American Street by Ibi Zoboi

30256109On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life.

But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.

Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?

 

Review

TW: Violence, Drug Abuse, Cursing, Misognistc/Racial Slurs, some girl hate

Own Voices: Yes

Favorite Quote:

But then I realize that everyone is climbing their own mountain here in America. They are tall and mighty and they live in the hearts and everyday lives of the people.

And I am not a pebble in the valley. 

I am a mountain

I was extremely hesitant going into this book. Since it’s release, I’ve been both requesting and deleting American Street from my Overdrive because I’ve heard pretty mixed reviews. On Goodreads there’s people praising the book but on Booktube, a lot of people gave this a low rating.

So finally, I read Amercian Street and I was suprised to find myself enjoying it more than I thought I would.

Our main character, Fabiola aka Fab had such beautiful, authentic voice. I love how she stayed true to herself and her Haitian culture throughout the book. It was interesting seeing her how she navigates the life of American customs but also never forgetting her own Haitian traditions. It was refreshing to see a character that wasn’t “feisty, sarcastic” but who also wasn’t weak and bland. I just adored Fab and her willingness to do anything for her loved ones, especially her mother who was detained in the airport.

Then we get to Fab’s cousins aka “Three Bs,” Chantal, Pri and Donna. They bring Fab under their wing and try to make her the 4th B.

  • I do wish Pri (the brawn) had better character development though. I would have loved to read more about her since she was probably the most riveting out of the three. She also likes girls!
  • Chantal (the brains) is also an amazing woman. She seemed like the “mom” out of the three Bs and used logic and common sense when it comes to situations.
  • Donna (the beauty) fell flat to me. It seemed like her character was mostly built by her boyfriend, Drey.

What I liked about the relationship between all of them is that it wasn’t some sort of Mean Girls situation where Fab loses herself within the group/tries to fit in. Fab still calls out on their shit and even if they do make fun of Fab’s way of life, she still holds their ground.

In addition with Fab’s mother being gone and navigating the American life, she has to deal with Donna’s abusive boyfriend, Drey, who is on thin ice with law enforcement, Fab’s aunt desiring her sister was with her rather than Fab herself and Fab developing a relationship with Drey’s bestfriend, Kasim. There’s so many plots and themes in the story but for some reason, I feel like Zoboi made it work.  I loved how this was a family heavy and some mystery with only a dab of romance.

The “girl hate” didn’t really bother me as much as I thought it would because I see these situations happen, especially when I was in middle school (though Fab is in high school). I feel like there really wasn’t a whole lot of girl hate anyways.

We also get a mini chapter for all the side characters which I really enjoyed. You are able to be in their heads and discover their justifications of all the decisions these characters make. We get to read about their backgrounds and know why they hold certain beliefs. I thought this really added to the overall story.

Some people say that they didn’t like how Fab’s mother was written out of the story. I’m actually confused on what they mean because her mother plays a crucial part of the book. Literally everything Fab does is because of her mom. If Fab’s mom was written out of the story, the ending would have never happened because there would be no conflict. Fab devised plans in order to have her mom released and freeing her mom was her number one priority. I think Zoboi was trying to convey what people would do for the ones they love, even if it’s possibly betraying another love one.  The grey area conflicts really sold this book for me.

American Street made me think about a lot of things such as police brutality classism, drug abuse, etc. I also have been thinking a lot of America’s immigration system due to the current political climate and how I had to debate about sanctuary cities recently. When the other was detained, it made me angry that they force to separate a mother and a daughter for no life threatening reasons. If this quote doesn’t make you think I don’t know what will.

So trying to come to America from the wrong country is a crime?  

Overall, I think this one is worth the read.

What did you think about American Street?

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The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli| yes, yes and yes

30653853Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker, Reid. He’s a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

I feel like there has already been a lot of great reviews surrounding this book but I will still put in my two cents.

