Diverse Narrators, Diverse Stacks Results

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So how did I do with this year’s challenge.  Pretty good, I think.  I read a few books that I normally wouldn’t have read and other books I would have because I love the authors.  I didn’t complete the challenge though and I’m sad about that.  Will have to do better in 2018.

  1. A Book with a Trans Narrator: Eddie Izzard in Believe Me by Eddie Izzard
  2. Queer Narrator: Apollo in The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan
  3. African American Narrator: John Lewis in March Vols. 1-3 by John Lewis
  4. African Narrator: Did not complete
  5. Narrators from various socio-economic backgrounds: Rainey, Rio and Frangie from Silver Stars by Michael Grant
  6. Asian-American Narrator: Lara Jean in Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han and Daniel in The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
  7. Disabled Narrator: Call from The Silver Mask by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare
  8. Narrator that survived Abuse: Feyre, Rhysand, and pretty much every character in A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
  9. Asian Narrator: Sunja in Pachinko by Mi Jin Lee
  10. Native American Narrator: Did not complete
  11. Mexican Narrator: Cristina in Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare
  12. Indigenous Mexican Narrator: Did not complete
  13. Muslim Narrator: Kamala in Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson
  14. Jewish Narrator: Rainey in Silver Stars by Michael Grant
  15. Atheist Narrator: Magnus Chase in Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan

So I competed 12 out of 15, which isn’t bad but I was really hoping to do all 15.  How well did you do this year?

 

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My Top 10 Books of 2017

top 10 books

According to GoodReads.com I read 20,948 pages from 57 books. So you can imagine how hard it was to narrow down to only 10 for the best books I’ve read this year.  There were so many good ones!  I think I ultimately went with these 10 was because while I may have liked some of the other books more or given other’s better reviews or more stars, these 10 books stuck with me longer after finishing reading them.  I would like to think that our Diverse Lives, Diverse Stacks: Diverse Narrators reading challenge is working for me because half of the books were written by Women of Color and they contain protagonists from very diverse backgrounds.  That’s exciting to me but enough of this, let’s get on to the list.

  1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas– This book was as heartbreaking as it was realistic.  Starr is caught between two worlds but doesn’t really how different they are or how truly different she acts to accommodate both parts of her life until her friend is killed by a police officer during a routine traffic stop and she is the only witness.  This really should be a must read in all schools for generations to come and I’m excited that it will also be a movie coming out next year.
  2. Pyromantic by Lish McBride– It’s funny, it’s sarcastic, it’s action packed but mostly it is just plain fun.  I really hope that Lish returns to these characters because there is just so much weirdness she can do with them.
  3. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor-This is such a lush story with great imagery and original concept.  There really isn’t another novel out there right now.  The ending was such a surprise that I have no idea what to expect in the sequel.
  4. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon-Just like The Hate U Give, this is another heartbreaking but all too realistic look at today’s youth.  To strangers, meet and share a life changing day as Natasha fights to stop her family from being deported and Daniel fights the expectations of being a child of immigrants.
  5. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin-How do you describe this book?  It  has so much going on and it’s not certain how they all interweave but you know they must somehow.  It’s truly a powerful book it’s no wonder it’s won so many awards.
  6. Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray-The third book in The Diviners series takes place in the 1920’s but with it’s themes of race, gender equality and science it’s more relevant than you would think.  Evie, Sam, Memphis, Jericho, Theta, Ling Henry and Isiah have to overcome the coming darkness but also the social limits society places on those in the minority.
  7. All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater-People come from far and wide to seek miracles from the Saints of Bicho Raro but even saints themselves need miracles and sometimes those miracles can’t be achieved on their own, sometimes they need a little help from others. That’s the lesson from this one, it’s great to self sufficient but don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
  8. The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan-A great ending to a great trilogy and the power of how diversity makes us stronger.
  9. Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake-It’s dark and mysterious but also cool to read of world where women rule and men play supportive roles.  That women are just as complicated and conflicted and are able to be both and still show strength and vulnerability.  Here we get three young women who all of those things and more.
  10. WarCross by Marie Lu-This was fun and exciting thrill of a book.  Full of mystery and kind of a spy novel in a way.  Emika a down on her luck, hacker/bounty hunter gets a chance to play in the biggest game ever in hopes of finding another hacker trying to sabotage the game.  It’s full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing.

So these are my favorite books of 2017.  What are yours?

