A Phoenix First Must Burn
Sixteen tales by bestselling and award-winning authors that explore the Black experience through fantasy, science fiction, and magic.Evoking Beyoncé’s Lemonade for a teen audience, these authors who are truly Octavia Butler’s heirs, have woven worlds to create a stunning narrative that centers Black women and gender nonconforming individuals. A Phoenix First Must Burn will take you on a journey from folktales retold to futuristic societies and everything in between. Filled with stories of love and betrayal, strength and resistance, this collection contains an array of complex and true-to-life characters in which you cannot help but see yourself reflected. Witches and scientists, sisters and lovers, priestesses and rebels: the heroines of A Phoenix First Must Burn shine brightly. You will never forget them.Authors include Elizabeth Acevedo, Amerie, Dhonielle Clayton, Jalissa Corrie, Somaiya Daud, Charlotte Davis, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Justina Ireland, Danny Lore, L.L. McKinney, Danielle Paige, Rebecca Roanhorse, Karen Strong, Ashley Woodfolk, and Ibi Zoboi.

A Phoenix First Must Burn Details

TitleA Phoenix First Must Burn
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 10th, 2020
PublisherViking Books for Young Readers
Rating
GenreFantasy, Short Stories, Young Adult, Anthologies, LGBT

A Phoenix First Must Burn Review

  • Lala BooksandLala
    January 1, 1970
    YESSSSSSSSSS
  • megs_bookrack
    January 1, 1970
    THE ANTHOLOGY THE WORLD NEEDS!!!!!This.Sounds.Incredible.It's official, this is one of my most anticipated releases of 2020!
  • Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)
    January 1, 1970
    Well, I tried. Ive enjoyed maybe two YA anthologies but I just keep trying new ones despite that. I read 6 stories before I decided this wasnt the collection for me. I think any other year I might have pushed through, but I genuinely only liked one story I read (Elizabeth Acevedos) and one of my goals in 2020 was to be more willing to dnf the stuff that isnt holding my interest. I think plenty of people will like this, particularly if youre a fan of anthologies, but this wasnt for me. Well, I tried. I’ve enjoyed maybe two YA anthologies but I just keep trying new ones despite that. I read 6 stories before I decided this wasn’t the collection for me. I think any other year I might have pushed through, but I genuinely only liked one story I read (Elizabeth Acevedo’s) and one of my goals in 2020 was to be more willing to dnf the stuff that isn’t holding my interest. I think plenty of people will like this, particularly if you’re a fan of anthologies, but this wasn’t for me.
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  • Rose Angelus
    January 1, 1970
    As a black teen I am so lucky to be growing up in an age where I can be seen in literature. Where my face isn't the side character or the punchline. Where I don't have to hide behind the faces of white teens living lives I know I can. I want everyone to read this. Black, white, asian, native american, and hispanic. Let our voices be heard. Read our stories. A phoenix first must burn, but when we rise we rise together. Everyone should have this on their TBR's.
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  • Ms. Woc Reader
    January 1, 1970
    "In order to rise from it's own ashes, a Phoenix first must burn"- Octavia ButlerI've been hyping this book since February 2019 and I wanted an arc as soon as I saw them circulating. Thank you Penguin Teen for giving me an arc in exchange for an honest review.Anthologies can be so hit and miss and I had yet to read one I really enjoyed so I was a little nervous going into this. But I was excited to read because I follow so many of these authors on social media but had yet to read their work. A "In order to rise from it's own ashes, a Phoenix first must burn"- Octavia ButlerI've been hyping this book since February 2019 and I wanted an arc as soon as I saw them circulating. Thank you Penguin Teen for giving me an arc in exchange for an honest review.Anthologies can be so hit and miss and I had yet to read one I really enjoyed so I was a little nervous going into this. But I was excited to read because I follow so many of these authors on social media but had yet to read their work. A short story is a great way to see if their writing style may be for you. Each of them brings their own style to this book. I recommend this book for teens and even adults who want to get into the fantasy genre but aren't sure quite where to start. And I'm hoping that this anthology opens the door to more fantasy stories by black women not just in the YA genre but also for adults. It's great that black girls can pick this book up and appreciate seeing themselves within the pages instead of just hoping to be included in the stories by white authors. The only magical element missing that I would've liked to see in here is faeries but we had mermaids, goddesses, witches, sorcerers, vampires and some cool futuristic tech. I truly think there's a story in here for everyone.3.5 ratingFull review on blog in link belowhttps://womenofcolorreadtoo.blogspot....
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  • Acqua
    January 1, 1970
    Have you ever seen a cover as gorgeous?
