Reviews

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor Review

Overall Enjoyment: 3/5

Characterization: 4/5

World building: 4/5

Diversity: 3/5

Goodreads Summary:

“Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first she has to make it there, alive.”

This is a novella that I picked up at the library. It’s a multiple award-winning book and I was excited to give it a read. This book is part one of a three book series. I’m not a huge fan generally of novellas or sci-fi, but I enjoyed this book.

The novella is focused on a character called Binti. She is a member of the Himba people and is SUPER smart. The characterization done in this novel was my favorite part of this novella. We learn so much about Binti through her thoughts and interactions. I love the culture and history that is added to her. She’s truly what I would consider a rounded character.

I also enjoyed the world building. Most of the really interesting bits are at the beginning, but there are different species of beings in space, there is a living spaceship, and there’s a really interesting concept of math being the language of magic. I’d love to learn more about it in the next books.

I’ve started talking about plot versus character driven stories. I would say this is more character driven simply because we just experience so much of who Binti is, but the plot is also moved along at a steady pace. I feel like this novella is fairly balanced between the two. I do feel like there are some pretty powerful themes in this book about belonging and staying the same versus growing into someone new. I feel like to truly appreciate this novella you’d want to read it more than once and give it some thought.

Diversity. This book’s diversity is mainly based in Binti being a woman of color. There are different groupings of people and beings, but there’s not much description of them and because they’re mostly fictional beings I wouldn’t say the differences in this book represent more diversity outside of Binti herself. She’s a compassionate and smart woman and I’m excited to read more of her it in the future.

Overall, I would say this is an enjoyable novella. The introduction of the Meduse seemed a little contrived to me but given the short length and focus on Binti I can easily overlook it and enjoy the book fully. If you enjoy Sci-fi and want to read a quick, but well written novella I think you’d really enjoy this story.

Reviews

Kingdom of Souls Review

Overall Enjoyment: 3.5/5

Characterization: 3/5

World building: 4/5

Diversity: 3/5

Goodreads Summary:

Magic has a price—if you’re willing to pay.

Born into a family of powerful witchdoctors, Arrah yearns for magic of her own. But each year she fails to call forth her ancestral powers, while her ambitious mother watches with growing disapproval.

There’s only one thing Arrah hasn’t tried, a deadly last resort: trading years of her own life for scraps of magic. Until the Kingdom’s children begin to disappear, and Arrah is desperate to find the culprit.

She uncovers something worse. The long-imprisoned Demon King is stirring. And if he rises, his hunger for souls will bring the world to its knees… unless Arrah pays the price for the magic to stop him.”

Kingdom of Souls was a rollercoaster for me. I fell in love with the beginning of this book. The world building was great with wonderful descriptions that really painted a picture for me. The whole being upset because all her family had magic and a lot of it made sense. However, about halfway through the book just stalls.  The descriptions get boring and it just get so drawn out and most of what was compelling about the story disappears. I almost gave up on it, but I pushed through and the last 40-50 pages made it worth reading til the end. I’m even curious about the second book.

I’m in love with the world building. The author did an excellent job of describing the different tribe as well as the city life. The magic and religion are described fairly well. The author also did an excellent job of creating some morally gray characters especially surrounding the mother. It was nice for the world to show that rarely are all people all good or all bad.

Characters. I would say this is where the book struggles the most. Alyna is alright. I found her interesting at the beginning, but then kinda lose interest. She has a complex relationship with her mom, but I don’t ever feel like enough is done with it for it to feel compelling or as interesting as I was hoping for. She has a loving relationship with her dad which I enjoyed, but then that disappeared too. All the other side characters got so little attention they really felt more like plot devices than full, breathing people. I would say this is more of a plot driven story vs a character driven story.