Review: The Silver Mask by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

silver mask So what do you do when you have the soul of the enemy of death even though you have no memory of his past life and now everyone else knows it and blames you for the death of your best friend but your innocent?  For Call it means you get thrown in jail, broken out and then kidnapped by the very people who’ve been trying to avoid the last three years.  Call’s luck is almost none existent.  Call is also full of self doubt and guilt.  He wasn’t the one to kill Aaron, that was Alex but he still feels responsible for it.  If Tamara had chosen to save Aaron instead of Call it would have been Call who died and not Aaron.  Does Tamara regret that choice?  Call had always assume that Tamara liked Aaron more than him and like most people tolerated him because Aaron did.  Now that Tamara, Jasper and Call are kidnapped by Master Joseph and his crew things get a little hazy.  Call is not Constantine despite having his soul but he’s been having trouble convincing others of this.  He may not be him but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t share some of his ambitions.  Without Aaron, Call feels a little lost and maybe all would be forgiven and go back to what they were if Aaron was alive again.  Master Joseph gives him the chance.  Raise Aaron back from the dead and you can decide whether you want to stay or not.  The Enemy of Death was called that because his obsession with defeating death.  I’m not sure I buy that if Call is able to bring Aaron back that all would be forgiven and that all of a sudden there would be so much support for his cause but we need to find the conflict.  Of course Call is able to bring back Aaron by doing the one thing that Constantine was never willing to do, give apart of himself to do so but you can never go back.  Aaron is not as he was because he was dead and should be dead.  Call’s plan to bring Aaron back and things go back the way they were goes sideways immediately and battle ensues.  If I didn’t know that there is one more book left in the series, I would almost think that this was finale because there was a lot of loose ends tied up.  I’m not sure where they go from here but there is still one bad guy still out there.

This is part of my Diverse Narrator challenge.  Call is disabled with a bad leg from when he was an infant.  While his lifelong injury played more of a roll in previous books it is still a big part of who the character is.  His bad leg has always made him think that he was less capable then those with two good legs and he’s felt this way because of most of his life that’s what people have told him.  Throughout the series, Call has persevered despite being slow to run or walk.  He’s been able to use his other skills and wit to get in and out of  trouble and prove he is just as capable.  May that be a lesson for us all.

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

Books I’m excited to read this fall

It’s that time of the year when publishers release titles in bunches so they are out before the Holidays. It also means my to-read list just gets longer and longer.  Here are a few books I just can’t wait to read.

Just released

One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake – the sequel to Three Dark Crowns.  Three sisters with three different powers but only one will survive to be crowned Queen.

October 3

Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray – Book three of the excellent The Diviner’s series.  To quote Evie, it really is the Bees knees.

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan – It really is a shame that this is the last book in the series because Magnus has been amazing.  I do hope he shows up in Rick’s other books the way Percy has.

October 10

All The Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater – Maggie is awesome and we love her and have no doubt this will be awesome too. Also Yeah! for standalones!

November 7

Renegades by Marissa Meyer – I believe this Marissa Meyer’s first book not based on fairy tales.

The Speaker by Traci Chee –The Follow up the The Reader that both Kate and I loved.

The Becoming of Noah Shaw by Michelle Hodkin– The first book in the Shaw Confessions series, the companion series to the Michelle Hodkin’s Mara Dyer series.

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?

Quick Review: The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan

dark prophecy I keep waiting for Rick Riordan to write a bad book.  The Dark Prophecy is not that book.  He just keep coming up with fresh and different ideas of making these old stories relevant and fun.  Whoever is the God or Goddess of story telling, Rick Riordan is their son.  When we last left Apollo, he’s reeling from the betrayal of Meg, a new prophecy sending him to Indianapolis and the reappearance of Leo and Calypso. That’s a lot for a former God turned mortal teenage boy to handle but handle he must.  When Apollo, Leo and Calypso arrive they are greeted by some very polite monsters because of course the monsters that inhabit the Midwest would be polite.  they are rescued by two former Hunters of Artemis Emmie and Josephine who tells them that their daughter is missing.  She had gone to the dark oracle for help from the second Emperor who has made Indianapolis his home.  Of course this Emperor Apollo has personal history with making everything more awkward.  As the crew tries to figure out how to defeat Emperor Commodus and get the next prophecy without going crazy they experience the same mythic hi-jinks of the other books.  Yes, these book can at times feel be formulaic but it never feel feels like that.  They are just fun, witty and refreshing.  Rick doesn’t shy away for the more uncomfortable stories from Greek and Roman mythology or tries to wash them out either.  Many of these stories are not happy or fun but then again neither is life and yet Rick never lets it get to dark.  He is always able to find the absurdity in them.  Bring on the next one.