Category Archives: Fantasy

Middle School Reads for Black Girls

I hated middle school. From the moment, I walked into those doors to the moment I left. It was one of the worst school experiences I have ever had. I was/am an awkward girl. Making friends, especially within established friendships (even when I am invited to the group) is a difficult thing. I joined the volleyball team, basketball, student council, band and still never actually fit it.

So I lost myself in books and for the most part that is where I say. But the purpose of me telling you this is I noticed that every once in a while someone, on Twitter, will ask specifically for middle school reads to Black girls. It isn’t specific to what genre type but just that it is geared towards Black girls and I have been meaning to do a list on it and now I got the time :)

Listed below are some middle school reads that feature a Black girl as the main character.

Let me be honest. When I was looking up books I was disappointed in a few things.

  1. There aren’t a whole lot of books where there is a Black girl as the main characters.
  2.  There were a lot of books in which the mother left, parents were divorced and the divorce resulted in the child moving away
  3. There are a lot of trauma novels like a lot
    1. This is not to say that these stories aren’t important but these are a lot; overwhelmingly so

I was hoping to find a wide range of genres but there was a lot of trauma found. I wonder why is that. . . .

While I go ponder on that, what do you think of this list? Do you have any recommendations that should be added? Leave me a comment :)

Book Review: Given by Nandi Taylor

Wattpad Books
Published Jan 21st, 2020
449 Pages

Yenni has never been this far from home. With only her wits, her strength and her sacred runelore, the fierce Yirba warrior princess is alone in the Empire of Cresh. It’s a land filled with strange magics and even stranger people—many of whom mistrust anyone who’s different. But Yenni will prove herself, and find a cure for her father’s wasting illness. She will not fail.

No one warned her about the dragons. Especially not about him.

Yes, there is something powerful and compelling about the violet-black dragon known as Weysh. In human form he’s muscular, beautiful—and completely infuriating. What kind of arrogant creature claims a stranger as his Given; as his destined mate? Yenni is no man’s—or dragon’s—plaything. But other magics must be at work here, because Weysh might just be her best hope at finding the answers she seeks.

Only now Yenni can’t tell if she’s fighting her attraction to a dragon…or fighting fate itself. – Goodreads

The cover. We cannot have a conversation about this novel without discussing how amazing the cover is. Not only does it completely grab your attention but seeing a dark skin woman in the front looking not only fierce but feminine does wonders to me.

But as we all know you cannot judge a book by its cover and the book was okay. It didn’t do anything for me by any means but there were things that I love.

I loved the focus on Yenni, her home and her traditions. I liked the fact that she did not change herself, physically or mentally, to fit in with her new environment. She stayed true to herself while also allowing herself to learn.

I loved the imagery within this novel. Everything was clear and it felt as if it was living and breathing because of this it was why I finished the book.

Here is what I didn’t like. The romance was forced and there was no spark or even connection there. Weysh was such a good character but not for Yenni. There was just nothing there and when they did come together there was still nothing there. I didn’t feel real not the whole dragon and human in a magical world real but the love, the attraction, the chemistry was not there.

The book is focused a lot on that romance, but it is also focused on Yenni trying to find out the source and the cure for a sickness in her village. I wish there was more deep dive on the second part. Its not like Yenni was love struck or anything, it was just a case of a romance that actually didn’t need to happen.

But the other issue I had with this book was how slow it was. As much as I loved Yenni and the imagery, the book overall was not really engaging, and it was easy to put it down.

Overall, it was okay. I was expecting more from this book and it wasn’t SOLEY because of the cover. The summary promises a lot but more importantly a steamy chemistry that you can’t help but love.

This doesn’t appear to be a series, but I would actually love another book within this world.

Overall,

2 Pickles

Book Review: Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi

Tor
TBP Jan. 21st 2020
176 Pages

Rooted in foundational loss and the hope that can live in anger, Riot Baby is both a global dystopian narrative an intimate family story with quietly devastating things to say about love, fury, and the black American experience.

Ella and Kev are brother and sister, both gifted with extraordinary power. Their childhoods are defined and destroyed by structural racism and brutality. Their futures might alter the world. When Kev is incarcerated for the crime of being a young black man in America, Ella—through visits both mundane and supernatural—tries to show him the way to a revolution that could burn it all down. – Goodreads

This is the first book I read by Onyebuchi. I know its horrible because he the author of War Girls and Beasts Made of Night. But I picked up this book because I love adult fantasy novels that incorporate real life issues.

The book is told in two perspectives, Ella and Kev. At first this was a little confusing not because of any transition but because of why. We start off with Ella as a child pre Kev and discover her power which is called The Thing. Instantly, I’m into it. When Kev comes around I am still into it because it comes at one of the turning points in American history.

But after the first five chapters, the book lost me and I couldn’t find the point/purpose of the story. Ella becomes a background and Kev is the focus for a while. Therefore, origins of her powers, any detailed information about her powers other than some things she can do isn’t mentioned at all. She becomes a shadow as well as her powers in 90% of the book and it was disappointing. There was no development of Ella and her powers and Kev wasn’t that like-able of a character. He became a product of environment even though he had a sister that literally could do anything. Again, disappointing.

