A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin (A Song of Wraiths and Ruin, #1)

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

West African folklore. Mental health. Romance. Danger.

An impressive debut novel that gave me a lot of Children of Blood and Bone feels. I loved the Black male co-protagonist viewpoint and how the author makes this character feel real and vulnerable, which is not something many Black males feel they are allowed to be in the real world. Malik, is a teen who suffers from panic attacks and anxiety issues. He also was born with some dark magic that he wasn’t able to use most of his life, and now has an opportunity to find out what his magic can do as he embarks on a mission to save his little sister. Malik crashes into Princess Karina, as she is rebelliously out and about, and little do they both know how deeply intertwined they will become by the end of this first installment.

Malik supposedly comes from a less than desirable background, and he and his family (his two sisters) who is with him, are trying to find a better life in the city of Ziran. His sister, Nadia, is kidnapped by Idir, a dark magical spirit, who is holding her ransom in exchange for the life of Princess Karina, and the story takes many wild turns as you go through the adventures during the 50 year Solstasia festival that is occurring when the book starts.

Princess Karina is a typical spoiled annoying brat, who does not heed any advice or warnings as she skates through life as a royal family member. When her mother gets killed during the beginning of the Solstasia festival, we see Karina have to decide if she’s going to grow up and take charge or allow others to make the decisions for her.

In a turn of events, Malik and Karina eventually meet and the journey they take has quite a few twists and unexpected bumps as they try and figure out what’s going on, and how to deal with all of the fallout that is happening around them during this 50 year festival.

There is a lot to be discussed in this book even though this is considered a YA novel. The author does not shy away from some important concepts and ideas, and I was really appreciative that she considered many topics in this book.

Topics that were brought up during this first installment:
– Mental health and Black male vulnerability
– Class/caste system
– Hate/Racism/Prejudice
– Racial disparities
– Social issues
– Betrayal
– Insta-Love/Romance/Heartbreak
– Family drama
– Murder/Mystery
– Jealousy
– Insurrection
– Grief

There is some world building going on in this novel, but it’s not as rich and detailed as I’ve seen in other fantasy books. However, you also don’t get dragged into an info dump section and left to dig yourself out. For me, the book kind of starts off slow and casually picks up as you read along, but I would have liked a bit more backstory and character development to get a better feel for the story that the author was trying to create.

I did appreciate the social issues and politics that were brought into the story. These two concepts made this book reminiscent of Children of Blood and Bone, but it is not a direct copy of COBAB, but it was a bit cliché-ish in some parts. There is some insta-love going on that doesn’t seem very organic and natural, but as a reader I kind of just pushed past that and didn’t give it a lot of thought. The connection between Karina and Malik does seem a bit flimsy, but this is only the first book, so maybe more can be expected in the 2nd installment.

The author is thoughtful in her inclusion, and writes about a couple of different disabilities that don’t get discussed too often, especially in YA novels; debilitating migraines and incapacitating anxiety/panic attacks. Karina has a chronic migraine condition, but that could be tied to other reasons that hasn’t been really broached. Malik battles (literally) his anxiety and panic, and uses his mental health issues as a way to fight off evil dark magic. There are some LGBTQIA+ mentions, but it is not dwelled on or really talked about in great detail. More so joked about, but not seriously discussed, and it made me feel like it was diversity for the sake of diversity.

The magic system was a bit clumsy and confusing. I still don’t really have an understanding of the type of magic that can be done, and who has the ability to have magic, but we do see magic happening and the type of magic that can be created is pretty cool. The people in this world all have some type of Alignment, and I wish that the author would have explained this in more detail or provided a key/breakdown on the different Alignments/countries/Tribes/Clans/Villages, etc.

There are some ‘too long’ sections in the book that could have been shortened and the editing could have been much tighter and cleaner in many places throughout the book, but overall, this was a 3.75/4.

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Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge


I’ve been contemplating what I want to say about this book. I’m perplexed and deeply torn.

