Anne Bonny #YA #BookReview Children Of Blood And Bone by @tomi_adeyemi 5* Genius #LegacyOfOrisha @MacmillanKidsUK #Zelie #Magic #Diviner

cover
Children Of Blood And Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Synopsis:

Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut Children of Blood and Bone.

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.
Now we rise.

Zélie remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. When different clans ruled – Burners igniting flames, Tiders beckoning waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoning forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, anyone with powers was targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Only a few people remain with the power to use magic, and they must remain hidden.

Zélie is one such person. Now she has a chance to bring back magic to her people and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must learn to harness her powers and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where strange creatures prowl, and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to come to terms with the strength of her magic – and her growing feelings for an enemy.

My Review:

I have never been so concerned with the future of magic, in my entire life! I am a huge YA fan, but will admit I don’t read many novels with the theme of magic. I decided to change that and bought my copy of Children Of Blood And Bone.
I am so glad that I did.

There is powerful writing before you even get to the first page. The writing is absolutely beautiful, and I instantly developed a huge respect for the author.

‘The incantations that spewed from her mouth like lava. The magic of dead that led her astray’

The writing is emotionally charged and if you read between the lines, you can see reflections to American black history.

‘I think about the way her corpse hung from that tree. I think about the king who took her away’

The novel is fiction/fantasy. Yet the historical and modern-day references are there. The theme of those whom wield all the power and their abuses over those who do not. Diverse literature is important in EVERY genre of fiction. But I would say most definitely in the YA genre. The younger generation want to read literature that represents the world they live in. Culture and race play a huge part of that world.

The story opens with our heroine and protagonist Zelie, she is a diviner. She is taking part in a sparing session with Mama Agba. When the guards arrive to collect ‘diviner tax’. A tax that is hugely inflated and used to oppress and enslave the diviner members of society. This is enforced by King Saran, who led the genocide against the diviners.

‘It’s not bad enough for the king to keep the diviners down. He has to break anyone who tries to help us’

Zelie notices the guard’s sword, which is a black blade made of majacite, created to weaken magic and burn the flesh. Zelie is also exposed to sexual threats and unwanted advances. Which she must tolerate against her will. . .

‘Keep my mouth shut, swallow my rage – Live to see another day’

Zelie despises the way she is treated, and she riles against this oppressive regime. But those around her, warn her such rage risks her own life and that of those she loves.

‘They don’t hate you my child. They hate what you were meant to become’ – Mama Agba

As the novel unfolds we learn the history of the diviners. The differing ten clans and their unique abilities. How the chosen children have the mark of white hair. The history of the diviners is incredibly moving, with Zelie having experienced the loss of her own mother at such a young age.

Love – Fear – Hate – Violence

11yrs previously the Maji People used their powers in defence and their magic disappeared. The power of the magic is in direct relation to their gods and the Maji people have no idea why they have been forsaken.

‘The gods died with our magic’

Zelie is surrounded by people that have no magic (kosidan). This includes her father Baba and brother Tzain. Which also means they do not experience the same level of hate/violence that she is herself at risk from. Zelie is surrounded by people yet feels alone in the world.

‘One look at my white hair, and people avoid me like I’m an infectious plaque’

Nailah is a lionaire that Zelie has raised from a cub,
at times she feels Nailah is her only friend.

With taxes being raised to levels of extortion. Zelie and Tzain must leave and head to Lagos to raise some money. Money that will ensure Zelie stays free from the ‘stocks’. The stocks being the Maji forced labour camp, where death is highly likely. On the journey, she reflects upon her memories, from when she was just a little girl of 6yrs old.

‘That was the night things got bad. The night King Saran hung my people for the world to see, declaring war against the Maji or today and tomorrow. The night magic died’

The novel jumps between various points of view, with the most prominent being Zelie. But the other two narratives, give you an insight into life on the other side of this divided society. Amari and Inan are King Saran’s children.

Amari is a royal princess, who tires of her role and constant attention and appeasing in a male dominated society. Her only friend is Binta, her diviner chambermaid and confidante. When Binta is summoned by the king, Amari is consumed by fear. Why would her father summon Binta? What use for a diviner, can her father have?

‘Our female nobility paste on smiles, though I know they whisper about us behind our backs’

Amari sneaks into her father’s offices and becomes aware of a secret not meant for her ears. . .

‘Your highness. The diviners became Maji’ – Commander Kaea

Inan is the youngest captain in history. He is loyal to his father and aware that he is next in line to the throne. He has the same devout beliefs about the Maji people and diviners and like his father would like to see their eradication.
But fate has a surprise for Inan.

