ARC Review: Fresh Ink, edited by Lamar Giles


Title: Fresh Ink: An Anthology

Author: Lamar Giles (editor)
Genre: Young Adult; Anthologies

Publication date: August 14th, 2018
Purchase links: HardcoverKindle Edition

Rating: ★★★★★



In partnership with We Need Diverse Books, thirteen of the most recognizable, diverse authors come together in this remarkable YA anthology featuring ten short stories, a graphic short story, and a one-act play from Walter Dean Myers never before in-print. 

Careful–you are holding fresh ink. And not hot-off-the-press, still-drying-in-your-hands ink. Instead, you are holding twelve stories with endings that are still being written–whose next chapters are up to you.

Because these stories are meant to be read. And shared.

Thirteen of the most accomplished YA authors deliver a label-defying anthology that includes ten short stories, a graphic novel, and a one-act play. This collection will inspire you to break conventions, bend the rules, and color outside the lines. All you need is fresh ink.


Fresh Ink is a solid anthology featuring diverse teens of different backgrounds. Like with any anthology, there were stories I thoroughly enjoyed, and others I enjoyed less. The stories feature black, Asian, Native American, Latinx, Persian, lesbian, bisexual, trans, and Filipino characters.

Mini review of each story:

Eraser Tattoo by Jason Reynolds
Representation: Black characters
Rating: 2/5 stars

This story is about Shay and Dante talking about their relationship on the day Shay is moving to a different state. In the meantime, Shay gives Dante an Eraser Tattoo. This story feels like the wrong one to start off the anthology because nothing happens. The story takes place within minutes and it’s mostly just a conversation. It was too short and I still don’t know what the point of it was, aside from Shay physically scarring Dante.

Meet Cute by Malinda Lo
Representation: Asian and sapphic main character. Black and sapphic love interest.
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Meet Cute follows Nic and Tamia. They meet at a convention and keep each other company during a blackout caused by a storm. It’s cheesy and cute, with a lot of cosplaying and awkwardness. At some point, I couldn’t tell if this was a contemporary or paranormal story, which was fun to try to figure out.

Don’t Pass Me By by Eric Gansworth
Representation: Native American main character
Rating: 2.5/5 stars

This story takes place in 1976 follows Hubert, a Native American boy, who is dealing with his identity and being one of very few Native American kids at his mostly white school. I don’t have many opinions about this one. It was a little boring, though there was a scene that I really liked in which Hubert confronts one of his teachers.

Be Cool for Once by Aminah Mae Safi
Representation: Muslim main character, Japanese love interest, black and sapphic side character.
Rating: 4/5 stars

In this story, Shirin and her friend Francesca go to see their favorite band live. Shirin’s crush, Jeffrey, shows up, and joins them. I thought this was fun and cute, though I couldn’t believe that Shirin would do something while her favorite band was giving a concert. This was still one of my favorite stories in the anthology, though.

Tags by Walter Dean Myers
Representation: African American main character
Rating: 2.5/5 stars

This a play in which boys who are dead talk to each other about how they died. They can stay in the world as long as people remember them. I didn’t like the play format of this, though it would probably be a lot better on stage rather than on the page. It was interesting to read about how they died but, at the same time, I also didn’t like reading about their deaths. If I remember correctly, all of them died unexpectedly, which was sad.

Why I Learned to Cooked by Sara Farizan
Representation: Persian and bisexual main character and sapphic love interest
Rating: 4/5 stars

This is a cute story about Yasaman, who asks her grandmother to teach her to cook so that she can cook Persian food for her girlfriend. The exploration of the relationship between Yasaman and her grandmother was my favorite thing about the story, though the ship was also very cute. This is my favorite story in the anthology.

A Stranger at the Bochinche
Representation: Latinx (probably Puerto Rican) characters
Rating: 1/5 stars

I honestly don’t even remember what this was about. I couldn’t get into it and had to skim read in order to be able to finish it. This is the second story I’ve read by Older, and by now I know that I don’t enjoy his work at all. I was confused the entire time I was reading this. A Stranger at the Bochinche was my least favorite story in the anthology.

