balzer bray

“The Hate U Give” and The Reviews I Hate.

***DISCLAIMER: I saw a lot of the reviews mentioned weeks ago, mostly during release week.***

So, first off, yay! THE HATE U GIVE is a #1 fucking New York Times Bestseller. I can’t be happier about this.

Originally posted by thecynicalcrayon

THE HATE U GIVE (aka THUG, if you’ve seen the hashtag on Twitter) by Angie Thomas is a truly revolutionary book. It’s introduced to the YA community and publishing industry that not only do diverse stories written by people of color and marginalized writers matter, but also that they are demanded by consumers. For years, agents, editors and publishing houses were saying that there was no market for books like THUG. Welp. As it turns out, that was just fake news! Anyway, THUG hitting the New York Times is a massive deal, and I think we’ll see more changes within the industry. At least, one can hope.

The point of this post though is to open up the discussion of how to talk about THUG without being problematic. And this is mostly aimed at white reviewers, bloggers, journalists, etc. I’ve read several reviews, blog posts, Tweets, and general articles about THUG that rubbed me the wrong way, and I’m just going to highlight some of those things here.

My thoughts are probably going to be scattered and this might have a zillion typos because I’ve not yet had coffee and it’s early for me, but just hang with me.

First off – let’s start with the title. THE HATE U GIVE. It comes from Tupac Shakur who had a tattoo and a life motto of: T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E. It stood for “The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody.” It’s a statement of what white society feeds into our youth (hatred, racism, and systems of oppression) and how it comes back around with long, devastating effects and stereotypes between white society and the black community. That’s why a lot of times when we see black and brown kids getting gunned down by racists, we’re always hearing that, “they were no angel. They were just a thug.” This is what Tupac was warning us about. 

The usage of the letter “U” and not “you” is AAVE. The letter “U” is deeply rooted in black culture, mostly through music. I’ve seen a lot of people (usually white reviewers) write “THE HATE YOU GIVE” and though a lot of people don’t get corrected, it’s still kind of a microaggression. If you find that annoying, it’s probably because you’ve internalized that your way of speaking is superior, thus, walking the lines of white supremacy. Ignoring the usage of the letter “U” is erasure of an intimate element to Angie Thomas’s novel and black culture. Please don’t intentionally correct the title to “THE HATE YOU GIVE.” That’s offensive.

Speaking of AAVE:

AAVE is African American Vernacular English. It’s a whole rule-bound dialect of English with very clear, defined grammar structures. THUG is full of AAVE, which is part of the reason I love it so much. If in your review, you mention something along the lines of “a language deficit” or “incorrect/ungrammatical” structures, that’s problematic logic. Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t make it wrong. If you don’t understand what something means, please don’t hesitate to Google, if you can. It will save you.

However, Starr, the main character in THUG is constantly code-switching. Code-switching is when black people switch our behavior and language to certain navigate situations. It’s how we balance who we are with who we have to be at times. Starr lives in the hood, but goes to a very “preppy” school in the suburbs where she’s one of the only black kids in her class. She speaks and behaves differently around her friends than she does when she’s at school and around white folks because she absolutely has to. It’s a survival tactic. That’s a real thing that people have to do. So, stop calling it “inauthentic” and “unrealistic.”

Which brings me to…

Comparisons to novels by other black authors

It’s important not to box in black culture, especially when it comes to language. Yes, we code switch. Yes, we manipulate the English language. But black people are not a monolith. When you read books by black authors who write black characters don’t expect them to use AAVE in it and don’t expect them not to. We know standard English. A lot of us have degrees in English. In a lot of reviews by white reviewers, I’m seeing people compare THUG to ALL AMERICAN BOYS. Just stop it. Don’t. Do. This. You’re totally allowed to like one more than the other and whatever, but comparing the two, saying one is “more realistic” than the other because it fulfills whatever prejudiced views you have of black people and our experiences is pretty dang racist, if you didn’t know.

Lastly, for now because I may come back to this: #BlackLivesMatter


If you haven’t already, go pick up THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas. You won’t regret it. It’s amazing and beautiful and heartbreaking and real as fuck.

Originally posted by usedpimpa

“A hairbrush is not a gun.”

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is one of the year’s most hyped releases for a reason. Readers have been calling for more diverse and politically and socially relevant reads for a while now, and Balzer + Bray and Thomas have complied with this novel about blackness, speaking up, and the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Starr Carter is a sneaker-obsessed teen pulled between selves. Put simplistically, one inhabits the neighborhood she grew up in, with her supportive family and her childhood friends, where her white boyfriend Chris is a secret and people suggest she thinks she’s better than them. The other inhabits the school she attends, where she’s one of the only black people, and where she feels she has to be careful not to be “too black” or risk alienating the people she knows. But all of that changes when she witnesses the police shoot her friend Khalil. She knows there was no cause, and now she has to decide whether or not to speak out, which will mean finding her true self and seeing who her real friends are. In the course of the novel, Starr realizes just how powerful one voice speaking out can be. 

