Wrap Up | January 2017

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Jumping straight in, here are all the details of what I read in January 2017…

15 books
3535 pages

4 non fiction
3 fantasy
2 contemporary
2 poetry
2 graphic novels
1 dystopian
1 novel in verse

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehesi Coates – HIT
The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambellin Kwaymullina – HIT
History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera – HIT
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – HIT
The Castoffs V1 by M.K. Reed – HIT (released April 12th 2017)
Gender Failure by Rae Spoon – HIT
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – HIT
We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan – MAYBE (released Feb 9th 2017)
As I Descended by Robin Talley – HIT
Salt by Nayyirah Waheed – HIT
The Backstagers V1 by James Tynion IV – HIT
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur – MAYBE
Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire – HIT
Stormy Seas: Stories of Young Boat Refugees by Mary Beth Leatherdale – HIT (released April 11th 2017)
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo – HIT

 

 

Book chat | new rating system

So i’ve never been a big fan of either trusting or using the 5 star rating system when it comes to reviewing books either on this blog or on Goodreads. Just like many in the book community have said lately I believe that it is a bit pointless seeing as everyone has a different method of deciding what makes a book 1 – 5 stars.

I’ve decided to harp back to the days of British Saturday morning TV of the late 90s and use a ‘hit’, ‘miss’ or ‘maybe’ label on the books i have read… and it will be as simple as it sounds.

HIT = a definite yes i liked/loved it

MISS = a definite no i didn’t enjoy it

MAYBE = i’m on the fence as it didn’t sway me to either gut reaction

Look out for this on future reviews/wrap ups!

Read-A-Thon | Feminist Lit Feb tbr & recommendations

Hey friends!

First off sorry for the lack of proper posts last week and this week but I’m in the hospital currently, have been very unwell and getting some surgery tomorrow to hopeful find the cause of the problem.

But it’s the 1st Feb and I wanted to share a Read-A-Thon challenge with you all that I will be participating in throughout the entire month.


#FEMINISTLITFEB !!!!

That’s right! In response to the awful orange muppet in power in the states and as a focus to help us all explore feminism further Jane from ItsJaneLindsey on YouTube has put together a reading challenge.
Her original video can be found here.

There are 5 prompts to get your TBR started, and here’s my initial choices (I do plan on reading more than this in Feb and will be primary reading other feminist titles and books by WOC.):

1. Read a book with a fiercely feminist protagonist:

What’s A Girl Gotta Do by Holly Bourne

2. Read a feminist non-fiction title:

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

3. Read a diverse, ownvoices book:

Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley

4. Read a book by an author who identifies as female, non-binary or gender-fluid:

Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

5. Ask a feminist for a book recommendation and read that book:

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

I think these prompts are pretty chilled out and easy to fill and as I mentioned before I am planning on reading more books in February but sticking to both feminist books/female authors and books by WOC.

In case your are stuck for books to choose here are some recommendations from me, all of which I have read or are on my own TBR. These all are overtly feminist titles or books that heavily feature the lives and relationships of different women in a positive way… ( you could use any of these for prompt 5!!):

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero (fiction)

Jane Steel by Lindsay Faye (fiction)

Under Rose Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall (fiction)

If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan (fiction)

Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson (graphic novel)

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby (fiction)

Persepolis by Marianne Satrapi (graphic novel)

Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz (fiction)

Salt by Nayyirah Waheed (poetry)

The Princess Saves Herself In This One by Amanda Lovelace (poetry)

Bee And Puppycat by Natasha Allegro (graphic novel)

Girl Up by Laura Bates (nonfiction)


Wrap Up | DiverseAThon 2.0

This time round DiverseAThon ran from January 22 – 29 and just like last time it was a truly enriching experience.
I took 2 main things out of this year’s DiverseAThon experience:

1. Community – just like last time I have come away with an overwhelming sense of community from my fellow DiverseAThoners and from the diverse book community in general. I think this is something to value always but especially at this time of uncertainty in the future and unreliable country leaders. Not only does reading diversely together help everyone feel a sense of calm and reassurance but also we were able to talk together about how we can fight to change things and what we as a community can do to help those in fear right now.

2. Challenge – this year I read 6 different books during the week of DiverseAThon, and each of them challenged me to consider my world and my views in a new way. I was also really challenged during the amazing DiverseAThon chats on twitters. Our discussions there were fun and engaging but also really hard hitting and challenging, the hosts made extra effort this time round to focus the questions on our societies current issues and how we play a role in it. We were asked to call ourselves out on problematic behaviours, to really consider what we read and engage with and why, and to see beyond the surface of some texts and books to really value the voices of the minorities from which we read. I was blown away by the answers that were given to the discussion starters and by everyone’s enthusiasm.

I’m sad to say goodbye to DiverseAThon once again, but like last time, I pledge to make my DiverseAThon experience last all year round, continuing to read and promote #ownvoices and diversely inclusive books and to keep fighting for not only the minorities I am part of but for others too.

Here is a list of what I read during DiverseAThon 2.0:

(I’m trying out my new book rating system of ‘hit’, ‘miss’ or ‘maybe’ hit=loved it would recommend miss=didn’t like it wouldn’t recommend and maybe=I’m on the fence about this one… Full explanation post to come.)

As I Descended by Robin Talley – hit!

Salt by Nayyirah Waheed – hit!

The Backstagers issue 1 by James Tynion IV – hit!

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur – maybe!

Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire – hit!

Stormy Seas: Stories of Young Boat Refugees by Mary Beth Leatherdale – hit!

Book Review | As I Descended

I picked this book up for #DiverseAThon 2.0.

Robin Talley’s 3rd book ‘As I Descended’ is a dark and exciting retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Set in an elite private American boarding school Acheron Academy, the story tales us through the story of our protagonist Maria Lyon’s doomed rise to the top of school status.
After finding out that she may not be front runner for the prestigious Cawdor Kingsley prize Maria and her girlfriend Lily make the beginnings of a plan to change the order of things. However what Maria hasn’t told anyone – not even Lily, is that since childhood she has had a strong connection to the spiritual world, and one night after a game of ouija board ends in disaster, Maria unwittingly sets the spirits loose on Acheron School and its pupils.
With some fatal consequences along the way Maria and Lily soon regret all that they wished for and begin a slow and steady descent to sheer madness.

I originally picked up this book because I knew it focused on a f/f relationship and was looking for a new YA lesbian novel to fall in love with. I certainly was not let down on diversity within this book as once I began reading I realised that Talley did not just represent f/f relationships but also m/m relationships, underrepresented body types, biracial characters and perhaps the most pleasantly surprising for me – a character with a physical disability. Lily, our main character’s other half, uses crutches permanently and lives with chronic pain after a childhood car accident. I loved this aspect of the story especially as I myself lives with chronic pain. Talley wrote this characteristic of Lily beautifully becuase although at times is was woven into the main plot, it was never all that Lily was identified by – her character was a lot deeper than just her chronic pain and crutches. There were times when we did watch Lily struggle due to her disability and it was shown both physically and mentally. I adored these scenes as hard as they could be to read. I saw myself in Lily’s character as she cursed the constant unrelenting pain and its restrictions and I empathised deeply when she worried about being constantly on the sidelines due to her inability to just join in with her peers. These scenes were written respectfully and very true to reality.
Another aspect of the story I absolutely loved was the scary, chilling suspenseful tone of writing throughout. I will 100% put my hands up and say I am a total scaredy-cat and that this book had me sleeping with the lights on! Talley writes with such vivid imagery and descriptive language, not unlike Shakespeare’s use of language to convey dark atmosphere. Half true to the spooky story of Macbeth (which you can see references to throughout if you keep your eyes open!) and half rooted in hispanic folklore this story was truly chilling and the suspense only grows as you turn the page… every time you think its safe to relax something else jumps at you from the pages, leaving you reaching for a pillow to hide behind!

My only criticism of the book, if you can call it that, is that I would have liked to have seen a little more interaction between Maria and Lily toward the end of the book. Although they were both experiencing their own descent into all things mad in separate ways I would have liked to see them exchange a little more eveb perhaps to heighten their own paranoia and suspicion even more.

Overall I thoroughly loved this book and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a diverse and spooky alternative to the ususal high school drama story.

Top Ten Tuesday| 24/01

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This week is a freebie week on Top Ten Tuesday so I decided, seeing as we’re underway with #DiverseAThon to make a list of:

TOP TEN DIVERSE BOOKS BOTH YOU AND I SHOULD READ ASAP

  1. Skim (graphic novel) by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki
    (Young Adult, biracial MC, lesbian MC)
    Heartbreakingly funny, moving and vibrantly drawn, Skim is an extraordinary book–a smart and sensitive graphic novel of the highest literary and artistic quality, by and about young women. “Skim” is Kimberly Keiko Cameron, a not-slim, would-be Wiccan goth who goes to a private girls’ school. When Skim’s classmate Katie Matthews is dumped by her boyfriend, who then kills himself, the entire school goes into mourning overdrive. As concerned guidance counselors provide lectures on the “cycle of grief,” and the popular clique starts a new club (Girls Celebrate Life!) to bolster school spirit, Skim sinks into an ever-deepening depression.  And falling in love only makes things worse.. (GoodReads)

  2. Ash by Malinda Lo
    (Young Adult, lesbian retelling, bisexual SC)
    In the wake of her father’s death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted. The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash’s capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love. (GoodReads)

  3. When The Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
    (Young Adult, trans MC, pakistani MC)
    To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up. (GoodreadS) 
  4. Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta
    (Literary Fiction, Nigerian MC, Lesbian MC)
    Inspired by Nigeria’s folktales and its war, Under the Udala Treesis a deeply searching, powerful debut about the dangers of living and loving openly. Ijeoma comes of age as her nation does; born before independence, she is eleven when civil war breaks out in the young republic of Nigeria. Sent away to safety, she meets another displaced child and they, star-crossed, fall in love. They are from different ethnic communities. They are also both girls. When their love is discovered, Ijeoma learns that she will have to hide this part of herself. But there is a cost to living inside a lie. (Goodreads)

  5. Shelter by Jung Yun
    (Literary Fiction, Korean-American MC)
    Kyung Cho is a young father burdened by a house he can’t afford. For years, he and his wife, Gillian, have lived beyond their means. Now their debts and bad decisions are catching up with them, and Kyung is anxious for his family’s future.
    A few miles away, his parents, Jin and Mae, live in the town’s most exclusive neighborhood, surrounded by the material comforts that Kyung desires for his wife and son. Growing up, they gave him every possible advantage—private tutors, expensive hobbies—but they never showed him kindness. Kyung can hardly bear to see them now, much less ask for their help. Yet when an act of violence leaves Jin and Mae unable to live on their own, the dynamic suddenly changes, and he’s compelled to take them in. For the first time in years, the Chos find themselves living under the same roof. Tensions quickly mount as Kyung’s proximity to his parents forces old feelings of guilt and anger to the surface, along with a terrible and persistent question: how can he ever be a good husband, father, and son when he never knew affection as a child? (goodreads) 
  6. Laurinda by Alice Pung and Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung
    (Young Adult, Asian-Australian MC)
    Laurinda is an exclusive school for girls. At its hidden centre of power is The Cabinet, a triangle of girls who wield power over their classmates – and some of their teachers. Entering this world of wealth and secrets is Lucy Lam, a scholarship girl with sharp eyes and a shaky sense of self. As she watches The Cabinet in action, and is courted by them – as she learns about power and repression – Lucy finds herself in a battle for her identity and integrity. (goodreads)
    A literary Mean Girls meets Fresh Off the Boat that follows Lucy as she tries to balance her life at home surrounded by her Chinese immigrant family, with her life at a pretentious private school. (goodreads)
     
  7. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
    (Non-Fiction, African-American MC)
    Set against the backdrop of the Jim Crow South and the civil rights movement, the never-before-told true story of NASA’s African-American female mathematicians who played a crucial role in America’s space program—and whose contributions have been unheralded, until now. (goodreads)

  8. Born A Crime by Trevor Noah
    (Non-Fiction, South-African MC)
    The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed. (goodreads)

  9. The Book of Unknown Americans by Christina Henriquez
    (Young Adult, LatinX MCs)
    After their daughter Maribel suffers a near-fatal accident, the Riveras leave México and come to America. But upon settling at Redwood Apartments, a two-story cinderblock complex just off a highway in Delaware, they discover that Maribel’s recovery–the piece of the American Dream on which they’ve pinned all their hopes–will not be easy. Every task seems to confront them with language, racial, and cultural obstacles. At Redwood also lives Mayor Toro, a high school sophomore whose family arrived from Panamá fifteen years ago. Mayor sees in Maribel something others do not: that beyond her lovely face, and beneath the damage she’s sustained, is a gentle, funny, and wise spirit. But as the two grow closer, violence casts a shadow over all their futures in America. (goodreads)

  10. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
    (Young Adult, Chinese-American MC)
    Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet. So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. (goodreads)

 

 

Readathon News | DiverseAThon 2.0

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Hey guys, sorry this is coming to you a little late, BUT better late than never!!

The second round of DiverseAThon has just begun and here’s a quick round up of all the details so you can join in.

What: #DIVERSEATHON 2.0

When: 22nd-29th January 2017

Who: anyone at all

Why: Diverseathon started in September last year as a response to a member of the booktube community making a video about how she thought diversity in literature was not needed and basically should not be supported.

Where: the @DiverseAThon twitter page and the hashtag #DiverseAThon on twitter and instagram.

This time round just like last year there are no read-a-thon challenges just the guidelines to read diversely, research your tbr carefully and if possible read #ownvoices literature. There is however a group book called The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead which is not mandatory, purely a suggestion.

There is some #bookstagram challenges and twitter discussions which i will post information for below.

HAPPY DIVERSE READING!!

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