Book Review #30: The Edge of Everything

“‘Why endanger yourselves?’ he said. ‘Why do all this for me
Zoe looked down at where his hand lightly gripped her. She gave him a smile, a trace of light in the darkness.

‘There’s nothing good on TV,’ she said (page 87).”

29566060STORY:

The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles (368 pages) has some good narrative(s) though a bit cringy at times. I enjoy the details embedded in the character’s personalities and movements.

“Zoe couldn’t help it; she took a photo to put on Instagram later (page 41).

For me, the bounty-hunter moments are the best parts. The entire supernatural element to bounty-hunting is just mad interesting, and the ordeal with a character named Stan was my favorite part.

At times, the story falls into “slice-of-life” moments such as Zoe and her mom not seeing eye-to-eye about her father’s death or caving, which is a huge part.

Now, a serious case of “instalove” is present in this book. AIN’T NO REASON X should’ve been that caught up and strung out on basic-behind Zoe that quickly. Perhaps, it is akin to baby chicks imprinting on the first image they see as their mother, but X was too into Zoe too fast.

This doesn’t mean I don’t like their little cliche romance, but it is worth noting.

CHARACTERS:

Zoe is bland but the stuff that happens around her is what’s interesting. Her friends, Dallas and Val, are much cooler.

Jonah, the little brother, is a little cinnamon roll. 😀

Bounty hunters seem really nice for this sort of story. Maybe too nice for me… I mean Zoe was talking to them like they couldn’t have snapped her neck into two at will. Here, bounty hunters are basically the grim reaper.

X is fine with me but his backstory seems a bit like a cop-out, so we don’t forget for a second his life’s not like the other morally-gray bounty hunters. Still, I liked his gentlemen-ly speech even if it didn’t feel consistent at times.

OVERALL:

Well, The Edge of Everything reeks of instalove, but it has me hooked enough to read the sequel. The story’s a bit of a slow burn but the plot twists keep readers engaged. It is worth a read, and you can tell early on whether you love/hate it.
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Book Review #29: The Last Black Unicorn

I think this is my first non-fiction review? So yeah!

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The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish (288 pages) is an interesting read or, better said, an interesting life story.

Be aware there’s a bunch of cursing and crude language, almost excessively. The appeal of the humor is all the messed-up/f’ed up junk that happened in Tiffany’s life. Oh my God. Sometimes, it got heavy. Nothing is politically-correct (disabled jokes, poop in shoes, etc) and a lot of trauma is present through carefully covert jokes.

But real life can’t be censored.

Anyway, I like the choppy, episodic chapters because it’s easy to put down and start reading again. Honestly, many of the sentences are written in AAVE, which is cool.

Three stars out of five!

 

Book Review #28: Calling My Name

33829748Aye! I’m always excited for new fiction with black leads!

STORY:

“‘You can’t control everything, Taja,’ Daddy says in a soft voice, eyes closed to the sun.

‘I know, Daddy. But I can control a lot.'” (pg 227).

Calling My Name by Liara Tamani (384 pages) explores Taja Brown’s life. It is something of a fictional biography of a young, African-American girl growing up in a conservative Christian background from childhood to adulthood. Of course, you can expect first kisses, periods, and dealings with f*boys.

I think it is a good read if you enjoy “slice-of-life/coming of age” stories. However, the writing is so flowery that I get confused often.

I can emphasize with Taja’s upbringing as I have grown up in a Christian home as well though my parents weren’t overbearing with our faith.

Still, unfortunately, the narrative of an ultra-conservative character usually isn’t that fun.

One of my favorite parts is when Taja feels guilty for reminding her father about a promised birthday present. That is a really relatable moment when you first feel “child guilt” because you know your parents don’t have the money but you want something.

Also, I realized mid-way through the story that this is set somewhere between 80’s-90’s. Some of the references are dated like them listening to Johnny Gill. Chile, who out here listening to JG?

over it eye roll GIF

Okay, okay… I’m one of those people. XDsoul train life of new edition GIF by BET

A few days ago I was just listening to Johnny Gill’s old Arsenio Hall performances. (yes, I know the gif is from Soul Train).