  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    This anthology is solid gold! My favorite stories are (in no particular order):WHEN LIFE HANDS YOU A LEMON FRUITBOMB by AmerieTHE RULES OF THE LAND by Alaya Dawn JohnsonLETTING THE RIGHT ONE IN by Patrice CaldwellALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD by Charlotte Nicole DavisTHE WITCH'S SKIN by Karen Strong
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  • Sahitya
    January 1, 1970
    Ive only read Kindred by Octavia Butler but I can totally see how much of an influence she must have had on budding readers and writers, especially young Black woman and I thought this collection of stories was a fitting tribute to her. Mostly fantastical tales with a bit of sci-fi and dystopia thrown in, these stories take their inspirations from various different cultures, folklores, historical as well as contemporary events and give us a glimpse of the different ways in which young Black I’ve only read Kindred by Octavia Butler but I can totally see how much of an influence she must have had on budding readers and writers, especially young Black woman and I thought this collection of stories was a fitting tribute to her. Mostly fantastical tales with a bit of sci-fi and dystopia thrown in, these stories take their inspirations from various different cultures, folklores, historical as well as contemporary events and give us a glimpse of the different ways in which young Black women take destiny into their own hands and live their lives the way they want. It’s full of beautiful representation and despite elements of slavery and discrimination in some of the stories, I loved that most of these stories are fierce and passionate and full of hope. WHEN LIFE HANDS YOU A LEMON FRUITBOMB by Amerie As a time travel story, it was a bit confusing but that’s because I don’t read a lot of such stuff. But the discussion on war and peace and family, and specifically about what makes someone human was quite emotional to read about. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 GILDED by Elizabeth Acevedo The story of a young woman born into slavery who even though has the chance to secure freedom for herself, realizes she can do more. This was beautiful as well as painful, but ultimately full of resilience and hope. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ WHEREIN ABIGAIL FIELDS RECALLS HER FIRST DEATH AND, SUBSEQUENTLY, HER BEST LIFE by Rebecca Roanhorse The story of a young woman having to choose between revenge, justice and love - this was a compelling story with a very sweet ending. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ THE RULES OF THE LAND by Alaya Dawn Johnson A story of love and sacrifice, this was about what lengths a person will go to protect the ones they love, even sometimes resorting to forcing and caging them. But ultimately it was about a young woman deciding to take her destiny into her own hands and be ready to take on anything that her uncertain future may throw at her. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A HAGIOGRAPHY OF STARLIGHT by Somaiya Daud I loved that the magic in this story was derived through song and dance and it was described beautifully. The story was about the power of love and how even gods can’t remain unaffected by it and while I enjoyed the writing style, I can’t say I completely understood the story itself. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ MELIE by Justina Ireland A story about a young girl who despite being discouraged by the high sorcerer, believes in her magical abilities and takes it upon herself to save her people. This was frankly a lot of fun to read.Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 THE GODDESS PROVIDES by L.L. McKinney A story of the perils of fanaticism, this one follows a young woman who had forsaken her goddess to finally realize the truth of her faith and what she has to do to make sure the faith is not misused. Quite a fascinating tale of treachery and retribution.Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 HEARTS TURNED TO ASH by Dhonielle Clayton A world where soulmates exist and heartbreak is literal, this is a cautionary tale of how a young girl should not give away her whole heart to a man when she is love, but also make sure that she loves herself too. Definitely an important message but felt a little too preachy.Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 LETTING THE RIGHT ONE IN by Patrice Caldwell This one features a young girl who has depression and as no one around her seems to understand her, she finds solace in her favorite vampire novels. This was both very sad as well as exciting, while being very relatable to me personally and it ends on a very hopeful note which I liked.Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ TENDER-HEADED by Danny Lore Infused with magic, this is the story of how one young woman has to realize that her self worth doesn’t depend on how much money she can spend or give her friends, and that she needs to know who her true well wishers are. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 KISS THE SUN by Ibi Zoboi I can’t say I completely understood the magic of this story with fire girls and shedding the skin and kissing the sun, but the self hatred some dark skinned girls have for their own color and the yearning for white skin was all too relatable. But I didn’t expect the story to take such a dark turn.Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 THE ACTRESS by Danielle Paige A story about a young actress who finds out the truth about an important part of herself and how she is able to cope with it, while also handling the harsh realities of Hollywood, this was both sweet and emotional. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 THE CURSE OF LOVE by Ashley Woodfolk True love and a horrible curse go hand in hand in this story and both a young woman and her elder aunt have to figure out if the men they have fallen for are worth it. It was interesting to read but I just thought that ending was a bit sad more than hopeful. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD by Charlotte Nicole Davis This was like a sci-fi version of our present timeline, with the story touching on aspects of the Flint water crisis as well as the police shootings of Black people, while also adding some superpowers to the narrative. I thought it was both very realistic as well as intriguing and could work well as a longer story. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ THE WITCH’S SKIN by Karen Strong I don’t really wanna say a lot about this story but it has another young woman trying to do what’s best for her and her unborn child and showing a lot of resilience in desperate times. Very interesting story and another one which I thought could be a novel because it felt more like a beginning. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ SEQUENCE by J. Marcelle Corrie In a world where Society decides every action of yours and an app predicts everything you’ll do, this was a fascinating look at a young woman trying to find her own path and maybe even choosing to go against the grain. Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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  • Bethany
    January 1, 1970
    A Phoenix First Must Burn offers a collection of speculative short stories from a diverse group of Black women and gender non-binary authors. The stories range from high fantasy to urban fantasy, historical fantasy, and science fiction, all centering Black girls. Themes include love, family, oppression, standards of beauty, and structural racism, among others. I think it is well worth picking up. I generally enjoyed my time with the collection and thought all of the stories were good, even if I A Phoenix First Must Burn offers a collection of speculative short stories from a diverse group of Black women and gender non-binary authors. The stories range from high fantasy to urban fantasy, historical fantasy, and science fiction, all centering Black girls. Themes include love, family, oppression, standards of beauty, and structural racism, among others. I think it is well worth picking up. I generally enjoyed my time with the collection and thought all of the stories were good, even if I was not really the audience for some of them. That said, there are a couple of standouts that I want to highlight.- A Hagiography of Starlight by Somaiya Daoud is a brilliantly crafted, poetic, high fantasy story about a foundling girl with untold power. This is a wonderful example of how you can have strong world-building, deep characterization, and great storytelling all in short fiction. I was completely swept away by this one.- All the Time in the World by Charlotte Nicole Davis is a smart, well-written near-future sci-fi story and queer romance. It follows a possibly gender-fluid protagonist living in a city where a government facility has been contaminating the water supply for non-white residents and now this character is experiencing some strange phenomena. And also crushing on a cute girl at her school. I won't spoil things, but I love how this offers a subversive take on structural racism and environmental problems (similar to ongoing issues in Detroit with water pollution). It's smart, fun, and well-written. I look forward to seeing what else we get from this author. Overall, I think this is a solid collection and I think that Black readers will take even more from it than I did. Worth reading in either case! I received an advance copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own.
