Cover Image: Wings of Ebony

Wings of Ebony

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Member Reviews

I had mixed feelings about this one. On one hand there was something about it I found interesting, but on the other hand there were some problems. I ended up DNF'ing this one. 

I felt the narrative was rushed and almost too fast paced, it didn't leave room for any world building or development of the magic system and two worlds. I got a lot more about Houston than I got about Ghazan and the magic. There were also places where I really liked the writing and others where I felt the writing was flat and just average. I did like the dynamic between the characters. Brie and Rue's relationship made me think of Shuri and Nakia in Black Panther. I loved how loyal Rue was to both her sister and her friends. 

Ultimately I wish the book had been longer and more fleshed out. The plot was disjointed and I wasn't given time to absorb one aspect before it was moving into the next thing.
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I was approved for this eArc via NetGalley. All thought and opinions are my own.

When you read a story of magic, but also relatable events, it will stay with you forever. Wings of Ebony is that book.
For those that may not be able to relate to the rawness, realness and unapologetically Blackness, suck it up.
Some of the stuff Rue dealt with in her hood I could totally relate to. Her being protectiveness over people she cared about. 
The blatant racism in not only America, but Ghizon too. 
If I could give this more than 5 stars I would because I wanted to cry, I wanted to fight, and because of that J. Elle made a story come to life.

Read it, if you can handle getting a glimpse into what every day Black folks go through. Read if you want to know where true magic comes from. Most of all, just read.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the arc of this book. All opinions are my own. 

Look, I’m not going to sit here and beat around the bush, but Rue is one of the baddest, if not the baddest, main character I’ve ever come across. What a total bada**. Easily one of the best characters I’ve ever read. She truly is a diamond. I can’t get over it. 

This book is absolutely magnificent. I don’t understand how people can’t have this on their TBR. Wow, wow, wow. One of the best books I’ve ever read. Incredible pacing, fantastic plot that was well developed and carefully crafted, and some of the best, most well rounded characters I’ve ever read. As a writer, I also love to create characters and say TRAUMA. J. Elle didn’t shy away from that, but it only fuels the main characters, Rue, Bri and Aasim, to be who they are. It allows the story to flourish. The arcs of each character are so well done that you love the characters, even when you don’t want too. Beside the General/Chancellor and one whom I will not name for spoilers. 

I’m not sure how I read this so quickly, but I devoured this book. I couldn’t get enough. When I had time to read, my face was in this book. This is one of the best YA fantasy books I have ever read and it’s in good competition for the top (even though it could easily take that spot). I was blown away. I’m not sure I could adequately put into words how good it is. The characters are well developed. The plot is so well done, intricately carving out Easter eggs to find throughout. The romance is slow and sweet. I just couldn’t get enough. This book needs to be on your radar! 

A fantastic, all around great book. One that will easily top my 2021 list!
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WINGS OF EBONY hit me in the head. Rue's story resonated with me on two different levels firstly as a Black woman and secondly as a Black educator. The message entangles itself around something Black people know quite well: OTHERNESS. Rue is half-god in a technologically advanced society of gods and is judged for her otherness and her humanity. In the human world, Rue is no longer an average Black teen. There's god-blood and power in her veins, separating her from her family and friends; from her neighborhood. She possesses all this power that could help her community for the better but it's against the rules to use them. Rue is caught in between two rocks: what she's expected to be and what she needs to be. It shows us the difference between a society that dictates the rules for you to conform to and a community that nurtures you to shape you. 

This story is real and raw. It doesn't shy away from Blackness and what it means to be Black. The dialogue and the characters always felt real to me. In 2021, we need a story like this in Black teen hands.

5 out of 5 stars
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DNF at 30%

Just not feeling it. After three days of not touching it and staring at it and thinking I should probably just finish it already, it's time to set it aside and move on. Another it's not you, it's me and my 2020 mood DNF.

I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.
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There aren’t enough words for how your book moved me and changed me. Rue is absolutely astonishing. Her character development goes unparalleled in a world that constantly tries to push her back.
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This story immediately jumps into action and I felt an instant connection to the main character, Rue.  Rue is half human and half Ghizon, living in a world of magic where humanity is somewhat seen as a weakness.   I have to admit that I do wish there was more clarity to the specifics of this world and Rue's life.  What I loved about this book was the strong connection to family and community.   Also, Rue is a great main character with a strength and tenacity that I think will only lead me to love her more as this series continues.
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**Review will be posted closer to publication on 4/5/21**
I Liked:
*Aesthetics ~ Love the cover and the colors are just such a good combination. It perfectly matches the story of Rue and the urban fantasy setting of Wings of Ebony.

*World Building ~ the story is set in the urban city of Houston but Rue now lives in Ghizon which is this Wakanda-inspired a fantasy hidden island. Ghizon is fascinating because the people there have gray skin and magic. But the mystery is how they were gifted these magic powers. The truth is shocking but the knowledge helps Rue step into her power. As for what happens in Houston, crime is rampant and someone is behind it, when it ties into Ghizon, Rue does everything she can to help stop what is happening. The story is action-packed which moves the story quickly.

