Category Archives: Retellings

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: The Raven and the Dove by Kaitlyn Davis

Amazon Digital Services LLC
TBP: March 20th, 2010

A princess longing to be free…

On the dawn of her courtship trials, Princess Lyana Aethionus knows she should be focused on winning her perfect mate, yet her thoughts wander to the open sky waiting at the edge of her floating kingdom. One final adventure calls. Upon fleeing the palace, the last thing she expects to find is a raven prince locked in a death match with a dragon.

A bastard aching to belong…

Reviled son of a dead king, Rafe would do anything for his beloved half-brother, Prince Lysander Taetanus, including posing as him in the upcoming courtship trials. When a dragon interrupts their secret exchange, he orders his studious sibling to run. After suffering a fatal blow, Rafe is saved by a beautiful dove who possesses forbidden magic, just like him.

Fate brought them together, now destiny will tear them apart…

Unknown to the world above, on the foggy sea ten thousand feet below, a young king fights a forgotten war. He believes Lyana is the queen prophesied to save the world, and with the help of his favored spy, hidden deep in the highest ranks of the dove royal house, he will stop at nothing to have her.- Goodreads

I am not going to lie. I picked up this book for the cover. Seeing and reading about a Black fairy is huge (even though there were some suspicious scenes in the book). I enjoyed this cover and seeing this Black fairy do her thing.

With that being said. . . this book wasn’t for me. NOT because there was actually anything wrong with the book. It played on the cliche of a love triangle, forbidden love, betrayals a bit too much and what I meant by that is nothing was brought to this long worn table; it was just with dragons and faeries as opposed to humans.

However, with that being said the world building in this novel was great and the author did a fantastic job with pace, details and creating the romance.  While I see others completing enjoying it what caused me to lose interest was Rafe. How and why Lyana feel in love with him I will never know. He had no personality. If it had nothing to do with his brother he didn’t want anything to do with it. I liked the young king and his part in the story but I couldn’t stand Rafe.

Overall, there are a lot of people that are going to flock over this book. My thing is if you are going to do the same trope, do something new.

2 Pickles

Year of The Asian Reading Challenge

Text: YEAR OF THE ASIAN, A 2019 READING CHALLENGE. Hosted by C.W., Lily, Shealea, and Vicky. Image is of Xiaolong the pink axolotl wearing an upside down purple flower hat eating a bowl of rice.
Image from CW @ The Quiet Pond

This year I am participating in the Year of the Asian Reading Challenge. Its a great way, at least for me, to read different styles of writing. I have a tendency of getting stuck in a specific genre to writing style and then wonder why I didn’t hit those amazing books and got stuck with more 2 stars (and below) than 3s and ups.

So anyway I saw this challenge on twitter but then couldn’t find the post. I then found it on The Quiet Pond’s blog. And my excitement to participate increase. List below is a direct quote from her post:

divider cobra

GUIDELINES

The aim of this challenge is to read as many books written by Asian authors as you can! These books can be backlist titles (i.e. released in 2018 or earlier), new releases, and ARCs. We welcome books of any genre, any format, and any length. Check out the levels we have made for this challenge (I drew them too!) and set your sights on a level you want to achieve.

In order for a book to count, you must start and finish it within 2019; the challenge will end on the 31st of December of this year. (This means that books started in 2018 and finished in 2019 do not count!) Likewise, any books started in 2019 and finished in 2020 do not count either.

We want this to be a relaxing and, above all else, fun challenge, so you can join in at any time in the year! The sign-up form will remain open until 2019 ends.

Follow us on Twitter (@YearOfTheAsian) for announcements, surprises, and more bookish fun. The official hashtag for this reading challenge is #YARC2019.

divider tiger

So here are my goals for books written by Asian authors for 2019: 

Indian cobra: 11 to 20 books read

More than likely, there will be others as I find them but this is my 2019 goal :) Are you planning on participating? If so, you can find more details here. Also I would love to know what you will be reading, please share ^_^

 

Peace & Blessing,

Tanya P.

Book Review: A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

Imprint
TBP Sept. 25, 2018
384 Pages

The first time the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now she’s trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew.

Life in real-world Atlanta isn’t always so simple, as Alice juggles an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA. Keeping the Nightmares at bay is turning into a full-time job. But when Alice’s handsome and mysterious mentor is poisoned, she has to find the antidote by venturing deeper into Wonderland than she’s ever gone before. And she’ll need to use everything she’s learned in both worlds to keep from losing her head . . . literally. – Goodreads

I am at the point in my life that I will read almost anything written by a Black (African American) author in the fantasy genre. I don’t see enough of it, specifically YA, and so I jump at every chance to read it. I was excited for this book. Once I was approved for it, I started reading it instantly. I couldn’t finish this book. It was just not for me and here is why:

The author tries way to hard to make Alice relevant to what is currently going on in the world. From the shootings, to White people and pumpkin spice, the author adds these things in the book and all I could think about was

30 Rock Hello GIF

They didn’t fit but I understand why the author did it. To me, she wanted to make the story realistic even though it is considered fantasy. She wanted Alice to be relate able to African American girls and I could get that. It just didn’t work for me.

