The Athlete Student: Sophomore Year By: Eugene D. Holloman | Book Review (ARC)

*note: cover image may no be visible to all depending on device.

The Athlete Student:  Sophomore Year
Genre:Sports, Student-life, Fiction, Quick Reads
Rating: It was ok
Publisher: Holloman House Publishing
Release Date: TBD
Goodreads | Amazon |
Synopsis:

After a rocky freshman year that included outstanding production on the field, unsatisfactory performances in the classroom, an unforgettable breakup and a suspension from the biggest game in school history – Michael “Tootie” Mayberry is ready to demonstrate growth and maturity in his upcoming college sophomore year.

However, while Tootie aims to improve upon a stellar season that made him a freshman All-American. He first has to rebuild a reputation that took massive blows stemming from a cheating scandal that landed him on academic probation. With his future of becoming a professional athlete hanging in the balance, how will Tootie respond to the increasing demands of being a student-athlete?

 

BOOK THOUGHTS:

Much like my impression of book one in this series, Athlete Student: Freshman Year two years ago, this book was a quick and easy read. And after going over my notes for book one, it left the lingering idea in my mind that these books are meant for a much younger audience than I initially remember.

Once that seed was planted it altered my take on the book and the series. With a more critical eye than before, as I tend to think of young readers like my cousin, turning the pages of this book. The thing that strikes me the most about the author’s concept is the level of insight and approach to tell a story like Tootie’s that I am sure mirrors many who grew up in similar situations like his and who live, breathe and sleep all things football just to fall victim to pressure or into a mistake that puts their (his) entire sports career, future, and life in jeopardy.

Then, having to come back to face those obstacles all over again, but have less faith in yourself or from others than they (he) did before. There are a lot of things that make me admire Tootie’s character in that sense, with his self-centered tendencies and impulsive behavior. With the book being as short as it is and not set up by establishing all the characters as book one did, it leaves me little room to discuss much without revealing key elements of the plot.

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Drapetomania By: John R. Gordon | Book Review w/ Author Q&A

Drapetomania; or The Narrative of Cyrus Tyler & Abednego Tyler
By: John R. Gordon
Genre: History, LGBT, M/M, Slavery, Fiction, Literature
Rating: 5 stars
Publisher: Team Angelica
Release Date: May 17, 2018
Goodreads | Amazon| B&N

Synopsis: When house-servant Abednego is sold away south, his heartbroken field-hand lover Cyrus snaps and flees the estate on which he has lived his entire life. Leaving everything he knows behind him, evading dogs and patrollers as he heads north, in the midst of a dismal swamp Cyrus receives the revelation that Abednego is his true North Star, and, impossible though it seems, he determines to find and rescue his lost lover from slavery.

Ten years in the writing, Drapetomania, Or The Narrative of Cyrus Tyler & Abednego Tyler, lovers, is an epic tale of black freedom, uprising, and a radical representation of romantic love between black men in slavery times.

A riveting, masterful work. Set against the brutalizing, material captivity meant to break the soul, that came to define the chattel enslavement of Africans in the American south, Drapetomania tells the compelling story of two men whose love for each other reimagines the erotic contours of what was possible under the whip and scrutiny of catastrophic bondage. Here is a story of love so powerful, so achingly present, it dares to consider not just the past but the future, as vital to freedom; and in doing so, defies any notion of the black enslaved body as an ugly, unpalatable thing, unworthy of the sweetness of love. Gordon’s novel enters the company of such classic works as Edward P. Jones’s The Known World, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, and Barry Unsworth’s Sacred Hunger. We will be reading and talking about this extraordinary novel for years to come.

 

Book Review:

Reading this book was such an experience for me. Each chapter, character action, the accuracy in the details, the pacing; all of it reads like an epic.  I went through several stages of what felt like a symbolic, yet temporal, metamorphosis, both emotionally and consciously, by the lives illustrated by some of the enslaved characters in this book. So, I will try to keep my notes and thoughts on the story linear with this post.

Drapetomania is broken up into three books in this novel and told in a third person perspective that alternates between the lives and experiences of the two main characters, Cyrus and Abednego. Set in the late 19th century, where bristling talk and whispered rumors of a war between the Southern plantations faction of the United States, against the industrializing, forward-thinking North. However, unaware of the truth behind the rumors of a Civil War on the horizon, Cyrus, and Abednego, two enslaved men who live and work on the same plantation, have fallen in love.