CHARACTERS:

Not too many characters were memorable. I enjoyed the glimpses we saw of Taja’s family and would have liked a bit more beyond her mother always disciplining her.

Taja is cool, but she is very whiny and a bit annoying in her narrative.

Naima, Taja’s younger sister, is a character that I wished we could have seen more of. Unlike Taja, she’s more sure of herself. Taja and Naima’s sister relationship is barely displayed save for a few conversations in their older years.

Damon, the older brother, was okay. I like how he tried to overcompensate for his thinning headline at 15.

OVERALL:

This isn’t a book I would necessarily read again, but it is nice experiencing Taja’s adolescence with her.

Mini Review #10: The Battle for Amphibopolis (Nnewts #3)

33609902Let’s assume y’all have read the first two books in the trilogy.

STORY:

This is the conclusion of the Nnewts trilogy. It’s been a while since I first read the other books, but thankfully there are a few callbacks to previous moments so I got up to speed rather quickly. Was the pace a bit fast and did some things not get answered with complete clarity? Did the characters make asinine decisions? Well yeah, but I might still be on the fumes of finishing-a-series-joy, so I’m most likely overlooking it. I liked this book.

The Battle for Amphibopolis reminded me of the Bible, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter (tho I haven’t actually seen LoTR or HP) mixed into one.

I never thought a story with so many (permanent) deaths would leave me feeling satisfied. I mean if this were any other story, I would have been like

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The little dash of romance was sweet but not entirely believable due to the age range of the recipients. I think they were supposed to be like 12, and like I said before it’s been a while since I read the second book. But didn’t Herk only know her for like a few days?

Anyway, when I saw Herk’s parents in “heaven” so to speak, I started tearing up. I don’t know why, but it really had me in my feelings.

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CHARACTERS:

Herk is pretty much the same as before except this time he has to deal with trying to stall a Lizzard transformation.

Sissy had a less prominent role in this book. She got these great powers, but the potential for them just kind of fizzled out at the end.

Zerk was there as well. :p

I loved Launa and her father. Their relationship was heartwarming, and I enjoyed Launa’s strong determination so much. I mean she was tempted with a very strong thing, but she turned it down. Respect.

ART:

I like the cartoony style and the colorful singing geckos? lizards? were so cute. Nice color direction overall.

OVERALL:

This is a fun graphic novel series though admittedly very violent at times. I give this book 4 out of 5, but as for the series as a whole, I don’t know. I will just say it’s a good series and leave it at that.

Mini Review #9: Recess Warriors- Bad Guy is a Two-Word Word

Recess Warriors 2: Bad Guy Is a Two-Word Word by Marcus Emerson (160 pages) is even more fun than the first one!

I was concerned about sequel rot, but thankfully the humor and surprise character development has improved.

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I love how serious the book takes itself, and Clinton and Bryce’s strained friendship is my favorite part.

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It’s also nice how Yoshi and Jules subverted the “girls can’t get along” trope.

In addition, Recess Warriors has some nice foreshadowing. Little things you wouldn’t expect are actually important. *wink*

Overall:

Please read this and Marcus Emerson please write more! All of my sentiments from the review of the first book still stand for this one.

SN: Albert was awesome and the kiddy romances were too!

 

 

Mini Review: #8 Not Now, Not Ever

33602144It’s been a million years or at least a frozen period of time since a review.

College has really turned up (not turnt up; there’s a subtle difference :p) the difficulty level in some classes.

Anyway, this review is based on the ARC (Advance Reader Copy), which I won in a Goodreads giveaway. This book comes out November 21st!

Also, I have never seen/read Much Ado about Nothing so even though this is a retelling of it, I was new to it all… 😛

STORY:

“I took in a breath so deep that it burned the back of my throat, killing a sob before it could start. I could taste the eucalyptus baked into my sweater” (pg 90).

Perhaps, not the best quote to start a review with, but it embodies the wonderfully quirky vibe of this book well. Also, I really love the trivia/language/sci-fi bits that are constantly present.