This book is about a woman, Dr. Sampson, who is the first and only Black woman doctor in the county. Light enough to pass for white, Dr. Sampson has a daughter, Libertie who has skin like midnight. This daughter of hers, she is grooming to have her join her practice and help/aid women in their county. However, this story is narrated from the daughter, Libertie’s perspective, and Libertie, is searching for her own liberty. Coming of age story, told in alternating voices of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, we meet Dr. Sampson and her daughter Libertie pioneering as young Black women in Kings County, helping people escape from slavery or re-establish themselves during the Reconstruction period.

Dr. Sampson wants to build a hospital, and she wants to share her hospital and practice with her daughter, Libertie. When Libertie becomes old enough to go to college, she travels to an all-Black college, on the heels of her mother’s recommendations, and is pursuing medicine like her mother. However, Libertie realizes that she doesn’t want the same things that her mother wants, and decides to pursue Experience and Louisa as they become traveling singers. However, Libertie has to face her mother eventually, and when she returns home, she meets an apprentice of her mother’s, and falls in love.

Her husband, also has some family issues that need to be handled. Her husband, a believer in vodoun has an idea of he wants to rally and strengthen the Haitian people. His father, a bishop of the local church, also has an agenda in mind. While his sister, Ella, is battling her own demons.

Libertie, a married woman and now expectant mother, she realizes how little liberty she actually has with her own life and choices in her marriage and life. Libertie has to make a choice. Will Libertie finally find her freedom? Will her mother ever accept her choices as a grown woman?

This book discusses a few topics of interest:

  • Colorism
  • Coming-of-age
  • Parental influence
  • Sexism
  • Mysognoir
  • Familial Relationships
  • Abuse
  • Patriarchy
  • Tradition/religion
  • Self-awareness/respect

Great ideas, but poorly executed.

What worked for me? The storyline isn’t that bad. It’s full of family drama, and action, with great potential. This book has some really beautiful writing, and the prose and cadence of the work is so well balanced.

What didn’t work for me? Everything else. The book was ALL OVER THE PLACE!! There is just so much going on! I don’t think any of the problems in the book were ever solved. The plot line has you careening off into various directions. The ending is anti-climatic and you are left putting your own pieces together as to what happened in the book. The book started off at a somewhat decent clip, and gradually went down in flames. I really wanted to like this book much more, but unfortunately I cannot. 3 stars.

To be honest: This book is so bad it will probably end up being on TV.

Thank you to NetGalley, Algonquin (@algonquinbooks), and Kaitlyn Greenidge for this book in exchange for a fair and honest opinion.

Kids on the March by Michael G. Long

Kids on the March: 15 Stories of Speaking Out, Protesting, and Fighting for Justice

Kids on the March: 15 Stories of Speaking Out, Protesting, and Fighting for Justice by Michael Long

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Powerful. Informative. Revolutionary.

Kids on the March is a great resource for kids who have always wanted to speak up, march, protest, or stand up for others. Although many children think that protesting is something that adults do, this book confirms the fact that many of the protests that have been conducted around the world initially started off because of the children. Children watch adults and the world around them. Kids know and have a good sense of what’s right or wrong. Protesting is something that any person can do at any age. This book details 15 stories from around the world of how children have stepped into the roles of activism and organizing people together for marches, protests, sit-ins, die-ins, etc.

This book tells of 15 stories of how children have participated in protests since 1903 to current day, and how the protests have impacted the communities around them. This book shares the details of 15 different protests/marches in such a way that children are able to understand the information. More importantly, the book has an interactive section where it shares information about how kids can start their own protest and provide what’s needed for a march.

This book is definitely inspiring to other children who have a heart for standing up for civil rights, climate change, gun control, immigration, and a host of other issues that plague humanity. This book shares an important message with other children; you are never too young to protest or march or stand up for what’s right. Anyone can change the world and fight for what’s right. Don’t wait on the adults to get it right; children have a voice as well!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the accounts of the children in all of these movements; however, the ones that pulled on my heart strings were the protests and marches surrounding Standing Rock and their water source, the protest for a better school during Jim Crow, March on Washington, George Floyd, and the protests around the Chicanx community in East Los Angeles. The author did an incredible job in making the writing especially accessible for children of all ages, and I’m excited seeing something like this out in the world for our children. The children are our future and we need to protect them and our earth so that they can have an earth to live on when we leave this place.