Plot. Normally talk about plot in relation to all the other categories, but I felt like it might be needing its own section. This in my opinion is a plot driven story. There’s lots of interesting stuff happening in the beginning and end of this book that definitely made me want to keep reading. What you really need to worry about in this story is the middle. As I mentioned, it just completely stalls in my opinion. Alyna and family go to a more remote location so there’s no one else to interact with and it’s basically 100 pages of inability for anyone to do anything. It was a part of the book where there was no hope and that made me feel really uninterested in the story. It gets better though so I encourage you to push through if you enjoyed the beginning of the book.

The diversity is okay. We’re set in a fantasy Africa setting so obviously all our characters are people of color. We have a woman of color as our lead which is excellent. There’s so mentioned of lgbtq+ characters, but its so vague and fleeting that its almost not worth mentioning. We have some characters who have definitely experienced trauma and have some PTSD, but again it feels so vague I’m not sure if you’d truly count it as representation.

Overall, it was an alright book. I tend to prefer character driven stories which is really what kept me from truly enjoying this story as much as I was hoping to. However, if you prefer a novel that really focuses on the development of the plot rather than focusing on characters, I think you could really enjoy this book.

Reviews

It was Meh – Only Mostly Devastated Review

Overall Enjoyment: 3/5

World building: 1/5

Characterization: 3/5

Diversity: 4/5

Goodreads Summary:

“Summer love…gone so fast.

Ollie and Will were meant to be a summer fling—casual, fun, and done. But when Ollie’s aunt’s health takes a turn for the worse and his family decides to stay in North Carolina to take care of her, Ollie lets himself hope this fling can grow to something more. Dreams that are crushed when he sees Will at a school party and finds that the sweet and affectionate (and comfortably queer) guy he knew from summer isn’t the same one attending Collinswood High.

Will is more than a little shocked to see Ollie the evening of that first day of school. While his summer was spent being very much himself, back at school he’s simply known as one of the varsity basketball guys. Now Will is faced with the biggest challenge of his life: follow his heart and risk his friendships, or stay firmly in the closet and lose what he loves most. “

What really first pulled me into this story was the idea of this being a gay, modern spin on grease. My curiosity was peaked. This is a fairly lighthearted story that deals with a couple of heavier topics in there too. If you’re looking for a slice of life story about a boy finding love while dealing what other events high school throws at him I think you will enjoy this story. I think what threw me off from completely loving this story was just how much this story had in it. There was the relationship that needed to be worked out not only with Ollie, but also his friends, there was serious family stuff going on, and each character had their own stuff going on too. All this extra stuff in the book was meant to round all of the characters out, at least the girls and Ollie. I felt like the boys were a bit flat and had some behaviors that weren’t fully addressed, but overall a pretty enjoyable story.

Let’s start with world building. This was a contemporary real world setting so there wasn’t much world building needed, but I felt like there could have been more. North Caroline didn’t really get any description other than not as progressive as California. The school is much the same with the school being pretty cookie cutter.

The characters. Ollie is what kept me going in this book. He has little comparisons that I found interesting and was generally just a sweet guy. There was drama, but in generally this character was really mature. Lara, she grew on me. I would say honestly one of the more complex characters. Wasn’t a huge fan of her at first, but she grew on me. Will, what a confused dude. He frustrated me some times, but while he can be not the greatest he grows. The thing that bothered me a bit were the basketball guys. They definitely make some not great comments/ jokes about Ollie only to be like “it’s was just a joke” and that was the end of it. Not really a huge fan of that easy solution, but I guess it’s easier to deal with than them actually being 100% homophobic.

Diversity: There are a few lgbtq+ characters in this book and many people of color. The focus is definitely the gay relationship in the story. While there are people of color it doesn’t really seem to affect anything and is mentioned so briefly you could have missed it. Maybe you enjoy that, maybe you don’t.

Overall, if you’re looking for an overall, light feel good read I think you’ll enjoy this. As mentioned, there are a couple heavier issues, but overall I would say the book has a light feel to it that makes it easy to enjoy if not a little underwhelming.

