artsandyouthlove

Books, Music, Movies, Youth Issues, Random Stuff

Posts Tagged ‘people of color

Book Review: Abengoni- First Calling by Charles R. Saunders

leave a comment »

Abengoni First Calling

Source: Blogspot

Plot Summary (Taken from Amazon): Matile Mala, once the most powerful empire in the black continent of Abengoni, is slipping slowly into decadence, and becoming more and more vulnerable to aggression from the nations and tribes it once dominated. In the capital, Khambawe, ancient rituals endure, dominated by dreams and delusions. As Tiyana, who is both priestess and princess, conducts one such ceremony, known as First Calling, the rite is disrupted by the arrival of a half-wrecked ship from Fiadol, a far-distant land across the sea that is almost forgotten by the Matile. Led by a Seer called Kyroun, the pale-skinned people on the ship seek refuge among the Matile.

But the Matile themselves are in need of aid, as they soon come under attack from their ancient enemies, the Uloans, who have flourished while the Matile waned. Along with her father – the High Priest Gebrem –Tiyana marshals the waning forces of Matile magic in conjunction with the powerful new sorcery wielded by Kyroun and his followers in an effort to forestall the threat of imminent annihilation.

As the Matile and Uloans clash, other foes of the fading empire wait on the sidelines, like vultures circling a battlefield. The newcomers from Fiadol hold the balance of destruction – and Tiyana must anticipate which way the scale will tip …

My Review: One of the best aspect of the book is the incredible cast of characters the author has created. They come from different social classes, races, and countries. An important factor is that these characters are inspired by both African and Celtic cultures and myths. Some notable characters include the courageous and dutiful Tiyana, the pious and powerful Kyroun, the hardened and deadly gangs of impoverished tsotsi theives, and the secretive Tokoloshe dwarves.

Besides the characters, the mythology and sword and sorcery is extremely well done. Chapters involving the deities called the Jagasti and the god Almolvaar were thrilling, as were chapters involving the magic power wielded by the Mantile and Fidadol people. While swordplay is also exciting enough to make the reader turn the page, the bloodshed also sobers the reader and makes them pity the characters.

In addition to the characters, mythology, and sword and sorcery, certain plot themes stand out well. Most of the themes are serious and deal with imperialism, classism, vengeance, and xenophobia. Yet happier themes include tolerance, compassion, and reconciliation. These themes breathe life into the characters and plot, entertaining the reader while encouraging them to think about what they are reading.

Overall, this book was a fantastic start to the Abengoni saga. If you love epic sword and sorcery or sword and soul, then read this book.

Written by Serena Zola

January 8, 2015 at 9:42 PM

Book Review: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Book 1) by N.K. Jemisin

with one comment

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

Source: Wikipedia

Plot Summary (Taken from Amazon): Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle.

My Review: One of the best things about the book is its main character Yiene.  She is a compelling character because of how complex she is. She is physically strong because she can defend herself with a knife and her fists, yet she is emotionally vulnerable because she recently lost her mother. Her Arameri and Darr heritage makes her identity torn between a ruling family and a “barbaric” family. As the story progresses, there are other dualities that are revealed that develop her character even more until she is self actualized.

Another great thing about this book are the secondary characters. Most of them don’t fit the neat categories of good or evil, so the reader is made to feel mixed emotions about them. The most compelling characters are the gods Itempas and Nahadoth and the godling Sieh. Their powers are awe-inspiring, their personalities are intriguing, and their situation is sympathetic.

Besides the main character Yiene and the secondary characters, the setting is very imaginative and amazing. According to the appendix in the back of the book, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is a term for the world since it was unified under Arameri rule. Sky is the palace of the Arameri and it houses one god, some godlings, and the Arameri. Darr is a tribal country with mostly female warriors and a harrowing rites of passage ritual.

In addition to the characters and the setting, the magic system and mythology  is very creative. Notable aspects are the  creation story of the gods and godlings, how the gods and godlings can be controlled, and the Seed of the Earth.

A final notable aspect of the book is how it deals with racism, classism, colonialism, and power struggles. These themes are weaved so well into the plot that readers will want to keep turning the page to find out what happens next. Furthermore, the way that these issues impact Yiene will make readers either relate to or sympathize with her.

Overall, this was a great beginning to The Inheritance Trilogy. I recommend it to any fantasy fiction lover.

 

Written by Serena Zola

January 1, 2015 at 10:00 AM

Thank You For Letting Be Myself: A Special Thanksgiving Greeting

with 2 comments

This year has been really life-changing for me as a woman of color. I have gone from feeling alienated from the black community to feeling more connected to it. I have gone from feeling ashamed of being different as a black person to being proud of who I am and not caring what others think. I owe these feelings to many online communities, independent/under-sung musicians, and independent authors. To these people and spaces, I say, “Thank you for letting me be myself”.

For Harriet, a black women’s blog- This summer, I was an editorial intern for this site. As I wrote essays and articles for the site, I got in touch with issues affecting the black community and discovered other online communities for black people. I also discovered the value of my own ideas and interests. Visit the site here.