I would highly recommend this book to all children, but especially 4th grade and up as required reading in school. This book can easily be a great conversation starter in social studies classes and allow children to research other protests and marches that were not included in this book. Solid 4 stars. Well done!

Thank you Algonquin Young Readers and Michael Long for this advanced readers copy in exchange for a fair an honest review.

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Act Your Age, Eve Brown

Act Your Age, Eve Brown (The Brown Sisters #3)

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I think Talia Hibbert has saved the best for last. Eve Brown is a gorgeous wonder, and I was so happy to be reading her story. When you first meet Eve, you get the idea that she has the #unbothered vibes like nobody’s business, but then underneath that layer, you get revealed a whole ‘nother layer to her, and it’s amazing to see it blossom.

Eve’s parents are fed up with her, and want her to grow up. They want her take responsibility, become a respectable citizen (like her sisters) and take life by the horns. Eve however, has tried and has done her very best, all to be met with constant failures, she believes. In a fit of mild fury or an adult temper tantrum, Eve finds herself in another town attempting to restart her life on her terms. She literally runs into an opportunity and we find out how Eve Brown is faced with needing to act her age or go back to Mommy and Daddy.

A very charismatic, charming, and lovable story with such adorable characters, I was in love with this book from the very beginning. Eve Brown is the youngest of the trio of sisters, and she is now coming to grips with adulting, and knowing that she has to step up her game. Getting a firm, but much needed push out of the nest, Eve lands on her feet, precariously, but lands all the same, trying to figure her next moves. During this entire process she meets the ice cold, grumpy Jacob Wayne and we see how these two, with biting and witty banter, manage each other as Eve is finding herself through this self-discovery process.

Such a cute opposites attract story! I fell in love with this at the very beginning with Eve’s personality, and she definitely didn’t disappoint. I really appreciate the inclusion that Talia Hibbert thoughtfully includes in the stories of the 3 sisters, and we understand certain disabilities with such a careful inspection that you don’t even know you are being taught a lifeskill when dealing with people who may have a disability that is or isn’t disclosed, diagnosed, or known. One of the messages I received with this book is that no matter what, treat people with a level of care and respect. We don’t know what other people have been through, and we shouldn’t judge people on the way they look, treat us, or respond. There could be something deeper going on, and if we are conscious of our internal biases, then we can do a better service to those that need it most. We are all fighting battles. I also heard in this book, that you aren’t broken. Just because you may do things differently doesn’t mean that you are broken. Broken crayons still color. You don’t need to be fixed. The right support and resources in place to assist is what is needed most. Don’t shrink yourself. Be you. Everyone else will adjust. Everyone deserves a chance at love.

Many topics were discussed in this book, including:
– Disabilities (autism spectrum)
– Adulting
– Childhood neglect
– How ableism hurts
– Friendships
– Relationships

Talia Hibbert has done a marvelous job in piecing together this brilliant story of two people who are complete opposites, but have so much in common that they don’t realize in the beginning. This book has some really great emotional depth, character development, and great dialogue. I couldn’t stop smiling and loving these characters from the very beginning. The very serious topic of disability, broaching the subject on ableism, mental health, self-care, generational trauma, childhood neglect, and others were done with so much thoughtfulness and care, and was well blended, that it felt so natural to discuss and read about these issues, as they should be.

Although this is the end of the trilogy I hope that Talia Hibbert does not close the door on the Brown Sisters. I would love to see what’s next for all of them! 5 stars.

Thank you Avon and HarperVoyager, Talia Hibbert, and NetGalley for this advanced readers copy in exchange for a fair an honest review.

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