Reviews

The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark

Overall enjoyment: 5/5

Characterization: 4/5

World building: 4/5

Diversity: 5/5

Amazon Summary:

“In an alternate New Orleans caught in the tangle of the American Civil War, the wall-scaling girl named Creeper yearns to escape the streets for the air–in particular, by earning a spot on-board the airship Midnight Robber. Creeper plans to earn Captain Ann-Marie’s trust with information she discovers about a Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls The Black God’s Drums.

But Creeper also has a secret herself: Oya, the African orisha of the wind and storms, speaks inside her head, and may have her own ulterior motivations.

Soon, Creeper, Oya, and the crew of the Midnight Robber are pulled into a perilous mission aimed to stop the Black God’s Drums from being unleashed and wiping out the entirety of New Orleans.”

This book popped up in the suggestions for another book I was looking at. The summary had me interested, but I’m not a huge fan of science fiction or novellas. However, as you can tell by ratings above this story really blew me out of the water! I tend not to like novella because I feel like a lot is left out and the story is annoyingly bare bones because its so short. The Black God’s Drum puts all those fears to rest and more

There are two main characters is this story. The first character you meet goes by Creeper. You don’t even learn her name until later in the book, but she paints us an immersive picture of what life is like for her in New Orleans. She’s a strong, street savy girl that knows the community around her. She is paired with the Orisha goddess, Oya, who has been with her since she was born. Then, you have a character that goes mainly by Captain. She’s a captain of an airship and pairs up with Creeper when they are after similar goals. Both characters get chunks of personal history throughout the book that creates well rounded, interesting characters. Very lovely characters for a novella.

The world building threw me off at first, but I acclimated to it within the first 20 pages. The world is set in what I would consider an alternate New Orleans during the civil war period with steampunk elements, mainly, air ships. The main world building that happens in this novel is setting up what would happen if civil war ended differently or at least was a tentative truce. The amount of history put in this novella without info dumping is truly skillful. There’s even some writing done about the African gods and how the drums work that I really enjoyed.

The diversity in this book was great. There were a host of diverse characters in the background, but I tend not to count them since they don’t get much attention. Creeper is a young black girl. Captain is where the real diversity is at. I’ve been disappointed by the general lack of intersectionality in most characters I’ve been reading, but Captain is a strong black, bisexual woman who also has a metal leg. Wow. I’m in love with her.

Overall, if you’re looking for a well written, but quick read with some great, intersectionality I couldn’t recommend this book to you more.

Reviews

A Must Read Sequel – Storm of Locust by Rebecca Roanhorse Review

Overall enjoyment: 5/5

World building: 4/5

Characterization: 5/5

Diversity: 3/5

Goodreads summary:

“It’s been four weeks since the bloody showdown at Black Mesa, and Maggie Hoskie, Diné monster hunter, is trying to make the best of things. Only her latest bounty hunt has gone sideways, she’s lost her only friend, Kai Arviso, and she’s somehow found herself responsible for a girl with a strange clan power.

Then the Goodacre twins show up at Maggie’s door with the news that Kai and the youngest Goodacre, Caleb, have fallen in with a mysterious cult, led by a figure out of Navajo legend called the White Locust. The Goodacres are convinced that Kai’s a true believer, but Maggie suspects there’s more to Kai’s new faith than meets the eye. She vows to track down the White Locust, then rescue Kai and make things right between them.

Her search leads her beyond the Walls of Dinétah and straight into the horrors of the Big Water world outside. With the aid of a motley collection of allies, Maggie must battle body harvesters, newborn casino gods and, ultimately, the White Locust himself. But the cult leader is nothing like she suspected, and Kai might not need rescuing after all. When the full scope of the White Locust’s plans are revealed, Maggie’s burgeoning trust in her friends, and herself, will be pushed to the breaking point, and not everyone will survive.”

