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.
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.
Book with a African American Narrator: March Vols. 1-3 by Congressman John Lewis. Narrator: John Lewis
Book with characters from various socio-economic backgroundsSilver Stars by Michael Grant. Narrators: Frangie, Rainey and Rio
Books with Asian American Narrator: Always and Forever, Lara Jeanby 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)
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.
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.
Last year Rick Riordan announced that he was starting a new imprint to highlight diverse authors and diverse stories. His mythology based stories have made him famous. So far he has tackled Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Norse mythology but he often gets asked about exploring other culture’s mythologies as well. Being a while male, he has wisely said that he was not the right person the write about Mayan or Indian mythology however it did spark him to start his own imprint so marginalized authors can write about their own cultures. It was just announced the first three titles under Rick’s new imprint. Yoon Ha Lee, Roshani Chokshi and Jennifer Cervantes will author the first books. Yoon Ha Lee’s book Dragon Pearl will take on stories from Korean Mythology. Roshani Chokshi’s series, Aru Shah and the End of Time, is based off of Indian Mythology and Jennifer Cervantes’s book Storm Runner will have inspiration from Mayan Mythology. All three sound interesting and will be published in 2018. Adding all three to my to-read list.
EDIT: Rick went to his Tumblr page to give more details on his Imprint, his role and involvement with the books and more information on the authors and more indepth synopsis of Dragon Pearl, Aru Shar and the End of Time, and Storm Runner. I highly recommend checking out if nothing else for a tiny glimpse into the publishing world.
If you are not immediately charmed, heartbroken and uplifted after reading this then you should check your pulse. This is the perfect blend of romance, coming of age story and social commentary. It centers around a day in the life of Natasha and Daniel, two teenagers on the cusp of major changes in their lives. It also touches on the minor interactions that seem meaningless at the time but how that connection could and some times do change someone’s life. Natasha and her family are illegal immigrants from Jamaica who are being deported at 10 o’clock that night. She is trying to stop their deportation when she meets Daniel, a Korean-American boy who has the day off so he can prepare and meet for an interview for admission to Yale. From the moment they meet there is an immediate connection. They both share the immigrant experience of being from two places at the same time. Even, though Daniel was born in the US, he is often assumed to be from someplace else. He’s never Korean enough or American enough. Natasha was born in Jamaica but now has lived most of her life in the US. Her friends are here, her future is here she doesn’t want to leave. When they meet though, their futures couldn’t be different. Daniel’s life has already been planned out for him while Natasha’s is now unsure. Daniel’s parents are dead set on him and his brother to have a better life then they did, which means, Yale and becoming a doctor and marrying a Korean girl. Natasha, was planning on going to college and was going to be a data scientist and now all of that is uncertain. Anyway, they meet and while they don’t know anything about each other they know they have a special bond from the beginning. Daniel is a poet and romantic. He’s convinced that their meeting was fate. That they are meant to be. Natasha is a scientist and a realist. She doesn’t believe in love is real or anything that can’t be scientifically proven. As Natasha tries to kill time before she meets with an immigration lawyer Daniel convinces her to spend time with him to prove that love can be scientifically proven and so they go allover New York, getting to know each other and becoming first friends and then falling in love. They meet each other’s parents and face each other demons. While the story focuses on them, we get glimpses into the lives of the people around them. From their own family but the random people that they briefly come in contact with. The security guard that scans Natasha’s bag, the secretary of the lawyer. They all paint a picture of how we all relate to each other and how our decisions big and small can change a complete strangers life. It’s something to think about. It was talks about how racism presents itself in other communities. Daniel’s Korean parents own a black hair care store in Harlem but when his father and his brother meets Natasha they treat her in their shop. They own a shop that caters to black shopper and yet they can’t even hide their own negative biases. This was a beautiful novel that not only tells a perfect story of two kids struggling to figure out who they are while dealing with the forces outside of their control but also doesn’t shy from taking on tough issues of racism, immigration, depression and even family. You need to read this book is all I’m saying.
I bought this book as part of our Diverse Narrators Reading Challenge. Reading the synopsis and some of the reviews, I think this book is going to be relevant to what’s going on in our country. I’m really excited about jumping in.
