. The endearing characters and fun plot made this one a great read!
  • Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles (★★★☆) Aaaah, I loved this book so much! Full of compelling characters and an intriguing plot, Where Dreams Descend was such a dazzling read! My only gripe is that now I have to wait at least a year for the sequel 😉
  • The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty (★★★★) Y’all know I’m a super-fan of The Daevabad Trilogy, so seeing it come to an end is bittersweet. That being said, I couldn’t have asked for a better finale! The Empire of Gold was the perfect conclusion and it left me very satisfied.


  • The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab (Audio/ARC) By some miraculous mistake, I received the audiobook of Addie Larue as part of my October audioARC package—a snafu which left me screaming in joy! I still can’t believe my luck and I intend to devour this one immediately.
  • Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (Audio/ARC) Black Sun is a Native American fantasy that I’m SO excited to have in my hands! Plus, I’m reviewing this book for a book tour, so it’s one I’ll definitely be reading this month!
  • Legendborn by Tracy Deonn (Audio/ARC) I technically began Legendborn months ago, but I’m still finishing it up. I’m beyond so in love with this book and I can’t wait to see how it wraps up!
  • This Is All Your Fault by Aminah Mae Safi (Audio/ARC) This is another book I’m super hyped for and that I’m also part of a book tour for. This is a super cute looking contemporary involving a bookstore and a group of girl who work there. It looks like so much fun and I can’t wait to dive in!
  • The Silvered Serpents by Roshani Chokshi (Audio/Library) My library loan for the audiobook of The Silvered Serpents just came in and, y’all, I am do freaking excited! I adored The Gilded Wolves and I’ve heard great things about this sequel, so hopefully I’ll be able to dig into this book soon!
  • A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik (Audio/Purchase) Last on my list is A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik, which I purchased in September. This book looks delightfully dark! It’s about a girl attending a school where the only options are to graduate or die trying. I honestly don’t know much about the story beyond that, but the basic premise has me intrigued.


I’m taking part in Sbooktober this year and luckily my regular October TBR jives with this year’s set of prompts! To find out more information about Sbooktober, check out the readathon’s Twitter.

“Room”PromptSelected Book
Costume PartyFantasy Costume ↝ Read A FantasyLegendborn by Tracy Deonn
RefreshmentsDevil’s Food Cake ↝ A Black CoverThe Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab
Dance Floor PlaylistI Put A Spell On You ↝ A Book With MagicBlack Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
FestivitiesCarve Jsck O’Lanterns ↝ A Face On The CoverThis Is All Your Fault by Aminah Mae Safi



Thank you to the kind publishers who approved me for these ARCs and ALCs, as well as to for distributing the ALCs

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I actually discovered Notion about a year ago, but I only started using recently, just before the Notion craze hit the bookish community haha! I’ve been using it to organize my life, my classes, this blog, my creative endeavors, and just my thoughts in general and, I gotta say, so far it’s been working (which is like a miracle for someone like me with severe ADHD). I’ve been having so much fun making and customizing my own templates and I’m glad to have found an organization tool/system that seems to work—now let’s just hope I stick with it!


Okay technically I finished the last 15ish minutes of this film on October 1st, but I watched the vast majority of it in September, so I’m saying it counts! Anyhoo! I absolutely ADORED Enola Holmes! It reminded me so much of myself when I was younger and of my own relationship with my mom. Everything about the film was so adorable and I can’t help but hope we get several sequels! I definitely recommend Enola Holmes if you haven’t already seen it!


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It’s been said before, but needs saying again…How the f*ck are we only in October in this never-ending hell dimension that is 2020???! God, is it not over already??! Have we not stared into the void and seen our souls enough—just let it end already!!!

Okay, but in all seriousness, I feel like nothing has proved the weirdness of that wacky little thing we call time more than 2020. But we can breath a little easier, friends, because we’re just two months away from the end of 2020 and then we can move on and never look back!

Anyhoo! Rants about 2020 aside, September was pretty bland for me. I soldiered through my classes, tripped over my first test (but made it through!), and even managed to turn in a few assignments late. What can I say? I’m a champion at online school (*weary sigh*). But! Nevertheless, I have persisted and I’m hoping that’s what matters!

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It’s Spooky Season, friends! Time to break out the bats and spiderwebs and fake blood and celebrate 🎵the most wonderful time of the year🎵! I actually don’t yet have any real plans for this Halloween (I mean, other than chowing down on some candy haha) but I’m hoping my friends and I can coordinate some kind of virtual event, whether it’s watching a spooky movie together or getting all dolled up with nowhere to go and breaking out the alcohol (don’t worry, we’re all of age). Other than that, though, October is basically a wasteland of unending schoolwork! Although, I did see several vloggers cooking what looks like delicious meals, so I’m definitely planning on attempting to replicate some of those. Besides this, though, it’s really all possibility from here on out. Regardless, whatever may come, I’m ready for adventure!

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  • How was your September?
  • Is there anything you’re looking forward to coming up in October?
  • How are you celebrating Spooky Season?

Sun & Fun | Summer 2020 Favorites

PLEASE NOTE: This post contains affiliate links for which I receive a small commission if you use them to purchase an item.

Hello, dear friends! I hope you are all well and if not I hope you are able to see brighter days soon! As you probably know, summer in the northern hemisphere is coming to a close. In my area of the US, the summer heat doesn’t really fade until early to mid October but this year it seems like we’re getting a bit of an early Autumn, with temperatures in the 70s and 60s (Fahrenheit) having already begun to creep up on us. Regardless of my feelings toward the changing weather, I decided it’s about time to curl up in cozy layers and wrap up some of my Summer 2020 favorites. So let’s see exactly what those favorites were!

Incendiary by Zoraida Cordova

I recently read Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova and…y’all…when I say y’all are sleeping on this book

But let me back up a little before I start raving.

