ARC, Reviews

My New Love and Hope – A Sword in the Stars Book Review

Overall enjoyment: 5/5

Characterization: 4/5

World building:3/5

Diversity: 5/5

Goodreads Summary:

In this epic sequel to Once & Future, to save the future, Ari and her Rainbow knights pull off a heist…thousands of years in the past.
Ari Helix may have won her battle against the tyrannical Mercer corporation, but the larger war has just begun. Ari and her cursed wizard Merlin must travel back in time to the unenlightened Middle Ages and steal the King Arthur’s Grail—the very definition of impossible.
It’s imperative that the time travelers not skew the timeline and alter the course of history. Coming face-to-face with the original Arthurian legend could produce a ripple effect that changes everything. Somehow Merlin forgot that the past can be even more dangerous than the future… “

I’m so in love with book. I loved the first book so much that I was kinda scared to fully read this one, but I am so full of love and hope. If you enjoyed the first book I’m sure you will love this one just as much. This book puts us back in the time of Medieval Europe which you would think would be a horrible time for our characters, but the authors are well aware of that and give us hope and very blunt conversations at times about gender and sexuality. This book is not subtle in its support of the lgbtq+ community and its disapproval of mass consumerism though that isn’t as much a focus of this book as it was in the last.

We have are beautiful characters back! Ari is still our headstrong hero, Gwen is still our beautiful strong queen, Merlin is still a bit of a mess and Lam and Val are still smart and as sexy as ever. In this different period we experience new yet similar problems with these characters as they grow. I just love them. I wouldn’t necessarily say there’s a ton of growth or change for Ari in this book, but we get a lot more of Merlin and where he comes from. We finally unravel the mystery of where exactly he came from. I must say that until they hinted at it I didn’t expect it at all. O.o

Not a ton of time is spent on flushing out the whole of medieval Europe, but there is still the new creation of Camelot and enough difference that I still got syfy feelings rather than historical drama feelings.

I would say this is a character driven story. Yes, there is a big corporation that must be stopped, but as with the first book we are really focused on the characters, their feelings, their pasts, and how that is all coming together to create this great story.

There is so much! We got our intersectionality! Ari is a gay woman of color, Lam is a nonbinary character of color. We have LGBT+ characters everywhere with some discussions of gender throughout. It’s good stuff. This story definitely focuses on the LGBTQ+ aspects rather than than the racial aspects, but we got hints. I love this book so much and while I should have read it earlier I think I needed it more now than I did before. If you want to read a queer Arthurian retelling full of characters of color and LGBTQ+ than I think you will fall in love with these characters as much as I did!

Reviews

A book for the times- A House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune

Overall Enjoyment: 5/5

Characterization: 4/5

World building: 3/5

Diversity: 3/5

Goodreads Summary:

“A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours. “

I started reading this mainly because it was written by T.J. Klune. I’ve really fallen in love with his Green Creek series and so I wanted to see what this newest book would hold. I must admit, I didn’t like this book at the beginning. It’s written in a bit of a different style than what I was use to from Klune, but I held on and by the end I was in love. Klune just has this way of writing relationships at just the right pace for me that brings me ultimate satisfaction and melts my heart. That being said, while there’s a romantic element it is small and not the major point of the story.

Characters. What a cast of characters! They’re weird, but quirky and they grow on you so quickly. You have Linus, who is truly the star of our story. He’s middle aged and while well-intentioned person is just kinda stuck in the rut of life. There’s lots of growth in this guy that just makes my heart happy. Then we have Arthur. The story doesn’t spend a super amount of time on him specifically, but what we do get is enough to really understand why he does what he does and what his motivations are. Then, the children. I don’t want to give anything away about them, but they really bring the energy to this story.

World building. This novel is set in what just seems like an alternate earth. There’s the magical creatures of course and a few new governmental agencies that are mentioned, but its a pretty basic earth.

I would definitely say this is a character driven story. There is a plot, but it doesn’t even exist without our characters. The main point of this story is the growth of the characters and the family they become. This book does put into perspective some of the prejudices that we unknowingly can have and how once we realize them that we can do better. I particularly enjoyed this quote.

