Book Review #8: Dancer

1455928Ballet has always had a special place in my heart. I took ballet classes for two years, from seven to nine years old, and I loved it. Grand jeté was my favorite move. My earliest memories of ballet were the Alvin Ailey Dancers and numerous Russian ballerinas. This story really brought me a sense of nostalgia.

Story:

“I didn’t finish the thought. Instead, I imagined us dancing together, his walking around me in a slow promenade, looking into my eyes” (pg 94)

In Dancer by Lori Hewitt (214 pages), Stephanie had been passed up for the role of a lifetime, to be Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) in a ballet play. She starts contemplating the many difficulties in ballet and begins to doubt herself. Not to mention her parents don’t think she will have any longevity as a ballerina, a black ballerina at that. Stephanie gets tired being the only one who believes she can accomplish her dream until she meets the lustrous Miss Winnie, a woman who embodies all the ballerina Stephanie wants to be.

I really want to give a handclap to Hewitt for including beautiful female friendships. She realistically shows the pettiness, insecurity, and loving nature girls can have toward one another.

Dancer had some authentically realistic moments. One scene, in particular, left me with a great quote:

“Maybe I could be her friend, but I couldn’t help her solve her problems” (pg 205)

I enjoyed the tinge of romance as well though I wanted just a glass more.

CHARACTERS:

I like Stephanie because she’s relatable. She is insecure about her talent, her future, and even a little bit about herself. Stephanie even acknowledges that she has an inner ugly voice that thinks rude things. The situation she had with the three private school girls, Lisa, Kelly, and Gillian, is all too real.

“On Saturday night, when Lisa was out with her boyfriend and I was supposedly having a slumber party, I sat at home sewing ribbons on a new pair of pointe shoes and was in bed by ten o’clock” (pg 38)

Most people know that feeling when you agree or get involve in something you had no plans in due to pressure, not even from wanting to fit in but just not to say the wrong thing.

Vance is cool. He reminds me Monty, from my favorite book Standing Against the Wind, but a lot rougher around the edges. He’s more than what meets the eye and he is very conceited but sweet. I wish he spoke his feelings more in the book because I wanted to know what he was thinking.

The mentor character is one that I have always liked, so Miss Winnie was great in my opinion. The descriptions of her outfits seemed so pretty too.

Also, I sympathize with Anna. She simply just did her job well. It was not like she was trying to be the teacher’s pet.

The character development with Gillian was a nice one. It’s nice that Lisa and Kelly were not shoehorned into to flat mean girls roles as well.

OVERALL:

I was deeply engrossed in this book and its characters, so five out of five stars from me. I am not sure if this is a book you read once and it stays with you, or a book you read over and over. Either way, it’s a book you have to read.

I might have to add this one to my bookshelf.

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Book Review#7: Julie of the Wolves

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Y’all I did not like this story. I understand it’s a widely-loved book, but it was not for me. There are three parts to the story, so I am going to split the review into portions.

“Somewhere in this cosmos was Miyax; and the very life in her body, its spark and warmth, depended upon these wolves for survival. And she was not sure they would help” (pg 6).

STORY:

PART 1-

In Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead (170 pg), I did not care about Miyax naming all those wolves. “I will name you Jello,  and you Silver, and you this, and you that…” Girl, please stop talking. The entire beginning of the book Miyax/Julie learns from wolves. Now, I like wolves a lot (they are beautiful and dangerous) but it got boring to read about their antics. Anyway, Miyax’s father, Kapugen, is missing and presumed dead but his words stay with Miyax always. She finds an adoptive father figure in a wolf named Amaroq.

Personally, I just could not find any excitement in this book. Miyax being a child bride was vaguely interesting.

PART 2-

I knew Daniel, the child groom of Miyax, was creepy when he was first introduced. A certain scene when he tried to force himself onto Miyax solidified that. Thankfully nothing happened but, gosh I was just as disturbed as her. Also, I’m not sure if the book was hinting that Daniel had a mental disability or just extreme paranoia.

PART 3-

“He walked you out all the way to seal camp,” Martha told her. “And he never did anything after that” (pg 76).

