Tag Archives: mythology

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 Tour: The Jumbie God’s Revenge by Tracey Baptiste

Algonquin Young Readers
TBP: Sept. 3rd, 2019
272 Pages

When an out-of-season hurricane sweeps through Corinne’s seaside village, Corinne knows it’s not a typical storm. At first Corinne believes Mama D’Leau—the powerful and cruel jumbie who rules the ocean—has caused the hurricane. Then a second, even more ferocious storm wrecks the island, sending villagers fleeing their houses for shelter in the mountains, and Corinne discovers the storms weren’t caused by a jumbie, but by the angry god Huracan.

Now Corinne, with the help of her friends and even some of her enemies, must race against time to find out what has angered Huracan and try to fix it before her island home is destroyed forever.- Goodreads

Shout out to Algonquin Young Readers for allowing me to be part of this book tour. I have been itching for this book and hoping I can be apart of the marketing/promotion for this. So actually being selected means a whole lot to me.

Corinne is still Corinne but much more paranoid. Well paranoid isn’t the word. She is much more worrisome than she previously was and she has every right to be. She is half Jumbie and she has been fighting for not only her family but the island she lives on for a while now. She knows something is coming but not exactly sure what and how.

When things do come, Corinne doesn’t exactly ask the right questions. She is for the most part a bit full of herself, so within this book she gets knocked down a few pegs and becomes humble. WHICH I am so glad for because she really needed it. Like the two previous books, this one contains a lot of themes about family, the different types of family, acceptance and sacrifice. Sacrifice is the biggest theme within this novel because a lot of it happens.

But what I really enjoyed about book three was how Corrine was not the focus. Yes, she is the main character, however, this story isn’t just about her and how she (with the help of her friends) save the world. She isn’t the only point of view and she isn’t the only one that has a hand in why the world is the way that it is.

I loved and I cannot stress this enough I loved the fact that the author brought everything from book one and two together in book three. It is the perfect set up to either an epic final or a spin off.

My only concern about this book and possibly the next one is what else is there? Book three, although was good, felt stretched. It wasn’t as detailed as the previous books and without giving it away there is a scene that happens in the book that I am still scratching my head on. I do not understand why the author did this thing and just left it there. This is one of the points where I felt the book was being stretched.

Also book three is not as creepy, insight full or the lack of better term, shocking as the previous books.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The pace was great, loved seeing the gang come together and grow and loved seeing the community and their bond as well as respect grow.

If you haven’t already read the first two books, you should do that. Despite the fact that this book is for middle school reads, adults readers, both mythology and fantasy lovers will love the heck of it.

For those that have read the first two books, take a look below for a sneak peak into book three.

Jumbie God’s Revenge Chapter 1

Overall,

4 Pickles

Book Review: Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Del Rey
Published July 23rd, 2019
352 Pages

The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.

Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld. -Goodreads

Talk about rich in history! I fell in love with this book. As I am currently writing this review, I am struggling with what exactly how I want to say things. So let’s start with the history and the world building.

The Jazz age is mentioned within this book but it is not the focal point within the setting. Mexican history, its Gods, its moral compass, ethics and food are the focal point of the setting. Moreno-Garcia brings you into this world that is vibrant and even the dull environments have some sort of shine that you are just excited to see. The image of the world that Casiopea walks through is extremely clear and it is written in a way that is detailed without you feeling overwhelmed. I loved the fact the author added the moral compass of the time. Because it makes a huge difference to decisions made, the world and to Casiopea herself. This was very important part of the story and I am glad the author kept true to that time period by adding this. 

Speaking of Casiopea, I didn’t really care for her. She wasn’t a bad character. She was experiencing a form of freedom she has never had before and I liked the fact that she was taking it and taking as much of it as she could. How Casiopea was written is an important part of the story and there is nothing I would want to change about her but I don’t feel as if she was the point of the story. Let me explain. Yes she is the protagonist, she keeps the story moving and moving pretty well but my focus wasn’t necessarily on her. It was on everyone surrounding her. 

For instance, the Mayan god of death was a very interesting character. I wanted more of his view and more of his mission. Things weren’t easy for him or Casiopea but there could have been a more thrilling and more dramatic aspect to their mission. I really liked what the author did between Casiopea and the Mayan god of death. It is different from your typical novels that include a form of romance and really liked this moved. It felt genuine . .  it felt real because it was built and cherished.  

I loved the ending. It wasn’t what I was expecting but man it was perfect. It was one of those I never knew I needed it until it was there. . .  yeah that is exactly what it was.