*Family ~ Rue loves her half-sister Tasha, she’s basically all she has left (beside her dad that she hardly knows) . Everything Rue does stems from protecting Tasha. Also, even though Rue’s mom is gone, you can say that how she raised her daughters has made them strong enough to deal with anything that was being thrown at them. I love that they had Ms. Leola though. Also her relationship with her father was strained due to all the secrets,

*Characters ~ Rue has a strong voice. She is flawed, but brave and unapologetic and wants to do the right thing. I love when she calls out her best friend Bri, when the truth about Ghizon is revealed. Rue is like a superhero queen! I enjoyed the other characters like Bri, Tasha, and Ms. Leola also.

Random Notes:
There is an insta-love moment in this book, but honestly, I think it’s going to carry on into book two and it works. It comes later in the book and I don’t blame her for the attraction!

Final Thoughts:
This is a fantastic start to an exciting new series. I enjoyed learning about this secret island of Ghizon with it’s magic, technology and gray skinned people. I think Rue is a strong, black female lead who is protective of those she loves, willing to fight hard for what she believes in and is confident in who she is. She is truly a Queen. If you like fast paced urban fantasy that confronts race and social justice themes, then you will definitely like this one!
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I really enjoyed this book and thought it was a solid entry into the YA fantasy genre. I loved the focus on family that is at the heart of this book. The characters were well developed and the relationships between characters were engaging and fun to read about. What I wanted more of from this book was clarity around the world building. There were some things that didn't quite make sense or felt a little clunky; I hope more of this world is revealed. I highly, highly recommend picking this one up. It's a great addition to any library.
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*Spoiler free, 4.75 stars*

I've been excited for this book since I found out the slightest inkling of what it was about. A girl who is half-god and half-human was enough to sell me on this book. Plus, along with the cover and the amazing marketing the author is doing for this book, I was completely drawn to this book. Trigger warnings: violence, racism, drugs, blood

This book was everything that it was promised to be. It's the kind of good that I felt down to my bones, the kind of good that can only be best described as GOOD, all caps necessary. It's a book that knows exactly what it's doing, and it does it well.

One of the best thing in this book were the characters. It's a book built on family, the kind of family that isn't bound by blood. It's the best kind of found family, the kind that will go out on a limb to keep each other safe. I loved Rue. Stubborn enough to look anything in the eye and tell it no. To really encompass my love: she doesn't like cats, but I love her anyway. That's how awesome she was!

The side characters were just as much of a highlight as Rue was. I have a soft spot for Tasha, Rue's little sister. I dunno, she's just adorable, but just as fierce as her sister is. Julius and Jhamal were also highlights. They're so different, but they both deeply care about Rue, and are ready to face the world head on. I also really liked Bri, even though she has a lot to learn. Plus, Rue's dad, Leola, and everything single character I was introduced to (that wasn't a straight up jerk), I fell completely in love with. They felt so real, and they are so easy to fall in love with.

I know I've said so many times that books that take place in a fantasy world and the real world don't usually mesh well with me, and then I say I love a certain book like that. Well, here's another one! This one doesn't quite have a fantasy world, it's more magic in the real world. But still, there is a fantasy world, kind of. The point is, I loved how these worlds mesh together, both of them reflecting each other and bleeding into each other until the differences don't seem so different. Plus, magic and beautiful scenery and Rue being totally badass is just a recipe for awesomeness.

Another thing that I really loved was the storytelling in general. I know that's a hard thing to measure, and I can usually pinpoint something more specific that I liked. But for this book, it really was how it was constructed overall. The writing, the way flashbacks are intertwined with the present, and how events move along. It is all expertly done and it left me in awe of Elle's talent.

Overall, this was a really incredible book, one that mixes technology and magic, one that is all about family, the one's found and the blood ones, one that is incredibly crafted, and has characters that are so easy to fall in love with. Because this whole book is just amazing.
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A great teens and young adult book. This is a great book. Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me to read this book.
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This book is for every little black girl who never saw their name on a keychain, for the melanin drippin’ girl who wore her family on the side of her hoodie, for every naturalista who knows how to oil her scalp with coconut oil, for the gumbo lovers, for the boudin eating creoles that swarm the streets of cities under siege. This book has the justice of The Hate U Give (Angie Thomas), the magic of The Children of Blood and Bone (Tomi Adeyemi), and the Resilience Tongue and Smart Aleck Sarcasm of the girl who grows up never feeling like “enough” for the world they were born into. There is so much to unpack and discover within this one book. There is love, family drama, self-discovery, the drive and need for justice, and the definition of ally-ship. Rue is a girl who many will relate to. There are clear right and wrongs that this world needs to witness and then decide which side they are on. This is true in the book and in reality. This book is a volume of fresh air for those who understand and it is an analogous lesson for those who won’t understand until they see. WINGS also points to the truth about the gems of culture. One of the best books written to date, J.Elle’s debut is definitely an instant classic. Diamonds are forever.
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What I loved about Wings of Ebony is Rue's character, loyalty, and love for her sister. Wings of Ebony immediately begins by asking what we will do for family. When Rue leaves East Row, she becomes immersed in a world of castes, magic, and order - people who don't question. And that world isn't glorified. It almost feels dystopian in the ways that their society functions, and what lies at the root of their foundation. Most magic users have such disdain for humans, that we immediately relate to Rue's love of her family. 

