268: The Ghoul Next Door (Monster High #2)

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Synopsis

Cleopatra de Nile
– New pet snake
– Has Deuce–the hottest guy in school–all warapped up
– Herve Leger bandage dress, strappy gold platforms

Cleo was the queen bee of the RADs, the normies, and everyone in between at Merston High. But now it’s “Frankie this” and “Melody that” . . . these new girls sure know how to get her lashes in a tangle. When Cleo lands a golden Teen Vogue photo op for her friends, everything seems to be back on track . . . until they bail to be in some film . . . Frankie and Melody’s film! Can’t a royal get some loyal?

Frankie Stein
Frankie lost her head over Brett once and vows never to do it again. Not that she has a choice: Bekka is clinging to her guy like plastic wrap. But when Brett comes up with a plan that could help the RADs live free, sparks fly, and Bekka will stop at nothing to put out the flames . . . even if it means destroying the entire monster community.

Melody Carver
The clock is tick-tick-ticking. Melody has a serious deadline to save her boyfriend, Jackson, from being exposed by the vengeance-seeking Bekka. But Cleo is making it royally difficult for the normie while threatening her acceptance into the RADs’ exclusive group . . . a group that Melody suspects she has more in common with than she ever thought.

Fitting in is out.

The Good

Cleo De Nile- is the only saving grace of this book. She is the only reason this book got a two star when it deserved a 1.

  • Her minions
  • Her time with Deuce
  • Her interactions with her dad
  • She is such a fun character

The Bad

After all the good will of Girl Meets World: Let’s Do This! (going to do this review next but have to release this review off my chest) did of getting me out of my post-Children  of Blood and Bone funk (another book that uses the racial oppression = magical oppression but better while still rubbing me the wrong way) I decided to go back to The Ghoul Next Door because it had some interesting moments with Cleo De Nile, mistake. Big mistake.

There is this weird wonky racism commentary going on throughout the story

I. Uses racism as a analogy for monster/supernaturals discrimination (which is a pet peeve of mine because most authors don’t understand the meaning of racism)

A. 99% of time racism = hate against creatures isn’t done well.

One of the problems being at the root these creatures  can be dangerous. A character in this book electrocuted a boy and landed him in hospital so it is not a stretch to say they are dangerous/have potential but real life marginalized people are not at the root dangerous. It is one of the messy parts of this analogy and it can have this weird dehumanizing effect

C.  Folks who are using racism as analogy not being past racism 101 or chin deep understanding of racism

D.  It made me realize where all these weird wonky ideas people in real life comes from

  •  oppressed being just as discriminatory/oppressive as oppressors
  • racism is easy to cure
  • The story literally equated one of the non-monster characters getting bullied to monster characters experiences who have in the past had to deal with people with pitch forks

E. Making Cleo thus oppressed folks who feel certain ways about allies/normies as villains. I don’t like it because it took away valid opinions. I also don’t like this push to make every girl who isn’t the “good”/”nice” girl a witch. Pitting the “mean” girl against the “nice” girl to push a be nice message is an entire other conversation.

Non-racial issues

  •  Melody and Frankie are basically the same person
  • As I said with the first one so much of the story is petty teenage drama which I don’t like especially since the webseries is not petty teenage drama
  • Spends a long time in the story not moving the plot forward
  • Cleo seemed to take a backseat to Melody and Frankie
  • It left a bad taste in my mouth that Cleo friends abandoned and believed she was the villain so quickly
  • Of course Melody is incredibly beautiful that she does not need makeup
  • *sigh* there are so many more wonky weird ideas in this book but I’m done

In Conclusion:

This was probably the worst book  I’ve read of the year. It is the book I picked up out of my dnf pile that should have stayed. I did it for Cleo De Nile and her only.

 

 

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270:Children of Blood and Bone

 

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Synopsis

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

The Bad

Last year I did a review for the first six chapters which I enjoyed a lot.

