Moody: A Collection of Short Stories

41729475Hey everyone! In between studying (and not studying haha) I’ve still been reading books. I haven’t written any drawn-out reviews, but I post the shorter ones on my Goodreads

Anyway, since it’s still in Kindle Unlimited until December 5th, I thought I’d do a post about my ebook. This is a bit like a BTS/in the author’s head type of thing.

STORY:

 Moody: A Collection of Short Stories by Destiny Henderson (44 pages) has 5 lighthearted short stories and one prologue to an upcoming book, Dreaded Dinner Party. The book genre is all ages’ fiction, but they can be categorized as Middle-Grade Fiction (although Play it Cool, Al is more YA-ish). 

Pink is a Distraction –  I really wanted to write a character that wore obnoxiously loud colors. Keva’s reason for this feels very valid to her, but other people don’t always understand that. Which is why her trip to the cake shop, ends in an unexpected way.

Jo and Terra – This story was both inspired by an astronomy class and the summer heat. It’s mainly fun banter between two friends!

Play it Cool, Al – Another short story that plays a bit with the character’s insecurities. This is one of the rare times I have a male main character. I usually have female protagonists, but it was good to try something new.

 Desiree “Dezzy” turned out to be a real joy to create. I think I would like to write a story from her perspective. She’s not a character I can easily throw away.

Ice – I absolutely love superhero lore or any media where characters have powers. Marvel movies and My Hero Academia (SN: the movie was amazing!) are currently two things I adore very much. It was no surprise this idea, a girl basically thinking about her friend’s interesting situation, popped into my head a while ago. 

In the future, I hope to flesh this out as a full story, but for now, it’s just a what-if concept/open-end short story. 

Waiting for Bus 26 – A simple story! I wanted to have a very serious and precise short boy as a character and everything else just fell into place.

Continue reading “Moody: A Collection of Short Stories”

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Book Review #36: A Blade so Black

Love the cover!

STORY:36952594
In A Blade so Black by L.L. McKinney (384 pages), after a scary night in the hospital, Alice had fully-embraced her new life as a dreamwalker, fighter of nightmares, in Wonderland. Hatta’s been training her for months at night while she still manages to live as a normal 17-year-old. Well, until Hatta’s been poisoned, and everything goes up into flames.

At times, I feel like this story is over-eager. It tries to mention all the points: grief, racism, police brutality, white allies, and not fitting the stereotypical “black” mold. I would’ve liked more focus on each subject individually instead of a quick touch and go.

Despite that, I love the way the nightmares spawn from real-life fear. For example, the connection between the black girl being gunned down and Alice’s community pumping out waves of fear. I found this aspect excitingly interesting. I would’ve loved to delve more into that as opposed to the many repetitive times Alice has to deal with her mom/sneak out. They all end the same way. Alice says sorry, leaves again and has to fake text/call to fool her mom, Mom doesn’t get fooled, and Alice gets in trouble. Rinse and repeat. I don’t mind the living a secret life trope, but I wish the instances could’ve been more varied.

I enjoyed some of the cultural moments like when Alice forgot to defrost the meat for her mom (girl, how are you still alive!?! lol), the fact Alice knew she had time because her mom was at a looong church service, the AAVE, her natural hair, etc. I hadn’t thought too much about the struggle of monster fighting with natural hair. For example, Alice bout sweated out her silk press trying to kill a monster. All of that stuff is relatable to me and made me smile when I noticed it.

Anyway, this has a slow start but when the Big Bad Boss starts messing with Alice, the real fun begins.

CHARACTERS:

“I’m protecting the world. Who’d protect me? (pg 143)”

Alice is okay. We don’t really get a lot of time to spend in her head when she’s not dealing with pain, grief, or nausea haha. I like that she has a smart mouth, and she’s bold. She’s strong but still vulnerable. I love when the characters cuddle or coo over her, and when they get the heck out the way and let her run things! SN: I love her nickname, Baby Moon.