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  • Kelsea
    January 1, 1970
    Those of us who enjoy short story anthologies know how hit and miss they can be. It's a rare treasure to find one that's brimming with well-written, powerful, moving stories, beautiful descriptions, and a cohesive theme.Imagine my delight to find exactly all of those things in A Phoenix First Must Burn! It's an anthology of sixteen #ownvoices stories "that explore the Black experience through fantasy, science fiction, and magic." EVERY SINGLE STORY in this anthology was worth reading!!A few Those of us who enjoy short story anthologies know how hit and miss they can be. It's a rare treasure to find one that's brimming with well-written, powerful, moving stories, beautiful descriptions, and a cohesive theme.Imagine my delight to find exactly all of those things in A Phoenix First Must Burn! It's an anthology of sixteen #ownvoices stories "that explore the Black experience through fantasy, science fiction, and magic." EVERY SINGLE STORY in this anthology was worth reading!!A few especially notable ones include:Gilded by Elizabeth Acevedo: beautifully written story of resistance, promises, and setting the world ablaze. (This was no surprise, given that Acevedo is one of my favorite authors!)Hearts Turned to Ash by Dhonielle Clayton: loved the fantastic world-building -- I'm especially obsessed with the descriptions of the hearts!Letting the Right One In by Patrice Caldwell: there's SO MUCH packed into this delightful vampire story. Funny moments, nerdy kids, a stunning moment that had me near tears, and more! Caldwell edited the anthology (which I gather is not an easy thing, given how many poorly constructed anthologies I've read) and I'm so impressed, I'm ready to read anything she writes.Tender-Headed by Danny Lore: this story about hair-braiding magic is so different from anything I've read, and the way memories, experiences, and braiding were interwoven (heh heh) was incredibly effective!Kiss the Sun by Ibi Zoboi: I can't stop thinking about this story featuring vengeful soucouyant (fireball witches). The twists and implications are ones that will stick with me for a long, long time. (This story also prompted me to add American Street to my TBR.)I truly loved every single story and could easily have written a little blurb about each. I binged this book and loved every moment of it. Honestly considering rereading, even though I read it just last month. This has now joined the ranks of my top three anthologies (alongside My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories & The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic).A Phoenix First Must Burn comes out TOMORROW (March 10) from Penguin Teen and I highly, highly recommend pre-ordering / adding it to your TBR! I have my signed copy pre-ordered already (from Third Place Books)! :)Thank you Penguin Teen for a free advanced copy. This is no way affects my review of the book -- all opinions are mine!
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  • Rec-It Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    patrice's story is my favorite
  • Dana✨
    January 1, 1970
    *sees author names**sees ibi zoboi, Dhonielle Clayton, among others**hones in on Elizabeth Acevedo* SHIT MATE I NEED THIS NOW.
  • Renata
    January 1, 1970
    This is a really strong anthology! Particular favs: Justina Ireland's story of a rad fat sorceress, Patrice Caldwell's story of a teen vampire enthusiast who gets a taste of the real deal, and Charlotte Nicole Davis's story of a girl who realizes that the shitty toxic water on her side of town has given her supernatural abilities that the wealthy white kids at her private school don't have.
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  • Lisa Mandina
    January 1, 1970
    I was very excited to read it because of all the hype around it, as well as how I believe it is something perfect for the students at my school.Overall it was a really good book. As to be expected, there were some stories that worked more for me than others. Here are my thoughts over the stories:The first story was When Life Hands you a Lemon Fruitbomb by Amerie. I did really like the story, although it had a bit of a jump at the beginning of the story that was a bit confusing based on how it I was very excited to read it because of all the hype around it, as well as how I believe it is something perfect for the students at my school.Overall it was a really good book. As to be expected, there were some stories that worked more for me than others. Here are my thoughts over the stories:The first story was When Life Hands you a Lemon Fruitbomb by Amerie. I did really like the story, although it had a bit of a jump at the beginning of the story that was a bit confusing based on how it was formatted in the ARC. Hopefully they’ll maybe put something in the finished copy to help with that, or maybe it was just me.Next was Gilded by Elizabeth Acevedo. This was a bit of a historical fantasy story, and I did really enjoy it as well! It was set in 1521 on the island of Hispanolia, which was fascinating to me as we’ve had students in to do research on the slaves of that time this past year.Third was Wherein Abigail Fields Recalls Her First Death and Subsequently, Her Best Life by Rebecca Roanhorse. It was another historical fantasy/magical realism type of story. This one set in the old west. It had a great theme, and I really liked the ending.Fourth was The Rules of the Land by Alaya Dawn Johnson. It was kind of a mermaid/goddess of the sea fantasy story. I enjoyed that one as well.Unfortunately the fifth story, A Hagiography of Starlight by Somaiya Daud did not work for me. So I skipped it and went on.Melie by Justina Ireland was next. It was a mermaid/magic/unicorn/dragons/total fantasy story that I really enjoyed! Now I know I need to get her other books and read them!The next story was one by a graduate from the school where I am a librarian, The Goddess Provides by L.L. McKinney. It was a really good fantasy story with lots of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming, and the end was really good!Dhonielle Clayton’s story Hearts Turned to Ash was probably one of my favorites from the book. I loved the magical aspect in this one.The editor of the book, Patrice Caldwell, wrote another great story, Letting the Right One In. It is a vampire story, like you might gather from the title. But I loved how the author pulled in so many different famous vampires.Tender-Headed by Danny Lore was another great story. It is magical realism, and I really think how it taps into the hair styling and braiding that is so real for girls made it very original.I skipped the next one, Kiss the Sun by Ibi Zoboi, it was a little too fantasy for my tastes.Another one I loved was The Actress by Danielle Paige. Makes sense, I really did like her Dorothy Must Die series, and this story has its own bit of tongue in cheek humor being poked at the types of tv shows there are out there today, as well as how Hollywood is about hiring women of color.The Curse of Love by Ashley Woodfolk was another good story about love and a family curse. More of a magical realism, and I enjoyed it!The next story, All the time in the World by Charlotte Nicole Davis was a futuristic sci-fi story that was neat in the twists it had too, and also unique because it was told in second person! It had some great comments on racism and how we don’t worry about things that don’t affect us personally most of the time.The Witch’s Skin by Karen Strong was a fantasy, although had possibly a little sci-fi/dystopian/post-apocalyptic type of theme to it. It had a twist for sure, and I kind of was left needing some more!The final story, Sequence by J. Marcelle Corrie was a sci-fi also, with a really neat look at if you would want to know what would happen next, and if or how that could change what you did and why you did it.A lot of good stories in this anthology, most kept my attention and are worth being shared!Review originally published on Lisa Loves Literature.
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  • Elvina Zafril
    January 1, 1970
    A Phoenix Must First Burn is a collection of 16 short stories about the Black experience. First of all, I would like to say the cover of this book really is pretty!Have you ever read a book that is diverse? What I mean is features a lot of things in one book? For example, this book has fairytales, folktales and retellings. It also touches on topics such as love and betrayal, strength and resistance. I enjoyed reading some of the short stories. But some of them didnt quite attractive. I A Phoenix Must First Burn is a collection of 16 short stories about the Black experience. First of all, I would like to say the cover of this book really is pretty!Have you ever read a book that is diverse? What I mean is features a lot of things in one book? For example, this book has fairytales, folktales and retellings. It also touches on topics such as love and betrayal, strength and resistance. I enjoyed reading some of the short stories. But some of them didn’t quite attractive. I especially enjoyed reading stories written by Elizabeth Acevedo and Danielle Paige.This book mainly focus on fantasy but it still touches on real life issues that I can relate with. The characters are great and they served their own purposes in this book. It also touches a bit of LGBT and overall it was beautiful.As someone who’s really into Vampire, Witches and Dragons, I guess this book wasn’t that bad but it didn’t really engage. I hope all the authors in this book can create more good work after this. Thank you Pansing, @definitelybooks for sending me a copy of A Phoenix Must First Burn in return for an honest review. This book is available at all good bookstores.