Overall, fantastic plot, fantastic writing, easy to get into, easy to to see, feel and fall in love. The pace of the novel was good. The down time the book did have was filled with the history that I was craving. Super happy this is not a series and a standalone.

4 Pickles

Book Review: Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal

Tor Teen
TBP: : June 4th 2019
304 Pages

If Lupe Dávila and Javier Utierre can survive each other’s company, together they can solve a series of grisly murders sweeping though Puerto Rico. But the clues lead them out of the real world and into the realm of myths and legends.

And if they want to catch the killer, they’ll have to step into the shadows to see what’s lurking there—murderer, or monster?- Goodreads

*cracks knuckles* Let’s jump right into this.

Lupe Dávila was a trash character that had no respect for anyone and put her needs and her feminist ideas above everyone including those that she loved.

Lupe is Puerto Rican and white. She looks more white than Puerto Rican, which is why everyone on the island views her as white. But my issue with her is very simple. Every single person that either calls her gringa or makes a general statement about white people, she screams at them. Just let’s completely loose on them.

She doesn’t have any respect, especially for elders or any adult figure. She spent most of this book complaining about how she is feminist can do things by herself (although Javier saved her life and she didn’t even say thank you) and complaining about how she is Puerto Rican.

My issue on the last part is that it came off that she identifies herself as Puerto Rican because her mother left her and her father. Lupe wanting to be part of this world did not come off as if she wanted to identify a part of heritage but that she was doing it because it was all she had.

Lupe was prideful, extremely prideful and I did not like anything about her. Javier, on the other hand was a way better character to read.

I actually wish Cardinal (the author) would have dug deeper into Javier. Not only was he likeable, his struggle was real and powerful. But not only would have I wanted more Javier, I would have wanted more about Puerto Rico and the environment Cardinal set up.

And oddly enough, the way that she tied the horror/mythology into this book was perfect. Everything was answered, everything made sense and it creeped me out. There are things that are passed down generation to generation and they vary by culture, but what makes this book different in how Cardinal presents this folklore and how she makes it present in the modern world. I loved the creativity of this.

It took a while for the book to keep my interest. Lupe was a huge factor as to why it took a little less than halfway through the book for me to be at the edge of my seat. But once the ball was really rolling, I had to finish it.

I would like to note that this is a sad read as much as it is a horror read. Cardinal adds a lot to this book that if you are not really reading you won’t even see what she is trying to do. And what she is trying to do is tell two different stories. The one about the five and the other about Puerto Rico.

I recommend this read. It is told through different point of views, which adds another layer to the novel. i enjoyed reading this and want to read more from this author.

Overall,

3 Pickles

The List© Fantasy Edition

POC protagonist are on a rise but it isn’t exactly in the most original way. Almost all best selling books by a POC involves timeliness and a struggle within the Black community or Latin, Indian or Asian community. This is not to say that the books that are getting attention are not amazing and need (looking at THUG (tbr) ) because they are. It just takes the light off other stories that are important to tell.

Like Caribbean mythologies or Black girls or Black boys becoming Queens or Kings and fighting for peace or fighting Fairies; stories such as those. So I wanted to create a series of lists that focuses on books written by Black (African American) authors.

This particular post will focus on fantasy. I also would like to add that this is not to belittle other POC but for all intent purposes this is to highlight Black Authors. From my stand point, Black author who write fantasy do not get a lot of attention. Yes, you can mention Tomi Adeyemi because she is killing it right now but she isn’t the only one.

I hope you all enjoy and if you want to add a book to this list or dispute a book shown on here, feel free to send a tweet @motifink or send me an email @ wordpress174@gmail.com :)

 

 

Graphic Novel Review: Wolf, Vol. 1: Blood and Magic (Wolf #1) by Ales Kot, Lee Loughridge (Colourist), Matt Taylor (Illustrator)

Image Comics
Published Nov. 11, 2015
144 Pages

Los Angeles, California: Antoine Wolfe, a hard-boiled paranormal detective with a death wish, has to cope with sudden responsibility for an orphaned teenage girl who might be the key to the impending apocalypse. The road to hell & back begins.

Enter the World where myths & reality meet. . .- Goodreads

Lately I have been coming across and issue with graphic novels written by white writers that have African American leads. I love the diversity but the issue is the first comic books lack a decent story. It is as if the author doesn’t know how to tell the story and therefore write a weak one, either testing to see if the public will like it or just not exactly sure how to tell the story.