Diversity. Our main characters are both gay and we do have some lesbians that are mentioned at the end. One of the children is a child of color as well. Compared to some books I’m use to it’s fairly minor, but still nice.

If you love found family stories then this book is definitely for you! If you love slower romances this is also for you! If, like me, you enjoy lots of character driven moments and growth then I think you will also enjoy this story. The style in the beginning isn’t my favorite, but if you can push through it to get to the part with the island then I think you too will fall in love with this story. ❤

Reviews

An Interesting Historical Fantasy- Spellbound by Allie Therin

Overall Enjoyment: 3.5/5

Characterization: 3/5

World building: 3/5

Diversity: 3/5

Goodreads Summary:

To save Manhattan, they’ll have to save each other first…

1925

New York

Arthur Kenzie’s life’s work is protecting the world from the supernatural relics that could destroy it. When an amulet with the power to control the tides is shipped to New York, he must intercept it before it can be used to devastating effects. This time, in order to succeed, he needs a powerful psychometric…and the only one available has sworn off his abilities altogether.

Rory Brodigan’s gift comes with great risk. To protect himself, he’s become a recluse, redirecting his magic to find counterfeit antiques. But with the city’s fate hanging in the balance, he can’t force himself to say no.

Being with Arthur is dangerous, but Rory’s ever-growing attraction to him begins to make him brave. And as Arthur coaxes him out of seclusion, a magical and emotional bond begins to form. One that proves impossible to break—even when Arthur sacrifices himself to keep Rory safe and Rory must risk everything to save him.”

I loved the idea of this novel. The 1920s is such an interesting time in history and then Rory’s power is so interesting! I was sold on the idea. It was okay. I really enjoyed the plot and I enjoyed the characters, but the relationships needed more in my opinion.

The characters. Rory was enjoyable to read. He had a very distinct voice that really came together the more we learned about his history and his background. I really enjoyed the work that was put into getting to know this character. Arthur was interesting, but also a little lackluster to me. I liked the idea of him, but he was just a bit two dimensional. He’s a good guy that has a thing for Rory and…that’s it. We also have Jade, who also has powers and runs a speakeasy. She and Rory click pretty well together.

World building. There wasn’t a ton in this book. We do get some idea of what life might have been like in the 1920s, but its fairly limited. What I most like is the information on the relics and the brief explanations of how different characters’ powers work.

I would say this is more of a plot driven story. We do get some time with the characters, but the relationships just kinda happened without a lot of build up in my opinion and if you have read any of my other reviews you know that that’s one of my largest pet peeves in a novel. So, if you want an interesting gay romance set in the 1920s with some magic thrown in there I think you’ll enjoy this story. If you want a deep historical romance that takes its time then you might be a bit disappointed.

Diversity. There is limited diversity in this book. Arthur is gay and I believe Rory is more bisexual. There is also Jade who is a black woman and there is a Chinese American character as well, but he’s in briefly enough that I can’t quite remember his name. It’s better than some books, but worse than others I’ve read. I’d have loved some more intersectionality.

Overall, I did enjoy this book. The characters were interesting even if I did want more and I liked the plot. This book is part of a series so there may be more character building in the works!

Uncategorized

A book of choice: A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson

Overall Enjoyment: 3/5

World building: 4/5

Characterization: 4/5

Diversity: 5/5

Goodreads Summary:

“Long after the Towers left the world but before the dragons came to Daluça, the emperor brought his delegation of gods and diplomats to Olorum. As the royalty negotiates over trade routes and public services, the divinity seeks arcane assistance among the local gods.

Aqib bgm Sadiqi, fourth-cousin to the royal family and son of the Master of Beasts, has more mortal and pressing concerns. His heart has been captured for the first time by a handsome Daluçan soldier named Lucrio. In defiance of Saintly Canon, gossiping servants, and the furious disapproval of his father and brother, Aqib finds himself swept up in a whirlwind romance. But neither Aqib nor Lucrio know whether their love can survive all the hardships the world has to throw at them.”

