Category Archives: Pretty Covers

Book Review: Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai

Avon
Published April 1st, 2020
400 Pages

One minute, Katrina King’s enjoying an innocent conversation with a hot guy at a coffee shop; the next, a stranger has live-tweeted the entire episode with a romantic meet-cute spin and #CafeBae is the new hashtag-du-jour. The problem? Katrina craves a low-profile life, and going viral threatens the peaceful world she’s painstakingly built. Besides, #CafeBae isn’t the man she’s hungry for…

He’s got a [peach emoji] to die for.

With the internet on the hunt for the identity of #CuteCafeGirl, Jas Singh, bodyguard, friend, and possessor of the most beautiful eyebrows Katrina’s ever seen, comes to the rescue and whisks her away to his family’s home. Alone in a remote setting with the object of her affections? It’s a recipe for romance. But after a long dating dry spell, Katrina isn’t sure she can trust her instincts when it comes to love—even if Jas’ every look says he wants to be more than just her bodyguard…– Goodreads

This is my first book by Alisha Rai. I would like to note that this is the second book to her Modern Love series. Although they are separate stories with references to the first book, I did feel like I should have read the first book. When I was reading, I felt like I was missing something and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. With that being said, I probably would have found this more enjoyable if I would have read the first book.

But moving forward this book was cute. Although at times seeing Jas and Katrina act like middle school kids was frustrating, I enjoyed the slow build. If you aren’t interested in slow builds, you will not like this book because it is slow.

I liked Jas way more than I liked Katrina and it is not because she has so much going on. She is just boring. Adorable but boring. Jas was not only attractive, he was talented, spoke three different languages, had depth but was comfortably simple. I adored him and loved the fact that I was able to read from his point of view.

Beyond Katrina being stale, I am just going to say reading about her or Jas having sex was extremely uncomfortable for me. Not because I don’t read sexual activity in books but because it felt forced and it felt like the author just put it in there to appease the masses. It didn’t feel genuine at all. It read like the author was uncomfortable writing it.

*sigh*

But overall, this wasn’t a bad read. It was okay, cute (ish). It would have been nice if Katrina had more personality and if there was more chemistry.

2 Pickles

 

Book Review: Real Men Knit by K.M. Jackson

Berkley
TBP May 19th, 2020
320 Pages

When their foster-turned-adoptive mother suddenly dies, four brothers struggle to keep open the doors of her beloved Harlem knitting shop, while dealing with life and love in Harlem.

Jesse Strong is known for two things: his devotion to his adoptive mom, Mama Joy, and his reputation for breaking hearts in Harlem. When Mama Joy unexpectedly passes away, he and his brothers have different plans on what to do with Strong Knits, their neighborhood knitting store: Jesse wants to keep the store open; his brothers want to shut it down.

Jesse makes an impassioned plea to Kerry Fuller, his childhood friend who has had a crush on him her entire life, to help him figure out how to run the business. Kerry agrees to help him reinvent the store and show him the knitty-gritty of the business, but the more time they spend together, the more the chemistry builds. Kerry, knowing Jesse’s history, doesn’t believe this relationship will exist longer than one can knit one, purl one. But Jesse is determined to prove to her that he can be the man for her—after all, real men knit. – Goodreads

I was very excited for this book. Focusing on a man who not only was adopted but is dealing with grief and knows how to knit, were topics that I was all for. But by the end of the book I was disappointed. I wasn’t disappointed because of lack of writing skills or pace but more so this book felt like a foundation to a bigger novel. So many different topics were passed over. I wanted more details in Mama Joy’s past, background information on the store, more character background and more character description.

I found it really hard to believe that Mama Joy did not teach or leave any information about how to run her business with her boys or even on paper. Kerry knew pretty much everything but it still baffled me how ‘Mama Joy did not write anything down. So that was on my mind but also the fact that the reader knows nothing about the store itself. If the author took more time to give the store a story, I would have believed this story much more.

