Category Archives: NetGalley Review

Book Review: Marrow Charm by Kristin Jacques

The Parliament House
TBP Oct. 1, 2019

Azure ‘Azzy’ Brimvine lives in a world decimated by magic, where humans have retreated underground from the overwhelming dangers of the surface. But Below is no safer than Above.

Magic borne plagues continue to eat away at the remaining human cities, a sickness that doesn’t merely kill, but creates aberrations from the stricken: people twisted by magic into something dark, dangerous, and powerful. It is an existence of fear and constant dread. When Azzy’s brother, Armin, is infected and cast out into the Above, she sets out after him, determined to be there for him no matter what he becomes.

The world Above is full of monsters, both wild and cunning, some more human than Azzy was led to believe. Armin is captured and bound for the Auction block of Avergard, a ruthless city of inhuman lords and twisted creatures. To reach him, Azzy must brave the perils of the Above and the chaotic life forms created by the Gate. To reach him, she must find allies and forge new bonds in this broken world.

And Azzy must reach him, before Armin’s new power is used to open the Gate once more. -Goodreads

This is going to be a short review because I actually didn’t care for Azzy or Armin. More Azzy than anything. She did a lot of whining and a lot back and forth and did things without much thoughts.

For life underground, she really didn’t try to know more or achieve more. She just went though the motions until her life was disturbed and then there was a problem. Normally, I wouldn’t exactly have an issue with this but I do because she worked under a apothecary but didn’t really have the motivation or drive to learn things on her own. It was a bit disappointing to read.

However, there was something that I liked about this book and that was the magic and the setting. The author has skill in sucking you into the world and keeping you there. Not to say I would live in that world because its messed up but one of the aspects I like was a side character Azzy meets. But Azzy shows a lack of understanding, care and investment because this character could have done wonders for Azzy like real wonders but Azzy doesn’t think that far ahead.

I digress on this short review. I can see why people love it so much but I wasn’t exactly thrilled with it and I was bored.

Overall,

2 Pickles 

Book Review: Gun Island by Amitav Ghosh

Hamish Hamilton Published June 6th, 2019 288 Pages

Bundook. Gun. A common word, but one which turns Deen Datta’s world upside down.

A dealer of rare books, Deen is used to a quiet life spent indoors, but as his once-solid beliefs begin to shift, he is forced to set out on an extraordinary journey; one that takes him from India to Los Angeles and Venice via a tangled route through the memories and experiences of those he meets along the way.

There is Piya, a fellow Bengali-American who sets his journey in motion; Tipu, an entrepreneurial young man who opens Deen’s eyes to the realities of growing up in today’s world; Rafi, with his desperate attempt to help someone in need; and Cinta, an old friend who provides the missing link in the story they are all a part of. It is a journey which will upend everything he thought he knew about himself, about the Bengali legends of his childhood and about the world around him.- Goodreads

An extremely well thought out and beautifully written book. The author holds no punches when writing about the culture and describing the tale that drives the book.

What I loved about the book was Deen’s search for the truth about a tale that is passed down from generation to generation in India. This tale is so ingrained in Deen’s life that his obsession over it makes sense. The way it is described is that it is one of those tales that you are told to as a child through the local storyteller and it is a tale that keeps circling back generation after generation so it never loses steam.

The tale itself isn’t anything spectacular and as much as I would love to tell you more about it, I can’t. It would be spoiling parts of the novel. Anyway, the reason for my obsession and Deen’s as well, is the thought that there are physical objects/historical facts that make the story real. Its like finding out Superman actually existed and then finding out where he lived. I freaking loved this aspect of the book and it kept me going.

Although this novel is written beautifully and full of detail, it was long winded. Deen, himself, wasn’t that much of a likeable character and as I kept reading I realized that Deen didn’t really know a whole lot. Yes, he did the travels and gathered information but he lacked so much knowledge that I had to wonder, how is it that he can be a rare book dealer and have went to school specializing on storytelling and culture but knew almost nothing.

Another thing about this novel. . . there are a lot of subplots or themes that if you are not paying attention to you will miss. For instance, Deen’s views on Indian culture and their viewpoints in regards to religion. This is just one example but it is brief but powerful at the same time. Deen has a lot of things going on and the author explores each and everyone not necessarily leaving the reader with doubt but leaving them more with the question of do I want to know more about Deen or move on?

Overall, this a book you take your time on (the author makes sure of that). If you are looking for a tomb raider ish book, you’re not going to get it with this one. I enjoyed this book. Although the infamous tale that starts off this whole thing kept me reading, this book is not for everyone.

Oh! One more thing. I did not like the ending. It was too abrupt as if the author just looked at the page and decided he didn’t want to write anymore.

