Where  Black Girl Gamers  Are Headed in the Next Five Years

Where Black Girl Gamers Are Headed in the Next Five Years

By Kayla Cowart, Community Cultivator
(Guest Blogger)

Predictions

Gamers are more than the white male, nacho eating stereotypes- although, I do love me some nachos. In five years, the gaming community will continue to show just how many gamers are disabled, people of color, or even queer. These are my predictions as a black girl gamer on where were headed in the next five years. Pump your breaks though, before we jump to the future, lets take a look at the past.

Women And Gaming Go Way Back

What age did you first start gaming? I started at 4 years old, playing Pokémon Red and Blue in 1996 before I could even read. In 1980, Rebecca “Burger Becky” Heineman won the National Space Invaders Championship by Atari. Heineman is a transgender woman and the first person to ever win a national video game tournament.

Black girl gamers have been showing up and showing out at the professional level too! Jeannail “Cuddle Core” Carter is a professional Tekken player who won ELEAGUE’s Tekken 7 Team Takedown which aired on TBS earlier this year. Brown girls like Cuddle_core are proof that in the next five years, we will see an increase in the number of black women in the tournement scene. Cheers to EVO 2019- we are coming for you!

How Black Girl Gamers Disrupt The Status Quo

I appreciate games like Fortnite because I can play an avatar that looks like me. Out of the 125 million Fortnite players, 27% of them are women. I too, am one of the women who logs in to play regularly with an avatar that has brown skin and curly hair. Although, not all games have a varied character customization like Fortnite. The games industry has a long way to go when it comes to diversity in games. In five years, we can expect to see more people of color developing their own games that tell the stories we would like to see.

Momo Pixel, creator of the viral black women’s hair pilgrimage game- Hair Nah, took the internet by storm earlier this year. That’s because Hair Nah disrupted the status quo of what a video game narrative should look like and centered it around a black woman’s experience of having her hair touched without permission. Whew, chile! Let’s all sing Don’t Touch My Hair by Solange. In five years, I want to see more people of color centered narratives in video games because there is a big market need for it.

Today’s Leaders

We can’t discuss the future of the Black Girl Gaming community without acknowledging some of the leaders who are in the trenches right now doing the work. If you haven’t already, check out what the Official Black Girl Gamers are doing! Founder, Jay-Ann Lopez has a team of amazing community managers and Twitch streamers who are helping BGG members partake in a safe gaming space. Catch a stream at- https://www.twitch.tv/blackgirlgamers

Thumbstick Mafia is another organization created for women of color in the gaming industry. The founders, Anastasia “Seeker” (@chasinglux) and “Sharky” (@sharkyshood) are thought leaders in Black Gaming circles are create heavy hitting content. See their work at- https://thumbstickmafia.com/.

The Next 5 Years

Call me a hopeless romantic but, I see a bright future for Black Women and other Women of Color in the games industry. Not because the gatekeepers will finally open the doors of equality, but because Black Women have a history of making a way out of no way. Black Girl Gamers will continue to let their voices be heard and skills put on display for the next five years and beyond. To all of my black women in the games industry, just know, I’m rooting for you.

POC Suffer When Communities are Diminished

POC Suffer When Communities are Diminished

This isn’t just about Twitch getting rid of their communities, this is also about feeling left out, once again, by this platform.

Communities on Twitch started off for Small Streamers to have a better rate of viewing. Or so like-minded people can share things with each other.

“Communities are a new discovery tool to help streamers connect to the most relevant audiences and help viewers discover streams that fit their interests easier and faster than ever.” -Twitch

I’d like to see the stats on which ethnicities use Twitch the most. Do People of Color or non POC use Twitch more? We know who is represented but, who uses the platform the most? I’m going to go with POC. In studies it shows, POC buy the most games & game consoles.

Once again POC are being screwed out of finding each other on this niche platform. We’d like to continue to grow communities like BGG, Thumbstick Mafia and The CookOut. POCs on Twitch are taking advantage of Communities because this can dwindle down on harassment.