Another issue I had with this read was Alice herself. She was uninteresting. She didn’t have any real spark or personality. She would have just been another around the way girl, if it wasn’t for her connection to Wonderland. This is not to say that a plain girl can’t do amazing and interesting things. It literally happens all the time in real life as well as fictional but as much as I feel for Alice about what happened to her in her personal life, I couldn’t actually tell you who she is after that.

Finally, Wonderland. The thing about authors, who do a retelling of Alice in Wonderland, is they try to lay on the crazy, the riddles as much as possible. Ms.McKinney is no different. I just feel like as I was reading the book. . . it wasn’t captivating me. I wasn’t interested and I kept trying since I was approved for the book.

I am not saying that others may not enjoy this book. This book has gotten rave reviews. Its just isn’t for me.

Overall,

1 Pickle

Book Review: Beast by Parker Kingston

Self Published
Published Aug. 17th 2018
476 Pages

Aasim Daniels had a perfect life. Money, a family that he loved, a reputation that opened doors for him wherever he went, and a long-time girlfriend that he was intent on marrying. That all changed when an unforeseen betrayal and dark turn of events left him heartbroken and fighting for his life. Hell-bent on revenge, Aasim finds himself on a quest that leads him to new surroundings and right into the unexpected path of a curly-haired beauty he can’t seem to shake. 

After her ex-boyfriend Gabriel betrays her in the most unimaginable way, Reygan Haynes is done with love. Her only focus is putting the pieces of her shattered life back together and fighting with herself to resist the pull of Gabriel’s advances and demands of reconciliation. Just when she’s convinced that she has it all together, a random encounter between her father and handsome yet scarred stranger flips her entire world upside down and threatens to destroy everything that she holds dear. 

Gabriel Brown wants what he wants when he wants, and doesn’t care how he gets it. Realizing that he made the biggest mistake of his life letting Reygan get away, he’ll stop at nothing to get her back. Already on edge due to his crumbling position in the streets, Reygan’s sudden disappearance causes him to completely unravel, as he’ll stop at nothing to get her back. Not even murder.- Goodreads

Fairly tales are my thing. Retellings are my thing. Make it an urban novel, written by a Black woman and I am all over it.

I was extremely skeptical when I began reading this book. I am not big person that enjoys saying or reading curses, especially the N word. The author doesn’t shy away from that type of language within this book and that was off-putting for me. When I began reading, I wasn’t too sure how she was going to tie the traditional fairy tale to this modern version. When everything started coming together it was great. The tie in was smooth and believable in the modern sense. It satisfied my requirements for a fairy tale retelling.

But here was my issue. Reygan screamed idiot to me from beginning to end. All I can say is she has a thing for abusive men. Granted in Beauty and the Beast, the beast had some anger issues but Reygan’s first and then on going interaction with Aasim (for some chapters) are down right verbally abusive. What really through me for a loop was how she ended up in his home and the exact moment you see her feelings for him change. It was as if someone clicked a switch. I was just shocked in all honesty as to not how easy. . . well how easy it was for her to get a soft side to him.

Other than that the pace of the novel was alright. There was a lot of moving parts, which kept me interested in the book. I wanted more fairy tale aspect to this book and that is really because I am a fantasy reader. I also wanted more description of apperances. The author glimpes over this. There wasn’t enough for me to drool.

Overall, not a bad read. Long but not bad at all. But as previously mentioned the cursing in everyday conversation was a bit too much for me.

2.5 Pickles

Book Review: Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge by Lisa Jensen

Candlewick Press
TBP July 10, 2018
352 Pages

They say Château Beaumont is cursed. But servant-girl Lucie can’t believe such foolishness about handsome Jean-Loup Christian Henri LeNoir, Chevalier de Beaumont, master of the estate. But when the chevalier’s cruelty is revealed, Lucie vows to see him suffer. A wisewoman grants her wish, with a spell that transforms Jean-Loup into monstrous-looking Beast, reflecting the monster he is inside.

