Diverse February YA Releases!
It's that time of month again where I share with you 5 YA books coming out this month. However, this month there is so many amazing diverse books coming out that I couldn't help but go a bit overboard. I've tried to include a mix of different diverse books. I've spent a few hours going through numerous sites and lists to find a good mix of books to show you. Some are more about LGBT+ and others features diversity in race, skin colour and more. Hopefully, this will help some of you find more diverse books to read this month.
As some of you may know from my last new releases post, I'm trying to show more diverse books coming out each month. So, if you're wondering why some popular books aren't on this post, it's because of that.
Anyway, let's get into the new releases!
All About Mia by Lisa Williamson
Release Date: February 2nd 2017
Synopsis: One family, three sisters.
GRACE, the oldest: straight-A student
AUDREY, the youngest: future Olympic swimming champion.
And MIA, the mess in the middle.
Mia is wild and daring, great with hair and selfies, and the undisputed leader of her friends – not attributes appreciated by her parents or teachers.
When Grace makes a shock announcement, Mia hopes that her now-not-so-perfect sister will get into the trouble she deserves.
But instead, it is Mia whose life spirals out of control – boozing, boys and bad behaviour – and she starts to realise that her attempts to make it All About Mia might put at risk the very things she loves the most.
GR - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34103516-all-about-mia
BD - https://www.bookdepository.com/All-About-Mia/9781910989104
Nowhere Near You (Because You'll Never Meet Me #2)
Release Date: February 7th 2017
Synopsis: Following up her acclaimed debut, Because You'll Never Meet Me, Leah Thomas continues the stories of Ollie and Moritz in another heart-warming story of unique friendship.
Ollie and Moritz might never meet, but their friendship knows no bounds. Their letters carry on as Ollie embarks on his first road trip away from the woods--no easy feat for a boy allergic to electricity--and Moritz decides which new school would best suit an eyeless boy who prefers to be alone.
Along the way they meet other teens like them, other products of strange science who lead seemingly normal lives in ways Ollie and Moritz never imagined possible: A boy who jokes about his atypical skeleton; an aspiring actress who hides a strange deformity; a track star whose abnormal heart propels her to victory. Suddenly the future feels wide open for two former hermits. But even as Ollie and Moritz dare to enjoy life, they can't escape their past, which threatens to destroy any progress they've made. Can these boys ever find their place in a world that might never understand them?
GR - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30038977-nowhere-near-you?ac=1&from_search=true
BD - https://www.bookdepository.com/Nowhere-Near-You/9781408885376
Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza
Release Date: February 7th 2017
Rhee, also known as Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an, is the sole surviving heir to a powerful dynasty. She’ll stop at nothing to avenge her family and claim her throne.
Aly has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. But when he’s falsely accused of killing Rhee, he's forced to prove his innocence to save his reputation – and his life.
With planets on the brink of war, Rhee and Aly are thrown together to confront a ruthless evil that threatens the fate of the entire galaxy.
A saga of vengeance, warfare, and the true meaning of legacy.
GR - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30269126-empress-of-a-thousand-skies?from_search=true
BD - https://www.bookdepository.com/Empress-of-a-Thousand-Skies/9780451478177
We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan
Release Date: February 9th 2017
Synopsis: From two acclaimed authors comes an emotional story told in verse about friendship, love, and overcoming unbeatable odds.
Authors Brian Conaghan and Sarah Crossan have joined forces to tell the story of Nicu and Jess, two troubled teens whose paths cross in the unlikeliest of places.
Nicu has emigrated from Romania and is struggling to find his place in his new home. Meanwhile, Jess's home life is overshadowed by violence. When Nicu and Jess meet, what starts out as friendship grows into romance as the two bond over their painful pasts and hopeful futures. But will they be able to save each other, let alone themselves?
For fans of Una LaMarche’s Like No Other, this illuminating story told in dual points of view through vibrant verse will stay with readers long after they've turned the last page.
GR - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25310356-we-come-apart?from_search=true
BD - https://www.bookdepository.com/We-Come-Apart/9781408878859
Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson
Release Date: February 14th 2017
Synopsis: Jade believes she must get out of her neighborhood if she’s ever going to succeed. Her mother says she has to take every opportunity. She has. She accepted a scholarship to a mostly-white private school and even Saturday morning test prep opportunities. But some opportunities feel more demeaning than helpful. Like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for “at-risk” girls. Except really, it’s for black girls. From “bad” neighborhoods.
But Jade doesn’t need support. And just because her mentor is black doesn’t mean she understands Jade. And maybe there are some things Jade could show these successful women about the real world and finding ways to make a real difference.