So what is Incendiary about?

The story follows Renata (a.k.a. “Ren”), a young woman with a dark past. She belongs to a race of magic wielders, the Moria, a group which has become oppressed by the government. Ren is a “robari,” a Moria who can steal memories (although the act of stealing memories has consequences, like losing your own memories to “The Grey”). As a very young child, Ren was stolen away from her family and turned into a human weapon by the government, who used her to steal rebels’ memories and thus gain access to top secret info about the rebel resistance, who they would then massacre. Ren does this does this under the watchful eye of Justice Mendez, a powerful government leader who has sinister motives, despite his seeming personal kindness to Ren. But one fateful night, Ren is rescued by the Whispers, a rebel group, and taken into their care.

Flash forward about ten years.

Ren is a rebel agent for the Whispers despite the fact that they deeply distrust her because of her past, which leaves her as an outcast. Despite the Whispers hatred for her, Ren works tirelessly to prove herself as loyal, reliable, and trustworthy. But when a rebel mission to save the boy Ren loves goes horribly wrong, Ren is left to fend for herself. Through some clever manipulation, Ren works her way back into the good graces of Justice Mendez once again, with the intention of eventually killing the supposedly evil prince, Castien. But in the gilded cage of the royal court, not everything is what it seems and the shocking secrets Ren discovers could change the course of Ren’s life forever and turn the tide of the ongoing war against the Moria…

So, I could write a whole book review about why I love Incendiary with all my heart—as a matter of fact I have already done that—but what exactly makes it worthy of another mention? Oh I dunno, maybe the complex themes surrounding morality? Or the intriguing cast of characters?? Or perhaps it’s the interest-grabbing plot??? Basically everything about this absolutely stunning book, is what I’m saying! Honestly, I’m beyond obsessed with Incendiary and I’ll continue to throw this book at anyone and everyone I can!

BUY: Goodreads | | | Book Depository

Never Have I Ever (Netflix)

I briefly talked about my love for Netflix’s new teen dramedy Never Have I Ever in my May 2020 Wrap Up, but I wanted to take a bit of a deeper look into my love for the show here.

Never Have I Ever is about Indian American teen girl Devi Vishwakumar, as well as her family and friends. I feel like the trailer makes it look like the show is all about Devi’s struggle to navigate high school, especially as an Indian American girl—but to be honest, that’s only partially true. Instead, Never Have I Ever actually focuses largely on Devi’s struggle to come to terms with her father’s recent death.

Now, this is where I reveal a part of my life to you: my own father died when I was seven years old. So when I realized that “death of a father” was going to be the main topic of Never Have I Ever (at least for Season 1) I was simultaneously wary and hopeful about how the show would represent Devi’s struggle with grief. And I have to say that I was not let down! I won’t lie, I don’t really cry over media but this show got me to shed tears on multiple occasions, so take that as you will.

Never Have I Ever handles Devi’s journey with grief in a surprisingly touching manner, depicting it in an in turns difficult, touching, tender, and gently humorous way. I found that, though Devi and I both express and manage our grief over our respective fathers’ deaths differently (for the most part), I could easily accept Never Have I Ever’s portrayal of Devi’s sadness as something which resonated as deeply genuine.

Eve Cornwell

I’ve talked about my love for Eve Cornwell’s content before, but I really can’t stress just how obsessed I am. I mean, I practically eat, sleep, and breathe her stuff, okay?! A former studytuber who transitioned from university student to trainee lawyer, Eve’s content is about 50% lifestyle and 50% legal lessons (but, like, the fun kind of legal lessons, as impossible as that sounds). Eve’s got a great sense of dry humor and I adore her cheery yet down-to-earth personality. I always leave her videos feeling like I’ve both learned something and had a fun time. Plus, as geeky as this may seem, Eve’s passion for law is so contagious and she always motivates me to learn more about national and international law! Anyhoo, Eve hasn’t posted for a bit now, but I’m definitely looking forward to her new content when she returns and I hope you’ll check her stuff out too!

The Enneagram

I do enjoy a bit of pop psychology every now and again (knowing, of course, that the accuracy of pop psychology isn’t 100%) and this summer I got into the enneagram. The enneagram is basically a pop psychology personality type test, similar to the Myers-Briggs typology test. The enneagram separates people into nine different basic personality types, and then adds in “wings” and “tritypes,” to add a more complex vision of your personality. I’m a Type 7 Wing 6, which means I’m adventurous, curious, optimistic, enthusiastic, fun-loving, spontaneous, and socially-oriented, among other things. This isn’t really a surprise to me, but what was a surprising was that I originally mis-typed as a Type 2, which is apparently an occurrence that’s common among women as Type 2s tend to follow the social roles that are traditionally assigned to women. I was really confused at that point, as I didn’t relate much to Type 2 and what I did relate to, I related to on a very shallow level. So I took the test four more times and three out of four times I got Type 7, which I highly relate to. Anyway, I feel like my experience shows how inaccurate that pop psychology tests can be (I mean having an entire freaking gender skewed more towards one personality type because #patriarchy? Come on.), but either way it is a fun tiny bit of insight into myself that I enjoyed looking into, even if I had to take it with a grain of salt.