But Beast is nothing like the chevalier. Jean-Loup would never patiently tend his roses; Jean-Loup would never attempt poetry; Jean-Loup would never express remorse for the wrong done to Lucie. Gradually, Lucie realizes that Beast is an entirely different creature from the handsome chevalier, with a heart more human than Jean-Loup’s ever was. Lucie dares to hope that noble Beast has permanently replaced the cruel Jean-Loup — until an innocent beauty arrives at Beast’s château with the power to break the spell.- Goodreads

This book has been on my tbr 2018 edition since I heard about it last year. So when I got approved for an arc via Netgalley, I put everything down to take a stab at it.

Man, was I disappointed.

About 30% through the book, I couldn’t stand Lucie’s voice anymore. I understand her revenge and her wanting to see how the revenge plays out. I even understand her slight mercy. But she has this tone that becomes redundant. When she sees the beast changing and becoming the “person” she hoped the Chevalier would have been, she fights with herself to stay mad, to stay hateful. After what he did, it shouldn’t take a whole lot to state in hate mode. I actually was surprised by the change of heart. Yes, they were technically two different people but how Lucie was able to look at the beast and not remember what he has a human had done…. I have no idea.

The book moves fast enough. It doesn’t take a lot of time for you to see his transformation to a beast and to a likeable beast. The story begins off one way but then you’re literally disguised how quickly it turns left. The author wrote a very intense scene, that I had to put the book down for a moment to regain my composure. This is why I didn’t understand how Lucie was able to jump ship.

But what I really enjoyed about this book was how the author spun this retelling. The point of view, Lucie, is completely different from what I have read. She is literally the third party to the classic fairy tale and it was interesting to see her point of view. However, for a story about revenge, there wasn’t enough intensity and anger that I had hoped for.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad read but it could have better.

2 Pickles

Year in Review: 2017

2017 was a year to be reckon with. Beyond the obvious, political environment, on a personal level, on all levels, this year was one that I would prefer to use as a learning lesson. So, just as warning, this will be a long post.

BOOKS, BOOKS & MORE BOOKS

I reached my Goodreads goal of 200 books this year :D Super excited about that because not only did I not reach it last year but I hit constant book walls this year. Between books that couldn’t keep my interest, books that did not live up to the hype and my own expectations and finally books that were poorly written, my book year has been full of highs and lows.

However, I did hit some fantastic reads, some good reads and some pretty covers, that I want to share.

Fantastic Reads

Why were these books fantastic reads? They were engaging, diverse, honest and creative. The plot kept me on my toes, the characters had development and growth. The world, in which the story is set, felt real like opening my front door. Some of these reads fed my love of history and mythology, while other fed my love for a sappy love story. Either way, my fantastic reads of 2017 are highly recommended.

Good Reads

Why were these books good reads? They didn’t hit all of my points previously mentioned in Fantastic reads. But they did keep me engaged for most of the book and I loved the character. Also these good reads, have a very strong foundation and although not 5 Pickles perfect, I am happy to have read them and read the next book in their series if it applies.

Pretty Covers

What’s a year in review, if I don’t display some gorgeous covers. Some of these books I have read, while others I have not been able to get to yet. But aren’t they just beautiful to look at!

WHAT TANYA HAS BEEN UP TO THIS YEAR

So as mentioned this year has been a unexpected force that put a lot of things in perspective. Firstly, I was able to visit my husband in Japan for two weeks and I was able to go to Dominican Republic this year as well. Both were amazing and it made me realize how attainable traveling can be, if you put your money in order. Because of these adventures, I have the wanderlust bug and actively planning a bunch of trips for 2018.

On a emotional level, I have been a mess. I have been missing my husband dearly and the toll of living on the other side of the world was heavy. It’s still heavy but it is much more manageable. We made celebrated two anniversaries this year. 6 years when we started dating or when I stopped being a butt and said sure (October 3rd) and 4 years when we said I do (December 6th). I tend to get a bit emotional when its comes to my Husband because when we met when I was emotionally and spiritually in bad shape. He stuck around even when I didn’t want him to. He means a lot to me and I can’t wait until his deployment is over and he is home for good.

On another note, school has been kicking my butt and the back and forth of if I should even keep going with my masters degree has been a unanswered question for months now. I am leaning towards banging out this final year (InshaAllah) but I am just not into this classes like I thought I would be. But I did better this semester, so hopefully I can keep that going.

I struggled a lot with past Tanya and current Tanya. Past Tanya was getting bored and tired of being in the past and wanted to explore some newfound freedoms, while current Tanya is not for that mess. But because of certain life changing decisions it was hard to stop those thoughts and move forward with the obvious right and better choice. Past Tanya has taken a step back and I pray that it will be for good. Because when I say she was a mess…smh just so messy.