  1. This feels like it was written with a movie in mind which isn’t a problem necessarily. The issues comes in when I noticed that it fell on movie/tv tropes.
  2. There was no characterization build
  3. It is pushed as this West African fantasy but it really did not show that enough
  4. Felt like a bunch of tropes strung together. Where another author would have steered away or softened the blow of using a trope I felt that this book many times went straight into the trope in the most stereotypical way.
  5. It felt like it needed to be put through editing at least one more time
  6. It did not need more than one pov if the characters are going to say the same things in the same ways
  7. It was repetitive the book could be summed up to: Amari/Inan: “I’m sorry for the wrong my dad has done” Zelie: *scowls* I’m mad  Again, #6 and #2
  8. Gosh if they could have built the opposing p.o.v that these maji are actually dangerous that would have been a very well done dimensional pov to have
  9. So much of the plot is driven conveniently it does not flow naturally. #1,4,10
  10. So much of the story felt inauthentic/forced
  11. The romance #2,#4,#10

The Meh

Part of me feels like the story is more about what it means for black young adult fans than what it actually is as a novel. It is about what it is supposed to represent than what it actually did. Did it actually do a good job of representing police brutality and the things that black people go through?

The Good

  1. Colorism is used as part of this society which felt so important when so many fantasy books (even the subversive ones) can barely feature poc
  2. And there are so many stories that do not show or have really dark skin characters especially as a main characters
  3. The world is majority if not completely African characters
  4. The magic (when the author showed it) was interesting
  5. The author got a 7 figure deal and a movie which as a black woman I will never disparage. In result of  #1, #3 the movie is safeguarded from certain things. I will watch the movie and I think the story will be elevated by it.

 

 

Children Of Blood And Bone is less a novel than a YA movie franchise in waiting

Another review (that is a video) that highlights the issues I had with the book

Library Checkout Reviews: The Gods Are Not Appeased

So when I picked up these books from the library I had it pointed out to me that all these books had God in the title.

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The Prey of Gods (DNF, ch 12, pg 87)

  • don’t love/really like it
  • feels like a bunch of characters that are not in same story
  • deals with social issues wonky in my opinion
  • there was interesting things happening in it which is why I read it so far

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Talon of God

  • so much repetitiveness and rehashing~ there was a large chunk of the story that felt like it was not moving forward
  • Is the story living up/using its lore/mythology to its highest level/potential?
  • It felt very surface level
  • there are some interesting seeds in the story

Made me think of Sleepy Hollow. Talon of God would probably be elevated by being turned into a show.

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Future Home of the Living God

DNF Limbo?

The main reason this got a dnf is  I don’t know if I felt that tug of needing to pick it back up. I don’t know if I’ll pick this up later but right now it is deleted off my goodreads.

 

 

Netgalley Reviews: Clearing Finale

I received all these in exchange for my review.

Novels
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The Becoming of Ellicia Wayfield

Pub: 9/22/15

Cover: Which cover is cooler?

Why DNF? From the start of the book it was a no for me, transitions are off (jumps from story point to story point), tropey (I know what is going to happen)

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The Beauty That Remains

Pub: 3/6/18

Why DNF? I enjoyed the first chapter a lot but as the story went on I lost interest.

Like: It is representative of grief in the modern age.

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Awoke

Pub: 9/10/17

Why DNF? I don’t feel this pressing need to continue.

Like: Slowly reveals stuff, immediately got pumped soon as I read it

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Tooth and Talon

Pub: 11/30/17

DNF? Emotional detachment.  Honestly, I don’t know if I’m making the right decision to dnf this.

Like: Interesting premise, starts off from jump action, does good job giving information here and there without being info dumpy, big topics (ex: colonization, immortality) that the story seems like it is going to deal with

Picture Books

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Baby Bird

3/1/18

Like: Doesn’t give bird magic cure

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Simon and the Big, Bad, Angry Beasts

Pub: 4/26/18

Art: Animals are manifestations of his anger (like they are his avatar made me think of Pokémon). It is interesting looking at how his relationship with the animals (thus his anger) changes as the story goes on. In the earlier part of the story he is with the animals directing them while in the later part he is losing control of his anger that is when the animals are attacking something without him being next to them.

