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What Lies Ahead?

We can’t believe we’ve made it through an entire year!

Focusing on underrepresented, marginalized, and diverse characters and authors has beenanisha & jess.png a blast. It’s enriched our lives, it’s connected us to amazing bloggers, reviewers, and authors and we can’t wait to keep reading!

But, an anniversary deserves a taking stock. An anniversary is a time to sit back, reflect, and dig-deep.

This week, we’ve featured posts that do that reflection.

Monday we talked about how the blog changed us. Tuesday, we learned a little more about Anisha and, on Wednesday, more about Jess. Today, we’re going to share what the future looks like.


So where do we see things going?


There is a big personal change coming for one of us – Anisha is going to graduate school to join the Blue Devils in the fall! This means we’ll be making adjustments to the review and podcast schedule as she establishes her routine and finds her grad school rhythm. Of course, reading and reviewing these books and becoming involved in the community has had a huge impact on how we see the world and we don’t want to lose that! We’ll do our best to keep going – and on a regular schedule, even if it’s reduced.

But, don’t worry just yet – that’s months away! In fact, we’re still pretending it’s not happening.

And, while we love The Bookmark, I have been working diligently with an amazing group to help launch the Muslim Squad – a resource for Muslims in the writing, reading, and publishing community working to support each other and write themselves into the narrative! If you find you’re not hearing enough from The Bookmark – head over there or check out the blogs and people suggested in our Similar Resources page.

We have our lineup of podcasts set through the summer and we’re excited about the books we’ll be reading. Some you have probably heard about through book buzz, others may be more “quiet YA,” but they all have something to offer.

Of course, we’re still hoping for change! We want to see more quiltbag books with happy endings, Muslim characters that are dealing with everyday YA topics instead of stereotypical ones, and books featuring characters with disabilities that aren’t the result of an accident or trauma. We’re only scraping the surface of the long list of things missing from YA rep – we hope we’ll be around as representation expands and more and more readers find themselves in books!

We hope our focus on underrepresented, marginalized, and diverse characters and authors has brought your attention to some amazing books. We’re dedicated to continuing that focus, bringing great stories forward and repping them hard to whomever will listen.

Any books you’d love to hear us podcast? Let us know in the comments!

Post Author: JESS



Jess loves SFF – old and new school –  and is learning to appreciate the more lovey-dovey YA under the careful tutelage of Anisha’s recommendations.

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Get to Know Jess

It’s our blog birthday week and we’re celebrating by sharing a little bit about what we’ve learned and where we’re going. We also are answering some questions about ourselves so you can get to know the readers behind the reviews! Yesterday, Anisha gave us the intel.

Now, it’s Jess’s turn! winter hat2

What would alternate universe (AU) Jess be like? 

Alternate Jess would have a black cat named Mogget, spend lots of time at bookstores and cafes writing her bestseller, and live in Ireland, Scotland, or Turkey. AU Jess would spend lots of time hiking in old growth forests and actually doing camp out hikes (instead of dreaming about them). And would also be a perpetual student – attending universities around the world. (Writing this I realize how much of this I could in fact achieve as Real Jess and now I want to make some life changes.)

What are 5 things you’re into right now?

Learning How to Dress Myself – I want to put on clothes and feel like myself and wear clothes that amplify my happiness. This doesn’t come naturally to me and I didn’t learn how to do it in high school, so I’m learning now.

Short Haircuts – I had a pixie cut when I was in fifth grade and I’ve been dreaming about returning to short-hairedness for a long time. I committed to short(er) a few weeks ago, but I think I really want to go all the way. I’m pretty stoked that short hair on women became popular recently and I’m ready to join the bandwagon…just as everyone else seems to have started growing theirs out.

Notebooks/Journals – For a long time in high school, people would always buy me notebooks for my birthday. It was the go-to gift when they didn’t know me well and so I have a huge collection of beautiful notebooks. At that time, I was too nervous to actually use them, I didn’t want to mar the beauty, but now I realize that filling them with words adds instead of subtracts. Plus, what’s the point if you don’t use something for its purpose?

