Tag Archives: NetGalley Review

New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color by Nisi Shawl & Rebecca Roanhorse (Contributor)

Solaris
TBP: March 14,2019
384 Pages

New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color showcases emerging and seasoned writers of many races telling stories filled with shocking delights, powerful visions of the familiar made strange. Between this book’s covers burn tales of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and their indefinable overlappings.

These are authors aware of our many possible pasts and futures, authors freed of stereotypes and clichés, ready to dazzle you with their daring genius.- Goodreads

I am trying to expand my reading tastes; especially when it comes to Black or other authors of colors. It is so easy to pick up more white authors especially if they are the ones being promoted more.

So when I came across this book I was extremely excited for it despite my dislike for short stories. With that being said, I wasn’t exactly disappointed in this book; there was a lot of good but then a lot of so so.

Dear Dancer written by Kathleen Alcala was the first short story that showed promise. The author was able to get me interested in the who and what the main character Tater was. There was a backstory that called for more and then ending left a ‘well why’ sitting at the tip of my tongue. This could be extended into a longer story or at least a novella leading to a full novel.

The Fine Print by Chinelo Onwualu is great as it is. I don’t enjoy reading stories about Djinn as a Muslim they creep me out. This story was no different but beyond that it packed a punch. It was creative and there was a twist that was well thought out. *insert shocked gif* This was good.

Galactic Tourist Industrial Complex by Tobias S. Buckell gave me Fifth Element vibes. Was it as good as the movie, no but it was a solid read that deserves attention not only in the story but in the author.

The remaining stories weren’t bad but they were not my cup of it. They didn’t draw me in nor did they provide the wow factor.

This collection is worth reading because it brings attention to new authors that given a longer word count may be worth investing time into.

Overall, since there were more eh stories than good ones

2 Pickles

New Adult Book Review: The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle

Central Avenue Publishing
TBP October 1, 2017
288 Pages

Most people have no idea goblins live in the woods around the small town of Bellwater, Washington. But some are about to find out.

Skye, a young barista and artist, falls victim to a goblin curse in the forest one winter night, rendering her depressed and silenced, unable to speak of what happened. Her older sister, Livy, is at wit’s end trying to understand what’s wrong with her. Local mechanic Kit would know, but he doesn’t talk of such things: he’s the human liaison for the goblin tribe, a job he keeps secret and never wanted, thrust on him by an ancient family contract.

Unaware of what’s happened to Skye, Kit starts dating Livy, trying to keep it casual to protect her from the attention of the goblins. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Kit, Skye draws his cousin Grady into the spell through an enchanted kiss in the woods, dooming Grady and Skye both to become goblins and disappear from humankind forever.

It’s a midwinter night’s enchantment as Livy, the only one untainted by a spell, sets out to save them on a dangerous magical path of her own. -Goodreads

This story was inspired by Christina Rossetti poem, Goblin Market (which is listed below the review.) Before reading this, you need to know that this is a new adult book. This means that there is sexual content not suggested sexual content but full blown sexual content with characters under the age of 25.

I was immediately sucked into this book. The story of goblins is something I don’t touch too much. Its not as if   don’t like their story, I guess it isn’t as popular within the channels I run through to look for new books but its something I am going to look into.

Anyway… as I said I was sucked into this book but the intensity I had reading into the beginning died. . . slowly but it died. It wasn’t as if the story was not interesting. It was but the author took a little bit too much time of having the characters run around the issue. I felt that the resolution was too easy found and there wasn’t enough fight or intensity leading up to the conclusion as there was with the sex scenes.

I also didn’t think there was a enough mythology in the book. I wanted something deeper in the overall story. I wanted more history and color overall in the story. I felt that the focus was too much on the relationships and not on the goblins their story, their end game or anything such as that. The story was fairly straight-forward and I’m not a fan of that.

Despite the story hitting a slow patch, despite the lack of mythology and color, it provide a quick read and it introduced me to a new author.

2.5 Pickles (for a good foundation)

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: Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves by Glory Edim

Ballantine Books
October, 30, 2018
272 Pages

Remember that moment when you first encountered a character who seemed to be written just for you? That feeling of belonging can stick with readers the rest of their lives–but it doesn’t come around as frequently for all of us.

In this timely anthology, “well-read black girl” Glory Edim brings together original essays by some of our best black female writers and creative voices to shine a light on how we search for ourselves in literature, and how important it is that everyone–no matter their gender, race, religion, or abilities–can find themselves there. Whether it’s learning about the complexities of femalehood from Their Eyes Were Watching God, seeing a new type of love in The Color Purple, or using mythology to craft an alternative black future, each essay reminds us why we turn to books in times of both struggle and relaxation.