Story: Shows it can be very satisfying to display your wrath, different forms of anger can take (lion = temper tantrum =loud), teach kids (and adults reading to deal with discourse), teach not bottle emotions, there is a guide at the end of the book at the end that talks about anger and mediation

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Cat Who Ate Christmas

10/9/18

Art: Glitter (looks like you can touch  it ) so I wish I could see physical copy

Story: Overall I felt the story was okay

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The Picky Eater

8/1/18

Art: Picking pigs (who eat everything) as picky eater, bright colors

Story: It was okay (for me) but I feel it may be good for kids (especially) picky eaters and offers a solution to young picky eater situation, I could see parents having their kids name foods with letter p or another letter as they read this

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Harrison P. Space Invader

8/1/18

Art: Facial expressions of animals, color were darker more earthy

Story: Cute, allowing him to be expressive but thinking about other people, teaching kids lesson but it was fun

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A Place for Pluto

8/1/18

Art: Colorful, fun

Story: The story was worthy (Pluto losing its planet status)  of being told. I just felt you could tell this was a message/facts book it wasn’t bad but I could feel things pushing so they can give you certain facts. In a way it felt like the facts moved the story.

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Gabi’s If/Then Garden

9/1/18

Art: black girl with afropuff, cute things with dog going on in background

I don’t know if kids will be able to understand coding from this. But coding can be very complex.  I do like the art and that it is talking about coding with  two girls (one of them being a black girl with an afropuff)

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Too Much! Not Enough!

8/14/18

Art: There are a lot of background objects which stands out because most of other picture books I’ve been reading recently are minimal in that aspect.

Story: Always can appreciate a fun cute picture book. They are the cutest roommates/bffs. It also does a good job having a conflict, climax, and resolution.

 

Netgalley Reviews & BookishFirst: Mostly Late

(I received these books unless stated otherwise from netgalley in exchange for my review)

Gracie La Roo

3/1/18

Why DNF? I could not get into it but I think it is just not for me.

Liked: How bright and colorful the art is

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Shai & Emmie Star In Break An Egg!

10/3/17

Why DNF? It is not for me but I think other people will really be into it.

Like: That it is ownvoices, interesting that it is set in a performance arts school

 

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Jade City

11/7/17

Why DNF? I just could not get into it

Liked: Setting, Gems giving characters abilities, it seemed already very complex from the few chapters I read (it would be one of those stories that goes against a readers expectations)

 

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Nick Newton Is Not A Genius

10/21/16

19%

Why DNF? Not enough is happening, it feels like the same thing happens each chapter

Liked: The art, idea of kid who is not genius among genius family

 

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I Love My Purse

9/12/17

+Art, the idea of pushing for acceptance of people particularly boys who go against our societies standards of them

-very simplistic (probably the adult in me) in how it talks about toxic masculinity and being different.

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Chester Raccoon and the Almost Perfect Sleepover

5/16/17

Art: very detailed (texture fur, bugs as something they eat)

Story: Realistic in terms of what the animals eat (I don’t know if this can be attributed to artist or writer) and it just was a fun adventure in these characters lives.

BookishFirst

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The Belles

2/20/18

Samples two chapters courtesy of BookishFirst for a possible free print copy of the book

World~

Pro The world is interesting, the implications exist for this story to really say something about beauty, the representation of different body sizes and skin tones

Con My biggest worry is how the beauty aspect will be handled.

Finishing these chapters I was left with a few questions…

Questions: Have there been more than six beauties at a time? Where do the old beauties go? How does beauty save in this world? What is beautiful to this society?

 

(Cover images are from goodreads)

 

Analyzing Book Covers

Quick catch-up: after a mostly great months reading novels I’m in a not slump but everything that I’m reading is okay.  They are in that ugh middle ground of being neither bad or amazing. Bummer.

So a couple of days ago I randomly analyzed a book cover which was really fun so now I want to do more. All of these are from my goodreads to read shelf so I know at least a little bit about them making this not a just based on cover alone thing.