I got this book when I was look through goodreads. The summary really intrigued me. The cover was beautiful and so I decided to give it a shot. Overall, I enjoyed this book. Most of the book was at a 4 rating for me, but the end just kinda cheapened everything for me. I love the thought of what the author was trying to do and I think he was very successful at accomplishing it, but in actuality I didn’t like it. If this vague comment bothers you I have explained at the end of this post after a spoiler warning. I know lots of readers hate spoilers so trying to be mindful!

Characters. Aqib is the character that we follow along for the whole of the story. It actually spans most of his life…sorta. He’s not perfect and is weak in some ways, but he’s aware of it and doesn’t seem to cover it up. We don’t know a ton about Lucrio, Aqib’s lover, but we are shown their love for each other. This book is short so the relationship moves fast, but for the length of the book I wasn’t surprised by that.

World building. I’m always surprised how some shorter books can include so much world building. There’s a definite religion to the country and we’re exposed to quite a bit of it from a distance. There is so larger mathematical magic talk that I’m not sure was necessary, but interesting and made an interesting plot point as well.

I would 100% this book is character driven. I wouldn’t really even say there’s a plot outside of exploring Aqib’s character and his life. It’s all about how the choices we make can have large affects on the outcome of our lives. As I said, an interesting premise even though it didn’t leave me completely satisfied.

Diversity. There’s some intersectionality in this book that made me happy. Aqib is a black, bisexual man and Lucrio is gay. We also have strong black women woven into this book that I really enjoyed.

Spoiler warning!!!!

So, what the author was trying to do. This book has multiple time jumps and time frames throughout the book. These are clearly marked and I found it easy to follow. One part of this story is focused on Abiq and Lucrio while another part of the story is focused on Abiq and if he is forced to marry a woman. All of Lucrio’s story seems to be set in the past while the marriage to the woman and the rest of his life takes up much of the book. It was sad, but I know that sometimes things like that happen.But, at the very end we learn that his whole marriage and life were just a possibility and that he never really got married at all, but actually chose to be with Lucrio. Now, I love the idea of writing about how the choices we make can vastly impact our lives and if this book had made it clear upfront that that’s what was being explored then I think at the end i wouldn’t have felt so frustrated. This book spent a lot of time on Aqib’s life being married and then to be told it didn’t happen was frustrating to me. I wish if the goal was to truly explore two life options that we got a bit more detail of Lucrio and Aqib’s life together than just the first meeting but I guess that would have given it away or maybe made reading the story more confusing. That is my take. I would still recommend reading this story. I think it’s very interesting and well written, but hopefully this helps you avoid some ending frustration.

Let's Talk Bookish

Let’s Talk Bookish – Required Reading

Welcome to my Let’s Talk Bookish post. Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, created and hosted by Rukky @eternitybooks, where we discuss chosen topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts.

I haven’t done one of these in forever and honestly I’m so far behind that at this point I’m going to just continue to pick the topics that interest me until I complete them all and/or catch up.

This topic is talking about if required reading is a curse or a blessing. I swear that I already wrote this post, but maybe I just thought about it a lot because I can’t find it.

I personally feel like required reading is a double edged sword. I see the pros in required reading, but I also see the cons.

The Pros of required readings

**** It expands your horizons.

As narrow as a lot of required reading tends to be there have been some books that I was required to read that I probably wouldn’t have on my own that opened me up to new genres/stories. In my sophomore year of high school we had to read Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko. It was a book about a native american man who is struggling through some stuff. It was written in a style I wasn’t use to, but one I enjoyed way more than I thought I would. Same with in my senior year when I read The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, which is a book about a group of soldiers. I never would have read them on my own, but after I read them I was so glad that I did. Sometimes it’s nice to have your reading choices challenged.

