Showing posts with label diversity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label diversity. Show all posts

Thursday, April 27, 2017

[Review] We Are the Ants - Shaun David Hutchinson: Alien Abductions and the Apocalypse





In WE ARE THE ANTS, Henry is frequently abducted by aliens and presented with the choice to either prevent the apocalypse or let the world end.


What intrigued me:
 Alien abductions and the world is ending? Count me in!

... is that it?

WE ARE THE ANTS has a fantastic premise and an equally great narrative voice. Hutchinson absolutely had me from the first page, the cynic and observant way he writes Henry is incredibly entertaining and fun. However, all this can't mask the fact that there really isn't much to WE ARE THE ANTS aside from the premise. 

All characters in this are painfully obvious plot devices. The main problem I had with everyone in this book that Henry doesn't show any attachments whatsoever to the people surrounding him. How is the reader going to be enamored with the characters if they are all introduced like worthless scum bags? Henry's cynicism may be entertaining for the first 100 pages, but it quickly gets insanely tiring. 

Getting abducted? What else is new...

Another problem I had is that Hutchinson romanticizes depression. Protagonist Henry get depressed very early on when he realizes that the world's fate is in his hands and I just don't like the way this gets handled. The whole atmosphere just screams "your typical depressed kid from a broken home finds love and gets cured", and that's exactly what you're getting in WE ARE THE ANTS. The story has so much potential, but I think Hutchinson absolutely ruined everything that lured me to this story with the execution. 

Especially the abduction part is written so frustratingly boring that I can't wrap my head around it. Henry doesn't theorize about it much, or appears scared or worried about it! The only emotion he displays is annoyance, which seems to be pretty much his default.

WE ARE THE ANTS is nothing short from being a regular novel about a kid's high school troubles. The alien part is so redundant that this doesn't even feel like Sci-Fi. Absolutely a disappointment.


Rating:

★★½☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

WE ARE THE ANTS is just an average contemporary with a side of aliens. If you like that, and aren't expecting too much world building or fantastic characters, go ahead!



Additional Info

Published: 19th January 2016
Pages: 455
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Sci-Fi / Aliens
ISBN: 9781481449632

Synopsis:
"There are a few things Henry Denton knows, and a few things he doesn’t.

Henry knows that his mom is struggling to keep the family together, and coping by chain-smoking cigarettes. He knows that his older brother is a college dropout with a pregnant girlfriend. He knows that he is slowly losing his grandmother to Alzheimer’s. And he knows that his boyfriend committed suicide last year.

What Henry doesn’t know is why the aliens chose to abduct him when he was thirteen, and he doesn’t know why they continue to steal him from his bed and take him aboard their ship. He doesn’t know why the world is going to end or why the aliens have offered him the opportunity to avert the impending disaster by pressing a big red button. 

But they have. And they’ve only given him 144 days to make up his mind.

The question is whether Henry thinks the world is worth saving. That is, until he meets Diego Vega, an artist with a secret past who forces Henry to question his beliefs, his place in the universe, and whether any of it really matters. But before Henry can save the world, he’s got to figure out how to save himself, and the aliens haven’t given him a button for that."(Source: Goodreads)


Do you like books about alien abductions?

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Recommendation: 27 Hours (The Nightside Saga #1) - Tristina Wright: Queer Teens in Space

In 27 HOURS, five queer teens are trying to save the colonized moon Sahara from getting run over by gargoyles.

What intrigued me: You had me at queer.

Fast-Paced, Creative, Breathtaking.

27 HOURS is the queer space extravaganza that you've been waiting for. Wright starts the story with a bang and you won't have time to take a breath until the 27 hours time for the kids to stop the war between humans and gargoyles are over. If you like fast-paced action-filled stories with a side of very queer romance, you will adore this.

And if that isn't already enough to hook you: I was immediately impressed with the skillful prose; 27 HOURS is one of those books that makes you want to pick up a pen right now and start writing. Dripping with creativity, originality, and a truly fantastically-built intricate fictional world, I am in absolute awe of Wright's talent. An absolute recommendation for fans of Laini Taylor and Susan Ee.

