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!

Uncategorized

A Ferry of Bones & Gold Review

Overall Enjoyment: 4/5

Characterization: 3/5

World building: 3/5

Diversity: 3/5

Goodreads Summary:

When the gods come calling, you don’t get to say no.

Patrick Collins is three years into a career as a special agent for the Supernatural Operations Agency when the gods come calling to collect a soul debt he owes them. An immortal has gone missing in New York City and bodies are showing up in the wake of demon-led ritual killings that Patrick recognizes all too easily from his nightmares.

Unable to walk away, Patrick finds himself once again facing off against mercenary magic users belonging to the Dominion Sect. Standing his ground alone has never been a winning option in Patrick’s experience, but it’s been years since he’s had a partner he could trust.

Looking for allies in all the wrong places, Patrick discovers the Dominion Sect’s next target is the same werewolf the Fates themselves have thrown into his path. Patrick has been inexplicably attracted to the man from their first meeting, but desire has no place in war. That doesn’t stop Patrick from wanting what he shouldn’t have. Jonothon de Vere is gorgeous, dangerous, and nothing but trouble—to the case, to the fight against every hell, and ultimately, to Patrick’s heart and soul.

In the end, all debts must be paid, and Patrick can only do what he does best—cheat death.”

I picked up A Ferry of Bones and Gold when I was looking at reading kindle unlimited. It was a free read and it sounded like something I could be interested. The plot was interesting, the urban fantasy world was given a new spin on what I normally read, and the characters were alright.

Our main character in this book is Patrick. He’s a mage that works for basically what amount to a supernatural FBI and this dude has been through some stuff. I don’t to give too much backstory way as it could spoil some things, but pieces are of his backstory are littered throughout the book. We also have Jono. He’s a lonely werewolf with a secret. We don’t get much of him which is a bit frustrating with how involved he becomes for what seems like very little reason. Honestly, even though we get backstory on these two I still feel like they could have been a bit more developed. This book is part of a series though, so we’ll probably see more as we go along.

I was pleasantly surprised with the world building. It’s urban fantasy so there’s not a whole new world created, but I think Turner did a nice job of creating a mirror world that took into consideration what our world might look like if we had supernaturals wandering around. They’re embedded in the legal system with political structures of their own, not to mention the military branches. There werewolves also get an interesting explanation as well as a new concept to me called a god pack.

I would consider this a plot driven story. Our characters do get some history added to them in bits and pieces, but it is definitely the plot that keeps this story going.

The diversity in this book is okay. Our main characters are gay, and we do have a sprinkling of racially diverse characters on the outskirts, but they only get brief mentions so I wouldn’t say there is a lot of representation in this book.

Overall, this is a decent and enjoyable book if you enjoy urban fantasy. It has a bit of grittiness to it that makes it interesting and a plot that keeps you interested. If you enjoy urban fantasy I think you could enjoy this as well.

Let's Talk Bookish

Let’s Talk Bookish: Banning Books

I’ve been missing a lot of these book discussions recently, but I hoping to get back into. There are some really great topics that I’ve missed that I’ll be trying to post of later in the upcoming weeks.

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.

This week’s question: Banning books, a bookish sin or a reasonable act?

This was an easy answer for me I think it’s a terrible thing to do. I must admit I haven’t put a ton of research into this subject so there many be aspects of this debate that I’m missing, but banning books it’s just not something that happens at schools, but is something that happens at prisons and other places as well. It is form of censorship that I think is truly controlling in a way I don’t support.

What is the purpose of a book?

Obviously there are many answers to that question and it would depend on who you ask as to what answer you would get. However, I would say that in general a couple answers are agreed upon especially in the larger community.

