Diverse Stacks, Diverse Lives Narrator Reading Challenge UPDATE

diverse-narrators-diverse-stacks

We are now halfway through June so I can accurately say we are halfway through the year.  It’s time to check in and see how we are doing with our reading challenges.  This year we decided to split up our Diverse Stacks, Diverse Lives Reading challenge into two different.  One for authors and one for narrators.  I’m doing the Narrators and I have to say, I’m doing pretty well.  Now, I think there may be a few arguments over some of my books but who doesn’t love a good debate?  Going off my list of the books I’ve read, I discovered that there were a few things we should have discussed before setting the challenge out.  For instance, can you use the same book for different categories if they have more then one Narrator?  I’m going to go with yes because you are getting different perspectives from different characters.  So  here we go.

  1.  Book with a Queer Narrator: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan.  Narrator: Apollo.  Ok, so this maybe a stretch because as Kate asked me Can we apply modern categories of sexuality to ancient Gods?  Well I don’t know, but in The Dark Prophecy, Apollo is currently exiled to Earth as a mortal and while being on Earth has shown equal interest in both Men and Women.  So, in the context of the book, I’m counting it.
  2. Book with a African American Narrator: March Vols. 1-3 by Congressman John Lewis. Narrator: John Lewis
  3. Book with characters from various socio-economic backgrounds Silver Stars by Michael Grant.  Narrators: Frangie, Rainey and Rio
  4. Books with Asian American Narrator: Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han and The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon. Narrators: Lara Jean and Daniel.  I decided to count both since they are both Asian Americans but they have very different perspectives on growing up in America.  Lara Jean is definitely your more typical middle class teenage girl who grew up in the suburbs.  She’s also mixed because of her Dad is white so she straddles both sides.  Daniel grew up in New York City and is the son of two immigrant parents. (I thought about using Natasha from The Sun is also a Star as my African American Narrator but technically speaking she’s not American as her family was living in the US illegally)
  5. Book with a Narrator who has survived abuse: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas. Narrator : Feyre.  I really could have picked any character in this book but since it’s all from Feyre’s point of view she gets the top billing.
  6. A Book with a Mexican Narrator: Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare. Narrator: Cristina.  I admit I maybe stretching it a little thin with this one.  Cristina is one of six narrators in Lord of Shadows and not one of the two main characters but she is an important to the story as a whole so for now I’m counting it but it might change before the year is out.
  7. A Book with a Muslim Narrator: Ms. Marvel Vols. 2-4 by G. Willow Wilson. Narrator: Kamala
  8. A Book with a Jewish Narrator: Silver Stars by Michael Grant. Narrator: Rainey I know that I have already used Silver Stars before but Rainey is a fascinating character.  I love reading her.
  9. A Book with an atheist Narrator: Believe Me by Eddie Izzard. Narrator: Eddie Izzard.  He doesn’t go too much into his atheism but he does make it very clear he doesn’t believe in any god.

9 out of 15 is pretty good.  Even if you take out the few iffy ones, I’m still over halfway done with my challenge.  How are you doing?