Being in Black Girl Gamers you hear stuff like, “I want to stream or play online but (insert horrific online story here).” Bringing Black women together is a main part of BGG. Allowing them to feel safe during their hobby is another part. We want to continue to reach out to people any way we can; with Communities our reach became a bit further. Twitch says that Community usage is down 3%. A theory behind that is, we’re only allowed three communities. I picked the three communities which best suit me, BGG, Thumbstick Mafia & The Cookout. I choose these communities because people looking into these communities is the demographic I would like to reach. Once you find the community which suits you, why would you keep looking? I didn’t choose, Street Fighter, Tekken or Esports. I didn’t search for those first. Twitch is about you and not the game that you play – build it and they will come. It doesn’t matter what I play but, my audience does matter.

After creating the BGG Community, we started to grow even more. There are people who don’t have Facebook so they couldn’t know about BGG Facebook group. Being on Twitch and being able to search; girl gamer, black girl, black content creator, black streams, women of color or any of those keywords made POC feel more welcoming on Twitch. For those people just joining the streaming culture and have no idea where to find support besides searching via Twitch’s search bar, how will our communities reach them? I understand the insertion of tags but, if Twitch is so great at identifying and unifying groups, we wouldn’t have had to make a video showing off the literal dark side of Twitch with streamers of color both men and women.

We can submit tags but which tags will get approved? Who at Twitch has the authority to say, ‘yes, this group is important so they will get a tag?’ And anyone can use the tags. These tags remind me of hashtags on Instagram. I can type in #NiggasBeLike on IG right now and find hundreds or thousands of people who shouldn’t be using that hashtag. It may be the same thing with tags. Anyone can tag themselves to get the views of that group. With all the people who make fun of Black people on Twitch, what’s going to stop them tagging themselves as #Black or something that identifies with our community? Will the Twitch staff be willing to regulate who gets to use which tag? What is stopping from these people using the tags to bait people of the community then berate them when we get there.

ALL MY TWITCH LIFE I HAD TO FIGHT! With tags, that fight may get more intense.
I get that Twitch is a primarily a gaming platform so making ways to filter our FPS from FGC is a good idea but, what about the people? We POC need to feel included and our voice heard. Trust me, if we keep feeling like we need to sit at the back of the bus we will create our own.

#BringBackCommunities

Nintendo Directly Killed Luigi in Aug 2018

Nintendo Directly Killed Luigi in Aug 2018

Luigi dead and this the last Smash game ever, thanks for reading my article!

No seriously, they didn’t give Luigi back his soul and this Super Smash Bros Ultimate reveals new characters.

Characters
Simon/ Richter – which are similar in fight styles but different animations.
Alucard – Dracula’s son is an Assist Trophy
Chrom – Echo fighter for
Dark Samus – Echo fighter for Sammus
Rathalos – The first character to appear as Assist Trophy & boss
King K. Roo

Stages
Dracula’s Castle with monsters from the Castlevania series. Hitting candlesticks gives you items
Great Bay
Shadow Moses
Living Room
Gaur Plain
Figure-8 Circuit
Flat Zone X
Pokemon Stadium
Garden of Hope
Brinstar Depths
Summit
Unova Pokemon League
Magicant
Gamer
Final Destination
New Donk City Hall – we did it y’all; we have a black character in Smash – he’s just playing instruments.

With these new stages added there over 103 however, since you can choose battlefield or omega form for each stage this leaves over 300 stages to play on. And now you can transition in between stages during matches. With the old school stages, they kept the nostalgia but upgraded the experience, choose up two stages. There are over 900 songs, all the songs are derived from each title that is included in Smash.


The number of stages in Ultimate vs previous Smash games

Modes
The most impressive thing I’ve seen from Ultimate is its training stage. It shows you the range of attacks and how far characters fly from damage. This will be a game changer. Adding this stage shows me they are working to make this game more competitive. Sudden death is even a bit different, the camera zooms in and you start at 300% to create a sense of urgency. There is a tournament mode, choose the number of players and a bracket will be created. Tournament mode allows up to 32 players.
Squad Strike, 3v3 or 5v5. You can play with three players or play on a three-person team.
Smashdown, the previously selected fighters won’t be available after that round. So the more rounds you play, the smaller the selection of fighters get. The single-player mode is now called classic mode.

Opinion Piece
I think they’re going to put Goku is Smash and then you’ll know that it’s the last smash.

