Netgalley DNFs #2

I got all of these books from netgalley for my honest review.

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The Takedown

Pub: 4/11/17

Kyla Cheng doesn’t expect you to like her. For the record, she doesn’t need you to. On track to be valedictorian, she’s president of her community club, a debate team champ, plus the yummy Mackenzie Rodriguez has firmly attached himself to her hip. She and her three high-powered best friends don’t just own their senior year at their exclusive Park Slope, Brooklyn high school, they practically define the hated species Popular. Kyla’s even managed to make it through high school completely unscathed.

Until someone takes issue with this arrangement.

A week before college applications are due, a video of Kyla “doing it” with her crush-worthy English teacher is uploaded to her school’s website. It instantly goes viral, but here’s the thing: it’s not Kyla in the video. With time running out, Kyla delves into a world of hackers, haters and creepy stalkers in an attempt to do the impossible-take something off the internet-all while dealing with the fallout from her own karmic footprint. Set in near-future Brooklyn, where privacy is a bygone luxury and every perfect profile masks damning secrets, The Takedown is a stylish, propulsive, and provocative whodunit, asking who would you rely on if your tech turned against you?

Why DNF? It reminded me of Before I Fall which I did not finish either because the main characters were not nice people. The thing is that I do like ambiguous/possibly mean/possibly villainous characters. What I do not like is that the main character meanness is just an average high mean girl meanness. The way that the main character built things up she was going to be more than that. I don’t know what is going on in terms of the story and what I see doesn’t catch me at all.

Questionable: There is a lot of mention of thinness in the first few chapters, conversation about how main character would rather girls who advance forward in life because of their brains (a woman can use her brains to use sexism to advance her forward)  I only read a few chapters so it may deal with these things later.

Liked: There is a relationship between two people of color, the embellishments in each chapter

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Girl Out of Water

Pub: 5/1/17

Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word.

Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves.

Why DNF?  Girl Out of Water is not a bad book and that is the hard part about letting it go.  I just know that I could (and have) put it down and forget about it. It is in that middle area of its okay but I’m not engaged by it.

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Hollywood Homicide

Pub: 8/8/17

Dayna Anderson doesn’t set out to solve a murder. All the semi-famous, mega-broke black actress wants is to help her parents keep their house. After witnessing a deadly hit-and-run, she figures pursuing the fifteen-grand reward isn’t the craziest thing a Hollywood actress has done for some cash.

But what starts as simply trying to remember a speeding car soon blossoms into a full-on investigation. As Dayna digs deeper into the victim’s life, she wants more than just reward money. She’s determined to find the poor woman’s killer too. When she connects the accident to a notorious Hollywood crime spree, Dayna chases down leads at paparazzi hot spots, celeb homes and movie premieres. She loves every second—until someone tries to kill her.

And there are no second takes in real life.

Why DNF? Once I got to later part of the first chapter when we reached the mystery that is when things went down for me. I didn’t find the mystery interesting.

Liked: I liked the first chapter a lot. The idea (and follow through) of the main character being a former child star was really entertaining.

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Rotten Stepbrother

Pub: 8/1/17

AGAIN, Holden?! First you broke Cinderella, now Beauty and the Beast? Your stepsister is ready to strangle you. Pointing out that the Beast kidnapped Beauty and only fell for her looks has somehow put the real Beast in jail! Now there’ll never be a happy ending. You need to go into the fairy tale world of rural France and– what do you mean you don’t speak French?!

Why DNF?  I did not realize that this book was part of a series (it’s the 2nd book). The first book comes out the same day as the second so I cannot review it. Also, what I read so far I was not into.

Liked: Cover (the beast and beauty are my favorite part of it)

306: Ever After High: Next Top Villain

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Synopsis

A brand-new series of school stories from the world of Ever After High!
Duchess Swan and Lizzie Hearts are roommates at Ever After High. While their personalities are very different, they bond over not quite fitting in with the other Royals. Lizzie, however, has one thing that Duchess doesn’t: a happily-ever-after at the end of her story.
While Lizzie and the other princesses train for the day when they will rule their kingdoms, Duchess is torn between her role as the perfect, dutiful princess and her rebellious ambition to be a queen. When both girls are selected to attend General Villainy class, Duchess sees an opportunity to be a rebel while following the rules. But can she play a prank on her roomie to ace the class? Find out if Duchess’ desire to change her destiny will make her Ever After High’s Next Top Villain!