My Top Five Songs of Summer

  • “Kinfolk” by Mereba // This song makes me so nostalgic for my teenage years and I have no clue why but I like it, haha! Mereba is an Ethiopian American artist and I feel like you can really feel undertones of East Africa in some of her music, which I love. I’ve become pretty obsessed with her music, and I feel like “Kinfolk” is a perfect example of why.
  • “Barefoot in the Park” by James Black ft. ROSALIA // This song feels like those magical summer days when the breeze softly brushes across your skin and sunlight is fluttering through treetops. I don’t know what it is, but something about “Barefoot in the Park” just sends me to a daydream-y elsewhere. 10/10 highly recommend for Peak Summertime Vibes!
  • “Hide Out” by Mahalia // Mahalia is another artist I’ve come to be pretty obsessed with this past summer and “Hide Out” is one of may favorite songs from her. What can I say, everyone needs a good ol’ “f*ck my ex” anthem and this one is a jam! Plus, I love the samples of Eartha Kitt that Mahalia sprinkled through the song. All in all, I love everything about “Hide Out” and I’m sure it’ll be on repeat for a good while.
  • “NO ONE’S IN THE ROOM” by Jessie Reyez // This song honestly makes me cry, but, like, in a good way? Which is a weird new experience for me haha! Regardless, I just find the lyrics and the sound of this song to be so incredibly moving, especially as someone who’s a (very, very, very liberal) Catholic who grew up attending an incredibly liberal Catholic elementary/middle school. The music video was also really touching and emotional. Overall, I can’t recommend “NO ONE’S IN THE ROOM” enough!
  • “This Is Me Trying” by Taylor Swift // Ah, this is another emotional song for me. Honestly, the lyrics of this song came to me at the right moment, when I was experiencing a depressive low, and it really helped me to feel less alone.

Well, dear friends, that’s all for today. I hope you enjoyed and maybe found something new to look into. I wish all of you plenty of sunlight, a good dose of tea, and, of course, a great book to fall into. Until next time, friends…


  • What are your Summer 2020 favorites?
  • What are you looking forward to for Autumn 2020?
  • Oooh! And if you know your enneagram type, definitely share it and if you think it’s accurate!


It’s Cliche But I Gotta Say I’m Doing A 1K Q&A!

Hello, dear friends, I am coming to you typically late as ever to bring you my 1000 follower Q&A! I apologize for the delay—I had an urgent family situation that I had to focus on (fortunately my family member is doing well now).

Today I’m celebrating six years of blogging and 1000 followers by answering your questions for me! And before we get started, I want to again thank all of you, my dear friends, for sticking around and joining me on this journey—it truly means the world!

So let’s not dillydally any longer—let’s find out the answers to your questions!

How do you balance blogging with everything else?

Rukky @ Eternity Books


Do you keep a blogging schedule?

Tessi @ Bookrapt

For me, I think the key is that I actually don’t treat blogging like a job or a super serious responsibility. I can be really rebelliously flighty about responsibilities that I feel tied down to, in part because of my ADHD causing me to have this very anxious variety of perfectionism, so the minute something feels like its a ticking time bomb hanging over my head, I’m outta there and avoiding that responsibility like a bat out of hell running from an angry devil, haha. So I very much protect the idea that blogging is a hobby first and a responsibility second. I give myself room to let it go for a bit when life gets too hectic and/or overwhelming and just to come back to it naturally, when I’m ready. I don’t really schedule my posts or have a timetable or an overarching schedule, I just blog when I can because it makes me happy. I know my approach would definitely drive a lot of people absolutely bonkers, but hey, it’s all about what works to make you happy at the end of the day.

What’s your favorite meal/dessert?

Rukky @ Eternity Books

I can’t really choose a favorite meal, but I think for dessert, I’ma go with mint chocolate chip ice cream. I recently told a friend that this was my favorite dessert and they had the audacity to say, “Gross—minty ice cream tastes like toothpaste!” To which I replied, “Well, duh, that’s why toothpaste tastes good!”* 🤣

* This is a joke. Please do not eat toothpaste, it is not particularly edible!

Do you have any other hobbies?

Rukky @ Eternity Books

My lifelong love in terms of hobbies has always been singing. I’ve been singing since I could make noise! I’m classically trained in opera, but my favorite genres to sing are jazz, blues, and soul. I come from a musical family and my dad was a professional musician, so I guess you could say it comes with the territory, but that’s definitely not to say I love music and singing any less.

I also love arts and crafts (I’m currently learning hand embroidery) and I’m a HUGE nerd, so I enjoy learning new skills and about new topics of interest. For the past few years I’ve been s l o w l y learning HTML, CSS, and JavaScript in hopes of eventually being able to code a website and I’ve found it to be quite a fun hobby. Before the pandemic, I was going to take a few belly dance workshops at a dance studio near me, but that’s put off for now. Basically, I like to try everything that catches my fancy, obsess over it for a while, and move on—but what can I say other than it’s now very clear that I do, in fact, have ADHD lol!

What made you want to start your blog?

Rukky @ Eternity Books

So, I’ll tell y’all a little secret. You know how many book bloggers advise you to never start a book blog just because you want ARCs? Well here’s my secret: I actually started my book blog because of ARCs 😂😂😂 I remember learning about book bloggers getting them and thinking, “Ooooh, well if it gets me free books, I might as well try it—after all, how hard can it be?”

After six years, I can decidedly say to 19 year old Lila, 1) sis, ARCs are not free books and earning them takes a lot of work, which brings me to 2) IT CAN BE REALLY HARD, GIRL, THAT’S HOW HARD IT CAN BE! Lololol!

But, that being said, despite my “less than noble” intentions with starting a book blog, I really fell in love with it along the way. I’m not a very consistent person when it comes to responsibilities, so the fact that I’ve stuck with something that requires a lot of time, effort, energy, and mental coordination for six whole years is really a testament to the fact that I really genuinely enjoy book blogging. I started out with dubious intentions, but I got a great community of friends who can all share in my love of books, so I think it all worked out pretty well for me in the end 😉

Was there ever a time in those six years when you didn’t feel like blogging at all? If so, what helped get through it?