This is the YA Must-Read of 2017. Thomas navigates difficult politics and friendships with ease. Her characters are well-written, complex, and root themselves in your mind—they each have their own, vivid voices. Just as the Black Lives Matter movement can be told in entirety in the course of one story, this novel isn’t just about BLM. Each character has their own plot to adjust to. We watch Starr struggle with a white friend who can’t comprehend how hurtful her micro-aggressions can be, learn how to be herself with her boyfriend Chris, and get even closer to her family through their love and support of her throughout. I also really appreciated the discussion of sex in the novel and how Starr maintains a control over her body that Chris respects, and that was one of the subplots that I thought brought a lot of depth to the novel. 

It’s so fresh and incredible to read a diverse, #ownvoices text that delves into Starr’s world. It’s an excellent book and relevant and important for our times. It was heavily hyped, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Exclusive: @SabrinaAnnLynn joins YA adaptation 'The Hate U Give'

Singer-songwriter and actress Sabrina Carpenter has been cast in The Hate U Give, Fox 2000’s adaptation of the Black Lives Matter YA novel of the same name.

Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg is starring along with Russell Hornsby and Regina Hall in the adaptation of Angela Thomas’ debut novel that George Tillman Jr. will direct.

The story follows a 16-year-old girl named Starr who grew up in a poverty-stricken slum, but now attends a suburban prep school. After she witnesses a police officer shoot her unarmed best friend, she’s torn between her two very different worlds as she tries to speak her truth.

Carpenter will play Hailey, one of Starr’s friends from her prep school.

Hall will play Lisa, Starr’s mother while Hornsby is playing Starr’s father. Lamar Johnson has previously been cast to play Seven, Starr’s older brother. Algee Smith, Common and Issa Rae are also attached to the film.

The films rights to The Hate U Give were picked up by Fox 2000, Temple Hill and State Street in a competitive situation in 2016. Audrey Wells wrote the script adaptation. Thomas’ book, bought by HarperCollins imprint Balzer + Bray after 13 publishing houses bid on it at auction, was published Feb. 28. The hit novel has spent more than 23 weeks on the New York Times young adult best-seller list after debuting at No. 1.

Carpenter, who starred in the Disney Channel series Girl Meets World, is getting ready to wrap up her summer tour “De-Tour.” After releasing two full-length albums (2015’s Eyes Wide Open and 2016’s Evolution) her single “Why” came out in July. She is repped by Foundation Media Partners, Paradigm, Faculty Productions and Stone, Genow.

The DUMPLIN’ cover was revealed yesterday on the epicreads blog and I love it to pieces! You can add it on Goodreads here

Check out the full jacket copy below!

Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked …  until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine— Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

Here’s a jacket I did for an upcoming novel by Sara Pennypacker about a fox and a boy who get separated from each other. It’s a great book and it was a really fun cover. It will be published by Balzer & Bray at HarperCollins next year. 

Simon Paperback Cover Reveal!!!

I’m so thrilled I can finally announce this: Simon is getting a makeover! The paperback edition of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda drops on June 7th, and my amazing team at HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray has created a gorgeous new design for the cover. I’m totally in love with its minimalist style, and it conveys such a powerful message, even at first glance. Thank you so much to my incredible team, and to Adam Silvera and A.C. Thomas for the amazing blurbs. I can’t stop smiling.

Without further ado!













With 2016 winding down, I thought I would look ahead to 2017. Here are four books from the first half of next year that I’m eager to get my hands on. Are any of these on your TBR pile? What ones do you think should be on mine? Let us know!

Exo (Exo #1) by Fonda Lee
Release date: 31 January 2017

It’s been a century of peace since Earth became a colony of an alien race with far reaches into the galaxy. Some die-hard extremists still oppose alien rule on Earth, but Donovan Reyes isn’t one of them. His dad holds the prestigious position of Prime Liaison in the collaborationist government, and Donovan’s high social standing along with his exocel (a remarkable alien technology fused to his body) guarantee him a bright future in the security forces. That is, until a routine patrol goes awry and Donovan’s abducted by the human revolutionary group Sapience, determined to end alien control.

When Sapience realizes whose son Donovan is, they think they’ve found the ultimate bargaining chip . But the Prime Liaison doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, not even for his own son. Left in the hands of terrorists who have more uses for him dead than alive, the fate of Earth rests on Donovan’s survival. Because if Sapience kills him, it could spark another intergalactic war. And Earth didn’t win the last one …

The Hate U Give by A.C. Thomas
Balzer + Bray/Harper Collins
Release date: 28 February 2017

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Angie Thomas’s searing debut about an ordinary girl in extraordinary circumstances addresses issues of racism and police violence with intelligence, heart, and unflinching honesty.Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Clarion Books
Release date: 7 March 2017

From the multi-award-winning author of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe comes a gorgeous new story about love, identity, and families lost and found.

