Tag Archives: Contemporary

Book Review: The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert

Disney-Hyperion
TBP July 7th 2020
304 Pages

Marva Sheridan was born ready for this day. She’s always been driven to make a difference in the world, and what better way than to vote in her first election?
Duke Crenshaw is do done with this election. He just wants to get voting over with so he can prepare for his band’s first paying gig tonight.
Only problem? Duke can’t vote.

When Marva sees Duke turned away from their polling place, she takes it upon herself to make sure his vote is counted. She hasn’t spent months doorbelling and registering voters just to see someone denied their right. And that’s how their whirlwind day begins, rushing from precinct to precinct, cutting school, waiting in endless lines, turned away time and again, trying to do one simple thing: vote.

They may have started out as strangers, but as Duke and Marva team up to beat a rigged system (and find Marva’s missing cat), it’s clear that there’s more to their connection than a shared mission for democracy.- Goodreads

TW: Death of a Sibling 

If there wasn’t a more timely book currently out there right now, I don’t know where it is. This book is important. It focuses on the importance of voting BUT it also focuses on the importance of who you surround yourself with, race, trauma, stereotypes and community.

This is the first book I’ve read by Colbert  and I was pleased with it. It packed a bigger punch the summary makes it seem and I was expecting the different issues that written. I guess I should have assumed given the fact that this is a political novel (so to speak).

The romance was so far behind that I don’t actually consider it a romance. Duke and Marva have a mutual interest but I am not sure its chemistry. The fact that voting brings them together is fantastic and I love it. But if it wasn’t for the fact that Marva’s boyfriend was selfish and exhibited allyship fatigue (-_-) she would have paid Duke no attention.  However, I liked the fact that there was willingness to try because not everything has to be insta love and things can take time to grow.

The pace of the novel was great. The entire book was detailed without feeling like a run own. And going back to its timeliness. . . this book is important and not just because it stresses the importance of voting but also what someone can do for their community outside of them voting.  It was touching and thought-provoking.  It makes you think.

Overall, I liked this book and would recommend it.

3 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: Hearts on Hold by Charish Reid

Carina Press
Published Feb 3rd, 2020

Professor Victoria Reese knows an uphill battle when she sees one. Convincing her narrow-minded colleagues at the elite Pembroke University to back a partnership with the local library is a fight she saw coming and already has a plan for. What she didn’t see coming? The wildly hot librarian who makes it clear books aren’t the only thing he’d like to handle.

When a tightly wound, sexy-as-hell professor proposes a partnership between his library and her university, children’s department head John Donovan is all for it. He knows his tattoos and easygoing attitude aren’t quite what she expected, but the unmistakable heat between them is difficult to resist.

And then there’s the intriguing late fee on her record. For the Duke’s Convenience… A late fee and a sexy romance novel? There’s more to Dr. Reese than she’s letting on.

John might like to tease her about her late fee, but when he teases her in other ways, Victoria is helpless to resist. Mixing business with pleasure—and oh, it is pleasure—always comes with risks, but maybe a little casual fun between the sheets is just what Victoria needs.- Goodreads

I don’ know how else to describe this book other than one of the sweetest romances I have read thus far. It was adorable from beginning to end. I love the way it builds. I love the fact that John knew what he wanted but at the same time was comfortable enough to let Victoria come to the point he was at. She was frustrating to read. It was like talking with the smartest dumb person in the room. Not only does she need therapy but she also needs to learning how to relax (which thankfully she does a bit in this book).

But I liked Victoria because I was able to relate to her and her mask in the workplace. For some people they don’t use it/need it but others such as myself cannot be the same person inside of the office as they are outside. It was refreshing to see that I am not alone in this (I know I’m not but it was nice to read).

The author touches about the topic I mentioned above as well as ADHD, being a teenager and being Black. I would have liked to see more times when Victoria was herself. I felt that she was herself around John but she wasn’t her complete self. When she was with her friends their interactions are we comfortable. What I mean to say is  she interacted with other Black females in what appeared to be her real self. Do not get me wrong. Friends are going to see a different side of you than your lover is and that is fine. But it felt like she was wearing a mask with John even at the end.

There was something missing to connect her and John but I am not exactly sure if I can word it right.

But other than that, the author must have known that I have a thing for Vikings because John was *insert chef’s kiss*

Overall,

I liked this book a lot.

4 Pickles

Book Review: When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk

Delacorte Press
March 10th, 2020
400 Pages

It’s been twenty-seven days since Cleo and Layla’s friendship imploded.

Nearly a month since Cleo realized they’ll never be besties again.

