Book Review: A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

Book: A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

Published September 2018 by Imprint|384 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: A Blade So Black #1

Genre: YA Contemporary/YA Re-Telling

The first time the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now she’s trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew.

Life in real-world Atlanta isn’t always so simple, as Alice juggles an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA. Keeping the Nightmares at bay is turning into a full-time job. But when Alice’s handsome and mysterious mentor is poisoned, she has to find the antidote by venturing deeper into Wonderland than she’s ever gone before. And she’ll need to use everything she’s learned in both worlds to keep from losing her head . . . literally.

I really liked A Blade So Black!  It’s a really cool re-telling of Alice In Wonderland, and I really liked McKinney’s take on the story.

I’m not going to lie, for a while I thought her dad (and his death) were connected to the Nightmares, and everything going on with Wonderland.  I really thought, at least for a while, there was going to be a connection between the two.  Maybe it was wishful thinking on my part, and even though it didn’t go this way (and it probably won’t for the rest of the series), part of me really wants there to be more of a connection between the two.

I really liked seeing Alice struggle with having to leave to fight Nightmares, and leaving her family and friends behind.  She disappears for random periods of time, and you see how much it affects her friendships (particularly with a very high-maintenance best friend) and a mom who worries when Alice disappears and doesn’t answer her phone, it’s because she was killed.

Alice was a little bratty at times, and I don’t blame her mom for being concerned about Alice, especially when a neighborhood girl was killed.  I definitely see where her mom is coming from, and a kid like Alice would drive me crazy.  It’s hard, because I know what’s going on with Alice, and why she keeps disappearing.  But I still really felt for her mom.

It did take me a while to get into the book, and it didn’t get really interesting until the end of the book.  I’m very intrigued by this Wonderland, and I wanted more of it.  Hopefully, we’ll see more of it in the rest of the series, especially with how things ended.  It was slow and a little choppy at times, but overall, it did keep my interest until the end.

4 stars.  Even though the book didn’t get really good until the end, I’m still interested enough to continue on with the series.  I’m hoping we get to see more of Wonderland, because I did like the glimpses of it that we saw.

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Book Review: Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Book: Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Published September 2018 by Balzer + Bray|285 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary/Re-telling

Pride and Prejudice gets remixed in this smart, funny, gorgeous retelling of the classic, starring all characters of color, from Ibi Zoboi, National Book Award finalist and author of American Street.

Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable.

When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding.

But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all.

In a timely update of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, critically acclaimed author Ibi Zoboi skillfully balances cultural identity, class, and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant reimagining of this beloved classic.

I really liked this one!  I wish I hadn’t waited so long to review it, because I am a little fuzzy on the details, but I’ll do my best.  It’s not the first time I’ve waited a few weeks to review a book, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last.

Anyway, onto the actual review!  I really liked it, and I knew I had to read this one.  Pride And Prejudice is one of my favorite books, and after reading American Street (also by the same author), I was really looking forward to reading this one.  It didn’t disappoint, and it was a great re-telling!

I really liked Zuri, and how much she loves her neighborhood.  It was obvious, throughout the book, that her family was important to her, as was going to college.  I really loved that, and I loved the relationships she had with her sisters.  I do wish we saw more of her relationship with her sisters, because they do seem pretty awesome, from what we see of them.  Zuri is fierce but judgmental, and she’s a character I think people will either love or hate.  I’m having a hard time seeing a middle ground with her but maybe that’s just me.  And anything is possible.

I also liked seeing Zuri realize that the Darcy family isn’t as bad as she thought.  She changes her mind about Darius, and even Ainsley is different by the end of the book.

I thought it was a great re-telling, and though it’s been quite a while since I read the original, it was fun seeing how it matched up with the original.  From the characters, to how the story was told, it was overall a great story.  I loved seeing it set it New York, and in a more current time.  We see how gentrification affected her neighborhood, and it’s woven throughout the novel so well.

It does stand on its own really well, and even if you haven’t read Pride And Prejudice, Pride is definitely worth reading.

