Member Reviews

I don't know about you but I love a dark mystery. One where all the skeletons are dragged out of the closet for the world to see. Add in a little dash of sass and drama and I'm all set. The Black Queen sounded like all of those things and I knew that I had to read it.

I appreciate the story and I understand why it was written the way it was but it just wasn’t for me. With a mystery, I want to scratch my head in a puzzled way and not in a way where I know where the story will lead. I want to be shocked and flabbergasted to the where I fall out of my chair. That just didn't happen here. The author took the cop-out and I was extremely disappointed. I can really see how other readers will love this mystery because it's fresh to them and current but this really made me feel bored and a tad bit old.

The mystery itself was very predictable and I caught on very early on who killed the Queen and why they did it. None of the twists were shocking, like at all. It was obvious from the start where the author would take us and I wasn’t wrong. You would have thought the author would have a few tricks up his sleeve because he's a journalist and has covered crime before. He took the most overused scenarios and put them in his book. Shame.

The Black Queen was not the type of read that I wanted it to be and it wasn't for me. Too many stereotypes, and not enough mystery. I felt as if I was hit with a scepter and put to sleep.

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I enjoyed the many twists and turns that the author created. There was a bit of me that suspected the killer but several times throughout the story, I was convinced that it was other characters. Well done

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As the second 'Carrie' "remake" I've read in the past year (The first by Tiffany Jackson) it's pretty good.

I'm glad to see black authors pertain to movies and writing in a wake that protrays us, while still keeping a similar plot.
Really good, I enjoyed it a lot.

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Really enjoyed this thriller set at a school struggling to calm racial tensions after the influx of a group of Black students displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

In an attempt to tamp down the drama, the school decrees that the homecoming queen will alternate between kids in the honors track (students who are largely white) and the regular track (mostly the new students).

When the school's first Black homecoming queen ends up dead, her best friend is determined to get to the bottom of what happened. Even if that means pairing up with the white girl who felt that the crown should have been hers.

The Black Queen takes a nuanced look at race and the social justice movement and the mystery was good too. A new author to watch!

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How do I give a review about a book like #TheBlackQueen by #JumataEmill

Let me start by saying holy cow this was amazing. Nova Albright is in the lead to become her schools first Black Queen for homecoming thanks to an intitiative put into place to make things at the school more inclusive. Something to which Nova and her friends scoff at. There is nothing inclusive about a school that decides to make special AP classes which most of the black kids can't get into. There is still very much a seperation of black and white. Tinsley McArthur is queen bee at the school and comes from a line of woman who have all won the crown but this year thanks to the innitiave her crown is set to go to Nova whom she despises.
Nova loves the chance to rub it into Tinsley's face that she will be the one with the crown and goes as far as to ask Tinsley's father who owns a construction company to sponser her for the event. Nova's best friend Duchess is always there to have Nova's back, more than happy to get into a scrap or two even though her Pops works on the police force, he happens to be the first black sargent thhe department has.

When Nova inevitably gets the crown Tinsley has decided to just drop out not subjecting herself to running against someone she considers beneath her. Tinsleys group decides to take her to the beach for a drunken party to distract her from Nova being crowned that night. In a drunken fit Tinsley is filmed saying horrible things about Nova incliuding how she would kill her and where she would dump the body.

The next day the video has gone viral and Nova Albright is dead. Killed and dumped in the exact way that Tinsley described.

Duchess's heart is broken at the thought of losing her best friend and knowing that the odds of a rich white girl being convicted of a crime even with the video is unlikely to happen which fuels her rage even more. She is determind to find out who killed Nova and to find out what secrets Nova has been keeping. Nova had something to tell her the night of the Crowning Ceremony that she had to promise not to breathe a word of to anyone.

Tinsley knows that she did not kill Nova, but she is determined to clear her name and find out who did. While sluething she finds out more about Nova than she imagined and took a good hard look at herself and realize she isn't the kind of person she wants to be.

In order to achieve their goals Tinsley and Duchess find themselves working together to uncover the truth and in the process an unlikely friendship is formed. But do Tinsley and Duchess really know what they are walking into? Are they prepared for the secrets they will uncover and how it will change their lives forever?

Thank you #Netgalley and #RandomHouseChildrensBooks for the oppertunity to read the eArc of #TheBlackQueen

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The Black Queen is an excellent murder mystery perfect for fans of One of Us is Lying. This book manages to be important for how it discusses race, systemic racism, and white privilege while also being a thrilling, unpredictable murder mystery making it a standout in the YA mystery genre. Fans of Tiffany D. Jackson will be thrilled to read Jumata Emill's debut novel. When Lovett High's first black homecoming queen is found dead the morning after her coronation. Tinsley, the white girl who felt it was her legacy to be queen, is the main suspect. Nova's best friend Duchess is determined to prove Tinsley's guilt. The characters are complex and very well-developed. Readers will be on the edge of their seats as they try to find out what happened Homecoming night. Highly recommended! Be sure to check out The Black Queen today.

