A Blessing & a Curse. ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Victoria Christopher Murray. 2017. 288 pages. Gallery Books. [ARC provided courtesy of NetGalley.] They’ve done it again! I swear, I never think there’s anywhere else for these characters (and more importantly the duo) to go … yet somehow Reshonda and Victoria find away to take them to the next level. The idea of Jasmine & Rachel being sisters seemed unrealistic until they started weaving the tale. Then it seemed so possible and as a long time fan of the series made you wonder “how did I miss this possibility!?” Expertly written, it’s still impossible to tell one writing style from the next. 5 stars and I’m literally salivating at the idea of FINALLY finding out just who Mae Frances is. I hope Victoria and Reshonda keep up their collaborations, this book is proof they’re still capable of taking these characters further!
Her Secret Life. Tiffany L. Warren. 2017. 320 pages. Kensington Books. [Source: ARC provided couresty of NetGalley.] “She’s a series of beautiful contradictions” … my favorite line in the book as Graham simply explained Onika. Similarly, the line encompasses my emotions about the main character … I was always conflicted. My feelings of empathy were a direct contradiction to the disdain I felt for her superior, entitled attitude. Onika was so caught up in focusing on the bad hand she was dealt as a child that she failed to realize that the adult negativity was all the root of her own doing and poor decision making. The showcase of how one lie will ultimately beget many others was a valuable and continuous lesson. In addition to how failure to accept your flaws will stunt your ability to grow despite them. An ideal book for many teachers for it’s clear message without forcing hard topics. 5 stars for the effortless way Ms. Warren wove this tale, as a D.C. Native and fellow Greek, she was true to the culture and environment and it only aided the overall work.
The Loud House # 1: There Will Be Chaos. Chris Savino. 2017. 64 pages. Papercutz Books. [Source: ARC provided courtesy of NetGalley.] The Loud House is no stranger to my household, so it was a must that we check out its first graphic novel. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this graphic novel is more like an anthology, with the stories focusing on a different child of the Loud household. Admittedly, the idea of a house filled with 11 kids is overwhelming to me, the show is entertaining and carries that same humor to the book. For those unfamiliar with the Loud House television show, this book gives a short and sweet intro to the Loud family in the beginning. There is a brief bio about each of the 11 Loud children that provides some context for their personality type in addition to their ages. At the end of the book, the reader is introduced to the creator, Chris Savino, whose own childhood many of the stories are based upon. The book also took a creative approach to the contents of the book, with a fridge serving as the hub of information. The table of contents is actually presented…
Her Secret Life. Tiffany L. Warren. 2017. 320 pages. Kensington Books. [Source: ARC provided couresty of NetGalley.] It’s been awhile since I’ve been so conflicted about a protagonist. To say that I wanted to see Nikki lose isn’t entirely accurate, but I definitely wasn’t rooting for her happily ever after, either. Nikki is portrayed as a flawed, yet persistent woman. I can always understand her choices, even if I didn’t always respect them. Her Secret Life follows Onika “Nikki” Lewis through her young adult years, alternating between her high school graduation and early years of college to her post-graduate mid-twenties. In vivid flashbacks, Warren dredges up painful memories of a drug-addicted mother and grandmother who is too consumed with her daughter’s “sickness” to love and nurture the granddaughter who’s left behind. Nikki’s escape comes in the form of a full scholarship to the prestigious Robinson University in Atlanta, a beacon of excellence for the most promising black scholars. It here where Nikki opts to create a new identity. No longer known as the daughter of the town whore, she vows to become successful and sophisticated.
Madly. Ruthie Knox. 2017. 273 pages. Loveswept. [Source: ARC provided courtesy of NetGalley.] Ruthie Knox has, once again, created a story that snatched me in from the beginning. What’s not intriguing about a young woman jetting off to find and drag her mom back to Wisconsin from New York when she’s disappeared … yet again? The story then follows Allie’s nuanced relationships with her family and the new relationship with Winston, whom she runs into in a bar while spying on her mother. The budding relationship, while significant, actually doesn’t overpower the overarching story about Allie’s search for her mother. There is a great deal of connections between Winston and Allie, which serve to push the story forward in exciting ways. I never completely knew what was going to happen next, and found I was often skeptical when the characters seemed to be certain of what was going on around them.