I have had many reactions to this trilogy so far. I’ll admit it’s not an easy read as there are a lot of hard truths here. The question I keep asking myself is how can I be shocked when I know what’s going to happen? I know my history. I know this was not one of America’s proudest moments in our history. I studied in school about the protests and violent reaction to them. I’ve read about Emmit Till, Medger Evers and Freedom Rides. So why am I’m still shocked to read how violent they were? How am I still shocked to read how angry, hurtful and full of hate people can be? It’s not like they were asking for huge things. They wanted to eat at the counters of stores they just bought merchandise in. They wanted to go to the movies. They wanted to ride the bus. They wanted to vote. How are any of these extraordinary requests? How am I still shocked by these when the news lately are full of people saying angry, hurtful and full of hate? Why do I feel like we are repeating history?
Last year, Beth and I started the Diverse Stacks, Diverse Lives Challenge. Our original challenge is made up of three mini challenges containing ten books each. There is an author challenge, a character challenge, and a medium challenge.
It turns out, if you can’t double count things, that this is not the easiest challenge to complete. I, at least, failed to complete it. This year, Beth and I decided to do something a little different. So, we’re going to have two challenges, one that Beth is going to lead and one that I am going to lead. They will be announced this week. We’re both very excited about it. We hope that you will be excited, too, and will join one or both of us on a reading adventure!
You don’t need to be a girl, Muslim or a superhero to identify with Kamala Khan. She’s your typical teenage girl living in the world of social media and SAT’s. She wants to fit in with the kids at school but also please her family. She wants to be her own person and not be defined by her gender, race or religion. She wants to make a difference and help people and when she is given that chance she jumps right in. Kamala lives in Jersey City, NJ and loves the Avengers. She even writes fan-fiction about them, which I would really love to read. Are those anywhere online? Like all parents, her parents want the best of her and to them that means that she follows her Islamic teachings and listen to her parents. Kamala is a girl fof both worlds, she is a Muslim but also an American teenager. She wants to go to parties and do normal teenage things. One night she sneaks out of her house to go to a party when a mysterious fog rolls in. Soon Kamala is having a vision of Captain Marvel and she finds out that she has morphed into Carol Danvers old identity of Ms. Marvel. A not so nice girl from the party is in trouble she saves here. When the brother of his best friend, Bruno, gets into some big trouble Kamala uses her new powers to help. Bruno is also a genius and just so happened to developed a new compound that makes her clothes stretch when she does. To say that Kamala is likable would be an understatement. When she gains her powers she doesn’t shy away from them but embraces them. Just like her heroes, she doesn’t hesitate to help those in need. Even when of those is the girl that just made fun of her earlier in the evening. I’ve already bought the other volumes in this series. I can’t wait to read them.
B&N had a sale on Marvel and DC comics, buy 2 get the 3rd one free. So, I got this one, the latest collection of Black Panther and Vol. 1 of A Force. Super excited to read about new and different heroes!
Kate and I have given updates on our Challenges and well we are not doing as well as both of would like. We want to know, dear readers, how many of you attempted our Diverse Stack, Diverse Lives Reading Challenge? With only 31 days left how many books have you read and how many more do you need to complete yours? We are thinking of doing this again next year but changing the focus to only on sub-challenge instead of three. We are open to suggestions. What should we add to next years challenge? What should we leave off? Let us know how we can make next year’s challenge more accessible while still helping us all reach our goals of diversifying our reading lists.
So far I’ve read 13 out of 30. As I don’t like failing at things I set out for myself, I have thought about rearranging the things that I’ve read this year on the list so that I can use things that aren’t currently on the list so that I can satisfy categories I haven’t gotten yet. Like, if I moved Shonda Rhimes to “read a book by a woman of color” then I could put Caitlin Moran in at “read a book by a woman”. But, I read Shonda Rhimes book first, so it is staying where it is. The good news for me is that I have another six categories already picked out. The even better news is that I’m part way through two of those books. However, there’s still a lot of work that has to be done in 2016 and, I have to tell you, folks. I’m not feeling sanguine about meeting the challenge this year.