A Boy’s Duty by Sharon G. Flake
Representation: Black main character
Rating: 4/5 stars

A Boy’s Duty is about Zakary James, a black boy who leaves his father’s farm and moves to the city as World War II breaks out. He works at a café, and there he meets a soldier who’s around his age. They have a conversation about the war, and some trouble tries to find Zakary. This was another of my favorites.

One Voice: A Something in Between Story by Melissa de la Cruz
Representation: Filipina main character
Rating: 3/5 stars

This story takes place after the events of Something in Between. I didn’t read that book, but this was still easy to follow (it does contain spoilers for the novel). The main character and her friends stand up against racism at her university. It felt a little short, but maybe that wouldn’t be the case if I had read the book before reading the short story.

Paladin/Samurai by Gene Luen Yang, illustrated by Thien Pham
Representation: Japanese main character
Rating: 3/5 stars

This was a graphic short story about a boy who’s playing a fantasy game with his friends. He wants to be a samurai because he’s Japanese, but one of his friend insists he can’t call himself a samurai, because the right term in the game is paladin. In the middle of this discussion, the main character goes to his neighbor’s birthday party. I got a little confused once the main character and one of his friends go to the birthday party, but overall it was a sweet and nice story about acceptance.

Catch, Pull, Drive by Schuyler Bailar
Representation: Trans boy main character
Rating: 4/5 stars

Catch, Pull, Drive is about Tommy, a swimmer who came out as transgender on Facebook over the weekend. The story takes place during his first swim practice as an out trans boy. I loved this one, especially for the friendship aspect of it. (Also, for some reason, I like books about characters who swim. I don’t even know why.) This is probably my second favorite story in the anthology (or it might be tied with Super Human).

Super Human by Nicola Yoon
Representation: Black main characters
Rating: 4/5 stars

This story follows Syrita, a black girl who is sent to try to convince the superhero known as X not to destroy Earth. No one knows what happened to make him go from the world’s savior to the person who wants to destroy it. It’s a story about racism, specifically anti-blackness. It was so powerful and the best story to end the anthology.

OverallFresh Ink was a really good anthology focusing entirely on diverse characters, which I loved. The stories were hit or miss for me, but the ones I liked were a huge hit. I wouldn’t mind having a full-length of a bunch of the stories. I’d recommend Fresh Ink to anyone who loves anthologies or is looking to read more diverse stories.

How to Legally Read Books for Free or Cheap

Conversations about pirating books have surfaced on Twitter recently, as they tend to do once in a while. As a result of that conversation, I decided to compile a list of ways to legally read books either for free or for a small price.

Read books for free

  • Riveted Lit! Riveted Lit is a website sponsored by Simon Teen that offers a few titles to read for free. These titles are traditionally published and vary in popularity — some titles are extremely well-known, while others are hidden treasures. The books are generally available for about a month. All you have to do is sign up for a free account using your email, and you will have access to full books and excerpts.
  • Free trials! When you can’t afford a book, free trials are your best friend. This is a temporary solution, but it allows you to enjoy a book while the author also gets paid. Some services that offer free trials are Scribd (my favorite), Audible, Audiobooks and Kindle Unlimited.
  • Ebooks for free! There are many ebooks that are permanently free on services like Kindle. All you have to do is download the Kindle app and search for books from low to high price. These books tend to be self-published books that you may not have heard of before, but they’re a nice alternative for when you can’t afford to buy books.
  • Price reductions! Many indie authors make their books free for a limited amount of time. Follow your favorite indie authors on social media or constantly check the free books available on your ebook provider of preference. I’ve already gotten three books this way this summer. Many authors also use instafreebie to give free copies of their books away for a limited time.
  • Netgalley or Edelweiss! NetGalley and Edelweiss are platforms that provide Advanced Reader Copies of books in exchange for a review. You don’t have to pay to use these services, but you do have to write reviews (whether short or long) for the books you read and post them on social media.
  • Physical Advanced Reader Copies! This is similar to Netgalley and Edelweiss, but you receive a physical book instead of an ebook. You generally need to have somewhat of an audience in order for publishers to send you ARCs.
  • Libraries! I almost forgot about this because my country doesn’t have any non-academic libraries. But if you have a library near you (and even better, it’s well-stocked), you can find some books there to read for free.