A close friend of Miyax’s dies and she discovers her father’s aftermath. Needless to say, I was not impressed. To be honest, I mean Miyax did not have much of a reaction either just, “okay, I’m going to San Franciso.”

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OVERALL:

I was excited to read some diverse fiction, but Julie of the Wolves disappointed me. I want to say it’s because I am not in the intended age range, but I have read countless kids’ books that I enjoyed. Concerning the art, I liked the wolf illustrations but not the human ones. The artwork is made up of quick pen hatch lines, so when it comes to human eyes, they look like full black ovals. ¡No está bien!

Yeah, I don’t really recommend this, but it is a fast read.

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Book Review #6: The Blazing Star

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Black people in fantasy settings?

dj khaled another one and another one

STORY:

“I peered up to him now, knowing my eyes were moons, swallowed in the reflection of his. I’d only kissed a boy named Benjamin in the sandbox in kindergarten, but this wouldn’t be a sandbox kiss” (pg 208).

In The Blazing Star by Imani Josey (286 pg), initially, everything starts normally. Portia White, the main character, is tired of coordinating her entire life to match her academic twin sister, Alex. She has a crush on a half Afro-Cuban boy, Jaden, who unfortunately only sees her as a friend. During a series of events and one persistent high school freshman, Portia, Alex, and Selene, the freshman, get transported to Ancient Egypt.

These girls took being transported to ancient Egypt too well with minimum to no freaking out, which is not very realistic but I am thankful for that. I would’ve just skipped the filler pages anyway. Okay, I’m going to be nit-picky. I always feel like characters ate stupid-flakes when it takes them forever to realize they are in the past/future.

This story confused me because so much happened. Honestly, I was lost 75% of the time. The barrage of characters throughout the story is a lot. Although the names are beautiful, they are hard to remember and referenced very little. I kept forgetting who was talking.

I cannot vouch for how accurate any of the Egyptian setting and info are in the book. If it’s not Pharaoh and Moses, Queen Cleopatra, or Anubis I don’t know.

CHARACTERS:

Nothing about Portia sticks out to me. She’s sharp-tongued and wanted to be independent apart from her sister but not much else. Portia also irks me with her modern-day references. I guess it’s a running gag but I wish she would stop.

“The electric slide,” I said unable to contain the laughter anymore. “We like it for special occasions: weddings, birthdays, anytime Just Like Candy by Cameo plays” (pg 205).

Portia, what is this foolery!?! Why are you mentioning Cameo (I love their candy song by the way)? Girl, you not in 2017, so get your junk together. no never smh miss piggy

Concerning Alex, she doesn’t fare much better in making me actually care about her. She’s brainy and takes over too much. The end.

But, Selene I adore her! She’s cheeky, soft, and adorable albeit a little annoying like a sister. Maybe the book would’ve been better from her point of view with the White sisters as side characters.

I like Seti. He’s smug without being a jerk, which is not easily done. Even though Seti is handsome, funny, and laid back, he is a flat character. I want a little more character development centered on something besides his royalty. His feelings for Portia are insta-love. It would’ve been better for him to be intrigued by Portia and gradually begin to like her. It took THREE encounters for them to do intimate slow dancing. Don’t get me wrong. Again, I like Seti and his insta-love with Portia. I should not because neither he or his love is fleshed out enough but I do.

“I turned from him, disappearing as Cinderella would, but with both slippers in tow” (pg 209).

“All day I was light, feminine, as if whatever I touched would turn to sighing flowers” (pg 13).

I like those lines!

OVERALL:

The Blazing Star was just okay, but I’m interested in reading the sequel. Hopefully, a lot of confusion and characters will respectively be made clear and developed. This book gets like a 2.5 out of 5 or 3 out of 5 from me.

Still, I absolutely adored the ending conversation Portia had with that boy. It made me stop to giggle.

Give this book a try. You won’t be blown away but you might enjoy yourself. Completely unrelated but the author is so pretty.

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Book Review #5: Blood and Chocolate

 

30324I had to read a banned book for school, so I chose this one from the list.