4 stars.  I didn’t love, but I really enjoyed this modern update for one of my favorite books.

Book Review: Buried Beneath The Baobab Tree by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani

Book: Buried Beneath The Baobab Tree by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani

Published September 2018 by Katherine Tegen Books|330 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Based on interviews with young women who were kidnapped by Boko Haram, this poignant novel by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani tells the timely story of one girl who was taken from her home in Nigeria and her harrowing fight for survival. Includes an afterword by award-winning journalist Viviana Mazza.

A new pair of shoes, a university degree, a husband—these are the things that a girl dreams of in a Nigerian village. And with a government scholarship right around the corner, everyone—her mother, her five brothers, her best friend, her teachers—can see that these dreams aren’t too far out of reach.

But the girl’s dreams turn to nightmares when her village is attacked by Boko Haram, a terrorist group, in the middle of the night. Kidnapped, she is taken with other girls and women into the forest where she is forced to follow her captors’ radical beliefs and watch as her best friend slowly accepts everything she’s been told. Still, the girl defends her existence. As impossible as escape may seem, her life—her future—is hers to fight for.

I thought Buried Beneath The Baobab Tree was okay. I really wanted to like it more, and even though I liked the overall story, how it was told didn’t work for me at all.

I thought the chapters were really short, and I felt like I was reading snapshots of what was going on. The feeling of reading snapshots felt particularly true for this story because each chapter tended to be anywhere from 1-4 paragraphs. I had a hard time connecting to what was going on because I felt like I didn’t have enough time to get into everything that was happening to our unnamed narrator. I felt like I didn’t have time to really process what was going on, even though I knew our narrator, and the girls she lived with, were dealing with a lot of things. Maybe it was meant to show that they didn’t have time to process what was going on. In the case of our unnamed narrator, she knew what was going on was horrible, and she wanted to get out, while the girls around didn’t. Of course, I can’t say for sure if that’s what the author was going for, but I am wondering if maybe that was the case.

I don’t recall our narrator ever being named, and even though what she went through was horrible, I felt really distanced from what was going on. What she went through was horrifying, and it’s even worse because we see her hopes and dreams and her relationships, and you see how what the Boko Haram did changed all of that. Sadly, this was something I didn’t know happened and that it was something that happened recently.

The headlines and news stories you see, particularly at the beginning of the book, worked really well for me. It really highlighted how we might not pay attention to global news. I know I don’t, and it’s sad that it takes books like these to show how little I know of the world around me. It was also sad to see that the world went on like normal while these girls were dealing with being held hostage by these ruthless, cruel men.

It doesn’t shy away from how these girls are brainwashed and indoctrinated into this group and what they believe. There’s violence and sexual abuse (please keep that in mind if those are triggers for you) and you do experience the loss that our narrator does, because you do see everything through her eyes. She, and the men in Boko Haram, are unnamed, which worked pretty well. I did find it frustrating at times, particularly because I had a hard time connecting with our narrator. But it did work because in not naming her, she could be anyone.

I did like the author’s note at the end, though. It explained what happened to the real-life girls that inspired this book, and you get a lot more in depth about what’s been going on with the Boko Haram. It was clear, even before reading the afterword, that Nwaubani did her research. It shows in what all of these girls went through. Even though the book ends not too long after our narrator gets rescued, there was part of me that wanted to see what her life was like after that point. I thought it was open-ended, which is fine, but I wanted a little more closure. Thinking about it now, it seems a little silly, since there probably wasn’t a lot of closure in real life for these girls.

2 stars. I wanted to like this more than I did. The short chapter length didn’t work for me at all, but I thought the author did a great job at showing the horrors these girls went through, and how this group took away so much from countless women and girls.

Book Review: The Boy In The Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

Book: The Boy In The Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

Published January 2015 by Atheneum Books For Young Readers|272 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Just when seventeen-year-old Matt thinks he can’t handle one more piece of terrible news, he meets a girl who’s dealt with a lot more—and who just might be able to clue him in on how to rise up when life keeps knocking him down—in this wry, gritty novel from the author of When I Was the Greatest.

