Tag Archives: african american author

Book Review: A Real Kind of Love by Bella Jay

Self Published
Published Feb 11th 2019
143 Pages

Avelyn Russell didn’t do love. Never did, never wanted to and as far as she was concerned, never would. She lives her life proud to hold the title as the ‘break up queen’ and for never letting love get her caught up in being an advocate of false hope fairytales. But her extreme methods to avoid love are put to the test by the one person able to tap into her cold little heart and Avelyn has no clue how to handle it.

Dasiah Stokes – charming, handsome, and not afraid of love. The complete opposite of Avelyn and the moment he reveals his true feelings for her, she bolts leaving him to fight for their love. He’s willing to do just that – until he’s not, leaving them both to figure out if it is or isn’t the end of their love story. – Goodreads

*rolls up sleeves* Let’s jump into this.

The beginning took my breath away and that is because I thought the author was going in a direction I wasn’t up for. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case but it was a huge visual and a metaphorical foreshadow for what was coming. What I mean by this is do you know when people talk about anxiety attacks and they describe it was drowning because they is how they visualize it? Yeah, that is what kinda happens with that opening.

Moving forward, I hated Avelyn. She didn’t know what she wanted and she was okay ruining someone else’s happiness, life or moments because she was an ass. Yes, she has some issues . . . some deep deep underlying issues but man if Avelyn was a man, there would be pitch forks and mobs trying to kill her off. Also Avelyn was just mean to anyone that came her way when she wasn’t in the mood. Not a good look at all. It makes you wonder what Dasiah sees in her.

Despite my strong dislike for Avelyn, I enjoyed the book. I liked how it flowed with a purpose. Avelyn wasn’t written where she would be accepted for who she was. There was a growth and it was realistic growth. This was something I appreciated. Do I wish there was more details in regards to the methods she used to become a better person? Yes; I feel that they were a bit glanced over.

The romance itself was alright. I didn’t feel a spark for Avelyn and Dasiah but it was good to look at ;) I wished that I was able to read his point of view but I also wish that we didn’t jump into the middle of their relationship. It would have been nice to see that heat grow.

Overall, its a solid first novel in the series. It was a quick read that could have been a bit longer if certain things took its time.

3 Pickles 

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: Hidden by Brandi Janai

Self-Published
May 26th 2018

CAN A SELF-HELP AUTHOR HELP HERSELF?
An authority figure, Mrs. Dinah Bradley is a tell-it-like-it-is therapist turned self-help author. Her provocative book teaches women how to rediscover the love within. But what lies within Dinah are nightmares and faulty memories.

Dinah chooses to focus on her promising career instead of listening to the little voice telling her something is wrong. Triggered by secret recordings and a stalker threatening to expose her, she is forced to confront the past.

Afraid of the unknown and afraid of the truth, Dinah must choose between who she was and who she wants to be.- Goodreads

*slight spoilers*

Dinah is a hard character to like and it isn’t because she tries to make herself to be as perfect as possible. Well maybe, kind of. Due to the fact that she is so sent on being perfect, she has zero personality. Everything is her book and how basic she needs to be as a wife i.e. simply fill a role but there is just a obsession to be normal and that is all there is to her.

Even when we discover, what is really behind her reasoning for trying to be normal and perfect, she has no depth. Because the book, was solely focused on her, I was genuinely bored and almost at the do not finish level. However, I kept reading and glad that I did.

The book picks up or at least for me at a family dinner and you can begin seeing the strings unravel and the truth come out. At this point, I was very interested in the book because I didn’t actually see what her issue was. The author stretched the book a great deal that you literally cannot see it coming. You have an idea but what actually happened is just a whoa moment.

What I liked about the book was the hypocrisy the author was living. And it made me think that or reminded me of the people in real life that try to do so much to show they have a perfect life. Granted, surprisinginly enough, the use of social media isn’t used to show this in the novel. I was cool with this. It added light to a type of lifestyle people think is the best route but isn’t necessarily the case.

Beyond this, I felt that the book was good but it took too long for me become invested into it. Also the ending was forced and Dinah still had zero personality and depth.

2.5. Pickles

Book Review: Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope

St. Martin’s Press
TBP May 1, 2018
384 Pages

Orphaned and alone, Jasminda lives in a land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind. Jasminda herself is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive–an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart. 

Jack’s mission behind enemy lines to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagamiri is about to fall nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. Now he must do whatever it takes to save Elsira and it’s people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda’s Earthsong to do it. They escape their ruthless captors and together they embark on a perilous journey to save Elsira and to uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps. 

Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation. 

The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.- Goodreads

Firstly, the overall story is told very well. It isn’t as complicated as you would think; it is straight forward to a certain extent. But it wasn’t fast pace; you don’t feel as if the story is rushed.

Jasminda is hard to like and that is because she is a weak individual and that doesn’t really change. I don’t believe the decisions she made was because of a newfound strength but it was really due to having no real alternative. I wanted to like her. I really did but she made excuses and didn’t try.

I liked Jack more than Jasminda but he was losing focus a lot throughout the book. Compared to Jasminda, he had more substance, strength and heart.

There were two issues with this book. For one, it is heavy on the romance. I have no issue with this other than it takes away from the magic, the fantasy of the novel. I like Jack and Jasminda together but there isn’t enough history. Do not get me wrong what you need to know is there but there are holes in the story regarding Jasminda past. It is slightly touched upon but if the author added more of her past then there would have been a better balance and the questions I had after finishing the book would have been more of what next and I think someone knows something.

Secondly, Jasminda didn’t work to become better. She accepted the fact that her Earthsong was weak and did nothing to change it. But the worst part of that is everyone around her accepted that. I was disappointed in that. Did she use her Earthsong to the best of her ability to do some good? Yes, she did but was things pretty much handed to her with no real explanation? Yes.