Afropunk, a community site for independent musicians and artists- I discovered Afropunk after watching the documentary A Band Called Death, which was about the first black punk band. I had Googled the words “black punk bands” and Afropunk was the first link that I saw in the results.

Not only did the music on the site validate my eclectic music taste and get me new music, but it also inspired my own creativity as a writer and poet. This summer, I spread the word about the music I discovered from the site on this blog, in the category “Below The Radar Music”. Eventually, I would become a contributor to Afropunk in order to continue spreading the word about the music that I enjoyed. Visit Afropunk here.

Black Girl Nerds- This is another site I discovered thanks to Google. One day when I was feeling lonely, I typed in the words “black girl nerd” in Google’s search engine and the link for the site caught my eye. Soon I found myself happily browsing the site and feeling like I finally had a place to set my nerdy side free. Like with Afropunk, I would become a contributor to this site as well.  Check out Black Girl Nerds here.

The NPC Collective- These men and women are nerdy people of color who rap about video games, animation, and other nerdy topics in the music genre called nerdcore. I started with Sammus, a black female nerdcore rapper, producer, and gamer whose stage name was inspired by the heroine from the Metroid video game series. From there, I moved on to black male nerdcore rappers like Mega Ran, 1-Up, and Skyblew.

These people have made rap fun and have shown other nerdy people of color that they aren’t alone.  I have supported them through articles on Black Girl Nerds and Afropunk. For more info on The NPC Collective, check out their website here.

Black Fantasy Fiction Authors- Through Black Girl Nerds and the blog site The Chronicles of Harriet, I discovered black urban fantasy and sword and soul authors such as Kyoko M., Balogun Ojetade, and Milton J. Davis. In order to spread the word about their works, I’ve been reviewing their books on my blog in the category “Fantasy Fiction: People of Color”. These authors also introduced me to African mythology and showed me that black people can create a new view of their past, present, and future with creativity and imagination.

 

To these people and communities, I give thanks. Thank you for letting me be myself and I hope to see more wonderful things from you in future.

 

 

 

Book Review: Enter The Moon (Warriors of Luna Book 1) by Jennifer Fisch Ferguson

leave a comment »

Enter The Moon

Source: Jennifer Fisch Ferguson’s website

Plot Summary (Taken from Amazon): With youth, beauty and a voice like liquid gold, life was right on track for Kamaria DeKosse; then she met Jack and decides to toss caution to the wind. Jack thought he enjoyed his orderly life of power and control, until he met Kama. Together they have a passion that runs wild and crazy, something neither of them knows how to handle. Kama learns a secret about Jack that not only threatens her promising career but her very life. And just when she thinks it can’t get any worse, life takes her up on her challenge.

My Review: One of the best things about this book is its main character Kamaria. She is a half Irish-half black young woman who is training to be a professional opera singer at Julliard. Her parents’ wealth and her personal goals Kamaria have high standards for herself and certain things, but she isn’t a snob. She is a complex character who is somewhat awkward, witty, opinionated, flawed, and classy. After the climax of the plot occurs, she becomes a brave and loyal kick-butt heroine.

Another aspect of the book I enjoyed was its plot. It was clever how the plot seemed to follow the post-Twilight series paranormal romance storyline until the book’s climatic plot twist. After that plot twist, the reader’s assumptions are turned upside down and the plot becomes fast-paced with action and drama. There is also some romance and steamy sexual situations, but nothing too explicit. The romance between Kamaria and Jack was believable because it was gradual rather than instant.

In addition to the characters and the plot, the author’s writing style was very good. In addition to Kamaria’s point of view, the author sometimes switches to Jack’s point-of-view for certain chapters. The dialogue between Jack and his inner wolf was very intriguing and the dialogue with Kamaria talking to herself was humorous.

Besides the characters, plot, and writing style, the paranormal world that was created was very well done. The way the werewolf pack was organized in terms of rank, how the werewolves move up the rank, and the prejudice that exists between certain packs enriched the storyline and the setting. In addition, some vampires are creatively added to the story to move the plot along at times.

Overall, this was a great book. If you are tired of  typical paranormal romance stories, then I recommend this book.

 

Book Review: Griots- Sisters of The Spear (An Anthology)

leave a comment »

Griots: Sisters of The Spear

Source: Blogspot

Plot Summary (Taken from Amazon): Griots: Sisters of the Spear picks up where the ground breaking Griots Anthology leaves off. Charles R. Saunders and Milton J. Davis present seventeen original and exciting Sword and Soul tales focusing on black women. Just as the Griots Anthology broke ground as the first Sword and Soul Anthology, Griots: Sisters of the Spear pays homage to the spirit, bravery and compassion of women of color. The griots have returned to sing new songs, and what wonderful songs they are!

My Review: One of the best things about this anthology is the black women characters in the stories. They are  warriors, magic users,  goddesses, queens, and more. They are positive representations that show black women can just as good  as black men or surpass black men in certain ways.