Friendships, race, privilege, identity—this compelling and thoughtful story explores the issues young women face.
GR - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25566675-piecing-me-together?from_search=true
BD - https://www.bookdepository.com/Piecing-Me-Together-Renee-Watson/9781681191058?ref=grid-view
American Street by Ibi Zoboi
Release Date: February 14th 2017
Synopsis: On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life.
But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.
Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?
GR - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30256109-american-street?ac=1&from_search=true
BD - https://www.bookdepository.com/American-Street/9780062473042
The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera
Release Date: February 21st 2017
Synopsis: Pretty in Pink comes to the South Bronx in this bold and romantic coming-of-age novel about dysfunctional families, good and bad choices, and finding the courage to question everything you ever thought you wanted—from debut author Lilliam Rivera.
THINGS/PEOPLE MARGOT HATES:
Mami, for destroying my social life
Papi, for allowing Junior to become a Neanderthal
Junior, for becoming a Neanderthal
After “borrowing” her father's credit card to finance a more stylish wardrobe, Margot
Sanchez suddenly finds herself grounded. And by grounded, she means working as an indentured servant in her family’s struggling grocery store to pay off her debts.
With each order of deli meat she slices, Margot can feel her carefully cultivated prep school reputation slipping through her fingers, and she’s willing to do anything to get out of this punishment. Lie, cheat, and maybe even steal…
Margot’s invitation to the ultimate beach party is within reach and she has no intention of letting her family’s drama or Moises—the admittedly good looking but outspoken boy from the neighborhood—keep her from her goal.
GR - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26594801-the-education-of-margot-sanchez?ac=1&from_search=true
BD - https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Education-of-Margot-Sanchez-Lilliam-River/9781481472111?ref=grid-view
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Release Date: February 28th 2017
Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl's struggle for justice. Movie rights have been sold to Fox, with Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) to star.
GR - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32075671-the-hate-u-give?ac=1&from_search=true
BD - https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Hate-U-Give/9781406377286
Anyway, those were just some of the diverse books coming out this month. If you know of anymore, then please comment them down below so I can add them in. Also, if you know any that are coming out in future months then please let me know also, so I can include them in the next new releases posts.
5 New January Releases (YA)!
Today I'm going to talk about 5 new YA releases coming out in January that you probably don't want to miss! Of course there are lots more books coming out this month, but I'm just going to talk about 5 that I'm personally excited for or that I know other people are.
I am going to try and mention more diverse books each month, but I am struggling to find enough to talk about each month. So, if you know of any coming out in the next few months then please leave them below in the comments. I only found 1 or so this month, but hopefully I can find more next month.
Anyway, let's get into the new releases...
History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
Synopsis: When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.
To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.
If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.
Release Date: January 17th 2017
GR - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25014114-history-is-all-you-left-me?ac=1&from_search=true
BD - http://www.bookdepository.com/History-Is-All-You-Left-Me/9781616956929
Dreadnought by April Daniels (Nemesis #1)
Synopsis: Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of the world's greatest superhero. Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, she was trying to keep people from finding out she's transgender. But then her second-hand superpowers transformed her body into what she's always thought it should be. Now there's no hiding that she's a girl.
It should be the happiest time of her life, but between her father's dangerous obsession with curing her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he's entitled to date her, and the classmate who is secretly a masked vigilante, Danny's first weeks living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined.
She doesn't have much time to adjust. Dreadnought's murderer, a cyborg named Utopia, still haunts the streets of New Port City. If Danny can't sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction.
Release Date: January 24th 2017
GR - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30279514-dreadnought?ac=1&from_search=true
BD - http://www.bookdepository.com/Dreadnought-April-Daniels/9781682300688
Hold Back The Stars by Katie Khan
Synopsis: Carys and Max have ninety minutes of air left.
None of this was supposed to happen.
But perhaps this doesn’t need to be the end…
Adrift in space with nothing to hold on to but each other, Carys and Max can’t help but look back at the well-ordered world they have left behind – at the rules they couldn’t reconcile themselves to, and a life to which they might now never return.
For in a world where love is banned, what happens when you find it?
Release Date: January 26th 2017
GR - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26804769-hold-back-the-stars
BD - http://www.bookdepository.com/Hold-Back-the-Stars/9780857524003
Exo by Fonda Lee (Exo #1)
Synopsis: 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 . . .
Release Date: January 31st 2017
GR - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26532931-exo?ac=1&from_search=true
BD - http://www.bookdepository.com/Exo-Fond-Lee/9780545933438
Caraval by Stephanie Garber (Caraval #1)
Synopsis: Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.
Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.
But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.
Release Date: January 31st 2017
GR - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27883214-caraval?ac=1&from_search=true
BD - http://www.bookdepository.com/Caraval/9781473629141
5 December YA Releases!
I just wanted to quickly say that I spent a good hour or two browsing around online to try and find some more diverse releases, but really struggled to, so I've just picked random releases that I liked the sound of.
However, I'm going to try every month from January onwards to write a post about diverse, new releases coming out each month. Though, if there are months that I struggle to find any (like this month), I'll just pick 5 YA releases I like the sound of.
I'm doing this because I know so many people want to try and read more diverse YA books (just like me), but struggle to know where to start, so I thought it'd be a good thing to start in 2017!
Right, anyway let's pretend it's not nearly halfway through the month and basically all of these books are already out... here's 5 December YA Releases!
Teach Me To Forget by Erica M. Chapman
Release Date: December 2nd (Merit Press)
This is the story of Ellery, a girl who learns how to live while waiting for the date she chose to die.
Ellery's bought the gun, made arrangements for her funeral, and even picked the day. A Wednesday. Everything has fallen into place.
Now all she has to do is die.
When her plans go awry and the gun she was going to kill herself with breaks, she does the one thing she has control over--return it and get a new one. After tormenting the crusty customer service associate by trying to return the gun with the wrong receipt, Ellery gets caught by the security guard who also happens to be someone she knows -- the annoyingly perfect Colter Sawyer from her English class.
Colter quickly uncovers what she's hiding and is determined to change her mind. After confessing a closely held secret of his own, he promises not to tell hers. Ellery tries to fight her attraction to him as the shadows of her past cling tight around her, but when she's faced with another tragedy, she must decide whether she can learn to live with what she's done or follow through with her plan to die.
GR - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29526341-teach-me-to-forget?ac=1&from_search=true
BD - http://www.bookdepository.com/Teach-Me-to-Forget/9781440594571
AMAZON (UK) - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Teach-Me-Forget-Erica Chapman/dp/1440594570/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1481399321&sr=1-1&keywords=teach+me+to+forget
AMAZON (US) - https://www.amazon.com/Teach-Me-Forget-Erica-Chapman/dp/1440594570/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1481399392&sr=1-1&keywords=teach+me+to+forget+by+erica+m.+chapman
The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland by Rebekah Crane
Release Date: December 1st (Skyscape)
According to sixteen-year-old Zander Osborne, nowhere is an actual place—and she’s just fine there. But her parents insist that she get out of her head—and her home state—and attend Camp Padua, a summer camp for at-risk teens.
Zander does not fit in—or so she thinks. She has only one word for her fellow campers: crazy. In fact, the whole camp population exists somewhere between disaster and diagnosis. There’s her cabinmate Cassie, a self-described manic-depressive-bipolar-anorexic. Grover Cleveland (yes, like the president), a cute but confrontational boy who expects to be schizophrenic someday, odds being what they are. And Bek, a charmingly confounding pathological liar.
But amid group “share-apy” sessions and forbidden late-night outings, unlikely friendships form, and as the Michigan summer heats up, the four teens begin to reveal their tragic secrets. Zander finds herself inextricably drawn to Grover’s earnest charms, and she begins to wonder if she could be happy. But first she must come completely unraveled to have any hope of putting herself back together again.
GR - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30057557-the-odds-of-loving-grover-cleveland?ac=1&from_search=true
BD - http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Odds-of-Loving-Grover-Cleveland-Rebekah-Crane/9781503939820?ref=grid-view
AMAZON (UK) - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Odds-Loving-Grover-Cleveland/dp/1503939820/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1481400033&sr=1-1&keywords=the+odds+of+loving+grover+cleveland
AMAZON (US) - https://www.amazon.com/Odds-Loving-Grover-Cleveland/dp/1503939820/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1481400033&sr=1-1&keywords=the+odds+of+loving+grover+cleveland
Ever The Hunted (Clash of Kingdoms #1) by Erin Summerill
Release Date: December 27th (HMH Books For Young Readers)
Synopsis: Seventeen year-old Britta Flannery is at ease only in the woods with her dagger and bow. She spends her days tracking criminals alongside her father, the legendary bounty hunter for the King of Malam—that is, until her father is murdered. Now outcast and alone and having no rights to her father’s land or inheritance, she seeks refuge where she feels most safe: the Ever Woods. When Britta is caught poaching by the royal guard, instead of facing the noose she is offered a deal: her freedom in exchange for her father’s killer.
However, it’s not so simple.