I enjoy Hatta’s wit. I know it’s cliche, but I just love hearing (reading in this case) English people say “luv.” I like him, but I don’t know a lot of his motivations such as choosing Alice.

Eh, I didn’t care too much for Alice’s friends. They aren’t that memorable and just play their roles (best friend to cover for you; 2nd love interest). I also don’t care about pumpkin spice, not even enough for a drawn-out conversation that affirms my disdain for it (sn: to me, pumpkin spice smoothies are mad nasty ._.). And every time I’ve heard someone use Aaliyah’s “Age ain’t Nothing but a Number” in an argument (jokingly or not) some foolery has always followed.

OVERALL:
If you can wait for 100 pages, then you can really decide if this story’s for you. I definitely knew I wanted to finish this because I love fantasy and diverse fiction. But I will admit I wasn’t super eager to keep reading until after that point.

I haven’t read AiW in forever, but many of the AiW references are in name only, like literally the characters names. This will either be great or disappointing depending on what you want. The originality tho does give it a lot of room to be great and distinct.

Be aware there are some cringey moments and dialogue here and there but some nice moments too!

Yes, I may have squealed at a certain kiss scene, but one day I’ll grow up and be mature when reading about kisses. BUT TODAY IS NOT THAT DAY!

Lastly, why are y’all like this? As soon as junk gets entertaining and the stakes get high, you gotta wait for book 2. :/

Book Review #35: Pride

Yo, this book’s presentation is wonderful. I love the cover, the inside drawings, and the poems.

STORY:
(Disclaimer: So, I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice, so I’m probably oblivious to the references, parallels, and easter eggs. I’m just taking this story as it is.)

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Pride by Ibi Zoboi (258 pages) gives me a weird feeling where I like the story but not the main character. I definitely liked Zuri standing up to undisclosed Darcy family member because I can’t stand when people know how their family is but still invite you into some negativity. Despite me not caring for Zuri, it was nice to get a basically filler/slice-of-life story. There’s no real plot behind a backdrop of gentrification and prejudice and college admissions. And that’s okay. I can just understand why a story with no goal in mind might annoy some people.

Also, I have seen smoother hate-to-love relationships, but Zuri and Darius are all right. Maybe if the length of this book had been increased I would’ve had more of an emotional connection with them. I really enjoyed Darius trying to win Zuri over in his both confident and awkward way at the diner with Carrie and Georgia. These two just needed a bit more time. I understand why Darius likes her, but why does Zuri like him if he’s everything she hates in a person? Just a little more development and I would’ve been awwing-ing at them. Not to say the pretty descriptions of long eyelashes, gentle caresses, and kisses weren’t aww-worthy. *wink*

Anyway, I liked the writing despite the many many instances of swag, stank, and hood (it’s a drinking game, guys!). The honey analogy is very cute to me.

CHARACTERS:

I loved Zuri’s family (I’m including Madrina as well). I wanted more time with her mom and papi. Janae seemed really adorable. The money-hungry and boy-crazy twins were fun too (most of the times).

On the other hand, Zuri is irritating. I’m sorry but she’s one of those people that call any black person with alternative interests outside of what society says black people can like, white. I definitely understand her valid concerns of gentrification (I’ve seen it too in my own town). But, in general, why do you feel like you have to prove something!?! She’s always assuming and questioning people! Let’s do 20 questions with you, Zuri, since you know everything. It’s sort of hinted Zuri makes quick judgments since people have judged her family all her life (like, automatically assuming they’re fatherless because her mom has a horde of kids) but not taken seriously. It’s definitely okay if she’s the type of person that hates to apologize, but she couldn’t accept this fact during a heart-to-heart conversation.

To be honest, Darius is my favorite character. I know Zuri thinks he’s uppity, but he just seems awkward to me. Like, back at the bodega, he didn’t know he was supposed to acknowledge those guys ( a big no, no in the south because you’re supposed to speak to people (especially at family gatherings)). Now, straight-up ignoring them is dumb but I think he was just… awkward. If he did acknowledge them, they probably would have roasted him but at least been open to a friendship.