Read books for cheap

  • Again, price reductions! This is just like I mentioned above, except that you’ll find lots of traditionally published books on sale. You could find that NYT bestseller you’ve wanted to read for as little as two or three dollars.
  • Book Outlet! This is only an option if you live in the US, Puerto Rico or Canada (because international shipping is expensive), but you can get physical books for reduced prices on Book Outlet. The costs on Book Outlet tend to add up quickly, so it might not be an option all of the time.
  • Scribd! This is my favorite book subscription service. You can read an unlimited amount of books for $8.99 a month. There are both ebooks and audiobooks available. The book selection is not as good as Audible’s but you get a lot more books for less money. And they do have a lot of new releases as well! You can get a two-month free trial of Scribd; that’s how I first tried out the service.

Those are all the ways I know to read for free or for cheap! Have you tried any of these services? If you know any other free or cheap ways to legally read books, feel free to leave a comment about it. ☺

February Wrap Up

Hi, friends! February is almost over, which means it’s time for a reading wrap up. I read five books, which is what I’m hoping to read every single month this year. I was happily surprised that I managed to read five books because February is so short. Anyway, here all of the books I read in February.

22238158  30312700  25062038  24763621  32333055


The first book I read was Vicious by V.E. SchwabVicious is about two college roommates whose senior theses lead them to discover that near death experiences are the key to gaining special abilities. Ten years later, one of them is just getting out of prison and wants to get revenge on the other.

The thing about Vicious is that it’s not what you would expect from a superhero/supervillain story. It’s less about action-packed fights in which a clearly good person and a clearly bad person attempt to destroy each other. Instead, you have two characters who are both morally gray in very different ways. It’s an exploration of these two characters and their morality, and how their abilities bring forth the darkness they’ve always had within them. It was incredibly interesting, although I felt like there was something missing — which always happens to me with V.E. Schwab’s books. I gave it four out of five stars.

alex, approximately

The next book I read was Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett. I had no plans to read it this month (I don’t even own it), but I found out through Lia that it was free on Riveted Lit for part of February. I had to drop every other book to read it.

Alex, Approximately is about Bailey, a film fanatic with an online friend, Alex, that she might have feelings for. When she moves to the same town Alex lives in, she makes it her mission to find out Alex’s identity before a film festival. What she doesn’t count on is starting to like her annoying new coworker, Porter.

I’ve been wanting to read Alex, Approximately for months because I thought I would love it. And I did… for about 70% of the book. At first it was fun and extremely hard to put down, which is how I ended up reading most of it in one day (that doesn’t happen too much anymore). However, I lost interest at around 70% for no reason, but then one character did a bunch of things I didn’t agree with for the sake of adding drama to the story. By then I didn’t care that much about how things would end.

Since I enjoyed most of the book, I gave it four out of five stars.

little & lion

The next book I read was Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert. This one is about Suzette, a Jewish black girl, and how she reacts to her stepbrother being diagnosed as bipolar.

I had an free trial, so I listened to Little & Lion as an audiobook. Good thing too, because the narration was the only thing I liked about this reading experience. (I guess I liked Lionel too, but he wasn’t very physically present in the book. Everything was mostly about how Suzette was affected by Lionel’s disorder.)

I don’t even know what to say about the book. I had a lot of problems with it, but I don’t want to spend more time thinking, much less talking, about it. I didn’t like any of the characters, the romances were underdeveloped and there was some problematic stuff regarding sexuality. I gave it two out of five stars.