Masahiro Sakurai, director of Smash Ultimate, is sick of y’all!! Smash community, he’s done with you; he has to be! He said here is everyone, here is all the songs and stages you could ever want, please don’t @ me! What

A Little Bit of a Read
I really want is his take on the Smash community showing their behind at EVO. During the grand finals, players were throwing games and the audience were throwing things at the players because they didn’t like the characters they were playing with. This is unacceptable. Bear, who was present during this mini tantrum during the Super Smash Bros. Wii U Grand Finals reset said,

It was the first game of the GF reset. The players began by holding B, at 30 seconds in I pulled up the rules due to the fact that they were stalling. As soon as it passed 1.5 minutes I issued a yellow card for stalling and told them they got to play it out.

If I was Mr. Wizard himself, ain’t no Smash tourneys – that’s it. You don’t get to show your whole behind and still get an invitation!

BGG talks to: The Samurider, a real-life Bad Ass!

BGG talks to: The Samurider, a real-life Bad Ass!

Being a real life superhero is something so many of us dream about but rarely push to achieve it.  Shaina West, also known as The Samurider, was inspired by Anime after a motorcycle accident to become a real life bad ass. 

A martial art stunt artist and personal trainer, Shaina has accrued a huge and diverse following on her Instagram where she shows her journey of being a “hero for hire”.  Jay recently caught up with Shaina in after MCM Comic Con (London) to learn more this bad-ass Brit born beauty.


J: So tell me how you got into being a Stunt Artist/ Self taught martial artist?

S: I’ve always been a huge fan of anime, comic books, games, action movies, that kind of stuff. Four years ago after I had a motorbike accident, I spent a lot of time in my room binge-watching anime and I had a lot of time on my hands because I had been let go from work because I couldn’t fulfil the contract because I was injured.  So I became inspired [by the anime] to start doing Martial Arts training and almost become like an anime character.  It just a hobby that made me feel more empowered through what I was going through at the time.

I just started teaching myself from YouTube tutorials.

J: Oh wow!

S: Yea, in my house and at the gym.  So yea that’s how I started and then from there I’ve just been practicing what I see.

J: What was the anime series that inspired you?

S: Naruto. I’ve been watching Naruto since I was like 12.  I was watching that back to back and it’s super inspiring; the characters, the morals, the symbolism.  It’s made in a such a way that every viewer can relate to what’s happening to a character, a situation or a symbol that comes up in the anime. My tattoo, for example, is a symbol that keeps coming up in the anime.  It’s called “The Will of Fire” and it special in a way that the meaning is unique to character but it pretty much stands for the same thing, to me anyway, which is to be strong, to fight for what I believe in and to do what I love. There’s a lot I took from that anime and that’s why I decided to just go for it.

J: What style of  Martial Arts were you studying when you were teaching yourself?

S: The first one is a sports martial art called Extreme Martial Arts, it’s really big in the States.  It borrows elements from Aikido, Wushu and tricking as well.  So it’s a very modern style. I guess the simplest way to say it is Freestyle martial arts.

J: When did you start?

S: I started training myself Martial Arts in Autumn 2015.

J: …Three years?! Wait what, for real?  I thought you had been training since you were 12 years old or something!

S: Hahah aww thank you! No only three years.

J: So from your perspective as a Black Women, what’s it like to be a Stunt Artist? Is it very diverse?

S: Umm ooh! Not from where I stand at the moment, it probably is in other parts of the world but from where I am at the moment and from what I see it’s very much White male dominated.  For someone like myself, it puts me in a position where I’d like to say I’m at an advantage because there are not many people like me that do what I do.

J: Therefore you stand out.

S: Exactly, also a slight disadvantage because the general consensus when someone is looking for a stunt person is “Oh yea, we’ll get a stunt man” they’ll get the established white man.  It’s a little bit of a controversial thing to say but that usually is the case.

J: Don’t worry, our platform is the best place to say it!

S: Hahaha! So yea there are pros and cons I imagine but I’m seeing more of the pros.

I’m bringing something new, not only to the industry but I’m bringing something new to Black Women by going for something like this.

J: Exactly! Do you get messages of support or ones saying that you’ve been an inspiration to many Black Women who want are interested in Martial Arts/Stunt Work?

S: Yea actually, I do get a lot of messages like that.  I don’t know it’s weird for me, for example at MCM Comicon I would have people coming up to me saying “Oh my God, it’s you! Can I get a picture?” and stuff. It’s weird because people think that when you have a certain level of recognition or become a local celebrity (celebrity in any sense of the word), [it means that] your lifestyle changes.   I still have the same lifestyle, I still get on the bus.

