Category Archives: Mythology

Book Review: Tristan Strong Punches A Hole In The Sky by Kwame Mbalia

Rick Riordan Presents
TBP: Oct. 15, 2019
496 Pages

Seventh-grader Tristan Strong feels anything but strong ever since he failed to save his best friend when they were in a bus accident together. All he has left of Eddie is the journal his friend wrote stories in. Tristan is dreading the month he’s going to spend on his grandparents’ farm in Alabama, where he’s being sent to heal from the tragedy. But on his first night there, a sticky creature shows up in his bedroom and steals Eddie’s journal. Tristan chases after it-–is that a doll?-–and a tug-of-war ensues between them underneath a Bottle Tree.

In a last attempt to wrestle the journal out of the creature’s hands, Tristan punches the tree, accidentally ripping open a chasm into the MidPass, a volatile place with a burning sea, haunted bone ships, and iron monsters that are hunting the inhabitants of this world. Tristan finds himself in the middle of a battle that has left black American gods John Henry and Brer Rabbit exhausted. In order to get back home, Tristan and these new allies will need to entice the god Anansi, the Weaver, to come out of hiding and seal the hole in the sky.

But bartering with the trickster Anansi always comes at a price. Can Tristan save this world before he loses more of the things he loves?- Goodreads

I am so happy I got the chance to read this book because once I got into it, I GOT INTO IT.

Let first start off by saying a lot of the mythology mentioned within this book I was only briefly familiar with. For instance, I knew the names and maybe a snippet of the story but I in fact did not know the details. My family did not sit down and pass these stories around, which is unfortunate because there was a lot of history to them.I found out about this by reading :)

So I really loved this book. But I didn’t think I was because I had issues with Tristan’s parents and grandparents. Although they make brief appearances in this novel, I felt the grandfather was toxic, old school but still toxic. And felt that his parents just sent him away without much effort in helping/understanding him. I thought I was going to have to read through a novel of Tristan battling otherworldly things while listening to his Grandfather tell him how weak he is and how he needs to work more. I was so expecting the Grandfather to change his mind once Tristan does something amazing or he finds out the truth of Tristan’s actions and then they would be friends. . .  I am so glad the author did not go that route otherwise I would have been disappointed.

Tristan is a joy and I loved the fact that the author allowed Tristan to feel everything and to convey those feelings without himself being toxic. Tristan had a lot of pressure coming at him from all areas and at one point I was just like this child is fighting to save a world he didn’t know existed, give him a break. I was so frustrated for Tristan. I just wanted to give him a hug and then encouragement.

I loved how the author was able to bring new life to these African and African American mythologies. The pace of the novel kept you invested without you feeling the overpowering need to finish the book in one sitting. This read is something you take your time with and its what I did. I completely see not only middle school readers falling in love with this series but adults too.

Side Note: Gum Baby<3

Overall,

4 Pickles

Book Review: Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Del Rey
Published July 23rd, 2019
352 Pages

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld. -Goodreads

Talk about rich in history! I fell in love with this book. As I am currently writing this review, I am struggling with what exactly how I want to say things. So let’s start with the history and the world building.

The Jazz age is mentioned within this book but it is not the focal point within the setting. Mexican history, its Gods, its moral compass, ethics and food are the focal point of the setting. Moreno-Garcia brings you into this world that is vibrant and even the dull environments have some sort of shine that you are just excited to see. The image of the world that Casiopea walks through is extremely clear and it is written in a way that is detailed without you feeling overwhelmed. I loved the fact the author added the moral compass of the time. Because it makes a huge difference to decisions made, the world and to Casiopea herself. This was very important part of the story and I am glad the author kept true to that time period by adding this. 

Speaking of Casiopea, I didn’t really care for her. She wasn’t a bad character. She was experiencing a form of freedom she has never had before and I liked the fact that she was taking it and taking as much of it as she could. How Casiopea was written is an important part of the story and there is nothing I would want to change about her but I don’t feel as if she was the point of the story. Let me explain. Yes she is the protagonist, she keeps the story moving and moving pretty well but my focus wasn’t necessarily on her. It was on everyone surrounding her. 