As she has done with her incredible book-club-turned-online-community Well-Read Black Girl, in this book, Edim has created a space where black women’s writing and knowledge and life experiences are lifted up, to be shared with all readers who value the power of a story to help us understand the world, and ourselves. -Goodreads

So, I may be a bit weird or maybe my experiences in life just aren’t as relate able as maybe they should be.  But Well-Read Black Girl is a collection of essays written by authors such as Jacqueline Woodson, N. K. Jemisin and Rebecca Walker. I was hype to form a connection with authors that I not only admire but throw dollars at every chance I get. 

So when this collection came about I was hyped. When I was selected to get an arc via Netgalley I was hyped. But when I began reading it my hyped died. 

Here is the thing. Just like the authors within this book, reading is sometimes form of escape and offers relaxation that other hobbies or passions cannot. For me it is one of my biggest escapes. If a book is well written I can get lost in the world and stay there even, after I finish the last page. Reading is super important to me and although I was able to connect with the authors on the importance of reading, I wasn’t able to for much else. 

I wrote an article for a website called Notes and Narratives.  It began as an book review for the poem Black Girl Magic and is branches off to something more about representation. Representation is important and it should be there because although one person may not need it, it doesn’t someone else doesn’t either. But what I am getting at is, when I read, I’m not looking for myself in these characters. Personality traits yes, maybe; depends on the book. But overall, when I was reading Well-Read Black Girl, I thought who is the target audience for this?

I know that the purpose of these essays is to connect African American women readers. So we can know what it felt like growing up reading and being an adult reading. And you know what happened? I had a random flashback when I was 16 or younger I remember talking about opening a bookstore (which I still have plans to do) and I remember hearing people say “Black people don’t read” so it would be a waste of money. My response then was ” well what I am if not a black person?”

I was surprised by that statement because my mother reads, my sisters read, my brothers read, my father reads. Every Black person, I have met may not have read as much as I did but they read. But this brings back to representation and how important it is not only and solely on a individual level but a world wide. 

But this book Well-Read Black Girl, a series of essays by top authors, reaches down to remind you of moments, such as mine or different, but most important moments as a Black woman, in modern times. Although I wasn’t able to connect with the authors beyond a love and passion for reading, I was reconnected with the past Tanya, who began reading books because there was nothing else to do but fell in love with how the simplest words can create an entire world. 

So in my eyes this book was a success. I may not be able to connect as much as I wanted to but something pulled at me to remember, where it all began for me. 

This is literally not a book review but more of a personal inspiration from a book. I would recommend this read because it starts off a discussion, which I am all for. 

4 Pickles

 

Book Review: The Woman Trapped in the Dark by J.D. Mason

St. Martin’s Griffin
TBP: Sept. 18, 2018
336 Pages

Abby Rhodes and Jordan Gatewood have fought a long battle to be together. People disparaged their relationship. Enemies tried to tear them apart. Now, Abby is looking to settle in to a life of married bliss. But sometimes the greatest threat stems from the person you trust the most…

Now Abby is being hunted. Taken prisoner. Held captive. And Jordan’s dark and murky past holds the key to her escape…- Amazon

If you haven’t read the first two books in this series, you might not want to read this review. There aren’t really any spoilers per say but this is the third book, that ties a bit into the first two, so you might want to do two things, read the books now and check out my review for the first on here :)

Anyway to the book. I was surprised that the author decided to give us another Abby and Jordan book. Yes, there are new characters that are focused on but to make the main center Abby and Jordan, wasn’t a route I saw coming. But the book is completely different from the first two reads and very dark. Its not even the kidnapping aspect of it that makes it dark, it’s the hatred some of these people have towards Jordan and the life he was able to build. What makes that hatred even deeper, is because it is based of race and how White people feel that Black people don’t belong in certain places.

As a Black woman or generally a Black person, you know that there are certain fields that although Black and minorities work in, they don’t own. The oil business, which Jordan owns a slice in, is one of them. So the hate, the revenge the grudge was real to me. This gives the book a way darker feel than the first two, which dealt more with romance and some paranormal activity.

I wouldn’t say revenge drives this book but it’s the hatred. This old white dude refuses to let go of the fact that Jordan won despite all the mess they threw at him and instills that hatred into his kids, who then, maybe, slightly, reluctantly go through this plan for their father to finally go at peace. But his kids and the new characters, Mason introduces are on some other level of mess. You actually, for some, do not wish the worst for them but wish to help them.

The development of characters and the lack of predictability (to a certain extent) within this book is strong. You not only have an understand of the characters but you walk away knowing that the next book is going or has to bring everyone and everything in Blink together. Yes, this is listed as a trilogy but there is no way in the world, Mason is going to stop at three books.

The ending was a good send off. But my issues with the book was the fact that it was slow. Because the introducing of different characters and their roles within the takedown of Jordan, things moved slow despite the motives behind everyone. That was my biggest thing about the book.

Overall, I thought it was good but not as strong as the first or even second read.