The book focuses so much on environment that I could not find what was the point of the story? Was the point to show that even with super powers as a Black American your life will suck due to not only systematic racism but overall racism? But if that is the case, why not do anything with the super powers to show that?

The book had me lost. I was bored. There was no character development. Kev was a baby. Ella had no personality and was depressing and NEITHER of them tried to get to know their mother.

Overall, nah

1 Pickle

book overview 2019: The Disappointments

Part two of the four part book overview of 2019. If you haven’t taken the chance the look at the first post, which I display my favorite books and honorable mentions of the 2019, check it out here.

In this post, I listed some of my disappointed read of 2019. Oddly enough there was a lot and that could be due to me following the hype because one of my personal goals was to read more newer releases to keep up with the trends and hot topics. This caused expectations to be through the roof, which sucked.

But here is my list. What did your year look like?

Book Review: Nameless Queen by Rebecca McLaughlin

Crown Books for Young Readers
TBP Jan. 20th 2020
352 Pages

Everyone expected the king’s daughter would inherit the throne. No one expected me.

It shouldn’t even be possible. I’m Nameless, a class of citizens so disrespected, we don’t even get names. Heck, dozens of us have been going missing for months and no one seems to care.

But there’s no denying the tattoo emblazoned on my arm. I am queen. In a palace where the corridors are more dangerous the streets, though, how could I possibly rule? And what will become of the Nameless if I don’t?- Goodreads

I liked this book. It was a good read. It kept me invested from beginning to end.

I loved the world building of the novel. But I wanted more of that world. It was very the rich is getting richer and abusing the poor while the poor is getting poorer and abusing each other. The divide was very clear, the picture of peasants and grayness was very visible and greatly appreciated that.

What caused me to give this book 3 Pickles (spoiler I know), was the Nameless that became Queen. She was good at being Nameless but when her title changed she didn’t know how to the play the game. This frustrated me because at several points she realizes that being royal is a game that needs to be played and instead of self-improving and getting hip to the game, she just didn’t and did more complaining as if she didn’t have the power to change things. It was a frustrating circle to read because she saw it and acknowledged it and then did nothing.

There was some character development but not enough for me to bump up my rating.

I wish the author added more about the magic, the history of the city and more history about the Nameless Queen. We find out information but it didn’t completely satisfying. Yes, there will always be questions especially if a book is a series. However, it would have been great to have more development on the world.

Overall, I would recommend this book. I am pretty it is a series, which the way it ended it made sense. But it didn’t need to be a series As previously mentioned,

3 Pickles 

2020 Cover Love

If you recall from last year (hehe) I did a series throughout the year called cover love to high new releases and their beautiful covers. Its 2020 and I am still keeping that ball rolling.

 

Beyond the fact that these books look gorgeous and will look absolutely stunning on my bookshelf, they sound fantastic.

What books are you looking forward to so far this year?

Book Tour: The Dark Lord Clementine by Sarah Jean Horwitz

Algonquin Young Readers
Published Oct. 1, 2019
336 Pages

Dastardly deeds aren’t exactly the first things that come to mind when one hears the name “Clementine,” but as the sole heir of the infamous Dark Lord Elithor, twelve-year-old Clementine Morcerous has been groomed since birth to be the best (worst?) Evil Overlord she can be. But everything changes the day the Dark Lord Elithor is cursed by a mysterious rival.

Now, Clementine must not only search for a way to break the curse, but also take on the full responsibilities of the Dark Lord. As Clementine forms her first friendships, discovers more about her own magic than she ever dared to explore, and is called upon to break her father’s code of good and evil, she starts to question the very life she’s been fighting for. What if the Dark Lord Clementine doesn’t want to be dark after all? – Goodreads

This book cleared up my reader’s block in the most adorable coming of age way possible.

I love it when books focus on children wanting to go their own paths and/or seeing that there is a different path to take. The literal wonder in their eyes, speech and movements just builds an excitement like no other.

When you first begin the book, you know that Clementine wants something more. Shoot, I was genuinely surprised that by chapter three, there wasn’t a mention of a mother. The book is literally dripping in Clementine wanting more than the life she already has and that kept me interested throughout the entire read.

Clementine herself is an interesting character to read because she is trying so hard to follow what is “right” in her world but at the same time she is constantly conflicted if she is strong enough to do what is “right”. I loved her drive and her curiosity to explore and at the end of the day the love she has for her father.

The pace of the novel was a bit slow but I am okay with that because it is a lot of build up. The author gets you emotionally invested. Also this book is told in different point of views. Transitions are not in the middle of the page like other novels and it fits. Having the different points of views really works in this novel.

Overall, I was not expecting the emotional aspect to this fantasy read and if you are not paying attention you might miss it.

4 Pickles