The premise of  Not Now, Not Ever by Lily Anderson (320 pages) is about a teen going to a genius camp with elimination games as a way to win a scholarship to her dream college. This college is important for Elliot Garboche to take control of her destiny instead of being pigeonholed into to enlisting in the army like her mother or becoming a lawyer like her father and step-mother desire her to be. Of course, Ever can’t let her overbearing family members know her true intentions to break away from the mold, so she lies and goes to the camp under the guise of Ever Lawrence. Getting into the camp was easy but staying is harder than ever!

The romance is in the background and any progress between Ever and Brandon is slow. Depending on who you are, that might be a great quality this story exhibits. For me, I don’t mind the slow start and the focus on the camp itself, but the romance isn’t aww-worthy (i.e. no fangirling moments).

Well… The first kiss scene was incredibly cheesy, but the line, “He smiled. ‘I really like you, Elliot” warmed my little young adult heart.

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CHARACTER:

This book has some nice diversity considering the genius camp has contestants from every race and background. For example, the main character Ever has significant Creole ancestry.

Eh, my first impression of Elliot (better known as Ever) was a bit prickly. I thought she was a little combative against a counselor named Cornell in their first meeting. Throughout the story, lowkey Ever needed to mind her own business. What’s it to you that someone didn’t solve a Rubik’s cube? Anyway, she was mad intrusive and a bit judgemental, though the latter is a very common realistic trait she wasn’t a character that I actually liked. I think the reason that particular personality trait turned me off is because I try my hardest not to assume things about people (despite it being a knee-jerk human behavior).

However, I like that Ever was very confident about herself especially being a tall girl who did martial arts and loved sci-fi books, especially Octavia Butler.

The rest of the cast never really stood out to me. I’m sure others will connect with the quirky, competitive array of characters, but I was not personally invested in them.

OVERALL:

“Do you ever miss things before they’re over?” (pg 174)

It’s certainly worth a read. Not Now, Not Ever is also a fun way to learn a bunch of cool trivia with a tiny bit of mystery and romance.

The ending also had a good dash of realism because sometimes YA-fiction, in general, can end either downright angsty or too fairytale happily-ever-after-ish.

 

Book Review: #27 Reindeer Boy

Okay, this was silly but super cute. I believe it’s an OEL (Original English Language [manga]), and it read like a shoujo.

30621322STORY:

Reindeer Boy by Cassandra Jean (192 pages) is about Quincy, a normal girl who has nubs growing out of her head. The arrival of a mysterious boy, Cupid, who has full-blown antlers growing out of his head takes not only Quincy’s school by surprise, but Quincy herself begins to take an interest in him. Of course, Cupid’s had his eyes set on her for a while now, much longer than Quincy ever anticipated. She meets his array of fellow antlered-companions and learns something new.

I really liked the Christmas-y spin on this story because I’ve never read anything reindeer-centered before. But I don’t get the point of the story. Was it about Quincy’s heritage (which was never really explained) or the romance?

ooo

CHARACTERS:

I have to say the characters are really flat even though Cupid’s pretty lovable in that celebrity I like but don’t know personally type of way. Okay, what was the deal with Conway, the childhood best friend (if you read shoujo, you know the childhood best friend almost never wins XD)? Why was Irena so flaky? Where was Quincy’s mom? Deceased? Divorced? Adopted?

Quincy is a cutie (especially, as a kid; yay, for her being a woc). I guess she was just a girl, curious and a lover of a photography. I couldn’t pinpoint her actual personality because I didn’t honestly see one. I supposed she was reserved.

Cupid, I liked the most. He was smug without being a flirty playboy. It’s really hard for some writers to have cocky characters that aren’t grating, and I’m glad Cupid’s one of the few likable ones.

I liked the Reindeer friends/family, but they weren’t too memorable though. Blitzen stood out to me since he so looked cool (reminded me of an action star).

Santa—Kris Kringle here— was very interesting, to say the least. He had like a one-page cameo.

ART:

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I adore the art! Everyone dresses like hipsters and the artwork’s done in the style of a generic shoujo manga or manwha. I think Cupid looks adorable and his hair is so fluffy.

Overall:

Yeah.

I would most definitely read a sequel. I enjoyed reading this a lot, and it’s sure to make someone smile. Give it a chance!