Cover Image: Cool. Awkward. Black.

Cool. Awkward. Black.

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Member Reviews

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for granting me free access to the advanced digital copy of this book, as this book has already been published, I will not share my review on Netgalley at this time.

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Thank you to PenguinTeen for giving me an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I tend to start out every anthology review by saying that it's hard to rate anthologies! I really love the concept of this one and the fact that it was created to give Black kids and teens with nerdy or geeky interests a sense of community and literary role models. Some of my favorite YA authors are represented here, too! That being said, here's a list of my favorite stories in this anthology and what they're about:
- Nina Evans, in the Round by Kalynn Bayron - A musical theater lover fights against type-casting discrimination from her school's play director.
- Initiative Check by K. Arsenault Rivera - Can a magical DnD session heal the wounds of an old friendship?
- Corner Booth by Leah Johnson - A short and sweet story about two Dictionary Dynamo app rivals who fall for each other in a diner.
- Betty's Best Craft by Elise Bryant - Can a craft-based school assignment heal the wounds of an old friendship? Yes, this one has a very similar plot to "Initiative Check," but they were both fun in their own unique ways!
- Cole's Cruise Blues by Isaac Fitzsimons - A trans boy tries to figure out who he wants to be while flirting with a boy he meets on a cruise ship and bonding with his cute younger stepsister.
- Catalyst Rising by Tracy Deonn - A girl discovers that she's the Philosopher's Stone in this short story that left me wanting more! Seriously, this felt like the first chapter of a novel; someone please tell me that Deonn is writing a longer version of this?
- Requiem of Souls by Terry J. Benton-Walker - A chilling story about a flutist who discovers he can summon ghosts with a song.
- Wolf Tracks by Roseanne A. Brown - A heartwarming story about a werewolf who falls for his best friend and how this changes his relationship with his father.
There are 18 stories in this collection and I've only described 8 of them, so hopefully that gives you an idea of the variety of genres, topics, and kinds of geekiness that are present here. If you're a fan of any of the authors featured, I think this anthology is worth a read.

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A fun anthology with various Black authors. Cool.Awkward. Black is perfect for every teen this holiday season. It's a powerful book.

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I absolutely loved this! Novels like these are hard to rate just because of how contrasting the ratings between stories can be. I did overall think this was well done though. I started giving short reviews to each short story but promptly gave up around halfway when I realized how many there were.

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Cool akward black boook review
So before we begin I want to say thank u to pengiun teen for sending me an e-arc of cool awkward black edited by Karen strong! Thank u so much!! For those who don’t know this is a collection of short stories and some of them were good and some weren’t. Which one u ask I’ll list the ratings of each stories down below! Some of them I found to be a bit short and wanted more and some I felt were too long!
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Here r the star rating for each stories in the amazing short story collection:
1. our joy, our power by Julian winters ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
2. The book club by Shari b pennant ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
3. Nina Evans in the round by kaylan baryon ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
4. Earth is ghetto by ibi zobio ⭐️⭐️⭐️
5. Initiative check by k arsenault Rivera ⭐️⭐️⭐️
6. Corner booth by Leah Johnson ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
7. Betty’s best craft by Elise Bryant ⭐️⭐️⭐️
8. The panel shows the girl by Amanda joy ⭐️⭐️⭐️
9. Spirited filled by Jordan ifunko ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
10. Coles cruise blues by issac Fitzpatrick ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
11. High strangeness by Desiree s Evans ⭐️⭐️⭐️
12. Catalyst rising by Tracey deonn ⭐️⭐️⭐️
13. Requiem of souls by terry j Benton-walker ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
14. Honor code by kwame mbaila ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
15. Drive time by Lamar gills ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
16. Wolf tracks by Roseanne a brown ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
17. The hero’s journey by tochi onyebuchi ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
18. Abyss by Amerie ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Overall I would say check this anthology out if u are looking for some sci-fi some fantasy or even some romances but totally check out the trigger warnings before reading this because some of this books deals with homophobia which I wasn’t a huge fan of but I would totally by myself a copy of this book and can’t wait to add it to my collection!