Naemi @ A Book Owl’s Corner

Oh definitely! There have absolutely been times when I’ve been overwhelmed by other parts of my life or when I’ve felt kind of like I was just screaming into a void and I thought to myself, “Ya know, you don’t have to be doing this, no one’s holding a gun to your head saying you can’t just walk away.” But I think at those times I remember how big a part of my life that blogging has become and how many of y’all I’ve come to befriend and to really enjoy talking with and I let that pull me through. And, as I mentioned before, I also allow myself room to take long hiatuses and to not panic over stats during that break period. So I guess what gets me through is allowing myself to rest and be at peace with resting and remembering why I find so much joy in blogging.

What’s your favorite post that you’ve ever written?

Naemi @ A Book Owl’s Corner

My memory of individual blog posts is a bit fuzzy, but I can give you a recent favorite post of mine! A recent post I’ve written that was my favorite was my post about folklore of the African Diaspora that I want to see rewritten. A lot of love went into that post because I was talking about a part of my cultural heritage that has been passed down in my family and is near and dear to my heart.

What was your favorite subject at school and the coolest class you’ve taken so far at university?

Naemi @ A Book Owl’s Corner

I’ve always loved any and every science subject and, although it didn’t start out this way, I’ve also come to really enjoy mathematics. I actually failed math so badly in elementary and middle school that I was nearly held back in fifth grade. But in sixth grade, I took remedial math with a teacher named Mrs. Bonard, who absolutely changed my life in the best way possible. The next year, I was able to move up to the regular math class and then in high school I moved up to the honors and IB HL math classes. I think for me, being able to do advanced math at the level that I now can will always be a really triumphant thing for me because I struggled so much to get here. And the best thing is that along the way I’ve come to really deeply love mathematics to the point that I’m currently majoring in arguably the most math-based science field (physics) and have even considered becoming a mathematician.

So, as for cool college courses, as you can tell, I really enjoy my calculus classes, haha! But I think hands down the coolest course I’ve taken in college was a course called “Theories of Mathematics and the Mind,” which was a course where we studied and wrote essays about mathematics and its relationship to things like consciousness and AI and the intersection of those three things. It was such a fascinating class and aligned perfectly with what I hope to study in part in my future career!

How do you feel as a book blogger who is not a English lit major?

Tessi @ Bookrapt

Haha, well I definitely feel like I have a bit of a secret advantage in the literature electives I take!

Most people, both online and irl, are typically surprised that I’m not an English major. A surprising factoid about myself is that despite not being an English Lit major, I’m actually a tested and proven genius in the areas of English grammar, vocabulary and language comprehension, so I think my English abilities tend to be why in real life a lot of people think I’m an English Lit major. That being said, I’m the type of person who is insatiably curious and who always needs a big challenge, so I ended up going into STEM instead. Luckily online and irl, I’ve found the bookish community to be very welcoming (unlike a lot of STEM communities which can be quite snobby about looking down at humanities and arts majors), so I’m glad to find a place here as well. And who knows—maybe someday I’ll end up writing a book and my backgrounds in both English Lit and STEM will pay off! Regardless, I’m quite happy to straddle the line of both worlds!

How do you come up with new post ideas after blogging for 6 years?

Juli @ Kozy Words

Well, I personally am a BIG fan of Austin Kleon’s “Steal Like An Artist” philosophy. I take a lot of inspiration from other book bloggers I follow and love figuring out how I can put my own unique spin on their posts.

Source Credit: Austin Kleon

Another thing I also try to do is to find ways to merge things that I love outside of books with books to create content.

It’s definitely difficult at times, but when you think about it the universe is infinite and full of inspiring ideas, so there’s always something new out there to talk about if you look hard enough!

What type of blog post do you find hardest to write?

Lois @ My Midnight Musing

The truth is, after six years, I still agonize over most posts I write. I’m very perfectionistic when it comes to myself and my own work in any area of my life, so I worry a lot about things like if I’m getting my point across clearly while maintaining my own personal voice when blogging, which for me is a tough line to walk as I’m mainly used to academic writing, which prioritizes clarity over style and voice. However, I think the type of post where this fine line is most difficult for me to walk is in reviews. If you’ve been around, you’ve probably noticed that over they years and even in recent months, I’ve tinkered a lot with the style, format, and voice I use for reviews. I think reviews present a particular difficulty for me in that they are formatted so similarly to academic papers, so it’s hard for me to maintain my blogging voice and not fall into the toneless, voiceless style of academic writing.

Blogging achievements (not based on stats) that you’re proud of?

Sumedha @ The Wordy Habitat

As cheesy as it sounds, it really is making such great new friends from all over the world! In a way, blogging really allows you to have the experience of traveling the world from the comfort of your home, haha! I mean, I’ve made blogging friends from places like Indonesia, France, India, Venezuela, Australia, Brazil, and more and its so interesting to learn about and celebrate our similarities and our differences. And its really great to think of the broader online bookish community and to realize that we all come to the same table to share our love of books not in spite of our differences but with our differences. It really is an amazing thing that I’m truly honored to be a part of.

So that’s all we have for today, dear friends! I hope you enjoyed my answers and learning a bit more about me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some tea to toast to many more happy years of blogging 😉 Sending each one of you all my best and I’ll talk to you next time!

Lately With Lila | August 2020 Wrap Up + 1000 Follower Q&A Announcement!

Boy oh boy, is it September of 2020 already?! For real???! Honestly, with the current global pandemic forging on, it seems like March never ended so I, for one, am in complete and total shock that we only have three more month of this hellish year left! Like, how is that possible?!

Regardless of my surprise, though, it seems the universe doesn’t stop for anyone and thus time moves on as usual. So! With that being said, that means we’ve reached the point where I wrap up the previous month’s favorites. Let’s not waste any more words, though, friends, let’s dive right into the wrap up!

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Um? There Are 1000 Of You Now?? How???

Um, y’all?? Wow. How did this even happen??? I honestly don’t know what to say because I am still so in shock that there are 1000+ of you friends who decided to join me on my literary journey! Like…what?!