This one's for the LGBT kids.

It's impossible to talk about 27 HOURS without mentioning the excellent representation it provides. It did move me to tears to see so many marginalized identities (some that I do share) finally represented in a SFF book. There are no words to describe how much it means to me to find nuanced representation for people whose identities in YA fiction are usually just exploited for the shock value. 
27 HOURS truly aims to represent with on-the-page statements and a cast that couldn't be queerer (no straight protagonists! When's the last time you saw THAT?). 27 HOURS is one of the very few books that I would unconditionally recommend to queer kids of color and disabled queer kids of color. Heck, if you're disabled, queer, or a POC, or all of these things, you will weep gentle tears of joy when reading about characters who look like you going on a space adventure.

This list will speak more than a thousand words:

On-the-page diverse protagonist representation:
  • Nyx: latinx (Cuban), Deaf, pansexual
  • Braeden: asexual
  • Dahlia: trans girl, darkskin/black latinx, bisexual
  • Rumor: multiracial (Nigerian and Portugese dad, Indian mom), bisexual
  • Jude: gay
There are a ton of queer side characters - Jude's mom is married to a woman, Jude's brother Trick is gay, Jude's brothers partner uses they/them pronouns. 27 HOURS is probably the queerest fantasy read of the year and I am eternally grateful for that.



Rating:

★★★★★



Overall: Do I Recommend?

Even if you are not interested in this personally, I BEG YOU to gift this to your lgbt friends of color. This book is for the Deaf LGBT teens of color out there. I think it may be the only one of its kind. Queer teens in space, y'all. I cried. Your disabled QPOC friends will cry. Representation matters.

Trigger warnings: violence, war, blood



Additional Info

Published: October 3rd 2017
Pages: 400
Publisher: Entangled TEEN
Genre: YA / Sci-Fi / Space & Other Planets
ISBN: 9781633758216

Synopsis:
"Rumor Mora fears two things: hellhounds too strong for him to kill, and failure. Jude Welton has two dreams: for humans to stop killing monsters, and for his strange abilities to vanish.

But in no reality should a boy raised to love monsters fall for a boy raised to kill them.

Nyx Llorca keeps two secrets: the moon speaks to her, and she’s in love with Dahlia, her best friend. Braeden Tennant wants two things: to get out from his mother's shadow, and to unlearn Epsilon's darkest secret.

They’ll both have to commit treason to find the truth.

During one twenty-seven-hour night, if they can’t stop the war between the colonies and the monsters from becoming a war of extinction, the things they wish for will never come true, and the things they fear will be all that’s left."
(Source: Goodreads)



What's your favorite book featuring queer teens of color?

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

[Review] The Seafarers Kiss - Julia Ember: Bisexuality and Mermaids

In THE SEAFARER'S KISS, mermaid Ersel falls in love with shieldmaiden Ragna and causes lots of trouble back home at the ice castle.

What intrigued me: I absolutely loved her debut UNICORN TRACKS.

Action-filled intricate world

I knew I'd love THE SEAFARER'S KISS after about five pages. Just like with her fantastic debut UNICORN TRACKS, Ember writes fast-paced and action-oriented - just what I like.

It's absolutely amazing how Ember painted this intricate world with its own customs and little sayings - THE SEAFARER'S KISS doesn't read like paranormal romance or mythology - it truly reads like a contemporary set in a mermaid kingdom. And you guys, this is the best.

I absolutely fell in love with the characters. Especially Ersel's best friend and now king's guard Havamal - the swoon is real. Even though this isn't really a book with a love triangle, I found myself rooting a bit for him and Ersel. You'll ship everyone while reading this book, that's the beauty of everyone being bisexual! The characters are all just so lovely, you'll find yourself wishing that they'd all just get along. It might also be relevant to your interests to know that Loki is genderfluid with they/them pronouns in this and that there is an amputee. The marginalized identities representation is fabulously refreshing and fun to read about. 

