Book Review: Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi

Tor
TBP Jan. 21st 2020
176 Pages

Rooted in foundational loss and the hope that can live in anger, Riot Baby is both a global dystopian narrative an intimate family story with quietly devastating things to say about love, fury, and the black American experience.

Ella and Kev are brother and sister, both gifted with extraordinary power. Their childhoods are defined and destroyed by structural racism and brutality. Their futures might alter the world. When Kev is incarcerated for the crime of being a young black man in America, Ella—through visits both mundane and supernatural—tries to show him the way to a revolution that could burn it all down. – Goodreads

This is the first book I read by Onyebuchi. I know its horrible because he the author of War Girls and Beasts Made of Night. But I picked up this book because I love adult fantasy novels that incorporate real life issues.

The book is told in two perspectives, Ella and Kev. At first this was a little confusing not because of any transition but because of why. We start off with Ella as a child pre Kev and discover her power which is called The Thing. Instantly, I’m into it. When Kev comes around I am still into it because it comes at one of the turning points in American history.

But after the first five chapters, the book lost me and I couldn’t find the point/purpose of the story. Ella becomes a background and Kev is the focus for a while. Therefore, origins of her powers, any detailed information about her powers other than some things she can do isn’t mentioned at all. She becomes a shadow as well as her powers in 90% of the book and it was disappointing. There was no development of Ella and her powers and Kev wasn’t that like-able of a character. He became a product of environment even though he had a sister that literally could do anything. Again, disappointing.

The book focuses so much on environment that I could not find what was the point of the story? Was the point to show that even with super powers as a Black American your life will suck due to not only systematic racism but overall racism? But if that is the case, why not do anything with the super powers to show that?

The book had me lost. I was bored. There was no character development. Kev was a baby. Ella had no personality and was depressing and NEITHER of them tried to get to know their mother.

Overall, nah

1 Pickle

Book Review: Watching from the Dark by Gytha Lodge

Random House
TBP Feb 25th, 2020
352 Pages

Aidan Poole logs on to his laptop late at night to Skype his girlfriend, Zoe. To his horror, he realizes that there is someone else in her flat. Aidan can only listen to the sounds of a violent struggle taking place in the bathroom—and then the sound of silence. He is desperate to find out if Zoe is okay. But then why is he so hesitant to call the police?

When Aidan’s cryptic messages finally reach them, Detective Chief Inspector Jonah Sheens and his team take the case—and discover the body. They soon find that no one has a bad word to say about Zoe, a big hearted young artist at the center of a curious web of waifs and strays, each relying on her for support, each hiding dark secrets and buried resentments. Has one of her so-called “friends” been driven to murder? Or does Aidan have the biggest secret of them all?- Goodreads

Creepy. . . is probably the best word I can describe this book after I was finished, which was late in the evening.

It was a good read despite the creepy vibe I got from reading it. I think what made it creepy for me is the fact that it is told from alternate viewpoints including Zoe. Reading the last days of a woman you just saw murdered and reading it from her pov, was tough to read.

The pace of the novel was great. It is a classic who done it novel and there are so many options of who can do it. But here was my issue with this book, every single person (minus the detectives) were problematic, selfish and down right horrible to Zoe and she became who she was at the end by not only the killer’s action but those she held dear to her as well.

The author left a lot of openings for who could have done it and there were twists throughout the book. However, it was very clear that the author just didn’t know what to do with those characters and their development. After everything was said and done no one (but the killer) was held accountable for their any of their actions and it was disappointing to see.

This is what caused the book to go from a 5 to a 3.

Something I would like to note is that I did not read the first book and at no point did I feel I needed to. Detective Chief Inspector Jonah Sheens and his team were fantastic detectives and it would have been nice to see the author add more development on them. Their own personal lives were mentioned but nothing too deep, which is fine as the focus was the case. I feel that if you are going to talk about it make sure you back up what you say so there could be a reason why it was mentioned.

Would I say this book is predictable? Some. The author, as I mentioned, adds a lot of different paths where the ending can go but you aren’t exactly surprised at the end but what does surprises you is the how. Seriously, there are a few wow moments and all I could think about is “its not the destination, its the journey.”

Overall, very good read.

3 Pickles

Book Review: Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim

Disney Hyperion
Published Jan 7th 2020
327 Pages

When Amaya rescues a mysterious stranger from drowning, she fears her rash actions have earned her a longer sentence on the debtor ship where she’s been held captive for years. Instead, the man she saved offers her unimaginable riches and a new identity, setting Amaya on a perilous course through the coastal city-state of Moray, where old-world opulence and desperate gamblers collide.