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  • Adriana Martinez Figueroa
    January 1, 1970
    A Phoenix First Must Burn is a short story collection of speculative Young Adult fiction centered around Black Girl Magic, as most of the marketing and even cover boast. Inside, youll find one of the queerest, gender-defying, and greatest celebration of Blackness and the legacy of one of the grandest in speculative fiction: Octavia Butler. The collection runs the gamut between science fiction, mythological retelling, and fantasy, all handpicked by ex-Disney-Hyperion editor and now-literary A Phoenix First Must Burn is a short story collection of speculative Young Adult fiction centered around “Black Girl Magic,” as most of the marketing and even cover boast. Inside, you’ll find one of the queerest, gender-defying, and greatest celebration of Blackness and the legacy of one of the grandest in speculative fiction: Octavia Butler. The collection runs the gamut between science fiction, mythological retelling, and fantasy, all handpicked by ex-Disney-Hyperion editor and now-literary agent Patrice Caldwell. Before I begin my critique, a disclaimer: I am not Black. Therefore, take my critique with a grain of salt; I’d rather you read from a Black reader’s perspective than mine. I’m not going to talk a lot about the contents of each story and whether their representation was accurate, because it’s not my place. Rather, I’ll be touching on the way the stories impacted me as a reader and what worked or didn’t in terms of the writing format. Short stories are difficult to write. A speculative short story is even harder to write, since you need to cram a bit of worldbuilding as well as the character(s) and I guess plot into a format that doesn’t allow lengthiness. This format should leave the reader feeling like they need more out of the writing and still resonate. Sometimes, those short stories merely feel superficial. The writings in this collection make it into a solid anthology, but I would rather explain which ones help it keep its steady legs and which ones are its weak points:When Life Hands You a Lemon Fruitbomb - Amerie: We have an alien invasion to start out the anthology, and it was one of the most engaging stories in it. It’s incredibly sci-fi, and the story gravitates around a girl interrogating an alien and trying to get them to explain why they invaded Earth. There’s some questionable physics involved (and, perhaps, queer MCs?), but the story still left me wanting more, not just from the story but from the author: I need a novel from Amerie. (4.5/5 stars)Gilded - Elizabeth Acevedo: All of Elizabeth’s writing is, indeed, gold. Following an enslaved girl in what is now the Dominican Republic, who may or may not have magical powers. It urges the reader to consider what freedom means and who applies its meaning and its context. (5/5 stars)Wherein Abigail Firlds Recalls Her First Death, and, Subsequently, Her Best Life - Rebecca Roanhorse: This story reads as a western mixed with (perhaps?) some Native mythology, but it was hard to understand its intention (this is where I remind you I am not Black, and I am not affiliated to an Indigenous Nation). The ending didn’t make much sense and felt anticlimactic. But sure, there are sapphic girls. (3.5/5 stars)The Rules of the Land - Alaya Dawn Johnson: Johnson’s story follows a girl who’s the descendant of powerful sea creatures (sea cow mermaids!) and there are family secrets. That’s my pitch. (4/5 stars)A Hagiography of Starlight - Somaiya Daud: I am a Big Fan of flowery, lyrical prose, and Daud delivered that in this story of a dancer who devotes her life to a being (or, god) who will only answer to her. I read it as a young girl being groomed by a powerful and older being into giving him part of her essence. He enmeshes himself into her being in return, leaving the reader gasping for more of this story. (4.5/5 stars)Melie - Justina Ireland: If you’re a fan of Black Hermione Granger, I have a feeling you’ll love Melie, because she is giving me competence and bravery and wit, all while uncovering a massive conspiracy in her kingdom and entertaining a dragon (sort of). (4.5/5 stars)The Goddess Provides - L.L. McKinney: If Ireland’s story served Hermione Granger realness, this one brought the fire one could associate with Daenerys Targeryen. In such a short format, McKinney packed a punch or two in her plot twists, leaving me actually shocked. This is another story I’d like to see developed into a high fantasy novel. (4.5/5 stars)Hearts Turned to Ash - Dhonielle Clayton: A girl’s heart is turning to dust after her “soulmate” breaks up with her. She has to fix it with magic. The prose was delightful yet pointed. I would’ve tried to change the last paragraph, since it felt a bit like “duh.” The MC is also implied to be bi. (4/5 stars)Letting the Right One In - Patrice Caldwell: It can’t be speculative fiction if it didn’t have vampires, and for them to be brought in by the collection’s editor seemed like an obvious move. A depressed queer Black girl hyperfixated on vampires who happens to stumble upon a vampire and ends up falling for her? Incredibly on brand. The story needed more space to develop properly since there wasn’t any history between the two, and thus needed breathing room. There’s almost no dialogue between the main characters, and the story ends with the MC’s parents getting divorced, making it feel like the writer was cramming too many character quirks into a very small box. Maybe it’ll work for some, but it didn’t work for me. (3.5/5 stars) Tender-Headed - Danny Lore: Lore threads a story of family and trauma and makes a beautiful narrative that flips between sad, infuriating moments in the MC’s life and her attempt at fixing what she’s internalized and left undealt with. This one warrants a second read to decipher what was up with the MC’s friend, since it left me confused upon my first read. The story also has a f/nb relationship! (4.5/5 stars)Kiss the Sun - Ibi Zoboi: Upon finishing Zoboi’s story, I was unsure as to what to think of it. Of all the stories in the collection, this one was its weakest point, personally. Some positives: I’d never heard of the mythology used in the story, the soucouyant, which was great for me to go and do research about; the story’s set in haiti and it comments on the way white foreigners come to the island to wreak havoc in the way of exploitation, unflinching in its honest take; and it talks about colorism and the way it can warp people’s minds (I am not the best person to talk about the way this is portrayed). However, and this is something I came across with Zoboi’s novel Pride, there’s so much internalized misogyny in Zoboi’s characters. The slut-shaming, antagonizing, and plain cruelness among her female characters at times is unnerving. Her characters call other “female” (they’re supernatural beings, so I don’t know anything about their gender identification) characters whores, and in an attempt to save face another character calls the “male” characters whores as well. The language doesn’t sit well for me as someone who’s pro sex workers’ rights, and this kind of word has been weaponized against them. There’s more about the girls fighting over colorism, but, again, I shouldn’t talk about that. I’d love to know a Black reader’s perspective on this one. (3/5 Stars)The Actress - Danielle Paige: I’d never read anything from Paige, who’s famous for her Dorothy Must Die series, and I don’t think