The alleged killer is none other than Cohen McKay, her father’s former apprentice. The only friend she’s ever known. The boy she once loved who broke her heart. She must go on a dangerous quest in a world of warring kingdoms, mad kings, and dark magic to find the real killer. But Britta wields more power than she knows. And soon she will learn what has always made her different will make her a daunting and dangerous force.
GR - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28114396-ever-the-hunted?ac=1&from_search=true
BD - http://www.bookdepository.com/Ever-the-Hunted/9780544664456
AMAZON (UK) - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ever-Hunted-Clash-Kingdoms-Novel/dp/0544664450/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1481400576&sr=1-1&keywords=ever+the+hunted
AMAZON (US) - https://www.amazon.com/Ever-Hunted-Clash-Kingdoms-Novel/dp/0544664450/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1481400576&sr=1-1&keywords=ever+the+hunted
Lost Girl (Neverwood Chronicles #1) by Chanda Hahn
Release Date: December 13th (Chnda Hahn)
Wendy doesn't remember anything about Neverland—or the experiments done on her there as a child. Seven years later, all she wants is a normal life, but shape-shifting shadows plague her dreams and turn her life into a waking nightmare. When the shadows attack at a football game and a boy disappears right in front of her, she realizes these wraith-like shadows are real. They’re not just haunting—they’re hunting.
A mysterious boy named Peter, his foul-mouthed sidekick, and a band of misfit boys intervene before Wendy faces a similar fate. But can they trust Wendy enough to take her to Neverwood Academy and reveal all of their hidden secrets when she's hiding a secret of her own, or will the dreaded Red Skulls find her and drag her back to Neverland?
Alterations by Stephanie Scott
Release Date: December 6th (Bloomsbury Spark)
If anyone saw the prom boards Amelia Blanco makes on her favorite fashion app, they'd think Ethan Laurenti was her boyfriend. They wouldn't know that all the plans she's made for them are just dreams, and that she's the girl who watches him from the kitchen while her parents cook for his famous family.
When Amelia's abuelita enrolls her in a month-long fashion internship in NYC, Amelia can't imagine leaving Miami--and Ethan--for that long. As soon as she gets to New York, however, she finds a bigger world and new possibilities. She meets people her own age who can actually carry on a conversation about stitching and design. Her pin boards become less about prom with Ethan and more about creating her own style. By the time she returns to Miami, Amelia feels like she can accomplish anything, and surprises herself by agreeing to help Ethan's awkward, Steve-Jobs-wannabe brother, Liam, create his own fashion app.
As Liam and Amelia get closer, Ethan realizes that this newly confident, stylish girl may be the one for him after all . . . even though he has a reality TV star girlfriend he conveniently keeps forgetting about. The "new and improved" Amelia soon finds herself in between two brothers, a whole lot of drama, and choice she never dreamed she'd have to make.
GR - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25361965-alterations?ac=1&from_search=true
AMAZON (UK) - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Alterations-Stephanie-Scott-ebook/dp/B01M59LROR/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1481402127&sr=8-1&keywords=Alterations+by+Stephanie+Scott
AMAZON (US) - https://www.amazon.com/Alterations-Stephanie-Scott-ebook/dp/B01M59LROR/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1481402063&sr=1-1&keywords=Alterations+by+Stephanie+Scott
Release Blitz: Engaged to an Alien Pop Star by Kendra L. Saunders (EXCERPTS + MORE)
Engaged to an Alien Pop Star
by Kendra L. Saunders
(Alien Pop Star, #2)
Published by: Crimson Tree Publishing
Publication date: November 28th 2016
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Romance, Science Fiction
Daisy Kirkwood and her best friend Kammie have adjusted to life on an alien planet pretty well, all things considered. And thanks to Daisy’s alien pop star boyfriend, Griffin Valentino, she has plenty of sexy new experiences to keep her busy. But it’s not possible to take a massive music nerd away from her home planet and not expect her to pine for a concert or a record store at least in once in a while.
Heading back to Earth with Griffin and his best friend Dev for a brief but much-needed visit, the girls want nothing more than to catch up on the underground music scene of New York City. Unfortunately, thanks to Griffin’s less-than-stellar space traveling skills, they accidentally pick up a hitchhiker. Or three hundred. Their many-legged stowaway beasties take up residence in the darkest, creepiest corners of Manhattan, leaving the gang no choice but to experience a very different underground than they bargained for.
Giant alien bugs aside, Griffin has some epic plans of his own for their trip, plans that involve a concert, an album… and the most outrageous marriage proposal that Earth has ever seen.