I seriously cannot believe that I’ve reached six years of blogging and 1000 WordPress followers! More than surprise, though, I’m just feeling so incredibly grateful to and for you all, my dear friends.

I remember when I first began book blogging back in 2014 and I don’t think I could’ve even imagined reaching this point. The idea that I would ever stick to blogging for six whole years or that I’d have 1000+ lovely friends who genuinely enjoy hearing my thoughts and opinions on books and bookish topics or that I’d have gotten so many book-related opportunities? I don’t even think that was even a whisper in 19 year old Lila’s mind. And the best thing of all, of course, is all of you: the friends I’ve made along the way on this wonderful adventure.

Dear friends, I cannot thank you enough for your support, for your friendship. I truly am speechless. It means…more than I could ever quantify or put into words. You’ll have to believe me when I say I’m more than a little teary-eyed thinking about it.

So, I’d like to do a 1000 follower Q&A in celebration. You can ask me about anything—life, books, blogging, anything really! I’d love it if you’d leave your questions in the comments section of this post or, alternately, you can respond to this announcement tweet of mine and ask a question there. I’ll have my Q&A post on Monday, September 14.

Again, thank you all so much for sticking with me and here’s to many more years of fun (and, of course, of books 😉)!

I Was Feeling Fidgety So I Redesigned!

I know I just redesigned a little while ago, but I was feeling artsy (read: I was having an ADHD driven bout of artistry) and I decided to redesign…again. All that being said, I’m adding a few finishing touches but I really love the new design and I’m thinking it’ll be sticking around for a long while unless I magically gain the money to buy a premium theme.

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Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko (★★★★☆) I received an and advance listener audiobook copy of Raybearer for a Hear Our Voices book tour that I was part of and I am so glad I did because I absolutely LOVED this book! The characters were so endearing and the plot was really fun and there were so many moments in Raybearer that I related to as a Black girl, which was so special for me. Definitely check out my review for a more in depth look at my feelings and head out to pick up Raybearer ASAP!


  • The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty Look, even I don’t completely know how the heck I’m still reading this book, okay? All I can say is I just don’t want to let the characters and the world of Daevabad go.
  • Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles I started reading this at the tail end of August and am still surprised to find myself enjoying it, as I typically don’t automatically reach for magical circus/carnival books. I’m hoping that enjoyment stays steady and that I can finish Where Dreams Descend this month.
  • Blood & Honey by Shelby Mahurin I wasn’t a big fan of Serpent & Dove, but I did see a glimmer of possible hope for the sequel, so I figured I’d nab it on Scribd. That being said, I’m not getting my hopes up for Blood & Honey.
  • Fable by Adrienne Young I loved Adrienne Young’s debut novel, Sky in the Deep, and this latest release from her looks super intriguing and fairy tale-esque. Here’s hoping I love it!
  • Also check out my Bookopolathon TBR for more on what I plan to read this month!



Thank you to all the publishers who I received these ARCs from!

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cari cakes

I actually discovered Cari through her recently created booktube channel, but when I heard about her original channel I figured I’d have a look and boy am I glad I did! Cari’s content is mostly vlogging about her life in Korea and it is so incredibly aesthetic and calming! It’s perfect to kick back and relax to on a peaceful day.

Jessica Kellgren-Fozard

I also recently discovered Jessica’s channel and I am so happy that I did! Jessica makes positive content about her experience living with a disability and it is so encouraging to watch as someone who is also disabled! Regardless of whether or not you live with a disability, I highly recommend Jessica’s channel, as it is really insightful!



  • “Red Wine” by MO ft. Empress Of This is just a fun, summery song that makes me feel like I’m on a road trip with the wind in my hair and the sunlight on my skin.
  • “BIGGER” by Beyonce Of course, we gotta have the Queen herself on the list! I love the sound and feel of “BIGGER” plus the lyrics to and theme of the song are A+! It’s absolutely *chef’s kiss* perfection!
  • “Hide Out” by Mahalia Honestly I love the entirety of Mahalia’s LOVE AND COMPROMISE album, but “Hide Out” just might be my favorite song off of it. Idk, I’ve really just been vibin’ with the overall feel of the sound in it lately.

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Nothing too much happened in August, save for that my college’s Fall 2020 Semester began on the 24th. I had a great first week and both of my classes were really enjoyable. I particularly enjoyed my Principles of Anthropology I course, as my professor is really amazing and my classmates and I decided to work together and pool our resources so we didn’t have to buy class supples and texts or write notes on our own. We created a Google Doc to write notes at the same time and help answer each other’s questions and we also created a Google Folder that has all of our required texts in PDF and audiobook format, as well as a copy of a documentary we’re required to watch. I feel so lucky to attend a college where every class I had, people have been more than willing and happy to collaborate and help each other out, especially as I used to attend a highly competitive university where that wasn’t the case. Anyhoo, my Intro to Poetry course is also really fun and I’m enjoying learning about the history and technicalities of the form. I guess I can say that all in all, my month had a few bumps, but on the whole it wasn’t too bad.

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So, what’s ahead? My answer is, in short: I don’t know please stop asking me this question in interviews or I swear to god I WILL cry!!!

…Wait…Was that looking a bit too deep into The Void? Yes? Okay, fine, I get it, too much darkness, understood.

Okay, but for real, aside from trying to stay on pace with school and blogging all I can see for now is ~quarantine for days~…*shudders.* As someone who is in the “high risk” category when it comes to the current pandemic, I can’t really leave my house until we get a vaccine. That being said, as autumn dawns quickly upon us here in the Washington, D.C. area, I’m hoping to get outside a bit more and maybe go to a park or two! Nothing’s for sure, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

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  • How was your August, friends?
  • Have you read any interesting books lately?
  • Is there anything your looking forward to coming up in September?

