A Singing Superhero and a DNF (TBR Round 2 Part(s) 3 and 3 1/2
WHAT IS TBR (TAILORED BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS)?/HOW I FOUND IT
I was introduced to this service by one of my favorite Youtubers Kayla from BooksandLala. Essentially, you fill out a survey about your favorite books and what you like/look for in books, etc. They then match you with a bibliologist (mine this time was Aurora) who recommends you three or four books to read.
This round I'm in-depth reviewing Black Canary: Breaking Silence by Alexandra Monir as well as discussing why I DNF'd my final recommendation, Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart.
I will link my other reviews of the service at the bottom. I will also link the service (I have no affiliation with them and don't profit from this even if you yourself sign up for the service. I am just a paying customer like everyone else) as well as BooksandLala's channel (which I highly recommend).
WHAT IS BLACK CANARY: BREAKING SILENCE ABOUT?
Dinah Lance lives in a world where women's rights have been heavily restricted and they have lost their ability to sing. This is the origin story of the D.C. superhero Black Canary.
Dinah is headstrong with a strong sense of justice and her relationship of Oliver Queen was cute. Her dad, Larry, was the typical over protective single father with a rebellious daughter. His archetype isn't new or revolutionary, but I have a soft spot for characters like him.
Barbara Gordan and Sandra were her mentors and I liked both of them and their relationship to Dinah, though I felt like their backstories were very brief and glossed over. I wanted to hear more about their past adventures. Dinah's two best friends, Mandy and Ty, were meant to serve as emotional cruxes for the story but they were far too bland as characters to really fulfill this purpose.
The antagonist, Mayor Cobblepot, didn't really stand out on his own. He was more so intimidating based on what he represented; the patriarchy.
The novel is told from Dinah's first person perspective. The novel has a lot of feminist messaging with Dinah fighting for equal rights for women. I like this message as even though we don't live in a world as dark and restrictive as Gotham City feminism and feminists are still relevant and needed today. I also liked how we saw male feminists. Additionally, the novel really emphasized how feminism itself is about equality since these days the message can be so misconstrued with people thinking it's about women wanting to be more powerful than men instead of sharing the same power. However, I would argue that Monir hits you over the head a little too hard and little too often with the message.
The novel's pacing moves like molasses and was the biggest negative for me. Since it's a superhero story I was expecting lots of kick butt action and there was some towards the end, but it takes a good long while before Dinah takes up the Black Canary mantel and we really don't see much of her developing her powers. She went from discovering she had musical powers to mastering them too quickly and it wasn't rewarding.
WORLD BUILDING The entirety of the novel takes place within Gotham City and we're told it's in the near future. In this dystopian city women's rights have been taken away and what little rights they still retain are vastly restricted. The city is overseen by a council of rich, influential men (the Owl Court) and their rules are enforced by vicious creatures known as Talons.
I'm pretty unfamiliar with D.C. and their universe. The only other experience I have with it is reading Wonder Woman: Warbringer because it was written by one of my favorite authors, Leigh Bardugo. I was worried that, due to my unfamiliarity, I would be confused by the world, but Monir did a good job of writing this so that outsiders such as myself will have no trouble understanding everything.
I haven't read a dystopian in what feels like (and might actually be) years and this took me right back to my days as an Uglies fan and Hunger Games reader. It has all the elements that make a perfect dystopian; a grim atmosphere, an evil government, and a rebellious teen/chosen one. It follows the formula to a tea so if you're a dystopian fan or just want to feel nostalgia for the days when you were (like me) then this should satisfy.
This was recommended to me because I mentioned I was a huge Marvel superhero fan and so my bibliologist wanted to recommend me a superhero book. While the pacing brought the novel down I liked the feminist themes and when we finally got to the heroic mission part it was well worth the wait. It didn't re-inspire me to read dystopians, but it did bring back some fond memories of that time in my life.
FINAL RATING: 3.5 ⭐️
WHAT IS WITCHES STEEPED IN GOLD?/MY INITIAL THOUGHTS
This YA Jamaican inspired fantasy is about enemy witches who unite to take down a common enemy. I haven't read any Jamaican fantasies so I was excited for that. However, I was hesitant because I don't generally gravitate towards witch stories and the novel had low ratings.
WHY I DNF'D IT
I didn't get very far before I knew this wasn't going to be the book for me. I disliked both the main characters and felt no connection to either one of them. I am the sort of reader where I almost always need to feel a connection to the protagonists/care about them in order to feel invested in the story. Additionally, I found the world building kind of confusing and, given I've read countless YA fantasies in my time, that was quite disheartening. It made me feel stupid has a reader and given world building is one of my favorite things as both a reader and a writer that was the worst feeling and certainly not one I aspired to continue feeling.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON ROUND 2
Obviously round 1 was more successful for me but I don't consider this round a failure. Having a DNF was a big letdown, but it doesn't negate the enjoyment I had with the other three books. Lobizona was my favorite and one of those books that felt tailored made for me. I intend on continuing on in that series and following that author's career. Ophie's Ghosts solidified for me that I want to continue to explore what middle grade has to offer, and Black Canary made me nostalgic. Despite my mixed reviews this round I remain optimistic and am going to be continuing on with this service. It's an inexpensive treat that I look forward to. I hope they take my feedback this time around into account and I'll be interested to see how that influences what they choose for me next time. Stay tuned to find out!
My First Review of the Service: https://www.haleysbookhaven.com/post/i-used-the-same-book-recommendation-service-as-my-favorite-youtuber-tbr-round-1
My Review of the First Book of Round 2 (Lobizona): https://www.haleysbookhaven.com/post/a-whimsical-tale-of-werewolves-and-witches-tbr-round-2-part-one
My Review of the Second Book of Round 2 (Ophie's Ghosts): https://www.haleysbookhaven.com/post/a-haunted-historical-house-tbr-round-2-part-2
BooksandLala's First Video on the Service: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUN1Zx2N86M&t=1094s
BooksandLala's Second Video on the Service: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUeIHULoMQ8&t=35s
The Service (TBR): https://mytbr.co/dashboard/tbr-profile/
Support Black Owned Businesses: https://www.websiteplanet.com/blog/support-black-owned-businesses/
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