REVIEW

I loved this book. Becky Albertalli has a way of constructing these relatable hilarious characters. I found myself saying, “yes, this character is me” to basically all the characters.

Like Molly, I was also a fat teenager. Strangely, it felt like I was reading my own autobiography because Molly’s thoughts were basically the same thoughts I had. Like Molly, I felt slightly jealous of the other girls who were getting in relationships, I noticed most of them had under size 7 bodies. I felt jealous for the so-called “sluts” because they were getting laid and they had rock hard bodies and I thought there were some type of correlation between the two. I felt guilty for thinking this throughout high school and I honestly thought something was completely wrong with me.

Some people have critiqued this book for such “another self-conscious fat girl who wants a boyfriend” and frankly I find that hilarious.  I’m going to give an example:

” Because chubby girls don’t get boyfriends, and they definitely don’t have sex. Not in movies–not really–unless it’s supposed to be a joke. And I don’t want to be a joke.”

This line may see this line as an “woe is me” type of thing but I see this as a commentary of the lack of authentic positive body representation in media/entertainment. That’s just me and some may interpret such differently

Anyways, I liked how this book was the journey of Molly trying to find confidence in her own skin. However, I also liked how it’s expressed that confidence isn’t something that’s easily handed to people and it takes time. By the end of the book, Molly doesn’t become some overly cocky woman who can take on the world. She still has her insecurities and she embraces them  and I think that’s something anybody can learn from.

Molly’s twin sister, Cassie, was also a delight. She’s a lesbian, outspoken and deeply cares for her sister. I loved her relationship with Molly and it almost felt like it was sort of their story rather than just Molly’s so that was just fucking awesome. I also just admired how how she outspoken on patriarchy and LGBTQIA+ issues and generally was just a kickass character.

“Um, let’s just start with the implication that becoming a woman has anything to do with whether or not you’ve had sex”

The relationship between Molly and Reid was adorable as shit. My favorite character relationship trope is when both characters are extremely awkward, especially when it’s first love. Frankly, first love relationships are awkward as hell and I’m glad that was portrayed in the book. I hate when books make first love like both characters know exactly what they are doing but both Molly and Reid are like “what are we supposed to do?” “I don’t know, honestly.” Like yes! It’s authentic cute dialogue that makes me squeal in delight (I never squeal but this relationship did)! And ohhh the fan art can we please. Check out this fan art because yes.

Before making my rating, I was thinking about the ending and the overall message that it might send to some readers. The whole “fat girls finds love and now she has confidence” trope. I thought about this and even considered lowering my rating. However thinking about it more, I don’t think it even presents that trope.

Usually when we see this trope in books, we have these classic lines:

“he can have all the girls in the world but he chose me”

“he likes me for me”

“he doesn’t care that I’m fat, he likes me for who I am”

I can honestly go on all day but these phrases never present themselves (at least I’m aware of, hopefully I’m accurate lmao). I honestly don’t think the main love interest, Reid even mentions her body is any way (even the other love interest, Will). Yeah, the main character is nervous about sex when because of her wait but I honestly shared those same struggles in high school too. So for those reasons I simply don’t see it. However, I do understand those who do and more if you are a fellow fat girl.

Becky also somewhat addressed this issue on her twitter here if you guys are curious.

At the end of the day, I see a book where a girl finds first love.

I applaud the healthy conversations about sex and importance of birth control. Anything that I sex positive earns an A+ from me.

Now, this doesn’t account for my rating but I think it’s good to note that this is an #ownvoices book when it comes to Molly’s underrepresented body type, her anxiety and her being Jewish. Molly and Cassie also has two moms (one of them being Jewish and the other being black),  Cassie’s girlfriend, Mina is Korean-American and pansexual, and  Reid the love interest is also Jewish. There’s a shit ton more such as POC and LGBTQIA+ wise but you get the picture.

Although the diversity aspect didn’t account for my star rating, I did take .5 away due to the fact that I wished more character arcs were explored such as the dynamics of Molly’s parents, Cassie’s girlfriend Mina, their Jewish religion, etc. I am going to give credit to the wonderful character development of Cassie though.