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Disability Pride Month | What You Should Know About Book Blogging While Disabled

Hello, dear friends! As you may be aware, July is Disability Pride Month and, today, I’m going to be talking about a topic that is very close to my heart: what you should know about book blogging while disabled.

Now, I technically began book blogging before I was just formally diagnosed with one of my disabilities (POTS) but was very much struggling with it, as well as with the disabilities I’d already been diagnosed with (ADHD, depression, and anxiety). I’ve now been blogging for six years (wow!) and it has been a journey, y’all! But as I was thinking about what I wanted to post this July for Disability Pride Month, I started to reflect on my beginnings in this community and what I may have needed to hear to make it easier for me to join this community, particularly as a disabled individual.

I think, in a lot of ways, sometimes it feels like disabled folks are the “invisible” marginalized group in this community and that we don’t get much focus, not only in regards to #ownvoices representation in literature (which is still abysmal), but in regards to the bookish community itself being made accessible. I mean, when we think about platforms that tend to get the most visibility and opportunity, that’s booktube and bookstagram, which are, unfortunately, two platforms that are not the most disability accessible or disability friendly, unfortunately. I know for myself that I chose a blog as a platform in part because it seemed more accessible to me as someone who not only has ADHD, but who, at the time, was pretty confined to my bed.

So what am I getting at? Well, for those of you who are disabled and looking for a way to join this community, I’m hoping you’ll see this piece as an encouraging “nudge,” as evidence that you can be a member of this community—and a “successful” and “visible” one at that! And I very much hope you’ll decide to be.

For those of you who aren’t disabled, but who are interested in learning about the experiences of someone who’s a member of the vast and diverse disabled community, I’m hoping this piece will give you just that chance to learn a bit more.

At best, I hope maybe this post might help us make this community more accessible, disability friendly, and diverse!

So let’s not dilly dally any more—let’s jump right in!

One important thing I want to note before we really dig into this discussion is that disabilities come in all different kinds and impact people in many different ways, but regardless, each person is still valid in their experience of being disabled. Please also keep in mind that being disabled can encompass:

  • having a physical disability
  • having a chronic illness
  • having a learning disability
  • having a mental illness
  • being neurodiverse
  • having a visible disability
  • having an invisible disability
  • having one disability
  • having multiple disabilities
  • having a temporary and/or short term disability
  • having a permanent disability
  • being born with a disability
  • acquiring a disability

So with that out of the way, I want to give you guys some background on my own disabled experience, so you might better understand where I come from.

I’ve had Postural Orthostatic Tavhycardia Syndrome (a.k.a. POTS) my entire life, but was only diagnosed at age 20. I experience a wealth of symptoms, namely chronic fatigue and chronic pain. In addition, I was diagnosed with ADHD at age 7 (and re-diagnosed at age 18). I also deal with depression and generalized anxiety disorder. So, as you can probably imagine, my life has been impacted by my disabilities in a myriad of ways and, naturally, that includes my life as a book blogger.

I’d say the biggest things to impact my reading and blogging life are my chronic fatigue and my ADHD. It’s difficult for me to focus and to use so much energy when reading and writing blog posts. It can be a really exhausting process, but I love books and blogging so I don’t mind the toll it can take on my energy and my body. I’ve also learned ways to minimize the impact blogging can have when it comes to my disabilities and what I can’t change I’ve come to accept and embrace as part of the deal. So here’s what I’ve learned about blogging while disabled…

Burnout is inevitable and can happen a lot quicker and sooner than it does for able bodied/neurotypical bloggers. Burnout can be a hot topic among bloggers because it’s honestly inevitable for all of us. The difference is that for those of us who are disabled, burnout can happen a lot sooner. The hard truth of blogging that no one really talks about is that it requires a lot of time, effort, and energy. And if you love blogging, you’re happy to give those things. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t eventually take its toll. This goes especially for those of us who are disabled and may have to put in extra effort, energy, and/or time.

Hiatuses (yes, that’s plural) can be imperative. Again, hiatuses are important for any blogger, but they can be especially important for those of us who are disabled. Be it long or short, few or frequent, taking time to allow your body and/or mind to rest and recuperate is really important for disabled bloggers such as myself. Taking hiatuses has allowed me to blog more in the long run rather than burning out fast and never getting back to blogging, even if I want to.

You blog when you can but shouldn’t be anxious or ashamed when you can’t. I used to feel anxious and ashamed when other bloggers would talk about how one of their tips to success was consistency and/or a blogging schedule. For me, my disabilities make having a regular schedule and being super consistent really difficult. But I remember that doing my best is enough. At the end of the day, my blogging habits are about what makes me happy and what allows me to be comfortable, emotionally, mentally, and physically.

Knowing your limits and not being ashamed of them is essential. Sometimes you can’t do the same thing as other bloggers or do as much as other bloggers without causing yourself pain. So you don’t. And that’s perfectly okay. It’s important to know your limits as a disabled person so you don’t put yourself in difficult, painful, and/or dangerous situations. And you should never be ashamed of those limits, either—knowing them is what allows for happy and healthy growth!

You don’t owe anyone an explanation or your story. Every now and again when I can’t read a book as fast as others or can’t get a post up on time or need to take a sudden hiatus, I’m tempted to explain that I’m disabled and I need time to recharge or yada yada yada but then I remember it’s okay. First off, everyone deserves to take time for themselves and their health, be it physical, mental, and/or emotional. More than that, however, I try to remember that I don’t owe anyone my “disability story.” People who like me and/or enjoy my content will understand without feeling the need to be pushy about the “why” of what I’m doing.

You CAN do this! I’m a big proponent of the belief that I am not disabled, but differently abled and that I and other disabled individuals can do anything we set our minds and hearts to, we just may have to do it differently. I’m definitely not saying that you have to believe that if you’re disabled because we all understand ourselves differently. But, that being said, five years ago I set my mind and my heart to becoming a book blogger and I’m still here. I’m not gonna tell you it’s easy, but it is possible.

