Review: The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Goodreads: The Other Black Girl
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Buy: Bookshop.org UK | US
Synopsis: Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and microaggressions, she’s thrilled when Harlem-born and bred Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events elevates Hazel to Office Darling, and Nella is left in the dust.

Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW.

It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realizes that there’s a lot more at stake than just her career.

Review: I received this digital copy in exchange for an honest review, thanks Bloomsbury.

The Other Black Girl is the first book since The Binding that I’ve desperately wanted a physical arc of, but just like with The Binding I ended up with a digital copy instead. The concept of the physical arc was just so beautifully executed, and when I found out that this was a thriller set in the publishing industry I knew I had to read this early.

This review is actually going to be kinda short because I don’t want to risk accidentally spoiling any part of this excellently constructed thriller. Zakiya Dalila Harris perfectly executes a slow-burn that leads to a deeply unsettling ending, and it’s worth mentioning that this book is much more like Get Out than The Devil Wears Prada; think insidious and dark thriller rather than seductive office drama. The Other Black Girl really is a slow-burn that favours a building sense of menace around Nella, Hazel, and their office rather than a fast-paced thriller and it works perfectly. Watching as Hazel invades Nella’s life, as she gets on better with her boss and friends at the company, and Nella’s reputation plummets as her paranoia rises. The rising sense of menace is so well executed that I was gripped despite not a whole lot actually happening, and I was desperate to uncover the mystery behind the arrival of Hazel.

The Other Black Girl also highlights the tokenism and microaggressions that Nella experiences at her all white office, but as one of those white girls in publishing I’m not going to comment on whether or not this was executed well. It did add to Nella’s feeling of “otherness” in the workplace, and threw a glaring light onto the continuing lack of diversity in the publishing industry.

Harris has constructed an excellent slow-burn thriller with a unique concept that had me rushing towards the end, The Other Black Girl is an uncomfortable read but it’s so worth it!

Recommend: If you’re a lover of slow-burn thriller with some excellent social commentary thrown in then this is worth the read.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Bimonthly Book Haul

Bi-monthly she said, well that didn’t happen did it. I went on a wildly unsuccessful book buying ban, and due to the country shutting down and my brush with Covid-19 I didn’t managed to read many books let alone buy ’em but now we’re back baby. This is going to be a bit of a long clean-up post so we can get back on track with this whole book haul thing, and so I can call myself out for buying books and then forgetting about them like a fool. There’ll also be no ARCs in this post because I did, somehow, manage to resist requesting advanced reader copies and I’m quite proud of myself!

Bought

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Women’s Prize for Fiction Longlist 2021: Book Haul

Recently I’ve been falling a little in love with literary fiction. I’m not usually the biggest fan, and I don’t normally review this genre on the blog, but lockdown has got me stepping outside my comfort zone. It all started with Boy Parts back in August (which I did review btw), then I went on to read Breasts and Eggs, and after the Women’s Prize for Fiction’s longlist was announced I figured I’d pick up a few of the nominated titles.

I decided I would pick the books based entirely on the blurbs, no reading other peoples reviews, so it would feel like I’d wandered into Waterstones and happened upon them. Is this the best way to buy books? maybe not, but it has made me really excited to sit down and fully immerse myself in their worlds. So, I figured I would make a little list of my purchases so you can see which blurbs ended up catching my eye, and what I’m planning on reading before they announce the winner in a few months. I may have already finished Luster and I’m about halfway through Detransition, Baby so I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to rise to this challenge!

Luster by Raven Leilani
White book cover with a picture of the lower half of a black woman's face, she is wearing read lipstick. 
White text reads: Luster
Orange text reads: Raven Leilani

Edie is just trying to survive. She’s messing up in her dead-end admin job in her all-white office, is sleeping with all the wrong men, and has failed at the only thing that meant anything to her, painting. No one seems to care that she doesn’t really know what she’s doing with her life beyond looking for her next hook-up. And then she meets Eric, a white, middle-aged archivist with a suburban family, including a wife who has sort-of-agreed to an open marriage and an adopted black daughter who doesn’t have a single person in her life who can show her how to do her hair. As if navigating the constantly shifting landscape of sexual and racial politics as a young black woman wasn’t already hard enough, with nowhere else left to go, Edie finds herself falling head-first into Eric’s home and family.