J: With the way you’re going that will change!

S: Haha I hope so! The support is my biggest motivation now, whereas before my biggest inspiration was anime and my biggest motivation was to become stronger.  Now it’s to keep reaching people that send me these kind of messages, because of that I’m driven to keep going.

J: I feel it’s also just your presence that is important.  I follow a lot of Black Art pages on Instagram and I swear, I see you inspiring someone’s art all the time and I know it’s you.  I look at the tag and see @thesamurider and I’m like YES!  So your presence inspires art which then inspires stories which then inspires movies and comics and things like that.  It’s really good that you’re out there because if not we [Black Women] wouldn’t have anyone to think about in terms of representation.

S: Thank you!

Art by Cameron Knitght. Twitter: @cknightart

J: Now that you’re out here doing your stunt work and martial arts, are there are specific goals that you want to achieve?

S: Yea actually my biggest is to be in the next Black Panther film.

J: Oh my God, yes you should be! If you were going to be Dora Milaje, you’d have to shave off your hair!

S: I’d do it! It would hurt me but of course I’d do it! I did apply for the first one several months ago, I didn’t hear anything back but that may have been for many reasons, I’m not based in the States etc.  At first I was a little bit disheartened by it but I’m a lot better now than I was then and I know more now than I did then.  I believe in timing, timing is everything so that is what I’m working towards.

Other personal goals that I want to be able to achieve is being able to learn more skills, weapons, learn how to trick so that when I am hired for big jobs I can deliver.  I want to get faster and stronger.

J: Do you have mentors/teachers now or are you still self taught?

S: I’m still self taught when it comes to my weapons and martial arts. I have recently started a partnership with a movement company that is going to help me improve my flexibility which will help me with my Martial Arts.  I’ve also started a partnership with a Hot Yoga company, Fierce Grace Yoga.  I’ve recently picked up a Tricking Coach to learn how to do parkour.

J: So I know you like anime, I know you like gaming.  Tell me about your gaming hobbies.

S: I don’t get to game as much as I used to because of training.  I work as a personal trainer and do freelance stunt work but when I do get a chance to play games, my favourites to play are platform games, you know like open map Tomb Raider style, Metal Gear Solid games. In my childhood I would play at lot of Spyro the Dragon, which was the first game I proper fell in love with.  I’m so excited for the re-master, I’m definitely getting it.   FPSs as well, I like COD campaigns and the Zombie modes.  My favourite kind of games have an interesting campaign, my favourites are Beyond Two Souls, Heavy Rain as well from the same creator.

J: Are you going to be playing Detroit: Becoming Human?

S: I haven’t heard of that you know.

J: It’s by the same people that made Heavy Rain and it’s got Jesse Williams in it.

S: Yea I’ll check it out, thank you for telling me that!

J: What would be your ideal anime, game or film if you could make it from scratch?

S: I’m going to start with the game because that’s something I haven’t thought about too much.  An ideal game? Hmm… I really like fighting games and I really like adventure so something like God of War has a bit of both.  So many something like that but with a selection of characters to play the campaign with.  I want diversity to be a big thing in games because games like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Tekken tend to only have one or two token Black characters.   It would be good if we had an equal amount of ethnicities in the game in general because representation is such a big thing and growing up I never really had that.  Tomb Raider, someone I idolised, was a White Woman.  Chun Li, who I loved, was supposed to be Asian but she still looks like a White Woman.  I’d even put a little bit of Hip Hop in the soundtrack for people like myself to really get into it.

I’ve got ideas for film; I’m looking to write a TV series based in London.  It’ll be something that’s never been seen before, it’ll have action and drama. That’s going be coming soon.

J: Oh, you’re already working on it?! YESS!!

S: Yea! I’ve already spoken with a producer and they’re happy to work with me on this.  It won’t just include Black people but Black people doing fantasy which is something we just don’t see on TV especially in London.

J: That is flipping amazing!! I can’t wait to see that! So to conclude, is there any advice you’d like to pass on to women that would like to get into Martial Arts/Stunt Work?

S: I get a lot of people asking how did I start and the thing that I try to advocate the most is that the internet is at your disposal. I learnt everything I know from the internet.  In this day and age, there isn’t anything that you can’t learn from the internet in one way or another.

