Book Review – Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Rating: 4/5 Stars

This will be a spoiler-free review.

Let’s get this out of the way first: Was this a good book? Yes, absolutely. Was it worth the hype? Ehh…

In my genuine opinion, this book wasn’t anything super unique or special. It had all of the regular YA fantasy tropes, just packaged in an African-inspired fantasy world. Which, trust me, I’m not trying to claim is bad. I love my YA tropes. I use them all the time in my own writing. I’m just saying, this book was marketed as something super new and unique and never seen before, which… Well, it just wasn’t those things. But with that said, let’s get into the actual review.

I always like to start with the things I really liked about a book, and fortunately there’s a lot for me to cover today. My favorite part by far was the world building, which makes sense since that was the most hyped thing about this book. The fact that the world was African-inspired was pretty dang cool, and I could definitely pick up on where that inspiration came into play, but it wasn’t even the best thing about the world building. There were so many more great elements, like the magic system and how it tied into their religion, as well as the inclusion of colorism in the culture of this world. Overall, the world building was done in a way that made the kingdom of Orïsha feel rich and full of life. It was easy for me to suspend my disbelief for hours at a time and fall into the world.

I also found myself drawn in by the characters that this novel followed. Zélie, one of the three POV characters and the main protagonist, was a delight. I quickly grew to admire her bold and impulsive personality, and I especially loved her relationship with her brother, Tzain. In fact, I almost wish Adeyemi had spent more time exploring their relationship, and hope she does so in future novels. I also enjoyed Amari, the second POV character and protagonist. Following her journey and watching her grow as a character was a lot of fun, and her relationships with her brother, her father, and Zélie were all dynamic and kept me on the edge of my seat. I was also fascinated by King Saran, and I almost wish that we’d been able to learn more about him and his hatred of the maji in this book. Though I can’t elaborate on what exactly I would like to know without getting into spoilers, I will say that I hope there are still some things to be revealed in future books.

I was also very impressed with the ending of this book. The pacing and tension were spot-on, culminating nicely at the climax, and… Well, that’s all I can say while keeping spoiler-free. Gosh, this book, more than any other that I’ve reviewed, is so hard to write a spoiler-free review about. I just want to rant and rave and shout spoilers from the rooftops.

Finally, I thought Adeyemi’s writing was strong as well. Her choice of POV characters was perfect. Some authors include unnecessary POVs that clutter up the narrative, but she didn’t fall into this trap. Instead, she only used the POVs of characters whose perspectives were imperative to telling the story fully. She also included some nice imagery, telling just enough to paint a full picture without weighing down the prose with too much description.

This book wasn’t perfect, though. Although there were a lot of great things about it, there were also a few things I thought Adeyemi could have done better that would have improved the quality of the novel. First, a few of the character and story arcs felt all over the place. Inan, the third POV character, suffered from this the most. While I did enjoy where his arc ended–I thought it made the story dynamic–the journey to get there was chaotic. His changing attitudes about magic gave me whiplash with how often they shifted, and I never thought his reasons for changing his mind felt sincere or made total sense. It felt very convenient, like the only reason his attitudes changed at all was because the story required it. The romantic arc he was involved in also felt off. It felt rushed and forced, like Adeyemi had to make the romance happen for the sake of the plot even though there was no way to make it happen naturally. I think, if she had stretched both arcs out over multiple books, they would have worked a lot better. In fact, if these arc issues hadn’t existed, I probably would have rated the book 4.5 stars. Unfortunately, they were too prominent for me to ignore or let slide.

Another issue I had was that, while the world building was really great, there were a few small things that felt very out-of-place in this world Adeyemi built. Some phrases, like “Check this out” felt too modern and took me out of the story. Also, the use of the word “hell” felt odd when the religion in this world was very distinctly non-Christian. In fact, at one point Zélie uses the word “hell” when describing their version of the afterlife, which was confusing.

The final problem I had with this book was actually a problem I also encountered in the novel Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings. This is the over-use of similes; specifically, similes that refer to animals and objects that the reader is unfamiliar with. The only animal that Adeyemi ever describes from this world is the Lionaire. After this, she only references others without describing them. So when she says someone “ran as fast as a Cheetanaire” or that someone’s smile was “sly as a Foxer”,  we can’t really envision that because we don’t know what these things are. Sure, we can assume they’re bigger, stranger versions of their namesakes from our world, but we don’t really know for sure. And, even putting all of that aside, there were just too many similes. I mean, I can admire the well-placed simile or metaphor–one that really helps the reader to envision something–but when they’re used too often and aren’t easy to understand, all they do is take the reader out of the story.

