I Should Have Never Joined A Gang Review

Picture books are a way for authors to tell a story to people of all ages through powerful images and compelling almost-poetic writing. This book truly tries to reach out to the readers, leading them in the shoes of a young boy who gets wrapped up in the wrong crowd. He simply wants to fit in and have popular older friends in the neighborhood, but then a drive-by shooting turns his entire life upside down. The main character doesn’t understand how those who promised to be his friends would beat him as a part of an “initiation,” and he starts to realize that those who claimed to be his family were truly just using him. But by then, it might be too late.

Although this book is a picture book, it is definitely not appropriate for young kids. It has a few graphic pictures/scenes that would just be too much for an elementary schooler. A middle schooler might pretend to dislike the picture book, but the message will definitely stick. Even I am thinking about it hours later as a college student. I do think that some of the best good that this book could do would be to teach adults the mindsets behind some gang members. The kids hanging out in front of the liquor store aren’t hardened criminals, they are kids who are on the wrong path and who think that they are having fun with their friends. Maybe more adults will have more sympathy after reading this simple picture book.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for an eye-opening story of the truth about many gangs.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 books

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The Royal Cleaner #7: Torn Review

Torn: A F/F/F Snowverse Novel (The Royal Cleaner, #7)

Caroline, Seph, and Mina have finally started to accept their feelings for one another, and have begun to live as a polyamorous couple. Nothing can ever go perfectly for this group though, and Seph has to get used to being diagnosed as Litcorde and to her new powers as an Oracle while still being in the honeymoon stage of her new relationships. Also, Gregor and Mina’s ex-husband are getting along quite well, but Gregor is struggling with dating someone so new to discovering himself.

I was so so so so happy to see Seph happy (at least somewhat) with Mina and Caroline! I felt bad for her in the previous novel as she kept pining after the married couple while they were oblivious to her advances. She has put herself to the side for so many books, and now she gets the chance to work on herself. Even though Uther is still a threat, she has to work on her powers before she can take him on properly. I was happy to see the book focus on her and her own issues for a bit without having Caroline or Mina or Gregor to worry about. Seph was so used to putting on a brave face to protect her brother that she had suppressed her feelings and had ignored the signs of her being Litcorde.

Speaking of Gregor, I am also happy that he was able to find happiness in this book! He spent most of his time protecting Caroline in their fake marriage and hadn’t pursued any romantic interests of his own in many years, so to see him have an interest in someone was a pleasant change. I wasn’t expecting Arjun to be his love interest, but I am glad that Diya’s father is somehow included in this world of magic.

This book again focuses on the more domestic side of the characters, which I truly enjoy. Since the series is intertwined so closely with the Freya Snow books, most of the action ends up occurring in the main series. These characters of floating in the aftermath of those books, which is an interesting and unique way to tell the story. You can see how the Demon World is working behind the scenes, as Freya has larger issues to worry about than the somewhat smaller issues of the Royal Cleaners.

Overall this was another great installment in this novella series, and I can’t wait to see what happens to these characters next! I would recommend this series to anyone looking for an adult romance novel with a polyamorous and LGBT+ couples.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 books

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Royal Cleaner #5: Family Review

Family (The Royal Cleaner, #5)

Mina and Caroline have just given birth to their twins, and they are dealing with having new magical babies. While they are just starting to take time off, Demons get through the wards of their house. Mina also has to deal with her ex-husband Arjen coming back into the picture, claiming that Caroline’s presence has made Mina an unfit mother for Diya. Mina is trying to work with Caroline on her powers, but Caroline still hasn’t gotten over the death of her twin many years ago. In order to move forward, Caroline and Mina are going to have to face and reconcile with their pasts.

I was happy to see Caroline and Mina get somewhat of a break in this novel. I was so excited that they got to have twins, and they are such good parents. The Demons did come eventually, but you got to see the two also focus on rebuilding their family life after the crazy events of the past few books. I am also happy that Arjen is back into the picture even though he wasn’t there before, just so that Diya doesn’t feel abandoned. It also allowed Mina to see that she didn’t handle everything perfectly, which was an interesting twist on the way I thought the “deadbeat dad” route I thought the story would take.

The story moved smoothly and I immediately remembered who the characters were even though I haven’t read a book from this series since April. It was a little on the shorter side but that made it perfect to read while commuting. I was able to put the book down and pick it back up again at any time without feeling confused.

I can’t say much more about the story without spoiling anything, but I was absolutely hooked again by the time I finished reading this novel and immediately went to pick up the next book in this series. I honestly think that the Royal Cleaner arc might be my favorite Freya Snow spinoff. I can’t wait to talk about the next two in this series!

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a new adult fantasy/romance novel with LGBT+ main characters.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

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The Dyno Dinosaur Family Presents: Waves of Kindness Review

The Dyno Dinosaur Family Presents: Waves of Kindness

This picture book shows children the power of kindness. Sister Dyno wants to be able to spread kindness to others, but she doesn’t know how. She thinks that she is too young to be able to make a difference in the world. Mother Dyno shows Sister Dyno that every little action she does can make a difference in the world and make people happier. These waves of kindness spread from person to person until everyone is happy.

