Top Ten Tuesday: Books with a Summer Vibe

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

I can’t believe Top Ten Tuesday has been around for 10 years. Holy cow. I’m such a newbie blogger.

Since this prompt is the freebiest of freebies, I want to promote Black authors.

This week’s theme is Diversify Your TBR: YA Edition

I might do a contemporary romance and SFF edition too, if you’d like.

A lot of readers have been diversifying their reading habits in the past couple of years, and over the past month more readers and bloggers have joined in—making pledges to educate themselves on BLM and systemic racism, and to do and be better. Even if you can’t donate to causes or attend protests, there are other ways to help: signing petitions, retweeting and boosting Black voices, and generally doing the work to be an antiracist.

And if, like me, you’re super new to antiracism, give yourself compassion. You’ve lived a long life of ignorance (which is a lovely form of privilege in itself), and you are educating yourself to be better. Do the work, accept criticism, and listen. Don’t expect Black people or any other person of color to cut you any slack or educate you. You’re going to fail, and fail often. How you react to that failure is what matters.

And, in addition to reading nonfiction, read fun books by Black authors, too! Because Black authors and creators shouldn’t be expected to write only of pain and suffering—but of love, joy, romance and everything in between.

There are many Black book bloggers and bloggers out there. Here are some:

The Sistah Girl Next Door:

Brown Girl Reading

Reading in the Clouds

The Euphoric Zat

The Happy Bibliophile

Cierra’s Cynosure

Hardcover Haven

With Love, Saoudia

The below are ten recently-ish published or forthcoming YA books by Black authors (minus one from 2011!). The blurbs are from Goodreads.

LGBTQIAP+

You Should See Me in a Crown by Lee Johnson

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

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

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

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys.

Both a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of color, All Boys Aren’t Blue covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy. Johnson’s emotionally frank style of writing will appeal directly to young adults.

If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann

High school finally behind her, Winnie is all set to attend college in the fall. But first she’s spending her summer days working at her granny’s diner and begins spending her midnights with Dallas—the boy she loves to hate and hates that she likes. Winnie lives in Misty Haven, a small town where secrets are impossible to keep—like when Winnie allegedly snaps on Dr. Skinner, which results in everyone feeling compelled to give her weight loss advice for her own good. Because they care that’s she’s “too fat.”

Winnie dreams of someday inheriting the diner—but it’ll go away if they can’t make money, and fast. Winnie has a solution—win a televised cooking competition and make bank. But Granny doesn’t want her to enter—so Winnie has to find a way around her formidable grandmother. Can she come out on top?

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

 I masquerade in makeup and feathers and I am applauded.

A boy comes to terms with his identity as a mixed-race gay teen – then at university he finds his wings as a drag artist, The Black Flamingo. A bold story about the power of embracing your uniqueness.

Sometimes, we need to take charge, to stand up wearing pink feathers – to show ourselves to the world in bold colour.

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

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

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

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

The Summer of Everything by Julian Winters

Comic book geek Wesley Hudson excels at two things: slacking off at his job and pining after his best friend, Nico. Advice from his friends, ‘90s alt-rock songs, and online dating articles aren’t helping much with his secret crush. And his dream job at Once Upon a Page, the local used bookstore, is threatened when a coffeeshop franchise wants to buy the property. To top it off, his annoying brother needs wedding planning advice. When all three problems converge, Wes comes face-to-face with the one thing he’s been avoiding—adulthood.

Now, confronted with reality, can Wes balance saving the bookstore and his strained sibling relationship? Can he win the heart of his crush, too?

Contemporary

Slay by Brittney Morris

By day, seventeen-year-old Kiera Johnson is an honors student, a math tutor, and one of the only Black kids at Jefferson Academy. But at home, she joins hundreds of thousands of Black gamers who duel worldwide as Nubian personas in the secret multiplayer online role-playing card game, SLAY. No one knows Kiera is the game developer, not her friends, her family, not even her boyfriend, Malcolm, who believes video games are partially responsible for the “downfall of the Black man.”

But when a teen in Kansas City is murdered over a dispute in the SLAY world, news of the game reaches mainstream media, and SLAY is labeled a racist, exclusionist, violent hub for thugs and criminals. Even worse, an anonymous troll infiltrates the game, threatening to sue Kiera for “anti-white discrimination.”

Driven to save the only world in which she can be herself, Kiera must preserve her secret identity and harness what it means to be unapologetically Black in a world intimidated by Blackness. But can she protect her game without losing herself in the process?

I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest

When Chloe Pierce’s mom forbids her to apply for a spot at the dance conservatory of her dreams, she devises a secret plan to drive two hundred miles to the nearest audition. But Chloe hits her first speed bump when her annoying neighbor Eli insists upon hitching a ride, threatening to tell Chloe’s mom if she leaves him and his smelly dog, Geezer, behind.

So now Chloe’s chasing her ballet dreams down the east coast—two unwanted (but kinda cute) passengers in her car, butterflies in her stomach, and a really dope playlist on repeat.

The Queen Bee of Bridgeton by Leslie DuBois

When fifteen-year-old Sonya Garrison is accepted into the prestigious Bridgeton Academy, she soon discovers that rich girls are just as dangerous as the thugs in her home of Venton Heights…maybe more so. After catching the eye of the star white basketball player and unwittingly becoming the most popular girl in school, she earns the hatred of the three most ruthless and vindictive girls at Bridgeton.

Can she defeat the reigning high school royalty? Or will they succeed in ruining her lifelong dream of becoming a world class dancer?

Smash It! by Francina Simone

Olivia “Liv” James is done with letting her insecurities get the best of her. So she does what any self-respecting hot mess of a girl who wants to SMASH junior year does. She makes a list—a F*ck It list.

Be bold—do the things that scare me.

Learn to take a compliment.

Stand out instead of back.

Now she’s got a part in her school’s musical production of Othello, new friends and the attention of three very different boys. In Liv’s own words, “F*ck it. What’s the worst that can happen?” The answer is . . . a lot. #SMASHIT

Which Books Do You Recommend?

8 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Books with a Summer Vibe

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