Turkish Sour Cherry Mineral Water – I love drinking one of these while I’m watching an episode of Supernatural or Buffy before bed. They’re the perfect mix of carbonation, fruity flavor, and crisp, cold drink.

Vision Lists (instead of a board) – I’m trying to look to the future and seeing a beautifully created list of things to focus on (whether it’s power words or goals for the year or whatever) is helping me prioritize and remember what I’m looking toward.

What are some things you love (or hate) that are “unpopular opinions”?

Hate leggings as pants – They can function similarly to pants, but I just don’t think they function the same.

Hate cheese – I learned to tolerate some cheese while living in Turkey and I cherish a few random cheesy treats, but honestly, I can’t forget that it’s basically rotten milk!

Hate iphones – They are hard to use and I don’t like them. Together, Anisha and I have officially crossed into “old curmudgeon” territory with our love/hate lists.

What book do you wish you could live in (excluding the obvious answer- Harry Potter)?

I would probably choose EarthSea from Ursula K. Le Guin’s series, especially in the later books when balance between gender powers starts to return and assuming, of course, that I could harness the power of names because the world would be a little less interesting otherwise.

If you could pick your siblings, what book characters would you pick?

My sisters are pretty stellar, so I’d add to my sibling list rather than replace. I think I would pick Tenar from EarthSea because she has a badass hidden…talent, Quinn from All American Boys because he would be a great older brother to learn from, and Andy from Under a Painted Sky because she has nerves of steel, but also allows herself the space to reconsider her position.

What are your three favorite non-YA books? 

My go-to adult rereads are listed here. I have a feeling that a book by Nnedi Okorafor will be on this list soon. I started reading one of hers and the writing drew me in, but I want to read more books before choosing a favorite. And limiting to three is REALLY hard, so I’m choosing the ones that I would absolutely pack in my bag if I were leaving for a really long, very luggage-limited trip.

  1. Dune by Frank Herbert
  2. Among Others by Jo Walton
  3. Anything by Ursula K. Le Guin because she is amazing and her words are soulfire

What is your favorite tv show?

Downton Abbey has just left me adrift- Anisha and I used to live-text each other during the show and now we won’t have that. Any suggestions for a replacement?

I LOVE Doctor Who, although I haven’t been watching this season because Clara drives me up the wall. Jane the Virgin is also pretty amazing. I love that they slide political things into the story and that it’s about women supporting and loving one another in strong and vulnerable ways.

If you had to eat one food (not cuisine, FOOD) for a whole month, what would it be? 

Assuming that this food will sustain me and not lead to some terrible health condition: Ice Cream or popcorn because there’s a wide variety and I love them both so much.

What’s one silly thing you can’t live without? 

Netflix. I didn’t have cable for 4 years and I loved being able to watch full tv series without waiting for the next episode. It gave me the opportunity to catch up on some shows I’d been dying to watch (hello, Buffy!) and to find some of those older, hidden shows that no one really remembers but are the perfect “I’m almost asleep, but want to snuggle with some tv” shows. Now I have cable, but only because my internet provider makes it cheaper when you have both (which is RIDICULOUS) and I still don’t use it much.

What’s one thing people are always surprised about you? 

This is really hard for me because I definitely have verbal vomit where I just tell stuff –

car window

This might be what my car looks like.

even things that are probably best left unshared with strangers. But, I think people are surprised that I am as much of a scifi geek as I am. Also, that I am somewhat conversant in Turkish. That’s always fun for starting conversations.

So, that’s Jess in 10 questions!

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Get to Know Anisha

It’s our blog birthday week and we’re celebrating by sharing a little bit about what we’ve learned and where we’re going. We also are answering some questions about ourselves so you can get to know the readers behind the reviews!anisha1.png

Today, it’s all about Anisha!

What does alternate universe (AU) Anisha look like?

I’ve thought long and hard about this one. Alternate universe Anisha has a Yorkie teacup puppy named Tobi (my husband hates dogs) and a tattoo of a book on her back right shoulder (I have a very low pain tolerance). I would live in Colorado and run all the time (in this world, I like running). I would also have a really cool hipster job, like working in a bookstore while doing stand-up comedy at night.