After Little & Lion, I read Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones. This one is about Elisabeth, who lives in a world where goblins are real. After they take her sister, she plays a game with the Goblin King to try to save her. The synopsis says more than that, but I feel like saying more could be a spoiler for people who prefer not to know too much about the books on their TBR. It was a slow story that focused mostly on the characters instead of a plot. The writing felt poetical, and I really enjoyed it. The main characters grow a lot throughout the story, both as individuals and as a pair, which I find to be the main focus of the story. There’s a lot of possibilities for the second book, so I can’t wait to get my hands on it. I gave Wintersong four out of five stars.

The last book I read in February was Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali. Saints and Misfits is about a Muslim teen, Janna, dealing with the aftermath of being sexually assaulted by someone who is admired in her community. I am conflicted about this book because I liked the message of it and learning a little about Janna’s life and community. However, I didn’t like the writing too much and it affected my reading experience a little. I’ve noticed that this is an issue I mostly have with contemporary stories, so it’s more about the genre than the book. I didn’t give Saints and Misfits a rating, though it’s around 3.75 stars for me.

Those are all of the books I read in February. I had a really good reading month. I managed to hit my goal, though I did add more books to my TBR than I actually read… Still, I’m doing well on my reading challenge, which I’m super happy about. What was the best book you read in February?

P.S. The images with the book titles on it are really ugly. Please bear with me while I figure out a cute way to separate text. 


March TBR + Munches in March

Hi, friends! Today I’m going to be talking about my March TBR. Sticking to my TBR is something I’m not good at, but I found out about Munches in March and decided to give it a try.

march tbr

The challenges for Munches in March comes on a bingo sheet. I picked a book for every single challenge on the sheet. Instead of trying to fill a row or the entire sheet, I’m going to be reading as many books as possible during the month without worrying about which row(s) I’m completing.

I’ll be sharing the challenges and which book can fulfill that challenge:

first row

Spaghetti: A possible 5-star rating

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

French fries: A book in a genre you always enjoy, no matter your mood

Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

Hot chocolate: Book that'll likely make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

Ice cream: Book concerning heartbreak

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (I think I’m cheating by picking this one)

second row

Candy: Something sweet on the cover

Nothing Happened by Molly Booth

Pizza: Next installment of a series you already started

The Raven King by Nora Sakavic

Popcorn: Thriller/suspense novel

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco (this one might be cheating too)

Fish and chips: Mostly blue on the cover

Girl by Karen Rayne

third row

Soup: About someone with an illness

Chameleon Moon by RoAnna Sylver (I think a character has anxiety, but I’m not sure)

Cake: Hyped book

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Nuts: Situated in nature

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes (I’m sure they go outside sometimes)

Onion rings: Book that's likely to make you cry

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

fourth row

Coffee/tea: Book you read in 24 hours

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

Cupcake: Book on your TBR with the most beautiful cover

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

Fresh fruit: Colorful cover

Fresh Ink, edited by Lamar Giles

Candied apple: Fairy tale retelling

The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine


So that’s my Munches in March TBR! I struggle to read five months a month, so I’m definitely not reading all 16 books. The books I read in March should all be from this list, though. Is anyone else participating in Munches in March? If so, what squares do you plan to fill? If not, what’s one book you want to read in March?

January Wrap Up

Hi and happy February! Does anyone else feel like January lasted a million years? I read five books in January, and it feels like it’s been months since I read all of them. Nonetheless, I am here to tell you what I read in January.

30653853  29772863  23437156  34076952  30312818

I had a mini readathon by myself on January 1st and read two books.

The first book I read was The Upside of Unrequited. It’s about a girl named Molly who’s had 26 six crushes but no boyfriends. She’s fat and always feels like she has to be careful when it comes to relationships. When Molly’s sister Cassie gets a girlfriend, Cassie picks a boy whom she thinks would be a good boyfriend for Molly. But Molly might begin to have a crush on her new coworker, Reid.

I have mixed feelings about this book because, even though Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is one of my favorite books, I don’t really like the way Becky Albertalli writes. I don’t know what it is about her writing style that just doesn’t click with me. I gave it three out of five stars because it was a quick read and I related a lot to Molly when it came to weight/body image (though those scenes were hard to read). It was okay but far from my favorite Becky Albertalli book.