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Monday’s Not Coming

First thoughts: The cover is atmospheric the red color makes me think of an alarm blaring. Look at her facial expression and body language. She doesn’t have her hands around her knees but it still looks hectic with the color.

Second Viewing: A couple of things I did not notice or know how to pinpoint- I did not notice that the red is not just a background that the character is sitting on top of it is lighting her skin, shoes, and clothes (I know there is a word to describe what the red is doing to her but I can’t think of this exact word/wording).The red lighting makes the white  words stand out even more. I did not notice that the words are basically white chalk.

Further into her facial expression which I couldn’t pinpoint. Looking at it now it seems like she is distracted, her mind is somewhere else. This probably ties into her being distracted thinking about her missing friend.

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Princeless Short Stories Vol. 1

Black girl riding a light pink/purple dragon in the air. She looks like she is ready to go into battle seeing as she has her knife out in the air. She and the dragon are not going angry or sadly into battle but happy. The warrior princess is very in line with the Princeless series.

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Babysitter IV

Tagline: Her life is still on the line…

She is obviously in the kitchen on the phone. This is the fourth Babysitter but she has the window opened…drapes opened…(Or the blinds are those type of drapes that cannot be closed).  Also, she has her back turned to the window with all the aforementioned things… Definitely can tell it is the 80s-90s because she is on a cordless phone (side comment: some people say the cellphone killed a lot of horror trappings). It is midday about to turn to the darkness of nighttime so she is doing all of this when it is about to be dark out.
Her face is scared and she is holding the cord on the phone tightly. It makes me think of Scream since I sampled (but did not finish) the script and saw the movie trailer. I feel like a scary movie character wore the exact outfit the main character wears on the cover but I have not seen enough scary movies to really tell.

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Tooth And Talon

Don’t remember what this is about so this is going to be interesting?

The main character has a high tech suit in a forest. What does that mean? Is the forest she is going into dangerous? There are red leaves that look like feathers so is the “Talon” referring to a bird she is trying to get to? Look at how huge the leaves are they are almost taller or are taller than her. What is the blue-ish bulbs on the leaves?

The woman pictured has a look of searching that blank what is going on look.

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The Legend of Shadow High

Tagline: Ever After High meets Monster High!

Mirror: The broken window in the middle I’m assuming signifies the portal between the worlds. In the mirror is the forest which is usually something you see in Ever After High than Monster High.

Sides: From monster high there is Frankie Stein and Draculaura, from ever after high Raven Queen and Apple White (these are  usually the spokesman from both worlds which ugh since I don’t like Draculaura and Frankie Stein but that is another conversation)

Anyway, the emblems around the mirror incorporates monster high skull (bottom) and ever after high girl with hood (top). On the top above the ever after high emblem is the two skull crests leaning on each other. All of the emblems and lining around mirror are in gold and black.

Background: There is a grey symbol that starts off big then gets smaller. The symbol is distinguishable at the top until it all bunches all in together at the bottom.

The overall style is something that Ever After High first series by Shannon Hale does which makes sense seeing how the story is set in Ever After High and written by Hale.

It would be interesting next time analyzing covers of books I know absolutely nothing about or have already read.

Netgalley Reviews: Fairy Tale Retellings

I did not plan for this random fairy tale theme actually.

(I received these for my honest review from netgalley)

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Girls Made of Snow and Glass

9/5/17

12%

Why DNF? The way the writing was set up (the two main characters stories paralleling each other) was confusing. So I would keep mixing up Lynet and Mina. Where are the fantasy elements? The story was slow going and barely had any fantasy which as a personal preference I do not like in fantasy unless the characters are really compelling.

Like:  idea of the fantasy elements (glass heart), idea of exploration of snow white and evil queen relationship

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Little Red Wolf

10/3/17

Art: artistic (play around with color and style), reminiscent of fairy tales, font fits what would be in a fairy tale book

Story: I liked the twist on red riding hood and how the story captures fairy tales essence well. It captures the brutality, whimsicalness, and the beats without it being an average fairy tale story.