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?

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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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Book Review #3: Oddly Normal (Book 1)

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“It’s the eyes. It’s the staring. Stick and stones and all that… I’m numb to it all. But I’ll never get used to the staring.”

STORY:
Oddly Normal by Otis Frampton (128 pages), the main character’s name, by the way, is about a girl who isn’t normal. Shocker. She’s half-witch from her mom’s side, which somehow appears in the form of green hair and elf ears. Oddly doesn’t fit in at school because kids can be cruel. When her magical auntie offers to take her to Fignation, the world her mom is from, she jumps at the chance to be with other like-minded weird kids. Well, if you didn’t know she doesn’t fit in at Fignation’s supernatural school either. In a very cliché way, she does find solace with the school’s band of misfits, a hunchback, Frankenstein, and ghost.

ART:
I think the cartoon style works well, though Oddly’s head is huge compared to her body. I wish Oddly’s face was a bit more expressive. I love the color direction, as each page has a different color scheme. The backgrounds are nice and imaginative with fluffy cotton trees and other fantasy elements.

CHARACTERS:
I’ve seen characters like Oddly before, who are misunderstood and come from a magical lineage. Nothing about Oddly stands out to me, but I’m sympathetic to her plight. She’s basically been bullied her entire life, and it realistically wears on her. Her parents are too dense for their own good and don’t understand their baby’s problems. Pretty relatable! Her catchphrase “figures” is funny too.

For the first volume, there isn’t much character exploration besides Oddly, which makes sense. Readers should connect with the first character before others are introduced. Still, the green guy of the bully crew (a full-blooded witch or warlock, I guess) with the black cat is interesting. He’s a jerk of course because all the kids at Oddly’s schools lack common decency, but something about him captured my eye. Maybe it’s his design? Every other character looks basic, but the green-guy looks stylish! And, he has a magical animal buddy, which I always love.

Also, Misty McCloud is just adorable. Sweetest ghost ever!

OVERALL:
Would I have read this as an actual novel? Nah. For me, without the graphics, I would have passed on this title. I want the characters to be fleshed out more as well. The bullies of the school seem to be mean just for the sake of meanness. I know kids don’t need a reason to pick on someone, but Oddly’s supernatural bullies are just vicious. Sadly the nice misfits are nice for the sake of niceness too. Still, I think this is a good read for reluctant readers because it’s not too plot-heavy and most children can relate to Oddly feeling like an outsider.

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Book Review #2: Olive’s Ocean

 

“Her life was a measly mess that could be contained in a closed fist. But her sadness could not be contained, and so she cried and cried.”

 

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STORY:

Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes (217 pages) is about a twelve-year-old, redhead girl named Martha. A girl who went to her school, Olive, gets killed by a car. To Martha’s surprise, she finds out from Olive’s journal that the girl wanted to be her friend. This news confuses Martha, and she finds her thoughts consumed with Olive. Martha spends the rest of her summer vacation at her paternal grandmother’s house, thinking about death and her family.

What I like about this book is the writing. Everything Henkes seems to write in Martha’s narrative is poetic.

I also like romance a lot, even if it’s just sprinkled throughout a book. Innocent preteen romances are always fun to read because they are pure and awkward. Awkward and pure. It’s before the broken marriage, the cheating scandal, or the nasty dm (direct message). Preteen romances remind people of much simpler times, and I’m no exception to that. It’s adorable that Martha’s clueless about boys.

I can’t say that there was anything I disliked about this book. If I had to be nitpicky, the book could be considered anticlimactic throughout because the story reads like a kid’s normal day.

CHARACTERS:

There’s nothing startlingly interesting about Martha. She’s just a normal kid, but I like that. Martha’s like thousand of kids anyone might know in real life, curious and thoughtful.

Godbee, the grandmother, is wise and just a little bit feisty. She reminds me of the God-like characters played by Morgan Freeman. I like the conversations Martha and Godbee have the most.

I wish I could have seen a bit more of the Manning boys, Tate in particular. Still, their presence was just enough so I did not forget about them.

OVERALL:

This was a good read, nothing too obscene (there is a minor reference to Morning Sex), and the perfect length. If you want a book for a lazy afternoon then this book is for you!

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Monday: What I’m Reading Now 1/30/17

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This week I am in a New Edition craze! I’ve grown up on “Candy Girl”, and the subsequent solo efforts of the group too. My mom used to play “Every Little Step” by Bobby Brown so often, that I knew the words by heart before I had seen the video. Of course, I love (and still to this day dance to ) “Poison” by Bell Biv Devoe. I have really enjoyed watching New Edition’s biopic that broadcasted on BET. It’s given me a lot of insight on the group I did not know. Bobby was a rebel from a young age! Also, the little boy actors are so adorable and precise with their dance moves. I can truly say I had no favorites in New Edition because each member was essential. I liked Johnny Gill too even though he reminds me of the Cookie Monster at times. It’s all the growling he does!

Enough rambling!  Let’s talk about books because you should know what I’m reading.

What I’m reading now:

Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes

This is the next book I will be reviewing! I have already finished the book, which means I have read all the pages. I tend to like books centered around children and teens, as opposed to adults. It’s about a little redhead girl who finds out about the death of a girl at her school.

Here’s a quote from the book, that I like a lot:

“As she wove in and out of all the people – rushing, talking, eating, laughing; some in clumps, some alone – she realized that no one, no one at all in the airport, or on the entire planet for that matter, knew her thoughts, knew what she was carrying inside her head and heart. And at that very minute, what was inside her head and heart made her feel as though there was no one else in the whole world she would rather be.”