Also, what I would recommend first is to strengthen yourself – mind, body and soul.  Start being more active, prepare your body for what you’re about to put yourself through.  Then from there, if you want to do the self taught route like I did, search tutorials for your martial art of choice.  Use the internet, just do it.

If you have enjoyed this article, please support BGG on Patreon: 

A Way Out….of your friendship?

A Way Out….of your friendship?

When’s the last time you tested the foundation of your friendship with a friend? If it’s been a while and someone’s looking a little shifty, you might want to play A Way Out with them.

As someone who loved co-op games growing up, A Way Out was a welcome modern touch on a nostalgic feature.  There is no single player mode to this game, you and your partner in crime are Vincent Moretti and Leo Coruso; American prisoners convicted in the 1970s that have to work together to escape from prison and stay on the run from authorities whilst simultaneously attempting revenge on a mutual enemy.

The game is directed by film maker Josef Fares, who has turned his hand to game design, his first title being Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons which received critical acclaim.  Knowing this, it’s no wonder the story is so well crafted. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say the prison break happens fairly quickly, which was great because the story continues and we were seriously worried we would end up in another The Order: 1886 situation, feeling unfulfilled by the game.  The story and characters unfold throughout the duration of the game, via cut scenes and gameplay, keeping us heavily engaged and turning what could have been a very gimmicky experience into well made movie that you can play.

Image source: https://bit.ly/2I213OH

Playing as Leo and Vincent means that you and your “friend” will approach situations differently.  Leo is a hot head, punch-first-ask-questions-later kind of guy; whilst Vincent is more calculated but less intuitive. We immediately adopted their characters, talking about:

“That’s why you got mollywhopped by the guard last time ’cause you too damn violent!”

and

“I said drive slow! DRIVE SLOW! I thought you were the discrete one?!”

The gameplay is definitely entertaining, the developers (Hazelight Studios) set out to create a co-op game that is “unique and different” and it’s safe to say they surpassed that goal.  The cooperative element is a well placed thread throughout the game; when moving heavy objects, distracting guards, infiltrating villas in Central America, car chases and when making major decisions that impact the story. Hazelight Studios achieved a good balance to ensure co-op was established as the nature of the game and not just a novelty to make the game “different”.

Image source: https://bit.ly/2ruH9BI

The game manages to stay true to its style, with exciting interweaving chase scenes in various locations as well as incorporating a few unexpected changes such as a 2D platformer fight scene just to mix it up a little bit.  In addition to that, there are mini games and activities throughout the game to offer a change of pace and tone, you know, to add some levity to the fact that your friendship is being tested.

Taking some time out from being an escaped convict. Image source: https://bit.ly/2wwuC5Y

The representation of Black people/POC in the game? I mean, it’s okay…the first POC in game are two non-white Middle Eastern and/or Arab men who get shot. There’s Black man with a speaking role who is a 2nd-in-command lackey that either disappears or dies; I can’t remember.  You do have a Black Woman (YAY!), the sassy (…damn) cautious arms dealer; a friend of Leo Coruso.   Then when you travel to Mexico, again the Mexican mobs pose as disposable lackies.  So it’s not devoid of representation but in my opinion, the POC are essentially extras in the movie.

See? Sassy. I told you. Image source: https://bit.ly/2FXQwhN

*cue W’Kabi voice* “It’s just more of the same”

However if I’m honest, it doesn’t bother me or take away from the game too much in this instance. It’s just another game to add to the everlasting list of games with middle aged White men as the protagonists; another day in the gaming world. There is also a line from Leo about Africa being undesirable to travel to and that it has “lions and sh*t”, which I side-eyed but really it reflects Leo’s character and how much of a non-entity would be to me in real life.

I will say the game is not very challenging; you get involved in more high-octane action towards the end of the game but even then it’s not very complex.  I do think a little more challenging content would have kicked the game up a notch, however the story, the interweaving and entertaining gameplay, and easter eggs had us engaged, bickering and cooperating at the edge of our seats more than once.

Image source: https://bit.ly/2ruH9BI

Hazelight has reminded me to not sleep on co-op games, and I look forward to seeing more games from the studio. All in all I would definitely recommend you to grab your PC/Xbox/PS4 and a friend to play A Way Out.  Another great thing is you only require one copy of the game; another thing to fight with your friend over… Good luck!

Books made by Black Girl Magic

Books made by Black Girl Magic

Can we just talk about the Black Girl Magic that is thriving in our literature culture right now? Maybe we can hit the video game industry next.