The Good

I’ve heard a lot of stuff about Duchess Swann, mostly about how evil/mean she is. I am totally cool with that. I get annoyed with the overuse of girls who have ‘nice” personalities=good. I know that this series is for kids so there is an overemphasis on niceness. Cleo, Toralei, and Nefera are some of the most interesting characters in Monster High. Toralei and the Werecat Twins are really how I got into Monster High. Ever After High does not have that many mean characters. I don’t have something against nice girls but the box that being a nice girl can put girls into. A lot of characters who are nice girls lose their complexity.  Mean girls are allowed to have questionable motives and actions.

  1.  Duchess Swan she is allowed to be not a so nice girl character she is ambiguous. She is not a mean character to me like everyone was saying she was. For the longest time throughout my status updates on goodreads I was like “waiting on Duchess to be this mean chick they seem to think she is”.
  2. Question of good and bad not only with Duchess but all the other characters (especially the adults. I could go into an entire thing about Bad Wolf)
  3. I liked the portrayal and appearance of Daring.
  4. It just was plain fun to read.
  5. It’s fun seeing the different characters point of view about people

This made me want a purely evil character after reading it (which I got with Faybelle in Fairy’s Got Talent).

The Bad

There is a lot of time spent on set up to the General Villainy plans and only maybe 50 pages was spent on when the plans actually happened. I feel that the stories were not epic, it felt more like a couple of webisodes. I’m sadly going to compare this story to the Shannon Hale Ever After High series. I felt those felt more epic and there was more time spent on the action/adventure (well, at least the first book).

Conclusion

Reading this book made me remember the magic of this series that has been waning over the books. It hurts me to say it is completely missing with Truth of Hair. It makes me remember the everydayness that this series had over the Shannon Hale ones. Come back Ever After High to your magic please.

Try A Chapter Tag: Mostly In Limbo

Since I found the Try A Chapter Tag I have been obsessed with it. Basically it is a more structured form of one of my  Samples&Previews posts.

Rules

1.Choose 5+ books that “you have been meaning to read”
2. Read up to the 1st Chapter (prologue included)
3.Yes or No, will you finish or set it aside?

Most of the  books I picked are in that space between officially own books  and getting rid of/adding to own list.

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The Creature From the Seventh Grade: Boy or Beast

The writing was off with this one. It had terribly done exposition: story  from idea to idea without correlation and the world building is not seamless. I feel the prologue and first chapter should’ve been edited down to one  single chapter for structure. In terms of the content of the story the main character is a stereotypical unpopular kid *yawn*

Verdict: Yes No Maybe

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Bait

It gets straight into the action which is so exciting and refreshing. Tells you a lot about the characters without directly telling, aka showing not telling (which Boy or Beast suffered from).

The tagline “Jaws meets Lord of the Flies meets Drugstore Cowboy”= I would say more Jaws meets The Most Dangerous Game.

Verdict: Yes No Maybe

Who Goes There, Lincoln?

Another book that has better exposition than Boy or Beast. I do like that the main character is black. I also like that his family has little threads about them to possibly pull on later. The problem is that this story feels bare which makes me not care about it.

Verdict: Yes No Maybe

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The Devotion of Suspect X

I like that the characters and setting are Japanese.This is one of those books you have to get into. I feel I’m in a light/fun kind of mood. I think this will be serious and philosophical which is not what I want right now.

Verdict: Yes No Maybe

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Truth or Hair

Yep, again exposition not done sloppy. I think I will wait until late August to continue reading this. I do think it is good so far. One thing I like about this series is that all the characters are distinct from each other.

Verdict: Yes No Maybe

Cycle of Thought

Need New Books

There is a discussion that was on my mind after sampling these books about how I need more books that fit me as a reader currently. I think my shelf of books are dated. Yes, a lot of purging happened in the last years because of my blog. However, there has not been a big input of books to match who I am as a reader today.

Cycle

Read Own Books

There are many things that stop me from getting new books.

  • Trying to save money
  • I have high DNF ratio
  • 347 books history has me leery

At the end of this sampling of books I knew I NEEDED  new books. In my next post I will go more in-depth to talk about what I need and don’t need in terms of books.

[all images are from goodreads except Who Goes There, Lincoln which is from amazon.]