So that’s it for today, dear friends. For those of you who are disabled, I hope I was able to provide some encouragement, and for those of you who aren’t disabled, I hope that I may have provided a bit of enlightenment. Blogging is such a fun time which brings with it a wonderful and vibrant community, and it’s my wish that no one ever feels discouraged from joining in because of circumstance and/or identity.

Now, with all that being said, I think it’s time for me to grab a nice, cool iced tea and to sit back, rest, and recuperate! It’s been a long week, friends, and you know what sounds good right about now? A few moments to relax! I’m gonna sign off, friends, so until next time…

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  • How do you think we can make the bookish community more disability accessible and disability friendly?
  • Do you know of any other disabled book bloggers? Give them a shout out!
  • If you’re a disabled book blogger and feel comfortable sharing, what is an experience you’ve had as a disabled book blogger that you want people to know about?

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Black & Bookish | The Black Book Blogger Tag

Hey, y’all, it’s Lila! I’m coming to y’all today because I was tagged by the lovely Rae at Educated Negra and the wonderful Leelynn from Sometimes Leelynn Reads to do the Black Book Blogger Tag (adapted from the Black Booktuber Tag created by The Unfriendly Black Hotties)! I’m so excited to do this tag and to give some attention to Black/African/African Diaspora authors and own voices books, as well as Black/African/African Diaspora content creators! So let’s not dilly dally—let’s just jump right into the good stuff!

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Hi, friends!!! I’m Lila (pronouns: she/her) and I’m a 25 year old Black American, Lebanese, and Cherokee college student studying physics and a lover of literature (in particular, YA fantasy and sci fi)! I also happen to have a heart condition and ADHD and as a result can be a tad scatterbrained—BUT! What I lack in organization I definitely make up for in pure EXUBERANCE! I’m a Sagittarius, an ENFP, an enneagram type 7 and if you don’t have a clue what any of that means—NEVER FEAR!—it just basically just means I’m a super friendly, uber extroverted, giant teddy bear of a girl with a massive amount of heart! So don’t be shy to drop a comment or start a Twitter conversation and say “hi!”, I absolutely adore making new friends 😉


I don’t blog about it all that much but I actually really enjoy poetry, both written and spoken word, and there are some AMAZING Black poets out there (ya know, aside from Langston Hughes—although I do absolutely adore Hughes!). One of my favorite “modern poets” is slam poet Rudy Francisco!

I first noticed Francisco when I came across a video of him performing his poem “To The Girl Who Works At Starbucks.” I remember being so struck by not only his humor, but his honesty and his vulnerability in both his poetry and his performance. So, naturally, I decided to look up more of his performances and I soon discovered that he also had penned a poetry collection, Helium! All in all, I could go on forever about how much I love Francisco’s work and how I wish more people knew about him, but I’ll just let his work speak for itself and share one of his performances:


I recently started reading A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow and right off the bat it was…wow… It’s a fantasy book set in the modern world, but it speaks so openly and honestly about what it is to be Black in America, particularly a Black girl. The main characters talk about everything from Black hair care to the murder of Black women and the public apathy surrounding those murders. I honestly have no words for how seen this book made me feel!

A Song Below Water is a modern fantasy about two Black girls, Tavia and Effie (one of whom is a siren), fighting to survive in a world where sirens tend to only be Black women and are reviled. It’s full of magic and sisterhood and is a powerful fantasy read that really digs into Black American identity and experience.


I really enjoyed Mirage by Somaiya Daud! Daud is half Black American and half Amazigh (indigenous Moroccan) and it’s easy to see how both sides of her heritage really influenced her debut novel, Mirage, which is a Moroccan-influenced YA sci fi/fantasy.

Mirage is set in the far future and follows Amani, an indigenous resident of a distant, colonized planet, and the web of intrigue that ensues when she is forced to become the body double of the ruling government’s princess. The novel also talks a lot about the nuances of colonization and losing your culture to a colonizer, as well the nuances of systemic and political racism and how they bleed and blend into social and interpersonal situations and does so in a really powerful way.


So this is definitely an area I need to work on and I am eager to get to it! First on my list is Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann! Several of my local libraries recently added a digital audiobook copy of Let’s Talk About Love to their collections and I am so excited to finally be able to get to it! It’s a contemporary YA about an asexual Black girl (by a Black, female author and with a beautiful, dark skinned black girl on the cover, might I add!) and honestly YES, PLEASE! It’s so rare to have books about people on the demi/gray/ace spectrum and so to have one about a Black girl in particular…yes you go girl we love to see it!!!


This is kind of a sad one for me because the genre I love most (and thus tend to read most) is YA fantasy and sci fi, which is a genre where we currently are going through a typography trend so we rarely see people on covers—let alone Black people! And when Black people do star in a YA fantasy or sci fi, oftentimes the cover is whitewashed! Nevertheless, I found a cover with not one, but TWO beautiful Black girls on the cover that I’d recommend and that is A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy!

I started reading A River of Royal Blood last year and was really, really, really enjoying it when it was suddenly pulled from Scribd’s library, much to my disappointment. But! I plan on purchasing it and finishing it as soon as I can! A River of Royal Blood is a North African inspired fantasy filled with fae and chimera and magical creatures, which is about two sisters forced to fight to the death for the crown. From what I read, it was lots of fun and had a vibe kind of like an African version of a Sarah J. Maas book crossed with Kendare Blake’s Three Dark Crowns series! It was a lot of fun, so be sure to take a look at it!


I really adore Soft Magic by Upile Chisala, which is a collection of poetry (a dark-skinned, African, female poet) that is aimed at really uplifting and empowering women of African/African Diaspora descent. Evocative and emotional, Chisala’s poetry manage to show the gentleness of the ferocity that Black women embody. With poems that feel like the taste of honey on a breezy summer day, Chisala manages to remind the reader that us Black women can be both soft and fierce and that we have a world of magic inside of us.



