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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Binti #2: Home

Home (Binti, #2)
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Home is the continuation of the Binti series. Binti has been at Oomza for over a year, and she has managed to make somewhat acquaintances with the Meduse Okwu. Now, Binti must travel to her home town and go on a pilgrimage with her people. She brings Okwu to her home planet to meet her people, and she struggles to find her place as a foreigner in a place that she once called home.

Okorafor does include some thoughts of Binti having panic attacks and having to go to a counselor because of the attack on the ship a year ago, but I felt like Binti and the world still don’t care about what happened on that ship! Okwu is allowed at the school as some sort of exchange student, and no one ever really questions him. He was on the ship when the attack occurred, but no one is even put in jail for killing all of those innocent students. Sure, they wanted the chief’s stinger, but surely there could have been a more peaceful way of getting it back rather than killing a ship full of students and then keeping one hostage as an ambassador. I don’t understand how they just forgave the Meduse for this and just moved to allow them into the school so easily. How are they explaining this to the parents of the children who were killed? Nothing makes sense.

On top of that, did you know Binti has turned half Meduse? Because I sure didn’t! It came as a complete shock to me when all of a sudden, her hair was some sort of tentacles. And the book doesn’t even discuss her hating herself for becoming (at least partially) one of the killers that had taken so many lives. It would have been interesting banter, but it isn’t even discussed. Clearly, she doesn’t view the Meduse as her equal though, as she repeatedly calls Okwu an “it” throughout the book. It would make sense if Okwu was called “them” for being gender non-binary, but it? IT? Okwu is clearly a sentient being worth more than just the pronoun it. So, I call Okwu he in this review and in my head as that is how other characters refer to him in the book.

It is so disappointing when Binti meets her family. I wasn’t expecting her to be welcomed home with open arms, but they are outright cruel to her at times. It’s like everyone has forgotten that she totally could have died in the previous book with the rest of the kids on that ship. Speaking of the ship, the ship is alive. Again, would have been interesting to see how a living creature would feel about having hundreds of students killed inside her own body, but that isn’t discussed either.

Overall, I would not recommend this trilogy. I am going to read the last book, but then I am not going to read it again most likely. I wanted so badly to enjoy it, but I simply cannot, unfortunately.

Overall Rating: 1 out of 5 books

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The Chosen (Contender #1) Blog Tour Plus Review

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The Chosen (Contender #1)

by Taran Matharu
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Release Date: June 4th 2019

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Introducing an epic new trilogy from Taran Matharu, author of the New York Times–bestselling Summoner series. 

Throughout history, people have vanished with no explanation. A group of teenagers are about to discover why.

Cade is settling into a new boarding school, contemplating his future, when he finds himself transported to another realm. He soon discovers their new world is populated with lost remnants from the past: prehistoric creatures, ancient relics, and stranger still — people. Overwhelmed by his new surroundings, Cade has little time to adjust, for soon he and his fellow classmates are forced to become contenders in a brutal game, controlled by mysterious overlords.

But who are these beings and why did they choose these teens? Cade must prepare for battle . . . because hiding is not an option.

Cade was convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. He has been spending the last six months of his life at a boarding school for troubled boys, but he doesn’t fit in there. He never committed a crime, he actually enjoys learning and History class, and he isn’t “troubled.” As he counts down the days until he will be able to get out of the school, he sees his dreams slipping away. He will no longer be able to go back to the advanced school he was in, he will probably be unable to go to a good college, and his parents’ lives have been ruined as they have to pay for this school and for his court case. Just when Cade thinks things couldn’t get worse, he wakes up on some foreign planet. Something called a Codex follows him around and tells him that they have some sort of battle coming up. Cade doesn’t want to play these games, but the more he explores the planet, the more deadly things become. Cade has an important choice to make, one that could lead to either life or death.

I love Taran Matharu’s books! I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in the Summoner series, and I have the last two sitting on my shelf waiting to be read. When I found out that he had a new book coming out, I knew that I wanted to be one of the first to read and enjoy it. Matharu definitely didn’t disappoint!

I truly sympathized with Cade from beginning to end. He never wanted to be a hero, and he never was a criminal. All he was a kid that happened to be in the wrong room at the wrong time, and who was racially profiled on top of that. This one case had ruined his and his parents’ lives all at once, and it wasn’t his fault in any way. It was sad because it seemed so realistic, like some boy in a rich boarding school could actually have this happen to him. I completely forgot about the “traveling to another world” storyline as I read this part of the book. I honestly could have read an entire book about Cade in his boarding school, and even though it wouldn’t have been happy, it would have been interesting.

Once Cade was in the new world, things really got exciting. I won’t spoil anything as this is the majority of the book. All I will say is that I was on the edge of my seat for most of the book once he landed on the foreign planet.