For instance, the Mayan god of death was a very interesting character. I wanted more of his view and more of his mission. Things weren’t easy for him or Casiopea but there could have been a more thrilling and more dramatic aspect to their mission. I really liked what the author did between Casiopea and the Mayan god of death. It is different from your typical novels that include a form of romance and really liked this moved. It felt genuine . .  it felt real because it was built and cherished.  

I loved the ending. It wasn’t what I was expecting but man it was perfect. It was one of those I never knew I needed it until it was there. . .  yeah that is exactly what it was.

Overall, fantastic plot, fantastic writing, easy to get into, easy to to see, feel and fall in love. The pace of the novel was good. The down time the book did have was filled with the history that I was craving. Super happy this is not a series and a standalone.

4 Pickles

Book Review: Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal

Tor Teen
TBP: : June 4th 2019
304 Pages

If Lupe Dávila and Javier Utierre can survive each other’s company, together they can solve a series of grisly murders sweeping though Puerto Rico. But the clues lead them out of the real world and into the realm of myths and legends.

And if they want to catch the killer, they’ll have to step into the shadows to see what’s lurking there—murderer, or monster?- Goodreads

*cracks knuckles* Let’s jump right into this.

Lupe Dávila was a trash character that had no respect for anyone and put her needs and her feminist ideas above everyone including those that she loved.

Lupe is Puerto Rican and white. She looks more white than Puerto Rican, which is why everyone on the island views her as white. But my issue with her is very simple. Every single person that either calls her gringa or makes a general statement about white people, she screams at them. Just let’s completely loose on them.

She doesn’t have any respect, especially for elders or any adult figure. She spent most of this book complaining about how she is feminist can do things by herself (although Javier saved her life and she didn’t even say thank you) and complaining about how she is Puerto Rican.

My issue on the last part is that it came off that she identifies herself as Puerto Rican because her mother left her and her father. Lupe wanting to be part of this world did not come off as if she wanted to identify a part of heritage but that she was doing it because it was all she had.

Lupe was prideful, extremely prideful and I did not like anything about her. Javier, on the other hand was a way better character to read.

I actually wish Cardinal (the author) would have dug deeper into Javier. Not only was he likeable, his struggle was real and powerful. But not only would have I wanted more Javier, I would have wanted more about Puerto Rico and the environment Cardinal set up.

And oddly enough, the way that she tied the horror/mythology into this book was perfect. Everything was answered, everything made sense and it creeped me out. There are things that are passed down generation to generation and they vary by culture, but what makes this book different in how Cardinal presents this folklore and how she makes it present in the modern world. I loved the creativity of this.

It took a while for the book to keep my interest. Lupe was a huge factor as to why it took a little less than halfway through the book for me to be at the edge of my seat. But once the ball was really rolling, I had to finish it.

I would like to note that this is a sad read as much as it is a horror read. Cardinal adds a lot to this book that if you are not really reading you won’t even see what she is trying to do. And what she is trying to do is tell two different stories. The one about the five and the other about Puerto Rico.

I recommend this read. It is told through different point of views, which adds another layer to the novel. i enjoyed reading this and want to read more from this author.

Overall,

3 Pickles

Book Review: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

Wednesday Books
TBP April 24th. 2018
352 Pages

OND ELDR. BREATHE FIRE.

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient, rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.- Goodreads

Jumping right into this, Eelyn can fight. She can completely hold her own and just destroy those around her. For a majority of the book, she was injured, so if what I read was at her weakest, you can only imagine what she is like at her strongest. I love how badass she is when she is on the battlefield.

As much as I liked her, the story was predictable. Predictable in the sense that the author set the entire book up, where there was only one way to go. There could have been many different ways to go but you see the road very clearly and that was my issue with the book. Nope, I lied. I wish Fiske has more depth and the author gave him more personality because I liked him and wanted more of him.

That is pretty much my only issue with the book. Even the romance, which was non traditional in the YA genre was really good. It wasn’t stars exploding around them nor was love found on the perfect day, in the perfect moment, in the perfect weather. Shoot the love wasn’t even found on the battlefield. It was just there and the author was really subtle about it and if you didn’t catch the signs building (or the obvious) then you would have thought it was instant.