Review: Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

lord of shadows

**This Review May contain some Spoilers**

I read a lot of fantasy novels and lately many of them have been relevant to what’s currently going on in our world.  I would say that some of it is a reaction to today’s political and cultural climate but books and art have a history of being predictive.  The Handmaid’s Tale was written over two decades ago and is just if not more relevant today then it was then.  Cassandra Clare’s The Dark Artifices might be her most political and timely series out of all her Shadowhunter series but it was years in the making first set in motion 10 years ago with the release of City of Bones.  One of the main threats in Lord of Shadows comes from within the Clave itself.  At the end of the The Mortal Instruments Series City of Heavenly Fire, the Clave started the Cold Peace.  A harsh punishment against Fairies for their involvement in the Dark War.  This has lead to anti-downworlder’s sentiment to spread among Shadowhunters.  Once again proving that people, even supernatural people do not learn from their own history.  Less then five years ago, they defeated Valentine, who’s group wanted to bring back the “golden age” of shadowhunters by ridden the world of downworlders and now the Cohort, a group of Shadowhunters are asking for downworlders to be registered and put into camps.  They movements should be marked and controlled.  Does that sound kinda familiar? It shouldn’t surprise any of you that the downworlders, particularly fairies are not happy and plan in invasion.  While all of this is happening, the Blackthorns and Emma are dealing with their own issues.  With each new book, they get more and more complicated with so many story lines that Clare is almost at George R.R. Martin level but not as many deaths.  I’m not sure all are necessary but it does make for interesting reading.  That being said to me the most interesting character is Julian.  Here’s a guy who at seventeen runs the LA institute. He takes care of his younger siblings and is utterly ruthless.  He will do anything for his family and his Parabati, Emma.  Who he is also madly in love with as she is with him but that’s forbidden and for good reason.  Parabati bond is pretty strong and only enhances strong romantic love to the point it drive them crazy.  Yikes.  As for the ending, I knew the character was going to die as soon as she admitted she was going to be friends with another character.  It sounds silly but the way it was written it sounded so final as her arc was over at that moment.  I was sorry to see that character go but boy there will be hell to pay now.  Too bad we have to wait 2 years to find out what happens next.

May Flowers Bring New Books

The month of May has a lot of great new books coming out and of course I’m already behind in my to-read list. Sigh.  Anyway, here’s a list a few books that I’m definitely going to try to get to in May.  Let’s see how I’ll do.

May 2:

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan

May 16:

Seeker by Veronica Rossi

May 23:

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

May 30:

Dark Breaks the Dawn by Sara B. Larson

 

Quick Review: The Bronze Key by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

bronze-keyI’m a fan of both Holly Black and Cassandra Clare’s work so I was pretty stoked about their collaboration.  I just wish it was better.  It’s fine but not great.  Someone pointed out to me that it’s a book meant for middle schoolers so I’m not the targeted audience but Rick Riordan writes for the middle schoolers and those are fantastic.  Holly Black’s Spindlewick Series are also great.  So I don’t think it’s the genre, I think maybe it’s the story itself.  We are now in the third book and Call, Aaron and Tamara are now being honored for killing the Enemy of Death, even though they know the Enemy of Death’s soul is in Call’s body.  Things get complicated when someone tries to kill Call and successfully kill a fellow student.  There’s all the typical kid lit traits.  The adults are clueless.  True, they don’t know Call’s secret but pretty much every time they tell Call he’s going to be safe, he’s attacked.  They allready have had one student and one teacher end up in cahoots with the big bad and they didn’t know it.  Is it any surprise that there would be someone else also in cahoots living right under their noses? No, of course not.  Typically, the kids feel they have do things on their own and typically it gets them in more trouble and typically when the real culprit is revealed the adults aren’t there so they get blamed for everything.  At moments I really enjoy this book but at most times I think “is something going to happen soon?”  I felt like there was a lot going on of nothing really happening until you get to the ending and then there’s yet another big cliffhanger.  I will say this about this series in general, the cliffhangers have been first class.  Too bad the rest of the book don’t live up to them.

My To Read List Just keeps getting longer

So I haven’t been reading as much lately because well life and Gilmore Girls.  I’ve recently just finished watching all 7 seasons of Gilmore Girls.  I know it’s weird it’s taken me this long to watch the show but what better time to do it then right before the new season, right?  Anyway, while I was binge watching several books have come out and now I’m hopelessly behind.  I’m still reading Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas.  I have waiting in the wings

The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan just came out.  The latest in his Magnus Chase series with Norse gods.  Then there’s Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo the sequel to Six of Crows. And then The Bronze Key by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. Also The Midnight Star by Marie Lu the finale of The Young Elites Trilogy.