To her trying to do what is right in a society where disobedience results in death. Us versus them morphs into a magical ethical issue similar to one in "Black Panther" where Rue wonders why magic, for its immense power, couldn't be used for good to help humans. Wings of Ebony turns into a fight for existence. It is action packed and the contemporary world of East Row never recedes into the background. In fact it only gains more significance!
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Rue has never known her father, but after her mother is murdered he appears...and whisks her away to a secret magical civilization that exists in a pocket of the human world. One year later, Rue is fed up with being separated from her human half-sister, being looked down upon for being half-mortal, and dealing with her newfound and seemingly influential father. She sneaks away to visit her old neighborhood and gets swept up into a magic-vs-mortal showdown that puts her sister and loved ones in danger. 

J Elle is very upfront about addressing racism and classism through a fantasy lens. Not only is Rue looked down on in Ghazia for being half-mortal, she is also the only person of color among the grey-faced Ghazians. Ghazians are causing the rampant crime and violence in Rue’s old neighborhood. And her father’s situation proves to be much more complicated than an absentee parent. 

I  did struggle with this book on a prose level. It took me a bit to figure out why because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just getting used to the  rich AAVE that Rue and her loved ones use.

The dialogue gets cumbersome at times, with conversations running a little longer than needed or repeating information a little too much. The worldbuilding is also a bit confusing as Rue slowly shares with the reader what she’s learned about Ghazian magic and culture over her past year living there. I still don’t totally understand how the government has the power to turn someone’s magic off or on, which becomes a major plot point when Rue runs away from them.  If the prose was tightened up a bit, I would have flown through this debut. 
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This book is important. I'm so happy we live in a time where diverse books are published, books that my students can see themselves in. There's been a significant void of fantasy books with diverse characters, most centering around white, tanned, and muscular characters. 

Wings of Ebony sought to change that and did so in such a powerful way. For lovers of That One Wizard Book series looking for something that a) is more diverse b) includes a magic power dynamic that makes sense and c) includes characters with depth, that realize their mistakes and grow from it, then Wings of Ebony is for you. I definitely found it a must have for any classroom or public library. It's a book that my Black girls can see themselves in, embracing Rue's strength and realizing it's not something to apologize for. Rue's afterthoughts are proud, endearing, and empowering. Rue never hides who she is, even when she's hesitant to accept her powers. She is proud of where she came from and all the things that made her who she is. Her biggest fear is losing her family and she'll do anything possible to keep them a part of her life.

In Wings of Ebony, Rue has spent the past year attending school in New Ghizon, an island nation made from the forming of all the native tribes that lived there, where she learns how to harness her magic through the onyx infused in her wrist. She already knows she stands out. Not only did she not grow up there, but she's Black, while everyone else has grey skin. She was brought to New Ghizon by her once absent father after her mother is tragically shot in front of her eyes. While Rue already didn't want to be at the school, she's learning to adapt thanks to the help of her new friend Bri and her own strength. When Bri offers her the chance to see her sister for her birthday, one year after she left home, Rue takes it. However, she breaks the rules of New Ghizon by saving her sister from a car accident with her powers, alerting the authorities immediately. From there, Rue begins to see the hidden lies the New Ghizon government and the Chancellor have kept hidden and, when it bleeds into her life back in East Row, Houston, she takes it personally. 

With the fate of two worlds at stake, Rue is determined to save them both. I've been following J. Elle on Twitter for a while and seeing how passionate she was about her book inspired me to read it. Even after tweeting out about receiving an ARC, she personally reached out to me and hoped I would let her know what I thought. You can tell Rue's a character she holds dear to her heart and it was a joy to see her journey finally in the universe. I definitely think this is a worthy read and a must have for all libraries!
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This was a good read! Debut novel by this author. I really enjoyed the fantasy elements and separate magical society and how it all interacted with the world that she left that was like our actual world. That made it stand out from other fantasy novels for me. 

Did Katniss and her love for her little sister just get to you? Here’s another novel with sisterly love for you. I will hand this one to fantasy lovers and those looking for strong heroines alike. I’ll also be sure to check out more from this author.
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This was brilliant and important and everything I had hoped for. The voice hooked me from the first moment, and I was riveted to the very end.
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