My boyfriend is levitating four inches above our bed, with a cloud of gold sparks floating around his head like a crown. This makes for a pretty normal morning, even with the soft snuffling and clicking noises he makes as he sleeps. And the crown is appropriate, since my boyfriend is an alien prince.
The alien prince in question, Griffin, floats back down to our bed with a yawn, stretching as he hits the blankets. He squirms around until he can slip under the blankets and wriggle closer to me. Despite sleeping uncovered, he's toasty and warm, a sign of restorative sleep in his people. I return his embrace a bit too eagerly, my hands slipping under his nightshirt and causing him to gasp out loud. "Gods! Daisy your hands are cold."
"They're not cold. They're room temperature. But you feel nice and warm, so hold still."
Griffin wiggles a bit more in feigned protest, but we soon settle into a comfortable position, arms and legs entwined.
"Are you excited to go back home?" Griffin asks, his voice husky with sleep as he leans up to nip at my earlobe with sharp teeth. His glowing blue eyes peer at me from under heavy lids and dark lashes, lashes that are unfairly longer than my own.
"If you keep biting my ear or looking at me like that, I'm not going to be able to go back to sleep. And yes. I'm very excited to go back to Earth."
"Well then, don't go back to sleep," Griffin says, running a hand over his recently shorn dark hair. It's always amazing to me how he can go from sleepy animal cute to dangerously sexy alien rock star in the span of seconds, depending on what he's doing or saying. That kind of magical ability can get and Earth girl in trouble. "I have much better ideas for what we can do this morning, Wanda..."
Wanda is his pet name for me, a word in his language that means, " Love without end." Griffin knows very well what he does to me when he calls me that.
"Do these plans involve you miraculously making chocolate appear? I miss chocolate," I say in a teasing tone. "When we go back to Earth, I'm going to stock up on junk food. There's only so much healthy gray goop a girl can eat before she starts to feel like a very deprived post-divorced Gwyneth Paltrow."
"Chocolate? Don't be daft, Daisy, I was referring to sex."
Space travel has long been theorized. We've imagined cheerfully zipping about in spaceships, jumping from point A to B by way of mysterious wormholes. We've also imagined going into a deep sleep for thousands of years, while our family and friends back home get old, blow themselves up, and allow Earth to be reclaimed by vines and wild animals.
But Kalesstrians walk through space from location to location.
It's a very complicated process that Dev has tried to explain to me several times. I’ve only absorbed it in the barest bones of theory, despite his valiant attempts. We walk through a dimension door and are shot to a pre-set coordinate on the other side. The travel has to be conducted with the help of communicators, and it is crucial that the coordinates are right. That last bit is especially important, because ending up in space, an active volcano, or a politician’s bedroom is not something anyone wants.
This is precisely why Griffin traveling us back makes me so nervous.
“Where did you set us to land?” I ask as we all head outside together to the predetermined launch spot. I glance skyward several times, a habit I’ve formed while living on Kalesstria. The weather here is unpredictable and extremely dangerous at times, so one can never be too careful. “Please tell me nowhere too populated.”
“Well, we’re not going to Chinatown again, that’s for certain,” Griffin says with a traumatized expression. “Last time I went there, a man tried to keep me in his shop and sell me for ten American dollars.”
I eyeball his floral pants. “Were you wearing that? Because if so, he marked you up way too much.”
Griffin shoots me a nasty look and ruffles his hair. “I was not. I was wearing a black jacket with feathers, and some very fitted Diesel jeans, thank you very much. I looked bloody enchanting.”
“What were you doing in Chinatown, anyway?” Kammie asks, setting her bags down.
“Daisy needed hairspray.” Now Griffin looks a bit guilty, toeing at the dusty ground with one red cowboy boot. “And I wanted to get a fortune cookie.”
Now that I think about it, I’d told Griffin one night about how delicious Chinese food is, and how a fortune cookie comes with every meal. He’d had a lot of questions about it.
Kammie motions at him. “Well, did you get a fortune cookie?”
“What did it say?”
Griffin’s face blossoms red with a blush. “I don’t remember. Anyway, I need to finish setting our coordinates.” He fishes his communicator out of his pocket and nervously taps away at it.
Kalesstrian ‘communicators’ do a little bit of everything; they capture holopics and holovids, and operate as super-crazy advanced cell phones. They’re also necessary for long-distance travel. If Apple ever catches wind of them, they’ll definitely break Steve Jobs’ cryo-corpse out of its hiding place and bring him back to life just to patent the iCommunicator. I still barely understand how to turn one on, never mind use it for travel.