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I have such a love for this book. I usually enjoy anthologies but this one just felt like it was written so well and it was so fun and nerdy and just everything I enjoy. Definitely one I will recommend.

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Not all voices are heard - especially not the geeks, never mind African American geeks (or nerds, is there a nice terms for geeks or nerds?). These stories share fresh voices from many points-of-view. Slightly geeky myself, I loved hearing about teens who are fascinated with cosplay, aliens, reading, the arts - you name it. Written by an impressive array of authors, these stories show how awkward or marginalized young people find how to be comfortable in their own skin and/or find their people. Growing up is not easy, and being a teen is often like floating in social limbo. If you're not like everyone else, it's easy to get stuck in that limbo. The important message for these young people is "you're not alone." Another important message from these stories: geeks ARE cool!

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Amazing collection of stories about being Black and not dealing with trauma. Black boy/girl/NB joy! Each story was impactful and important.

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Such a fantastic anthology! I loved all of these stories and I highly recommend! I really enjoyed all the difference characters and I liked how each story was still developed in terms of world/magic even if they were short!

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Cool. Awkward. Black. accomplishes what it seeks to do: challenge the concept of the Black geek. We have wizards, comicon loving kids, witches, anime kids, theater lovers: the list could go on and on. Each story had something I liked about it. There wasn't a single dud in the mix. However, there were some I liked more than others.

Some of the stand out stories for me were:
"Initiative Check" by K. Arsenault Rivera
"Corner Booth" by Leah Johnson
"Requiem of Souls" by Terry J. Benton-Walker
"Wolf Tracks" by Roseanna A. Brown

All in all, a well rounded and profound collection.

I received this ARC from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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This was the perfect way to start my year. An amazing book by amazing authors. I know it’ll be a hit.

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I'm usually not a big fan of anthologies or other story collections but this was great. The stories were just long enough for the reader to become completely enveloped but just short enough that you were never bored, sometimes left wanting even more. I picked up this collection especially to read anything more by Jordan Ifueko and Leah Johnson but I really enjoyed almost every story by every author. There's all different types of nerdy covered here, definitely a bit of something for everyone.

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I really enjoyed this anthology celebrating authors of color. The different stories of nerds and just awkward unique own selves.

There’s different story genres so there’s a taste of did things to keep you reading and enjoying. I love anthology’s that mix it up and keep you entertained and this book does that.

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From my instagram post: For anyone who knows me, knows I LOVE Anthologies. The different stories and voices excite me as well as the exposure to new authors. I also really love stories that show the vastness of the human experience and if they are all written by Black Authors, well, that’s the cherry AND the coconut whipped cream on top of the experience for me.

Cool.Awkward.Black edited by @karenmusings entered into the pantheon of my anthologies (pictured behind it) from the moment I cracked open this book. These stories are seriously amazing, giving us such a range in what they each brought to the table. I completely ate up this book and I think you all will too. I had not one but THREE favorite stories (actually, there could be a fourth) and I wouldn’t be ashamed to beg the authors to give us full novels (I kind of already did on twitter).

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Anthologies are always hit or miss for me when they are comprised of several authors, but I felt like this anthology was the ode to my Black, queer, nerdy heart. I related to so many of these stories and experiences. I don’t even think that I can pick a favorite because I could easily see myself in all of them. This right here is why representation matters!

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First off, I would like to say that the idea of this book was brilliant. It never occurred to me that there was such a lack of representation for Black people in areas(geeks/nerds) like this and I hope to see more books like these in the future. Overall, I did enjoy a majority of the stories. I found most of them to be very fun and often would make me laugh or smile. There were only a few stories that I wasn’t the biggest fan of. This isn’t because they were bad or poorly written. It’s because I had a hard time understanding the story itself.