I wished this was published when I was in high school. This could have possibly helped me get through some tough times.

Great book by a beautiful author, would recommend.

 

Mini Reviews| Important books tbh

20701984El Deafo by Cece Bell

Published: September 2nd 2014 by Harry N. Abrams

Page count: 233

Rating:★★★★

Summary: Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece’s class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it also seems certain to repel potential friends.

Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom, but anywhere her teacher is in school–in the hallway…in the teacher’s lounge…in the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower! Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, Listener for All. But the funny thing about being a superhero is that it’s just another way of feeling different… and lonely. Can Cece channel her powers into finding the thing she wants most, a true friend?

This funny perceptive graphic novel memoir about growing up hearing impaired is also an unforgettable book about growing up, and all the super and super embarrassing moments along the way.

Thoughts: This was sooo adorable. I found this to be amusing at time yet very educational. I’m a hearing person so it was fascinating to see how people who are deaf grow up. Cece kind of dismisses ASL and it was interesting to see behind her reasoning and how she feels about that way of language now. I took an ASL class in college and so I saw a lot a parallels between the struggles people who are deaf have to go through (people mumbling, covering their mouths, the stigmas behind people who are deaf/hard of hearing/ dismissiveness towards the community, etc).  Also, I liked how the graphic novel explored the themes of stable friendships and forgiveness two themes that are extremely important, especially for a young audience. I think children and adults will appreciate the cuteness of the comic and will learn a thing or two. This little gem is absolutely worth reading.

 

23341894Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Published: June 16th 2015 by Disney-Hyperion

Page count: 233

Rating: ★★★

Summary: Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off.

Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn’t help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she’d be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam’s weekly visits to her psychiatrist.

Caroline introduces Sam to Poet’s Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more “normal” than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.

Thoughts I read some reviews before diving in that this was a more Disney-fied version on mental health but I think I’m going to have to disagree on that notion a tiny bit. I will admit, the romance seemed and I wasn’t really on board with Sam and AJ (note: I put ASH first because I thought that was his name lmao) because I felt like there wasn’t much connection there. I felt disconnected from the other characters and even Sam at times. However, what I really enjoyed and appreciated about this book was the amazing presence and effectiveness of Sam’s psychiatrist, Sue. Far too many times in entertainment/media, we see counselors and therapist as these bad guys and how people can’t confide in them. It was honestly such a breath of fresh air to see that psychiatrist are depicted greatly and how she helped Sam with her thinking process rather strictly telling her what to do. I also really liked the poetry aspect of the book and it made me want to buy a journal and start writing (though it would be very bad).  I didn’t completely guess the twist but I knew that some things didn’t make complete sense throughout the novel. Nonetheless, that was still an interesting addition to the book itself.

 

You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner| Sorry, but the universe never thanked you.

25701463When Julia finds a slur about her best friend scrawled across the back of the  Kingston School for the Deaf, she covers it up with a beautiful (albeit illegal) graffiti mural.

Her supposed best friend snitches, the principal expels her, and her two mothers set Julia up with a one-way ticket to a “mainstream” school in the suburbs, where she’s treated like an outcast as the only deaf student. The last thing she has left is her art, and not even Banksy himself could convince her to give that up.

Out in the ’burbs, Julia paints anywhere she can, eager to claim some turf of her own. But Julia soon learns that she might not be the only vandal in town. Someone is adding to her tags, making them better, showing off—and showing Julia up in the process. She expected her art might get painted over by cops. But she never imagined getting dragged into a full-blown graffiti war.

Review

You’re Welcome Universe left me feeling indifferent and slightly annoyed.

It was unbelievably difficult for me to get through this book. For some reason, it felt like I was reading a 500 page novel when in reality, this falls under 300 pages. This wasn’t a horrible per say and I’ll start with the positives just to prove that.