STORY:

Blood and Chocolate by Annette Klause (264 Pages) is about a werewolf girl, Vivian, who falls in love with a human boy. In the beginning, Vivian has concerns about her werewolf pack. The boys are becoming murderous and her mother is becoming callous and using sexual escapades to hide her grief. To add to Vivian’s worry, most of her pack is dead. She desires non-werewolf friends because her wolf friends see her only as a mate. But, one day a boy at her school writes a poem about werewolves and she becomes drawn to him.

Vivian immediately becomes attracted (very sexually attracted as well) to Aiden, a meat-boy (read: human) because he’s not like other boys. He’s a gothic hipster so I will give Vivian that one. Aiden’s not the usual love interest but he is human, a prerequisite for any supernatural YA romance. Aiden and Vivian’s relationship is insta-love. I mean how is someone your soulmate and you have only known the person less than a month? Also, Vivian was in heat every single page for Aiden, when he’s present.

Toward that super climatic point, I felt strong second-hand embarrassment. Embarrassment for Aiden. Embarrassment for Vivian. Embarrassment for everyone!

smile reactions britney spears awkward britney

This story is interesting and creates anticipation well. What’s going to happen next? Who’s going to be pack leader? When will Aiden find out his girlfriend is a mythical creature, who howls at the moon? Despite me not liking most of the characters, these questions kept me turning the page. Blood and Chocolate was not a book I liked but a book I wanted to finish.

So, I liked the actual plot and tried to figure the ending out. The surprise murder mystery was fun.

What did I dislike? For some reason, I got a bit confused whether Vivian was in wolf or human form. I did not really care for most of the characters, which leads into the next section.

CHARACTERS:

In the first twenty pages, Vivian seems a bit Mary-sueish. She has a perfect French accent, all her teachers love her, and she’s beautiful, so ungodly beautiful that it intimidates everyone. Vivian comes off basic at times and she immediately sees girls and dislikes them. I mean… How do you dislike someone from a simple glance? I did not like Vivian but I tolerated her because the plot revolved around her.

Also, why is Vivian’s narrative mad corny?  Like what were those lines?giphy

Quotes:

“Because I’m a pirate of the night and I want to see who’s trespassing in my territory” (pg 22).

“I’ll put a few more runs in those tights, honey if you look at me like that again” (pg 23).

“What red lips you have, he said in her ear.

“All the better to kiss you with, my dear,” she replied (pg 51).

“I thought you would grab what I am with both of your hands and eat me up” (pg 192).

Girl bye.

The Five, Vivian’s childhood werewolf friends, are rambunctious and forgettable. They all act like jerks. I did like Willem, the only decent one.

Esmé, Vivian’s mom, was okay. She was a  waitress and a proud cougar and loved her boy toys. Still, she had not gotten over the grief of her husband. Eh, I kind of liked her.

Aiden, I just did not care about. I was indifferent to his friends too.

I guess Gabriel’s my favorite. He had those creepy anti-personal-space issues but he’s the only one that qualified as likable. I have a soft spot for bad boys, who are more than what meets the eye (Disclaimer: This applies to fiction only). I liked his backstory, but I am not sure how I felt about the aftermath. I mean this guy is still a creep, who preys on underage girls and jams his tongue down their throats when he feels like it. You guys see why I am conflicted?

OVERALL:

This book had so much drama!drama bomb

For all of Aiden and Vivian’s insta-love qualities, I liked that Klause handled the relationship realistically.

Would I reread this? No. Would I read a sequel? No. Despite the characters, did I enjoy the rollercoaster of emotions and absolute cringeworthiness? Yes. Most definitely. Do I recommend this book? Heck no!

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Monday: What I’m Reading Now 2/20/17

Happy Monday! Unless, of course, you’re like Garfield and hate Mondays.

Last week, I had been super busy with my college workload. I had to learn a skit for my Spanish class, pull an all-nighter to finish a history paper, and do some edits on an English paper. Hopefully, I will see the fruits of my labor this week?

sad crying cry sailor moon tears

Spring break seems so far away. In the fall semester, I had so many holidays and days of school off. I want to work on my stories, my art, and my study for driving. If I don’t laze around too much this break, I want to try and get my license. I wanted to get my license last winter break, but I was too lazy. For me, it seems like it would be difficult to study for all my classes and then try to remember information for the written car test.