I liked that fact that other than the emotional struggle of finding out her brother is alive and now being help captive in a different tribe, Eelyn was sure about herself in the sense that she knew what she didn’t want and she knew what she was willing to sacrifice. Even after everything was said and done, she held on to her faith and her beliefs and I admire that.

There isn’t a whole lot of physical fight going on. There are 3 maybe 4 breakout scenes that you can visibility see a battlefield. I want to say think of when the Romans fought hand to hand but with a lot more dirt, muscles, blood and darkness.

I liked this book and I wasn’t expecting to. There is a lot of hype behind this and normally I am not for that. But this meets the hype and the ending is just right. I want more from this universe but not necessarily from Eelyn and Fiske.

4 Pickles

Book Review: The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

Algonquin Young Readers Published April 25, 2015 240 Pages
Algonquin Young Readers
Published April 25, 2015
240 Pages

Corinne La Mer doesn’t fear anything; not even Jumbies in the forbidden woods. Jumbies are simply made up stories that parents use to keep their children out the woods, but Corinne knows better. 

But when Corinne notices yellow eyes staring at her at the edge of the woods. She begins to doubt her fearlessness. And when a beautiful stranger shows up at the marketplace and then her home with her father, Corinne knows that danger is near. 

Using her courage, the help of her friends and a ancient magic, she had no idea she possessed, Corinne must save her home and everyone in it. 

I really have a hard time finding good fantasy books for children (maybe YA) written by African-Americans. So, I jumped on this one purely based on the author and I wasn’t disappointed. This book was written extremely well that I would even recommend it for YA readers.

Firstly, characters. You knew from beginning and end that these were children. However, you didn’t feel the immaturity, even when the kids were acting a fool with each other. Corinne and her friends had a sense of wisdom about them that I didn’t feel was out of place. It fit them. They were kids but not reckless children trying to prove a point.

I loved how the author seamlessly tied mythology into the story without feeling like a history lesson. It was part of the culture, part of everyone’s lives and I loved how relevant it was in the beginning and end of the story. Also the author added something in there regarding history and I liked it. I was very surprised but thought it was perfect.

I enjoyed the pace of novel. However, at a certain point, the constant movement hit a plateau and I was stuck wondering if this was going to be end of my enjoyable ride. But it wasn’t. The pace began to build after this point and it did well til its descent at the end. Speaking of the end, it was great but it was a hard reality to swallow. I liked how the author did not shy away from the outcome because it is true. In real life and in every fantasy story, where the hero proves to be different it happens.

Would I consider this story horror? No, there is nothing exactly scary about it (even from a kids perspective) but it is deeper than just a fantasy story. You see how much a myth or a fable affects communities/cultures no matter what the generation is.

Overall,

4 Pickles

Book Review: Nightborn (Thrones & Bones #2) by Lou Anders

Crown Books for Young Readers Published July 14, 2015 353 Pages
Crown Books for Young Readers
Published July 14, 2015
353 Pages

Karn Korlundsson has settled down since his adventures with Thianna. Life as a farmer and avid game player doesn’t require life threatening decisions. But when Thianna goes missing, Karn makes it his mission to find her.

Even if it means traveling to a distance city, deciphering the riddle of the horn and fighting elves.

If you have not read book one, here is my review.

Jumping right in, I enjoyed this book but compared to the first one, I didn’t feel the drive or intensity within the story. This book came across very laid back, even when fighting was happening. It didn’t feel like the end of the world. Where as in the first book, I was emotionally invested.

Also in the first book, it was more centered around both character equally but this book was all Karn and I don’t know if I like him. He came over cocky and a know it all. Even when he had his moments of doubt, he was just a bit demanding of things. He came off as a tool and it was completely different from who he was in the first book. Thianna didn’t change much and I was alright with that because she had a lot of growth in the first book.

I loved the fact that the author kept their relationship strictly platonic. It would really ruin the book if it turned into romance. They are good friends, best friends and that is the way it should stay.

Although I felt the story was laid bad, the pace was smooth. I didn’t feel as if the author was adding a bunch of fluff. Everything in the book fit. I loved how the book ended and how it leads to a book three. It was great. It didn’t feel short or out of place. The author knew what he was doing with the ending and I respect that.

I recommend this series for kids getting into fantasy and for adults wanting a break from the romance in YA. Overall,

3 Pickles