2 Pickles

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: The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis

Tor Teen
TBP: October 1st 2019
352 Pages

Aster, the protector
Violet, the favorite
Tansy, the medic
Mallow, the fighter
Clementine, the catalyst

THE GOOD LUCK GIRLS

The country of Arketta calls them Good Luck Girls–they know their luck is anything but. Sold to a “welcome house” as children and branded with cursed markings. Trapped in a life they would never have chosen.

When Clementine accidentally murders a man, the girls risk a dangerous escape and harrowing journey to find freedom, justice, and revenge in a country that wants them to have none of those things. Pursued by Arketta’s most vicious and powerful forces, both human and inhuman, their only hope lies in a bedtime story passed from one Good Luck Girl to another, a story that only the youngest or most desperate would ever believe.- Goodreads

There is a lot of hype for this read and it is well warranted. I loved the cowboy aspect of this book because all I thought of was that movie Gang of Rose with Monica Calhoun. This may have been an unintentional reference but it was all my mind was on and I freaking loved it.

Beyond this image I had, there is something about the writing that kept me sucked in even when I wasn’t really feeling some of the characters. I was not necessarily on the edge of my seat but I was invested in the book and refused to read anything else until this was done.

I had a love hate relationship with the characters. Not just one but all of them. Nothing in me felt that they were fully written. What I mean by this is that it felt as if the author had a thought but didn’t complete it; Aster especially. She was just pure rage, indecisiveness and I would say reckless. Yes, there were decisions that had to be made on the fly but she allowed her emotions to take a lot out of her, throughout the entire book and as the book is told through her point of view that is all you see and here.

I felt that her sister, Clementine was a brat and that was purely Aster’s fault for continuously babying her. I also believe that Clementine was not as remorseful as she should have been. I would have like the author to have explored their relationship a bit more as it would have added depth to the story.

I really enjoyed the flow of the story but felt that the characters were not developed enough, there wasn’t enough history or richness in the environment and the conflict didn’t bring the girls together or develop them as a group.

The ending wasn’t what I was expecting and that isn’t necessarily a good thing. It ended too easily and although there is a book two, it left me wondering what book two is about.

Overall, I did enjoy this book because it gave me a nostalgic feel and it was written pretty well. There is a lot of potential for this to develop into an amazing series.

3 Pickles

Book Review: Whispers of Shadow & Flame by L. Penelope

St. Martin’s Griffin
TBP Oct. 1, 2019
496 Pages

The Mantle that separates the kingdoms of Elsira and Lagrimar is about to fall. And life will drastically change for both kingdoms.

Born with a deadly magic she cannot control, Kyara is forced to become an assassin. Known as the Poison Flame in the kingdom of Lagrimar, she is notorious and lethal, but secretly seeks freedom from both her untamed power and the blood spell that commands her. She is tasked with capturing the legendary rebel called the Shadowfox, but everything changes when she learns her target’s true identity.

Darvyn ol-Tahlyro may be the most powerful Earthsinger in generations, but guilt over those he couldn’t save tortures him daily. He isn’t sure he can trust the mysterious young woman who claims to need his help, but when he discovers Kyara can unlock the secrets of his past, he can’t stay away.

Kyara and Darvyn grapple with betrayal, old promises, and older prophecies—all while trying to stop a war. And when a new threat emerges, they must beat the odds to save both kingdoms. – Goodreads

If you haven’t read book one, you most certainly cannot read this without it. And if you haven’t checked out my review of the first book it is here.
This is rated Young Adult but I consider it New Adult. There is stuff that happens towards the end of the book that really brings that into question. But I loved this book. It took a little bit for the ball to get rolling but once it did, I couldn’t put it down.
Kyara and Darvyn are one of my favorite FAVORITE characters I have read in 2019. I loved everything about their romance but most importantly I loved them and their individual stories and how it ties together. They are genuine characters, who struggle with their duties, loyalties (and lack there of) and their need for freedom and peace. And in the mist of all the mess, they were able to forge something together and man,I have nothing but respect for that.
Kyara is that character that a reader doesn’t pity or feel any form of bad for. Why? Because she handles it. And she handles it with such conviction, the reader instantly falls in love with her. She doesn’t self pity, which is a breathe of fresh air for tormented characters. She accepts what she cannot change, however she grows and gains an understanding of not only herself but the world that was made to fear her.
Darvyn must be protected at all costs and doesn’t deserve the hurt that came his way. That sums up everything I feel about him.
The world building in this series is skillful. Nothing felt as if the author was tying to drag the story along nor was it overly complicated where the reader gets lost. It is detailed and developed with strong imagery as well as language.
The only thing about this novel that I struggled with was the different voices. Kyara and Darvyn aren’t the only characters that have a say in this novel and at some points it was a bit hard to keep up.
Other than that, I loved book two and the sly thing the author did with tying it to book one. It made the book perfect.
Overall,
4.5 Pickles

Book Review: The Ghost Collector by Allison Mills

Annick Press
TBP: Sept. 10th, 2019
192 Pages

Shelly and her grandmother catch ghosts. In their hair.