3 Pickles

Book Review: My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma

Crown BFYR
Published May 16, 2018
304 Pages

Winnie Mehta was never really convinced that Raj was her soulmate, but their love was written in the stars. Literally, a pandit predicted Winnie would find the love of her life before her 18th birthday, and Raj meets all of the qualifications. Which is why Winnie is shocked to return from her summer at film camp to find her boyfriend of three years hooking up with Jenny Dickens. Worse, Raj is crowned chair of the student film festival, a spot Winnie was counting on for her film school applications. As a self-proclaimed Bollywood expert, Winnie knows this is not how her perfect ending is scripted.

Then there’s Dev, a fellow film geek, and one of the few people Winnie can count on to help her reclaim control of her story. Dev is smart charming, and challenges Winnie to look beyond her horoscope to find someone she’d pick for herself. But does falling for Dev mean giving up on her prophecy, and her chance to live happily ever after? To get her Bollywood-like life on track, Winnie will need a little bit of help from fate, family, and of course, a Bollywood movie star. – Goodreads

I struggled with this book in the beginning. I have never seen a Bollywood movie. Have I seen clips and gifs? Yes, I sure have but I have never sat to watch an entire movie. Did I understand how deep it was for some people? Yes, I did  but did I understand it was this deep? No, I did not.

My struggle with this book in the beginning was there was so many Bollywood references that I could not only keep up but because I have no idea what she is talking about I got lost. Around chapter 6 that changed and the pace of the novel picked up. And although there was still a lot of Bollywood references it wasn’t as bad.

I liked Winnie. She is a very independent thinker, she doesn’t allow anyone or even her emotions to change who she is. She is very secure with herself and that is pretty much rare in the YA world. Her passion for film as well as dramatics (because she is pretty dramatic) really make the book. You’re excited for or at least I was excited for her and did a lot of smiling throughout the book.

What surprised me was the love triangle or kind of the lack there of. See what begins as a love triangle, quickly turns into one of the best romances I have enjoyed recently. What I think is going to happen in regards to romance doesn’t and the author did a really good job of hiding that intent.

The book is slightly predictable. You know where it is going and I am not exactly sure if it’s a bad thing in this case. Seeing the route of the book, about half through, does not take away from the ending. Which is why I don’t consider this predictability a bad thing; its just there.

This isn’t a coming of age novel because Winnie isn’t really growing up per say, she is dealing with her mistakes and what she wants in life the best way she knows how. There isn’t really any growth to her. But I love her the way she is and hope if there is a second book, she still has the same fire.

Overall, I surprisingly enjoyed this book after a rough beginning. But what sold it was at the end of the book, there is a list of all the Bollywood references made in the book :D

4 Pickles

Book Review: Under Dark Waters by Bernadette Calonego

AmazonCrossing
Published April 14, 2015
394 Pages

Driven by lingering pain and grief, historian Sonya Werner leaves her home in Switzerland to travel across the world. Officially, she’s tracking down the German author Else Seel, who had left Berlin in the 1920s to marry a Canadian trapper and homestead in the wild woods of British Columbia.

But the real reason for her trip is much more difficult to face: three years before, her husband took off to this part of the world on one of his usual mountain-climbing adventures, and never returned.

Only after the police brought her word of his death—and the mysterious circumstances in which they found him—did Sonya discover the simultaneous disappearance of her beautiful best friend, Odette, and the possibility that her husband had been lying to her all along.

Now, haunted by sorrow and jealousy, Sonya sets out on a dangerous mission to discover the truth, and to try to put back together the pieces of her broken heart.- Goodreads

This read started off really well and for about half way through the book, I was into it. But the focus seem to be more about making this a long read as opposed to making it a great read. What I mean by this is the author kept the book going by not really answering a question and being completely vague. I have no issue with this but at a certain point in the book, you get tired of questions piling up with no answers.

You also get tired of Sonya. She keeps referring to the past too often and it is lazy. For instance, she could be drinking tea and then think to herself, so and so use to drink tea with me blah blah blah. This may be a slight exaggeration but not by much. Sonya was one of those people that you love but that love is mixed with pity. The author doesn’t go too much into who Sonya was before meeting her Husband but who she is now isn’t necessarily someone that you would be excited to constantly be around.

I love the mix of a woman finding the truth about her deceased husband and also tacking historical information for a museum. The blend of then and now, history and present is perfect. But this book didn’t execute it that well. What I also loved about this book was imagery the author was able to pull in this book. I felt I was in those towns, I felt that I was one that plane, on that boat. I was impressed with this.

Beyond the fact that the book felt dragged and Sonya really couldn’t keep anything together, what bothered me was how everyone, literally everyone knew what was going on and Sonya knew that they knew but was too weak to push it. The author made her extremely fragile and in situations where she could have done more, she would always back down. I know about not wanting to deal with confrontation but not when the whole purpose is to find out the truth.

Overall, I was disappointed in this book not because it started off good but then started to drop but because it couldn’t get back up to the good it was at. I love complex reads, I love really about shady small towns, I love reading about finding the truth but this book wasn’t presented in a way for me to appreciate it.

2 Pickles