her writing is my cup of tea. Paige’s story follows a young actress in a teen supernatural series a la Teen Wolf and suddenly discovers she has magical powers after having her first kiss be on camera, with her crush. It was cheesy, but still enjoyable. Vampire and witch romance rights! (3.5/5 stars)The Curse of Love - Ashley Woodfolk: A girl is descended from women cursed to decay in real time when they fall in love. Another new-to-me author, I really loved Woodfolk’s prose. This story felt so short, and yet wasn’t presumptuous in wanting to cram more story into something that was short and sweet. It was also a daring writing style, as it was told in both first person present tense and third person past tense. I don’t think the switch between tenses was absolutely necessary but it worked in this case, I guess. (4/5 stars)All the Time in the World - Charlotte Nicole Davis: Davis’ story was truly one of my favorites in this collection. Drawing from fictional stories like Bernard’s Watch, and the reality of Black Americans with issues like racist police harassment and the Flint Water Crisis, the fusion made it into something reminiscent of Heroes or Not Your Sidekick. Written in second person, it doesn’t let the reader try to guess the main character’s gender, yet the author codes them as either trans masculine or butch. In any case, it still was gay, and there’s a sweet kiss snuck in there that felt won. (5/5 stars) The Witch’s Skin - Karen Strong: Seemingly both dystopian and fantasy, Strong’s mix of genres works in this story starring a young girl whose love has been murdered by the Boo Hag-- a shapeshifting witch who’s been terrorizing the island they live in and killing men of shady reputation by sucking their souls out. The wording chosen for the witch… saying she rides the men… Safe to say it was a disturbing read. (4/5 stars)Sequence - J. Marcelle Corrie: To close out the anthology, we get a sci-fi story told in dual timelines, as it revolves around a girl using a new sort of technology that helps you see two different outcomes of a certain conundrum, such as deciding whether to tell the girl you like that you like her, or not. You can guess which possibility the main character chooses, but still, it’s a fun gay read to end the collection, sticking the landing. (4/5 stars)The rating averaged out at: 4.125, so I’ll round it up to 4/5 stars. Thanks to Penguin Teen for the ARC, I received it at YALLFest and I wasn’t obligated to write this, but still I’m grateful.
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  • faith ✨
    January 1, 1970
    This whole concept of black gender non-conforming teens is basically me and I'm so fucking here for it, so N E E D.Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram
  • Sierra
    January 1, 1970
    Murderous unicorns, transforming dragons, many types of Black witches, Black queer vampires, and so much more!
  • ♛ Cameron ♛
    January 1, 1970
    I am in complete awe of this cover. The girl is so pretty! The colors! The swooshing hair! The title! My poor gay heart cant take much more. Also the whole premise behind this is a collection is black girl magic. I couldnt add this to my TBR sooner. I really loved some of the stories, especially Elizabeth Acevedos, yet I do think some of the other stories didnt quite engage me. Considering this is an anthology collection, Im not surprised about my overall thoughts on the book being average. I am in complete awe of this cover. The girl is so pretty! The colors! The swooshing hair! The title! My poor gay heart can’t take much more. Also the whole premise behind this is a collection is “black girl magic.” I couldn’t add this to my TBR sooner. I really loved some of the stories, especially Elizabeth Acevedo’s, yet I do think some of the other stories didn’t quite engage me. Considering this is an anthology collection, I’m not surprised about my overall thoughts on the book being average. This collection had sixteen stories all about the Black experience. The stories are all incredibly diverse featuring gender nonconformity and other LGBT+ representation. A Phoenix Must First Burn features folktales and fairytales retold and featuring love, betrayal, strength, and resistance. The authors included are Elizabeth Acevedo, Amerie, Dhonielle Clayton, Jalissa Corrie, Somaiya Daud, Charlotte Davis, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Justina Ireland, Danny Lore, L.L. McKinney, Danielle Paige, Rebecca Roanhorse, Karen Strong, Ashley Woodfolk, and Ibi Zoboi. Don’t take my three star as me not liking the collection. I simply added up my overall average for all of the stories and wound up here, I promise this is an interesting collection worth checking out. The stories mainly focus on sci-fi and fantasy, but they connect to current events and real life issues. The characters are all complex, even if you know them for just twenty pages, they’re relatable and interesting to read about. Despite all the action and adventure in the stories, I feel like I always had something left to think about when I finished a story. I was so excited by how many of the authors I recognized in this collection and it made me happy to think about black authors entering the mainstream. I’m so happy that young black teens are now able to read stories where they can relate to the main character. Where they can be seen in literature. Where they aren’t just supporting the main (white) character, or being the sassy character, or the comic relief. This collection shows great promise to our future. It shows that more and more books are going to be made to the public by black authors and featuring black characters, and even more races are to be represented! If you are interested in murderous unicorn, vampires (with a touch of gay), witches, and dragons all diverse and beautiful, I’d recommend adding this to your TBR.
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  • Alicia
    January 1, 1970
    Let's give it up for short story collections. Let's also give it up for black girl magic. Literally, black girl magic. The impetus for pulling together this fabulous group of authors to write magical stories rooted in history, tradition, or vampirism is all in celebration of being seen. The vibe of the book starts with the breathtaking cover and each story has something different to offer. I can see Caldwell's efforts in organization and her short story "Letting the Right One In" is actually one Let's give it up for short story collections. Let's also give it up for black girl magic. Literally, black girl magic. The impetus for pulling together this fabulous group of authors to write magical stories rooted in history, tradition, or vampirism is all in celebration of being seen. The vibe of the book starts with the breathtaking cover and each story has something different to offer. I can see Caldwell's efforts in organization and her short story "Letting the Right One In" is actually one of my favorites from the collection. I would put this alongside the Asian myth short story collection A Thousand Beginnings and Endings because it's just that epic. To get to five stars-- maybe a few different formatting styles? Like Acevedo writes verse-- having her write a verse short story? Or maybe Tee Franklin teaming up with her illustrator collaborator Jenn St-Onge (creators of Bingo Love) to do a graphic short story. I always get impressed when there's a diversity of format in addition to the beauty of the short stories themselves.