Sal used to know his place with his adoptive gay father, their loving Mexican-American family, and his best friend, Samantha. But it’s senior year, and suddenly Sal is throwing punches, questioning everything, and realizing he no longer knows himself. If Sal’s not who he thought he was, who is he? This humor-infused, warmly humane look at universal questions of belonging is a triumph.

Want by Cindy Pon
Simon Pulse
Release date: 13 June 2017

Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits, protecting them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city’s corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp’s CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is, or destroying his own heart?


Book review: Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Bone Gap is a fantastically strange and gorgeously written exploration of beauty, attraction and teenage sexuality. It’s also easily the most original and thought-provoking mythological retelling I’ve ever read. I have no doubt that it’ll be one of the most talked-about new young adult releases of 2015.

Finn O'Sullivan is a social outcast after witnessing the abduction of his brother’s beautiful and mysterious girlfriend, Roza.  Finn claims to have seen - and even spoken to - Roza’s captor, but try as he might, he can’t remember a single detail of the stranger’s face, and no one except the local beekeeper girl Petey believes his story. Roza, meanwhile, finds herself trapped far from home in a deceptively idyllic prison, kept captive by a man who claims to love her.

I’m not usually a huge fan of magical realism, and it especially aggravates me when the fantastical elements of a story aren’t fully explained. Ruby deliberately keeps her readers in the dark for much of the novel, and several times I read and re-read passages, wondering whether Ruby intended her reader to interpret the events of the scene as magical or not. And yet, I adored Bone Gap. That’s a testament both to Ruby’s beautifully lyrical prose and her world-building; at its heart, Bone Gap is a novel about the limits of our perception, and the vague, disorientating setting perfectly encapsulated the essence of Finn and Roza’s story.

Bone Gap is slow paced, but it’s also the sort of story worth savouring.  Finn is my favourite kind of narrator - unreliable, sympathetic, and complexly imagined.  Petey and Roza are also fantastic characters, and through both girls, Ruby expertly deconstructs the concept of beauty and its damaging effects on young women.

Many thanks to Balzer + Bray for providing a copy of Bone Gap in exchange for an honest review.

Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Rating: 4 stars | ★★★★✰
Review cross-posted to Goodreads

Buy on Amazon: US | UK

burnt-biscuit  asked:

Do you have recs for books with WoC and sci-fi? Or werewolves?

This is an awesome request, especially the werewolf part! The problem is, we only cover YA books, and the only YA book we know of with werewolves and women of color is … a spoiler. So, we’re including it in the following list of YA scifi about women of color. Here you go, in alphabetical order by author name:

  • Naughts and Crosses (series) by Malorie Blackman (Simon and Schuster)
  • Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac (Tu Books)
  • Diverse Energies (anthology of short stories, including many with women of color) edited by Tobias S. Buckell and Joe Monti (Tu Books)
  • The Deep by Zetta Elliott (indie)
  • The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson (Margaret K. McElderry Books)
  • The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson (Arthur A. Levine Books)
  • Liar by Justine Larbalestier (Bloomsbury)
  • The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna (Balzer + Bray)
  • Tankborn (trilogy) by Karen Sandler (Tu Books)
  • Orleans by Sherri L. Smith (Putnam)
  • Partials (series) by Dan Wells

That should give you somewhere to start. Note: Those are all books published for young adults, but if you’re OK with reading books published for adults too, you should of course check out all of Octavia Butler’s books. Some of them are about young women, but they are definitely adult science fiction novels.


In case you missed my unwrapping video


Pic #1: THE COVER.

Pic #2: THE BACK COVER. Including the GLORIOUS blurb from morgan-rhodes!!

Pic #3: THE SPINE.

Pic #4: That chakram tho.

Pic #5: Seriously that chakram.

Pic #6: Title page!

Pic #7: One of my favorite aspects of the book: THE MAP!

Pic #8: Chapter heading! Plus a little sneak peek of later in the book…

Exclusive #DUMPLIN lapel pins are here and there’s only one way to get one! Simply send your proof of purchase showing that you’ve preordered DUMPLIN’ to This is a free giveaway for anyone who has pre-ordered DUMPLIN’, but supplies are limited, so first come first serve. This promotion is limited to residence of the U.S. or readers with U.S. mailing addresses. Order confirmations, pictures of receipts, and scans of receipts all count as proof of purchase. Don’t forget to include your mailing address! Please send any questions to