Also character development as well as character background is pretty much non-existent. The whole issue/conflict in the novel is lack of communication. Kerry stresses so much that she is a grown woman but acts like a middle schooner throughout the entire book. I don’t understand why.

What did love about the book was the slow burn romance. I didn’t think the conflict of the novel was going to be lack of communication and more so Jesse sleeping with most of the city, so it was interesting that the author highlighted that but didn’t make that the issue. Like the author was very specific on who he slept with as well as their interactions with Kerry.

The breakout character for me was actually Jesse’s brother Damian. I really was intrigued by his hard ass and anger. I would love to read his story next.

With that being said, this wasn’t a bad book and I would recommend it as a introduction to this author. I just wish there was more added to it.

Overall,

2 Pickles

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: The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Candlewick Press
TBP May 5th, 2020
368 Pages

Aboard the pirate ship Dove, Flora the girl takes on the identity of Florian the man to earn the respect and protection of the crew. For Flora, former starving urchin, the brutal life of a pirate is about survival: don’t trust, don’t stick out, and don’t feel. But on this voyage, as the pirates prepare to sell their unsuspecting passengers into slavery, Flora is drawn to the Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, who is en route to a dreaded arranged marriage with her own casket in tow. Flora doesn’t expect to be taken under Evelyn’s wing, and Evelyn doesn’t expect to find such a deep bond with the pirate Florian.

Soon the unlikely pair set in motion a wild escape that will free a captured mermaid (coveted for her blood, which causes men to have visions and lose memories) and involve the mysterious Pirate Supreme, an opportunistic witch, and the all-encompassing Sea itself.- Goodreads

There is a lot going on in this novel but happily enough the author broke down this book into different POC and sections. I loved that because it shows skills as a writer.

There is a lot of character building in this novel and it stresses the fact that not everyone is who/what they seem. I liked Flora. For everything that she had to do in order to live, to help her brother and Evelyn, she was honest with herself and that is oddly hard to fine in Young Adult books.  Flora was realistic with her environment and what she needed to do but she open minded and I liked that.

Evelyn, however, was alright. She was the typical I am not your average rich person. She played her role really well but there was nothing ground breaking about her. The aspect of this novel that I really enjoyed was the mermaid/the sea. I love magical stories even with realistic situations to them. I would have loved to see more history and details in this particular part of the story but I was entertained.

The pace of the novel was good. There were painstakingly slow moments, where nothing at all was going on but it was worth it. This is my first read by this author and I am looking forward to see what else she has in store.

Overall,

3 Pickles

Cover Love 2020: Spring Edition

Despite everything that is going on, it is in fact Spring. For me, that means it is time for some cover love. (If you haven’t taken a look at my beginning of the year cover love, you can do so here.)

 

More than likely I will be getting a few of these books via Kindle. As much as I would love a physical copy of Ghost Squad or The Hero of Numbani I am taking the social distancing to heart. During this down time, what are you looking forward to reading?

Book Review: Grumpy Jake by Melissa Blue

Self-Published
November 8th 2019
104 Pages

Bailey Thorne doesn’t hate Jake the Rake, just despises him. She blames the rumor mill at her school…and, okay, him. His adorable son has only been in preschool, but Jake has already made an impressive dent in dating the unmarried faculty. She’s had to hear of his every exploit from the broken hearts he’s left behind. She was fine to loathe him from afar, but now his son has entered kindergarten–and she’s the teacher. It’s going to be a very long school year.

Jake Polaski was more than fine to avoid Ms. Thorne after it became clear she was not amused by his very existence. But then they get stuck in an elevator for an evening. He finds out that underneath that baleful glare she always gives him, lies a warm, funny and sexy as hell woman. He does his best to not be smitten after every exchange afterward. His son needs him rational, steadfast…and love is the most uncertain thing.

