Mini Book Review #13: Bird & Squirrel All Tangled Up

39983506Bird & Squirrel All Tangled Up by James Burks (128 pages) I absolutely love this series from beginning to end! At first, I was wary of another entry in the series because I thought the last one wrapped up things nicely. Have no fear! This book is just as fun as others and didn’t feel unnecessary.

I love this character arc Squirrel is going through, and each book develops his character a bit more. He’s no longer a scaredy-cat, but he can’t get over worrying about everything. Squirrel is facing some real-deal parental fear which is shown expertly through his paranoid dreams. Great showing and not telling!

His daughter Birdie is a cutie and not a brat. For some reason, some stories annoy the readers with obnoxious offspring who are unbearable. Thankfully, Birdie is gung-ho about adventure but still loves her daddy and is sweet. She takes after Bird but there are glimpses of Squirrel in her character too.

Overall, this had adorable artwork, engaging story, and wonderful characters. If there’s another book, I’ll read that too! *virtual thumbs up*

5 stars

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Mini Book Review #12: Inventing Victoria

40025247STORY:

Well,  Inventing Victoria by Tonya Bolden (272 pages) is not exciting (it’s mad dry and needs some lotion), but it is a good portrayal of some of the horrors/realities African-Americans experienced during the 1800s (blatant discrimination/racial attacks but new triumphs as well). We don’t get too much insight into Essie’s head, so this story is more plot-driven. Honestly, I don’t know too much about Essie. Besides her circumstances and the shame she feels from her mother, and her love of drawing, what does Essie like or think about? If I connected more with Essie, maybe I would’ve enjoyed the journey more.

Anyway, in the story, Essie’s mother is a prostitute in a brothel house(?) where the uncles “white men” make their nightly visits. Her mother sometimes copes with this by using alcohol to get through it. Now, the uncles pay well (most of the time), so Essie does enjoy the gifts until she learns how they were bought.

[Not a spoiler!; she dies on page 1] Jumping to the future, Essie’s mother dies which gives Essie a glimmer of a new opportunity. She gets her own room now (no more sleeping in a closet) and a renewed desire to leave the past behind. Essie is bi-racial with light-skin. Despite wishing she was as far away from white as possible, her complexion/colorism works in her favor for going up the black elite ladder. She finds her fairy godmother in the lovely Ma Clara and Dorcas Vashon. Can we give a handclap to Ma Clara? YOU THE REAL MVP!

The journey to Essie becoming the high-class Victoria should have been more interesting. I was thoroughly bored and exhausted (just like you, Essie) with the many tasks/trials she had to endure. I really like the growth Essie had from simply wanting to become elite to wanting to give back to her community.

There’s some last minute romance that actually, I promise, happens in a span of five pages. “Was this love?” I don’t know, Essie you just met him. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I thought they would tease the love interest a bit more and show us a glimpse of him earlier. It’s okay though because that’s not the primary focus.

On another note, it’s a bit awkward when the characters meet Fredrick Douglass. I like to keep fictional characters separate from real people. I don’t mind timely references, but I dislike historical figures in fiction stories. How am I supposed to know if they’re in character? Haha.

Overall:

This book is the perfect blend between Middle Grade and YA. The writing’s simple but does not shy away from implications (racial, sexual, violent, etc). I recommend for older kids because I don’t think it can keep most younger kids’ interest. I loved Essie’s mentors and the strained mother-daughter relationship. 3 stars!

Spoiler: Continue reading “Mini Book Review #12: Inventing Victoria”

Book Review #41: Famous in a Small Town

“It’s not selfish to want people in your life who care about you” (pg 261).

STORY:
Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills (320 pages) is a contemporary story with likable imperfect characters and pretty cover. There are some wonderful friendship moments like the “broken miniature greenhouse”, sweet moments like the kiss just because I want to make you feel good, and fun dialogue 75% of the time.

I really liked/disliked Brit. She felt realistic to me. I’ve seen people like her in real life, and I like each dynamic she has with the individual characters. Sophie has a big heart which is both a positive and negative thing for her. She sort of dislikes how everyone views her in this saintly-good-person light. Relatable.