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Nova Albright is Lovett High’s first Black homecoming queen, but she is murdered on the night of her coronation. Nova leaves behind her best friend, Duchess Simmons, who is determined to find Nova’s killer and get her justice, and her biggest enemy, Tinsley McArthur, Nova’s competition for homecoming queen and the number one suspect in her murder. The Black Queen, told in alternating perspectives, is a murder mystery interwoven with an exploration of Black Lives Matter and systemic racism.

Duchess is so excited about Nova becoming the school’s first Black homecoming queen; she’s about to become the poster child for equality at Lovett High. But she can’t help but feel that this isn’t enough, especially when in a town just down the road a black man is being kept in jail for the murder of a white family without any solid evidence against him. And when Nova, a black women, ends up dead and the white, primary suspect is left walking free, things really spiral out of control. Duchess is devastated at losing her best friend, but at least this time she can get justice for Nova, something she was unable to do when she lost her mother to cancer. Duchess wants Tinsley McArthur behind bars! But it turns out that Nova was keeping a lot of secrets, any of which could have gotten her killed, and Tinsley might be the only person who can help her find the actual murderer.

The title of homecoming queen runs in Tinsley’s family, so she feels that winning is her right, and Nova Albright is stealing that away from her. Tinsley will do just about anything to get Nova to drop out of the race, but she will not back down. Tinsley’s frustrations culminate on the night of Nova’s coronation, when she drunkenly wishes for Nova’s death, but she never expected that Nova would actually be found dead, and in the exact location Tinsley mentioned during her drunken tirade, which has unfortunately gone viral. The coincidence is too much for people to believe, and Tinsley is presumed guilty by the court of public opinion, even the police seem determined to pin the crime on her. Her only hope is to figure out who really killed Nova Albright, but that means working with Duchess, the person that hates her most.

This was a fast paced novel, that kept me hooked all the way through. This was likely due to Tinsley and Duchess continually finding new leads and new suspects in Nova’s murder. While I mostly enjoyed this aspect of it, I did find it slightly frustrating that every time they found a new clue they’d immediately jump to “this person MUST be the killer,” and of course they never were. It was really great, however, to watch the relationship between Tinsley and Duchess develop throughout their investigation. It felt especially realistic the way they struggled to build trust with one another, and they had several incidents that stepped their shaky friendship backwards. But the bond the two end up building, and the way they make each other better people, was a big highlight of the story.

One of the biggest themes that shined throughout this novel, was the fight against systemic racism. Some of the character felt a bit preachy at times when this topic was brought to the fore front, but my favorite thing about it was Tinsley’s awareness and struggle to be better. At the beginning of the novel, Tinsley is a perfectly unlikable character; obnoxious, self-centered, and intentionally unaware of the problems in her southern town. As the story goes on though, Tinsley begins to make a conscious effort to listen and learn, and has a clear desire to become a better person, shown to be especially true when she turns on someone very close to her to get justice for Nova.

Jumata Emill has created a thoroughly enjoyable murder mystery with The Black Queen. Coming on the heals of several similar books, Pretty Dead Queens by Alexa Donne and The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson, this one holds its own. Sure to delight fans of this genre and those looking for a a story that addresses systemic racism.

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Thank you Netgally and Random House for this e-ARC. I will state that the opinions in this review are my own! Now let’s get to the review.

THIS BOOK IS AMAZING!!!! Sometimes I try to stay away from heavy subjects such as racism, murder ( especially when it involves children or teenagers) and black pain can be overdone, especially when you’re black and dealing with said pain daily. However, this book called to me and delivered exactly what it came to do, exposing the fact that racism is generational, taught and is very much is alive and well.

Nova was going to be the first black homecoming queen at Lovett High School, running against Tinsley, who is in a long line of homecoming queens. Tinsley is not likeable in any way, I’m warning you now, she is ignorant, practices convert racism as a sport and is comes from money and a family that uses power to get what it wants.

Nova is murdered and her best friend goes and further investigates the suspicious murder of her best friend who was murdered when she was about to get the crown…long story short the murderer is really a surprise and the twist and turns that this book takes you on are a ride well worth it. I gave this book five stars because it really deserved it!!!! It hits on so much, it’s dark and the author shows the effects of money and social pressure in a small town that has racism and secrets

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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the advance copy. This was an excellent debut by Emill and I can’t wait to read what he comes out with next. I loved the way he wrote these female main characters and he had a lot to say about systemic racism and the way it impacts just about everything in the South. I will say that I saw most of the twists coming, but that did not take away from my enjoyment of this book at all. Also, the cover is absolutely stunning. I’ll be purchasing the physical version for sure!

