Category Archives: Pretty Covers

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

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: 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

The Write Reads Book Tour: A Different Time by Michael K. Hill

YAY! Today is my stop on this massive and amazing The Write Reads Book Tour!!

Tangent Press
Published July 2nd 2019
200 Pages

Keith Nolan falls in love with a remarkable young woman from the past, talking to him on a home video she recorded in 1989.

To keep their conversation going, he must find more of her tapes—while forces work against them both, and time is running out.- Goodreads

The first thing that came to mind, once I finished reading this book, was how beautiful it was. From beginning to end, I had a overwhelming feeling of nostalgia and that was because this story reminded me of one of my favorite movies called the Lake House with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves.

Side Note: I love me some Keanu Reeves and will watch/support almost anything he does.

But this nostalgia had me on the edge of my seat. It was a form of rush because the story is dripping in romance and the race against time.

A Different Time is a simple story. I loved every bit of it. Keith is 22 when he finds the video and at and first I was like hmm this isn’t genuine at all and he is just smitten and wants some excitement in his life. But as the story continues I change my tune. His heart is coming from a good place and as a reader you feel that, so if you pick up this book give it a chance.

The pace of the novel is a bit slow, so if you looking for face action race against the clock speed style (see what I did there) this isn’t exactly it. This book hits you on an emotional level about true love, destiny and what you are willing to do for it.

What stood out to me, although a simple story, was the twist and the ending. It was not something I saw coming nor was expecting but it was a slow build getting there. I would recommend this book. Its light, refreshing and romantic.

Also that cover though!! *heart eyes*

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: Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Margaret K. McElderry Books
Published June 4th, 2019
456 Pages

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined. – Goodreads

Just like Margaret Rogerson’s first book, An Enchantment of Ravens, Sorcery of Thorns has been hyped months before it was released and hyped as one of the best books of June. However, just like An Enchantment of Ravens, Sorcery of Thorns fell flat half way through the book (you can see my review of it here).

I love love love the fact this story is surrounded by a library and books. Rogerson does a great job world building and spilling in that love of books not only within the characters but in the entire book and world. I was sucked into this story because of that.

There was a promise that Elisabeth would be this timid girl that will come out swinging to save her world, not just her world but her world. This promise holds for a while but every time Elisabeth did something, I never understood how. This girl who doesn’t really know much some how is able to do all these things. I was searching for her personality. Yeah, you can say she is determined, you can say that she is smart, you may even be able to say brave but there is nothing else.

The whole orphan mystery can only get you so far.

What bothered me was how she viewed sorcerers. She lumps them all in one category as evil and eventually makes an exception for one. This really bothered me. Because she is rude . . . like disrespectful rude and everyone allows that. Nathaniel entertains that stereotype she has and marks it off as if she is naive. I was not for that.

I was very close to DNF this book at 49%. Nothing was really happening and I was felt that I was being lead on the promise that something better was coming. I got bored. Nathaniel wasn’t really doing anything for me. He had no depth and was just as boring as Elisabeth.

For me, this book wasn’t worth how long it was. The ending was cute (yes I did finish it) and actually appreciated it although it was predictable.

Overall,

The book has massive potential but was dragged and the characters did nothing to help the amazing world, Rogerson was able to create.

2 Pickles

Book Review: Why Is This Night Different from All Other Nights? by Lemony Snicket

Little, Brown and Company
Published Sept. 29, 2015
295 Pages

On all other nights, the train departs from Stain’d Station and travels to the city without stopping. But not tonight. You might ask, why is this night different from all other nights? But that’s the wrong question. Instead ask, where is this all heading? And what happens at the end of the line? The final book in Lemony Snicket’s bestselling series, All The Wrong Questions. – Goodreads

One day I decided to go through my TBR pile on Goodreads but start from the bottom up. I realized that there were a lot of books I wanted to read but between adding new books, I just didn’t get around to it.

Why is This Night Different from All Other Nights? is a prime example. I read the first three books when I first started this blog (geeze four years now) and didn’t realize I never finished it. So I am extremely happy to be able to say I have completed this series.