The Little Mermaid gone dark


THE SEAFARER'S KISS is a roller coaster of emotions. The first half of the book presents you with super cute contemporary romance fluff and all the feels, and towards the end it gets so dark that you'll find yourself wanting to turn the lights on. The two halves that THE SEAFARER'S KISS is divided into are without a doubt my favorite thing about this book - it manages to flawlessly combine a cute bisexual romance with an exciting fantasy adventure.

Filled with plot twists, THE SEAFARER'S KISS explores the moral shades of gray between good and evil while being an absolute page-turner. Ember managed to get me with every single twist. I saw none of them coming and am thoroughly impressed with the way she magnificently managed to make this The Little Mermaid retelling absolutely 100% her own.

THE SEAFARER'S KISS stuns with intricately developed character relationships, a fantastic world, and an action-filled plot that'll probably tempt you to binge-read this in one sitting.


5/22/17 Note:
Rating suspended until the book is revised.

There are discussions about the representation in this going on right now, specifically related to the trans rep. I know it's in the process of being changed, and up until then I'll leave the rating blank. Should the revision still show issues, I'll change the review, but right now I don't feel like I'm an authority on the rep, so I won't comment on it.

Read this review for more info on the issues.


Rating:

pending

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE SEAFARER'S KISS is the bisexual Norse Little Mermaid retelling you've been waiting for. Trust me, you want this. I think I have a very strong contender for new favorite LGBT+ writer. Julia Ember's one to watch.

See note above.


Additional Info

Published: May 4th 2017
Pages: 230
Publisher: Duet Books
Genre: YA / Mythology / Norse Mythology
ISBN: 9781945053207

Synopsis:
"Having long-wondered what lives beyond the ice shelf, nineteen-year-old mermaid Ersel learns of the life she wants when she rescues and befriends Ragna, a shield-maiden stranded on the mermen’s glacier. But when Ersel’s childhood friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: say goodbye to Ragna or face justice at the hands of the glacier’s brutal king.

Determined to forge a different fate, Ersel seeks help from Loki. But such deals are never as one expects, and the outcome sees her exiled from the only home and protection she’s known. To save herself from perishing in the barren, underwater wasteland and be reunited with the human she’s come to love, Ersel must try to outsmart the God of Lies."
(Source: Goodreads)



What's your favorite mermaid book?

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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

13 Upcoming 2017 YA Books About Boys Who Like Boys | #DiversityBoost



A couple fantastic releases about boys who like boys! 2017 is a good year for everyone who loves to read about queer boys. 

Do yourself a favor, diversify yours(h)elf and add all these fantastic releases to your TBR!









HISTORY IS ALL YOU LEFT ME - Adam Silvera
Griffin lives with OCD and develops feelings for his boyfriend's best friend while they try to deal with his boyfriend's death. (Jan 17th 2017, SoHo Teen) Goodreads

AT THE EDGE OF THE UNIVERSE - Shaun David Hutchinson
Ozzie's best friend Tommy gets erased from everybody's memory aside from his own. (Feb 7th 2017, Simon Pulse) Goodreads

SHADOW RUN - AdriAnne Strickland & Michael Miller
Firefly meets Dune. Now with gay boys. Yes. (Mar 21st 2017, Delacorte Press) Goodreads

MEG & LINUS - Hanna Nowinski
Two bisexual teens fall for each other despite crushing on other girls/boys first. (Apr 18th 2017, Swoon Reads) Goodreads


PERFECT TEN - L. Philips
Sam creates a love spell looking for a boy that has all the ten diserable traits he would like in a boyfriend. (June 6th 2017, Viking Books for Young Readers) Goodreads

THE GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE - Mackenzie Lee
Two best friends find a magical artefact that sends them to 18th century Venice to fight pirates and highwaymen. (June 20th 2017, Katherine Tegen Books) Goodreads


27 HOURS - Tristina Wright 
Five queer teens are fighting gargoyles in space. (Oct 3rd 2017, Entangled Teen) Goodreads

(covers not out yet but not any less exciting!)

THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END - Adam Silvera
In near-future New York two teens know the exact day they will die and decide to spend it together. (Sep 5th 2017, HarperCollins) Goodreads

CHAINBREAKER (Timekeeper #2) - Tara Sim
The sequel to TIMEKEEPER, a Victorian-era inspired historical fantasy set in a world controlled by clocks. (2017, Sky Pony Press) Goodreads

HOLD MY HAND (One Man Guy #2) - Michael Barakiva
In a companion to ONE MAN GUY two boys are in a perfect relationship until one of them cheats. (2017, Farrar, Straus & Giroux) Goodreads

BOOMERANG - Helen Dunbar
A teen that was assumed to have been kidnapped comes back to his home town for his ex-boyfriend but finds out that he changed a lot, and so has the town. (2017, Sky Pony Press) Goodreads

AUTOBOYOGRAPHY - Christina Lauren

Tanner signs up for a novel writing class and falls in love with an LDS boy who's questioning his mission because his novel is about to be published. (2017, Simon & Schuster) Goodreads

THE SIDEKICKS - Will Kostakis 
Three boys are brought closer together when their mutual best friend dies. (2017, Harlequin) Goodreads

Which one sounds the most interesting to you?



This is also the last #DiversityBoost you'll see on this blog. Due to lack of resources and submissions, I am no longer able to make any more posts like this, but thank you so much for sticking around until now!


For personalized advice on writing diversely and recognizing problematicness, check my Patreon.
If you want to support The Bookavid and posts like this, feel free to buy me a virtual coffee via ko-fi.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Let Me Be Your Racism Tutor- I'm Starting a Patreon! | Blog News

So, as you may or may not know I have a very severe chronic illness. And any financial help I can get would very much make my life easier.

Since this blog takes up a LOT of my time, I will probably on the longrun be unable to make any more posts without financial support. That's the chronic illness life.

I decided to launch a Patreon specifically because I've noticed that SO MANY allies approach me with very detailed questions about writing diversely or recognizing problematicness that I physically cannot answer all of them without repercussions to my mental and physical health. 

These kinds of posts take a lot of energy, especially to a chronically-ill person like me. Patreon is the perfect place for even MORE posts about problematicness, racism, ableism, homophobia, and also a nice way to help you with your own writing and ensure the next generation of writers gets some help.

This will be mostly a feature for the allies and social justice advocates-in-training. I will be making several posts every month answering questions that you may have. 

THE IMPORTANT STUFF - What you can expect from this Patreon

  • !new! posts every other day
  • exclusive writing advice in terms of writing diversely
  • exclusive advice on recognizing problematicnesss and allyship
  • exclusive educational blog posts
  • in-depth book talks about problematic books
  • accessability: as a patron, there's a way for you to read posts from higher tiers. Choose which content you'd like to support.
  • submit questions that I answer periodically. Choose your content.
  • up to 35% discounts as a patron if you want to book my editing and sensitivity reading services
  • a safe space to ask questions about writing diversely and being a good ally, and interact with other allies
I'm also African, living in Germany, biracial, bisexual, disabled, ace-spectrum, and neuroatypical - so if you have any questions in regards to writing characters that are one of these things, you can totally ask me for advice.

BIO - Who am I

I'm a chronically-ill book blogger, writer, and aspiring publishing professional. I've been blogging on my book blog The Bookavid since September 2014, primarily focusing on promoting and reviewing diverse reads. 
I'm also trying to get a foot in the door in the publishing industry where my main goal will be to help diversifying and doing everything I can to get marginalized readers the representation they deserve. Unfortunately this proves very difficult despite lots of experience, because I cannot work in-person. And even beyond that my chronic illness makes it pretty much impossible for me to have a regular job without facing a severe health risk because my health keeps steadily declining and symptoms keep getting worse.


FOR WHAT - What will I do with the money


Any money received through this will go towards living expenses. My chronic illness makes it incredibly difficult for me to live normally - I cannot physically work and any time I put into creating content online of course takes away from that. This is why I'd love your support, because without it I won't be able to continue blogging and promoting diverse books for marginalized readers, serving as a resource for more than 20,000 people online. 

