Category Archives: NetGalley

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 

Book Review: Harley in the Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Ink Road
TBP March 10th, 2020
384 Pages

Harley Milano has dreamed of being a trapeze artist for as long as she can remember. With parents who run a famous circus in Las Vegas, she spends almost every night in the big top watching their lead aerialist perform, wishing with all her soul that she could be up there herself one day.

After a huge fight with her parents, who continue to insist she go to school instead, Harley leaves home, betrays her family and joins the rival traveling circus Maison du Mystère. There, she is thrust into a world that is both brutal and beautiful, where she learns the value of hard work, passion and collaboration. But at the same time, Harley must come to terms with the truth of her family and her past—and reckon with the sacrifices she made and the people she hurt in order to follow her dreams.- Goodreads

I loved this book but Harley needed her ass kicked. Let me explain, her feelings were valid. What she did was completely wrong, she was spoiled and self-centered. There is no way around it and there was character development but then there wasn’t. Acknowledging what you did wrong and still getting what you want without an actual consequences doesn’t work in my eyes. Because what did she actually learn?

Harley was a great character to read. I loved her drive. In regards to the circus she knew what she was talking about and what she was doing. Everything else she didn’t know what she was doing.

What I loved most was the circus. I am not a circus person and this is the first book I have read surrounding the circus that made me see the magic (and the shade). What Harley feels when performing, when watching performances was really inspiring to read and it was the most beautiful part of the book.

There is romance within this novel and I liked it. The romantic interest had depth and he was cute and his story. . . made sense and worked with everything happening in the book and he worked with Harley. That was the most important part. He worked with Harley and not against her.

The pace of the novel was great. But the author touches upon mental health issues but doesn’t dip into it. I am not exactly sure about why but it would have been good to see some form of insight. Towards the end of the novel there were some things that happened that would have been great to have more insight on. The author was a bit too vague when it came to what I believe is mental health issues.

And more on a personal note, there is another relationship that Harley has within this novel and how it goes down really bothered me on a personal level. I shall leave it at that because that is the best I can do without spoilers lol.

Overall, love this book and would recommend it.

4 Pickles

Book Review: A Love Hate Thing by Whitney D. Grandison

Inkyard Press TBP Jan. 7th 2020 448 Pages

When they’re stuck under one roof, the house may not be big enough for their hate…or their love.

When Tyson Trice finds himself tossed into the wealthy coastal community of Pacific Hills, he’s ready for the questions, the stares and the feeling of not belonging. Not that he cares. After recovering from being shot and surviving the rough streets of Lindenwood, he doesn’t care about anyone or anything, much less how the rest of his life will play out.

Golden girl Nandy Smith has spent most of her life building the pristine image that it takes to fit in when it comes to her hometown Pacific Hills where image is everything. After learning that her parents are taking in a troubled teen boy, Nandy fears her summer plans, as well as her reputation, will go up in flames.

Now with Trice living under the same roof, the wall between their bedrooms feels as thin as the line between love and hate. Beneath the angst, their growing attraction won’t be denied. Through time, Trice brings Nandy out of her shell, and Nandy attempts to melt the ice that’s taken Trice’s heart and being. Only, with the ever-present pull back to the Lindenwood streets, it’ll be a wonder if Trice makes it through this summer at all.- Goodreads

Jumping right into this, I can see why there is a lot of love with this book. Although I didn’t love it, I can see the love there.

My first impression of this book once I finished it was . . . it was boring. The story of the boy coming from questionable past and environment meeting the rich girl from a completely different world is nothing new. This book didn’t bring anything new to this trope. This does not mean it wasn’t an entertaining read because it was for the most part.

Nandy and Trice were good enough characters to keep the book going. But there wasn’t enough development for me to be convinced of their romance but also and most importantly to like them. I did feel there was actual growth and both Nandy’s and Trice’s turnaround was too fast to be believable. There was no build up.

This is not to say that the book was rushed because it wasn’t. There wasn’t enough depth into the book and that is why I didn’t love this novel.

It was cute but it was boring and overall predictable. Yes, I know those words are harsh but to be fair, I know there are plenty of people that will love this book. I just don’t happen to be one of them.

I liked the fact that this book is a young adult romance that stars Black characters. It highlighted two types of families, touched on ancestry and adoption. It also touched on class and focused on social status. I liked these parts of the novel. Just wish the characters had more life to them and those points I mentioned above weren’t fillers.

Overall, when I sat and thought about it. This book has a very specific target group and it isn’t Black women or people in general. It was basic and didnt deliver the romance.