In the end, though, this book was a fun read. Adeyemi created a colorful world full of interesting characters and a unique magic system. I would recommend this book to anybody who enjoys high fantasy worlds, strong female characters, and action-packed, edge-of-your-seat climaxes.

Book Review – Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

This will be a spoiler-free review.

If I had to summarize this book in only one word, it would be “clever.” I mean, how many Cinderella retellings are there in the world? About a million, if I had to guess. But this one really stood out from the crowd, and I had a great time reading it. So, with that said, let’s jump into this review!

Continue reading

Book Review – Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

This will be a spoiler-free review. For my spoiler-y thoughts, check out my Book Breakdown on my YouTube channel, which was posted on 4/18/2018 (My Channel).

This book was so close to being a 5/5 star read for me. Soooo close! It was honestly that good. It was cute, and fun, and well-written. It was everything I was hoping it would be. Hell, it was everything I was hoping Burro Hills would be (you can check out that review here). So kick back and relax, because this review is going to be a fun one.

Continue reading

Book Review – Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

This will be a spoiler-free review. For my spoiler-y thoughts, check out my Book Breakdown on my YouTube channel, which was posted on 4/18/2018 (My Channel).

I went into this book having read and watched a plethora of negative and/or rant reviews about it. I knew the general plot of the book, I knew about the trigger warning for rape, and I knew about the Spiced Rigna and how “hope is a raging asshole.” So when I cracked the spine of the library book I’d borrowed (because obviously I wasn’t going to spend money on a book people were shitting on right and left) I thought I was in for a dumpster fire. I thought I would be trudging through the book from beginning to end, rolling my eyes at the awful writing and wishing I hadn’t decided to review it for my Book Breakdown. Then, the unthinkable happened.

Continue reading

Book Review – Burro Hills by Julia Lynn Rubin

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

I was given an eARC of this novel via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This review will be spoiler-free.

I’d like to get this out in the open right away: I was disappointed with this book. Now, this may have been partially my fault. I think I went into it with high expectations, hoping it would be similar to one of my favorite novels, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Not that I wanted it to be the same plotline. Rather, I was just hoping it would hit me as hard as that novel had. I wanted this book to make me feel something, and it just didn’t deliver.

Continue reading

Book Review – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

Rating: 4/5 Stars

This will be a spoiler-free review.

I’m not going to lie. When I was assigned this book to read for my fiction workshop, I anticipated that I would hate it. Not because I don’t like classic literature–in fact, I love the classics–but because it was assigned to me. In my experience, if a piece of classic literature is assigned to read, it isn’t the good stuff. I’ve never been assigned to read Little Women or Pride and Prejudice, and although I read Wuthering Heights for a class, it was a classic that I was allowed to pick for myself. So, going into this novel, I was filled with dread. I thought I was in for a rough 325 pages. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case, and I actually ended up really enjoying myself.

Continue reading

Book Review – The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Rating: 5/5 Stars

This will be a spoiler-free review. For my spoiler-y thoughts, check out my Book Breakdown on my YouTube channel, which will be posted on 3/21/2018 (My Channel).

Very rarely can I say that a book affected me like this one did. By the end of chapter two I was sobbing, and at that point I knew I was in for a very powerful reading experience. I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I feel like I’ve come out of this experience changed in some way. This book really forced me to confront prejudices that I hadn’t even realized I’d had, and during the incredibly moving finale of this novel I made a promise to myself that I would no longer stand by and watch as atrocities like these happened to the people around me. My voice is my weapon, and I need to start using it.

Continue reading

Book Review – The Elysian Prophecy by Vivien Reis

Rating: 3/5 Stars

I was given an eARC of this novel by the author in exchange for an honest review. This review will be spoiler-free. (Disclaimer: I meant to finish and review this novel before its release date, but since it was only sent to me a little over a week before publication and I had other obligations, I wasn’t able to. Sorry!!!)

The best way I can describe this book is to say it was enjoyable. Not great, but not bad either. A true three out of five stars. I was actually considering giving it 3.5 stars, but enough issues piled up by the end that I couldn’t justify the half star.

Continue reading

Book Review – The Savior’s Champion by Jenna Moreci

Rating: 5/5 Stars

I was given an eARC of this novel by the author in exchange for an honest review. This review will be spoiler-free.

For full disclosure, I want to put it out there that I am on Jenna Moreci’s street team for this novel. However, I can assure you that this did not cloud my judgement at all. I was prepared to give this novel a bad review if it deserved it, though, luckily for me (and for all of you), Moreci wrote an amazing book.

Continue reading