Anyway, enough of that irrelevant junk!

What I’m reading now:

30324Blood and Chocolate by Annette Klause

Unique title. I’m going to be disappointed if chocolate has no relevance to the story. Maybe the author wanted to use “sweet blood” but thought it would sound too vampire-ish?

So far, I have read 120 pages and Vivian’s still not too likable to me. I will explain why in my upcoming Blood and Chocolate review.

Here’s a decent quote from the book (there are a lot of corny and cringeworthy ones to skim through):

“It was then she realized that she didn’t know how to make friends.”

I hope the story’s ending leaves me with a good impression. Cause right now…

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What I Read Last Week:

22042763Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor

This was a fun and imaginative read. If you like seeing shy characters become more confident and fantasy elements, then consider this book.

Bye!

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Kidlit version hosted by Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen of Teach Mentor Texts; original version hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

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Short Story: Play it Cool, Al

This is my first attempt at writing a short story because I do like writing in addition to reading. (More book reviews to come!)

Summary: Al is hit with a reverse love confession, job opportunity, and a new perspective of his childhood friend. Of course, his defeatist attitude doesn’t help him.

Continue reading “Short Story: Play it Cool, Al”

Book Review #4: Zahrah the Windseeker

 

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I was super excited to read this book even though I had to wait for my local library to order it. Well worth the wait! I adored Akata Witch and Nnedi Okorafor has quickly become one of my favorite authors. I can always connect with her characters.

“You don’t have to explain. It’s OK to care about what other people think, but you should give a little weight to what you, yourself, think.”

STORY:

In Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor (308 pages), Zahrah’s fourteen and Dada, so she doesn’t fit in well at the Kirki village of the Ooni Kingdom. Her Dada heritage gives her long dreadlocks embedded with plants and an undeveloped wind power. Because Ooni people are so image-conscious, she sticks out like a snake with fingers. After Zahrah gets her first period (menstruation cycle), her wind powers begin to fully develop. Through a series of events surrounding the forbidden Greeny jungle, Zahrah’s best friend Dari gets injured. The cure for Dari’s comatose state is in the jungle, and this is where the story truly begins. I felt so bad for Zahrah in the jungle like why did my baby have to go through so much pain?

sad crying cry pikachu

Another quote I like, taken from when Zahrah was on her journey:

“Look at you. You’re just as strange and misunderstood as the jungle. It’ll welcome you, I’m sure of it.”

As much as I like romance, I love the fact that the story is dedicated to Zahrah’s growth as a character. That’s not to say there aren’t any adorable hints thrown in.

I love the names, Zahrah and Dari, they are so pretty!

I also enjoy the fantasy elements. Flower computers! Zahrah has a lot of plant technology in her world. A person can plant a seed and water it to grow a computer. Very imaginative.

I could tell early on that I would like this book. Black people in a fantasy setting? Adorable characters? An innocent friendship? Nnedi is cruel; She wants me to buy this book and parade it on my bookshelf.

What did I dislike? Hmm… If I had to nitpick, the ending could be considered a bit anticlimactic. Also, certain stuff at the hospital was dragged out a little long.

CHARACTERS:

Zahrah! I completely sympathize with her. She’s an adorable crybaby, who doesn’t yet know her potential. Her journey is not only through the Greeny jungle, but to grow more confident. She’s my fictional baby! Zahrah has a real “aww ” factor.

Dari, the best friend, is my favorite. He’s a middle-school activist, who has a talent for talking. The village people and everyone at Dari (and Zahrah)’s school hang onto his every word. Since he found an interest in Zahrah, as a bold little kid, the two have been friends ever since.

I like the mentor angle Nsibidi provides for Zahrah. She’s one cool chick! I almost wish she had been featured more.

The simplest characters, like the frog, all play an important part in the story and Zahrah’s life.

OVERALL:

Read this. Read this. Read this.

I liked this book a lot and will add it to my bookshelf when I get some extra cash.

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