I loved this metaphor in this book and I think it could be useful for both children and adults. The illustrations were colorful and bright, and the story was educational for readers of all ages. I definitely think that you could use this book to teach your child about kindness and spreading generosity to others. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a picture book about family, kindness, and happiness.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 books.

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Shadow Eyes #2: Luminous Spirits Review

Luminous Spirits (Shadow Eyes, #2)
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Luminous Spirits is the second book in the Shadow Eyes trilogy by Dusty Crabtree. Iris is finally coming into her powers and has started to go on more difficult missions with Gregory, Patrick, and Kyra to save people from the shadows that prey on them. But her best friend Lexi is being completely left out of the picture. She isn’t a light warrior and can’t go on the missions for safety reasons, but Iris is now spending all of her free time training. Soon, the shadows start to come for Lexi, and Iris has to figure out how to save her best friend. Her relationship with Patrick is also hurting because of a new girl named Lila that won’t leave him alone, and her ex Josh has come back into the picture and reminds Iris of how things could have been.

I am loving this trilogy so far! Iris has truly blossomed since the last installment of this series and has finally started to become a full-fledge light warrior, but she is still learning some important things. For example, she has to learn how to tell shadows apart in order to figure out how much strength will be needed to remove it, or if it can be removed at all. Some shadows are so strong that they have already started to kill their human hosts, but most can be removed before they get to that point. The shadow description in this trilogy has been done so well, as the shadows aren’t simply random “villain” encounters. The shadows have voices, the shadows can speak to their hosts, and Iris has to intercept them. I felt as though the shadows were real as I read this, and felt as if I wanted to be a light warrior to save people from the shadows that plague them.

The only thing that I didn’t like in this novel was how quickly Iris seemed to jump to conclusions. She seemed pretty indecisive about her relationship, but the minute her boyfriend does something totally out of character for him, she is willing to believe the worst. This could just be my bias against love triangles coming out, but I don’t see a love triangle in the near future for this series. This book focuses mostly on Patrick though, which made me glad.

My two absolute favorite parts about this book were learning about Patrick’s past and the side story with Iris’ best friend Lexi. Patrick wasn’t always a light warrior, and he starts to tell Iris more about his past self in this book. I am a little confused as to the timeline with all of this, but I understood what was happening when he was telling his stories. A lot of new characters were introduced this way, and I enjoyed learning about the new people in this world. It also really touched me to have Lexi not be forgotten, and for Iris to realize how she was hurting her friend. In most books where a kid gets powers and leaves their friends behind, the friends either turn out to be evil, secretly have powers too, or just “don’t understand” so it is reasonable that they are forgotten. Lexi tried to be a good friend, but she kept getting pushed to the side, making her an easier target for the shadows that latch onto sad emotions.

This was an amazing installment in this trilogy! I would recommend the Shadow Eyes Trilogy to anyone looking for a new YA fantasy or urban fantasy series.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5 books.

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Exo Review

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Earth has been collaborating with powerful aliens and living with them for a century (after the war). Donovan’s father is the Prime Liason with the combined alien-human government, and Donovan himself is an Exo, a human that has erze cells implanted in him since he was 5 years old. This process is called the “Hardening” because it gives him an alien exoskeleton that he can retract, and allows for him to self-regenerate if injured. His mother left when he was five years old, so it has just been him, his dad, his alien advisor, and his teammates for most of his upbringing.

Donovan and his best friend Jet found a young boy on a playground, and after making small talk with him and gaining his trust he reveals that his uncle has stacks of papers from Max. Max is a writer of many pamphlets for the insurgent group that the SecPac army must control. They hate the idea of aliens controlling any part of Earth, think that the Exos are disgusting hybrids, and are trying to get the humans in the regular society to rise up and take back Earth for humans. Donovan and Jet have to confront the man alone as the reinforcements are across town, but they think that they can handle it. However, they were set up, shooters are places on the roof of the houses on the street, and Donovan and Jet are attacked as they try to escape and wait for the reinforceemnts. Jet escapes, but Donovan is taken as a hostage for the insurgent group.

This book is made interesting by having a 17 year old main character that is a part of the army. He is told by the people he is surrounded by that he is to be on the side of the aliens and that the insurgents are only trying to destroy their society. However, the more time he spends with the insurgents, the more he reconsiders some thoughts about his society. In his time alone, he also thinks about how painful the Hardening process was, and how many people simply brushed off the fact that it was basically torture to a five year old and that some did not even survive the ordeal.

He also comes to terms with what actually determines if a person is human or not. The people who belong to the Sapience insurgent group think that he isn’t fully human because of his alien DNA, but he believes that the exoskeleton does not affect his brain, only his body. It brings up an amazing argument that continues throughout the book, and in the reader’s minds as well.

I truly enjoyed this amazing ride of a book. Although it was a bit slow in the beginning, it definitely picked up speed until I felt as if I flew through the middle and the end.  It had some romance but nothing over the top and nothing that interfered with the plot. It was unique, showing a world with humans divided on whether or not to accept aliens, and human alien hybrids being accepted in most society but rejected by the “insurgents”. I hope to read more by this author soon.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5