Wolf is an interesting story; where myth meets reality. I love the concept and for the most part this particular volume isn’t a bad start to what can be an amazing story.

Wolf, himself, is a bit dull. There really isn’t much to him but at the same time, I am curious to know him because you know nothing about him other than his “ability.” There isn’t enough information or personality for me to like him but there is enough to make me curious and because of that I will read the second volume.

The story, overall, feels incomplete. Yes, I am aware that this is a series but even in the first volume you should feel some kind of satisfaction, something that makes you feel this isn’t a story that is being made up as you go along (no offense). It didn’t feel like a complete thought and the author was trying too hard to make it relevant, “hip” for teens or whoever.

Artwork was good; exactly what should be expected in a graphic novel. Overall, I do plan on reading volume two but hopefully it is better than volume 1.

 

2 Pickles

Book Review: The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

Algonquin Young Readers Published April 25, 2015 240 Pages
Algonquin Young Readers
Published April 25, 2015
240 Pages

Corinne La Mer doesn’t fear anything; not even Jumbies in the forbidden woods. Jumbies are simply made up stories that parents use to keep their children out the woods, but Corinne knows better. 

But when Corinne notices yellow eyes staring at her at the edge of the woods. She begins to doubt her fearlessness. And when a beautiful stranger shows up at the marketplace and then her home with her father, Corinne knows that danger is near. 

Using her courage, the help of her friends and a ancient magic, she had no idea she possessed, Corinne must save her home and everyone in it. 

I really have a hard time finding good fantasy books for children (maybe YA) written by African-Americans. So, I jumped on this one purely based on the author and I wasn’t disappointed. This book was written extremely well that I would even recommend it for YA readers.

Firstly, characters. You knew from beginning and end that these were children. However, you didn’t feel the immaturity, even when the kids were acting a fool with each other. Corinne and her friends had a sense of wisdom about them that I didn’t feel was out of place. It fit them. They were kids but not reckless children trying to prove a point.

I loved how the author seamlessly tied mythology into the story without feeling like a history lesson. It was part of the culture, part of everyone’s lives and I loved how relevant it was in the beginning and end of the story. Also the author added something in there regarding history and I liked it. I was very surprised but thought it was perfect.

I enjoyed the pace of novel. However, at a certain point, the constant movement hit a plateau and I was stuck wondering if this was going to be end of my enjoyable ride. But it wasn’t. The pace began to build after this point and it did well til its descent at the end. Speaking of the end, it was great but it was a hard reality to swallow. I liked how the author did not shy away from the outcome because it is true. In real life and in every fantasy story, where the hero proves to be different it happens.

Would I consider this story horror? No, there is nothing exactly scary about it (even from a kids perspective) but it is deeper than just a fantasy story. You see how much a myth or a fable affects communities/cultures no matter what the generation is.

Overall,

4 Pickles

Book Review: Nightborn (Thrones & Bones #2) by Lou Anders

Crown Books for Young Readers Published July 14, 2015 353 Pages
Crown Books for Young Readers
Published July 14, 2015
353 Pages

Karn Korlundsson has settled down since his adventures with Thianna. Life as a farmer and avid game player doesn’t require life threatening decisions. But when Thianna goes missing, Karn makes it his mission to find her.

Even if it means traveling to a distance city, deciphering the riddle of the horn and fighting elves.

If you have not read book one, here is my review.

Jumping right in, I enjoyed this book but compared to the first one, I didn’t feel the drive or intensity within the story. This book came across very laid back, even when fighting was happening. It didn’t feel like the end of the world. Where as in the first book, I was emotionally invested.

Also in the first book, it was more centered around both character equally but this book was all Karn and I don’t know if I like him. He came over cocky and a know it all. Even when he had his moments of doubt, he was just a bit demanding of things. He came off as a tool and it was completely different from who he was in the first book. Thianna didn’t change much and I was alright with that because she had a lot of growth in the first book.

I loved the fact that the author kept their relationship strictly platonic. It would really ruin the book if it turned into romance. They are good friends, best friends and that is the way it should stay.

Although I felt the story was laid bad, the pace was smooth. I didn’t feel as if the author was adding a bunch of fluff. Everything in the book fit. I loved how the book ended and how it leads to a book three. It was great. It didn’t feel short or out of place. The author knew what he was doing with the ending and I respect that.

I recommend this series for kids getting into fantasy and for adults wanting a break from the romance in YA. Overall,

3 Pickles