Diverse Stacks, Diverse Lives Narrator Reading Challenge UPDATE

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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?

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Quick Review: Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

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**This Review contains some Spoilers**

This series was meant to only be a duology and I thought it worked pretty well as just To All the boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.  So I was a little hesitant but excited when I found out that Jenny Han had decided to write one more book.  On the one hand, I felt that Lara Jean’s story wrapped up nicely.  Yes, it had an open ended ending but there was a sense that Lara Jean had finally started to find her Identity.  And on the other hand, there was some unanswered questions, like were her and Peter really going to make it?  What about their senior year?  Would Kitty continue to be awesome?  The answer is to that last questions is of course.  Reading through this book and getting back to Lara Jean’s world of baking and arts and crafts, I was little disappointed to find that Lara Jean’s new found identity pretty much was all Peter.  Her new friends were all his friends.  Their plans mostly seemed to revolve around his schedule of Lacrosse games.  To be fair, she did build friendships on her own with Lucas and Pammy but she wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for Peter.  This became more apparent when they started to talk about college.  Peter had already been accepted into UVA on a Lacrosse scholarship and Lara Jean had always wanted to go there.  It’s a good school and only 15 minutes away so she could stay close to her family.  Well, when she doesn’t get into UVA, there is a panic because now they have to deal with a long distance relationship.  So she makes a plan to go to William and Mary for one year and transfer to UVA so they can be together.  Things get even more complicated when Lara Jean who gets accepted into UNC after originally being wait listed.  After a quick drive to Chapel Hill, Lara Jean is in love and it’s clear this is where she is meant to be.  Now she will be 3 and half hours away instead of only 2.  All this talk of college and what school would is the best, I can’t remember of any talk about what she wants to study.  We know that she loves to bake and loves to crafting but what else in her life?  Is she going to be an English major?  biology? French?  We have absolutely no idea who she is outside of her family and Peter but I could say the same thing about Peter too.  As frustrating as Lara Jean’s behavior I started to realize that Peter’s identity is just as dependent if not more so on Lara Jean’s.  He is very much the perfect boyfriend.  He’s polite and good looking, athletic and charming.  He organizes her father’s bachelor’s party to not only get on his good side but make her happy.  He is also afraid of losing Lara Jean. Thanks for a moment of true honesty they seem to have finally found each other and where they want to go.  They are going to try to make it work and I hope they do but where does it leave them.  I sort of feel like we are left in the same place as were with the last book.  They both are still growing and finding themselves as they should be at 18 and they are still together and going to fight to make their relationship work despite the distance but their future is still up and the air.  I think it’s a very good development for Lara Jean to spread her wings and live on her own for once.  Her life has always been about her family and then Peter.  Finally in college she will be able to truly find her identity without them around and I think it will only make her stronger.  It will make her relationships stronger and if her and Peter do work out them both stronger.   Now, I hope in a couple of years, we come back to Virginia for Kitty, the high school years because I think that would be the most amazing story of all time.

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

 

Top 10 Books I’m Looking forwarded to reading in 2017

So 2016 is almost over.  Thank God or Oh No.  Who knows what 2017 will bring but we do know it will bring plenty of good books.  Here are 10 I’m really looking forward too.

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  1. Pyromantic by Lish McBride. – I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of this one and it was everything I hoped it would. I can’t wait for it to come out in March so I can read again.
  2. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas – The second book was one of my favorite books of this year and the way it ended makes me even more excited for it.  Feyre is back in the Spring Court with Tamlin but this time she knows who she is and who he really is.
  3. Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han – I didn’t even know this was even in the works when I read To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and it’s sequel P.S. I Still Love You earlier this year.  I found the two books to be very charming and sweet.  I loved Lara Jean and Peter and I thought their story was over but I guess not.  I’m still holding out for Kitty novel. song-rising
  4. The Song Rising by Samantha Shannon – This is another book I got an early look at and for all of you still waiting, it’ll be worth it.  I’m going to re-read The Bone Season and The Mime-Order again before this one comes out.
  5. King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard – Mare gave herself up to Maven and who knows what that sadistic bastard has planned for her.  Will Cal save her or will she save herself? Will Farley forgive her?  The rebellion continues
  6. The Untitled 3rd book of the Ember in the Ashes series by Sabaa Tahir- This is such an awesome series I can’t say enough great things about it.  Who knows what will happen next as Laia, Elias and Helene take on the Martials.
  7. Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth – This Veronica’s first book since the Divergent series ended.  No matter how you felt about Allegiant you have to admit that Roth is one brave storyteller.
  8. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – If her last series, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, is anything to go by this one is going to be a real crowd pleaser!
  9. The Ship of the Dead and The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan – Rick Riordan has been on a winning streak lately with both his Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard and The Trials of Apollo series’.  Not only are they imaginative they are truly fun.  Riordan hasn’t been afraid to take on tough subjects and bring a diverse cast of characters to his books and make them both relatable and accessible.  It’s going to be a busy year for Percy Jackson.
  10. Silver Stars by Michael Grant – In this revisionist history story we met three brave women who are fighting in World War 2.  The end of the last book saw our three heroines have all survived their first battle but the war is still a few years from ending.  There are more battles to be fought before our heroines get to go home.

What books are you looking forward to reading in 2017?