Goodreads: Luster by Raven Leilani

Continue reading “Women’s Prize for Fiction Longlist 2021: Book Haul”

Best of 2020

Soo normally I’d split this out into a few smaller posts about the books, games, and films I’ve loved this year, but instead I’ve decided to pull together a big behemoth post about the things that have touched my ice-cold heart!

Books

So this years first place on Nia’s list of absolutely amazing reads was hotly contested. I have read some absolutely wonderful mind-bendingly good books this year, but one really stood out for me.

Eliza Clark’s incredible debut novel Boy Parts published with Influx Press is my book of the year! This book was a perfect example of unreliable narrator done well, and the book itself feels more than a little hallucinogenic. Boy Parts will be one I’ll come back to again and again just to drink in the detail, it’s dark, gritty, and I cannot wait to read what Clark writes next.
My Full Review
Buy Direct from Influx

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Review: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell

Goodreads: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me
Publisher: First Second Books
Book Depository
Synopsis: All Freddy Riley wants is for Laura Dean to stop breaking up with her.

The day they got together was the best one of Freddy’s life, but nothing’s made sense since. Laura Dean is popular, funny, and SO CUTE … but she can be really thoughtless, even mean. Their on-again, off-again relationship has Freddy’s head spinning — and Freddy’s friends can’t understand why she keeps going back.

When Freddy consults the services of a local mystic, the mysterious Seek-Her, she isn’t thrilled with the advice she receives. But something’s got to give: Freddy’s heart is breaking in slow motion, and she may be about to lose her very best friend as well as her last shred of self-respect. Fortunately for Freddy, there are new friends, and the insight of advice columnist Anna Vice, to help her through being a teenager in love.

Review: trigger warning: abortion, emotional abuse

This gorgeous Graphic novel has been on my list for so long that it’s become slightly embarrassing, I fell in love with the art but never managed to find a copy in my local bookshop. Eventually, I caved (lock-down broke me) and ordered it from Waterstones, so now I can finally say I’ve finished the absolutely gorgeous Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me.

The detail, the art style, the clever use of pink to make certain panels pop, this is undeniably one of the prettiest graphic novels I’ve ever read. I fell in love before I’d opened it up, and the artwork within did not disappoint.

It’s just a gorgeous novel following a girl just trying to figure out love, and the emotional turmoil that comes with it’s challenges.

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Bimonthly Book Haul

I actually really enjoyed pulling together this post for June, and so, I figured I would do it again by combining July and August! Some of these you may have already seen (because I’ve already reviewed them), but I thought it would be fun to give you a sneak preview at some of my reading plans.

Bought

So after my thorough enjoyment of Boy Parts I desperately wanted to bring more literary fiction into my to be read, so I decided Breasts and Eggs would be next. I’m hoping to have the review for that & Midnight Sun up in the next few weeks!

ARC’s

I got approved for some really exciting books over the past few weeks, most of them I’ll be reading closer to their pub dates but holy moly am I excited. I may have already read Addie LaRue, but the review won’t come out until September, and if you had any doubts about pre-ordering you shouldn’t, the book is incredible.

Well that’s all for now folks! Take care of yourselves out there ❤

Review: Boy Parts by Eliza Clark

Goodreads: Boy Parts
Publisher: Influx Press
Buy the Book from Influx and support an Indie Press
Synopsis: Irina obsessively takes explicit photographs of the average-looking men she persuades to model for her, scouted from the streets of Newcastle.

Placed on sabbatical from her dead-end bar job, she is offered an exhibition at a fashionable London gallery, promising to revive her career in the art world and offering an escape from her rut of drugs, alcohol, and extreme cinema. The news triggers a self-destructive tailspin, centred around Irina’s relationship with her obsessive best friend, and a shy young man from her local supermarket who has attracted her attention…

Review: Trigger warnings: Violence, drug abuse, sexual assault, and Alcohol abuse

This book definitely isn’t my usual shtick but it caught my eye on twitter, and it came with an adorable tote that definitely doesn’t reflect the tone of the book, but I had to have it! It has been a while since a contemporary has affected me quite so deeply, so I felt I just had to review it on the blog.