Although this isn’t OwnVoices, you can tell as the reader that the author did a lot of research on the d/Deaf culture. In her author’s note (something I’m going to make an effort to start doing to all the books I read for now on), Gardner explains how she had d/Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and interpreter sensitivity readers that helped with making this story authentic. Also, there is review, a person who is part of the d/deaf/hard-of-haring community, here that pretty sums up all what the book did right when it came to the representation.

It’s good to note that Julia is Indian and has two moms who are also Deaf!

Another good aspect of this book was the plot. The main character gets into this graffiti war with this mysterious person and it was fun to see their “artsy” interactions with one another. If you are an artist, you would definitely appreciate this book. However, I don’t advise others to tag personal property since 1. it’s illegal, and 2. it’s hella rude towards the property you are tagging, unless they deserve it.

There’s also a really somewhat great female friendship (Julia and “Yoga Pants”). Although there is very light romance (I honestly wouldn’t have called it a romance), this friendship took center stage. I like how “Yoga Pants” became such a loyal ally and even though she says some questionable things, she’s still eager to learn about d/Deaf culture. Although, I feel like I can’t really say the same about Julia because I felt she was terrible to “Yoga Pants” at times but I’ll save that for later. “Yoga Pants” definitely carried the friendship and made me appreciate it, even if Julia was a complete a-hole at times.

Despite these three solid points, this book unfortunately fell for me.

Julia. Oh Julia. As the story progresses, I start to hate Julia more and more. I think she was the reason why it took me so incredibly long to finish this story. She was astonishing rude and petty all the time for no apparent reason. She did something in the book out of “revenge” and it was frankly one of the most disgusting things I have ever read! Yet, she barely received any repercussions for her actions. Then she was also extremely pissed at her friend “Yoga Pants” for not really a good reason and as the reader, it was hard for me to read because she talked about her so negatively. I wanted to scream “WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT THIS IS SUCH A WASTE.” Julia also doesn’t have a care in the world for those around her, she constantly lies and there’s a bunch of girl hate/slut shaming that served no purpose.

Even though this was only under 300 pages, it could have honestly been a lot shorter. There were a lot of unnecessary rambles and over explanation of the art, not about the art itself but rather how she makes the art. I ended up skimming some of the paragraphs because it grew rather boring.

Also, the way that eating disorders was explored in the book left me a little uneasy. How everything was handled was kind of irresponsible and it sort of fell in the “love heals all illnesses” trope.

You’re Welcome, Universe is a book if you’re looking for pretty good d/Deaf representation and a solid plot. However, if you think you can’t stand being in a point of view of a self-absorbed teenager, then perhaps read something else.

 

 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

32075671

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

Review

I’m kind of late to the game when it came to this book since it took me over a month to finish. I finally sat down and read the entire book through and I must say probably for the first time EVER, this book lived to the hype.

If you don’t know, this book was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement that was started by an amazing group of women: Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi. The movement fights for justice when

This book should have made you livid, disappointed, upset but it should also spark you to gain hope (even if it’s only a little bit).

The writing is extremely accessible and engaging. The main plot follows the aftermath of a black teenager getting killed by a police officer and Starr was in the car when all this went down. Starr obviously plays a crucial role in the case and tries to seek justice for her friend.   

Star was such an amazing beautiful character. She’s smart with that bit of sass that I love with any main character. The side characters definitely didn’t feel like side characters because they actually play a role in the story. Starr’s parents played a big part and so did the rest of her family and friends. What I liked about the book is that it promoted community involvement

Being black, a lot of this stuff resonates with me in such a personal level. Struggles that black America has to deal with goes even beyond police brutality, and Angie Thomas definitely accounts the adversary, especially the ignorance many of the characters had in the novel. It talks about privilege, race, “hood” neighborhoods and gang violence. Reading this, I didn’t read anything new, but it’s an important read for not just black people, but for all people. It doesn’t sugarcoat anything and it doesn’t make excuses for people. This book reminded me of Black Girl Dangerous {review here} when it comes to the harsh but real tone of these topics that’s depicted in these books (Unlike Pepsi’s newest ad lmao)

I would also like to note that the above does also mean that this book isn’t fucking hilarious at times. Starr’s dad was definitely the comedic, especially when he talked about his Harry Potter gang theory. I told so many people about this theory and everyone also thought it was brilliant. He’s hilarious when he applauds some of the stuff that Starr does that makes her mom mad and also when he’s around Starr’s boyfriend, Chris.