Matt wears a black suit every day. No, not because his mom died—although she did, and it sucks. But he wears the suit for his gig at the local funeral home, which pays way better than the Cluck Bucket, and he needs the income since his dad can’t handle the bills (or anything, really) on his own. So while Dad’s snagging bottles of whiskey, Matt’s snagging fifteen bucks an hour. Not bad. But everything else? Not good. Then Matt meets Lovey. She’s got a crazy name, and she’s been through more crazy than he can imagine. Yet Lovey never cries. She’s tough. Really tough. Tough in the way Matt wishes he could be. Which is maybe why he’s drawn to her, and definitely why he can’t seem to shake her. Because there’s nothing more hopeful than finding a person who understands your loneliness—and who can maybe even help take it away.

I liked The Boy In The Black Suit.  Like with all of Reynold’s other books, I wanted to like it more than I actually did.

I did like how Matt and his dad were grieving, and also the community that they have.  Matt definitely wasn’t alone, and losing a parent can be hard.  Matt’s fascination was funerals was one of the more unique elements of the book, and while I thought it was slightly weird, it also seemed to help him feel less alone.  It’s different, but it seemed to work, especially when he met Lovey.

I’ll admit, I had a hard time believing that it would be totally okay for a teen to be working at a funeral home.  Granted, he’s helping set things up, and isn’t actually doing anything with the bodies, but still.  It was something I had a hard time believing, and I couldn’t quite get over that.  It did seem to be good for him, and he’s lucky to have a great boss.

And it’s how he really met and got to know Lovey, who’s a great character.  I liked her, and I liked seeing how she wanted to continue with some of the things her grandma did, like Thanksgiving dinner at the shelter.  The connection between Lovey and Matt was unexpected, and I expected it to cause some issues with them, but it really didn’t.

It did end abruptly, in my opinion, but…sometimes life is abrupt and weird, and it somehow seemed to fit the book. Still, I wanted a little more closure than what we got with the ending.  It’s a perfectly fine ending, and it does go with the book, but I think I just wanted something a little more from the ending.

3 stars.  I liked Matt, and he definitely deals with the death of his mother in an interesting way.  It made the book stand out, because you don’t usually see teens who are fascinated with funerals.  Even though I only liked it, I think it’s a good read, particularly if you like Jason Reynolds.

Book Review: Binti: Home And Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor

Book: Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor

Published January 2017 by Tor.com|164 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: Binti #2

Genre: Adult Sci-Fi

It’s been a year since Binti and Okwu enrolled at Oomza University. A year since Binti was declared a hero for uniting two warring planets. A year since she abandoned her family in the dawn of a new day.

And now she must return home to her people, with her friend Okwu by her side, to face her family and face her elders.

But Okwu will be the first of his race to set foot on Earth in over a hundred years, and the first ever to come in peace.

After generations of conflict can human and Meduse ever learn to truly live in harmony?

I liked this one!  Not as much as Binti, and I didn’t love it.  I wanted to love it, but it didn’t capture my attention the way Binti did.

I liked seeing what was going on with Binti, and the journey she took with her grandmother.  I did like seeing how much things had changed for her, and how differently people saw her because of everything that happened in the previous book.

Still, I felt like what actually happened in the book does not match up with how the book is described in the blurb.  I thought we’d be seeing more of Okwu on earth and working with humans for peace.  Instead, we get a completely different story involving Binti realizing that’s more special and different than we could ever imagine.  She’s great at math, and has alien DNA, and this novella added another element to how special Binti was.  I don’t mind when characters are super-special, but in Binti: Home, it really bothered me for some reason.

So, I felt like this one was more of an afterthought.  Binti (the first novella) felt like a pretty complete story and was pretty contained.  This one, not so much.  It somehow seemed more rushed and much more of a rough outline than the previous novella.  Even though it’s longer than Binti, I wanted more development with the characters and the world.  Particularly with this book.  It kind of makes me wonder what Okorafor would do with the idea if it had been a novel from the very beginning.

My Rating: 3 stars.  I like the character and the world she lives in.  It has a lot of potential, but I think the novella format is working against the story, because it could definitely be expanded into something a lot longer.

Book: Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor

Published January 2018 by Tor.com|208 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: Binti #3

Genre: Adult Sci-Fi

The concluding part of the highly-acclaimed science fiction trilogy that began with Nnedi Okorafor’s Hugo- and Nebula Award-winning BINTI.

Binti has returned to her home planet, believing that the violence of the Meduse has been left behind. Unfortunately, although her people are peaceful on the whole, the same cannot be said for the Khoush, who fan the flames of their ancient rivalry with the Meduse.

Far from her village when the conflicts start, Binti hurries home, but anger and resentment has already claimed the lives of many close to her.

Once again it is up to Binti, and her intriguing new friend Mwinyi, to intervene–though the elders of her people do not entirely trust her motives–and try to prevent a war that could wipe out her people, once and for all.

Don’t miss this essential concluding volume in the Binti trilogy.

I thought The Night Masquerade was okay.  I’ve liked this series to varying degrees, and even though I liked seeing how Binti tried to make peace between the Meduse and the Khoush, I still didn’t like it as much as I wanted to.

One of my issues with this trilogy is how short each volume is.  I know they’re meant to be novellas, but I just wanted something longer.  There’s a lot that could be expanded on and developed, and Night Masquerade is no exception.

There was something towards the end that seemed randomly introduced, and I don’t know that it worked.  The series has been fine with no romance- I really liked that there was no romance and I liked seeing how much the events of the first novella changed Binti’s life.  I liked seeing her go back home and try to get things resolved between the Meduse and the Khoush.  I liked seeing how people saw her differently because she not only went away to school but because she was Meduse as well.

I didn’t care for the romance at all.  It felt sudden, and though it sort of makes sense, I also was fine without it.

I know people love this series, and Okorafor is pretty amazing.  She creates these amazing worlds, but with this book in particular, I kind of feel like novellas are too short of a format for her.  It’s nice to see her do something slightly different, but part of me wishes I had just read Binti and not continued on with the series.  I don’t regret seeing it through to the end, but I had a hard time with the length.

It’s not the book at all- I really do think it’s just me.  Maybe I’m just too used to reading her novels and that’s why I had a hard with the novella.  It would be interesting to read a full-length version of these stories, because there’s a lot she could explore in Binti’s world.

My Rating: 2 stars.  I wanted to like this one more but the length didn’t work for me.  I don’t know that I’m necessarily the right audience for this book, and even though there were things I didn’t like, I do really like the world she created.

Book Review: Shadow Of The Fox by Julie Kagawa

Book: Shadow Of The Fox by Julie Kagawa

Published October 2018 by Harlequin Teen|409 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Shadow Of The Fox #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos.

Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.

Raised by monks in the isolated Silent Winds temple, Yumeko has trained all her life to hide her yokai nature. Half kitsune, half human, her skill with illusion is matched only by her penchant for mischief. Until the day her home is burned to the ground, her adoptive family is brutally slain and she is forced to flee for her life with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll.

There are many who would claim the dragon’s wish for their own. Kage Tatsumi, a mysterious samurai of the Shadow Clan, is one such hunter, under orders to retrieve the scroll…at any cost. Fate brings Kage and Yumeko together. With a promise to lead him to the scroll, an uneasy alliance is formed, offering Yumeko her best hope for survival. But he seeks what she has hidden away, and her deception could ultimately tear them both apart.

With an army of demons at her heels and the unlikeliest of allies at her side, Yumeko’s secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself.

This is a book I’ve been excited about for a while.  I’ve loved Julie Kagawa since I read the Iron Fey series years ago, and I’ve been a fan ever since.  I really liked her Talon series and her Blood Of Eden series, so I figured I’d like this one.

This series and I did not get off on the right foot.  Like the first book in her Talon series, I thought it was okay.  If it had been most any author, I probably would have given up on it completely.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this series and I are having a rocky start, and that I’ll end up liking the series more in the 2nd book.  I’ve been in a weird reading mood lately, so that might be part of why I didn’t love this book.

Part of it, unfortunately, is the book.

I thought a lot of it was confusing, and I had a hard time keeping up with the 3 perspectives.  It wasn’t clear to me who was narrating what chapter, and it took a while to figure out that 3 people were narrating the book.  I did like the 3 different perspectives, and maybe, when I’m not in this weird reading mood, I’ll re-read this book.  I really did like the idea and the mythology, thought I’m not at all familiar with the mythology we see in the book.

That was another thing I found confusing.  I felt like a like of names were thrown at me, and while I’m not completely sure how much she was drawing from real mythology (or what mythology was her inspiration), it was hard to keep up.  I did like the glossary at the end of the book, but by then, I didn’t particularly care.  And honestly, the names didn’t stick with me at all, so it didn’t really do me any good.  I still appreciated it though, and it’s good to know for when I pick this book up again.  I really do want to give this book another chance, and I’m hoping I’ll like it a lot better on the 2nd read- with my current mood, though, I’m half-tempted to try the audio book, since the idea of listening is much more appealing than reading.  At least, that’s where I’m at right now, but that could change.

Anyway, back to the book.  I like the idea of a scroll that grants a wish to whoever holds it.  I like the idea of it being hidden by monks, and while it’s horrible that Yumeko’s home was burned, I also like the idea that she’s the Great Hope of the future.  Like I said, the idea is really cool, even if I found things confusing and muddled when I read it.

Is it predictable?  Of course it is.  Her series are pretty predictable, and they do have the same tropes.  I don’t mind it, because her series all have different enough story lines, so it doesn’t get in the way of my enjoyment of her books.  But sometimes, like with Shadow Of The Fox or Talon, it takes a while to warm up to the series.

2 stars.  I’m definitely going to keep reading this series, even though this book was okay for me.  My love for the author, and the fact that it’s a cool idea is why it’s getting 2 stars instead of 1, and I’m hoping that I’ll like the rest of the series better.

Book Review: Shield Of Winter by Nalini Singh

Book: Shield Of Winter by Nalini Singh

Published June 2014 by Berkley Hardcover|431 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Psy-Changeling #13

Genre: Adult Romance/Adult Paranormal Romance

Assassin. Soldier. Arrow. That is who Vasic is, who he will always be. His soul drenched in blood, his conscience heavy with the weight of all he’s done, he exists in the shadows, far from the hope his people can almost touch—if only they do not first drown in the murderous insanity of a lethal contagion. To stop the wave of death, Vasic must complete the simplest and most difficult mission of his life. 

For if the Psy race is to survive, the empaths must wake…

Having rebuilt her life after medical “treatment” that violated her mind and sought to stifle her abilities, Ivy should have run from the black-clad Arrow with eyes of winter frost. But Ivy Jane has never done what she should. Now, she’ll fight for her people, and for this Arrow who stands as her living shield, yet believes he is beyond redemption. But as the world turns to screaming crimson, even Ivy’s fierce will may not be enough to save Vasic from the cold darkness…

I really liked this one!  We finally get Vasic’s book, which was nice.  I was wondering if we’d ever get his book, and I’m glad we did!

I’m curious to see what is next for the Arrows, particularly with Silence falling.  I mean, protecting Silence is their main goal, so I’m wondering if we’ll at least get a glimpse of what their goals are now that things are changing.  It kind of seems like their future is linked with the Empaths, and I wasn’t expecting them to have such a big role in this book.

It makes sense that Empaths are really important to the future of the Psy, so I’m hoping we’ll get more of them as well.  I think Slave To Sensation is the last book that had such an emphasis on Empaths, and I really felt like a lot of this series was building up to both Heart Of Obsidian and Shields Of Winter.  We start to see what a post-Silence world looks like, and with a couple of books left in the series, I’m curious to see how things get wrapped up.  I now things are far from being resolved, and I really do want to know what else is going to go wrong before it gets better.

I like Vasic and Ivy, and I do like them together, but…something about their relationship seemed a little cold to me.  I know Silence is really important for Vasic as an Arrow, and he’s seemed pretty cold whenever he’s popped up in the series before this point.  Maybe it’s just me, but I expected more angst and tortured hero from Vasic.  Considering all of the things he’s had to do, I figured there would be more angst as far as his relationship with Ivy goes.  He’s an Arrow, and she’s an Empath, and I figured there would be more conflict with that, but there wasn’t really enough of it, at least for me.

Maybe I was expecting something like the romance we saw in Slave To Sensation or Caressed By Ice, and that’s why I wasn’t into the romance.  I wish I liked them more together, because I do like them together, and I think they’re a great couple.  I just didn’t love them.

4 stars. I really liked Shield Of Winter, and I’m really curious to see who will be paired together in the next book.  And how the series is going to end.

Book Review: Heart Of Obsidian by Nalini Singh

Book: Heart Of Obsidian by Nalini Singh

Published November 2013 by Berkley|371 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: Psy-Changeling #12

Genre: Adult Romance/Adult Paranormal Romance

Step into New York Times bestseller Nalini Singh’s explosive and shockingly passionate Psy-Changeling world…

A dangerous, volatile rebel, hands stained bloodred.

A woman whose very existence has been erased.

A love story so dark, it may shatter the world itself.

A deadly price that must be paid.

The day of reckoning is here.

From “the alpha author of paranormal romance” (Booklist) comes the most highly anticipated novel of her career—one that blurs the line between madness and genius, between subjugation and liberation, between the living and the dead.

This is the book I’ve been waiting for in this whole series, and I’m glad we finally got it!

So, up to this point, it was obvious Kaleb was not only really powerful but also up to something.  We got an idea of what he was really up to in the last book, but this was the book where everything came together.  I wasn’t let down by anything, and there has been a lot of build-up to the events and revelations in Heart Of Obsidian, and I was really nervous it wasn’t going to live up to the expectations I had going into this book.  Either Singh was going to do it justice, or I would be really disappointed in the story.

Thankfully, Singh did it justice, and I had nothing to worry about.  Kaleb makes a lot more sense, and I feel like I understand him a lot better in this book.  He was a character who could go in any number of directions, and I wasn’t sure what to expect with him.  Having read Heart Of Obsidian, I can’t imagine his story being told any other way, and for a book being focused solely on the Psy world, I was really intrigued by what he and Sahara went through.

I’ve always liked the books that focused on both Psy and Changelings- both worlds are so cool and interesting, and it seems like I tend to really like the books where we see both.  It seems like when a book focuses mostly on one, I don’t seem to like it as much.

That wasn’t the case with this one, and I’m not going to lie, I actually liked that this one was so completely focused on the couple.  We didn’t really get any of the other stuff going on in the background, and as much as I love all of the different pieces, it was nice to take a break from everything and focus on one thing.

I know this book has been out for a while, but I’m still hesitant to talk about it because I don’t want to give anything away if you haven’t read it.  This is one book where it’s better to go in not knowing a lot.  Unless you like spoilers, which is also cool.  I know I was glad I went into it not knowing anything.

4 stars.  I really liked Sahara and Kaleb together, and I’m glad we finally got Kaleb’s book!

Book Review: Wildcard by Marie Lu

Book: Wildcard by Marie Lu

Published September 2018 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers|341 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Warcross #2

Genre: YA Sci Fi

All bets are off. This time the gamble is survival.

Emika Chen barely made it out of the Warcross Championships alive. Now that she knows the truth behind Hideo’s new NeuroLink algorithm, she can no longer trust the one person she’s always looked up to, who she once thought was on her side.

Determined to put a stop to Hideo’s grim plans, Emika and the Phoenix Riders band together, only to find a new threat lurking on the neon-lit streets of Tokyo. Someone’s put a bounty on Emika’s head, and her sole chance for survival lies with Zero and the Blackcoats, his ruthless crew. But Emika soon learns that Zero isn’t all that he seems—and his protection comes at a price.

Caught in a web of betrayal, with the future of free will at risk, just how far will Emika go to take down the man she loves?

I really liked this one!  I was really curious about where things were headed after finishing Warcross a few months ago, and I’m glad we finally found out.

We learn a lot more about Zero in this book, and the mysterious Blackcoats that he works with.  I don’t know what I was expecting with Zero’s story, and why he disappeared years earlier, but I’m also glad we learned more about him.  I was surprised by everything that happened with Hideo- I wasn’t expecting it, but I am glad there were consequences to what he did.  I definitely get why he wanted to find his brother, and the lengths he would go to in order to find him.  At the same time, though, I think his technology could be used in ways he never intended, but hopefully, everything will turn out okay with his algorithm.

Emika…I don’t have strong thoughts about her either way.  She’s a pawn for pretty much the whole book, and I wish she had been able to make more of her own decisions.  Emika is more of a messenger/go-between than anything else, and I really missed the parts where she’s with the Phoenix Riders.  I also missed the actual Warcross elements as well, though I get why we don’t see more of the Phoenix Riders and Warcross.

Wildcard is definitely more about Hideo and Zero, and less about the technology Hideo created.  I liked those parts, don’t get me wrong, but I still wish we had seen more of the other things I really liked about the first book.

Part of me is glad that this was a duology, because I can’t really see how Lu would stretch the story out.  At the same time, part of me wants to see Emika and Hideo’s story beyond what we saw in this book.  Overall, it’s a pretty good conclusion to the story.  The story did move pretty fast, and there were times where I kept forgetting the book only took place over the course of a few days.

4 stars.  I really liked it learning more about Hideo and Zero, but Emika seemed boring in this one.  I also missed the Phoenix Riders and the Warcross elements but it’s still a pretty good good conclusion.

Book Review: Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor

Book: Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor

Published October 2017 by Viking Books For Young Readers|477 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Akata Witch #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

A year ago, Sunny Nwazue, an American-born girl Nigerian girl, was inducted into the secret Leopard Society. As she began to develop her magical powers, Sunny learned that she had been chosen to lead a dangerous mission to avert an apocalypse, brought about by the terrifying masquerade, Ekwensu. Now, stronger, feistier, and a bit older, Sunny is studying with her mentor Sugar Cream and struggling to unlock the secrets in her strange Nsibidi book. 

Eventually, Sunny knows she must confront her destiny. With the support of her Leopard Society friends, Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha, and of her spirit face, Anyanwu, she will travel through worlds both visible and invisible to the mysteries town of Osisi, where she will fight a climactic battle to save humanity.

Much-honored Nnedi Okorafor, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards, merges today’s Nigeria with a unique world she creates. Akata Warrior blends mythology, fantasy, history and magic into a compelling tale that will keep readers spellbound.

I really liked this one!  I feel like I’ve read a few of her books recently, and I have a couple more on my shelf that I got from the library, so I’m definitely in a mood for Okorafor’s books.

I’ll admit, it’s been a while since I’ve read the first book, so I didn’t remember anything from Akata Witch.  Which was actually fine because I didn’t need to remember too much about it.  It doesn’t rely a lot on the first book, though it is a good idea to read that one first.

It was so nice to revisit this world, and I loved seeing what Sunny and her friends were up to.  I loved how she wanted to protect her brother, and even though it caused a lot of trouble for Sunny, I feel like her heart was in the right place.  I’m glad we got more of her family, and if there are more books in the series, I hope we get more with her family and how she has to balance that with being a Leopard Person.

I love how the details come together, and I love the balance between the magical world and the real world.  They’re balanced really well, and I love how they exist together.  They’re very different, of course, and I can’t imagine having to hide part of that from family, but overall, I think Sunny manages to fit in pretty well.

I loved revisiting this world, and it’s just as interesting as the world we saw in Akata Witch.  This book really adds to Sunny’s world, but I wish some things were talked about a little more.  Still, there’s more to Sunny’s world in this book, and it was nice to grow with Suny as she comes into her abilities a little more.

4 stars.  It took me a little time to get into it, and I think a lot of it is not having re-read the first book.  Still, I really liked it, and it was nice going back to Sunny’s world.