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    I admit up front that as a white, cis gender, middle age woman, I am probably not the main target audience for this book. However, I love #OwnVoices stories and I love fantasy/sci-fi. I'm a history buff and I've always thought that the strongest American is the Black woman - she who has endured so much, yet her story is rarely told. So, I was looking forward to reading this collection. Sadly, this book was a really uneven read for me. Several of the short stories were gripping and I just I admit up front that as a white, cis gender, middle age woman, I am probably not the main target audience for this book. However, I love #OwnVoices stories and I love fantasy/sci-fi. I'm a history buff and I've always thought that the strongest American is the Black woman - she who has endured so much, yet her story is rarely told. So, I was looking forward to reading this collection. Sadly, this book was a really uneven read for me. Several of the short stories were gripping and I just couldn't stop reading, others bored me to tears. All of the books had some fantasy or sci-fi mixed in and a fair percentage also had at least one character that identified as LGBTQ. Being a collection of short stories, it's difficult to review this book. I enjoyed When Life Hands You a Lemon Fruitbomb, Guilded, Melie, The Goddess Provides, Hearts Turned to Ash, Letting the Right One In, The Actress, Kiss the Sun, and The Witch's Skin. I was bored by Abigail Fields Recalls Her First Death and, Subsequently, Her Best life, The Rules of the Land, a Hagiography of Starlight, Tender-Headed, The Curse of Love, All the Time in the World, and Sequence.This would be a great book to introduce the reader to authors with whom they are unfamiliar - it definitely gives you a feel for each different writing style. I would also recommend it to anyone who enjoys magical realism and #OwnVoices stories.Disclaimer: I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
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  • Sara (A Gingerly Review)
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed this more than I thought I would.
  • El
    January 1, 1970
    Each story was captivating and filled with a gorgeous story, unique in every way possible. My one complaint is over my sense of frustration when each story ended. I know they're short stories, but I wanted more. I would absolutely read a full length novel or series of each plot. All authors are being added to my TBR.
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  • Renee
    January 1, 1970
    My local bookstore is hosting a release discussion for this! Amerie and Caldwell will be there, hosted by Nalo Hopkinson!
  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    My Rating: 3.5/5 StarsThank you to Bookish First and Penguin Teen for sending me an ARC of this book! Any quotes I use are coming from this, which is an uncorrected text, and may not be what appears in the final version of the book. All thoughts of the book are my own and have not been influenced by me receiving this ARC!Overall, I think this book was good! Some stories definitely stand out more than others, but I expect that would be the case with any collection of short stories. Another big My Rating: 3.5/5 StarsThank you to Bookish First and Penguin Teen for sending me an ARC of this book! Any quotes I use are coming from this, which is an uncorrected text, and may not be what appears in the final version of the book. All thoughts of the book are my own and have not been influenced by me receiving this ARC!Overall, I think this book was good! Some stories definitely stand out more than others, but I expect that would be the case with any collection of short stories. Another big plus for this book is the representation (both for black girls and the LGBT+ community)!I figured it would be better if I just broke down my feelings about each individual story, rather than trying to sum it all up.“When Life Hands You A Lemon Fruitbomb” by AmerieMy main issue with this story was that the reader doesn’t even learn the narrator’s name until page 17 of the story (12 pages in is when we learn her last name). I felt like that was way too far in the story to learn her name, and would have preferred if her name was shown sooner. Another downside to this story for me was that the plot was a bit confusing at times because it jumped around quite a bit. As a result, it was kind of hard to be drawn into the story. However, while the plot is confusing, it is also interesting and something I would like to read more of, if ever developed into a full length book!“Gilded” by Elizabeth AcevedoThe only downfall that I have to story is that we aren’t told the narrator’s name until above seven pages in to the story. Again, as mentioned for the first story, I think this is something we should be told early on, rather than later. I found that this story had a really good blend of both fantasy and history, which I appreciated. Also, sometimes in short stories the ending can feel a bit rushed, but this ending did not feel like that! It wrapped up nicely and without any sort of rush.One of the quotes from this story that I really liked was, “ I want to explain that I have seen mules walking alongside the roadway who know freedom in ways I have never known” (43). I think this quote perfectly encapsulates what slavery was like, and how the slaves felt. Like I said, really nice blend of fantasy and history!“Wherein Abigail Fields Recalls Her First Death And, Subsequently, Her Best Life” by Rebecca RoanhorseHonestly, I think this story was probably the weakest of all the stories. I just don’t think it really fit in with the rest of the book. There really wasn’t much fantasy involved. Maybe five or six paragraphs worth? I also feel like the title is a longer than it needs to be and doesn’t really work for the story, unless this is a story from a series of stories where Abigail has died several times.“The Rules of the Land” by Alaya Dawn JohnsonWhile this story wasn’t a personal favorite, I did feel that the plot was interesting and very easy to follow along with. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I would enjoy a whole book of something along the lines of this story, but I might read one or two more stories that take place in the same world.“A Hagiography of Starlight” by Somaiya DaudAgain, with this this story we don’t learn the narrator’s name until about 12 pages into the story. This makes it hard to connect with the character because she doesn’t really have an identity until then. Another downfall to this story was that there was a bit of info-dumping at the beginning. This made it kind of hard to keep track of things and made me slightly lose interest in the story. However, I found that the idea for this story was really interesting! The plot was fun and unique, not something that I’ve read a thousand times. I think if this were to be worked on a bit, this could be a really good story!“Melie” by Justina IrelandThis story, without a doubt, was my absolute favorite of all 16 stories! It was exactly what I had hoped the rest of the stories would be like! There were dragons! There were murderous and protective unicorns! And there was body positivity! ALL IN ONE STORY! What was not to love??A quote that made me laugh when I got to it was, “I had, it seemed, unwittingly unleashed a bloodbath. Whoops” (129). Thought this was a really great line!“The Goddess Provides” by L.L. McKinneyI think this story was probably in my top five. Although, I did wish that there was more fantasy involved in the story. The fantasy aspect really only came in at the end of the story. However, the plot was good and there was a plot twist! A plot twist always makes a story better!