In addition, almost all of the characters juggle multiple roles that add complexity to who they are. Furthermore, personality traits such as kindness, bravery, and resilience make certain characters  very admirable.

Another great aspect of these stories is the magic featured in some of them. Many of the stories are really brought to life because of certain magical creatures or events. For example, one story involves a warrior girl who has a brother who can shape shift into a lion.

Besides the black women and the magic, the pacing of most of these stories is really good. There is action and adventure in many of these stories, so the pacing becomes fast enough that the reader wants to know how the story will end. If they find themselves craving for more, they will find themselves moving on to the next story until they reach the end of the book.

Overall, this is a fantastic anthology. I recommend this book to black women who want to see good representations of themselves in fantasy fiction.

Book Review: She Who Fights Monsters (Book 2 of The Black Parade) by Kyoko M.

leave a comment »

She Who Fights Monsters by Kyoko M.

Source: Kyoko M’s website

Plot Summary (Taken from Amazon): Jordan Amador. 23. New Yorker. Waitress. Investigator for souls with unfinished business, also known as a Seer. Michael O’Brien. 25. New Yorker. Lead guitarist. Commander of Heaven’s Army. The dynamic supernatural duo is in the middle of trying to solve a deadly case. Someone is methodically hunting down and murdering Seers one by one.

After six months with no leads on the killer, Jordan and Michael are forced to work with their worst enemy—the archdemon Belial: a self-professed Prince of Hell who is dead set on stealing Jordan for himself. However, with the archdemon’s help, they pick up on the trail of the serial killer and plan to stop him no matter what the cost. When the shocking truth behind the murderer’s identity is revealed, Jordan begins asking herself if she is still fighting for the good guys or has she become one of the monsters she is desperately trying to stop?

My Review:  One of the best things about this book is the author’s writing style. The thought-provoking epigraphs, humorous pop culture references,  and detailed action scenes from the first book are still present in the second book. In addition, the author does a good job writing this book from two points-of-view, Jordan’s and Michael’s.

Besides the author’s writing style, the way Jordan and Michael’s relationship was portrayed in the book was very well done. You can see how much Jordan and Michael care for each other when they are together and apart. Things like knowing what makes the other tick and using the same “I just kicked your butt” catchphrase show how close Jordan and Michael have become.

In addition, the character development is good. Although new personal demons confront Jordan, she works through them while kicking demon butt. Michael has some anger issues that he learns to handle as he juggles his multiple roles.

Other characters that play an important role include Jordan’s mother and adoptive father, the archangel Gabriel, and the archdemon Belial. Jordan’s mother and adoptive father do a good job guiding Michael and Jordan from above. Gabriel is a strong fighting partner and a caring friend to Jordan. Belial is a complicated factor, but his involvement with Jordan and Michael makes him a striking character.

Finally, the book’s moral is something anyone can relate to. By the end of the book, the reader is shown that sometimes life and people aren’t always black and white. There is a grey area in almost everyone, whether it be yourself, a parent, or a lover.

Overall, this was a great sequel to The Black Parade. If you enjoyed The Black Parade, then definitely read this book.

Related Link:  Book Review of The Black Parade Book 1

 

 

 

Book Review: Once Upon A Time in Afrika by Balogun Ojetade

leave a comment »

Once Upon a Time in Afrika

Source: Blogspot

Background Info on Sword and Soul:  Soul and Sword is a genre that incorporates sword and sorcery with the mythology, folklore, and culture of Africa.

Plot Summary (Taken from Amazon): Desperate to marry off his beautiful but “tomboyish” duaghter, Esuseeke, the Emperor of Oyo, consults the Oracle. The Oracle tells the Emperor Esuseeke must marry the greatest warrior in all Onile (Afrika). To determine who is the greatest warrior, the Emperor hosts a grand martial arts tournament inviting warrior from all over the continent. Unknown to the warriors and spectators of the tournament a powerful evil is headed their way. Will the warriors band together against this evil?

My Review: One of the book’s strongest assets is its characters. There is an equal amount of strong female and male characters. For instance, Esusekke is skilled in hand-to-hand combat and using bow and arrow. Matching her combat skills is the male character Akin, who has the makings of a leader and a great warrior. Other examples include Akin’s mother Oyabakin  and Akin’s father Geboya, who are wise and skilled fighters in their own right.

Other interesting characters include various creatures in the realm, including witches and wizards, assassins, and half-warriors with either animal or monstrous qualities. These secondary characters brought Onile, the alternate world of Africa, to life. Depending on the character, they either made the story action-packed or humorous.

Besides the characters. the plot is fast-paced and filled with action, adventure, and a little romance. It will hook the reader and make the book hard to put down.

The only flaw in the book is the story’s world. The author did a great job incorporating Yoruba mythology into Onile. However, since the plot is so fast-paced and the story less than two hundred pages, the reader doesn’t have enough time to enjoy Onile. Different areas of the continent are introduced so quickly that the reader may feel disoriented at times.

Overall, this was a great sword and soul book. I recommend it for people getting into the genre for the first time. I also recommend it to black fantasy fiction lovers looking to see themselves in the pages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: