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.
If you are like Kate and I then you are horrified about the actions of the current administration. All throughout the campaign, through his transition period, we were told not to take what Trump says seriously. He isn’t going to build a wall. He wasn’t going to ban an entire religion. He has seriously begun one and made steps to do the other. I’m almost afraid to turn on the news or go online. Even if you try to avoid social media, you can’t escape the outside world entirely. Really, for the first time, I truly feel afraid. I have now lived in New York City for almost nine years. I work on the World Trade Center. Everyday I am reminded of the terrible effects of what terrorism does to people, to cities, to nations and to the world. I see the hatred, but I also see what comes after. The love and caring for perfect strangers, the kindness that brings us all together after such horrific events. Since moving to New York, there have been two possible attacks and yet I have never been afraid. I have never been scared of being injured in a terrorist attack until the last couple of days. In one day, he has made us more of a target than we were before. He turned his back on our American ideals. I understand wanting to keep our country safe. I want to keep our country safe and the current Immigration Order will in no way keep us safe.
Last year I started reading Ms. Marvel Graphic Novels. Ms. Marvel’s alter-ego is Kamala Khan, a Pakistani-American Muslim teenager from New Jersey. She is a normal American teenager. She reads comics and writes fan-fiction about the Avengers. When she meets her idols like Wolverine and Captain America she freaks out like any of us would. She cares for her friends and her family. Like most kids, she toes the line between fitting with her friends and making her parents proud. She is full of confidence and insecurities. She has doubts and fears about what she has done and what she could do. When she comes into her power, the first thing she does is save a fellow student who bullied her earlier in the comic without hesitation. When her best friend’s brother gets in trouble, she puts her fear aside and puts on her costume and goes to the rescue. She does this because her religion tells her to help others if she has the ability to. Isn’t that what we all should strive for? Isn’t that what we all should be doing? If you have the ability to help someone, shouldn’t you? Even if they are a stranger to you? Kamala Khan is a brave girl who goes out into her community and her city and helps those in need because she loves her city and community. She is brave. Muslim, Christian, Jewish, White, Black, Asian, LGBTQ+. We could all use a little bit of bravery right now. We all could use a little Ms. Marvel in us and we need to remind our representatives and our President of that, too. Ms. Marvel and Kamala Khan are the Heroes we need right now.
Ms. Marvel is every fan girl or boy who has ever wrote or read fan-fiction or squeed over their favorite celebrity. She is everyone who has every suffered from self doubt but still fought through it. She is everyone who still sees the good even though she has seen some pretty awful things. Ms. Marvel is a hero. I love her. She is beyond funny. She is smart. She is brave. She is relatable. She is everything you want in in a hero. Why isn’t she in the Marvel Cinematic Universe yet?
Since vol. 1, Ms. Marvel has defeated the Inventor. Fought along side Wolverine and Captain Marvel and took down Loki. She’s making a name for herself. She discovered that she is an Inhuman, which I’m not sure what that is. I think it has to do with the Kree, who we met in the Guardians of the Galaxy. I think. I guess somewhere in her families past, they got some Kree blood in their bloodline and when the terrigan gas released that part of her DNA to give her superpowers. This makes them different from Mutants and the X-Men because their powers are just natural part of human evolution. Yeah, that sounds right. Like the X-Men, there are good Inhumans and bad Inhumans and for Ms. Marvel, they may be the most dangerous foes of all. In Crushed, Kamala meets Kamran, the son of an old family friend. He’s perfect. He likes World of Warcraft, he’s Muslim and he is also Inhuman. He kidnaps Kamala to get her to join in him in and off short of Inhumans who feel that their abilities make them superior to other humans and they should rule. When she turns him down and escapes, he then goes after her brother and tries to turn him. He’s not a good guy but do you know who is a good guy? Bruno..Kamala’s best friend and really the closest thing she has to a sidekick. He’s always there when she needs him, no questions ask. I’m totally shipping Kamala and Bruno but I agree with Kamala decision that with everything that is going on. Her powers, her family, high school that she needs to focus on her. She’s only 16. Romance can wait. Now Last Days sort of ended on a hopeful but also the world is ending kinda note, that I need to read the next volume ASAP! Ms. Marvel is truly the best!
I will say this about 2016, I read a lot of good books this year. It was hard to narrow it down to just 10. So without further ado and in no particular order.
Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan – So it was hard to pick between this one and his other book Riordan wrote, The Hidden Oracle, but I choose this one because of the characters. I love that Rick has added diverse characters to his worlds. Not to mention his characters get sassier with every book.
A Torch Against the Nightby Sabaa Tahir – A cross between historical fiction and dystopian novel. It’s quite a thrill ride and it left a real cliffhanger as to how the series is going to end.
A Court of Mist and Furyby Sarah J. Maas – After a so-so first book this one was a real game changer for the series as a hole. It delved into matters trauma and emotional abuse but still keep the story flowing.
The Raven Kingby Maggie Stiefvater – It’s Maggie and It’s Gansey, Blue, Ronan, Adam and Noah. It’s the perfect ending to a perfect story.
Half Lostby Sally Green – It was as beautiful as it was heartbreaking. Nate didn’t have an easy life and nothing about this book was easy too. It was very true to life. It doesn’t always turn out the way you expect and in war there are always painful loses.
Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard – Now this is a fun series. It’s a dystopian fantasy with X-Men qualities. Mare is not perfect. She’s complicated and conflicting but she means well and the writing only gets better with each book.
Pyromanticby Lish McBride – This book doesn’t actually come out until next year so I’ll wait to tell you about it but let’s just say you are going to love it.
Crooked Kingdomby Leigh Bardugo – It’s a crime caper and a fantasy. You root for the the thieves and the con men to win. It’s wonderful.
Ms. Marvel No Normal by G. Willow Wilson – likable and charming, Kamala Khan is worthy addition to the Avengers. She proves that it doesn’t matter where you come from and what you believe, you can still be a superhero.
The Midnight Starby Marie Lu – Another great ending to well thought out series. I may have qualms about who the real villain was but I think it was heartbreaking as it was beautiful.
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!