**** Vocabulary/analysis building

I’m not sure if this has changed in recent years (I doubt it), but most books are written at a 5th grade reading level. That’s great because that means they’re easy to understand and enjoy. However, they’re not very helpful in building your vocabulary which some might not care about, but I think is at least a bit important. Also, some popular books aren’t that great when talking about literary analysis or larger conversations. Some, are, but I think a lot of required reading is chosen because they have a lot of meat on them that allows for lots of discussion and/or analysis. This is awesome because it builds are critical thinking and reasoning skills which I think would should all keep nice and sharp as we make our way through our lives.

The Cons of Required Readings

*** A Colonizer Bias

Many people have been talking about colonization and how it has affected our daily lives and also our education. Most required reading lets be honest are written by old, dead white guys or occasionally a white woman. Specifically when you’re talking about the classics. Shakespeare, Dickens, Thoreau, etc. It’s so Eurocentic it’s sad. I think those men did have interesting stories to tell, but I also believe that there are authors from other parts of the world who have just as valid of a contribution to make to the literary world. On the other hand, I think if we had more diverse required reading (and some schools do) I think it would be more valuable to education and literary discussion.

**** Building a dislike of reading

I think one of the greatest flaws of required reading is that it can leave a bad taste in people’s mouths about reading. If the only reading you do is required reading and you don’t enjoy what you’re reading I believe you start to think that all books aren’t for you. I remember hating Shakespeare and dreading the fact that I knew every year we would read another one of his plays. It didn’t stop me from loving to read, but it did make me enjoy my english class less. I think choice can be very powerful in creating a love of reading and I’m sad that so much time in classes can be taken up by a topic that no student even enjoys.


Well, those are my thoughts. They’re all over the place, but since I have such mixed feelings, but also am old enough that I no longer have required reading I’m probably not going to get more on point with my feelings. I’d love to read your thoughts on required required! What do you think? Good, bad, or somewhere in-between?

Reviews

Caffeine Book Tour: Unravel the Dusk Tour

Hello lovely readers and welcome to my stop in the Caffeine Book Tour. I am so excited to share with you my thoughts on Unravel the Dusk. I am so in love with this book! Below is not only my review, but also more information about other tour stops AND a possibility to win a copy of Unravel the Dusk!

Ratings:

Overall Enjoyment: 5/5

Characterization: 4/5

World building: 3/5

Diversity: 3/5

Summary:

The thrilling sequel to SPIN THE DAWN, a magical series steeped in Chinese culture.

Maia Tamarin’s journey to sew the dresses of the sun, the moon and the stars has taken a grievous toll. She returns to a kingdom on the brink of war. The boy she loves is gone, and she is forced to don the dress of the sun and assume the place of the emperor’s bride-to-be to keep the peace.

But the war raging around Maia is nothing compared to the battle within. Ever since she was touched by the demon Bandur, she has been changing . . . glancing in the mirror to see her own eyes glowing red, losing control of her magic, her body, her mind. It’s only a matter of time before Maia loses herself completely, but she will stop at nothing to find Edan, protect her family, and bring lasting peace to her country.

YA fantasy readers will love the sizzling forbidden romance, mystery, and intrigue of UNRAVEL THE DUSK.

I’ve recently been really disappointed in a lot of the sequels of the books I’ve been reading so I was honestly a little hesitant about reading this book. BUT, ff you’re like me let me reassure you! I loved this book!!!! I feel like it has a very similar tone to it as the first book and this book was so lyrical at some points I just fell in love. Definitely recommend.

The characters. We focus as before mostly on Maia. Maia who is now facing the consequences of her actions in the first book. This book spends a lot of time focusing on Maia’s thoughts and feelings about what’s going on around her. I felt like the characterization was excellent. We do see Edan again which I was a bit worried about. We get a bit more of his background in this book, but we mainly learn about him through Maia. Let me tell you readers, the relationship between these two makes me heart melt and soar at the same time.

World building. Most of the world building happened in the first book so there wasn’t a ton of new information added, but I kept the rating high because I think the writing stayed true to the world that had been built for us previously. There’s also some plot at the end that really pulls everything together for me in regards to the mythology of this book.