“Hearts Turned to Ash” by Dhonielle ClaytonWith this story, I felt that the characters fell a little flat, and were hard to connect with. I definitely think the characters should be fleshed out a bit more than what they are. I also felt like the magic system in this story was confusing (or just different). I don’t really understand how Etta and Jackson’s parent can make them “soulmates” if they aren’t ACTUALLY soulmates. Was the witch playing fate? I did think the concept for this story was really good, but I think it could’ve been executed a bit better.“Letting the Right One In” by Patrice CaldwellThis story was probably my third favorite of the stories! While I did think it was just slightly cliché, it wasn’t so much so that it made me annoyed with the story. Also, there are vampire (or really, just one vampire), so, that’s a plus!A qoute from this one that I liked (and felt personally attacked by) was that the main character “spent more time in my room with books than I did with ‘people my age’” (186). Wow, it’s like I was just called out.“Tender-Headed” by Danny LoreThis story wasn’t really my thing, but I can see the appeal. I thought the relationship between Akilah and Jayleen was really nice in this one. One thing that I didn’t get was the spiders. Why were they even there? They didn’t seem to play any role in the story, but by the way they were mentioned, it made it seem like they were quite important.“Kiss the Sun” by Ibi ZoboiAgain, this story wasn’t really my cup of tea. Definitely not something that I would choose to reread. It was slightly confusing, especially when it got to the part where they are shedding their human skins. However, I will say that the story and concept is unique!“The Actress” by Danielle PaigeThis one was cliché in my opinion, and not the good kind, either. The plot was really basic and not much really happened within the story itself. Definitely one of my least favorite from the collection.“The Curse of Love” by Ashley WoodfolkI found this story to be very interesting and the concept was unique, which is a plus! I would definitely be tempted to read more stories set in this universe! However, I did feel that it took a bit too long to explain what Aubrey was acting the way she was towards Vince. I felt like this could’ve been brought up sooner in the story.“All the Time in the World” by Charlotte Nicole DavisThis story would also be in my top five! The story is in second person perspective, which can be really hard to get to work well, but Davis did it! The second person perspective worked extremely well in this story and I would definitely be interested in reading more! Also, the plot was interesting and the story was paced well, both of which could have been hindered by the story being in second person!“The Witch’s Skin” by Karen StrongI think this story was one of the stronger ones, though I don’t think it would fall in my top five. The story was interesting and held my attention throughout. The plot was good, though maybe spouts slightly rushed a pt a moment or two. This story also contains a plot twist, which, like I’ve stated, is always a good and fun thing!“Sequence” by J. Marcelle CorrieI definitely would read more stories set in this universe! This one was probably my second favorite of the collection of stories! This one gave me a lot of Black Mirror vibes, which I totally loved! story was super interesting and kept me turning the pages!As a whole, I don’t think this book was amazing, but there were some stand outs within it. This wouldn’t be a book I would immediately recommend to someone if they asked for recommendations, but it might be if the person asked for a book with good representation, because it definitely has that!
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  • Slyth
    January 1, 1970
    **Thank you again @bookishfirst and @penguinteen for this fantastic arc!!!**I loved this book from beginning to end!!!! This was truly inspiring for me, a young black female, whom is working on my own novels. I have never felt proudly represented in so many fantasy stories and am truly grateful for the 16 writer's coming together to offer this gem.My heart feels so full with all of the Black Girl Magic this book offered. I did not want the stories to end and could not get enough of the stories **Thank you again @bookishfirst and @penguinteen for this fantastic arc!!!**I loved this book from beginning to end!!!! This was truly inspiring for me, a young black female, whom is working on my own novels. I have never felt proudly represented in so many fantasy stories and am truly grateful for the 16 writer's coming together to offer this gem.My heart feels so full with all of the Black Girl Magic this book offered. I did not want the stories to end and could not get enough of the stories and craved MORE!! It ranged from witches to aliens, folklore and adventures involving dragons and MAGIC!!!!!! It felt like a catalog of recommended author's to follow, which I will do. This is a great break from the plethora of caucus centered books that feature no one of color to ONLY including POC as background characters to sooner or later kill off.
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  • Melissa Anderson
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this anthology. From witches to vampires, aliens and future technologies, this book has it all. Every story is told by a black woman or girl. Some stories feature LGBTQ main characters. A collection of diverse stories. Obviously some of the stories appealed to me more than others. That's usually the way of short story collections. I loved Gilded. A story about a witch and slave with the power to speak with and control metals. It was such a beautifully told story. A story about revolution I loved this anthology. From witches to vampires, aliens and future technologies, this book has it all. Every story is told by a black woman or girl. Some stories feature LGBTQ main characters. A collection of diverse stories. Obviously some of the stories appealed to me more than others. That's usually the way of short story collections. I loved Gilded. A story about a witch and slave with the power to speak with and control metals. It was such a beautifully told story. A story about revolution and moving outside of one's comfort for the benefit of others. I also loved The Curse of Love. A generation of women cursed to live forever. Young and beautiful, until they fall in love. I cannot wait for this book to be out in the world so that it can be loved and shared. Thank you Penguin Teen for sending me this sec in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Bianca
    January 1, 1970
    I entered & won this as a Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for an honest review. I entered the giveaway because this book seemed interesting. I'm a white chick but I enjoy diverse reading. This book contained a variety of fantasy and sci fi short stories which were compelling and centered around diverse storylines and charachters. There is a wide variety of well known authors and a treasure of short stories representing strong POC women characters. There is a wide variety of character types I entered & won this as a Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for an honest review. I entered the giveaway because this book seemed interesting. I'm a white chick but I enjoy diverse reading. This book contained a variety of fantasy and sci fi short stories which were compelling and centered around diverse storylines and charachters. There is a wide variety of well known authors and a treasure of short stories representing strong POC women characters. There is a wide variety of character types and plotlines in these stories - aliens, witches, pick your favorite sci fi/fantasy basically its probably here. I really appreciate the fact this book was created. Representation matters for all people in all genres. I think anyone else who reads this will love this anthology. Definite recommend.