I liked that the ending didn’t end in the way I expected. I didn’t really care about the August-Sophie connection. That was a little meh (he’s hot; let’s date; argument; kiss; awkward tension; kiss; fight argument repeat until conclusion) and the whole find Megan Pleasant thing ran a little long for me. I guess I just found the friendship/family interactions and characters to be the best part(s). To be honest, everything about Ciara was really confusing. But yeah …

This is exactly 3.5/5 stars for me!


Bonus:

Read my review for “On the Come Up” by Angie Thomas here!

Read my review for “Clyde” by Jim Benton here!

Read “Dreaded Dinner Partyhere!

Book Review #40: The Field Guide to the North American Teenager/Genesis Begins Again

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe (372 pages) I’m always excited to read some diverse fiction and a French-Canadian boy of Haitian descent in the US sounded interesting. Unfortunately for me, a lot of this can be summed into Norris pops his gums and writes checks his butt can’t cash.

I didn’t care for any of the characters or the romance. Usually, I LOVE snarky or sarcastic/”I’m so above you, plebians” characters, but I did not like Norris. It’s sweet that he cares about his mom and loves hockey. He’s his mother’s #1 fan at her presentations, and his friendship with Maddie is sort of cute. But that’s where it ends. He’s just too snarky and mean-spirited. I definitely don’t mind characters with bad attitudes, but his mouth seems unwarranted at times.

The vast majority of the time Norris puts people in check for micro-aggressions (tho sometimes he handles Aarti with kitten gloves) and happily acknowledges his heritage. He also doesn’t put up with any homophobia and calls it out despite making a few gay jokes.

Concerning the romance, I was indifferent. I get the snow globe thing. It’s like getting a gas station charger for your birthday gift that you know the person just bought last minute. Okay. But why was this never properly voiced!? UGH, HIGHSCHOOLERS! COMMUNICATE! Also, I figured the Maddie angle was going to happen or that she was gonna hook up with Liam. 

I feel the highlights were Liam’s backstory, Norris’ mom’s fear about police brutality and his safety conversation, and the ending. Parts of the family dinner was fun too.

“Put me in the family will and grant me your daughter’s hand in marriage, b***hes” pg (255).

With context, that quote’s a lot funnier. Promise.

Although the ending was much more interesting than the first 75% of the book, it’s just too much high-school drama for me.

Overall, the book ends with a strong conclusion! I liked seeing Norris come to terms with himself and acknowledging his flaws and that everything doesn’t end happily-ever-after though it is optimistic. A good look at not pre-judging people. I didn’t love this book but so many others have, so you just gotta read it for yourself.

25753113BONUS:

See my review for Genesis Begins Again, here!

What a gorgeous cover! I really enjoyed reading this story but have some tissues nearby. ;__;

Book Review #39: Prince in Disguise

“Now was not the time for casual necksmelling, even if someone smelled tantalizingly of cinnamon, like a manly Christmas cookie” (pg 91).

25844635STORY:

Prince in Disguise by Stephanie Strohm (320 pages) is about Dylan’s country bumpkin, beauty queen sister getting married to a lord (but prince sounds catchier! hence the title). Unfortunately, this forces the rest of the fam onto a reality TV show. Poor Dylan would just like to pass by un-noticed except network television is not having that!

First, I’m sorry (not really), but I’m tired of those cliche American vs. British jokes. You guys have fish and chips? Oh you, Brits! You guys deep-fry everything? Oh you, Americans! That’s about 75% of the book right there. Please stop! It’s cute at first but then it just gets grating.

Yeah, the plot twist is as obvious as a glow stick in a dark room. I guess the anticipation is waiting for Dylan to realize it.

I didn’t care for the ____ or the sacrificial reality-tv lamb storyline. Surprisingly the “deadbeat returns” plot was actually fun. I enjoyed that part.

“Now, I knew romance could be perfect stillness” (pg 96).