Everything and everybody in Stain’d-by-the-sea comes together to finally end the destruction of an evil villain. It was nice to see this because through out the series something near terrible happens to each and everyone of them, so their survival meant a lot.

But here is what I concluded and what I think Snicket is saying. Children think they know better than adults and given the opportunity will mess things up. *shrugs* that is literally the whole premise of the story. The protagonist Snicket (yes the author name the character after himself), from the beginning of the book to end is trying to solve one mystery but ends up disregarding that for another mystery.

In this process, his sister gets captured and nothing in me actually believes he cares. I say this because he does nothing to save her. Her capture is his fault and it is only mentioned twice and its usually “I wonder how my sister is doing. . . oh shinny object.”

This particular book had a lot of twists that I strongly believe a middle school child would love. Not everything is what it seems and I also think Snicket, the author, indirectly is saying to trust an adult. I say this because at the very end, there are things explained that Snicket (the character) didn’t know and it is summed up to him not asking the right questions.

I don’t exactly know I feel about the subliminal messaging in this book. But for me, they were extremely clear and red flags. Not in the sense that there is something wrong but in the sense that why those particular messages. It makes you wonder.

I loved the pace of the novel and the overall series. There wasn’t anything more I wanted; it provided enough mystery that I was content. Not only do I love the covers but I would suggestion this read to a middle school reader.

Overall,

3 Pickles for Why is This Night Different from All Other Nights?

4 Pickles for the All the Wrong Questions series

Book Review: Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera

Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Published March 5th 2019
336 Pages

Nalah leads the fiercest all-girl crew in Mega City. That roles brings with it violent throw downs and access to the hottest boydega clubs, but the sixteen-year-old grows weary of the life. Her dream is to get off the streets and make a home in the exclusive Mega Towers, in which only a chosen few get to live.

To make it to the Mega towers, Nalah must prove her loyalty to the city’s benevolent founder and cross the border in a search for a mysterious gang the Ashé Ryders. Led by a reluctant guide, Nalah battles other crews and her own doubts, but the closer she gets to her goal, the more she loses sight of everything—and everyone— she cares about.

Nalah must do the unspeakable to get what she wants—a place to call home. But is a home just where you live? Or who you choose to protect?– Goodreads

I needed a day to think on this book. My overall conclusion is that it is a solid read but it has a very big issue.

Nalah is an interesting character because she takes her role as Chief Rocka seriously; as she should. Her gang Las Mal Criadas (LMC) is one of the toughest gangs in Mega City. Its her life and fighting is everything she has always known.

However, because the Mega Towers is where she and her crew want to be, Chief Rocka takes deal with from the founder to get there. Here is where things get interesting. Rivera sets you up for the fight and a possible betrayal of the lifetime. Chief Rocka isn’t as bright as she makes it seems. She is driven by anger and the constant need to fight. Yes, she can talk down the worst of them but she can’t seem to get things right exactly.

From beginning to about the last 4 chapters of the book, I am sucked into this world. All girl gang group and men for the most part out of the picture (except for at boydegas for the most part). This book is dystopia through and through. However, from the beginning you can see clearing that something is off. Rivera doesn’t get into too much detail about the wrong but focuses on Chief Rocka and LMC. It is as if the mess around them are background information that drive the girls but doesn’t exactly define them, at least at this point in their lives.

There was an expectation that the “battle” or at least the wake up moment was going to be huge but it was disappointing to say the least. Nothing changed and when the change happened, it was so smooth it was as if they were just taking a casual stroll.

I hated the ending. I hated how easy things became for Chief Rocka and how things just flowed. All of that build up, all that anger just to be let go as if nothing happened. The book just ended with nothing. I had to re-read the last few pages to make sure I was not bugging but nope I was not.

I wanted something so much more for LMC and Chief Rocka. I was highly disappointed with how things went.

Overall, worth the read but not exactly worth it emotionally. Characters were great, the build up, the world building was both on point. But the climax needed work as well as the ending.

3 Pickles