I have also recently picked up The Swan Riders by Erin Bow, the sequel to Scorpion Rules.  I had no idea there was a sequel so I’m super excited for that. A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro and The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin are two books that were impulse buys.  I have so much to read but what else is new.

What books are on your t0 read list this month?

Review: Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

lady midnight** Spoilers Ahead**

The Clave are dicks.  I mean seriously.  In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, the Clave is the who rules the Shadowhunters, with the Council that makes the decisions.  They are not the most understanding of people. They are definitely judgemental.  For those who read City of Heavenly Fire know that outcome of the Dark War lead to the Shadowhunters basically cutting ties with Fairies because of their roles in Sebastian Morgenstern’s rebellion.  This meant that the two older Blackthorn siblings, Helen and Mark who are half fairy.  Mark was taken by the Wild Hunt at the beginning of the City of Heavenly Fire and Helen was banished to Siberia by the end.  They both had nothing to do with Sebastian and the fairies who fought with him but since they had fairy blood, the Clave was afraid they were side with them so they banished one and abandoned another.  So basically because of the actions of a few, everyone like them are punished.  (Does that sound familiar to anyone?)  Emma’s parents were found dead with strange markings, blamed on  Sebastian’s rebellion even though their deaths resemble nothing that he or his followers did before or after.  Emma is convinced that their death is not related and their killers are still out there but the Clave have shut the door on in.  That leads five years later when Lady Midnight begins.
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What do you do about alleged Plagiarism?

This Tuesday Cassandra Clare is set to release the next book in her Shadowhunters Novels. Her series is highly popular and is now on it’s third series inside this world.  The previous The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices were highly successful.  The former has already inspired a movie (a really bad one) and a TV show (from what I’m told is actually not bad and is doing well in the ratings but I personally couldn’t get past the first 2 episodes). Unfortunately the release of Lady Midnight, the first book in The Dark Artifices series is under a little bit of a cloud.  Sherrilyn Kenyon, the author of the Dark-Hunters series, is suing Clare for copying her ideas.  Kenyon’s series was first published in 1998 and Clare’s in 2007. They both center around an elite set of supernatural warriors that defend the world against demons and other supernatural beings.  Clare has of course denied it by saying she wasn’t influenced by Kenyon’s work.  I have read all of Clare’s books but I haven’t read any of Kenyon’s Dark-Hunters books.  I’ve read the Chronicles of Nick, which I love.  Seriously, I can’t recommend it enough.  The series is a YA spin-off of the Dark-Hunters series and has overlaps with her original series, with characters appearing in both.  Are there similarities? Sure? Probably?  I don’t think the idea of elite warriors who fight demons is new or original.  So I’m not sure what the outcome is going to be but does it matter?  Should I be concerned that Clare might have taken some ideas from Kenyon?  It hasn’t changed my opinions of her books.  They may have similarities but they are both very different in tone and style that they don’t feel the same.  Actually, until this lawsuit I didn’t even occur to me that they were similar.  Not the same way that drew comparisons between Julie Kagawa’s Talon series to Sophie Jordan’s Firelight series.  I wouldn’t say that one copied another but they definitely pulled from the same ideas. I think this gets a little murkier is the fact that Clare has been accused for plagiarism before.  During her fan fiction days, she was accused of adding quotes from TV shows and whole passages from an out-of-print book. There are whole debates about the ethics of fan-fiction.  Some would argue that fan-fiction itself is a form of plagiarism.  Needless to say this doesn’t help Clare’s cause but I don’t think it necessarily proves anything either because again, I think there is some ethical murkiness when it comes to fan-fiction. From what I’ve read, Fifty Shades of Grey is far closer to Twilight then Clare’s The Draco Trilogy was to Harry Potter but I can’t say for certain.  So where does this leave me?  I had already bought my copy of Lady Midnight before this came out so I will read it but my excitement towards it has lessened.  As readers do we have a responsibility here or not? If so, what exactly is it?  I’m kinda I’m curious to hear what others have think about this.