Jamie and Dylan liked each other rather quickly. Still, that’s the basis for a crush, right? Instant attraction. A few lines about poetry and the girl’s hooked.

CHARACTERS:

The characters are fine. Heaven’s got the most personality for me (and I really want to know more about her beyond being a best friend).

Dylan’s the ugly-duckling who is actually not ugly but just overlooked. Apparently, she plays sports, likes books, and has never been kissed. I didn’t really feel for her because beyond hating the reality show, liking Jamies, and feeling resentful toward her sis, there was nothing distinct about her.

Dusty, the beauty queen sister, has a little depth to her that makes her likable.

I liked Jamie but come on! He was written to be super likable as if there was a sign attached to his head saying, “Hey, like this guy! He spouts poetry references and likes Frozen!”

OVERALL:

“Perhaps that’s what happens when you meet someone you really quite like […] You both feel a bit as though you’ve tricked the other person into liking you” (pg 198).

A sweet relatively wholesome story with some cute moments (“You missed, Dylan … ” AWWW) though too predictable for anyone not interested in a light-hearted read. This is by no means a bad story; it’s just I may have liked this more when I was younger. Still, I definitely recommend this for Hallmark movie lovers.

Mini Book Review #12: The Weight of Feathers, ACOTAR, and Cruel Beauty

Even though I’ve been posting reviews on my Goodreads account, I haven’t been posting them here. So, here’s 3 reviews for the price of 1! 😀

20734002The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore (320 pages)

The writing’s great, and I love the way Spanish and French words are weaved into the story.

Concerning the romance, I don’t really see it for Lace and Cluck, their love I mean. :/ There were a lot of kiss scenes, but I didn’t feel anything for them.

I suppose Cluck’s my favorite character, but we got so little of his narrative. He’s funny and the sad sack his family loves to kick around. Whoo, is it tough seeing his family treat him like Cinderella.

On the other hand, Lace is kind of bland after she falls in love. It’s surprising, but I enjoyed reading about her applying make-up. Now, I liked Lace’s dad. That’s a guy with his own motivations who thinks with his own mind. To be honest, I didn’t care about anybody else besides Cluck and Lace’s dad.

Overall, not bad at all but I also wanted it to be over. Why? I don’t like long drawn out misunderstandings, but anyone else should enjoy some of the plot twists this book brings. So, it’s 2 stars for my enjoyment but a 3 for the story.

15839984Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (352 pages)

The first half of this book was enticingly interesting and fun until Nyx didn’t know if she wanted to kill him or kiss his face off and fractions happened.

I really enjoyed reading about Nyx wrestling with her dark feelings, loving her family and hating them at the same time. Her father was so trifling that he should have been on Dr. Phil. Anyway, I enjoyed some of Ignifex’s wit and his countless smiles at Nyx’s murder attempts.

The romance was just okay, but I found the mystery aspect more compelling.

Overall, this was a good story filled with Greek mythology and deals with the devil. I didn’t care for the ending or the Nyx and Shade connection which happened way too fast. Still, I think it’s worth reading.

16096824A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (419 pages)

Well, 4 stars for enjoyment, the loveliness of the character Lucien, and for the trashy but always tasteful love scenes that YA fiction adores. Yeah, Feyre never listens and I’m tired of hearing about lemon tarts and blueberry pie and her punishment was never really a punishment (I banish thee to a mansion where thou shall be waited on hand and foot!), but none of that takes away from the story.

Anyway, my favorite part was when Rhysand showed up and “they” had to beg. I was emotionally torn up about that. But it subtly speaks to how much these characters cared about each other.

When everything goes to hell and our heroine ventures to save the day, is some of the best suspense I have had in a while! Every page deserved dramatic orchestra music!

Overall, I recommend this book. I found the characters, human and Fae, so endearing. Also, seeing all the plot points resolved shows the careful planning that went into this story. I wish this was a standalone because who knows what’s about to happen in the next book. 😮

(As of 1/25/19 I have read the sequel, and whoo is it a doozy!)

Have you read any of these three books? Which was your favorite? Did you notice they all have red color schemes in common? c:

Book Review #38: Every Book is a Boy

(I won this in a Goodreads giveaway! The title really drew me in)!