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I went into this book with high hopes. This book did not disappoint. The plot was chef kiss. The characters development was beyond what I expected in a debut novel . This book kept me on the edge of my seat the whole damn time

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I would like to thank Random House Children's for providing me with an ARC.

I thought this book was very well written. I loved the characterizations and character development throughout the book. The characters are very easy to relate to. The characters felt like they grew and changed throughout the story. This book also has a mean girl as one of the main characters that I felt was well written. Duchess and Tinsley were both written very well, and I loved seeing them grow. The Black Queen offers up a lot of social commentary. It discusses some heavy topics; some I think could have been discussed better such as the underage relationship. Despite some of my issues here and there, I still really loved this book. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys thrillers.

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This was a great murder mystery for young adults. The plot is strong and the story definitely has its twists and turns. I did struggle to feel connected to the characters, because sometimes it felt like their voices were a bit over-the-top.

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4.5/5 stars
Nova Albright was just elected and crowned homecoming queen - the first black girl to do so in a small Southern town - when she is murdered. The immediate suspect is Tinsley, the super popular white girl who was supposed to win the crown before Nova showed up. Duchess, Nova’s best friend, is convinced that Tinsley did it until Tinsley shows up asking Duchess to help her investigate. Together, they hunt for clues to who might have wanted Nova dead.

Although I predicted one of the twists, I really enjoyed this book! It was a good mystery, but also had great character development and growth. I truly didn’t want to put it down because I wanted to know who did it!

I received my copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Thank you so much to Jumata Emill, Random House, Book Forward & NetGalley for an advance copy of this book!

I am not going to beat around the bush, holy moly this book is FANTASTIC!! I'll be honest, I was a bit nervous to read this as I had recently read Tiffany D. Jackson' The Weight of Blood and thought it was going to be similar (just based off the title and cover) but it was not!

The first black Homecoming queen was crowned and less than 12 hours later, Nova Albright is dead. All signs point to TInsley McArthur who was very vocal about her hate for Nova. Did Tinsley commit the crime? If she didn't, then who did?

"Innocent people don't hide. They walk around with their heads held high."

This book is told from two POVs (which is a favorite of mine) - one from Nova's best friend Duchess and the other from high brow beauty queen Tinsley. As a reader, I do not tend to read synopsis prior to starting a book as I like to go in completely blind as sometimes I think they give away TOO much so not knowing why the main characters perspective was not included was a mystery to me until it wasn't. Duchess and Tinsely were such complex characters and were such opposites that it was great seeing how their dynamic played out. I love that they had reservations about each other and neither could fully trust one another which made them a perfect pair for teaming up to find Nova's killer.

I have never met a bigger villain than Tinsley's mother. She was such a scary person and I think what made her scarier is that this could be your neighbor, your teacher, a family member. She is your definition of white privilege who think their shit don't stink and her actions would ripple down to her children's actions. It made me so angry to read her character which i am sure is what Emill was trying to evoke from the reader. This led to bigger conversations on race, discrimination, white privilege and systemic racism. It was an important piece of this book right from the beginning and was woven in throughout the whole book and played such a role.

The beginning started off slow setting up the scene but once Homecoming night happened it flew by. I was definitely kept on the edge of my seat and there were so many twist and turns. When I thought it was going to go one way, it definitely took a turn the other way. I had paired this with the audio about halfway through courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio and the audio was fantastic. And added element that I think should be included in more audiobooks is that knocking sound when someone hears it or the sound of a phone ringing in the background when its happening in the book. It made it extra enjoyable.

Congrats on a wonderful debut Jumata Emill!

I highly recommend this and will definitely be sharing this with my friends.

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I would like to thank Netgalley and the Publisher for allowing me to review this book. This novel start with Nova Albright becoming the first Black prom queen at Lovett High. This is a huge deal for the black community to have it's first ever black prom queen. Sadly Nova Albright is murder the night of her coronation. Dutchess who is Nova best friend, is shock by this and will not rest until she find who killed her homegurl. Then we have Tinsley, who is this privilege, popular, rich, white girl who is the number one suspect. I like that we get both of Dutchess and Tinsley perspective, which help the story. I also like how this book hit on important topics. The author did well with this. Overall, I was not expecting that plot twist.

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This book. I don't even know if I have the words to say how important books like this are. This is a dual POV young adult murder mystery. For the mystery part there are plenty of twists and turns and you'll think you have it figured out and then something will happen that makes you think well...maybe I'm wrong, maybe it's this. There was only one thing that I got right early on.