This is the sequel to the book Trail of Lightning, and I loved this book more than the first one! Roanhorse really is a very talented writer. We’re introduced to a couple new characters and get an even deeper look at who Kai and Maggie are. Be prepared for an interesting new story line with the same beloved characters. So, buckle up you’re in for an exciting and enjoyable ride.

Characters. Maggie is back and as interesting and complex as ever. Maggie is still a no-nonsense monster hunter, but she’s been taking some to look a bit deeper at who she wants to be. I think what I love most about Maggie is that she is a tough character, but also Roanhorse allows her to also be hurt and vulnerable. This I think is what makes Maggie a dynamic character and why I love her so much. She’s so strong most of the time, but when you look inside she’s lonely and hurt by the loss that she’s experienced. Kai, still the absolute best! You don’t see much in this novel. He’s away doing some stuff, but you hear about him through other characters. He sounds as loving and generous as when readers first met him. Also, there’s a scene. Wow, this guy is powerful. I love what he can do. This would honestly make an excellent movie. You see more of Rissa as well. She’s just as complex as Maggie and just as not-to-be-trifled with. You get a bit more of her backstory as well. It comes in handy though not in a way I would anticipate. We also meet a new character, she goes by Ben. She’s young and hurt, but bring a bit of youthfulness to everything.

The world building continues to be interesting although it takes a darker turn in this book. Maggie is leaving the safety of the walls of Dinétah and is introduced to the dangers of the outside world. I don’t want to say too much more than that because I think it could give away some spoilers, but Roanhorse does an excellent job at creating a dangerous, apocalyptic world. I would warn that this content could be a bit triggering depending on your personal experiences, but Roanhorse keeps the worst to vague description so I would be aware, but not too concerned. I think it hits on some serious real world issues. We also learn a bit more about clan powers and how they manifest which was really eye opening when it came to the plot.

The diversity continues to be mainly racial with indigenous and black characters leading the story. I have really enjoyed the look into indigenous beliefs and gods. I’m unfamiliar with Navajo beliefs so I’m not quite sure how true versus fantasy-based Roanhorse’s writing is, but I really enjoyed the continuing of indigenous-inspired fantasy. I also really enjoyed how female driven this particular book was. This series is of course focused on Maggie, but this book really puts many of our male characters in the backseat and really lets the women shine!

Overall, if you like the first book or haven’t read it yet I would highly recommend this series. The characters and their development are excellent, the world is interesting, and the plot is immersive. Go check it out!


Have you read this exciting series yet? Have you read this book of A Trail of Lightning? Is it on your TBR?

Reviews

All the Feels – A Review of Heartsong by TJ Klune

Overall Enjoyment: 5/5

World building: 3/5

Characterization: 5/5

Diversity: 3/5

Goodreads Summary:

“All Robbie Fontaine ever wanted was a place to belong. After the death of his mother, he bounces around from pack to pack, forming temporary bonds to keep from turning feral. It’s enough—until he receives a summons from the wolf stronghold in Caswell, Maine.

Life as the trusted second to Michelle Hughes—the Alpha of all—and the cherished friend of a gentle old witch teaches Robbie what it means to be pack, to have a home.

But when a mission from Michelle sends Robbie into the field, he finds himself questioning where he belongs and everything he’s been told. Whispers of traitorous wolves and wild magic abound—but who are the traitors and who the betrayed?

More than anything, Robbie hungers for answers, because one of those alleged traitors is Kelly Bennett—the wolf who may be his mate.

The truth has a way of coming out. And when it does, everything will shatter.”

I have been waiting for the third book in this series for a while. I love these characters and I love reading about how these characters end up getting together. One of the staples of this series is that the focus couple always go through a struggle before they get together. We get that again in Kelly and Robbie’s story too although with a different spin on it than has been taken in the past two books. If you have like the first two books in this series, I believe you with like this one as well. It brings some parts of our story closed while opening open another. I can’t wait for the final book in this series!