This is a book I have a hard time deciding if it was character or plot driven. I would say that it is more character driven simply because we’re so focused on Maia and her journey, but I do think that Lim does such an excellent job weaving her story that there’s no lows in action for me. Everything felt intentional. I could gush about this book for a long time, but then I’d give spoilers away and those are the worst!

Diversity. The main character is Maia who is an Asian woman (Chinese-inspired I think). All the characters are people of color. There’s even a vague mention of a man with a male lover, but its said it passing. Overall, I loved this book. I loved the plot, I loved the characters, and I loved the writing. This is a series I will continue to enjoy. I couldn’t recommend it enough!

You can purchase this book on July 7th. Just days away! You can purchase here or at most other major bookstores.

Author Info

Elizabeth Lim grew up on a hearty staple of fairy tales, myths, and songs. Her passion for storytelling began around age 10, when she started writing fanfics for Sailor Moon, Sweet Valley, and Star Wars, and posted them online to discover, “Wow, people actually read my stuff. And that’s kinda cool!” But after one of her teachers told her she had “too much voice” in her essays, Elizabeth took a break from creative writing to focus on not flunking English.

Over the years, Elizabeth became a film and video game composer, and even went so far as to get a doctorate in music composition. But she always missed writing, and turned to penning stories when she needed a breather from grad school. One day, she decided to write and finish a novel — for kicks, at first, then things became serious — and she hasn’t looked back since.

Elizabeth loves classic film scores, books with a good romance, food (she currently has a soft spot for arepas and Ethiopian food), the color turquoise, overcast skies, English muffins, cycling, and baking. She lives in New York City with her husband.

You can check out her website here or check out her facebook, twitter, or instagram.

Caffeine Book Tour Schedule

If you’d like to check out other great stops on this book tour please check the schedule below!

Win A Hardcover book of Unravel the Dusk!

You can enter the raffle here. The raffle ends on July 7th. It is open worldwide.

ARC

A Comic to Keep Your Eye On – You Brought Me the Ocean Review

Overall Enjoyment: 3/5

Characterization: 3/5

World building: 2/5

Diversity: 5/5

DC Summary:

“Jake Hyde doesn’t swim — not since his father drowned. Luckily, he lives in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, which is in the middle of the desert. Yet, he yearns for the ocean and is determined to leave his hometown for a college on the coast. But his best friend, Maria, wants nothing more than to make a home in the desert, and Jake’s mother encourages him to always play it safe. Yet there’s nothing “safe” about Jake’s future — not when he’s attracted to Kenny Liu, swim team captain and rebel against conformity. Jake’s life begins to outpace his small town’s namesake, which doesn’t make it any easier to come out to his mom, or Maria, or the world. Jake truly is a fish out of water.

While caught in a flash flood, Jake learns that his strange, glowing blue skin markings are tied to an ability to manipulate water. But his life is overflowing with secrets, and he hides his new superpower and his budding romance with Kenny from his family and friends. As Jake starts down a path of self-discovery, what powers will he find in the search for his identity? Will he turn his back to the current or dive headfirst into the waves?”

I received this advanced comic from DC through Netgalley free of charge for an honest review. This is a DC comic with the focus on Jake, and his coming of age story. This is the first book in the series. I requested this book, because the concept was interesting and this story has a host of diverse characters. Since its a comic rather than a novel like I’m use to it’s a little bit harder for me to give what I feel like is my best review, but I’ll do my best.

Characterization. I gave it a three because we get a lot of Jake’s back story which is pretty great, but I feel like we didn’t delve much into his character and who he is. I think that is mainly because this is the first in the series and as we will learn more about him as the series continues, but I still hoped for a little bit more. I’m a little irritated with Maria, Jake’s best friend. I don’t like how she’s so focused on her feelings, but I think that’s supposed to be the self-centered adolescent thing. Still not a fan of those scenes in many coming out stories.

World building. It’s set in the DC universe which is very similar to our current world. There wasn’t much difference at all, but I suppose that’s the point so in this case the lack of world building isn’t too big of a deal.