305: EAH:Kiss And Spell (Spoilers)

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Synopsis

What’s a girl to do when she accidentally turns her crush into a frog? Ginger Breadhouse had a hard time growing up with the Candy Witch for a mom. It’s not easy making friends if everyone believes your mom tried to cook Hansel and Gretel! But now that Ginger’s attending Ever After High, she has a chance to forge her own path, and she’s trying to make a name for herself as the host of the MirrorCast show Spells Kitchen. The problem is, she needs viewers!
Ginger hopes a magical recipe from Professor Rumpelstiltskin will be a showstopper — but when the magic backfires, it turns Hopper Croakington II, son of the Frog Prince, into a small green amphibian! And the longer he remains under the spell, the more froglike he becomes. Can Ginger turn Hopper back into his regular self before it’s too late?
Don’t miss the companion activity book, Science and Sorcery!

The Hexcellent

 I do not experience a lot of books that are so good that I finish them in three days. As soon as I started it I was hooked. The entire Ever After High series gives me a magic that I rarely experience with novels now. That feeling of staying up to read because you cannot put the book down.

  • Ginger is such an interesting character.
  • Backstory
  • Her mom is an active part of the story.
  • Made me like Blondie Locks more than I did before – Her and Ginger friendship is cute
  • Ginger and Hopper are meant to be together, yeah!

The Bad

I don’t like that Ginger is not allowed to have a relationship with Hopper. I understand that committing to something as big as forever happily ever after is a big step  but it seems like they don’t want to give the brown girls any relationships. Letting Hopper think that Briar performed true loves first kiss is encouraging his fawning over her. Briar seems to very much not be into Hopper but he keeps chasing after her. This is the same issue I had with Dexter going after Raven Queen. I want them to make these guys deal with the girls not liking them or show the girls being even the slightest bit interest. Anyway, I don’t want Ginger to be another brown character who is put through and dateless.

Conclusion

Kiss and Spell is my favorite of the series so far.

303: A Semi-Charming Kind of Life

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Synopsis

Darling Charming is bored in Damsel-In-Distressing class. She’d much rather be in Hero Training with her brothers. The only thing is, she has secretly been helping her brother Dexter ace the class. If anyone finds out, a scandal would erupt at Ever After High. One of the most prestigious families in town, the Charmings have a reputation to uphold. Darling is destined to be a damsel…but this Rebel may want to decide her own destiny! Why should princes have all the fun?
Don’t miss the companion activity book, Hero Training!

The Good

First, I am here to say that Darling went beyond the I’m not like other girls trap that tomboy girls fall into. Well, she kind of skirted it at times which I will get into in the bad section. One of the main thoughts when I was reading the first couple of chapters is that this book is very feminist. It has the depth to make me understand why she doesn’t like being a damsel without hitting the common traps. Even though, I read the short story of hers in the A Storybook Collection I was still a bit surprised by the amount of work she put into being secretly what she wanted to be.

Her main issues were:

  1. Guys fawning over her beauty and money/family name without knowing her every five minutes
  2. Being restricted in what she could do because she is a princess

-The brother sister relationship is good. It is not as amazing as I thought it would be since Darling wants to keep everyone at a distance.

-So the Charming parents are the worst so far in the series.

-I seriously still like all the parts when Daring appears. I feel that he is not as bad a character as people make him out to be seeing how he acts with Daring in this book.

The Bad

Darling is selfish and very much about herself. The moments that really illustrated Darlings flaws is the way she treats anyone who is not like her. She ignores Rosabella her roommate because she stands up for social justice and is  whatever box Darling put her in to not  to actually give her the time of day. Darling essentially does this with every body.

Rosabella Now that we are on Rosabella let me take a quick derail and talk about where they seem to be going with her. So Rosabella is shaping to be the character who like Venus cares about social  justice. The issue is that I am afraid like Venus her caring about anything beyond herself will cause her to be characterized as a crazy social justice warrior.  If this happens it will be an excuse for them to not only barely feature her but also not give her any nuance beyond that. It gives this message to kids and whoever reads this that you cannot care for anything beyond yourself without being overbearing. I know (pray) that Rosabella is getting this treatment so they do not have to include her because she is not full fleshed out to them at the time of this book.

Back onto Darling, she couldn’t have friends because she is too busy keeping up this façade and looking down on everyone. She  has no friends in result of pushing away the other girls since they seem to be so into being damsels.