  • Afoma Umesi
    • I recently discovered Afoma’s book blog and, although she reviews and blogs about largely Children’s and Middle Grade fiction, which are two age categories I don’t tend to dip into, I really enjoy her content!
  • Cierra’s Cynosure
    • Cierra has such a great blog, then again, I might be kinda biased, since we have similar taste in books! I get really good recommendations from her blog when it comes to books I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy! Cierra also has a booktube, which is really great to watch and you should check out both her blog and her booktube channel!
  • Phrases & Pages
    • I believe Tee began her blog this year and boy am I glad! Like me, she’s a big fantasy fan—and a fellow Daevabad Trilogy obsessed fangirl too! Interestingly, while Tee and I generally enjoy the same or similar books, we tend to enjoy them for different reasons, which I think is both fascinating and funny! So I definitely recommend her blog, especially if you have similar taste to me!
  • Curly Haired Bibliophile
    • Curly Haired Bibliophile is run by Jasmine and I love it so much! It’s always super interesting and fun to see what Jasmine is interested in and her thoughts on those books. She reads a lot of diverse Literary fiction, as well as YA and I feel like I get some great book recommendations from her. Go give her blog a look!
  • With Love, Saoudia
    • I also recently discovered Saoudia’s blog and aaaaaah I adore it! She’s more into Adult Literary Fiction and YA Contemporary, but I still love reading her content! She has a really engaging way of talking about books that makes me want to read them, even when they’re books that I wouldn’t typically pick up! Y’all gotta check out her blog for sure!


  • Francina Simone
    • I feel like most of y’all probably already know of Francina of Francina Simone, but just in case, I have to mention her. I feel like Francina is like…like the mom of booktube! She always brings equal doses of realness, honesty, humor, and compassion to everything she speaks on and I admire her so much for it. Francina’s able to capture the nuances of so many of the discussions we have in this community in a eloquent yet concise way. I really can’t praise her enough. If you aren’t following her already, definitely get on that asap!
  • The Novel Lush
    • If Francina is like booktube’s mom, Lauren of The Novel Lush is like booktube’s no nonsense older sister! Lauren is never afraid to bring the realness to her discussions and reviews and I am LIVING FOR IT!!! Like Francina, Lauren manages to also speak to the nuance in community discussions in a very honest yet compassionate way. She primarily reads Romance and YA and I love her commentary on books and her discussions! Lauren really manages to pull me in and get me interested, even though we read different types of books! Y’all ABSOLUTELY need to check out her channel!
  • OhSheReads
    • Ochuole of OhSheReads is a Nigerian American booktuber whose content I just love so, so much! She has a very analytical, yet blunt way of reviewing books and discussing topics, and let me tell y’all, my super honest Sagittarius self is so here for it! She and I have similar taste in books and I always love seeing her takes on what she reads. She also is very frank about issues surrounding being a Black/African/African Diaspora member of the community and I really appreciate her willingness to be open and honest about that. All in all, Ochuole’s a must-follow booktuber that y’all need to at least give a chance!
  • Minimal Bookie
    • Paige of Minimal Bookie is half Bajan and half Canadian and works in publishing in Toronto and I feel like those factors have always allowed her to bring a really unique perspective to the booktube scene. She’s never shy to share her opinions, but she also has a very concise style of conveying her thoughts that rings true to the “minimal” part of “Minimal Bookie.” Paige and I have differing taste in books, with her leaning more towards contemporary YA, literary fiction, and I believe some non-fiction as well (if I’m remembering correctly), but I always enjoy hearing her thoughts about what she reads. So, be sure to go take a look at her channel too!
  • Tiana Tea
    • I recently discovered Tiana of Tiana Tea‘s channel an I fell completely in love with it! Tiana has a way of talking about things that is light, fun, and humorous. Aside from her taste in books, I think the thing that draws me to Tiana’s content is largely her brand of humor, which is very lighthearted instead of the typical self deprecating, sarcastic, and/or more ironic brand of humor that many content creators tend to lean towards. And don’t get me wrong, I enjoy that type of humor as well, it’s just nice to see someone enjoying life in a lighter way—especially a Black girl! If you enjoy that style as well, then definitely check out Tiana’s channel!



Y’all, I cannot even begin to tell you just how excited I am for Legendborn by Tracy Deonn!! Aaaaaah!!! It honestly sounds so amazing! It’s got magic and mages and demons and secret societies and agh what more could you ask for?!?!! This story also means a lot to me because it stars a young Black girl going to a school for “gifted” students—which is similar to my teenage-hood! See, when I was a teen, there weren’t many stories about Black teens, let alone Black teen girls, let alone Black teen girls who didn’t fall into a sporty stereotype. As a Black teen girl who wasn’t very sporty, but who was a competitive singer and a top student who loved school, I didn’t have much representation I could relate to. So, I feel like this is the type of story that I would have not only loved as a teen, but also deeply related to.


Em @ Em’s Bookish Musings

Amber @ Du Livre

Rae @ Bookmark Chronicles

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So that’s all I got for ya today, friends! I hope you enjoyed and found some wonderful new books, authors, and creators to check out and enjoy as much as I do! I hope all of you stay well, safe, healthy, and happy and that you remember to wear your masks, social distance, and contribute what you can to make this world a better place, like the good little beans I know you all are! Until next time, friends!

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  • What are some of your favorite books by Black/African/African Diaspora authors?
  • Who are some of your favorite Black/African/African Diaspora book bloggers, booktubers, and bookstagrammers?
  • What are some books by Black/African/African Diaspora authors that you are looking forward to that are releasing in the second half of 2020?

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