I already knew a lot about the horrible treatment, abuse and dehumanizing conditions that enslaved Africans & African-Americans lived in, but to be placed in the middle it while reading this book took a whole other form and meaning.

During my Q&A with John, (the full interview is below) I asked about certain story themes and relative messages that he placed in the narrative. And one of those was the appalling suffering of enslaved African women, which I found one of the toughest aspects of this book I found to get through. Which is why I felt the practically spiritual connection and love between Cyrus and Abednego truly represented not only the light of this book but also the feeling of hope that pulled me through the story.

In book one, we follow Cyrus, a field-hand, as he runs away from the Tyler estate several months after Abednego has been sold away. He sets out for freedom and follows the North Star while being hunted until he realizes that he is running for a sense of freedom that he has only ever felt when with his lover, Abednego. Once Cyrus understands what he is truly missing, his character is driven by that singular desire of feeling whole once more—with Bed.

The journey we watch Cyrus go on to try to track down his lover’s potential whereabouts is anything but easy, clear or hopeful, but his compulsive need to try really resonated with me. I know it will with other readers as well.

And while I felt I was kind of on pins and needles reading this book with the tension engulfing Cyrus’ situation, I enjoyed the emotional connection I gain toward his character’s personal growth from one daring escape—each more intense than the last—to the other of the many hold-your-breath peril moments he encountered.

Cyrus’ shift from relying solely on his physical abilities, to quick thinking and blending in with other enslaved individuals really brought his character to life. In book two, the perspective shifted to Abednego and I love, love, loved that I was able to see Abednego’s point of view first-hand as all the information we have up until this point was from Cyrus’ s point of view.

And while book two depicts his life after Tyler’s estate and several months before Cyrus’s escape, it brought a validation to their relationship, their love for each other and their story all at once. As at the heart of everything that unfolds in Drapetomania, it was a reminder that it is a love story of one heart beating within these two men.

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Book Review: Mandate Of Heaven (Daughter Of The Dragon Throne #4) by J.C. Kang

Mandate Of Heaven (Legends of Tivara, Daughter of The Dragon Throne #4)
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mythology, High Fantasy/Adventure Fiction, Sorcery
Release date: December 7, 2016
I graciously received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis:

Kaiya escapes her ordeal at the hands of the Teleri Emperor, only to return to a homeland beset by enemies on all sides, and crumbling from within.

As a teenager, she quelled a rebellion with the Dragon Scale Lute. As a young adult, she vanquished a dragon with the power of her voice.

Now, robbed of her magic by grief, Kaiya must navigate a web of court intrigue to save the realm before it falls. Only she can lay claim to the Dragon Throne on behalf of her unborn sons—whether the father is the lover who perished rescuing her, or the hated enemy who killed him.

In the final story in Kaiya’s saga, she must rally a nation, repel invaders, and prove to the world why her family alone holds the Mandate of Heaven.

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Book Review: True Colors Of Betrayal (Daughter Of The Dragon Throne #3) by J.C. Kang

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True Colors Of Betrayal (Legends of Tivara, Daughter of The Dragon Throne #3)
Rating: 4.5 stars
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mythology, Fantasy/Adventure Fiction

Release date: August 30, 2016

I graciously received a ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

The world knows Kaiya as the Dragon Charmer. After vanquishing the Last Dragon with the power of her voice, all she wants is to return to a quiet life of anonymity. Instead, the Emperor tasks her with an onerous task: negotiating with the aggressive Teleri Empire for the extradition of her cousin, who tried to murder the imperial family and usurp the Dragon Throne.

The mission reunites her with her childhood friend Tian, now an assassin-spy who loathes killing. He is no longer the adorable, gullible boy from her memories, any more than she is the adventurous, sweet girl from his. Instead of rekindling nostalgia for a youthful innocence they both yearn for, their reunion ignites a mutual hatred.

When the Teleri Empire breaks off negotiations, Tian must help Kaiya escape. Orcs, Ogres, and enemy soldiers stand between them and home, and their volatile relationship could get them captured… or killed.

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Book Review: The Unforgettables by: GL Tomas

The Unforgettables
Genre: YA Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Interracial Romance, Learning Disability
Rating: 4.5 stars
Release Date: September 12 2016
Publisher: Rebellious Valkyrie Press

Received An Advanced Reader Copy in Exchange for An Honest Review.

Synopsis:

Neighbors and best friends Paul and Felicia hoped they’d be friends forever. But as they change, so does their friendship. She shouldn’t have kissed her…He shouldn’t have liked it. Starting school changed everything.

Book Review:

I am always excited for the new mix of characters and stories GL Tomas graciously share with us with their books because I genuinely feel like I’m glancing in at the lives of real people who you can connect with each and every time. Paul and Felicia from The Unforgettables were no exception to the rule.

Whatsmore, reading anything by them always sparks inspiration in me to dive into another new world. Particularly when I’m in a reading slump. So, when I heard about their newest book about two superhero/comic booking loving friends who decided to give themselves alter egos and pair up as a formidable duo, naturally I jumped and squealed at the chance like any normal person would. What I loved so much about this book was the fact that the main characters Felicia and Paul were nearly polar opposites. Aside from their mutual love for comics and superheroes’, they weren’t that similar, but I feel like that is what made them work.

Paul—the social butterfly, who thrived on crowds and at social events, and Felicia—the quiet, smart and observant killer soccer player, who was completely content to forever walk the line of solidarity for the rest of her life (or at least until she finished high school). The two came together in such a beautiful, awkward teenage shuffle.

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Book Review : The Mark Of Noba By GL Tomas

The Mark Of Noba  By GL Tomas

YA/Diverse Fiction The Mark Of Noba by GL Thomas

The Mark Of Noba By GL Tomas (Book #1 of The Sterling Wayfairer Series) Cover by: Alice Bessoni Available for purchase on Amazon

In preparation for a slightly long-winded review, I’ve opted to put all the main details at the top of this post instead of at bottom since this story and series has a lot of context to it. I also decided to include the full Goodreads synopsis instead of a short, piecey and inconclusive one below:

Sterling Wayfairer has one goal for his senior year: make his mark. He’s been slipping into the background his whole high school career—distracted by his mother’s mental health, unsettled by the vivid dreams that haunt him at night, and overshadowed by the athletic accomplishments of his popular best friends. But this year is going to be different. He’s going to break a few rules, have some fun, and maybe even work up the nerve to ask his crush out on a date. But things don’t go exactly as planned. Students are disappearing, Sterling starts losing time, and it all seems to center around Tetra, a girl no one else seems to notice but him. When he finally tracks her down for answers, they aren’t what he expects: He and Tetra hail from a world called Noba, and they’re being hunted by a Naga, a malevolent shapeshifter that’s marked them for destruction. Tetra and Sterling have distinct abilities that can help them fight back, but their power depends heavily on the strength of their bond, a connection that transcends friendship, transcends romance. Years apart have left their bond weak. Jumpstarting it will require Sterling to open his heart and his mind and put his full trust in the mysterious Tetra. If he doesn’t, neither of them will survive…

Reading gifs for blog post

I was lucky enough to have received my copy of The Mark of Noba through a giveaway from the authors of the book, GL Tomas. With out a doubt, anyone can sit down with this book and not realize they’ve been reading for six or seven hours without stopping. 0__0 I do not want this to turn into an essay or anything, but there were a lot of things that were so great about this book.

OVERALL:

The GL Tomas duo have fashioned a realistically believable, angsty yet pleasingly comical Young Adult/ Science Fiction story that takes place on an alternate Earth-like planet called Geo. The authors were smart to not only give us First Person POV, but give us the story from both Tetra and Sterling’s POV so the reader is able to immerse themselves in the story from two different angles without any of the mystery or the story being blatantly obvious or ruined. In addition, the reader will not feel ridged or confided to feeling like they’re reading a YA fiction that’s just for boys or just for girls.

I thought it was funny that when I got to the back of the book, the writers ask the reader which team they were on, #TeamTetra or #TeamSterling, but as it goes back and forth between the two of them in the book I found that I couldn’t just choose one side. The writers do a great job at exploring each character individually as well as they do a unit.

Dutch & Johnny From Killjoys Tumblr site

Without giving too much away, I do not want to say that Tetra and Sterling end up as a couple, because they aren’t. It’s just that while reading this book you get to see something so genuine; their relationship and connection is so much more than words. The two of them have this amazing bond {do you see what I did there? 😉 }

If you are the type who enjoys reading/watching a thing/a connection between two people grow, I guarantee you that The Mark of Noba is the book for you.