Next, on the same day, I read Wires and Nerve, Vol 1 by Marissa Meyer. It’s a graphic novel set in the world of The Lunar Chronicles, and it takes place after Winter. It follows Iko as she tries to hunt down Lunar Operatives or whatever they’re called. To be honest, it was… bad. There are so many interesting aspects of this world that could have been explored in the graphic novel, but instead it was some boring plot in which Iko hunts the wolf soldiers. The characters were all one-dimensional, and those we know from the previous books were different from who they were in the actual series–and not in a good way. It’s like all of them had one characteristic and that was it. As for the romance… can we even call it that? There’s a guard who hates Iko and mistreats her because she’s an android. I don’t understand why she likes him. I gave Wires and Nerve, Vol 1 two stars.

The next book I read is actually one that I started in December and finished in early January. That book is no other than Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. I bought it in late 2015, so I almost can’t believe I’m including it in a 2018 wrap up. Yikes. I need to read my books sooner. There’s a lot going on in this book, but the most simple way to summarize it is the tagline on the cover: “Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist.” I finished the Shadow and Bone trilogy in November and thought I probably wouldn’t like SoC as much as S&B. But wow, was I wrong. I don’t know how to explain how I feel about this book. It was so, so good. It was everything I wanted White Cat by Holly Black to be, and way, way more. It was my first five star read of 2018.

I was still in a Leigh Bardugo mood after Six of Crows, so I read The Language of Thorns. It contains fairy tales from different countries of the Grishaverse. I read the three Ravkan stories years ago (before I even started reading the Shadow and Bone trilogy), and it was a fun experience to revisit them after reading the books. I loved all of the stories and wish Leigh Bardugo would write more of them. I gave The Language of Thorns four stars. (It might have been five if it had come with The Demon in the Woods; that’s not a fairy tale, so I understand why it wasn’t included.

The last book I read in January was We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson. We Are the Ants follows Henry Denton. His boyfriend died by suicide, his brother is having a baby, his grandmother is sick and he is regularly abducted by aliens. So when the aliens let him know that the world is going to end and he can stop it by pushing a button, he’s not so sure he wants to. This book was so, so good. It was my second-favorite read of the month. All of the characters were interesting: Henry, his family, his friends, his dead boyfriend, the boy he hooks up with, everyone. All of them felt real, like they were more than just people who were in Henry’s life. Instead, I could tell they all had their own lives and problems that had nothing to do with Henry, even if they were never explored. I wish a few things about the plot had been resolved by the end, but ultimately We Are the Ants is a great book. I gave it four stars.

That’s it for my January wrap up! Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think of them?

Top Ten Books to Read in 2018

Hey, everyone! I am the kind of reader who postpones reading all the books she wants to read because she’s afraid she won’t like them. As a result of that, I have plenty of books that I’ve owned for years but have never attempted to read. One of my goals for 2018 is to finally read most, if not all, of the books that I’m excited about and think I will love.

top ten books to read in 2018

Here’s a list of ten books that I want to read in 2018:

22299763  28449207  12954620  18798983  20560137

  1. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo || I just finished reading Six of Crows, and I think it’s my new favorite book. It was everything I’ve been searching for in a book: cons, morally gray characters, angsty ships that don’t take over the plot, and whole bunch of badassery. Crooked Kingdom is definitely at the top of my TBR.
  2. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor || This is not a book I’ve owned for a long time. In fact, I’ve had it for less than a month. However, it is one that I’ve been interested in since before it came out. I don’t know too much about it, except that it follows a librarian who is obsessed with a lost city called Weep, and I think he goes on an adventure to find it. Everyone says the writing is beautiful, and I can’t wait to read it.
  3. Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes || This series is one of the reasons I decided to make this list. I’ve owned most of the series since 2015 but haven’t even read the first book. I am really into the idea of YA fantasy with a big cast of characters and this is one that is highly praised by many people. The last book in the series will come out this year, so I need to start the first book soon.
  4. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh || This is another one that I have owned since 2015 and heard great things about. I’m currently into angsty ships, so I’m hoping to read it in the first half of the year.
  5. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir || Yup, you guessed it, another fantasy book that everyone raves about but I haven’t read yet. All I know about this one is that it’s inspired by the Roman Empire and that one of the characters is a soldier and another, a slave. I have high expectations for this one.
    13638125  16096824  16060716  30312891  8490112
  6. Vicious by V.E. Schwab ||This book is about college roommates who discover that the secret to superpowers is near-death experiences.
  7. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas || This is a book that I’m nervous to read, to be honest. ACOTAR seems to be a book that people either love a lot or hate with a passion. It’s about a girl who kills a Fae and is kidnapped by other Faes as a punishment for her crime.
  8. Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray || Lair of Dreams is the sequel to The Diviners, which is about a girl who can see a person’s memories by holding an object that belongs to them. I read The Diviners at the end of 2016 and loved it. People say the world gets expanded a lot in the second and third books, so I can’t wait to finally continue this series.
  9. Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare || Lady Midnight was one of my favorite books of 2017. I love the Shadowhunter world, and Lady Midnight introduced me to one of my favorite Shadowhunters ever (Mark Blackthorn), so I want to continue this series in 2018.
  10. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor || The main reason this book is on the list is because I’ve owned the entire series since 2015 and have never made an attempt to read it. One of my reading goals for 2018 is to read or get rid of all of my unread books from 2015. I don’t want to get rid of this series, so I need to start reading it soon.

That’s it for my list of books to read in 2018! What is one book you need to read this year?

Am I Naughty or Nice? || The Bookish Naughty List

Hi, everyone! I know Christmas is over for many people, but we haven’t stopped celebrating in Puerto Rico yet. And what better way to be a little festive than with a book tag? Thanks to Marty from The Cursed Books for tagging me!



Unfortunately… yes. When I first started book blogging (on a different blog), I requested any and every ARC that seemed mildly interesting. Then I stopped blogging for several months and all those ARCs were left unread. Now I’m more selective with the ARCs I request for this reason.


Nope! I have a 75% feedback rating.


Not on my blog, no. I know I’m not likely to review books that aren’t ARCs, so I don’t tend to promise reviews for specific books.


No way. I like to keep my books as nice as possible, and folding the pages ruins them for me.


I’ve spilled water on books but not too much, just a few drops. I also vaguely remember staining a page of book with a Dorito or something like that.


Yes! I actually DNF’d multiple books. Most of them were ARCs. The most recent one was The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I read almost 40 pages before I decided that I wouldn’t like it and didn’t want to continue reading it.


Not really. I have been persuaded to buy books mostly because of the pretty covers, but I did have interest in them before buying them.


ALL. THE. TIME. There’s always something that I need to be doing, so this applies to every single time I read.


Yup. I recently skim read the ending of The Winner’s Curse.


Nooo! *dances around the room* My Goodreads goal was 50 books. I ended up reading 55 books.


NEVER. I treat other people’s books the way I would like my own books to be treated, so I’ve never kept a book that wasn’t mine.


*looks around guiltily* Ha… ha… ha. Yes. I was supposed to be on a book buying ban for all of 2017 and I broke it like five times. I did buy less books than in 2016, so yay for me?


Nope. I rarely write reviews, so this isn’t a problem for me.


No. I want to buy a book someday specifically to write in it and pass it along to a friend (or several friends), but that hasn’t happened yet.


I used to do this years ago because I was embarrassed by the books I had read previously, but I think that by now all the books I have read (that aren’t too short. I don’t like to count novellas or short stories for Goodreads) are on my Goodreads “read” shelf.



I said yes to six out of fifteen, so I think I’m a little nice? Definitely very close to being naughty, though.

I hope you enjoyed this tag! I won’t tag anyone because Christmas is over for most people. Are you a nice or naughty reader?