  1. Entertainment: Fiction books especially are a large source of entertainment for people. Banning that form of entertainment would be like banning shows like Game of Thrones, Scandal, Stranger Things, etc. Shows that might be a little bit more “adult” , but that students of certain ages have definitely watched. Parents are able to allow or deny access to that material to their children. I believe it should be the same for books if we are talking about banning books from schools. Parents should have the ability to allow or deny certain access to books. Not all parents agree on what is appropriate or not and having an outside source decide for you is something most people don’t appreciate.
  2. Broadening your horizons: Whether reading fiction or nonfiction one reason authors write and why readers read is to get new information and experiences. By banning books people are censuring not only the books themselves, but thoughts, ideas, and possibilities. That to me is a very dangerous thing to do.

Schools

Most schools ban books when requested by parents. I believed those requests are mainly based on complaints about language or sexual explicit content. While I believe parents should have a large say in their child’s education I don’t believe it is appropriate to try and get a book completely banned from school because I can guarantee that not all parents will agree. If the parent is truly that concerned then they should be looking over the books their children are reading. If they are not willing to put in that level of commitment than I don’t think they have much of a leg to stand on when trying to force a school to get rid of a book. I know parents are busy and that is a lot to expect, but truly every parent has different standards on what is appropriate and expecting a school to agree with everyone parent is silly.

Prisons

So, I actually spent some time looking into this subject a bit and its utterly ridiculously. There truly seems to be no rhyme or reason to these bans and it seems to vary from state to state. Alabama has banned art books about African art as well as anatomy drawing. There’s also world travel guides that have been banned. California seems to mainly sticking to banning pornography though if you look they also are banning books on the black panther party and alternative religious practice outside of Christianity. You look at Florida’s list and it doesn’t make sense with some issues of magazines like Popular Science being approved while others were rejected. If you’re curious about which books are banned where you can look here. There’s no good way to look up certain books, but most lists are alphabetized.

The Final Stance

From what I’ve seen through just a very brief exploration of this topic my feelings remain the same. While there might be some books that people might not generally argue with being banned (anything with sexual content probably). I think banning those books makes it easier to slip in books that might challenge the status quo like Harry Potter. Harry Potter is be usually requested to be banned because people think it encourages children to practice witchcraft which generally not something conservative christian groups appreciate. You also have books banned in prisons that are about the problems with our current prison system. That is a very intentional removal of knowledge and information.

So, I don’t approve of any censuring of books. You as an adult or parents have the responsibility to choose what you read. You don’t have to agree with it or like it or encourage people to read it, but neither would I say you have the right to take that ability away from anyone else.

Book Haul

Book Haul – The first of 2020

I haven’t been keeping up as much on my book hauls as I was hoping to so there are going to be many books on this post for me. Each title or series will have a Goodreads link if you’re interested in learning more!

Kindle Books

These are the books that I got either by purchasing them on kindle or getting them with my kindle unlimited trial.

What I spent a lot of time reading and what you’ll see in my review posts in the future is this Soulbound series by Hailey Turner. I wasn’t super sold right away, but the longer I read each book and read each book in the series the more I enjoyed it (for the most part).

Spellbound by Allie Therin. Supernatural relics!!!

The Last Sun by K.D. Edwards. I started reading this, but haven’t yet finished it, but I’m interested so far.

Physical Books

With such a long time since I’m done a book haul and with this whole quarantine thing going on I have MANY books. So, many books that I didn’t want to put them all on here. I instead focused on the fantasy books that I have cued up.

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor. A novella about a girl leaving her home for the first time and playing a monumental role in peace between two groups.

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor. I’ve thought about reading this book for awhile and when I saw it in the library I had to pick it up.

The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller, The summary of this book is so strong that it just screams strong woman. What more could a woman want?

Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller. A Norse-based fantasy about killing a god

Witchmark by C.L. Polk. I didn’t hear about this, but the more I look into it the more I heard great things.

The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera. Powerful warrior lesbians???!!! I am always there.

Beyond the Black door by A.M. Strickland. This book is has an asexual mc and I’m interested to see where it goes.

There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool. Dead prophets and then someone who can save or end the world? One of my weaknesses.