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  • Avalon
    January 1, 1970
    *3.5 StarsNow, I have not read a book of short stories since childhood. Like literally the last time I read a book of short stories I think I was 10. So just keep that in mind as you read this review. I liked most of the stories in this novel; I had a hard time understanding a few of them but most were really nice and definitely all were uplifting. I also really liked the concept of the novel and I also feel it comes at a really good time. Right now tons of books with African descended girls as *3.5 StarsNow, I have not read a book of short stories since childhood. Like literally the last time I read a book of short stories I think I was 10. So just keep that in mind as you read this review. I liked most of the stories in this novel; I had a hard time understanding a few of them but most were really nice and definitely all were uplifting. I also really liked the concept of the novel and I also feel it comes at a really good time. Right now tons of books with African descended girls as protagonists are coming out and this book really is kind of like an introduction to a bunch of authors who have written books with the same sort of main character. **Spoilers Below**Overall, sadly I do have to say I was a bit disappointed by the novel, but it had nothing to do with the stories at all, only their medium. After reading this, I decided that I am definitely not a short stories person. Although I see the value in being able to pick up the book and read a story in it each night, I just can't get invested in a story that will only take 20 minutes to read. For me, I need to be reading for a while and feel like I've been thru a lot with the characters, or else the reveals and giant ending scenes don't mean much for me. So all the stories were amazing, but the medium didn't work for me. Just a personal preference thing.I did really like all the stories though, so here is a list, from favorite to least favorite of each story and my thoughts. The Actress: I really liked this one. It was definitely my favorite of the entire novel. I'm kind of on a contemporary kick right now and I loved hearing the mix between fantasy and contemporary. I also like the friends turn romantically involved portion of the storyline. I hate to admit it, but that is definitely my favorite type of romance. The Witch's Skin: OMG! This one was so good! I feel like it was the only story where a reveal shocked me a tad, and I have no idea how the author did it, but she is awesome! I love how the main character already knew the Boo hag was her mom, but we didn't find out until later.Sequence: I'm also really into Sci-fi right now and this one's concept was super cool! I love how the entire first half of the story was the first sequence and the second half was the other sequence. That one was a really cool reveal too and the reason I think it worked was because we all assumed that what was going on was reality (as you do) so this story basically ripped reality out from under us.All the Time in the World: Although I had a tiny bit of a hard time understanding this one, I loved the concept of contaminated water giving someone super powers. Super cool.Wherein Abigail Fields recalls her First Death and Subsequently her Best Life: Kind of a mouthful of a title right? Well I actually really liked this one. Super cool concept and I loved how the desert was personified and said to have magical power.Melie: Oh! This one was super awesome. I loved Melie as a character, she was super nice and caring, but also fierce and wasn't going to let anyone stop her from getting where she wanted to be. Letting the Right One in: This story was super cool. I loved the detectivey bit with the main character researching on how the girl could be a vampire. I also really liked the nice ending, something I think the main character was really needing.Hearts Turn to Ash: Now this one was great! I loved how the main character's heart was literally turning to ash after the guy broke up with her. Such a cool concept and a good warning. I also liked how she choose to keep her heart instead of trading it for another at the end.The Girls of Love: This one was pretty good. I have read other novels that were very similar to it, but still a cool story.Kiss the Sun: Now this one was weird and because I am a very combative person, I did not like how it ended. I think it was just a little gruesome that girls shed their skin and then go (basically) eat people at night. I also didn't like that no one stood up for the girl whose skin was taken and that even she didn't try to go get it back.Gilded: This one was pretty good, but the story wasn't very investing for me and even though I liked the end, it didn't have a huge impact on my me. I am taking American History this year, so I almost felt like I'd heard this one before. When Life Hands you a Lemon Fruit Bomb: Ok, this one was pretty weird, but I did like the concept of orcs invading the world. What I didn't like was the main characters choice to stay on the orc planet when everyone was leaving and allow her friend to stay as well.The Goddess Provides: This one I didn't understand very much, but I did like the story. Rules of the Land: Once again, this one had too many new terms and names for things that I didn't have enough time to get used too and just left me confused.Tender Headed: This one made no sense to me at all. That's it. It just made no sense.A Hagiography of Starlight: This was the only story I didn't like. I felt like the main character was being coerced into a marriage she didn't want and that just made me annoyed. I hate to end on a down note, so overall, I did think this book was ok. Just the medium made it a bit hard to enjoy for me. I would recommend it to anyone who want's more character diversity in their lives or wants to find some new authors who write diverse books. I also recommend this to anyone who likes books of short stories.
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  • Ariel [She Wants the Diction]
    January 1, 1970
    I'm halfway through this book and have decided it's just not for me.I know, I know! A breathtaking cover. A title borrowed directly from Octavia Butler's Parable of the Talents. "Sixteen tales by bestselling and award-winning authors that explore the Black experience through fantasy, science fiction, and magic... A stunning narrative that centers Black women and gender nonconforming individuals."I mean, this ticks literally all my boxes. How could I possibly not like it?!Well, for starters, I'm I'm halfway through this book and have decided it's just not for me.I know, I know! A breathtaking cover. A title borrowed directly from Octavia Butler's Parable of the Talents. "Sixteen tales by bestselling and award-winning authors that explore the Black experience through fantasy, science fiction, and magic... A stunning narrative that centers Black women and gender nonconforming individuals."I mean, this ticks literally all my boxes. How could I possibly not like it?!Well, for starters, I'm a 26-year-old woman who still occasionally reads YA. But usually I have no problem reading things that aren't geared towards my age group! This, however... I really felt my age, if that makes sense. A lot of the stories were very simplistic, predictable, forgettable, childish, and/or preachy, with a lot of romances and insta-love thrown in.Also, I'm a big sci-fi fan, and I'd say most of these stories should be classified as fantasy instead - so that was disappointing. I felt unsatisfied in some way after finishing each one, and Dhonielle Clayton's "Hearts Turned to Ash" really solidified that this collection was not for me. I felt like she was talking down to a much younger audience, and there was really nothing I could gain from it. I also just wasn't enjoying myself.As with most short story collections, the writing varies wildly in quality, hovering around a 2, with the occasional standout 3 or 4. The narrator (York Whitaker), however, is EXCELLENT and deserves all the credit. She does have a lisp, which takes some getting used to, but she's very animated and brings the stories to life. If it weren't for her, I'd probably have quit much sooner. I think she's relatively new to narrating, too, because I looked her up and can't find any other books she's been in.- When Life Hands You a Lemon Fruit Bomb: ★★★- Gilded: ★★★★- Wherein Abigail Fields Recalls Her First Death: ★★- The Rules of the Land: ★★★★- A Geography of Starlights: ★★- Mellie: ★★- The Goddess Provides: ★★★- Hearts Turned to Ash: ★★
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