These are two huge concerns with the book, however, I stayed up until 2:30 in the morning to finish this book. I couldn’t put it down. You get sucked into the conflict between those who have the Earthsong and those who do not. You want more and you keep reading because there is a promise of more. Does the author deliver? Yes and no. There are whole within the plot but there is a promise in book two that there will be more.

I loved the romance, loved the world this story takes place in but I wanted more details, history and fight in this book. However, I was impressed and even when writing this review, I smile with how much I love this story and cannot wait for book two.

This series with some work is going to be amazing.

4 Pickles

 

Book Review: Imitatore by A. Rose

Self-published
January 11, 2018

In Sophie’s world, those born with one power are superior, those born with none are inferior, and she is the one destined to save them all. Sophie’s ability to have multiple powers makes her an anomaly, at the age of 23 she has six powers and has yet to master each one. At the order of her father, the Governor, those powers are kept secret in order to protect her from those who may want to exploit them. So when she meets Oliver, the Imitatore who possesses the gift of using her powers, her once peaceful world is shattered.

Suddenly, Sophie is forced to face who she is, who she is destined to be, and learn who she is no longer able to trust. Oliver and Sophie are targets for The Society, a group of supernatural beings bent on destroying her world by eradicating humans and crowning a new queen. She must stop the evil group before they kill the Imitatore and force her to be the Queen of their new world.-Goodreads

This book had a lot of good things in it and it is definitely worth the read. Firstly, I was drawn to this book due to a African American woman having powers and goes through the process of trying to master them. You don’t really see it often and I was pleased with it.

But despite this, I had some issues with the book. Sophie . . . for a lack of better term is rude and you really don’t connect with her. What I mean is I can’t say I know her. I know what she has done and what she is capable of but who she is . . . isn’t really defined and there is nothing there that makes me like her.

The book fell short in talking about her past. Yes, she is born different but it would have been a great foundation to know how she started to be in the position that she is in. The author takes too long to talk about the past and as opposed to things leading up to this new information it is just thrown in an argument or fight.

Not a lot of stuff happens and there is a lot of back forth of practicing and then going to her room. This slowed the book down a lot. But what really bothered me was there was a lot of lazy writing. Her father who was supposed to be a strong man cried more times than the word strong was used. The surprises, although surprises, were thrown in as if they were a second thought and in all my reading years, I have never seen an enemy cave and let things go, as fast as the one in this book.

I wish there was more care in the setting and I wish that some of the surrounding characters were not clingy and had a backbone of their own. Sophie needed support and it wasn’t there.

I know that I have listed some strong issues with this read but the potential here is amazing. The author tells about the magic is a great foundation. The diversity within the characters are good and the ending was a good send off to a book two was written well.

I liked the book but it isn’t as strong as it could have been. Also 20 points for not adding a love triangle.

2.5 Pickles

Short Story Book Review: A Trinity of Wicked Tales Volume One- Jilted Love by Kyla Ross

Self Published
Jan. 29th 2017
94 Pages

In this collection of dark tales lives will be savagely twisted, inner demons will be reawakened and deception will reign supreme. A quest for a fix turns bloody for two heroin addicts as their vicious endeavors land them into a gruesome pitfall. A marketing executive and car salesmen are deceived by the ones they love. Armed with rage, they set out to slaughter those responsible. -Goodreads

I don’t know exactly what I was expecting with this collection. It was a suggested read from Amazon, while I was on vacation. I am really glad I read this book.

It literally gives you a taste of what the author can do. Seriously… all you get is a taste because each of the stories take care to not dip too much into a specific character or the overall plot.

The first story called Junk for Two was a great start to the book. Ross leaves no hints to where the story is going and I am completely for that. It provided enough of a backstory and details regarding the main character, Trev, that I didn’t feel as if something was missing. As I was reading this short story, I had a sense of satisfaction, which is my biggest issue in short stories.

Story 2, Iris, was extremely quick and came off more as a shock factor then a story that can grown to become a full novel or even novella. With work it can become something bigger but in its current state, it doesn’t leave much to be desired. But it does get credit for showing off writing skills. Ross can build a story, so it is easy to get sucked in.

My favorite story, which happens to be the last is story 3, Phil. Sticking with the obsessive theme, Phil provides a much more detailed and intense story-line than the previous stories. This story can become not just a single novel but a series if written correctly. What I loved about it was how easy it was to see the events happening. I don’t mean predictability even though it is there slightly. What I mean is the flow was so easy and seamless that getting sucked into the story and wanting more was inevitable. If the first two stories does not show you the skill, Ross has then this one does.

Overall, I enjoyed this quick read. I would recommend it as a introduction to Kyla Ross.

3 Pickles

Short Story Review: Hello, Moto by Nnedi Okorafor

Tor Books Published Nov. 2nd, 2011 32 Pages
Tor Books
Published Nov. 2nd, 2011
32 Pages

There is witchcraft in science and a science to witchcraft. Both will conspire against you eventually.- Goodreads

*Short Review*

The summary doesn’t really give away anything. So I really took a chance on this read. Also I will say this time and time again, me and short stories do not get along. It is rare that I enjoy a short story or a short story collection…. This is one of those rare times.

As short as this was, I enjoyed it. I was captivated mainly because I wanted to know more. I wanted a backstory to the witches and I wanted more details to why things were turning out the way they were.  The story doesn’t really lead up to anything. You are right there at the beginning of a battle scene.

My biggest with this is the fact that it is a short story. The ending stops mid scene, which pissed me off because it is like how can you do that? Right when everything was happening :(

Overall, for what it was I enjoyed this but wish it was leading to a larger story.

3.5 Pickles