Great Goddesses: Life Lessons from Myths and Monsters by Nikita Gill. This isn’t a fantasy book, but a poetry book. It has a lot of poems about goddesses though and I’m really vibing with that right now.


ARCs

So, this year I haven’t been requesting as many as I may have it the past, but I still was able to get my hands on some great books!

These three books have come out at this point.

The Electric Heir by Victoria Lee. I’ve started reading this, but haven’t finished it. So far so good!!!

Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales. As I mentioned in my review. I had high expectations, but I just felt meh about it. It wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t anything that got me excited.

Sword in the Stars by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy. I just got this a few days ago and I’m SOOOOO excited. I’ve been waiting for this book since I read the first one and I can’t wait to see where Ari’s and Merlin’s stories go! Really lucky to have been gifted with this one.


That is my book haul for the first part of the year. What do your book hauls look like? Have you read any of these books? Are you interested in reading any of these books?

Reviews

Kingdom of Souls Review

Overall Enjoyment: 3.5/5

Characterization: 3/5

World building: 4/5

Diversity: 3/5

Goodreads Summary:

Magic has a price—if you’re willing to pay.

Born into a family of powerful witchdoctors, Arrah yearns for magic of her own. But each year she fails to call forth her ancestral powers, while her ambitious mother watches with growing disapproval.

There’s only one thing Arrah hasn’t tried, a deadly last resort: trading years of her own life for scraps of magic. Until the Kingdom’s children begin to disappear, and Arrah is desperate to find the culprit.

She uncovers something worse. The long-imprisoned Demon King is stirring. And if he rises, his hunger for souls will bring the world to its knees… unless Arrah pays the price for the magic to stop him.”

Kingdom of Souls was a rollercoaster for me. I fell in love with the beginning of this book. The world building was great with wonderful descriptions that really painted a picture for me. The whole being upset because all her family had magic and a lot of it made sense. However, about halfway through the book just stalls.  The descriptions get boring and it just get so drawn out and most of what was compelling about the story disappears. I almost gave up on it, but I pushed through and the last 40-50 pages made it worth reading til the end. I’m even curious about the second book.

I’m in love with the world building. The author did an excellent job of describing the different tribe as well as the city life. The magic and religion are described fairly well. The author also did an excellent job of creating some morally gray characters especially surrounding the mother. It was nice for the world to show that rarely are all people all good or all bad.

Characters. I would say this is where the book struggles the most. Alyna is alright. I found her interesting at the beginning, but then kinda lose interest. She has a complex relationship with her mom, but I don’t ever feel like enough is done with it for it to feel compelling or as interesting as I was hoping for. She has a loving relationship with her dad which I enjoyed, but then that disappeared too. All the other side characters got so little attention they really felt more like plot devices than full, breathing people. I would say this is more of a plot driven story vs a character driven story.

Plot. Normally talk about plot in relation to all the other categories, but I felt like it might be needing its own section. This in my opinion is a plot driven story. There’s lots of interesting stuff happening in the beginning and end of this book that definitely made me want to keep reading. What you really need to worry about in this story is the middle. As I mentioned, it just completely stalls in my opinion. Alyna and family go to a more remote location so there’s no one else to interact with and it’s basically 100 pages of inability for anyone to do anything. It was a part of the book where there was no hope and that made me feel really uninterested in the story. It gets better though so I encourage you to push through if you enjoyed the beginning of the book.

The diversity is okay. We’re set in a fantasy Africa setting so obviously all our characters are people of color. We have a woman of color as our lead which is excellent. There’s so mentioned of lgbtq+ characters, but its so vague and fleeting that its almost not worth mentioning. We have some characters who have definitely experienced trauma and have some PTSD, but again it feels so vague I’m not sure if you’d truly count it as representation.

Overall, it was an alright book. I tend to prefer character driven stories which is really what kept me from truly enjoying this story as much as I was hoping to. However, if you prefer a novel that really focuses on the development of the plot rather than focusing on characters, I think you could really enjoy this book.