Boy Parts is a three hundred page hallucinogenic trip filled to the brim with dark humour. It’s unflinching in the way it tackles female rage and I’ve honestly never read anything like it so of course, I absolutely devoured every word.

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Review: If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha

Goodreads: If I Had Your Face
Publisher: Viking
Book Depository
Synopsis: If I Had Your Face plunges us into the mesmerizing world of contemporary Seoul – a place where extreme plastic surgery is as routine as getting a haircut, where women compete for spots in secret ‘room salons’ to entertain wealthy businessmen after hours, where K-Pop stars are the object of all-consuming obsession, and ruthless social hierarchies dictate your every move.

Navigating this hyper-competitive city are four young women balancing on the razor-edge of survival: Kyuri, an exquisitely beautiful woman whose hard-won status at an exclusive ‘room salon’ is threatened by an impulsive mistake with a client; her flatmate Miho, an orphan who wins a scholarship to a prestigious art school in New York, where her life becomes tragically enmeshed with the super-wealthy offspring of the Korean elite; Wonna, their neighbour, pregnant with a child that she and her husband have no idea how they will afford to raise in a fiercely competitive economy; and Ara, a hair stylist living down the hall, whose infatuation with a fresh-faced K-Pop star drives her to violent extremes.

Review: I was provided with this digital copy in exchange for an honest review! Thanks, Viking.

If I Had Your Face takes a long, hard look at the harsh beauty standards that South Korean women face, and how so often they resort to invasive surgery to maintain these ideals. The book itself doesn’t hold back, following the story of four different young women as they try to navigate a complicated society driven by wealth and beauty.

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Review: Loveless by Alice Oseman

Goodreads: Loveless
Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books
Book Depository
Synopsis: It was all sinking in. I’d never had a crush on anyone. No boys, no girls, not a single person I had ever met. What did that mean?

Georgia has never been in love, never kissed anyone, never even had a crush – but as a fanfic-obsessed romantic she’s sure she’ll find her person one day.

As she starts university with her best friends, Pip and Jason, in a whole new town far from home, Georgia’s ready to find romance, and with her outgoing roommate on her side and a place in the Shakespeare Society, her ‘teenage dream’ is in sight.

But when her romance plan wreaks havoc amongst her friends, Georgia ends up in her own comedy of errors, and she starts to question why love seems so easy for other people but not for her. With new terms thrown at her – asexual, aromantic – Georgia is more uncertain about her feelings than ever.

Is she destined to remain loveless? Or has she been looking for the wrong thing all along?

Review: I was provided with this digital copy in exchange for an honest review! Thanks, HarperCollins Children’s Books.

I still can’t believe that I got to read this book before it’s release, and lord knows I’ll be picking up a hard copy anyway, but this book was absolutely fabulous so enjoy this love letter to Loveless.

Alice Oseman is just incredible at writing the teenage voice, and the fact that she consistently uses that voice to amplify the LGBTQA+ community makes it even better. I said in my review of I Was Born for This that I loved the way she writes and that has definitely not changed. The confusion and anxiety surrounding Georgia as she tries to understand herself, it’s something that really resonated with me, and I cried like a baby as she slowly began to accept her own identity.

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Five Books on My LGBTQ+ To Be Read

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a book list on this here blog, and so what better time than pride month! I’m going to highlight five LGBTQ+ books that I’m excited to pick up, but I’ll admit I had a rather hard time narrowing it down. I’ve gone for giving you guys some thoughts next to each book instead of a blurb, so click the Goodreads link if you want to know more about the five books below!

*I couldn’t resist throwing in some honourable mentions below, so enjoy some very pretty covers.

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking up with Me
Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell

This one has been on my list for such a long time, and I missed a chance to grab it while in Orbital Comics in London and I still have a hefty amount of regret about it. I haven’t been able to find a hard-copy of this graphic novel since, and so I think I’ll have to cave and get it delivered! The blurb of this just really resonates with me, especially when it comes to finding the love you deserve!
Goodreads

Continue reading “Five Books on My LGBTQ+ To Be Read”