Diversity. It’s a fully diverse cast and we have intersectionality!!!! Kevin is a Chinese american gay man. Jake’s a black gay man and Maia is Hispanic. Kevin’s dad is in a wheelchair. It was great.

Overall, I’m struggling with how short this first comic was. It’s always been my problem with comics because I always want more. This comic does have amazing potential though to be full of love and amazing. I will definitely be keeping my eye on it and if you are a comic fan I recommend give it a look! It is available for purchase today!

One Page Preview

Below is a single page preview for your enjoyment in case (like me) you wonder more about the drawing style.

Uncategorized

What Can I do? Supporting Our Black Communities

Hello lovely readers,

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic I have been largely taking a break from this blog. I have some reviews saved up, but given the current climate of the United States I decided to use this as a platform to spread the message. Recently in the USA a black man name George Floyd was murdered in Minnesota by a police officer. George died after telling a police officer for several minutes that he couldn’t breath. I hope that everyone reading this post can agree that this was a gross misuse of police power and what’s worse is that this is not the first instance in this country where a black person has been murdered by police for no reason. This has got to stop. Now, I know a lot of people (myself included) have been really wondering the best way to help this movement for justice and reform. I have done some research and am familiar with some organizations that are doing the good work.

Below is some information on what you can do to help. Note that these are just a few resources that you can utilize and is far from all the resources and organizations out there. Please also know that while I and others post blogs, posts, or whatever else that it is simply not enough. We’ve tried that route and haven’t gotten very far. We need to mobilize in whatever ways our talents best allow. Please use your voice, your time, your money, etc. to be a source of positive and just change during this time. This is not the time to be complacent and this is not the time to be silent.

Organizations to Donate to

Below are a list of organizations that are ran by or run to support black people/communities. I will provide a brief summary of the organization, but I urge you to investigate on your own as well. This list is not just about supporting the current moment. This fight for justice and equality has been going on for years. It is also not just a list of legal organizations. While laws must change without a change in attitude those laws are not fairly enforced. This organizations contain legal organizations, education organizations, camps for kids, etc.

NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund: This is a nonprofit organization that works civil rights cases as well as providing scholarships for students to get an education.

Campaign Zero: Campaign zero is an organization that is focused on ending police violence through analyzing police practices, researching effective solutions to ending police violence, and creating model legislation .

Color of Change: color of change is an online organization with the mission to build political and cultural power for black communities.

Camp Kupugani: Multicultural Summer Camp. This is a black-owned summer camp for kids that is based in Illinois. This camp focuses on diversity and empowerment. They have a scholarship fund that supports getting more kids to camp. Their facebook page is also a great place to find great posts/articles.

Know Your Rights Camp: This camp is a traveling camp with the mission to empower black kids to know their right and through that empower them to become future leaders. They also have a legal fund that are supporting those that have been arrested while protesting.

Donorschoose.org: This organization doesn’t strictly support black students, but any classroom that is in a high poverty area. These are largely schools made up of black and brown students. This platform allows you to donate to a specific school and a specific goal such as getting new laptops or buying extra materials or supporting distance learning.

Support a Black Lives Matter or local organization near you!

HAVE NO MONEY???

Watch this Youtube video with ALL THE ADS. It is a video full of black creatives with all the money going to a variety of black-supporting organizations (list at beginning of video). After watching the first time make sure to watch 5 other videos and then go watch again. If you watch different videos your continuous watching of this video won’t count as spam.


Using your voice

As I mentioned, making posts and social media posts while nice is not enough, but you can use your writing skills in ways to help.

Write to your political leaders. Write to local, state, and federal level representatives. We will only win this battle if a black person can go anywhere without the fear for their lives.


Educate Yourself

It is your responsibility to be an informed person. Black people have been telling people there’s a problem for YEARS and YEARS. It’s not their responsibility! There is SO much information and educational resources out there that you really have no excuse to be uninformed at this point.

Zinn Education Project: This is a nonprofit educational resource that is free and meant to provide resources for middle and high school teachers. However, this is also a great resource to educate yourself if you’re looking for a particular time in history.