 What are 5 things you’re into right now?

Sorta Awesome PodcastI’m a podcast addict, and this podcast is on the top of my list. Sorta Awesome is co-hosted by Megan Tietz and three rotating co-hosts, including Laura Termaine of the Hollywood Housewife blog. This podcast has a range of topics – from Hollywood Life to crime shows to dealing with social anxiety. I love that this show celebrates the wonderful awesomeness of every-day life.

Under Armour Socks – Okay, socks are kind of boring, I get it. But they’re on your feet all the time! I used to buy the cheap socks at Target, and get holes in them within three months. But I bought a pack of ankle-high socks and LOVE them. I thought they would be very expensive, but I got a ten-pack at TJ Max for $15 dollars, and they’ve been awesome!

The only problem is that my husband has been trying to convince me to buy them for months, and I hate when he’s right.

Meatballs – I’ve been trying new meatball recipes lately, and putting them in everything. My current favorites are half-sausage, half-beef, and full of parmesan cheese.

Target Storage ContainersI can’t deal with clutter, and if given a choice, my husband would be a hard-core hoarder. Cute storage bins have saved us from so many fights. I can deal with saving a year’s worth of Time magazines if they are stored in a cute, neat basket underneath our coffee table. And I have an excuse to throw some of them out when the bin gets too heavy.

My Planner – My friends got me a beautiful planner for my bachelorette party, and it’s my baby. I keep everything in my planner. It’s definitely more expensive than I’d buy on my own, but as a bachelorette party gift, it’s absolutely perfect.

What are some things you love (or hate) that are “unpopular opinions”?

Hate Twitter – I feel like such a weird millennial to say that I hate Twitter. I love social media, and I read a lot of blogs, so it’s not an issue of me being a visual person. I just don’t like Twitter! It’s too fast, too loud, and too confusing. Thankfully, Jess is a Twitter rock star and runs our account with grace and humor.

Love Gluten – I feel like everyone’s hating on bread these days, or at least trying to cut back. I’m absolutely the opposite. Give me bread in any form – from rolls to naan to tortillas to a French loaf, and I’ll eat it.

Love Justin Bieber – Maybe he’s back and other people love him now too? But in my mind, he never left. I sing Love Yourself in the car every time I’m alone.

What book do you wish you could live in (excluding the obvious answer- Harry Potter)?

Ugh, Harry Potter is totally the obvious answer. If I had to pick another, I’d be in Tortall in the Tamora Pierce series Protector of the Small. Yes, I know it’s idiotic, and that people die all the time for stupid wars and like… patriarchy / tough social structure. But living in a world with magic and knights, and a changing political time, would be so interesting.

If you could pick your siblings, which book characters would you pick?

My brother is pretty awesome, so I wouldn’t trade him willingly. But if I had to pick: Lara Jean from PS: I Still Love You and Simon from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda as my younger siblings. Both are super cute, and look like they need an older sibling for advice. Plus Lara Jean has her fashion and baking skills together, two areas that I’d like to get better in!

What are your three favorite non-YA books?

One of my favorite books is Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott. That may or may not count as young adult, so I’m going to pick three additional ones.

I love The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Greggory, Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner (no, it’s not all about sex), and Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. And I have to give a shout-out to Jodi Picoult, who is one in my top-three author list, as she consistently writes thought-provoking books, but missed the cut on my all-time favorite book list.

There we go. I can’t limit myself to three books or three authors. Because books are all my friends.

What’s your favorite TV show?

Gilmore Girls is my historical favorite, and I’m so excited (and terrified) for the reboot next year. I’m currently binge-watching Parenthood on Netflix. I’m currently on the last season, so I’ll be very sad to leave these characters soon.

If you had to eat one food (not cuisine, food) for a whole month, what would it be?

So let’s assume that whatever I eat has enough nutritional value so I don’t die, right? Because if not, then I’d pick some super food and, you know, be alive in a month.

But if I can live on this food, I’d pick ice cream. Preferably a mix of varieties, but if I had to pick one only – Ben and Jerry’s Tonight Dough. It has peanut butter cookie dough in it.