The only thing that I disliked about this story was the middle. The transition from the real world to the new planet was not as smooth as I thought it could have been, and I felt like I was confused as it kept dragging on. After I got over this part of the novel, everything else went smoothly and I enjoyed myself.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a new YA fantasy/dystopian novel!

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

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 books

BOOK LINKS

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31557553-the-chosen

Amazon https://amzn.to/2GIudjG

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-chosen/id1439079557?mt=11

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-chosen-taran-matharu/1129098221?ean=9781250249753#/

Bookdepository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Contender-Chosen-Taran-Matharu/9781444938975?ref=grid-view&qid=1556265959093&sr=1-1

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/es/en/ebook/contender-the-chosen

Google Books: https://books.google.es/books/about/The_Chosen.html?id=bWxVuQEACAAJ&redir_esc=y

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Taran Matharu is the New York Times bestselling author of the Summoner series, which has been translated into 15 languages and has sold over a million copies. He was born in London in 1990 and found a passion for writing during early adolescence, beginning his first book at 9 years old.

Straight after graduating with a First Class degree in Business Administration, Taran was keen to explore a new avenue and get inside the publishing world, landing an internship in Digital Sales at Penguin Random House, from June to September 2013. 

Thereafter, while taking time off to travel, Taran began to write ‘Summoner’ in November 2013 at the age of 22, taking part in ‘Nanowrimo 2013’ and sharing his work on Wattpad.com. The shared sample of the story went viral, reaching over 3 million reads in less than six months. Taran went on to launch his professional writing career, and has never looked back.

His SUMMONER series is published by Hodder Children’s (Hachette) in the UK, Australia and Commonwealth, Feiwel and Friends (Macmillan) in the US and Canada, Hachette Jeunesse in France, Heyne in Germany, Planeta in Spain, Crown in Taiwan, Record in Brazil, EKSMO in Russia, Jaguar in Poland, Ecliptic in Bulgaria, Alpress in the Czech Republic, Ithaki in Turkey, Forlaget Forar in Denmark and Unieboek in the Netherlands.

AUTHOR LINKS

Website: https://authortaranmatharu.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979840.Taran_Matharu

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TaranMatharu1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authortaranmatharu

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/taranmatharuauthor/

TOUR SCHEDULE

https://fantasticflyingbookclub.blogspot.com/2019/05/tour-schedule-chosen-contender-1-by.html

Moodboard!

Binti #1 Review

Binti (Binti, #1)
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Binti by Nnedi Okorafor is a novel about a young girl named Binti who is the first of her people to go to Oomza University. She has to escape in the middle of the night just to avoid her parents to be able to go to the University. Her people believe that you should stay in your homeland forever, but Binti has been dreaming of going to this university since she was a young girl. While traveling to the university, Binti realizes that she may have made a mistake. Everyone stares at her because of the otjize or an orange-red substance that her people rub into their skin and hair to become a part of their homeland. They call her terrible names and treat her as if she is worthless. Then, on her way to the university, her ship is attacked. Binti must make difficult decisions and use the power within herself to be able to survive until she gets to the university.

I was so excited for this book, I really was. Now that I am at the end of it, I am simply disappointed. I felt like I was on some sort of wild ride where I never really got to connect with any of the characters and simply raced to the end. Binti went from being on a ship with classmates who may or may not have liked her to being on a ship full of killer aliens. I was looking forward to seeing Binti make friends and connect with the other students who were feeling isolated, but instead they were just murdered in cold blood and then never really spoken about again. The novel doesn’t even discuss how being on a ship full of her classmate’s dead bodies affected Binti. It just leaps from scene to scene without focusing on anything for a long enough time.

Then, the book tries to convince me that the people who literally murdered Binti’s classmates in cold blood aren’t really killers. There was literally nothing redeemable about them, and Binti doesn’t automatically stop fearing them, but that was a terrible take in my opinion. I think the story could have been salvageable if the motto hadn’t been “mass murderers aren’t always evil.”

Overall, I was generally disappointed by this book. I really wanted to like it, but I couldn’t. I will be reading the rest of the series however, as I have already purchased the books and don’t want them to go to waste! Maybe things will turn around for Binti.

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 books

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Brown Sugar and Spice Review

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Brown Sugar & SpiceIt had been a whirlwind of change from a year ago for Pierre Jackson … on track to becoming a chef extraordinaire, living it up in a plush up-town condo that he shared with his successful and debonair fiancé, De’Andre Harris, the world’s hottest news anchor, Pierre thought he had his future all mapped out. He hadn’t imagined that he’d be alone, in between jobs, lose his passion for cooking, living in a run-down apartment, and entertaining the thought of having to share space with a stranger. That is, until he received a phone call from his best friend asking for a huge favor. If that wasn’t enough, he’s beckoned home to deal with a death in the family, and having to travel to a far away land, a place from his distant past, a place of faint memories of an unaccustomed culture, tropical heat and the sweet scent of mangoes.