Just like all the women in their family, they can see souls who haven’t transitioned yet; it’s their job to help the ghosts along their journey.

When Shelly’s mom dies suddenly, Shelly’s relationship to ghosts—and death—changes. Instead of helping spirits move on, Shelly starts hoarding them.

But no matter how many ghost cats, dogs, or people she hides in her room, Shelly can’t ignore the one ghost that’s missing. Why hasn’t her mom’s ghost come home yet?- Goodreads

This book is heavy but the good kind of heavy. Although the summary states that Shelly is going to lose her mother, I wasn’t expecting it to happen. The author did a fantastic job of making you feel invested in Shelly’s world that you feel the pain as Shelly feels it. And again although the summary kind of tells you what happens next, you are not exactly expecting it. I felt so bad. Everything in me felt so bad for Shelly and how now her whole world is these ghosts and wondering where is her mother.

Shelly doesn’t have much of a personality but that doesn’t mean she is growing. Because that is what we are reading; a turning point in her life that helps her grow. The best word to describe Shelly is inquisitive. She wants to learn and another important thing to note is she lives for ghosts, her grandmother and her mother. She wants nothing more than to be a ghost hunter to help ghost go on and to make her grandmother proud.

When her mother dies, everything changes. What I loved about this book was how it was written. It was so easy to get into this read, to get into this world, to see it and feel it. The words just flows so smoothly and it isn’t only easy to read for children but as an adult reading about a child and how they handle and overcome grief this was great.

The pace of the novel was fantastic and I loved the fact that the story is only told in Shelly’s point of view and there isn’t a best friend influencing her emotions but instead its her learning about herself. I believe adding other voices to this story would have made this book lost its luster and Shelly’s voice would have been lost.

The ghosts, because I am sure you are wondering, are and aren’t the focal point of the story. They are important and push a lot of the story. However, they are the foundation that help lift the story but they aren’t the main point.

Overall,

A great read about grief that I would recommend for a child that understands what is going on and for an adult, any adult.

4 Pickles

Book Review: Saving Fable by Scott Reintgen

Crown Books for Young Readers
Published Sept. 17, 2019
384 Pages

Indira has been a character-in-waiting her entire life. So she can’t believe her luck when she’s finally chosen to travel to Fable and study at the renowned Protagonist Preparatory, a school known for producing the best heroes.

But Indira’s dreams of achieving hero status don’t exactly go as planned. A failed audition lands her in the school’s side-character track, and her best efforts to prove advisors–famous characters like Alice from Wonderland and Professor Darcy–wrong are constantly sabotaged. Indira is starting to feel like an evil antagonist might be to blame.

As the danger spreads, Indira discovers all of Fable is under siege. With her friends Maxi and Phoenix by her side, she pieces together clues that will reveal who is behind the dark magic threatening them all. But the more Indira uncovers, the more doubt she feels about her place in this world of stories. After all, can a side character really save the day? – Goodreads

I don’t say this lightly but this is the most creative book, I have read this year.

Indira isn’t even the main star of the novel (at least to em). It is everything in the background from the setting, the supporting characters and the plot. Indira is going to Fable, where she will train to become a hero, the protagonist of her own story. But a lot of stuff happens for her to get there.

While reading this book it is very clear to the reader that the author had a lot of fun with the setting and the people of Fable because that is where the focus is. This is not to say that Indira lacked qualities to keep the book going to make it worth while reading. But this book is long . . . extremely long. Like 60% of the book, the author just builds up the environment and gets you familiar with the characters that will be playing a part in the “action” for the lack of better term.

This book could have been cut in half and still would have been a fantastic read. By time anything actually happened,  not only did I breathe a sigh of relief but I also was ready to put the book down. I did but in a fairly short amount of time, picked it back up and keep reading because this world. . .  you want to live in it because you fall for the people that support Indira. You fall for the quirks and the book references in this novel.

This is not to say Indira isn’t a good character. She develops extremely well and I love how the author ties everything together from the beginning and the end.

The book as a whole comes together and I highly recommend this read to everyone. The only issue is the fact that it is so so very long.

Overall,

4 Pickles

Book Tour: The Jumbie God’s Revenge by Tracey Baptiste

Algonquin Young Readers
TBP: Sept. 3rd, 2019
272 Pages

When an out-of-season hurricane sweeps through Corinne’s seaside village, Corinne knows it’s not a typical storm. At first Corinne believes Mama D’Leau—the powerful and cruel jumbie who rules the ocean—has caused the hurricane. Then a second, even more ferocious storm wrecks the island, sending villagers fleeing their houses for shelter in the mountains, and Corinne discovers the storms weren’t caused by a jumbie, but by the angry god Huracan.