‘Gods are nothing without fools to believe in them’ – King saran

After witnessing the spoken secret and death of Binta. Amari becomes enraged. She flees the palace taking with her the scroll.
A scroll that can bring back the magic!

In the city of Lagos the lives of Zelie, Amari and Inan will collide and their futures will change forever. Their core beliefs are challenged in ways they’ve never known before.
Zelie must find her inner strength and on this journey, she becomes an instant hero of mine.

‘We don’t need to fear magic we only need each other’

There are so many powerful themes within this novel. But to include all the details is to simply spoil the magic for others. It is one of the most powerful books, I have read this year and I urge you to buy it. Buy it for the young people, children and teens that you love. Or simply buy it for yourself, for some pure escapism.
5* Genius

‘You crushed us to build your monarchy on the backs of our blood and bone. Your mistake wasn’t keeping us alive. It was thinking we’d never fight back’ – Zelie

TA
Tomi Adeyemi
Website
Twitter

My #Review of, Long Way Down by @JasonReynolds83 Illustrations by @crispriestley @FaberBooks 5* by @annebonnybook #YA #NewRelease

cover
Lone Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Illustrations by Chris Priestley

Synopsis:
AND THEN THERE WERE SHOTS
Everybody
ran,
ducked,
hid, tucked
themselves tight.

Pressed our lips to the
pavement and prayed
the boom, followed by
the buzz of a bullet,
didn’t meet us.

After Will’s brother is shot in a gang crime, he knows the next steps. Don’t cry. Don’t snitch. Get revenge. So he gets in the lift with Shawn’s gun, determined to follow The Rules. Only when the lift door opens, Buck walks in, Will’s friend who died years ago. And Dani, who was shot years before that. As more people from his past arrive, Will has to ask himself if he really knows what he’s doing.

This haunting, lyrical, powerful verse novel will blow you away.

My Review:

Wow! Where to begin with this novel? I read this in just an hour. The author has developed his own style of writing and this I absolutely LOVED. I have a great respect for author’s who choose to write in their own unique style and make zero apologies for it! So straight away, that was a ‘Go Jason!’ from me!

The novel is YA, I am 34 years old! My days of being a YA are long behind me. But I firmly believe YA is for everyone! Therefore, I have continued to support YA novels on my blog as often as I can. The novel also has illustrations within it’s pages. They are amazing, accurate to the emotions and themes and I only wish I owned a physical copy now!
The illustrator Chris Priestley has done a phenomenal job!

The novel opens with William Holloman (Will to his friends). In the aftermath of his brother Shawn’s shooting. Will is 15 years old, his brother just four years older. I immediately started asking myself, Why did this young life, have to end so soon? As Will describes his pain and grief at the loss of his brother. You begin to realise the pain of bereavement is deeply painful for everyone, regardless of age. It just resonates with each individual differently. In that split second, Will knows what he must do………….

“If the blood inside you is on the inside of someone else, you never want to see it on the outside of them” – Will

Will talks us through the local neighbourhood people. What happens when a crime like this takes place and most importantly of all the rules!
The rules: No crying, no snitching and revenge!
As a mother, reading Will’s words, I really began to worry for his future and where the path of vengeance would take him.

“Gun shots make everybody deaf and blind especially when they make somebody dead”

“If someone you love gets killed, find the person who killed them and kill them”

The novel briefly describes Will and Shawn’s mother’s pain. Her worries that Shawn stay out of jail, not get his girlfriend pregnant and not die!
We also hear Will describe his relationship with Shawn. His favourite brother, his only brother. It is with that in mind, he grabs Shawn’s gun and decides to get revenge.

What happens once Will enters the elevator, is the true beauty of this novel. He will be met with a variety of characters, all known personally to him.
Well at least until they died…..
They offer their words of wisdom, each taking a turn to show Will the consequences, his future actions could have!

“Might as well relax, it’s a long way down” – Buck

The writing is poetic and beautiful. I had so many quotes written in my reading journal. Jason Reynolds has proven, without a shadow of a doubt, He is a master wordsmith!
The novel depicts the cycle of violence and gang culture.
But in a way, I have NEVER read before.
I can see the huge appeal to YA readers, as the novel really is written to them. But the novel still manages to be unique and moving to the older adult reader also. Which cannot, be an easy writing endeavour.
A HUGE 5* from me!