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Thank you to Penguin Teen and Negalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest opinion. All opinions are my own.

This was such a lovely collection of short stories. I loved them all! Nina Evans, in the Round had me tearing up at the end, it was such a feel good story. I hope we continue to see more anthologies like this one and Reclaim the Stars: 17 Tales Across Realms & Space. I love anthologies and have gotten a fair number of queer ones so it's only time for ones by various ethnicities/races. I hope we continue to see these voices given their times and money. I hope we also see ones that have multiple marginalizations as well.

Really can't express how much I loved this collection and I will be obtaining a copy as soon as I can!

Rep: All Black MCs, a good majority are queer.

CWs: Racism, religious bigotry, misogyny, sexism.

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Thoughts and Themes: This was an anthology of eighteen stories centered around nerdy Black young adult characters. Due to this I am going to do this review a bit differently than provide you with my thoughts on the characters and writing style seperately. I am going to focus on the whole anthology then give you a brief review of my favorite stories in the book.

I really enjoyed each of the stories that are included in this anthology and how they all were connected by the theme of our main characters being nerds. I liked that the stories all varied in genre even if most of them were sci-fi or fantasy. I liked that some of the stories included a romantic subplot for our main characters.

One of the stories that captivated me was Roseanne A. Brown's "Wolf Tracks" in which the men in a particular family transform into were wolves. What I really enjoyed about this story was how the transformation includes trans men and the brief explanation that is given as to how they are included. I have found most stories in which powers are assigned to a gender, the author tends to give the trans people the powers that would be given based on their sex assigned at birth or it is a battle for the person to get the powers that align with their gender identity. I not only liked this aspect but I also really liked how this story plays out and why we get to see our main character transform into this wolf and the conversation that happens with his dad as a result.

Another short story that I really enjoyed in this anthology is Corner Booth by Leah Johnson. I loved You Should See me in a Crown and Rise to the Sun so I wasn't surprised that I enjoyed this story by the same author. I really enjoyed the two main characters in this story and the interactions that they have with one another. I like how we slowly get to learn their secrets and what drew them to speak with each other.

I loved that this anthology introduced me to new authors that I haven't read before and that I also got to read things from authors that I love. I think each of the stories that were included had something to like about them and what is great is that you can skip around and read them in any order that you wish.

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COOL. AWKWARD. BLACK. is such a wonderful anthology of unique and creative stories! Each story felt so different from the last and quickly captured my attention. It was easy to get wrapped up in each story and the breadth of characters; I felt like I could have read full novels for each of these short stories.

I loved how the stories varied from fantasy to contemporary; the multi genre aspect was really interesting and made for a captivating reading experience! I loved how you could go from reading a story about frenemies doing a class project together to aliens touching down on Earth and recruiting a young girl to find three other classmates to bring along with her! I was so intrigued by what the next story would be about that this made for a really quick read.

This was a really fun YA anthology and I can see these stories resonating with a wide audience. I loved the representation throughout the book and I know this will be an amazing book to share with any young adults in your life! I also appreciated the chance to sample the writing of so many authors who have other works published and can’t wait to read those next. I highly recommend reading COOL. AWKWARD. BLACK. today!

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This is an absolute powerhouse of an anthology with a lot of big names behind it (including many I've read before like Kalynn Bayron, Tracy Deonn, Leah Johnson, Julian Winters, and Ibi Zoboi to name a few)! This is a great anthology of talented black YA writers with the theme of scifi, fandom, and nerdiness. I like that there are queer authors and stories included, too. Like with most anthologies, there are some I loved and some I didn't like quite as much, but all were enjoyable and good in their own way! My absolute favorites were "Nina Evans, in the Round" (musical theater), "Corner Booth" (scrabble and words), and "Betty's Best Craft" (knitting/sewing).

Thank you so much to penguin teen for sending me a copy as part of their penguin teen partners in exchange for an honest review! Cool, Awkward, Black is available on 10 JAN 2023

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