What’s one silly thing you can’t live without?

Hair elastics. I’m constantly putting my hair up, and I probably go through at least one a day. Maybe I’ll feel like a grown up when I can leave my hair down for more than one hour at a time.

What’s one thing people are always surprised about you?

Jessa and Ben

She totally did.


I’m obsessed with anything related to fundamentalist, conservative Christian culture. I follow the Duggars (from 19 Kids and Counting) and other fundamentalist families online, and may or may not have attended a Southern Women’s Show a week before my wedding in order to see one of the Duggar women speak. I’m really cool.

So, that’s Anisha in a nutshell!



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IMG953345It’s our anniversary! We’ve made it a year – highlighting the books and authors that are underrepresented and marginalized in publishing. During our very special birthday week, we’re bringing you posts about The Bookmark and a fantastic giveaway!

Today, I’m writing about how The Bookmark has changed us. On Tuesday and Wednesday, we’ll share interviews, so you can get to know us a little more. On Thursday, Jess will talk about our future – personally and for the blog.



Can I just say that the blog has changed us in All The Ways?

In all seriousness, running The Bookmark has profoundly changed both of us. We’ve learned more than we could have ever imagined. Most importantly, we’ve learned about the challenges facing marginalized and underrepped communities. We weren’t very knowledgeable to start with (and we certainly don’t claim to be experts now!), but we’ve learned how to do our research, where to go to learn more, and how to navigate the learning process.

Through the blogging and twitter community, we’ve also realized how much we still have to learn. From Jess, “Through the blogging and twitter community, I’ve realized how much I still have to learn about being sensitive. I thought I was a pretty empathetic person and I try to be kind. But, I know no matter how careful I am with my words, I will always manage to say something that offends someone. Being in the community, I’m gaining a better sense of the nuances and issues that surround certain terms. And I realized that the best source for learning is from the community you’re talking or learning about.”

We’ve also learned about the incredible online community. There are tons of people dedicated to a similar goal who come out to cheerlead the stories. But we’ve also learned how divisive diversity, marginalized groups, and repping the underrepresented can be. That’s why we’re going to keep fighting the good fight.

The Bookmark has also changed the way we see our roles as allies and advocates.

Says Jess, “The blog has taught me more about being an ally than any class or lecture or scholarly book ever did. I’ll never forget reading on twitter somewhere (if you have the source, help me!) that being an ally is only good for 24 hours. No matter how hard you worked and how well you did on Monday, it expires when you go to sleep. On Tuesday you have to earn your right to be called an ally all over again. I try to remember that every morning and make the intention to do better.”

From Anisha, “I think that prior to The Bookmark, I worried that online advocacy really just focused on speaking to those who already agreed with your views – so how are you changing anything? But over the past few months, I’ve realized that even ‘good people’ – people who want to be sensitive and go about advocacy the right way – don’t know everything. And more than anything, you can help inform those people. I learn about new terms, sensitivities, and the “rules of engagement” every day by reading blogs. Advocacy comes in many forms, and writing a blog certainly matters.”

We’re trying to live up to what we’ve learned.

On a more technical level, The Bookmark has taught us the basics of blogging and podcasting. Neither of us knew how to even record a podcast prior to our launch, but we stumbled through it with trial and error – and we are finally getting the hang of it. (Even if Audacity restarts on us at least once per recording!)

Finally, on a personal note, The Bookmark has allowed the two of us to stay connected. Although we used to work in the same place (I would stalk Jessica’s cube every morning in a desperate plea for friendship), we now live a plane-ride (or very, very long car-trip) apart. The Bookmark has given us something tangible to discuss, with regular dates and deadlines. We’ve both had a very busy year – and it’s easy to see a friendship slip away if you aren’t careful. But the Bookmark has given us even more of a shared connection. And through it, we’ve grown closer.




Anisha loves books, Gilmore Girls, and her Kuerig. She’s been reading mainstream YA since she was actually a young adult, and Jess is helping her expand her horizons with more diverse, interesting books from newer authors.


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