Now, Cleo wants to erase every memory, good or bad, that tethers her to her ex–best friend. But pretending Layla doesn’t exist isn’t as easy as Cleo hoped, especially after she’s assigned to be Layla’s tutor. Despite budding new friendships with other classmates—and a raging crush on a gorgeous boy named Dom—Cleo’s turbulent past with Layla comes back to haunt them both.

Alternating between time lines of Then and Now, When You Were Everything blends past and present into an emotional story about the beauty of self-forgiveness, the promise of new beginnings, and the courage it takes to remain open to love.- Goodreads

This book was written fantastically. However, HOWEVER, it needs to be known that Cleo is not exactly the victim. Here is why.

She is a terrible friend. Layla meet new people (who weren’t that great but that is not the point) because Cleo left her alone at a party. When Layla begins connecting with these people Cleo gets extremely jealous and begins saying hurtful things to Layla, privately and publicly. She expected Layla to see that she was jealous despite these horrible things and act like nothing happen.

It didn’t work that way and through out the entire novel, Cleo repeatedly makes it seem as if it is Layla’s fault for wanting new friends. Cleo is selfish from the beginning to the novel to the end. The people that she surrounds herself with only encourage that mindset.

It is extremely possible that their friendship would have just faded out on good terms or Layla would have seen what type of friends her new friends were and just stayed isolated with Cleo but Cleo screwed up on multiple times and tried to ruin peoples’ lives.

This is not to say that Layla was the perfect angel. She didn’t give her friendship with Cleo the time it deserved and although she tried to include Cleo in her new friendship, Layla didn’t take Cleo’s word when she noticed certain things and that could be since she knew Cleo didn’t like her being with new people. Did Layla do something messed up? Yeah (ish) She did something out of her character, but I do not feel that it was THAT messed up.

As much as I hated the fact that this book glorified a selfish, entitled, vindictive girl and made her seem as if this break up was not her fault, I loved the fact that it pulled emotions from me and kept me reading. It took some time for the book to get going but once it did, it was great.

I would have loved or love to see Layla’s viewpoint. But then again, I don’t see that happening specifically if this book is based on some truth.

Overall,

4 Pickles

Book Review: Salty, Bitter, Sweet by Mayra Cuevas

Blink
TBP March 3rd, 2020
320 Pages

Seventeen-year-old aspiring chef Isabella Fields’ family life has fallen apart after the death of her Cuban abuela and the divorce of her parents. She moves in with her dad and his new wife in France, where Isabella feels like an outsider in her father’s new life, studiously avoiding the awkward, “Why did you cheat on Mom?” conversation.

The upside of Isabella’s world being turned upside down? Her father’s house is located only 30 minutes away from the restaurant of world-famous Chef Pascal Grattard, who runs a prestigious and competitive international kitchen apprenticeship. The prize job at Chef Grattard’s renowned restaurant also represents a transformative opportunity for Isabella, who is desperate to get her life back in order.

But how can Isabella expect to hold it together when she’s at the bottom of her class at the apprenticeship, her new stepmom is pregnant, she misses her abuela dearly, and a mysterious new guy and his albino dog fall into her life?- Goodreads

Trigger Warning: Death, Adultery, Mourning, Drugs (ish)

Despite the trigger warnings this book wasn’t that deep and I would peg it as adorable and touching read.

I loved the cooking within this novel and the author really should have included a chapter or a page with all the recipes that were highlighted within the novel. Cooking is very important to me. Its one of those things that take so much energy out of you but in a good way. A lot of love and heart goes into cooking if you do it right and the author, Cuevas, doesn’t just use that as a foundation but it is what the entire novel focuses on. I was soaking it up.

Isabella for the most part has a one track mind and for most of the book only sees one road to her dream. There is huge character development for as sometimes our dreams take different turns and for Isabella that take some huge turns. What I love about that point in the book is she isn’t doing it because of a boy. Is there romance in this novel? Yes. Does some things happen? Yes but it is a series of events, conversations about her career that she has with other people that brings things to light. I was so happy that the boy (although amazing) was not the reason for how things play out.

The pace of the novel was slow. It moved slow and at some points you just wonder why Isabella makes things so difficult for herself sometimes. There could have been more things fleshed out within the novel such as more details about her mother and her mother’s mother. I also wanted to see more of a relationship with her father. These were the areas that could have been developed and again . . . I really wanted to see those recipes.

Overall, this was a good novel. It was inspiring.