The book is told from two high school students points of view. Tinsley is a white well to do mean girl who is the prime suspect for Nova's murder. Duchess is a black student at the same school who's father is the only black police officer where they live. Both characters are trying to figure out who killed Nova, the school's first black homecoming queen and Duchess's best friend. At times they work together but is Tinsley just doing this to point the finger at someone else? Or did she really just say the wrong thing at the wrong time?

This book does an amazing job at capturing the thoughts and emotions of two vastly different teenage girls. This book also passes The Bechdel test. These girls talk with plenty of female characters and the conversations rarely revolve around boys. There is also great lesbian rep with Duchess and her girlfriend, Ev.

Ok, now the real meat and potatoes. This book does an AMAZING job of talking about race, systemic racism, white privilege, and how much more nuanced racism is than white people think it is. There were a few cringe moments where a character said or did something that I would think, Oh god I used to think like that or I hear people talk like that all the time. Tinsley's sister Rachel is the voice of reason at times saying things like do better, read about it, and it's not about you. Human's are egocentric beings and we see things through our own filter and relate it to how it relates to us individually. Reading books like this really help with expanding your ability to empathize with people who may not look like you do. It's a great way to walk in someone else's shoes and work on your own implicit bias without trying to get someone else to do the emotional labor for you. This book might make some people uncomfortable. That's ok. We need to be uncomfortable to grow. I would 100 percent read another book by this author.

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A heart wrenching portrait of a fierce Black homecoming queen killed on coronation night and the web of lies her death exposes.

In this unflinching look at the ugliness of racism, two unlikely allies pair together to get justice for Nova, the first black homecoming queen in a racially divided Southern school. Before Nova died, the only thing Tinsley and Duchess had in common was an art class. Tinsley's the spoiled white girl who wanted the homecoming crown for herself, and, after posting a video about how she wants Nova dead, finds herself accused of her murder. Duchess is Nova's best friend who finds herself struggling to reconcile the Nova she thought she knew with the girl who kept so many secrets from her. Readers will admire Nova's strength, for as Duchess observes, "Black women been doing that for years. We smile through all the %&*# this world puts us through to be strong for everyone else."

When Tinsley and Duchess decide to work together to find Nova's real killer, they end up at the forefront of the racial tensions that divide their community. This book combines dual point of views - Tinsley and Duchess - to bring the reader inside two very different worlds.

Perfectly paced, this book reveals its secrets in layers, drawing the reader closer to the truth of where the true ugliness lies, throwing in some great twists along the way.

Thank you to NetGalley for the advance review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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I absolutely loved this book! It had incredible breadcrumbs, one of my favorites being Nova’s eye color and her necklace and how they plan in the ending and reveal! Such great queer and Black representation and such a captivating read from beginning to end!

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Duchess Simmons's best friend Nova is the first Black homecoming queen at Lovett High. She's murdered on the night of her coronation and all signs point to Tinsley MacArthur. No one had a bigger motive than Tinsley after losing to Nova. It also doesn't help that on the night of Nova's murder Tinsley drunkenly proclaims all over social media that she should kill Nova the same way she is found dead the next day. Duchess is determined to see justice for Nova and Tinsley is struggling to clear her name. Together they uncover dangerous secrets and unturn the lives around them upside down.

This is a Teen Drama wrapped in a killer murder mystery thriller. What is not to like? I had fun reading this story with all its twists, it kept me on the edge trying to figure out who really murdered Nova. This is Jumata Emill's debut novel and it's absolutely fantastic. With alternating POVs, commentary on today's social injustices, and more representation of the BIPOC community I can't recommend this book enough. I'll definitely be adding this to my physical library when it releases.

Thank you, NetGalley and Random House Children's for allowing me an ARC of this story for an honest review.

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oooh this one was so dark! But I loved it!

This highschool's homecoming queen is a big deal. A jeweler in town makes a beautiful crown and scepter every year for the new queen and she becomes a kind of ambassador for the highschool, the town and the school administration. It's a highly coveted position and opens doors for anyone who is crowned. Tinsley thought she'd be a shoe-in. Her mother and her older sister were both queens. But in comes Nova. Popular and beautiful, she seems to have the whole school rooting for her.

The story starts with the two girls meeting up at school, backed by their friends. Tinsley asks what it will take Nova to drop out of the race and Nova isn't budging. She wants this win.

This may seem like a bit of a silly story - just homecoming queens fighting, but it's not. There are a lot of layers here about race and money, female friendships and social pressure. There are dark twists I didn't see coming and so many surprises. I was hooked right from the beginning and the well paced plot kept me flipping pages until the end. I'm still surprised. I loved this one!

A huge thank you to the author and publisher for providing an e-ARC via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion regarding the book.

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