I learned that self-care is needed not every once in a while but all the time and that it can take different forms. For me going to the library or bookstore, taking a bath and disconnecting from social media, have been the best methods I have learned and used a lot this year. I am still growing in this area because me and emotions aren’t the best of friends but I am proud of myself. I had less panic attacks than I did in 2016, so that counts right? Lol

On a second note, I saw my first ballet, went to a Harry Potter experience, watch old anime in a movie theater, met new people, started wearing lipstick, won a few arc giveaways and a bunch of other stuff. Although this year had some downs, the highs were highs but most importantly I lived and got to thank God for that everyday.

Social Media

As of today I have the following followers on each channel I run:

Instagram: viewsfromthe_desktop : 78 Followers

WordPress: motif by Tanya : 122 Subscribers 

Twitter: @motifink 408 Followers 

I have been participating in various twitter chats and hash tags. Social media is taking a lot of my time and I had made it my mission that every month, I will take a week vacation from it. However, despite the overload, I have been putting myself and Motif by Tanya out there and it is visible in the increase of followers. I even began writing monthly updates and topic specific blogs. During this year (2017) I forgot how much I enjoy writing and started making time for it despite my growing responsibilities. I love this renewal and in 2018, I tend to work on my writing more.

What Tanya Wants 2018

There are several goals I am reaching for this year, book related and in real life.

Book Goals:

  • Start posting regularly for Quick Five© interviews
  • Begin posting The Frustrated Reader© monthly
  • Clear out my arc queue on Netgalley
  • Attend book conventions and festivals
    • Book Con
    • Bronx Festival
    • Y’all Fest
    • Book Expo
    • Novateen Book Fest
    • Well Read Black Girl Fest
  • Begin posting on either Amazon or Goodreads
  • Start a YouTube channel

Travel Goals:

  • Baltimore
  • Bday Cruise
  • Seattle
  • Paris
  • Chicago

Personal Goals:

  • Pray 5 daily prayers on time
  • Quran reading
  • Learn Arabic
  • Start rockclimbing again
  • Learn to fence
  • Learn to bake bread and make a pie from scratch
  • Volunteer
  • Learn to drift & drive a stick

Professional Goals:

  • Begin freelance writing
  • Move up in my current company
  • Own a business

What Tanya Wants New Releases: January 2017

Now what can be a end of the year, beginning of the year wrap up without my anticipated reads for January 2017 :)

I do plan on participating in #unreadshelfproject2018 but with so many new reads I am waiting for this year, I am going to modify my goal. For every 3 tbr books, physical and digital, that I have, I will read one of wants. Sounds fair right :)

In Conclusion:

I know that this was a long post and it could have been several posts spaced out during the week but it was great therapy. What is that saying, speak it into existence? Not only am I doing that but praying first and foremost. Is this considered a new year’s resolution? Naw not really. Motif by Tanya is a book review and author interview website but it is also my baby that I put a lot of time in. It’s time to make her stand out and if that means showing a little bit more of me every so so then so be it.

Peace and Blessings, Ya’ll <3

Manga Monday: The Ghost and the Lady by Kazuhiro Fujita

Kodansha Comics
Published Oct. 25, 2016
304 Pages

Deep in London’s Scotland Yard sits an evidence room dedicated to the greatest mysteries of British history. In this “Black Museum” sits a misshapen hunk of lead–two bullets fused together–the key to the untold story of a wartime encounter between Florence Nightingale, the mother of modern nursing, and a supernatural Man in Grey.

The record books show Florence fought for compassion as empires’ petty rivalries threatened to destroy the hopes and lives of common people. But a guest in the Black Museum knows the truth is not so simple, and the famed Lady with the Lamp had a ghastly secret.- Goodreads

I had no idea what to expect with this read as I picked up the book before even checking out the summary.

Its different. The entire paranormal historical plot is different from any manga I have ever read and it is slightly hard to explain. But overall, the man in grey is telling someone his story and why he is where he is at. This story includes Florence Nightingale and it is a interesting twist to her story as she becomes the mother of modern nursing. I would say this manga is romantic but not in the way most people think of it now. It provides a lightness, even though it mentions death and sickness. It isn’t dark, at least for me. But this is also not saying it can’t get dark. The author seems to leave a lot of openness in the world and I am not 100% sure if that is intended.

The story is slow and towards the end of volume one you get to know about the man in grey as opposed to majority of the volume was about Florence. What I liked about this manga beyond its uniqueness, its lightness and feel of romance, is you can take your time reading this and feel like you’re not missing anything. You’re reading a twist on historic events and that is the pull. The man is grey, although can be funny at times, tells the story as if he was speaking with you.

In regards to artwork, it is not typical manga style not even close. It is though detailed and as the story follows very light.

I know this is a fairly short review but its hard to really describe this manga. I liked it though. It is well throughout, full of history, emotional and at times full of giggle moments.

Overall,

4 Pickles