3 Pickles

Book Review: Harley in the Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Ink Road
TBP March 10th, 2020
384 Pages

Harley Milano has dreamed of being a trapeze artist for as long as she can remember. With parents who run a famous circus in Las Vegas, she spends almost every night in the big top watching their lead aerialist perform, wishing with all her soul that she could be up there herself one day.

After a huge fight with her parents, who continue to insist she go to school instead, Harley leaves home, betrays her family and joins the rival traveling circus Maison du Mystère. There, she is thrust into a world that is both brutal and beautiful, where she learns the value of hard work, passion and collaboration. But at the same time, Harley must come to terms with the truth of her family and her past—and reckon with the sacrifices she made and the people she hurt in order to follow her dreams.- Goodreads

I loved this book but Harley needed her ass kicked. Let me explain, her feelings were valid. What she did was completely wrong, she was spoiled and self-centered. There is no way around it and there was character development but then there wasn’t. Acknowledging what you did wrong and still getting what you want without an actual consequences doesn’t work in my eyes. Because what did she actually learn?

Harley was a great character to read. I loved her drive. In regards to the circus she knew what she was talking about and what she was doing. Everything else she didn’t know what she was doing.

What I loved most was the circus. I am not a circus person and this is the first book I have read surrounding the circus that made me see the magic (and the shade). What Harley feels when performing, when watching performances was really inspiring to read and it was the most beautiful part of the book.

There is romance within this novel and I liked it. The romantic interest had depth and he was cute and his story. . . made sense and worked with everything happening in the book and he worked with Harley. That was the most important part. He worked with Harley and not against her.

The pace of the novel was great. But the author touches upon mental health issues but doesn’t dip into it. I am not exactly sure about why but it would have been good to see some form of insight. Towards the end of the novel there were some things that happened that would have been great to have more insight on. The author was a bit too vague when it came to what I believe is mental health issues.

And more on a personal note, there is another relationship that Harley has within this novel and how it goes down really bothered me on a personal level. I shall leave it at that because that is the best I can do without spoilers lol.

Overall, love this book and would recommend it.

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: 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: 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: Frying Plantain by Zalika Reid-Benta

Astoria
TBP June 4th 2019
272 Pages

Kara Davis is a girl caught in the middle — of her Canadian nationality and her desire to be a “true” Jamaican, of her mother and grandmother’s rages and life lessons, of having to avoid being thought of as too “faas” or too “quiet” or too “bold” or too “soft.” Set in “Little Jamaica,” Toronto’s Eglinton West neighbourhood,

Kara moves from girlhood to the threshold of adulthood, from elementary school to high school graduation, in these twelve interconnected stories. We see her on a visit to Jamaica, startled by the sight of a severed pig’s head in her great aunt’s freezer; in junior high, the victim of a devastating prank by her closest friends; and as a teenager in and out of her grandmother’s house, trying to cope with the ongoing battles between her unyielding grandparents.- Goodreads

There are books that have a very clear audience and then there are books that do not. This book has a clear audience and I was not the intended audience.

Frying Plantains is a well written, detailed book that is narrated by Kara. I don’t say that the book is about her because it is and then it isn’t. The book focuses on her, her mother and then her grandmother. What ties these stories together is Kara and her growing up but it doesn’t exactly give you a focus on the main picture or point of the novel.

What I mean is Kara’s mother doesn’t have the best relationship with not only Kara but with her mother. You can see from the point of contact that Kara’s mother is trying to make it being a single mother but cannot get past her attitude and in general the chip on her shoulder. This affects her relationship with Kara because she is extremely hard on her.

You can see where she gets this from when you met Kara’s grandmother. However, she isn’t as hard as you think and that is more than likely due to her losing steam. But I slightly digress with my point.

This book gives you a look into the life of a young Canadian/Jamaican girl, who initially you believe is trying to balance being “true” Jamaican. This is the point you start off with but it is quickly lost as Kara gets older. You begin to wonder what is the point of the book? Is it meant to just show a life of a young Canadian/Jamaican girl, is it suppose to show the dynamics of family in the United States or is it just to show you that what you think you know, you really don’t?

When I mentioned earlier that this book was intended for a specific audience, nothing in me believes its audience is for Black women but for other women who may not have had to deal with specific expectations from their family, dealing with the past mistakes of the women in their family and having to grow on your own in all of that.

The fact that Kara is Jamaican plays a background part into this story. It pushes the story to remind you the struggles of an immigrant parent and how they raise their child(children).

Its a good solid story. A good book to read in between books. Its colorful, detailed without being boring and I can see, without a doubt, this book winning some awards.

Overall,

I recommend reading this book because it provides a different outlook that most people do not even consider or see.

3 Pickles