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What I Read Last Week:

402013Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

This was a bunch of fun to read! Here’s my full review of it: here. I have started reading the fourth book in the series.Georgia’s still hilarious to me! I guess you can say I have become a fan of this series.

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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Book Review #1: Angus, Thongs, and Full-frontal Snogging

 

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Angus, Thongs, and Full-frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison (Rest in Peace) (247 pages) is hilarious. I have seen this book on library shelves forever, but have always passed it, for one reason or another. The last encounter I had with Angus, Thongs, and Full-frontal Snogging was when I watched a commercial for it on Nickelodeon. It has taken an assignment to show me what a gem of a book this is.

STORY:

The story is about Georgia Nicolson, a sarcastic fourteen-year-old girl who is worried about her body and is treated like a child. She’s a bit jealous of her dense but beautiful best friend Jas, and the attention she attracts from boys. Jas, her schoolmates, and she go through numerous boy-chasing adventures, and each one of them is fun and cringe-worthy. Sometimes, Georgia is lusting after an older boy, trying to get away from a kissing monster, or terribly masquerading as a French girl. An example of the great humor is when Georgia gets kissing lessons. Let’s not talk about how creepy it is for a seventeen-year-old boy to have thirteen-year-old girls lining up at his door before his parents are home no less, for kissing lessons. Still, that entire situation kept me laughing. It perfectly captures the essence of “doing teenage stuff you have no business doing.”

I found Georgia’s narrative whiny, but her witty and judgmental attitude makes up for it.I think the author, Rennison, writes in the vein of a basic teenage girl well. Maybe it’s because Rennison was once a teenage girl herself.

One of my favorite quotes and a shining example of Georgia’s thoughts:

“I have no other foundation or money. I may have to kill her.”

Even with no context, that is just funny. The entire book is made up of one-liners and paragraphs determined to withdraw a laugh out of your funny bank. In this story, the humor is my favorite part.

What I did not like about this book was, again, Georgia’s whining. I understand most teens think their parents are unfair and dumb, but Georgia hates on her parents for every little thing. Her Dad can’t even ruffle her hair and kiss her good night without her wanting to gag. I did not like the age difference in a lot of the boy escapades. Why does an almost grown, college-bound boy want an immature middle school girl?  Although these type of relationships persisted throughout the whole book, the author did acknowledge it. I also did not like how some of the boys were too touchy-feely with Georgia. Raging hormones are one thing, but some of the actions almost teetered on “you need to ask for consent” territory. To give you an idea: One boy put his hand on Georgia’s barely there breast without asking, and she, of course, had no clue how to handle that. I would have preferred the book not being told through journal entries, but that is more of my personal preference.

CHARACTERS:

Georgia knows she is thirsty desperate, but she absolutely embraces it. She is both the one sabotaging and coaching her friend’s relationship with a boy. She is obsessed with lesbianism and jokingly thinks her lack of boy interaction makes her gay. She goes to an all-girl school, so all her boy activity is outside. Georgia also wishes her father was more masculine in the traditional sense and ridicules him for wearing aprons often. She dotes on her little sister Libby and gets along well with her mom.

Jas, which I assume is short for Jasmine, is one of those infuriating characters everyone loves. I like how simple Jas is. She is the type of friend you tell a secret and find your business all over the school the next morning. But, she’s also the type to help you stalk a chick and keep you company.

The rest of the characters are interesting and play their parts in the story well.  From uptight teachers, cute boys, and bad girls who hang around Georgia, this book has it all.

OVERALL:

In real life, I probably wouldn’t like Georgia, as she seems like the type to be a man-stealer and forget about your friendship once she gets her boo. However, inside the book universe, I want this girl to get all her desires in life. She’s not the cookie-cutter nice girl, but she isn’t a total spoiled brat either. I like this book a lot to the point, I want to check out the sequels. I could read about Georgia and her roulette of boys forever. If you like laughing and a little romance, then this book is for you.

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Ten Facts about Me

Hi! To whoever is reading this, these are some short tidbits about me.

1. I consider myself a creative person, as I can draw, write, and paint. As creative as I deem myself, I spent at least twenty minutes scrambling my brain for a blog title. I had to go the cliche route to have time to write a post.

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I also aspire to be an all ages children’s author. Hopefully, this is the year I publish my first book!

2. Languages have always interested me. I only speak one language fluently as of now, which is English. I am currently learning Spanish, and I would like to know Creole and Korean or Italian next. I read in Spanish better than I speak it, but I’m slowly getting better.

3. I enjoy watching cartoons and foreign animation. I have random bouts of nostalgia and often re-watch some of my favorite cartoons, which are Codename: Kids Next Door, Class of 3000, and Dragon Hunters (Hey Arnold is an honorable mention).

4. My favorite book ever is Standing Against the Wind by Traci L. Jones. I wrote the author an email about how much I adored her book, and I was positively elated to receive a response back.

5. I love to read about superheroes, ninjas, spies, samurais, and cliche and non-cliche love stories.

6. I am frequently thought to be much younger than I am. Most people put me at twelve years old.

7. I would love to be a fabulous librarian one day, emphasis on fabulous!

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8. I love sweet tea, smoothies, and Coca-cola (only from restaurants). Despite my love of sugary drinks, I don’t have a sweet-tooth. I usually don’t prefer eating cake or pie unless it’s cheesecake or sweet potato pie.

9. In my childhood, I was homeschooled until my first year of college. I miss doing homework in my pajamas with the heater on.

10. I tend to overthink things often, but I haven’t let it deter me from a fun life yet!

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