What I’m Reading Now: The Becoming of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin

becoming noah shaw

The first book in the companion series to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

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Review: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

renegades

I was lucky to receive an ARC of this back in September and I’m glad that I did.  This is a fun book to read. It was fast paced and had a lot of action. It’s a mixture of traditional Superheroes lure and the X-Men. Over 20 years ago, a Anarchist named Ace Anarachy started a rebellion and took down the government of Gatlon City in hopes of making Prodigies, those with powers, would be free to live without fear of being found out. In the wake of no real authority, street gangs made up of prodigies and non-prodigies took over and crime rampaged.  To combat it another group of Prodigies, calling themselves the Renegades, took on Ace and his Anarchists and won.  Now the Renegades are the new form of government.  They are trying to rebuild Gatlon into a better society.  Nova has many reasons to hate the Renegades.  For one, they were supposed to protect her family but they didn’t.  She has been working with the remaining Anarchists to bring down the Renegades.  This leaves her to joining the Renegades to spy on their organization and find weaknesses.  The more Nova begins to the learn about the Renegades the more she seems to be confused by them.  Especially after meeting Adrian, another prodigy and the son of the original Renegades.  Adrian is a good person who believes in their mission to make the world a safer place but Adrian has his own secrets too.  It’s a cat and mouse game between the two of them.  They are both looking for each other without even knowing it.  It’s also an interesting question about personal freedoms versus government control and who and what is better for society.  Nova believes that the Anarchist were unfairly blamed for the chaos that happened after Ace’s rebellion.  It wasn’t them that committed all the crimes.  It was a lot of non-prodigies who took advantage of the lawless society.  Ace’s failure was not being able to participate how people would react once their was no authority, no governing body, no police force to keep people in check. The Renegades are that now but this has in Nova’s opinion has made people weak because instead of helping themselves, they are just waiting for the Renegades to do it for them.  Adrian wonders, why would non-prodigies do anything when their are more powerful prodigies there?  Lot’s a questions to ask your book group on this one.  Nova and Adrian and both very likable characters. You can see what motivates them and how earnest they both are in their causes.  I do hope that we get to know more about the other prodigies in the next book.  Marissa Meyer has done a great job with this one and proves she doesn’t need fairy tales to tell a good story.  She can do it with superpowers too.

Review: All The Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

all the crooked saints“By relegating the things we fear and don’t understand to religion, and the things we understand and control to science, we rob science of its artistry and religion of its mutability.”

I’m starting with this quote because I really love it and wanted to share.  Maggie Stiefvater has a relationship with the English language that I can only marvel at.  How she is to spin, twirl her words to create her worlds is truly magical and is why I look forward to reading all of her books.  It’s hard to describe her books because they are unique.  I mean, who would think about rich white boys looking for a dead Welsh King with the help of psychics would be be so good? And yet, The Raven Cycle is a gift of a series.  All the Crooked Saints has many of the Stiefvater hallmarks we have grown to love but this time taking us to a new time a place.  The Soria’s grant miracles to all those who seek them but like everything worth having you have work for it.  Cousins Daniel, Beatriz and Joaquin are as close as you can get.  They are the youngest of the Soria clan.  Joaquin, 16 wants to be a DJ and wants more then just being a Soria.  Beatriz, 18 is logical and pragmatic.  Known to others as “the girl without feelings” she is more interested in figuring out puzzles then her families miracles.  Daniel, 19 is the current “Saint of Bicho Raro”.  When pilgrims come to Bicho Raro, Daniel helps them to their first miracle but he has a secret.  When pilgrims come to Bicho Raro they come looking for miracles and rid themselves of their darkness.  Those coming for an easy solution will be disappointed.  The Saint provides the first miracle that makes their darkness into flesh and it manifest in many forms.  It is then up to the pilgrim to figure out what they need to do rid themselves of their darkness and perform the second miracle.  The Soria’s are not allowed to help the pilgrims after the first miracle because if they do it will bring on their own darkness that is far more dark then anything the pilgrims have.  The story begins with the three cousins sitting in their truck listening to their pirated radio show they started.  Joaquin is the host and Beatriz the engineer and Daniel, just a listener.  They are interrupted by new arriving pilgrims, Tony and Pete.  Well Pete isn’t a pilgrim. He is just there to work for the truck that is currently their radio station.  The next day, it’s discovered that Daniel has gone out into the desert because he helped a pilgrim named Marisita, who’s darkness manifested in her walking in a constant rain storm wearing a wedding dress covered in butterflies.  Beatriz and Joaquin try to figure out a way to help Daniel without bringing the darkness on themselves.  The central question to this novel is what are you willing to do for a miracle because really what is more frightening than facing yourself? There is nothing harder then looking at yourself and seeing what is actually there and then doing something to change it.  We all have this idealized versions of ourselves that makes it herd for us to hear the truth.  I’ve been going through this lately.  I was recently up for a promotion at work that I didn’t get. I felt I was ready for it but when I was told it was going to go to someone outside of the company and the reasons why it hurt but also was truthful.  The reasons why I wasn’t promoted were all things about myself that I needed to work on but to have someone else voice them out loud was kind of painful to hear.  I have been grappling with this knowledge for a couple weeks know and what to do with it because in truth I didn’t really want to the job.  I’m looking to change careers but the promotion would have looked better on my resume if I stayed for another year.  Now that I didn’t get it, how do I go about improving myself so the next time there is no doubt then I’m the one for the job.  As for the novel, the Soria’s are all forced to face their own darkness in a way when Daniel leaves because just because they perform the miracles doesn’t mean they don’t need miracles too.  It’s not easy but then again anything truly worth having shouldn’t be easy and the struggles they go through it proof of that.  So readers, implore you to read this book and ask yourself what do you want and what are you most of afraid. I’ll go first. What do I want.  I want to make a difference.  What I am most afraid of. That I have reached as far as I’ll ever go and this is the best I’ll ever achieve.   What about you?