The world building in this story is always tricky to quantify. It has paranormal elements within a modern world. I gave it an average rating because Klune really does a great job about giving us descriptions of not only places of interest, but the grouping of witches and werewolves all have a bit of culture and our characters have an explored backstory that I always enjoyed. There’s a lot of magic in this book that I feel like was a bit handwavy at points compared the previous books, but I didn’t feel like it took a ton away from the story.

The characters and their bonds with one another are the true reason why I read these books. They have lots of jokes, but few books have characters that are so vocal about their love for each other outside of the romantic couple. These characters shine with love for each other and I feel like this book particularly focuses on the pack’s relationship to each other even more so than normal. Robbie finally gets his moment to shine in this book. It really is his story for a large part of the books so if you have been hoping for more of him then you’re in luck you really get the most of him. Kelly too. Oh, my goodness, the sweetest of the brothers in some respects or perhaps the softest. There is a letter in this book that will just melt your heart.  

The diversity is still minimum outside of the lgtbq+ element. Kelly is asexual. We have a latinx character that is given a bit more attention.  There is also a black woman introduced but her role is so minimal I’m not really sure why she was included at all unless she has more importance later on.

Overall, I’m just in love with this series. It has all the character feels that I crave in a book. The plot outside of the romance element is compelling and is great at keeping you on your toes. It’s the whole package really so if you like werewolves, close families, and beautiful love I couldn’t recommend this enough for you.


Have you ever read a novel in the Green Creek series? Have you ever read anything by TJ Klune? What do you think of this book? Would you put it on your TBR?

Reviews

Enthralling Indigenous Fantasy- Trail of Lightning Review

Overall Enjoyment: 4/5

Characterization: 5/5

World building: 4/5

Diversity: 4/5

Goodreads Summary:

“While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters.

Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last—and best—hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much larger and more terrifying than anything she could imagine.

Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel to the rez to unravel clues from ancient legends, trade favors with tricksters, and battle dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology.

As Maggie discovers the truth behind the disappearances, she will have to confront her past—if she wants to survive.

Welcome to the Sixth World.”

Review

So, I found this book at a Barnes & Noble months ago. I was interested in it though the vague mention of zombies made me skeptical. I don’t like zombie story lines generally. However, I read this during the Indigathon reading challenge and I fell in love with it. If you’re looking for diverse, adult fantasy then this is for you!

Let’s start with the world building simply because I was so taken with it. It’s set in a post Apocalyptic United States after some major environmental catastrophes. The whole book is set on Navajo land that was spared most of the natural disasters. Now, Roanhorse does an excellent job describing what life might be like if such events occur, but she also weaves in idea of clan powers as well as Navajo gods and spirits. They weave together so seamlessly I just feel in love with how it all fit together.

The characters are also great. Maggie, our main character and monster slayer, has had a rough go. She’s definitely experienced some trauma that she is still working through. Actually, all of the characters you encounter have had a rough go. Maggie is tough with a no nonsense attitude, but isn’t as heartless as other would assume. Then, Kai. Oh my goodness this boy. He’s the perfect counterpoint to Maggie. Charming and a healer. He’s experienced so trauma of his own, but where it has made Maggie standoffish it has made Kai pull people close.There are of course other characters, but the main story focuses on these two. I would say that this book is truly Maggie’s story though. We get parts of Kai and they’re glorious, but this is a book about a badass indigenous woman and Roanhorse doesn’t let you forget that.

This book is fairly diverse. You have Maggie and Kai who are both indigenous. You have Clive and Rissa who are biracial. I believe Clive is gay or bi. It’s a good mixture.

Overall, I fell in love with these characters. Everyone has a story and is struggling to make it through what they’ve seen and had to do. If you would like to read about complex, diverse characters who are set in a world full of Navajo deities and spirits I think you’ll be hooked. There’s already a sequel out! I’ve already read that too so look for the review soon!


Have you read Trail of Lightning? Is it on your TBR? Let me know what you think!