“C’mon, Griff,” Kammie insists. “You’re not the type who would forget your first fortune cookie. Besides, I want to know. I’m good at interpreting things like this.”
Of course she would say that. Kammie is a bit of a conspiracy-theory connoisseur, and she dabbles in all sorts of weird beliefs about angels, Bigfoot, aliens, and cryptic messages in newspaper clippings. If there’s some kind of superstition, legend, or conspiracy involved in anything, Kammie probably owns four books on the subject.
Griffin raises his eyes from his communicator, pursing his lips. He hesitates a little longer, and then finally huffs. “It said, Don’t forget to close the door behind you. There now, see? It’s nothing cool at all. I don’t believe in fortune cookies.”
Kammie shrugs. “Still, I’d be careful to make sure you always close doors behind you.”
Valley of Love is an adventurous adult toy store in Greenwich Village, known as much for their insanely creative window displays as for their wide selection of unusual bondage wares. I’ve been there a few times at the insistence of Kammie, but I’ve always been too chicken to even think about buying anything. I’ve wanted to, but…
“Look at this,” Griffin says.
He’s already removing stuff from the bag, intent on his work and dropping his purchases by the handful onto our bed. He pauses, studying something that looks like a bottle of purple jelly, and then continues on. “There’s a vibrating ring in here, but the sodding thing’s too big for any of my fingers.”
Oh my God.
“I found this it at the counter. It says for her. So I got it for you.” He holds up a bottle of pink lube, his mouth tipped into a mega-smirk. I know, without a doubt, that he has no idea what that or anything else in that bag is. I don’t even know what a few of the things are. He picks up a bottle that says Attraction Spray and squirts it all over his body, then sniffs at the air with a pleased look. “Well, do you like everything? The shopkeeper said all of it is very good for couples.”
Moving closer and surveying the items spread across the bed, I can’t help grinning. “Oh, there’s no doubt that a lot of this is great for couples, Griffin. Couples made up of two men.”
Griffin squints at me. “How do you mean—two men? These are beads, Daisy.”
“Did the shopkeeper tell you what those were for? Or what any of this is for?”
At this, Griffin’s white face flushes red, the blush creeping clear to his ears. He drops the spray bottle onto the bed. “Well, of course not. I didn’t need him to tell me!”
He really has no idea. And Griffin being Griffin, he didn’t want to ask anyone, because that would mean admitting something was unfamiliar to him. “Griff, I think the shopkeeper assumed that since you were in the store with Dev, you two were a couple. He thought you were buying these things for yourselves.”
“Me and Dev,” Griffin splutters. “Me and Dev, a couple? Rubbish!”
“Well, do you know what any of this is?”
Griffin scowls at me. “Course I do!”
That’s it—I can’t contain the laughter anymore. I walk to him, gently taking hold of his hands and hoping his feelings won’t get hurt by my amusement. “I’m a little confused why you went into Valley of Love in the first place if you… well, if these things are unfamiliar to you.”
Suddenly, a bad thought hits me. My laughter dies in my throat, only to be replaced by a subtle sick feeling.
Griffin’s attracted to who he’s attracted to, regardless of gender, station, or home planet. This has, until now, made me feel rather proud that he chose me out of everyone across the universe. But has something changed? Is he getting bored of me already? Have I just been a glorious novelty for him, another alien girl he’s now figured out and wants to move on from? Has he decided he needs toys to keep our relationship interesting?
Griffin pulls his hands away from me, blushing even redder. “The shop window had a sparkling yellow elephant in it,” he says at last, idly reaching for the bottle of Attraction Spray and looking particularly miserable. “I went inside to have a better look, and then realized it’s a shop with gifts for your lover. I wanted to surprise you.”
Relief floods through me, and I step closer to take his face in my hands. “That was really sweet of you, Griff, wanting to surprise me.”
He lets out a little puff of air, shoulders falling. “But you said it’s all wrong!”
I lean forward and press a kiss to his lips. “Not wrong—some of it just might not be useful for the two of us.” I glance at the bag. “However, I can definitely show you how to use some of it…”
Griffin returns to his guitar when he’s finished eating, playing it while humming to himself. I can almost feel him drifting away from me, returning to whatever world he goes to when he’s making music. At some point, I realize with a start that I can hear other instruments than just his guitar.
“Are you doing that?” I demand, and Griffin lifts his head to look at me, an insolent expression on his face.
“You can see me playing, Wanda.”
“Not the guitar. I heard bass and drums, and I’m pretty sure I heard a violin too. We’re alone in this room, so where was that coming from?”