JR
Jason Reynolds
Authors links:
Website: http://www.jasonwritesbooks.com/
Twitter: @Jasonreynolds83

 

Q&A with @WendyDranfield #Author of #YA novel, The Girl Who Died #Indie

cover 1
The Girl Who Died by Wendy Dranfield
Synopsis:

Fifteen year old Hannah has killed her best friend, Katie. Whether or not it was intentional, only they know. With the police and Katie’s family desperately demanding answers, Hannah’s world is torn apart as she has to decide what to do next and whether that involves doing the right thing. Hannah’s choice is made more difficult due to her new closeness with Katie’s older brother, Josh. The traumatic event of Katie’s death unearths secrets best left untold, but to leave them untold would put another life at risk.

Longlisted for the Mslexia Novel Writing Competition and adapted from Wendy Dranfield’s previously published short story ‘Blue’ (published by Fish Publishing and also available in Wendy Dranfield’s short story anthology ‘End of the Road’).
*Novel currently available via kindle unlimited or for just 99p in Ebook*

Q&A:

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A) I have been an avid reader ever since I was small, always preferring books over dolls for presents, and that love of reading resulted in an inevitable love of writing. I started writing stories from about ten years old and I still have some I wrote as a teenager (they’re not good but they make me smile!). I eventually completed some Creative Writing modules as part of my degree and found they really helped me focus on writing every day.

The Girl Who Died was the first novel I wrote. It centres around fifteen-year-old Hannah, who thinks she’s killed her best friend, Katie, and then has to deal with the aftermath. From dealing with the police investigation to starting a friendship with Katie’s devastated older brother, Josh, Hannah is put in some awful situations that she isn’t mature enough to deal with. It’s not an easy read when we learn what Katie was going through before she died, but I believe it’s important to be honest when writing Young Adult fiction. When I was a teenager I would have liked to have read something like this, to show I wasn’t alone in what I was going through.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

A) This novel started as a nightmare I had when I was fifteen years old. I must have been arguing with my best friend that day because I dreamt I killed her, cut her up into tiny chunks and then buried her in various places in our local field! I woke up drenched in sweat and feeling the worst guilt I’d ever experienced. Not because I thought I’d killed my best friend (we had a love-hate relationship!) but because I thought I’d get caught! It took me a while to realise it was a dream. But that dream stuck with me for years and I finally turned it into a short story in my early thirties. That story got published in the ‘Fish Anthology 2010’ and I had such a good response to it that everyone wanted to know what happened next to Hannah, the main character. I decided to find out by continuing the story and that turned into the YA novel ‘The Girl Who Died’. Although I wrote it in my thirties (I’m 39 now), I’ve received great feedback about how realistic the fifteen-year-old characters are, which is great.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) Stephen King’s earlier books such as Pet Sematary and IT had a huge influence on me growing up and I still read everything he writes. I’m also a huge fan of George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones series, which was unexpected for me because I hadn’t read any fantasy before that. I am currently working my way through everything ever written by Joyce Carol Oates as something about her writing draws me in. I also love Daphne Du Maurier and Shirley Jackson.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) I grew up on Stephen King. I would search the local car boot sales for any of his books I could find and ended up collecting them. I prefer his earlier work such as Pet Sematary and IT because I’m a horror fan at heart, but I still read everything he writes. I’ve learnt a lot from him. At college I had to read Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and that became a favourite, which meant I went on to read his other work. It’s so important to read widely and not just stick to one genre. I’ve started reading crime thrillers this year and have realised I love them too!

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) When I got a story traditionally published for the first time I was so proud of myself. I had entered a short story competition but I wasn’t bothered about winning the cash prizes, I just wanted to make sure I was at least one of the runners up as they would be published in the anthology. Once I found out I was a runner up I couldn’t have been happier than if I’d have won the money. Receiving five complementary copies of the anthology and seeing my work in a ‘real’ book for the first time was a huge moment for me. It made me realise for the first time that I can start saying out loud than I’m a writer. I didn’t feel like I was pretending anymore.

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

A) I never had anyone to encourage me while I was growing up and I never told school/college/work friends that I was writing in my spare time, as I felt embarrassed about it. It was only when I met my husband at 25 that I revealed my writing hobby, and it took me a couple of years before I could show him any of my work. I had such low self-esteem due to my upbringing that I didn’t feel confident enough to submit to competitions or publishers until I was in my thirties. My husband has supported my writing ever since we met. I’ve recently finished writing my next novel, a crime thriller, and my husband read the whole thing as a beta-reader for me. At 85,000 words long and in a genre he’s not keen on, that’s true love!