Though we have a long way to go, the industry is slowly changing. Just this year why have a beautiful bundle of books with not only amazing character representation but author representation as well. I’m talking about the beautiful brown authors of 2018.

I first want to talk about Debut authors Dana L Davis and Tomi Adeyemi.

Dana L. Davis, which you may recognize the name, is an actress and voice actress. She’s stared in 10 Things I Hate About You as Chasity Church and Heroes as Monica Dawson. She voices Kelly in Star Vs. the Forces of Evil which plays on Disney XD. I’ve seen a lot of Ms. Davis’ work, but I was reintroduced to her as an author through Youtube, her book is contemporary and though it’s not my first genre of choice, I felt similar to her in feelings of growing up black and after hearing her read a passage from her story, I was intrigued to find out more.  The summary of her debut novel is as such.

Dana Davis. Image source: https://goo.gl/knyHW8

“I’ve got seven days to come clean to my new dad. Seven days to tell the truth…

For sixteen-year-old Tiffany Sly, life hasn’t been safe or normal for a while. Losing her mom to cancer has her a little bit traumatized and now she has to leave her hometown of Chicago to live with the biological dad she’s never known.

Anthony Stone is a rich man with four other daughters—and rules for every second of the day. Tiffany tries to make the best of things, but she doesn’t fit into her new luxurious, but super-strict, home—or get along with her standoffish sister London. The only thing that makes her new life even remotely bearable is the strange boy across the street. Marcus McKinney has had his own experiences with death, and the unexpected friendship that blossoms between them is the only thing that makes her feel grounded.

But Tiffany has a secret. Another man claims he’s Tiffany’s real dad—and she only has seven days before he shows up to demand a paternity test and the truth comes out. With her life about to fall apart all over again, Tiffany finds herself discovering unexpected truths about her father, her mother and herself, and realizing that maybe family is in the bonds you make—and that life means sometimes taking risks”

Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now is available now.

Image source: https://goo.gl/KdvQrr

Then there’s Tomi Adeyemi, and her debut novel Children of Blood and Bone which is not only an NY Times bestseller, but it’s becoming a movie as well. Ms. Adeyemi is a Nigerian American woman and her book is a West African fantasy YA. Fantasy is my number one genre and I’m looking forward to reading her book.

Tomi Adeyemi.
Image source: https://twitter.com/tomi_adeyemi

“Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy”

Children of Blood and Bone is available now.

Image source:
https://goo.gl/1VNWKQ

The next two authors aren’t necessarily debuting authors, but the books they released this year are making a big splash and they are Dhonielle Clayton and Justina Ireland.

Dhonielle Clayton had published other books “Meet Cute, The Radical Element, Tiny Pretty Things, and Shiny Broken Pieces” all with other authors. She is the COO of the non-profit “We Need Diverse Book” I don’t need to explain what that is, but I’m so here for it. The book she released this year is called The Belles it is a Dark Fantasy YA that explores what it means to be the belle of the ball…sorry, bad pun.

Dhonielle Clayton.
Image source: https://twitter.com/brownbookworm

“Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the Favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the Favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the Queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision.

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever.”

The Belles is available for purchase now.

Image source: https://goo.gl/DA9DKi

And lastly and most certainly not the least, Justina Ireland, who is just my favorite person twitter right now. She’s released several books, before the one I just picked up, “Vengeance Bound, Feral Youth, Promise of Shadows, and Three Sides of a Heart” And now this year we have a Historical Zombie YA. Two things that I don’t really care for, but Ms. Ireland sucked me in anyway.

Justina Ireland.
Image source: https://goo.gl/Qt6eCV

“Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

At once provocative, terrifying, and darkly subversive, Dread Nation is Justina Ireland’s stunning vision of an America both foreign and familiar—a country on the brink, at the explosive crossroads where race, humanity, and survival meet.”

Dread Nation is available now.

Image source:
https://goo.gl/SoqdqW

So many great books, so little time, but I know I’m excited about each and every one of them. Here are the links to all those wonderful ladies below, I hope you go and check them out.

Dana L Davis: http://www.danaldavis.com/

Tomi Adeyemi: http://www.tomiadeyemi.com/

Dhonielle Clayton: https://www.dhonielleclayton.com/

Justina Ireland: http://justinaireland.com/home/