Any financial help would make it possible for me to continue to promote diverse reads and continue making blog posts and book recommendations that are very much
 needed.

<3

So here's the Patreon link. Stop by if you like.


If you'd still like to support but can't afford becoming a Patron, a virtual coffee through ko-fi is always nice. 

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

How to Recognize Racism and Micro Aggressions in Books. Diversity Pandering, Cultural Appropriation, and "Savages" | Book Blogging Etiquette (#7)

Due to harassment and lack of allyship, this educational post has been removed. Why?



More on problematicness:
Should We Separate Authors from Their Problematic Work? 
Do We Owe it to Authors to Call Out Problematic Books Nicely?
What is POC rep to you? "Olive Skin", On the Page, and Non-#Ownvoices Authors 
All BBE posts

HOLD UP if you plan on commenting: 

Please do not ask advice about specific books or examples in your own writing. I will not answer them. This post took an immense amount of emotional energy to write, so let's be respectful, okay? If you have detailed questions, feel free to submit them to my Patreon, nothing's off limit there.

If you want to say thanks, consider buying me a virtual coffee through ko-fi here.  It's a nice gesture and will make this feel appreciated. Also will contribute to me taking the time to make more posts like this.

Continue Reading...

Sunday, December 25, 2016

20 Upcoming 2017 YA Books About Girls Who Like Girls: 70s Feels, Jewish Teens, and Performing Mermaids | #DiversityBoost




2017 is a fantastic year for everyone who loves to read about sapphic women! I'll be buying many of these fantastic books. 

Do yourself a favor, diversify your shelf and add all those fantastic books to your TBR!









THE CURSED QUEEN - Sarah Fine
The sequel to THE IMPOSTOR QUEEN featuring a protagonist that wields ice and fire magic. (Jan 3rd, 2017, Margaret K. McElderry) Goodreads

THE YOU I'VE NEVER KNOWN - Ellen Hopkins
A girl finds out she's been kidnapped by her dad and her mother isn't dead but has been searching for her ever since. (Jan 24th 2017, Margaret McElderry Books) Goodreads

OUR OWN PRIVATE UNIVERSE - Robin Talley
A bisexual girl goes on a youth mission trip to Mexico and falls in love. (Jan 31st 2017, Harlequin Teen) Goodreads

WE ARE OKAY - Nina La Cour
A contemporary tackling grief and the power of friendship. (Feb 14th 2017, Dutton Books for Young Readers) Goodreads



10 THINGS I CAN SEE FROM HERE - Carrie Mac
A girl with anxiety falls in love with a girl that's not scared of anything. (Feb 28th 2017, Afred A. Knopf Books For Young Readers) Goodreads

QUEENS OF GEEK - Jen Wilde
A bisexual girls falls in love during Comic Con. (Mar 14th 2017, Swoon Reads) Goodreads





MEG & LINUS - Hanna Nowinski
When a girl breaks up with her girlfriend she gets invested in getting her best friend together with his boy crush. (Apr 18th 2017, Swoon Reads) Goodreads

NOTEWORTHY - Riley Redgate
A bisexual girl in a capella camp! (May 2nd 2017, Amulet Books) Goodreads



HOW TO MAKE A WISH - Ashley Herring Blake
A bisexual abuse survivor falls in love with a girl that's struggling with grief. (May 2nd 2017, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) Goodreads


RAMONA BLUE - Julie Murphy
From the author of DUMPLIN' comes a novel set in the Mississippi Gulf Coast. (May 9th 2017, Balzer + Bray) Goodreads


THE GALLERY OF UNFINISHED GIRLS - Lauren Karcz
Set in a mysterious gallery that combines painting with magic, a Latina falls in love. (July 25th 2017, HarperTeen) Goodreads

LITTLE & LION - Brandy Colbert
A bisexual Black and Jewish girl is trying to be there for her stepbrother who's been recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she falls in love with his ex-girlfriend. (Aug 2017, Little, Brown Books) Goodreads