Moreover, it you are the type of reader who just enjoys reading about characters whose friends, family, or their life in general takes comedic jabs at them, then this is the book for you.

Sterling’s character is clearly the reader/audience of the book as we, like him leave normal, or what we perceived as the norm, after officially meeting Tetra in the book. And although the POV goes back and forth between the two, in Tetra’s POV the reader is not privy to all the answers that Sterling (we) has through out the book. With him, we get to revel in his actions and reactions because he’s basically an average senior at CCI (City Collegiate Institute) that you cannot help but root for while simultaneously laugh at.

Haha, I cannot remember the last time I felt so much second hand embarrassment for someone.  And to be fair, it wasn’t all second hand embarrassment. Reading about Sterling’s life growing up with a Mother whom suffers from schizophrenia is also another enthralling aspect about both him and The Mark of Noba.

Tetra’s character on the other hand is clearly the objective voice in the book  for the reader as she contradicts the social standards and restrictions in Geo that parallel our own.

Needless to say, often reading Tetra’s POV was one of my favorite parts about The Mark of Noba because she strips away and exposes the baseless and fallacious foundations of nearly every reason or excuse Sterling presents to her for ‘how’ or ‘why’ things were the way that they were on Geo, particularly in regards to gender.

Which completely differentiates from Tetra’s home planet, Noba, where its people function in a way that wasn’t rooted with gender barriers, a person—no matter who—is defined by their skill set and their skill set alone.

I am known for my over analyzing things—

but there were a lot of great things about this story.

However, there were a few things about this book that I did not like or felt if-y about but they DO include spoilers, so if you want to continue with a spoils-free impression about The Mark of Noba, then please stop here.

Spoilers for The Mark of Noba Continue reading

YA Books By J. A. McLachlan

Book Review: The Occasional Diamond Thief By J. A. McLachlan

YA Books By J. A. McLachlan

Brief Synopsis: “16-year-old Kia must learn the secret behind the magnificent diamond her father entrusted her with on his deathbed – without letting anyone know she has it.”

J. A. McLachlan has created a highly addictive, inspiring, and adventurous Young Adult/ Science fiction story with The Occasional Diamond Thief. The main character, Kia, is smart, stubborn, analytical; free willed, strong and 100% an independently thinking individual whom still exhibits truly the most moving moments of venerability as the result of an a strained relationship with her family, excluding her brother, Etin.

Despite all of this, the young, inquisitive minded teen still manages to make friends and gain a few trusted allies across the universe on a semi-technology backwards/basic planet called Malem, whose people openly reject and dis-trust foreigners. While unknowingly developing a truly heart-warming bond with a (unique) Select–Agatha—who fills the maternal absentness in Kia’s life she was not aware she needed.

Another thing I appreciated about this book was the fact that it not only revolves around a strong female protagonist of color, but that it equally balances differences in Culture/Languages, Social Standards and Religion with Morality, Identity, and Humanity without losing it’s comedic, adventurous and mystery elements. There are just so many quotable/memorable moments from this book that you can relive over and over again.

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Dear Lover by Lori Jenessa Nelson, full narrative poetry

Book Review: Dear Lover by Lori Jenessa Nelson

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Here’s a quick Book Review installment for a full serialized and narrative driven poetry book, titled: Dear Lover by Lori Jenessa Nelson. 🙂
Dear Lover,Dear Lover, by Lori Jenessa Nelson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lori Nelson elegantly captures snapshots of new beginnings, buttery romance, intimacy, and foreboding endings in “Dear Lover.” In my opinion, unanimous anxiety and panic attacks are sometimes the result of anything related to relationships, love, and connecting. Therefore, I must say that I really enjoyed the vulnerability, and sincerity aspects of Lori’s poetry. Moreover, she offers the reader waves of relief with speckles of spicy and quirky humor a midst the lover’s angst tale. Additionally, I enjoyed the steadily matched shift in the protagonist’s voice in each chapter and stage as she gradually begins to arc. “Dear Lover” sculpts a vivid journey from love to loss and from bargaining to a ventilating catharsis of reflection on lessons learned from past relationships. Overall, I felt this book parallels both the roller-coaster pitfalls of love and life. It has something to offer to everyone and I definitely recommend checking it out.

Thanks for reading,

Gia.

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