I hope she is checked one day this preferably by Rosabella Beauty.

Is Darlings physical makeup of blonde hair and blue eyes thus being the object of the guys affection a comment on society too? I think this is an interesting narrative seeing how Cedar, Duchess, and Ginger cannot get one guy to remotely look at them. I think this could be read on a bit of deeper level than other middle grade (even some adult too)books that include feminism.

Conclusion

After my rant and everything I want to say that I really enjoy this book and overall series. It manages to make characters who in any other series would get on my nerves interesting and fun to read about. Can’t wait for the next book in the series.

Library Checkout Reviews {34}-{35}

A turning point came when I drafted one of my old posts which showed me dealing with a bunch of books I did not like. It has been a long time coming honestly but I need to let go of the genre/categories not working for me. The main thing that has been standing out to me in seeing some of my old posts is the feeling that the books I don’t like are coming up before/more than the books I have liked in the past.

Reading wise what is working for me?

*Classics written by and starring black people (specifically women)

*Graphic novels/picture books/art books

*If it is a novel it has to be shorter than 100 pages? (haven’t tested this out that much)

I’m going to try to stick to these heavily.

Experimentation

Shorter Books- Less than 100 pages preferably

Right now my sights are on:

  • Novellas
  • Plays
  • Short Stories
  • Non-fiction (nothing too big right now)

I really like ideally what novellas could be. I probably should not come in with hopes but I am, of course.

Middle Grade/Chapter Books: There is No Dusting Off And Trying Again

I’m working too hard with middle grade so I am going to let it go. Chapter books are not working either.

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Both of these aren’t bad stories. They just would not engage me enough to finish them. I kept feeling like something was missing to make me really enjoy them.  DNF

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My face matches the face of moldylocks (green hair). I wish that I liked this better. I did enjoy that there was a cute black family in here.

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My mom finished this not feeling as much love as when she started.  I decided against reading it because I felt I would not like it. I was only going to read it because I checked it out for my mom. I’m getting really over trying out books when I feel no real interest in them. All this book would’ve been is another DNF for me.

Comics/Graphic Novels

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Pros feminist, funny, black main character, action packed

Cons once past issue 1 the story became less overall

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Pros Kamala Khan is so cute and dorky, it just feels so different from how other comics handle superheroes

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I forgot to mention this one in my library checkout probably because I already wrote it off last time. My brother decided to give this another chance for whatever reason.

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I was not engaged by this so I moved on.  DNF

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feels too young and not engaging to make me want to finish it. DNF

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Cons feels very experimental not in a good way, feels like he made the pictures then the story

Through the Woods

I recommend this to people who liked Over The Garden Wall.

Pros Art, all the stories were interesting, not really scary but managed to be gory and creepy at places

Cons the stories felt like they ended too quickly at times

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This was the last book I read from this haul, it almost just got sent back to the library unfinished.  The Murder of Abraham Lincoln was not as compelling as the other books in this series. Nonetheless, it was still compelling enough for me to want to finish it.

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I read a old comic of Archie with my brother for this new book club we are starting which caused remember why I stopped reading them. I did not want to read this one in result so DNF

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I sampled a story by this author in a Huntress #1 comic, did not like it. So I let this one go and moved on. DNF

Art Books

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Pros good look into black style throughout  70-80s.  It was not as glamorous as I expected it to be but it is a good book to get to see the pictures. It was fun to look at with my mom and brother.

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Pros very good look into black culture and how black people are viewed at the time period each doll was produced, shows some of the dolls I’m familiar with such as Barbie and Cabbage Patch, goes beyond the common dolls that you probably would see such as the before mentioned dolls

The only thing is I’m not a expert on black dolls so I don’t know if this is something for a big collector.

Picture Books

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Pros Artwork, it has a message but does not push it in your face

Cons not as enjoyable as the first book with this bear

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Pros Sparky is cute, of course the art

Cons Is she taking care of him properly? (it is a picture book so this maybe a weird question but this was present thought in my mind), it feels like it was stopped from being as cute as it could’ve been

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Some of the information that this book presented about cats was interesting. I just think it was okay overall.

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Then I unknowingly picked up another Peter Brown illustrated book.

Pros art fit the dark tone of the story, shows how paranoia can happen, cute, enjoyed this story way better than You Will Be My Friend

Recheckout?