DRESS CODES FOR SMALL TOWNS - Courtney C. Stevens
A girl comes to terms with the gray areas of love, gender, and sexuality. (2017, HarperCollins) Goodreads


(covers not yet revealed but not any less exciting)



RIPTIDE SUMMER - Lisa Freeman
A contemporary set in the 70s about a bisexual surfer girl that secretly spends the nights with another girl (May 2nd 2017, Sky Pony Press) Goodreads

THE SEAFARER'S KISS - Julia Ember
A bisexual retelling of The Little Mermaid. (May 2017, Interlude Press) Goodreads

KISS/KILL - Amy Rose Capetta
A teen wins a Broadway role and falls in love with a lighting designer. (2017, Candlewick) Goodreads

KALEIDOSCOPE SONG - Fox Benwell
Set in South Africa, a girl who loves music falls in love when she sneaks out to see a live radio broadcast. (2017, Simon & Schuster) Goodreads

LIKE WATER - Rebecca Podos
A bisexual girl tries to forget that she may inherit a genetic illness by becoming a performing mermaid. (2017, Balzer and Bray) Goodreads

THE CERULEAN - Amy Ewing
In a sapphic Utopia everyone has three mothers and a girl is sacrificed every 100 years to be abandoned on a planet. (2017, HarperTeen) Goodreads

THAT INEVITABLE VICTORIAN THING - E.K. Johnston
Set in a near-future this is about online dating and has a bisexual protagonist. (2017, Dutton Children's Books) Goodreads



Which one sound the most interesting to you?

More #DiversityBoost:

#DiversityBoost is a monthly feature on my blog where I boost and highlight diverse books or books by diverse authors. 
I'll periodically be making posts like this, so if you'd like to be in one, follow my twitter to never miss a submission call!

Previously: 16 Fantastic 2016/17 YA Books by Disabled Authors 


Continue Reading...

Thursday, October 27, 2016

[Review] The Sun Is Also A Star - Nicola Yoon: Diversity and Deportation

In THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR, science geek Natasha and poet Daniel fall in love right before Natasha is supposed to get deported back to Jamaica.

What intrigued me: I was curious about Yoon's books, after the success of EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING.

Unique narrative style

THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR is an incredibly unique novel. From the beautifully emotional writing to the narrative style; the story is told from multiple POVs of random strangers the protagonists meet in the story. The chapters are all very short, five pages at most, and anything that isn't told from Natasha's or Daniel's POV reads more like a footnote than a continuation of the story. 

This may sound strange, but Yoon absolutely is able to pull this off seamlessly without interrupting the narrative flow. Through all those POVs we are presented with an eclectic view of Natasha's and Daniel's world that is truly entertaining to read about. It's especially noteworthy how effortlessly diverse her cast is and how pleasant and organic it feels to read about these two non-white teens falling in love.

However, aside from the fantastic world and the undoubtedly incredibly multi-faceted characters, there isn't really much to THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR. We have the side plots involving Natasha's deportation and Daniel's worries concerning his future career path, but that's it. It truly reads like you're following these characters around, like the story is making itself up as it goes along.

Eccentric and Romance-Heavy

THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR doesn't try to trick you into thinking that it's more than just a romance at any point. The story itself dabbles along but never quite deviates from the course; if there even is any to begin with. The lack of structure is evident very early on and irritated me, because I was expecting the side plots to grow more important and the romance to be more of a side plot.

Personally, I do like my contemporaries less on the romance-heavy side and more on the plot-driven side which is ultimately why I had a hard time concentrating and truly making peace with the lack of story. THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR is a very eccentric and unique novel that will ultimately be hit or miss for you.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR is incredibly unique, incredibly well-written, and if you love romance, absolutely a novel that I'd recommend to you.



Additional Info

Published: November 1st 2016
Pages: 344
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: YA / Romance
ISBN: 9780553496680

Synopsis:
"Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?
 "(Source: Goodreads)


Have you read one of Nicola Yoon's books?