“Me, of course. It’s coming from me. Do you want to hear it again? It’s good, isn’t it?”
“You’re using your finger-snappy power for that?” I know fully well that Griffin’s abilities are referred to as “sensitivities” on Kalesstria, but I just enjoy winding him up about it. Especially when he’s using his powers on Earth, where he certainly doesn’t have an infinite supply of energy.
We look at each other for a few seconds, Griffin holding his fingers poised over the guitar, and me with my arms crossed.
“Why do you ask, Daisy? Is there something else you think I should use my powers for?” Griffin asks in what he must think is an innocent tone. I know what he’s doing. I absolutely know exactly what he’s doing, and I’m determined not to play along with him. Well, not too much anyway. After all, if anyone in the world can resist a man, it’s me, the girl who went five years without a boyfriend.
“Yeah, actually, there is something else. Can you make Sonic Youth get back together? Can you make my favorite band Fourth Squid Movement appear? What about make a conditioner that actually works on curly hair? I have a list of things you could use your powers for.”
He raises a dark eyebrow, his lips turning up in a smirk. He deliberately plucks the strings on the guitar a few times, and then lays the instrument across his lap. “Really? That’s all you want from me?”
I must resist. I must. I’ll say something snarky and cool. Yes. I will. I really will.
“Well,” I say, starting off strong. Yes, good, keep it up. Don’t pay any attention to the way his gaze is darkening with lust. Don’t even look at his beautiful fingers stroking the guitar strings just soft enough to coax a quiet melody from them. Don’t think about the way the air’s crackling around him, palpable with wicked thoughts. “Well…” I say again.
“Yes, you’ve said that twice now, Wanda. Do you want me to put a record on, maybe? That always seems to excite you…”
That’s it. All attempts at resistance become damnably futile, and I launch myself at him.
Griffin slides onto the bed beside me, nuzzling my neck. “Can I play one of the songs for you?” Griffin asks.
“One of your new songs? You have it with you right now?”
Griffin lowers his head to kiss my shoulder, and then leaps off the bed with one graceful movement. He searches the pockets of his discarded trousers for a moment before locating his communicator. After he climbs back onto the bed, he sits cross-legged beside me, scrolling on the device. All at once, he stops and looks at me. “You’ll tell me if it’s rubbish, won’t you?” he asks in a very serious, quiet voice.
“I won’t say anything, probably, because I’m a very nice person, but I’ll grimace in a dramatic fashion if it’s awful. How about that?” It was a joke, but Griffin’s slight wince tells me he missed the humor. “Griff, I’m sure it’s good. I liked what I heard you recording today. Go on and play it.”
After a bit more fiddling with his communicator, a very synthy intro snakes into the air between us, chased by Griffin’s somewhat-untrained vocals. The song is catchy, almost entirely electronic, and it’s over very quickly. It sounds similar to the songs I heard him recording at Kammie’s studio earlier today—polished pop.
“I like it,” I say, making sure to look at him when I do, so he knows I’m being honest. “It’s fun, and it’s definitely something I can imagine hearing on the radio.”
A relieved sigh escapes his lips, and Griffin pushes a button on his communicator. “One more,” he says. He plays a slightly less upbeat song this time.
Maybe it’s because he hasn’t gone so crazy on the sound effects, or maybe it’s just the lyrics, but I find myself listening closer to this one. It’s a love song, but it’s far less racy in undertone than the first he played me. It feels earnest, emotional… almost melancholy. It feels like the Griffin I know in secret, the one who wakes in the middle of the night and cuddles closer to me. The one who traveled across the universe to get my teddy bear, so I’d feel more at home on Kalesstria. The Griffin who couldn’t quite hide his tears from me when I showed him The Land Before Time and Littlefoot mistakes his shadow for his mother.
I can feel Griffin’s heavy gaze on me as we listen together, and I realize all at once that he wrote this song about me. When I swing my gaze up to meet his, Griffin stares into my eyes in such an intense manner that I can’t say anything at all. Instead, I focus my energy on sending him my appreciation through our mental connection, and I move closer to him on the bed.
Griffin drops his communicator to the bed so he can slip his arms around me. “I wrote it for you,” he whispers.
“What is your album called?” I ask.
“That’s easy. It’s called Griffin Valentino, of course! Every famous pop star names their first album after themselves.”
“I don’t know about every famous pop star, but okay. It’ll be easy to remember, at least.” I stare at Kammie’s laptop screen. “We need some kind of album art.”
“Ah. We’ll need to hire a world famous artist, of course. Maybe someone who worked with David Bowie!”