Amaya wants one thing: revenge against the man who ruined her family and stole the life she once had. But the more entangled she becomes in this game of deception—and as her path intertwines with the son of the man she’s plotting to bring down—the more she uncovers about the truth of her past. And the more she realizes she must trust no one…- Goodreads

This book promises a lot. Adventure, thrills, romance, and suspense. However, this read did not deliver on any of those promises.

Amaya started off strong but the moment she got off the debtor ship, she became the most annoying, selfish, surprisingly entitled human being within this book and every time she spoke all I heard was a whinny brat that was getting a different chance at things but allowed her emotions to ruin everything. It was like she didn’t learn anything from being on a debtor ship and it was disappointing.

The other disappointing part of this novel was the adventure. It was for the most part non-existent. I am trying not to use the word boring to describe this book but in all honesty, I can’t avoid it. Nothing in this book kept me wanting to read the book. I finished it because I had the dnf guilt going on.

I would also like to point out that the romance was predictable at every step of the novel. The love interest lacked so much personality and was truly just as much of a brat as Amaya but with much more well intentions.

Overall, I couldn’t find anything I enjoyed about this book and that is unfortunate. This is not to say that you (the reader) may not find this book enjoyable but it was not in the least what I wanted and expected.

1 Pickle

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

book overview 2019: The Disappointments

Part two of the four part book overview of 2019. If you haven’t taken the chance the look at the first post, which I display my favorite books and honorable mentions of the 2019, check it out here.

In this post, I listed some of my disappointed read of 2019. Oddly enough there was a lot and that could be due to me following the hype because one of my personal goals was to read more newer releases to keep up with the trends and hot topics. This caused expectations to be through the roof, which sucked.

But here is my list. What did your year look like?

Book Review: The Phantom Forest by Liz Kerin

Inkshares
Published: July 16th 2019
300 Pages

Seycia’s father told her this story as a child — a story of the most holy place in the Underworld, The Forest of Laida, where all souls go to rest before embarking on a new life. But Seycia’s father is dead now, and his killer has put a target on her back.

After being chosen for her village’s human sacrifice ritual, Seycia is transported to the Underworld and must join forces with Haben, the demon to whom she was sacrificed, to protect the family she left behind from beyond the grave. In this story of love, survival, and what it means to be human, Seycia and Haben discover that the Underworld is riddled with secrets that can only be unlocked through complete trust and devotion, not only to their mission, but also to one another. – Goodreads

*sigh*

*sigh*

*LE SIGH*

I had high expectations of this book. I am thinking some of the creepiest sentences, settings and characters are going to come out of this book but instead I got a punk ass demon who doesn’t have a backbone and a main character who is completely full of herself, that when I hear her voice in my head, all I hear is a grown woman whining about how she is the chosen one and you are not.

But let’s start off about what I liked, which was the setting. Although not creepy at all, the imagery was very clear. It completely draws the reader in and is filled with promises of the worst evil to come. But that didn’t happen.

As the imagery is the only thing I fully enjoyed about this book, I have to stress that the author wanted these demons to be humans that have simply lost there way and forgot who they were and who they could have been. This took the creepy-ness way out of the book.

Seycia AND her brother are just uninteresting whinny and the most unfortunate batch of heroes that world has to offer. The book is told through both their point of views, so you get a little break within tone. However, while Seycia is the I am not going to think things fully through because I am the great one, her brother is the I am too scared to do anything on my own and need all the help I can get AND STILL and still whine about it. 

I loved the idea of there being a tree that allows people to come back to life and that I fully supported Seycia’s mission to protect her family. But you can’t talk about the Underworld and everyone is pretty much human. 

This book wasn’t for me. But going through Goodreads, I see it is for a lot of other reads. Would I recommend this? I honestly don’t think I would even knowing that there are some readers who would enjoy it.

1 Pickle

 

Book Overview 2019: The Favorites | Honorable Mentions

Tis the season for book bloggers to talk about their hit and misses for the year. I am that book blogger that will be doing that ^_^ This is going to be a few different posts highlighting

  • The Favorite Novels & Honorable Mentions
    • Rated 4 or 5 Pickles
  • The Favorite Graphic Novels, Manga & Web Comics
    • Rated 3 Pickles
  • The Disappointments
    • Rated 2 Pickles
  • The Bad
    • Rated 1 Pickle or no Pickle

The Favorites <3

 

Honorable Mentions

 

As this is the beginning of my year in review series, I want to point out that I read more books written by Black men and women as well as other POC than I have any other year in my lief. A lot of that is due to the amazing Black women bloggers I began following, who exposed me to different types of books. As Black authors and other POC do not receive the same marketing as White authors it is very easy to miss books especially when you don’t even think about it.

I have been extremely blessed to connect with amazing people and I look forward to all that we can do together.

Stay tune for the continuation of this series!

Making and breaking your favorite reads since 2017