Crowd Sourcing: Need Suggestions to finish my Diverse Narrators Challenge

diverse-narrators-diverse-stacks

As of yesterday, I had finished my Goodreads.com reading challenge by finishing my 50th book this year.   I decided to look at my own challenge to read more Diverse Narrators and see where I am in it and sadly, I’m not any further along then my last update.  I have books picked out for some categories but I still haven’t read them and I still don’t know about the others.  So dear friends of the internet, help me out with some book recommendations.  What should I read to for the following.

A Book with a Trans Narrator I thought about using Alex Fierro from Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Ship of the Dead but the story is only from Magnus point of view so that’s out.  I’ve read good reviews for If I was your Girl by Meredith Russo. So I’ll think I’ll try that one but do you know of any other good book with a Trans Narrator?

A Book with an African Narrator I’ve settled on Born a Crime by Trevor Noah because everyone I know who has read it has loved it and I do love him on the Daily Show.  Of course, Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor I’m also interested in too.

A Book with an Asian Narrator I thought about using Warcross by Marie Lu but Emika Chen is Asian American and I already have two books for that one and Hideo Tanaka who is British Japanese is not the narrator of the story, only Emika.  A friend recommended Pachinko by Mi Jin Lee but I’m not sure.

A  Book with a Native American Narrator Sadly, I’m not sure.  Sherman Alexie’s books? Has anyone read Alyson Noel’s Soul Seekers series?

A Book with an Indigenous Mexican Narrator I’m even more loss on this one.  I thought for a second about All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater but by the beginning of the story, the Soria’s have lived in Colorado for over a century and the story is more about the family now then their pasts.  So any suggestions?

I’m open to anything.  Fiction, Non-fiction, fantasy, contemporary, romance. Whatever you got I’m up for it.  Leave your suggestions in the comments below or hit me up on our Twitter @StacksXLiveX and Facebook

Quick Review: The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan

ship of the dead Gods this is such a great series.  I’m sorry that it’s only a trilogy but Rick being Rick did leave it open that if he wants to he can always return to Vahalla, Magnus Chase and his friends.  I’ve gushed and praised Rick Riordan in so many other reviews and this is another one. His ability to mix mythology, humor and present day is truly a gift.  Yes, his these books a little formulaic.  His heroes must go on epic journeys, where they must face many dangers and trials before facing a near impossible task but never does it feel tired or old.  It maybe because of his cast of characters are all are real and diverse.  How many young reader novels has a Muslim and gender fluid characters in the same novel? and more important how many of them are both are shown to be brave, resourceful, loyal, smart, funny and happy.  The answer not many.  Both Samirah and Alex are all of those and more. Throughout the entirety of the book Sam is practicing Ramadan, which is probably the first time that many of readers have ever read about Ramadan.  As I have stated before about Rick’s, he’s not afraid to tackle tough subjects in his books and he does it by showing positive scenes and connecting them with the stories of our past.  That no matter what a child is going through, they are not the only ones.  Kids of all race, gender identity and faith can see themselves in one of his many books and that’s amazing.  So keep up the good work Rick!

Spoilers under the Cut. Continue reading

Review: Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray

before the devil breaks you Those who do not know their own history are doomed to repeat it. It may sound cliche but it is true.  Libba Bray has set The Diviner’s series in the twenties but in our current political climate it could easily be a contemporary novel.  All she would have to do is change some of the slang and add some emoji’s.  Themes of race, sexual orientation, patriotism, health, sexism and worker’s rights are very prevalent through out Before the Devil Breaks You and The Diviner’s series just as they are today.  The Eugenic’s movement that was full swing in the 1920’s where white supremacist used pseudoscience to prove that the white race was superior to all others.  It influenced government policy, immigration and mental health and would later inspire those in Nazi Party.  The racist policy was dressed up as a way to make America better and stronger.  If we can weed out all the undesirable elements of our a population we would be stronger.  Their “Make America Great Again” so to say.  Our Diviner’s, Evie, Sam, Memphis, Henry, Ling, Isiah, Theta, Jericho and Mabel have now faced two ghosts and are starting to understand the threat they are facing.  They powers are growing but are strongest together.  They start working with Will and Sister Walker to improve their powers but they all have secrets.  Will and Sister Walker both are part of opening the gap between the living in the dead and creating the Diviners.   Making them a little less trust worthy.  Evie is clinging on to her fame as a radio host but also can’t decide between Sam and Jericho.  Theta is afraid the other will find out about her powers and gets an even bigger surprised when her past comes back to haunt her.  Mabel, the one without any kind of powers feels out of place because she can’t read objects or disappear or walk in dreams.  She want’s to change the world but more then anything she was be noticed.   They individual stories are heartbreaking and true and make a for a rich story and speaks to the diverse nature of our country.  The King of Crows is throwing everything at them this time because it’s not just one ghost but many and it’s not just ghost they must fight against it’s prejudice and ignorance.  It’s the balance between wanted to be safe vs. wanting to feel safe.  Those are two different things.  When people are scared they will agree to almost anything to feel safe again even if it doesn’t actually make them safer.  I would point to the entire last election cycles of examples of that.  The Diviner’s came together at the beginning of the book only be torn apart which I can only assume is the perfect set up for the last book.  I’ll give Miss Bray credit, she knows how to tell a story and is not at all sentimental.  The last 20-30 pages. Bray channels her inner George R.R. Martin and racks up a body count that only he could appreciate.  We are living in scary times and anyone who picks this book up hoping to escape will be disappointed because America hasn’t learned from our own history and we are now repeating it.