DSC03359 twitter (2)
Wendy Dranfield
Author links:
Twitter: @WendyDranfield
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13513643.Wendy_Dranfield
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wendy-Dranfield/e/B00XGLIHAK/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1476544391&sr=8-1
Instagram name: wendydranfield

WD: Thanks Abby!
Huge thanks to Wendy for being part of a Q&A on my blog! I wish her much success with her writing career!

The author also has two short story collections available:
cover - short stories
Ends Of The Road

cover short stories 2
It Lies With You

 

 

 

Q&A with Nic Stone @getnicced #Author of, Dear Martin @randomhousekids @CrownPublishing #NewRelease #YA

I recently reviewed Dear martin on my blog (she here: https://annebonnybookreviews.com/2017/11/16/review-5-dear-martin-by-getnicced-nic-stone-ya-randomhousekids-crownpublishing-newrelease/). I then asked Nic if she would like to be part of a novel Q&A. So here it is!

Firstly, here is the novel

cover
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
Synopsis:
Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League–but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.
Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.
Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up–way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack.

Q&A:

Q) Firstly, can you please tell the readers about yourself and your amazing novel, Dear Martin?

A) Hi there! I’m Nic, current YA novelist, former Jack(Nic?)-of-all-trades, though master-of-none. 🙂 My debut novel, DEAR MARTIN—which debuted on the New York Times bestseller list, can you even believe that!?—follows Justyce McAllister, a seventeen-year-old African American boy who, after a traumatic racial profiling incident, begins a journal of letters written to the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. where he attempts to process his experiences moving through a world that often treats him with disdain based solely on his skin color. In a nutshell, it’s a book about American race relations here in the 21st century.

Q) I read a wealth of diverse literature and what made Dear Martin stand out, was the comparison between the Dr Martin Luther King Jr era and the modern day. What was the inspiration behind the idea of the letters entitled, Dear Martin?

A) This story is a response to seeing people in positions of great influence (i.e. Bill O’Reilly, Mike Huckabee, and former mayor of Atlanta, Kasim Reed) invoke Dr. King in opposition to exactly the type of nonviolent protest he championed. Every time I heard “Dr. King would be appalled by the #BlackLivesMatter movement,” I wanted to break something, so I used that fury for fuel and wrote this book instead.

Q) Justyce is such a likable, realistic character. As we read the novel we watch him come of age and begin to understand the society he lives in. Was Justyce based on anyone from real life? Or a mixture of people from real life?

A) Definitely a mixture of people, myself included. I really wrote this book for my two young sons who will one day be seen as threats before they’re seen as children. I wanted them to have something that would validate the way I’m sure they’ll feel. But yeah, some of Justyce’s experiences were pulled from my own life. Like the test score conversation in the classroom? That really happened to me.

Q) SJ is another character, whose opinions on race, culture and identity are wise beyond her years! I really admired her grounded and wise points of view. I felt her voice within the novel may inspire other white people to re-think their conscious and unconscious prejudices. Therefore, I think this novel would be perfect for education settings. Would you like to see the novel debated in English classes in the US and the UK?

A) I would love to see this novel used in classrooms to spark conversations! I’ve actually had the privilege of seeing it happen already, and I hope it continues.

Q) SJ covers the topic of white privilege, which I think was possibly, one of the best ways I have heard it broken down. I loved that the topic wasn’t ‘told’ to the reader, but explained with examples. Did the writing of SJ’s character, enable you to write/walk in someone else’s shoes? As Justyce enables the reader too.

A) So funny thing: SJ is really ME/my thinking wrapped in a person white people will actually listen to because they can identify with her. My husband is Jewish and I lived in Israel for a few years, so her Jewishness is a tribute to him as well as the large contingent of Jewish people who were instrumental during the Civil Rights movement. But every word that comes out of her mouth is a word I wish I could say to white people and get away with it, lol. Secret’s out!

Q) The novel largely covers the theme of racism in modern day America. With recent Nazi marches and a president who seems unable to condemn any form of racism, America is truly experiencing some trying times. I must ask will we see a follow-on novel?

A) Mum’s the word (**insert smirking emoji**). What I will say is that I’m glad these things are happening. The ugly things, I mean. For longer than I care to think about, I’ve heard people deny the continued existence of Racism, but now it’s indisputable. First step to overcoming a problem is admitting it exists, so I see all of this as a step in the right direction.

Q) what has been your favourite moment since the novel published? Have you been into any school settings with the novel yet?

A) I had the pleasure and privilege of being on a panel at a conference with a group of 8th graders who did this really cool multi-modal study of the book in their Language Arts class. The project included stuff like a blog and twitter handle and a few Instagram accounts, and it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. The kids put me to shame on the panel… they knew way more about the book than I did, lol!