Now Corinne, with the help of her friends and even some of her enemies, must race against time to find out what has angered Huracan and try to fix it before her island home is destroyed forever.- Goodreads

Shout out to Algonquin Young Readers for allowing me to be part of this book tour. I have been itching for this book and hoping I can be apart of the marketing/promotion for this. So actually being selected means a whole lot to me.

Corinne is still Corinne but much more paranoid. Well paranoid isn’t the word. She is much more worrisome than she previously was and she has every right to be. She is half Jumbie and she has been fighting for not only her family but the island she lives on for a while now. She knows something is coming but not exactly sure what and how.

When things do come, Corinne doesn’t exactly ask the right questions. She is for the most part a bit full of herself, so within this book she gets knocked down a few pegs and becomes humble. WHICH I am so glad for because she really needed it. Like the two previous books, this one contains a lot of themes about family, the different types of family, acceptance and sacrifice. Sacrifice is the biggest theme within this novel because a lot of it happens.

But what I really enjoyed about book three was how Corrine was not the focus. Yes, she is the main character, however, this story isn’t just about her and how she (with the help of her friends) save the world. She isn’t the only point of view and she isn’t the only one that has a hand in why the world is the way that it is.

I loved and I cannot stress this enough I loved the fact that the author brought everything from book one and two together in book three. It is the perfect set up to either an epic final or a spin off.

My only concern about this book and possibly the next one is what else is there? Book three, although was good, felt stretched. It wasn’t as detailed as the previous books and without giving it away there is a scene that happens in the book that I am still scratching my head on. I do not understand why the author did this thing and just left it there. This is one of the points where I felt the book was being stretched.

Also book three is not as creepy, insight full or the lack of better term, shocking as the previous books.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The pace was great, loved seeing the gang come together and grow and loved seeing the community and their bond as well as respect grow.

If you haven’t already read the first two books, you should do that. Despite the fact that this book is for middle school reads, adults readers, both mythology and fantasy lovers will love the heck of it.

For those that have read the first two books, take a look below for a sneak peak into book three.

Jumbie God’s Revenge Chapter 1

Overall,

4 Pickles

Book Review: 100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Emmons

Self Published
TBP: August 7th 2019

Terrified that her vision might never return, Tessa feels like she has nothing left to be happy about. But when her grandparents place an ad in the local newspaper looking for a typist to help Tessa continue writing and blogging, an unlikely answer knocks at their door: Weston Ludovico, a boy her age with bright eyes, an optimistic smile…and no legs.

Knowing how angry and afraid Tessa is feeling, Weston thinks he can help her. But he has one condition — no one can tell Tessa about his disability. And because she can’t see him, she treats him with contempt: screaming at him to get out of her house and never come back. But for Weston, it’s the most amazing feeling: to be treated like a normal person, not just a sob story. So he comes back. Again and again and again.

Tessa spurns Weston’s “obnoxious optimism”, convinced that he has no idea what she’s going through. But Weston knows exactly how she feels and reaches into her darkness to show her that there is more than one way to experience the world. As Tessa grows closer to Weston, she finds it harder and harder to imagine life without him — and Weston can’t imagine life without her. But he still hasn’t told her the truth, and when Tessa’s sight returns he’ll have to make the hardest decision of his life: vanish from Tessa’s world…or overcome his fear of being seen.- Goodreads

I don’t really read contemporary especially contemporary romances. However, I won’t lie this cover and the title really caught my attention and let me just say this book was so freaking adorable.

Seriously adorable and I loved so much about this.

Tessa is feeling it; as she should. She is a hermit that doesn’t go out often and when she does unfortunately, she gets into an accident that makes her blind for a 100 days. The fact that she may get her sight back doesn’t exactly help because it is a big MIGHT and she doesn’t have much faith in things right now.

Enter Weston and he is determined to make sure Tessa doesn’t fall down a dark hole because he knows that it is a very easy thing.

One of the most important parts of this book that I loved is the fact that it is told in both of their point of views AND you also get to read about Weston’s past first hand. It was just raw honesty. I appreciate the author taking the time and care to dig into Weston as opposed to making this book only about Tessa.

Speaking about that. I strongly believe that this book favors Weston more than Tessa. Yes, she is a focal point but something about the way the author writes, the digging of Weston’s past nothing in me believes this book is about Tessa but about Weston and how he helps someone overcome the darkness growing inside him and how he pretty much does the same for himself.

But out of everything I read, the best part of the book was the ending. It broke my heart. It really broke my heart and Weston is perfect. He is such an adult for a 16 year old well actually all the surrounding characters appear to be older than they actually are.

Overall, this was a good book and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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