Diverse Stacks, Diverse Lives Reading Challenge Update Part 2

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Since Kate posted her update, I figured I should do mine.  I’m doing much better on the Meduim/Genre/Industry Sub-Challenge then the other 2.  So far I have read Captain Marvel for my Graphic Novel with a superhero, Nimona for Graphic Novel without a superhero.  The Hidden Oracle for a book meant for Children and Cravings a cookbook by Chrissy Teigen for a book from a genre I’ve never read.  Half Lost, a book with a Queer Character. To All The Boys I’ve Loved, a book with an Asian American Character. And finally Endure by Sara b Larson for a book by a  Woman author. To be honest, I could have picked almost any book I’ve read this year for that last one because so far I have only read 3 books written by a man.

So that brings my total up to 7 out of 30. Yikes, that’s not great but it’s 1 better then Kate. ;-).

Series You Should Check out: To All The Boy’s I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

to all the boysNot that long ago, Barnes and Noble was having a sale on teen books, buy 2 for $20, basically you get one for free.  I kept seeing To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before pop up on my Tumblr dashboard that I decided to check it out.  Contemporary Fiction and Romance are not my usual go to reads but I do dabble in it from time to time and since both it and it’s sequel, P.S. I love You were apart of the sale, I decided to just go on get them both.  If they are as good as Tumblr insists then I should read them, right?  Tumblr would never steer me wrong.  Tumblr did introduce me to Rainbow Rowell after all.  It was a wise decision because once I finished the first, I had to read the second. Actually, I read the sequel in one day, it was good.  To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still I Love are both delightful.  True they are not really groundbreaking, besides it centers on a Korean American teenage girl but it’s sweet, kind and lovely.  Lara Jean is the middle Song sister.  Her older sister, Margot is about to go to College in Scotland and her younger sister Kitty is well a firecracker.  Their mother died unexpectedly when they were little so it’s just been the girls and their dad.  Margot has been their surrogate mother the last couple of years but with her going it’s now Lara Jean turn.  Lara Jean is a romantic in true sense of the word.  She is sixteen and is about to start her junior year in high school.  She’s never had a boyfriend but she’s been in love before.  More accurately she’s had crushes, five of them and she wrote all five letters and hid them in her hat box.  One day she finds out that her letters that were never meant to be seen were mailed out to the boys she loved before and well this is a problem.  One of those goes to Josh, Margot’s boyfriend that she just broke up with and Lara Jean had a crush on before they had started dating and those feelings for him start to return. Another one went to Peter a former friend from Middle School that was her first kiss and her ex-best friend, Genevieve’s recent ex-boyfriend.   Lara Jean and Peter decide to fake a relationship to save face with Josh and to make Genevieve jealous.  Of course in true Rom-Com fashion they end up falling in love for real and things get messy.

P.S. I still love youIn the sequel, Peter and Lara Jean decide to date for real and well it’s not as simple as it once was. Old insecurities come up and when another recipient of Lara Jean’s letters shows up it complicates things even more.  John Ambrose McClaren was also apart of Lara Jean’s middle school group of friends until he moved away.  Lara Jean goes from a reserved girl, who lived in her sister shadows to a more confident girl who knows what she wants but a lot happens for her to get there.  First she has to get over this idea that she is not worthy.  Peter is the golden boy.  He’s the boy that every girl in high school wants to be with and Genevieve is the beautiful blonde girl that you would expect to be with the golden boy.  Lara Jean is not popular or in the “in crowd”.  She constantly compares herself and her relationship to Genevieve to the point her jealously and insecurities take over.  It’s something that all of us have dealt with from time to time. This is Lara Jean’s first relationship and she is closer to her sisters then to anyone else, so it’s hard to open up and trust other people.

Now let’s talk about the guys. Josh, her sister ex-boyfriend and the literal boy next door.  He’s nice and caring but I felt he was more of the big brother type then anything else.  It’s a shame that their friendship never truly recovered after the break up and the letter but they did find a way to be friends again.  John Ambrose McClaren is nice.  He’s the kind of boy who would be perfect for Lara Jean.  He’s smart, sweet and unassuming but he doesn’t really enter the story until the second half of the second book so we don’t get to know him as well as the other two.  And finally Peter.  He comes at first as egotistical and vain and well there is some of that too but he’s also caring and observant. Of all the guys he’s the one who truly challenges Lara Jean the most.  He brings her out of her shell without forcing her to change or wanting her to be different.  I liked that Lara Jean had different suitors.  She didn’t fall for the first guy that noticed her, she realized she had options.  I think that’s important to girls to know that if a relationship doesn’t work out that they are going to be others too.  Another important element of the story is the double standard between boys and girls.  At one point of the story, a video goes viral of Lara Jean and Peter kissing in a hot tub. Typically, all the comments on the internet are about slut Lara Jean is even though she is doing nothing wrong.  As far as anyone knows, Lara Jean is only kissing her boyfriend.  Of course nothing is said about Peter.  When she goes back to school, teachers and counselors talk to Lara Jean about the video and how disappointed they are in her but no mention of Peter.  It’s sad how true this scenario is.

So in conclusion, I really loved these two books.  With beach season coming up soon, these are the perfect books to take on vacation with you to read and just mellow out.  Also for anyone participating in our reading challenge, this is a good choice for a book with an Asian American character.

P.S. If Jenny Han somehow reads this, can we have a spin-off series about Kitty?