Teaching Tolerance: This is another resource that is meant for teachers that strives to provide an anti-bias, anti-racist curriculum, but could provide some food for your thought.


Read Diversely

Now, this is a book blog focusing on diverse fantasy because I love fantasy books, but really if you love reading then I IMPLORE YOU please read diversely and encourage others to do the same. Now, this will hopefully support diverse voices, but this will also do something else. It will allow you to read black characters who are heroes, black characters you love and can relate to. It has the ability to change your mindset. Now, this will probably not change the mind of someone who is blatantly racist, but America has a problem with subtle racism too that can be just as damaging. Mainly through microaggressions.

“Microaggression is a term used for brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative prejudicial slights and insults toward any group, particularly culturally marginalized groups.”

Notice that microaggressions can be UNINTENTIONAL. Think of it as you’ve been raised to do, say, and act certain ways that are harmful to black people and you might not even realize it. It can be as simple as frowning every time you see a black person whether you realize you’re doing it or not.

The more we read and build relationships with black people the less likely (hopefully) those microaggressions will become.


I hope these resources give you at least a place to start. With this pandemic and the riots you may not feel safe to join the physical protest, but I hope you find ways in this post to lift your voice and your power for the respect, dignity, and freedom for our black community members. If you have any other resources that you feel are super important to share or you have a personal relationship with please let me know and I will be happy to add it to this post as soon as I can. Please note that I am a white woman and have no true understanding of fearing for my life every day simply because of the color of my skin. While I hope this post was helpful I urge you to listen to all the black voices currently crying out. They have the experience and they can share with you more than I could ever hope to.

Reviews

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor Review

Overall Enjoyment: 3/5

Characterization: 4/5

World building: 4/5

Diversity: 3/5

Goodreads Summary:

“Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti’s stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself – but first she has to make it there, alive.”

This is a novella that I picked up at the library. It’s a multiple award-winning book and I was excited to give it a read. This book is part one of a three book series. I’m not a huge fan generally of novellas or sci-fi, but I enjoyed this book.

The novella is focused on a character called Binti. She is a member of the Himba people and is SUPER smart. The characterization done in this novel was my favorite part of this novella. We learn so much about Binti through her thoughts and interactions. I love the culture and history that is added to her. She’s truly what I would consider a rounded character.

I also enjoyed the world building. Most of the really interesting bits are at the beginning, but there are different species of beings in space, there is a living spaceship, and there’s a really interesting concept of math being the language of magic. I’d love to learn more about it in the next books.

I’ve started talking about plot versus character driven stories. I would say this is more character driven simply because we just experience so much of who Binti is, but the plot is also moved along at a steady pace. I feel like this novella is fairly balanced between the two. I do feel like there are some pretty powerful themes in this book about belonging and staying the same versus growing into someone new. I feel like to truly appreciate this novella you’d want to read it more than once and give it some thought.

Diversity. This book’s diversity is mainly based in Binti being a woman of color. There are different groupings of people and beings, but there’s not much description of them and because they’re mostly fictional beings I wouldn’t say the differences in this book represent more diversity outside of Binti herself. She’s a compassionate and smart woman and I’m excited to read more of her it in the future.

Overall, I would say this is an enjoyable novella. The introduction of the Meduse seemed a little contrived to me but given the short length and focus on Binti I can easily overlook it and enjoy the book fully. If you enjoy Sci-fi and want to read a quick, but well written novella I think you’d really enjoy this story.