It was the elevator’s fault. Had it worked like it should, Bailey would have gone on with her life without seeing why so many of her co-workers had fallen for the grumpy single dad. (It’s his dry wit, his playful teasing and the drool-worthy cut of his jawline.) And now she’s caught in the way he doles out smiles and the dark depths of his secrets. If nothing else, she knows from rumor there’s a clock ticking on their affair before it implodes because things always do with Jake the Rake, but she can’t seem to walk away first. – Goodreads

I love everything about this cover. It is so fitting once you read the book. It is breath-taking in a way that you never see covers like this. And who ever the illustrator is fantastic job.

Now to the book. Its a novella and it is a well written novella that when I was finished I didn’t feel that I need more or questions needed to be answered. It flowed well, consistently and most importantly it was engaging.

Bailey was everything. I loved her the moment she started speaking. She was unapologetically her. She wasn’t bitter, she was energetic, smart and pure. I liked Jake too but not as much as I loved Bailey.

The novella moves fast but not so fast that you feel that the author is rushing or adding a lot of fillers. The romance is believable and at some points comical. Bailey and and Jake give their all into each other, unknowingly and for Jake, sometimes unwillingly. The lust was there and they sure as heck made sure that each other knew it was there but from the beginning there was something more. There was a caring that was unspoken but definitely felt.

It was written clearly with a beginning, middle, end in a form of consistency that is hard to find in novellas (not rolling off on a tangent).

I loved this novella. It was cute, genuine and packed a lot of punch. There was nothing more or less, I wanted. And even though it is a novella, I would say that this is a filler read i.e. books you read in-between larger books, because this book stayed on my mind for days. I cannot wait to read more from this author.

Overall,

4 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 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

Graphic Novel Review: Grimoire Noir by Vera Greentea

First Second
Published July 23rd 2019
290 Pages

Bucky Orson is a bit gloomy, but who isn’t at fifteen?

His best friend left him to hang out with way cooler friends, his dad is the town sheriff, and wait for it―he lives in Blackwell, a town where all the girls are witches. But when his little sister is kidnapped because of her extraordinary power, Bucky has to get out of his own head and go on a strange journey to investigate the small town that gives him so much grief. ]

And in the process he uncovers the town’s painful history and a conspiracy that will change it forever.- Goodreads

This book is a problematic fave but it is really hard for me to actually say that because there was an extreme party foul within this book that left a bad taste in my mouth and even thinking about it, I am feeling some type of way. But let me start with what was my fave part of this book.

The story was really good. I loved the fact that it does the trope where there was a problem in the past and the solution has now become a problem in the current time. I loved the artwork. The artwork was extremely detailed, moving and the colors were perfect in every scene. It set an amazing mood that sucked you into the novel.

But there were issues. Firstly, there was a lot thrown into this novel and it could have been spaced our better or there could have been better fillers. The author touches upon a lot of characters and history but doesn’t explore them and leaves more questions then answers by time you get to the end of the book. This book could really use another deep dive by the editor to add more content and space to make it a second book.

Bucky was a horrible person. He wasn’t smart enough at all to figure things out and it was handed to him. He didn’t listen to people and he was jealous of the fact that he did not have magical powers. With all of that he had the freaking nerve to accuse people of things and barge into their homes as if he owned the place. The fact that he felt so entitled bugged me out.

Now here is the thing that left a bad taste in my mouth. There were two Black characters (technically 4, 2 were side characters) and both of them were considered evil. No issue with Black characters being villains but if they are the only two Black characters in your book that is a problem. The side characters I had mentioned . . . one was a picture of a Black witch to show that there were Black witches in the past. I 100% believe this was done to show lineage. The other Black character was there to show how evil the main villain was.

The other issue with this is one of the Black characters had to prove she wasn’t evil unless she helped Bucky. And that was bull.

If you are going to be “diverse” then do it well. If there is literally only one Black family in your town, then you need to dip into their history and their story line. You can’t just assume that the reader is not going to notice that you make mention of other Black people but don’t show them. Its disrespectful.

And it was disappointing to read something with a strong story with huge potential but dropped the ball on its characters and its development. Its been a very long time since I have been upset after finishing a book.

Overall,

2.5 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