42927409STORY:

“He was afraid, not because he thought she wasn’t the one. He was terrified because he knew she was.”

Every Book is Boy by Mirella Muffarotto (413 pages)  is set in Italy and begins with Marika coming to terms with her growing feelings for Matteo, her best friend. A romantic relationship is just around the corner until a soccer team tries to scout him. Now, Marika’s world has been turned upside down and a series of unneeded drama events break her heart. Will Marika and Matteo ever get together?

Let me be honest. The first five chapters were torture, but this story slowly, slowly (it’s a snail’s pace) starts getting interesting. Of course, there’s constant drama. SO MUCH DRAMA!

I find the drama so frustrating because of misunderstandings. I almost never enjoy drawn-out misunderstandings in stories because they take forever to resolve and the other characters react stupidly as a result.

I enjoyed the Italian setting, Carlotta and Dario, and the book title. I’m not really into soccer/football/fútbol, so I skimmed over the games and terminology, but I enjoyed reading the business side of things, seeing how players dealt with their agents, training camps, and meeting potential teammates. It was nice and a lot of detail has been put into it.

Now, one of the things I didn’t enjoy about Every Book is a Boy is the long passages of details. People are always stressing for writers to add more detail, but I kept skimming through a lot of it.

So, about the romance … Listen, I’m no stranger to YA romances but Marika’s thoughts about Matteo are drenched in syrup. For example:

“I know … you’re right, but all I want to do is score. It’s the only thing I can think of out there.
‘He was to die for, even though his only desire was to score (pg 18).’”

I don’t mind “oh my gosh, my heart almost stopped because he touched my hand” love if I have a connection with the characters. Because I found Matteo so annoying and unlikable, I was left only rooting for ½ of the couple. This doesn’t mean there aren’t any aww-worthy or some oh-my-wink-wink moments. The cute moments are just filtered through mountains of text of Marika pining for Matteo, Matteo being upset for words he can’t convey, Federico trying to woo Marika, and historical and architectural information about Italian cities.

By the way, there’s a minor subplot about the dangers of teen sexting and webcamming. There’s some harsh language (F bombs, bull****, sluts, “easy girls,” etc) and a brief mention of a love scene, but it’s not constant if that’s a worry.

CHARACTERS:
Marika is bland. She has a slight touch of “not like other girls” because she’s such a tomboy. She cries a lot too, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it’s prevalent.

Carlotta is very self-absorbed but nice. She’s got a big mouth but a big heart to go along with it.

Dario is a decent guy.

Matteo, the most wishy-washy character alive, couldn’t decide between water and H2O. Hopefully, you get where I’m coming from. He ain’t have no communication skills!

Lucreiza and Marcello and Valerio are 1-dimensional villains who only think with their genitals. In the beginning, I feel like there is subtle programming to dislike Lucrezia because she wears ridiculously short skirts and flirts with boys and goes “further with boys.” Of course, she does turn out to be a horrid mess of a person, but I didn’t even get a chance to discover her nastiness. I was already predisposed to dislike her.

Federico is my favorite character, but it’s for a sad reason. I only like him because he doesn’t have any of Matteo’s bad qualities. Since we don’t see any bad aspects of him, he’s the seemingly perfect guy. He COMMUNICATES his feelings and doesn’t treat Marika’s heart like a RAGDOLL and APOLOGIZES when he messes up quickly.

Eve was cool but then just awful at times. I don’t mind brash characters, but she played a nasty joke that I didn’t care for. Still, she had a lot of personality more than I can say for Marika.

OVERALL:
One of the most frustrating stories I have read in a while with the most wishy-washy male lead ever. This story could’ve been cut by like 200 pages. Maybe I feel so tough on this story because the length exhausted me? I don’t know. On the positive note, I love the title.

If you like slow burn romance (?), soccer, and friends to lovers, then this story is for you. Keep in mind if you don’t enjoy chick-flicks or cheesiness, then you might be annoyed the entire time.