Q) What have you got planned next in your writing? Are we able to have any snippets of news?

A) All I’m at liberty to say is new book—unrelated to DEAR MARTIN—coming Fall 2018!

*Huge thanks to author Nic Stone for agreeing to be on my blog for a Q&A. I wish you every success with your writing career, of which I am certain, will be exceptionally bright!

ns
Nic Stone
Authors links:
Website: http://www.nicstone.info/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/getnicced

*For my 5* review of Dear martin, see here: https://annebonnybookreviews.com/2017/11/16/review-5-dear-martin-by-getnicced-nic-stone-ya-randomhousekids-crownpublishing-newrelease/ *

#Review 5* Dear Martin by @getnicced Nic Stone #YA @randomhousekids @CrownPublishing #NewRelease

cover
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
Synopsis:
Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League–but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.
Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.
Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up–way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack

My Review:

Nic Stone may write fiction, but she certainly tells no lies! This is a powerful debut novel! The author holds nothing back and the novel offers you the opportunity to see life, through the lies of another, and that person is protagonist Justyce Mcallister!

As a white British woman of 34 years old. It is difficult to imagine the daily life and struggles of a 17-year-old African American teen. When you factor in the racial tensions, constantly bubbling in America and the case after case of police brutality. It becomes quite clear that Justyce and I lead very different lives.
But that is the hidden beauty of this novel, it enables the reader to walk in Justyce’s shoes.
Even if it is for just 200 pages.

The novel opens with Justyce and his ex-girlfriend Melo Taylor, as Justyce attempts to prevent her from drink driving. Melo is of mixed race heritage, but due to her mother’s Norwegian pale skin tone, can easily pass as white. When an officer of the law arrives at the scene, he is promptly judge, jury and executer of his own brand of justice.
Justyce finds himself cuffed, manhandled and treated with zero respect and dignity. But it is only when I read his thoughts as the scene unfounded, that I fully understood life from Justyce’s perspective……………….

Be respectful; keep the anger in check; make sure the police can see your hands.

Justyce is eventually cleared of all wrong-doing, but with no apology, the experience has planted a seed of how Justyce’s feel he is perceived in the world. Do people see a thug when they see him? Does his skin colour automatically, make him a likely criminal? Is he expected to be one of the many cases of young black men shot dead unlawfully?

The self-questioning and doubt lead Justyce to begin a diary to Dr Martin Luther King. It is in these letters entitled ‘Dear Martin’ that Justyce pours out his heart and soul!
The letters are incredibly moving and the writing profound. Justyce is an intelligent young man, but he also has an emotional maturity, that we see develop throughout the novel.

“Dear Martin, there are people that don’t see a man with rights when they look at me”

Justyce begins to explore other people’s attitudes and approaches to debates of race/culture. This includes class mates, teachers, best friend Manny and debate partner SJ (Sarah Jane).
SJ is quite an interesting character herself, a young white Jewish girl. Who is wise beyond her years! SJ has opinions on race/identity/privilege, that could put world leaders to shame!

There is a wide mixture of teens from all walks of life, included within the novel. Which is what makes the novel so great! Nic Stone hasn’t just considered one voice; she has written a magnitude of voices to be heard.
At times the novel made for uncomfortable reading. But so it should, racism is uncomfortable for everybody it makes a victim of. This novel could be an extremely useful tool within educational settings. To allow young adults to debate the themes within the novel and maybe learn a little of their own inner hidden prejudices!

“People often learn more from getting an undeserved free pass than they would from being punished”

I don’t want to review the novel too much and risk ruining this thought-provoking novel. At just 200 pages it is an easy read for young adults. I think the topic of BAME youth in education settings is at crisis point and this novel can shine a light on the how/why this situation developed in the first place.

“If nothing in the world ever changes, what type of man are you gonna be?”

I cannot speak on the race issue, from personal experience. But as a mother of two sons and as a fellow human. I am horrified at seeing young men either growing up way too soon, or being the victims of police brutality and even murder!
A compelling read by a very talented writer, who has a bright future ahead of her! 5*

ns
Nic Stone
Author Bio:
Nic Stone was born and raised in a suburb of Atlanta, GA, and the only thing she loves more than an adventure is a good story about one. After graduating from Spelman College, she worked extensively in teen mentoring and lived in Israel for a few years before returning to the US to write full-time. Growing up with a wide range of cultures, religions, and backgrounds, Stone strives to bring these diverse voices and stories to her work.
You can find her goofing off and/or fangirling over her husband and sons on most social media platforms as @getnicced.

Authors links:
Website: http://www.nicstone.info/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/getnicced