Book & Movie Reviews, Reviews

Calling on the Ancestors: A Book Review of The Deep by Rivers Solomon

If you know whence you came, there is really no limit to where you can go.” —James Baldwin

When I was teen, I read this book called, Like Sisters on the Homefront by Rita Williams-Garcia, and in it, there’s a part that talks about how one member of the main character’s family is entrusted with remembering the ancestral history in it’s entirety. When this person dies, he/she/they must pass on their family’s history to the next generation until it’s time for them to relinquish their role. As I came to the end of The Deep by Rivers Solomon’s book, I was put in mind of this practice of remembering.

As the descendant of American Chattel Slavery, I am many generations removed from my ancestral home. There is no one who can remember who we were or where we came from before my ancestors landed on the shores of Charleston, South Carolina chained up in the hull of a ship. Sadly, there is no one who can really tell us how our forefather and foremothers ended up on those ships to begin with. I am much like the lost mer-people that Solomon’s main character, Yetu, has the task with “reminding” about their history.

For me, reading Solomon’s book feels akin to being taunted. African-Americans have forever been set adrift in the world and the more we try to establish ourselves with traditions and culture, the world steals it from us idea by idea, stitch by stitch, and one collagen shot at a time. Therefore, when I listen to the song Solomon based their book off of by Clipping, and hear Daveed Diggs ask if “y’all remember?,” I find myself growing frustrated because I don’t remember! I’ve hit a road block after a period of time and no amount of Ancestry DNA reports will set me straight.


This song by Clipping. was done as an homage to the Detroit Acid / Techno duo, Drexciya. The band features David Diggs of Broadway Hamilton fame. Clipping has said that they are currently planning to release more music based off of Rivers Solomons’ book in the future.

If you are looking for a short book or love Science Fiction books, PLEASE read this! I would also suggest reading The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark or The Binti Trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor.

“Vicissitudes,” Jason deCaires Taylor’s. Grenada, Museo Atlántico.

Likewise, if you are an art aficionado, please checkout Jason deCaires Taylor’s submerged artwork that is entitled, “Vicissitudes.” The work was done in honor of the African slaves that died during the Middle Passage and is eco friendly. Taylor, an Anglo-Guyanese sculptor, work is located in the Museo Atlántico, which is underwater near Grenada.

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Ruby Red Trilogy Review

I gave this series a solid 5 stars and also added these two books onto my favorite of all times list. 

The Ruby Red Series by Kerstin Gier took me by surprise. When I initially picked up Ruby Red, the first novel in the series, I was expecting a quaint story about a teenage girl who time traveled and a few historically relevant scenes that made for just another angsty teen fantasy novel. However, what I got was a fun and witty story about a girl named Gwyneth who inherits her family’s “time traveling” gene instead of her cousin, Charlotte who was believed to be the apparent heir for sixteen years. Unlike Gwyneth, Charlotte was thoroughly trained to handle being a time traveler and was initiated into the society’s secrets through private lessons since the time of her birth.

Ill-prepared for her new job Gwyneth makes up the rules as she goes along. From falling in love with her time traveling partner, Gideon, to being introduced to the infamous Count Saint-Germane, leader of the secret time traveling society (who has long been dead), Gwyneth proves that she is not just an accessory to anyone else’s agenda. Instead, she searches for clues in the past and the present with the help of her best friend, Leslie and the ghost and demons who follow her around.

To make matters even more interesting, Gier has stretched the cast of the series across different time periods, which gives the story a Clue like feel. Each characters’ motives come off as suspicious and it seems that Gwyneth can only trust herself, which causes the series’ plot to be full of suspense.

The first book in the series is geared more toward character formation and unraveling who Gwyneth is and what role she plays in the time travelers’ mystery. However, Sapphire Blue has a bit more action than Ruby Red. In this second installment readers get to see Gwyneth travel back in time more and converse with her ancestors, which allows her to obtain more answers to her questions about why she must time travel.

Also, in Sapphire Blue, the love connection between Gwyneth and Gideon becomes more apparent. Gier constructs this weird dynamic between these two characters in her first book and it only gets
more complicated as the series goes on. At first, it seems like Gideon likes Gwyneth. Then, it seems like he hates her. THEN, it’s like okay, maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t…in short, his character holds a lot of secrets. None of which, are really revealed until the end of Sapphire Blue.

Gideon’s character seems to be good however, my actual feelings toward him changes continuously throughout the first two books. When he’s first introduced, I just assume that he is a sort of secret bad guy. Later on, it’s revealed that he was mostly raised by the secret society and was unable to 

actually spend time with other kids besides Charlotte. Therefore, the fact that Gwyneth is his new untrained time traveling sidekick is a little much for him to bear. Yet, he outwardly warms toward her, but still gives multiple hints that he would rather work alone. This places him on the potential bad guy list along with like 50 other people.

This series is definitely one that I would recommend. Sadly, with this new installment comes a new cover design. Gone are the beautiful original jeweled covers and instead, readers will see a dark-haired girl in various colored ball gown standing next to a clock-tower. I am hoping that I can find a copy of the final book with the original cover since these books are translated from German into English.

(Originally posted on my Blogger on June 9, 2013.)

Happy Reading!

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Dreams of Murder: A Book Review of "The Nightmare Affair" by Mindee Arnett

I gave this book 5 stars!!!!

This book was absolutely amazzzzzzzzing! I happened across The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett on Amira from AmirasBookReviews on YouTube during her list of anticipated books of 2013. During her synopsis of the book, I heard one of my favorite words for describing any book….MAGIC! That’s right! This book stars a magical cast of characters who are students at a magical boarding school (think Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins not, Harry Potter) and looking for clues to solve who’s behind the murders at their school. 

Fortunately, Arnett doesn’t take the normal character route of other YA writers and instead makes her main character, Dusty a nightmare. Not nightmare as in a whiny, obnoxious character but, nightmare as in a magical character who feeds off others’ dreams to obtain her magical powers. The story starts off with Dusty breaking into her crush, Eli’s room to “feed.” While doing so, she notices vast differences in Eli’s dreams. For starters, Eli’s dreams are in color and he’s dreaming of a murder. Thus begins one of the best paranormal/fantasy books I’ve read since I finished Hawkins’ series.

Arnett takes readers on a journey to find out who is killing the Keepers, a group of three magical beings one from fairykind, darkind (i.e., nightmares, demons, etc.), and witchkind. These Keepers are protecting some secret within the story. To solve this mystery, Dusty has to pair up with Eli allowing the two to become a dree-seer pair, a duo who help each other see into the future through dreaming.These two along with Dusty’s best friend, Serene, a siren become junior detectives pursuing the killer using all types of wacky tricks to stay ahead of the murderer and their teachers who have warned them to stay put.

With this book, I didn’t feel as if the author was reaching or even using recycled cliches to tell the story. Arnett’s characters felt fresh. The story line drives you to keep reading even when you think you know who the killer maybe. Dusty’s character is also relatable in the fact that, even though readers may not have magical powers, they may have experienced feeling like an outsider before, a feeling that Dusty often feels. I would definitely recommend this book to anybody who loves a good “who done it?” series or who just loves fantasy fiction.

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With Brothers Like This, Who Needs Boyfriends: A Series Review of The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

I finished reading the first two books sometime in February 2013.

I gave the City of Bones 5 stars and City of Ashes 4.5 stars. I am currently reading City of Glass.

Sooooooo…this book review is going to be a general review of what I think about the series so far.

Things I Like About The Series:

1. Cassandra Clare’s description of the Shadowhunters’ world is phenomenal. We’re talking kickbutt, over the top action, in-depth mythology, jaw dropping magical realm, coo-koo villains type of good. Clare makes her characters believable if not annoying. I never felt as if she was stretching the reality of her world too far to a point where it was like,”ummmmm…okay if you say so, I guess portals can be opened in the sky and weird crap can reign down on Earth.” Her writing style really makes you feel like this magical world she created exist somewhere.

2. Two words: Magnus. Bane. The way that Clare integrates today’s social issues into her novels didn’t feel preachy nor, unrealistic. I knew that Magnus’s character was a fiercely fashionable warlock and I was totally okay with that. His dialogue in the novel was sarcastic and witty and added life in places where the novel could have easily turned into a constant battle loop. I especially looked forward to hearing what outfit this warlock had thrown together for each random adventure the Shadowhunter crew went on.

3. Clare integrated so many supernatural characters into her novel I couldn’t even keep up. The way she used the creatures (i.e., werewolves, demons, demon hunters, etc.) was fresh and exciting as well. Often times, this genre of YA gets saturated with the same type of storylines and for Clare to pick up these time worn archetypes and dust them off and breathe new life into them left me seriously impressed. I was especially in love with Luke and his ragtag gang of werewolves.

4. The fact that these novels aren’t written from a dystopian point of view sent me into a gleeful dance…seriously how many ways are authors and film directors going to imagine our end? The creation by Clare of a world that is slotted into ours made me pretty excited and interested at what would happen next.

Now…..

Things I AB-SO-LUTE-LY ABHORRED About This Series:

1. How many time can Clary fall in love with her brother or someone who is supposed to be her brother? I seriously need her to be given a portable family tree so that she can know who is and who isn’t her family so she can stop exchanging saliva with her brothers. smh Even if her brothers/psuedo-brothers are extra fwine incest is still disgusting. Clary seriously just needs to find a nice werewolf or vampire and settle down away from the Shadowhunter men….speaking of Clary…

2. Once again…smh…Clary’s character is seriously one of the more annoying female leads that I’ve seen in YA. In the beginning, I was totally rooting for her but somewhere between the second book’s end and the third book’s beginning, I became frustrated with her outside of her above mentioned tendency. It seems to me like Clary suffers from “helpless syndrome,” an affliction that gets handed to pretty female characters who really have no real weight in stories except to be the damsel in distress and get thrown around the story by authors to drive books’ action. Clary’s character needs to be schooled in Shadowhunting 101 or giving training in her new “gift” so that she can be made useful instead of forcing everybody into uncomfortable situations with her helplessness since she needs to be rescued every few chapters.

3. I sometimes feel as if Clare is dragging certain things out and could skim a good 100/200 pages from each novel. There are times when I have to refrain from skipping ahead due to Clare’s longwindedness.

4. Valentine’s character probes a question I’ve always had about men who become evil dictators. At what point in these men’s rise to power do their followers/society not realize…hmmm…this man is a psycho? I swear Valentine’s back story made me skeptical that absolutely NO one saw the telltale signs that this man was fifty shades of cray. Even Jace defends his “father” to a fault causing me to want to shake him and yell, “WAKE-UP!, HE IS CRAAAAAAAZY!”…But, I digress.

Love it or Hate it, Clare’s depiction of life as a shadowhunter is totally making me want to dig into the back of my closet and pull out my black hoodie along with my black converse and ride into the night to hunt demons…ok maybe just ride on over to my local Half Price Bookstore but, still, I totally love this series.

Sidenote: How many city’s are in the Shadowhunter world?

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