“Considering we’re planning to head back to Kalesstria in two days, I don’t think finding and hiring a famous artist is in the cards.”
“Cards? What cards?” Griffin asks in a supremely suspicious tone.
I wave off his question with an exasperated groan. “We’ll just use a picture of you. I guess this is as good a chance as any to test my professional photo-editing skills.” Griffin leans over to watch me work, so close to the screen that I almost regret making him stick around.
First, I search for a usable picture of Griffin on my phone, a process that involves scrolling through countless weird selfies I didn’t even know he took. Teaching Griffin how to take a selfie has been an experience, let me tell you, one that continues to surprise and delight. Mostly surprise.
“What about that picture?” Griffin asks, prodding at my phone screen with one finger. “I like that one.” It’s a selfie of Griffin wearing what looks to be messily applied red eye shadow, his face tipped far too close to the camera and his lips pursed.
“Is that my eye shadow?” I ask, staring at the picture. “I don’t… when did you take this? I’ve never seen this picture before.” With a sigh, I keep scrolling until I find a handsome photo of Griffin that I took a few weeks ago. “This one. We’ll use this one.”
A few minutes of tinkering later, I slap his name across the gently edited picture. Griffin insists that the font must be in a tacky 80’s-esque flamingo-pink color. He also insists on drop shadow. Of course. When I finish, I turn the laptop in his direction and expectantly wait for his reaction.
“That looks… incredible,” he breathes, his eyes wide. “Daisy. It’s beautiful.”
It looks like a poster for a drag show in Brooklyn, but honestly? I’m quite proud of it, all things considered.
I look up, searching for the origin of the voice that called my name. Finally, I spot Griffin on one of the balconies, peering down at me with a mischievous smile tugging at his lips. His eyes are glowing in the dim light, even though he’s wearing his contacts, and one of his slender hands hangs down over the railing as he leans forward to take a better look at me.
“What are you doing up there?” I ask, tilting my head up a little further.
“Just wanted to see it from a different perspective.” Griffin moves along the balcony, slowly, like he’s hunting something. “I wanted to see what everyone will tonight.”
I laugh. “Well, you can’t really do that, can you, Kanye? You can’t watch your own concert.”
“Kanye?” Griffin repeats, his prowling, lusty look replaced by one of confusion. “Who’s Kanye?”
Griffin stops, staring at me again, and I think for a second that he might teleport down here. I shake my head, wagging a finger at him.
“Stairs, sir,” I say in a firm voice. Teleporting in front of his stage crew would only end in disaster. I know this, but I’m still not sure how well Griffin does.
With something that sounds distinctly like a cackle, Griffin turns and disappears from sight. He must have taken the steps two or three or ten at a time, because he reappears in a flash.
“The stage looks nice,” I say. I’m about to comment further, but Griffin slinks up to me in such a manner that I feel temporarily mesmerized. His face is nearly beaming with a smug smile, and the air crackles around him as he stops in front of me. It’s been a while since I’ve seen him like this, thanks to all the unique challenges of living in the royal home on an alien planet. It’s every bit as thrilling now as it has ever been.
“It’ll be the best show ever seen on this planet, I’m sure of it,” Griffin says quietly, leaning in to give me a chaste kiss. He pulls back. “Do you like the dress?”
“Oh, yeah, I love it.” I give it a little twirl. “You look very nice too.” I reach out and brush my fingers against the slim-fit black suit jacket he’s wearing. It’s almost understated, other than the silver spikes and chains on the shoulders. And it actually looks like it belongs in the same universe as his black skinny jeans and asymmetrically hemmed slate-gray shirt. And his boots are black. Black!
“Griff, your boots… You don’t want to trip on stage.” I point at his boots, and Griffin holds smoldering eye contact while crouching down very slowly in front of me. He licks his bottom lip as he twists his pale fingers around the laces, still looking up. I’ve never in my life seen someone tie a shoe in such an unnecessarily erotic manner.
Kendra L. Saunders is a time-and-space traveling fashionista author who writes books about magical, dark-haired men, interviews famous people, and suggests way too many bands to you via whatever social media platform she can get her hands on. She writes with good humor because humor is the best weapon for a girl who can't learn karate (or ballroom dancing).
She is the author of DATING AN ALIEN POP STAR, the magic realism novel INANIMATE OBJECTS, dark comedy DEATH AND MR. RIGHT, the upcoming romance THE UNLOVE SPELL, and has conducted interviews with NYT Bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout, goth rocker Aurelio Voltaire, and Project Runway winners Dmitry Sholokhov and Michelle Lesniak Franklin among many, many others.
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