Advice

Beginning Blogger 1o1: Blogger Guilt and Taking Breaks

Hello my lovely readers! I hope this week has been treating you well. Today, I’d like to talk about blogger guilt and taking breaks. Recently, I haven’t been posting much to this blog. I didn’t add any content and I felt awful about it. I felt like my blog was going to die, I’d lose my followers, and I was disappointed in myself that I messed up my carefully planned schedule. But, I didn’t have the time or energy to devote to this blog. I had a lot of my plate these past weeks and it helped me figure out where I stand with this blog. I enjoy this blog and I definitely plan on continuing to post, but this is a hobby blog. I make no money off this and that’s okay. My lovely followers didn’t abandon me. Thank you all for that by the way. I actually gained followers oddly enough. It wasn’t the end of my blog that I took a break and it was good for me. It gave me time to breathe. I had no reason to feel guilty and if you choose to start your own blog you shouldn’t feel guilty about it either. Now, I know that’s easier said than done, but we’re all people writing these blogs and people usually get the need for breaks. Starting a blog that you’re passionate about can be an exciting and kinda scary thing. When you put a lot of love into it stepping away even for a day or a week can feel like a loss. I think that’s why it’s important to remind ourselves that it’s okay.

Below is a TED talk about the importance of taking breaks. This talk is given by an artist who regularly takes breaks and it has allowed him keep his creativity alive. This advice can seem obvious when you think about it, but we are a society that is generally focused on product over process. It trains people in many ways to work themselves until there’s nothing left and I want us all to avoid that.

How to take a secret break

Now, you might not understand the title, but what I mean is: How do you take a break without it being super obvious you are taking a break? If you’re worried about about keeping up with appearances or you don’t want there to be a time gap in your posting there are a couple things you can do.

  1. Create a schedule– this is probably one of the easiest things you can do. When I first started blogging I wanted to post everything I wrote right away and wanted to share all my ideas with readers RIGHT NOW. While it feels really good especially when you get reader feedback from all your hard your work that sort of posting schedule is hard to keep up with. However, if you have better self control than I had when first starting out posting only a couple of times a week while saving drafts for future posts is SO helpful. I try to have an ongoing collection of reviews saved up just for this reason. It takes some of the pressure off.
  2. Partner with someone – if you know you’re a busy person, but would still like to blog you could always share a blog with a friend or interested person. This means that if you get busy then hopefully your partner could take over and vice versa. This option can be a little tricky depending on what vision you have for your blog and how protective you are of it. I’ve seen it work well in the past, but personally don’t think I could handle it.
  3. Guest posts – what I’ve seen done before and actually really enjoy are guest posts by other bloggers. Now, this is usually done when there’s a particular topic being discussed that different bloggers will do a guest post on their thoughts or personal experiences. This one takes a bit more planning at the beginning and you have to have bloggers willing to participate. This has a double benefit though. Not only do you not have to post something on that day, but you’re bringing more attention to the guest and their blog and possibly vice versa. True booking community spirit here.

Breaks of Different Types

If you decide that a break may be helpful there are always different types of breaks you can take based on your needs. Here are some types of breaks and what might be helpful to do during them.

  1. Radio Silence – This is the best break to take when you’re so exhausted and frustrated with your blog that it’s seeping into your every day life. Radio silence break is where you don’t post anything. You don’t read other posts. You temporarily forget that wordpress even exists. I would even recommend not reading books during this break either. Sometimes we need a hard reset before we can get back into enjoying something. I recommend doing something else you enjoy or going outside for a walk. Whenever I reach this level my brain feels foggy, my eyes hurt, and I have a headache. If you can get away from the screen for a little bit or a long time (if you need) it can allow the physical needs of your body to be taken care of as well as your mental and emotional ones.
  2. Snail posting – This is when you’re just getting a bit overwhelmed by your previous blogging schedule. Slow down, it’s okay not to post every day or even every other day. This is where my above suggestions would be most helpful. You need to let go of some of the pressure you are putting on yourself.
  3. Readers Block – If you’re dedicated to writing review for your blog then the pressure to read books quickly can take away the joy of a good book. If you have a book blog chances are that you enjoy reading. Don’t let the blog take that away from you! Depending on your readership the least interesting part of a book blog are the reviews. Readers often enjoy content such as lists, book meme posts, or other fun posts that allow them to participate more in your blog or at least give them something new to read that might now spoil a book for them.

That is my advice. I hope it is helpful to some of you out there who are stressed out. I’d love to hear if anyone has anymore tips or tricks on blogger guilt and/or taking breaks!