2 Pickles

Book Review: Chilling Effect by Valerie Valdes

Harper Voyager
Published Sept. 17th, 2019
448 Pages

Captain Eva Innocente and the crew of La Sirena Negra cruise the galaxy delivering small cargo for even smaller profits. When her sister Mari is kidnapped by The Fridge, a shadowy syndicate that holds people hostage in cryostasis, Eva must undergo a series of unpleasant, dangerous missions to pay the ransom.

But Eva may lose her mind before she can raise the money. The ship’s hold is full of psychic cats, an amorous fish-faced emperor wants her dead after she rejects his advances, and her sweet engineer is giving her a pesky case of feelings. The worse things get, the more she lies, raising suspicions and testing her loyalty to her found family.

To free her sister, Eva will risk everything: her crew, her ship, and the life she’s built on the ashes of her past misdeeds. But when the dominoes start to fall and she finds the real threat is greater than she imagined, she must decide whether to play it cool or burn it all down.- Goodreads

Let us take a moment to enjoy this beautiful cover. I love everything about it and give mess a fantasy mess that I didn’t know I needed.

However, the book itself was just okay. I loved reading Captain Eva. The fact that she is Hispanic, Spanish is very part of her world i.e. the language, the name of her ship and even references to foods, I loved reading how causal she was. What I mean is it didn’t feel forced. Eva wasn’t trying to prove her heritage, didn’t have someone question her, she was being herself as natural as that is. This book is #ownvoices and that is clear and I am all for it.

I loved the space setting of this book. The author did a great job building this world. Although there could be more backstory, she did really well panting a very clear picture of where the world is now.;

The idea that she has to go into a world she really doesn’t want part of to save her sister is a good hook. But there was nothing really good on. Yes, the jobs were odd and dangerous and just getting more stressful by the moment but they didn’t provide the excitement that you would think would come from doing a dangerous job. There was a lot of do the job go back to the ship and about half way through the book, I was over it. It left me wanting more/wanting something better and scratching my head to what was going to happen next.

The other thing that I scratched my head about was the romance. It felt more like two people wanting to get laid than a actual romance. It didn’t develop as it should and it was a second part to whole saving the sister thing, which is what it should have been but it didn’t feel real.

Overall, the book was slow. It has a lot of potential within the characters and within the setting. I felt that with more development it could be perfect.

2 Pickles

Book Review: Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

Knopf Books for Young Readers
TBP Oct. 29, 2019
288 Pages

Simone Garcia-Hampton is starting over at a new school, and this time things will be different. She’s making real friends, making a name for herself as student director of Rent, and making a play for Miles, the guy who makes her melt every time he walks into a room. The last thing she wants is for word to get out that she’s HIV-positive, because last time . . . well, last time things got ugly.

Keeping her viral load under control is easy, but keeping her diagnosis under wraps is not so simple. As Simone and Miles start going out for real–shy kisses escalating into much more–she feels an uneasiness that goes beyond butterflies. She knows she has to tell him that she’s positive, especially if sex is a possibility, but she’s terrified of how he’ll react! And then she finds an anonymous note in her locker: I know you have HIV. You have until Thanksgiving to stop hanging out with Miles. Or everyone else will know too. 

Simone’s first instinct is to protect her secret at all costs, but as she gains a deeper understanding of the prejudice and fear in her community, she begins to wonder if the only way to rise above is to face the haters head-on..- Goodreads

What I loved about this book is that it touches upon well focuses upon a topic that is rarely discussed. Children who are born with HIV do not really get a chance to tell their story. The only person that I can think of IRL prior reading this book is Hydeia Broadbent. I feel like this book was inspired by her.

This book is a great conversation starter and it is full of information, strength and some adorableness.

Simone is such a cutie. For a 17 year old, she is one of those girls that hold onto her innocence for dear life. It makes absolute sense why she is pretty sheltered; like she has HIV and has had it her whole life. It just gets too much as you keep reading the book. Like the author lays it on pretty thick. But she was genuine and I love the fact that the author was able to convey this.

The romance within this novel is A+. Miles and how he initiated their dating had the biggest smile on my face. Their emotions aren’t teenagers who are high on hormones. There is development in their relationship, its tested and there is value in Simone and Miles as more than just a couple. I thought it was great.

Here is what I didn’t like about the book. It was predictable. From the moment, Simone received the note, the reader or at least already knew what was going to happen. It really was not hard to figure out.

That was really the only thing about this book that I couldn’t get past . . . oh I lied. I hated the fact that Simone’s parents did not have any boundaries. What grown as man is going in to the GYN appointment with their 17 year old daughter? Like I get it, it was her first time going HOWEVER, there are several lines crossed by those parents and I was not feeling it.

Overall, a good read. I would recommend it.

3 Pickles

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: 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