This book teaches you to use your voice as a weapon and to always fight for social justice for not just for yourself, but for everyone. There’s someone out there, innocent, who has been wrong by our messed up system and are facing the unjust consequences because of this. Young people are taught that they can’t do anything because they don’t have degrees or even experience but The Hate U Give teaches young individuals that a no one is ever to young to fight for what’s right.

Ooooo let me just say how angry I was with Starr’s friends. I snap-chatted all the stupid shit that was spewed from these girls mouths such as them complaining about their travels on spring break. One of the girls was basically like “ugh, went to the Harry Potter world in Florida, UGH woe is me.” I don’t get how people can just complain about that type of stuff.

I love Angie Thomas for publishing The Hate U Give. I love her for educating people on black culture and black adversary. I love her for giving young black girls out there a voice.

I hope you love her too.

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Mini Reviews| Aristotle and Simon!

I don’t write a review for every book I read for a couple of reasons. Some of those reasons being that I don’t have the time, the book is too short to review, sequel to a series so I don’t want to spoil, read too long ago to even do a full review or perhaps I just don’t want to spend an ample amount of time constructing one. 

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, #1)Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by  Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Published: Febuary 21 2012 by Simon & Schuster

Page Count: 359

Rating: ★★★

Summary: Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

Review: I read this on audio book solely on the purpose that Lin Manuel Miranda would be narrating the story. I enjoyed the story, the family dynamics, etc. Although I did enjoy reading these aspects of the novel, I couldn’t connect with it and therefore the story was meh to me. I didn’t like Ari too much and I kind of felt he was rude to Dante at times. I know the title says “Aristotle and Dante” but I wish the family conflict was more fleshed out rather than just in mere mentions because that was something I was looking forward to. I felt like this was supposed to be an emotional read (sad? happy?  happy-sad?) but I felt deadpanned. I actually read this in the beginning of February and I don’t remember much of it, so unfortunately for me, it wasn’t memorable. I do remember loving the story while listening to it but after I was done, I was like “oh okay next?” Though, LMM did a great job on the narration!

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens AgendaSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Published: April 7 2015 by Balzer + Bray

Page Count:320

Rating:★★★★★

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Review: THIS. Oh gosh, this may have been the reason why I docked a star from the above review. I also read this on audiobook which was awesome but may have been a mistake since I was grinning and giggling to my classes and people probably thought I was on something. I loved the romance between Simon and Blue SO MUCH. Honestly, it takes a lot for me to get on board with a romance but Simon and Blue from the second email exchange got me hooked.  They just made me extremely happy. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda explores identity, acceptance, fear and friendship all in a realistic matter. The story talks about homophobia and racism in the south and the struggles of expressing oneself. At times, I hated characters, then loved them, then hated them again and it was all so confusing but amazing. This was HILARIOUS. I want to buy the book so that I can annotate and underline all my favorite quotes. The writing was no pretentious which I’m glad because I’m tired reading quirky books with pompous ass writing. Not every book needs to be John Green. Also, being in Simon’s head was such a treat but sometimes frustrating because using context clues, the audience knows who Blue is but Simon doesn’t. I kept wanting to scream OPEN YOUR EYES. Overall if you want to read something honest, cute and inspiring, I HIGHLY recommend this.

Read any of these books? Leave your thoughts down below!