Continue Reading...

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Don’t Fear the Diversity! On Writing What You Don’t Know | Guest Post by Miri Castor


I've talked a lot about problematicness and things that I don't want to see in books this week.

I'm a firm believer in offering constructive solutions, so I brought YA Author Miri Castor on the blog to talk a little about how to write diversely.  





I think “Write what you know” has become one of the most misunderstood phrases in its existence, with regards to diversity. Diversity and representation are well-needed in the predominately white world of story-telling.

So I find when it comes to more diverse representation, some writers are scared to jump in. They don’t want to offend a marginalized group and be deemed a racist, or transphobic, etc. As a cis-gendered, straight writer, I understand and live with these fears all the time! 

These are some tips I like to keep in mind when I write “what I don’t know.”

1. Research is everything
As PhD candidate, my life is my research. I find it holds true as a writer as well. If you’re a cis- hetero writer that wants to have characters from the LGTBQ community, read LGTBQ blogs and books. Same goes for writing characters of different races and ethnicities. It also helps to talk to writers of said marginalized group and ask them questions if they’re comfortable with them. 

While real people are the best resources, they’re also real people and are not obligated to explain themselves to us.

2. Look Up Harmful Stereotypes
A major part of my first point. 

Maybe most writers know black women to be belligerent, obnoxious, and sassy, and then might be tempted to portray their black character this way. But again, do research and avoid portraying the harmful stereotypes of a marginalized group. 

Speaking as a black bookworm, negative racial stereotypes are the fastest way to turn me off. Tvtropes is an amazing site to read on tropes that’s been used for marginalized groups in all sources of media! I practically live on that site.

But also realize that stereotypes are not all bad, as long as they don’t make up the entire character. In other words, there has to be more to the character than their stereotype.

3. Avoid the Clumsy Inclusion
“Show, don’t tell” is key here, which is Writing 101. I’ve created my Black lesbian character created, backstory and all, and now it’s time to introduce them: 

“I’m a fat Black lesbian in a wheelchair with PTSD” (yes I’ve seen this in real, published books before). 
This sort of inclusion isn’t necessarily bad, but the “checklist” and “telling” style may be perceived as clumsy. My preference is to have such descriptors (race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.) seamlessly woven into a story as opposed to reading a Tumblr header.

4. Do it For the “Write” Reasons
(Sorry for the lame pun.) If you’re coming from a sincere place, and genuinely want to create beautiful, complex marginalized characters, then I believe it’ll come through in your writing. At the end of the day, “writing what know” means you’re imbuing your humanity into your writing. Take your joys, fears, and pains and embed them within characters to create something amazing.

Nobody’s perfect, and everyone (me included) makes mistakes in this process. And there’s a good chance we’ll get called out on our problematic mistakes. 

What really matters is how we take it – do we throw a social media tantrum? 
Or do we listen, learn from our mistakes, and from there write spectacular stories with diverse characters that marginalized people can see themselves in? 

I like option 2 better.




Miri Castor is the author of the Opal Charm series, She has written for Black Girl Magic Literary Magazine and was featured as a Spotlight New Author in January 2016

Continue Reading...

Friday, August 19, 2016

Introducing #DiversityBoost: I'll be promoting and boosting #ownvoices and #diverse Authors! | Blog News




As you might know, the topic of diversity in publishing is very close to my heart. 

So, a couple of weeks ago I came up with the concept of #DiversityBoost. Basically this feature will mainly consist of book recommendations and content promoting upcoming and recently released books.



#DiversityBoost will solely focus on boosting and spotlighting recently released and upcoming books that either are diverse or are written by diverse authors.

That may include:
  • Authors of Color, no matter their gender
  • Authors who are otherwise marginalized (e.g. disability, lgbtq*, non-christian, illness)
  • White Authors who write about diverse characters

I'll be offering different opportunities for those periodically. The first post for #DiversityBoost will go live on August 25th and focus on exciting new and upcoming YA by Black women. Many more posts including many more marginalized voices are to come. I'm looking to make this a monthly feature, to be published towards the end of the month respectively.