Ainsley, Colin, and Charlise were kind of just there. I barely know anything about Darius and Ainsley’s parents.

Forget about Warren. He went as quickly as he came.

Carrie was weird.  You are supposed to feel a certain way about her at first, but then there’s a kneejerk change to make you feel another way. Maybe it was to show hidden depths, but it happened way too fast for me.

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OVERALL:
This is a firm 3/5 for me.

I enjoyed the New York setting, Zuri’s family, and, to an extent, Zuri and Darius’ relationship. But I just couldn’t get into judgmental Zuri. Like chick, you really do need to sit down. If someone’s looking down on you, you’re going to know, so don’t just assume.

Pride has a decent look at duality, and even though I can’t stand Zuri, I do get where she’s coming from. Let this story be a reminder that everyone (read: black people) doesn’t have to be the same or from your neighborhood for you to like them *cough cough Zuri* In addition, if you don’t want to be painted as an uppity, spineless dude, then make an effort to communicate and see things from others point of view, actually stand up for your friends and admit when you’re wrong  *cough cough Darius*

Well, those are my thoughts. If you like modern retellings of classical literature and a relatively quick read, then go for it!

Book Review #19: Piecing Me Together

25566675Diverse fiction? Yes! Diverse fiction with a black main character? Yes, yes! Diverse fiction with a female black main character? So many yes’s! Bonus points for the main character being darkskinned and round. I have read a few (there is a severe lack of them) books centered around black girls and that is a rare combination because in most books the girl is brownskin and thin.

STORY:

“My life is full of opportunities. Give an opportunity to someone else.

But girls like me, with coal skin and hula-hoop hips, whose mommas barely make enough money to keep food in the house, have to take opportunities every chance we get” (pg 7).

In Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson (272 pages), Jade hates that she is labeled as an “at-risk-youth” for many factors but tries her best to take advantage of the opportunities given to her. Instead of being nominated for a study-abroad trip in South America (that she is more than qualified for), she is recommended to apply for an African-American Girls’ Mentorship program, Woman to Woman. Throughout the program, Jade receives a flaky mentor, gets exposed to new places, and has to wonder is it all worth it. Is she just a charity case?

Jade and I have some things in common such as, both our favorite colors are yellow, we both learn Spanish, and love art. I also completely relate to having a mom who always has a comeback ready and not always having a good reply myself.

“It’s okay,” I tell her. It’s not, but what else am I supposed to say?” (pg 39)

See? Jade gets me.

I enjoyed how short the chapters were (bite-sized pieces!), and how they began with a Spanish word (usually infinitives). I thought Jade’s propensity to nickname people in her head like Book Girl, Glamour Girl, and Afro Woman, all characters you will know when you read the story, was cute.

As much as I like reading it, I’m glad that there was NO ROMANCE. Nothing to derail the focus. This book is going to leave you with something.

I liked Jade’s narrative immensely, and many of the chapters ripped off metaphorical bandages. Chapter 21 was real, just real.

“And this makes me wonder if a black girl’s life is only about being stitched together and coming undone, being stitched together and coming undone” (pg 86).

“Maxine is right and wrong. Those girls are not the opposite of me. We are perpendicular. We may be on different paths, yes. But there’s a place where we touch, where we connect are the same” (pg 132).”

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“I don’t know what’s worse. Being mistreated because of the color of your skin, your size, or having to prove that it really happened” (pg 137).

This book is too undeniably real.

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CHARACTERS:

The characters are really human, in a sense, that the nicest characters have flaws and good points, help and hurt, and ignore and understand.

OVERALL:

After reading this, I just want to play Solange’s “Cranes in the Sky” and persuade someone to buy this book and parade it on their bookshelf.

Piecing Me Together is thought-provoking and will make you do some serious self-reflection and introspection.

FIVE STARS! Read this. Read this. It’s deserving of all its accolades.

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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 #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 #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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