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We agreed to reread vol. 12 then get these again. So coming back to later.

Novels, Non-fiction, Classics

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Will not be finishing  this even though: it is  only 83 pages, each story is less than 30 pages including the extras, and there are only 3 stories. So I say will not because I could theoretically sit and spend an hour listening to this book. I just won’t because it is boring. Interesting fact Frankenstein was one of the books I read in my first library checkout. I can still remember vividly the slow (boring) start for said book. The issue here is that first this book is too short, just like my patience at the moment, to be boring. I kinda am scared that I will never reconcile with Charles Dickens, H.G. Wells, or just all those classic authors because of this. Comeback?

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Looking at my relationship with books at the time I checked this out it is weird that I got this. It is totally different from what has been working for me lately. I am happy that I got this because it brings up so many feelings and questions. I’m enjoying it a lot.

Pros very much about family, mother and daughter relationship, writing style was different than what I have read in a while

I only finished part 1 so far.

 [Still reading]

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The History of Mary Prince

pros 

It shows the extreme amount of brutality that goes beyond  how media represents slavery. I can understand why this was not picked to be a movie. It does not have a white savior or pretty ending. It is interesting to see how slavery was in the West Indies. I’m also reading Black in Latin America  which talks about how slavery impacted slaves there. Reading both of these brings together the shared experiences of slavery. I wish that high schools not only taught black history beyond slavery and civil rights movement but also went deeper in these two periods in history.

It is nothing Mary Prince could’ve controlled but this book made me question how much is censored when you need the approval of white people to not only write your story but also to publish it. I did not have to question this before because what I had read so far were written by black people . What made me think about this is a part at the beginning of the narrative where the person writing Mary Prince’s narrative excludes peoples names because he does not want to hurt that persons relatives.

The Supplement to History of Mary Prince

This was boring for the most part. It did offer commentary and a rebuttal to the slave owners argument but it is written in legal jargon.

The story of Louis Asa-Asa

It was interesting to see a first  hand account of someone who was captured from Africa.

Conclusion

After reading Mary Prince I was ready to see black women not being brutalized and suffering.

Come Back Later

Towards the ending I just felt overwhelmed which caused me to not feel like reading. I keep renewing old books on top of a bunch of new books. I wanted to start my new library checkout with as few books as possible.

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Library Checkout {34} 6/26/15

Chapter/Middle Grade Books

It  has come to my attention that I have not tried chapter books for some reason (that is pretty valid seeing how things are going so far…).

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I’m not sure if this will be good or not. I just know that it looks like it would make an interesting cartoon show. So I will try it.

My mom decided she wanted to read this after watching the book trailer. She is enjoying it so far. Of course I am going to try it.

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As I am writing this I have only read two chapter books that were both surprisingly eh. They weren’t bad but still not good enough  to say I need to get more chapter books. So be prepared for my review on both of the books later.

Graphic Novels

A lot of these are going to be from authors I am into right now.

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Since I read Behind The Scenes recently (the autobiography of Elizabeth Keckley, the seamstress for the Lincolns) I thought it would be fascinating to read about Abraham Lincolns Murder.

Black Hole has been on my started but not finished list for a while. It is time I finish it.

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I have finally came back to catch up on Attack On Titan. I hope that I enjoy it now that I’m not in that overall emotional state.

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This could go very well or wrong. On one hand there is a reason that I still remember why I let go of reading Archie comics. On the other hand he is one of the few black characters I’ve seen in the series. It is in his point of view which could be really interesting.

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From what I read so far of Crisis On Infinite Earths it is good. I got the first issue for free on google play.

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I started the Princeless  series, which was one of the best books I read  last year. The greatness of it is its representation of black girls and the story. I’ve only currently read issue #1 and #2 so I can finally finish the first series.

Picture Books

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I read Children Make Terrible Pets a couple of months ago by Peter Brown. It was very good. This one look like it will have all the good elements that Children Make Terrible pets: cute and funny. That is what I generally look for in picture books.

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Looks like it will hit all my wants in a picture book too.

Random Pick

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It’s bad enough when Max, Rebecca, Noah, and Theo just think Grandpa Gabe’s house is haunted. But then the old movie projector in the library opens a passageway to a world of monsters and creatures made of shadows – a place of secrets and dangers set loose when the sun sets. The only weapons to fight them lie in the land on the other side of the Shadow Door…