You will be able to find all those posts starting from August 25th here, and I will be periodically announcing submission calls and opportunities for authors to get featured. 

How you can help:
  • Authors
If you are a diverse author and you'd like to be featured, follow me on twitter, the only place where I'll be announcing those submission calls. Any and all #ownvoices authors can submit guest posts to my blog anytime, as long as the topic relates to diversity and publishing. Contact me here.
  • Readers/Bloggers
If you'd simply like to help out, I'd love for you to participate. To do something similar and start reading diverse books only or to launch a feature just for that! Contact me here or leave a comment linking your feature.

Do you have a similar feature? I'd be happy to collaborate on something to help diverse authors out.

If you have a specific request on what you'd like to see, I'm happy to take suggestions anytime.

Continue Reading...

Saturday, August 13, 2016

I Don't Accept Books without LGBT* or POC Representation for Review Anymore & What 2016 Has to Do with That


Maybe you've already seen that I changed my review policy significantly; a couple of weeks ago I decided to completely stop accepting books without any diversity for review.

And there is one hell of a reason for that. 


2016 has already been a tough year for everyone I think. I feel like we're waking up to a new tragedy every day, starting from that one American politician who shall not be named, to Brexit, to the refugee crisis - the world's seemingly completely falling to pieces. 

Maybe you already know where I'm going with this. All these three things (yes, I'm deliberately calling them things) have in common that they are somehow making people more and more afraid of foreigners, other cultures, concepts and people they haven't seen before.

If you don't believe me, I'd like to remind you of what happened at Pulse in Orlando, Florida. Of what happened to Mike Brown, Korryn Gaines, Philando Castile, and most recently Jesse Romero. Marginalized people are deliberately being targeted, murdered, persecuted. It's the most obvious and apparent in the police brutality you've (maybe) seen on the news in the US, and the terrorist attacks in Middle Europe. And don't forget what happened in Japan.

Long story short:
  • I'm the child of an immigrant. 
  • I'm a multiracial person of color. 
  • I consider myself to belong to the LGBT* community. 
  • I'm chronically ill. 
I'm marginalized in many ways and all those tragedies directed at people like me hit close to home. The least I can do is support the movements on social media, tweet about every single POC that gets killed by the police, and - on my good old book blog - boost diverse reads as much as I can. 

I will no longer consider pitches for books that aren't diverse. I'll try to publish as many reviews and recommendations focusing on diverse reads as I can. I'll take any opportunity to help diverse authors out to the best of my ability.

There are lots of books that don't feature diverse characters and aren't written by diverse authors and I'm aware that I may be missing out by declining to review those. But that hardly matters to me and is missing the point.

I know you probably realize this but I'd still like to say it:
  • This does not mean that I hate all books that are only about white and straight and abled and Christian people.
  • This does not mean that I hate all authors who only write about white and straight and abled and Christian people.
  • This does not mean that I think you are a bad person for liking or reading books about white and straight and abled and Christian people.
  • The only thing that this means is that marginalized lives matter


POC, Disabled, LGBTQ*, and otherwise Marginalized people need OUR - YOUR - support now more than ever. And you know what? It's free. 


In the wake of all those tragedies - there's one thing you can do no matter where you are, no matter who you are: You can support diverse creators. 

If you're a blogger, I strongly encourage you to do the same. It doesn't cost you any money or effort. We need diverse books now more than ever, because diverse books show that
  • Marginalized people do have a future. 
  • That Marginalized people can get happy endings. 
  • That Marginalized people can succeed. 
  • That we can live.
I invite you to join me in this, and support the heck out of diverse authors and authors who write about diverse characters. Launch support features! Read more diversely! Share deal announcements and cover reveals and nice reviews for diverse reads! Help diverse authors out.


If you want to make me really happy, please tell me about how you'll be taking initiative. 

Even if it's through sharing posts on social media. Every little bit helps.

Continue Reading...
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