Pierre’s new roommate is Zola Washington, a beautiful, charismatic, young African American woman, who unbeknownst to Pierre has her own agenda and wrestling with her own ghosts. Zola is trying to escape a tumultuous relationship with her crazy ex-boyfriend, Jaizon, and rebuild a brand-new life. She has big dreams and makes a risky decision to open a bistro in the heart of the bustling city of Toronto, but she doesn’t know where to begin until she meets Pierre.

While Pierre and Zola push ahead in their pursuits of living better lives, they both finds themselves at a crossroad when their past comes back to haunt them and has them turning to copious amounts of delicious food and the search of spirituality.


This book was definitely a whirlwind of a romance!

At the start of the novel, Pierre was still getting over his ex-fiance De’Andre. De’Andre was trying to sneak back into his life, but Pierre wasn’t going to have it. If De’Andre wouldn’t give up the facade and would continue to date women to appease his parents, Pierre wasn’t going to sneak around like the secret boyfriend. De’Andre could be happy with his wife, and Pierre would find someone that would be proud to show him off. He tries looking for love in the wrong places, and then he is invited home for his grandfather’s funeral. Soon, he finds a man named London. London seems to be everything that Pierre wants, but he also isn’t willing to come out to his family. Pierre isn’t sure if he wants to get into another relationship with a closeted man, but he can’t seem to avoid London. London makes him forget about all his drama with De’Andre and his roommate’s dangerous ex and makes Pierre remember what he wants to do with his life and his cooking skills.

It took me a while to connect with the characters in this novel. I didn’t like the storyline of De’Andre trying to get back together with Pierre, especially not a year after their engagement had been broken up. I wanted Pierre to find someone new and was happy when he started to look for love in other places. He was going to get started on the bistro, and he was also working on maintaining his successful journalism career. Then, the story took a bit of a turn. Zola’s ex-boyfriend was getting out of jail, and she was scared that he was going to find her and attack her. Then Pierre was headed to an island, and the story arc with his family’s funeral seemed almost too realistic. Part of his family still on the island thought that the sister who went to America was privileged, while part of his family from America realized that things in the North were not all they were cracked up to be. The family drama kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time!

I could keep up with the romance bits of the story, but the rest confused me. I had completely forgotten about Zola’s ex troubles until suddenly an event happened and I had to backtrack and figure out what was going on. I didn’t even remember what her ex’s name was supposed to be at one point! Then De’Andre’s new girlfriend came into the picture and started stirring up drama, and I just couldn’t keep track of it all. By the time I reached the end of the novel, I felt that the conflicts had been wrapped up pretty nicely. The thing that hadn’t been wrapped up nicely was Pierre’s issues starting the novel. I still didn’t know what was happening with the Bistro and I still didn’t know what was happening with Pierre’s love life. I felt like I had gone on a very long and twisted (and exhilarating) ride just to come full circle.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed the romantic parts. Pierre was constantly fighting himself on what moves to make with his new partners. He wanted to take things slow sometimes, but in the heat of the moment, it can be hard to say no. He stuck to his guts and never allowed himself to be pressured into anything that he wasn’t ready for, which I commend him on. He knew that he didn’t want to be anyone’s secret, and he made sure that his partners knew that from the beginning. But even I got as tired as Pierre when the scene would get intense and then just fall completely flat! I hope that Pierre can eventually find true love, and maybe he will in a future novel. I will definitely be waiting.

Overall, I enjoyed this book! Pierre was definitely a likeable character, and I don’t think I have ever read a gay romance novel with a black male character. It’s sad to say, but it is true. Nor do I think I’ve ever read a gay romance with a black female character. These need to exist more, and this book definitely made a good lasting impression on me. I will be looking for more from author Mathis Bailey!

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a diverse gay male romance novel.

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

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 books

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The Wish of Xmas Present Blog Tour Plus Review

the wish of xmas

 