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Hope in Nautical Dusk by Miri Castor {Review}

31965913The Gift of Twilight flourishes within Opal Charm as winter descends on Dewdrop. Life was already rough before, but Opal’s got new obstacles to face – getting into high school, bringing her brother back home, and training to protect Athre and Earth from Samael, the mysterious overlord who seeks to rule all, and put an end to her and the Charm lineage. The balance between harsh truths and sweet lies is more fragile than ever.

Yet, as winter rolls on, the balance begins to break as a new threat emerges. Memories Opal once trusted are disintegrating her friendships, and lies are clouding her Path of Dawn and Dusk. Opal must seek the truth while protecting those close to her, no matter how painful it may be.

This is a story about what it means to have hope in the face of despair

 

Review

Disclaimer: I received an ARC copy from the author/publisher in exchanged of an honest review.

So, this was interesting.

I read this book without reading the first one. Even though you technically don’t have to read the first book, I sort of wished that I read the first one because I feel there were a lot of references that went from one ear out the other.

Let’s start with the Positives.

1. Our Main Character! We have a black bisexual character as our MC. I really liked Opal because although she was young, she was strong but realistic, capable but not too independent.

2. The talks about asexuality! I feel as if this book falls into the upper middle grade/younger YA category and so it feels good to see asexuality representation and discussions in these types of books.

3. Aaron! Aaron is one of Opal’s friends and he’s such a sweetheart.

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4. The Writing style: Castor has a great knack for writing. It’s not too simple, but it’s accessible to any reader out there. I think young high schoolers would appreciate the story the most since it’s near the age group and it discusses topics that’s mostly relevant to them. It’s fast pace for the most part, however, there’s some unnecessary things that I will discuss later on.

5. Friendships. I just love when authors create friendships. I love Opal and Everon, Opal and Aaron and Opal and Anza.  It’s definitely a friendship heavy story and so if you love those types of relationships, I highly recommend you pick this up!

6. I actually enjoyed the somewhat unreliable narrative. Opal’s memories are all over the place and it makes the plot a lot more interesting. Although it’s not the most original plot device, it’s still interesting because as the story progresses, the fallout is epic.

The Negatives

1. Like I said, I wish I read the first book before reading this. There were a lot of events that I didn’t understand too much because well, I didn’t read it in the first book (like it took me a while to fully understand went down with the whole Samael– the villain– in the last book since it was merely just loads on mentions). Also, I’m still tad bit confused on the whole magic system. I understand that Opal and a bunch of other characters possesses these special gifts but I’m still confused on how everything works. Like I get that there’s sand involved but I wish there was more clarification (again, regret not reading the first book)

2. Opal’s brother constant use of “squirt” irritated me to no end. Like I get that Opal is your sister and that she’s short but using that nickname in every sentence drove me up the wall! If I was Opal, I would have murdered him but I guess that would beat the purpose of the first book huh?

3. There’s A LOT of characters, like a lot. It took me a while to know everyone (I confused Addy and Anza oops!) and it hindered my reading experience a bit. Although I liked many of them, I had to put in a lot of effort to memorized everyone’s name and their significance of the novel.

4. I thought that there were some unnecessary chapters, specifically the “what do you fight for chapter.” Although it was cute, I thought her reason for fighting was already established before. I mean, it was cute, but at the same time, inessential.

5. The writing style. I know I know I put this as a positive but even though its accessible, I still wish there was more substance, more imagery. I was getting told what is what rather than being showed. I felt like that may have been the reason I was confused a lot throughout the story, especially with the magic system.

 

Overall, it’s a solid fantasy/sci-fi story. I don’t think it would be something I read again (though I might read the first book to get more context) but it was still an entertaining read. I feel like this is on the same level as Shadowshaper so if you enjoyed that book, the Opal Charm series may be something to check out!

Note: I would honestly read the first book instead of starting here as it might give you more insight on the characters and past events.

Release Date: March 15 2017

Buy Hope in Nautical Dusk: Amazon

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