Dr. Malcolm Styles is the charming and adorably sappy hero in The Perks of Higher Ed and The Wish of Xmas Present.  Dr. Sky Ellis loves Malcolm just the way he is, including his junk food junkie habits and his love for all things sweet and chocolate. In The Wish of Xmas Present, Sky cooks Malcolm sweet potato pie and triple layer chocolate cake, two family recipes she learned how to make from her mother.
“So, you’d rather have candy corn and caramel apples than the sweet potato pie and triple layer chocolate cake I made you?”
“You made me what?”
“You heard me.”
“Where are they?”
“In your refrigerator.”
“How did you get them in there?”
“I used the spare key you left at my apartment.”
“You little… I don’t care. Let’s go.”
Yes, Malcolm loves desserts almost as much as he loves Sky.
“Since you didn’t bring any whipping cream, buy some for my birthday trip. Butterscotch, caramel, orange, or lemon. Chocolate, salted peanut butter, and brown sugar cinnamon would be redundant. I got those already taken care of.”
Sky’s eyes snapped open and stared at Malcolm. “You did not just say that.”
“You know I’m right. Chocolate, salted peanut butter, and brown sugar cinnamon, you’re getting all three now.” He pulled Sky even closer and whispered in her ear. “You love it. It’s okay to admit being a Malcolm Styles junk food junkie. I’m the best kind of food addiction, and you get a work out when you have me. A win-win.”
Now that Malcolm knows Sky is a whiz in the kitchen, especially with desserts, he made her a top ten list of his favorite holiday desserts. He’s hoping, with a bit of coaxing and a lot of kissing, Sky will make his holiday dream come true. If you think sweet treats are Malcolm’s only wish for Christmas, think again. Our romantic and sappy hero has plans for Sky, a present for their future.
the wish of xmas

The Wish of Xmas Present

The Styles of Love

Book Two
N.D. Jones
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Holiday Romance
Publisher: Kuumba Publishing
Date of Publication: December 21, 2018
ISBN: 9781732556751
ASIN: B07HLHN9H8
Number of pages: 292
Word Count: 80k
Cover Artist: Limabean Designs
Tagline: The greatest gift of all is the love we share with each other…
Book Description:
As love blooms and familial bonds are forged, the spirit of the season welcomes us home and offers us a chance to dream. Dr. Malcolm Styles and Dr. Sky Ellis’s whirlwind office romance, a sexy perk of higher ed, has swept them off their feet. Now that the winds of change have settled, Malcolm and Sky find, as the Christmas holiday approaches, a chance to make a deeper connection.
For Malcolm, he has only one wish for the winter holiday of goodwill, mistletoe, and decorations. Will his wish make it to Santa’s list, granting Malcolm a joyful Noel, or will Jack Frost smother his cheer in a blizzard of disappointment?
As Malcolm and Sky traverse the landscape of romance and love, they find themselves on a journey of self-discovery and bonding. For ‘tis the season of caring and with it comes the blessings of family, hope, and faith.
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Malcolm and Skye’s relationship continues in this sequel to _. Malcolm wants to ask Skye to marry him, but he isn’t sure if she is ready. As he asks her friends and family members for advice, they all tell him to wait. Nevertheless, he knows that he wants to marry her, and he is willing to wait as long as he has to.

Skye is opening up to him more and more, and she starts thinking about the possibility of marriage. But before she can even think about starting her future, she has to face her past and her present: her father. Her father wants to come into her life again, but Skye doesn’t know if she is ready for that Malcolm wants her to try, and she just might be willing to try for him.

I loved Malcolm and Skye’s relationship in the first novel, so I was excited to continue reading about it in this book! The two got so much closer in this novel, and it was beautiful to see how their relationship grew.

Malcolm’s relationship with his sister and brother in law has grown, as Angie recovers from her accident. Angie doesn’t want to let her husband constantly take care of her, but she also needs help to complete basic tasks. I loved her character, as she was so spunky and always had motivation, even as she was sick.

We learn more of Skye’s backstory in this novel, and the truth about her relationship with her father. Every page revealed a new secret, and I was on the edge of my seat for the entire novel. The novel even tells the story from the point of view of Skye’s mother, Sade. You never heard much about her in the previous novels, as she has already passed away at the start of book one.

The story moved smoothly yet quickly, and I sped through the book almost completely in one sitting. I was rooting for Malcolm and Skye the whole time, and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series!

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a new adult romance novel.

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

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 books

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About the Author:
N. D. Jones is a USA Today bestselling author who lives in Maryland with her husband and two children. She is a dedicated educator, committed to equitable and excellent education for all students. N.D. has served in the role as teacher, department chair, and professional development teacher specialist, supporting the learning of students and the professional growth of teachers.
N.D. is the founder of Kuumba Publishing, an art, audiobook, eBook, and paperback company. Kuumba Publishing is a forum for creativity, with a special commitment to promoting and encouraging creative works of authors and artists of African descent. Her teenage daughter created the image design for Kuumba Publishing, while her son has written a role playing game original character bio for a new paranormal romance series–making Kuumba Publishing a true family affair.
A desire to see more novels with positive, sexy, and three-dimensional African American characters as soul mates, friends, and lovers, inspired the author to take on the challenge of penning such romantic reads. She is the author of two paranormal romance series: Winged Warriors and Death and Destiny. She’s also embarked on a science fiction romance series, Forever Yours. N.D. likes to read historical and paranormal romance novels, as well as comics and manga.

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