Uncategorized

How Diverse Was My Reading for 2019?

Hello everyone, for this post I’m going to be looking over the books I’ve read this year and seeing if I’m actually meeting my goal of reading diversely. I’ll be looking at different aspects of the books I’ve read and going over them here. If you want to consider how diversely you’ve read then maybe consider some of these questions too. I’ve read a total of 40 published books this year. Not all these books were fantasy book, but we’ll count them anyway to make it easier.

Gender

Men: This year I read 13/ 40 books with male leads

Women: This year I read 24/40 with female leads

Trans/nonbinary: This year I read 1/20 books with a trans or nonbinary lead.

N/A: This year I read 2 nonfiction books that really had nothing to do with gender.


Race

This is a bit tricky due to reading fantasy novels, but many of the books I read had fairly obvious coding. These will be very broad categories. The N/A category is for nonfiction books or a character with a race that doesn’t exist in the real world.

So, looking at this I realize about 50% of my reading still has white or non-realistic races. Honestly, I thought it would be a lot lower.


Sexuality

Some of these books weren’t clue on whether the characters were bisexual vs gay vs pansexual. For the sake of ease if it isn’t specifically mentioned in the book I put then in the category based on the relationship they have in the book. N/A is for nonfiction as well as those that involved no obvious relationships or mention of them.

This is a bit more what I expected. A little bit more lgbtq+ reading than just the normal hetero couple. I tried to be very mindful of my reading about this in particular.


Intersectionality

This is a category I expect to be relatively low. The more diversely I tried to read the more I realized that many books are just focused on one type of diversity rather than having a character with multiple diverse elements.

LGBTQ+ characters with mental health representation: 2/40

LGBTQ+ characters who are also characters of color: 9/40

Characters of color with mental health representation: 3/40


Diverse Authors

It’s important to represent diverse authors too! This is based on the information that these authors readily have shared with the public.

Authors of Color: 14 authors

LGBTQ+ authors: 8 authors

Own Voices: 14 authors


Overall, I feel like its a pretty good start. Most of my reading was at least 50% diverse in these categories. I could definitely read more diversely, but I think my goal would be to maybe try and find more stories with better intersectionality. I only read 3 books this year that were fiction with a focus on straight, white people. A very good run for me I’d say. No reason we can’t all read diversely!


How about you? Have you thought about reading more diversely? Have you made any efforts? What is your favorite diverse book and/or author? I always love recommendations!

Fun Stuff

Blog Tour- Seduced by a Soldier by Melia Alexander

Hello, welcome to my stop on the Novel Take PR Blog tour for Seduced by a Soldier. A recently published RomCom novel. Check below for book blurbs, author info, a book teaser, and review.

Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC

Release Date (Print & Ebook/Audio): November 18, 2019

Length: Approximately 57,000 words

Subgenre: Romantic Comedy

Order:https://entangledpublishing.com/seduced-by-the-solider.html

Book blurb: Zandra York just got her big break, photographing a major project for a travel magazine. So what if she’s never traveled out of the country before? Or that she’s more adept at deciphering fraudulent financial statements than reading German train schedules? Her brother Jackson is on his way to act as her guide, and she can’t wait to experience Europe with him.

But when Jackson’s overprotective best friend gets off the plane instead, Zandra knows this will not end well.

There isn’t a damned thing Special Forces instructor Blake Monroe wouldn’t do for his best friend, but babysit Zandra when Jackson is unexpectedly called away on a mission? Nope. Not on the list. Especially not when she proves to be more trouble than he can handle—and far too tempting.

Between accidentally hiring a hearse as their rideshare, an unprovoked goat attack, and photographing erotic-shaped chocolates, Blake and Zandra can’t keep their hands off each other. But Zandra’s new career is about to send her all over the world and Blake is finally ready to settle down after his next deployment.

He’ll never ask her to give up her dreams. And she’ll never ask him to give up his.

Author

Melia Alexander is the author of sassy, sexy, fun contemporary romances, but is also fortunate to spend her week days at The Male Observation Lab (a.k.a. her job at a construction company) where she gets to observe guys in their natural habitat. Though they often behave like typical alpha males, she’s often seen through their personas to the heart of who they really are – the heroes of their own stories. A native of Guam, Melia traded in warm, tropical breezes for the rainy Pacific Northwest. She’s an avid reader who also loves romantic comedies – preferably with a glass of Cab Sauv and a box of dark chocolates nearby. In her free time, she’s busy conquering her CrossFit fears: ring dips, power cleans, and the dreaded 800 meter run.

Connect with Melia: WebsiteNewsletter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

Book Teaser

“What’s happening here?”

          Zandra hadn’t meant to ask the question. Really, she’d figured that if she played her cards right, she’d skate through the next week with Blake and then head for home. Hell, they weren’t even on the same flight, so there’d be no awkward airplane good-byes, but maybe a friendly hug at the airport.

          At least, that had been the plan, only now…

          There was an undercurrent of tension between them, and not the bad kind, either. No, this tension electrified, practically crackled the air around them. Judging by the quiet intensity in Blake’s gaze, he wasn’t immune to it, either.

          “I’m not sure I know,” he said. He blew out an audible breath. “This wasn’t exactly something I’d counted on.”

Review

This book was not for me. I’m generally not a huge romance person, but I can sometimes get behind a good RomCom and the idea of a soldier and a photographer together was interesting. Honestly though it just didn’t sell me. Zandra and Blake are characters with their own goals and dreams which I can respect and enjoy. However, the situations these two managed to get themselves in seemed a bit far fetched or Zandra was so clueless it made me embarrassed for her. All Blake could think about was his attraction to her usually based on her physical characters rather than her personality. If you like cooky romances that are a bit more on the smutty, sexual tension side of things you could very well enjoy this book. Which I think is the intended audience, but if you want something deeper with real developed feelings and a strong female lead this wouldn’t be your cup of tea.

Let's Talk Bookish

Let’s Talk Bookish: Should readers read books that aren’t for their target age?

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. Normally, this is posted on Friday, but nanowrimo is kinda kicking my butt so I’m a bit late.

This week’s post topic is: should readers read books that aren’t for their target age?

Well, considering a lot of my books reviews are on YA fantasy and I’m an adult so I’m going to say absolutely. We are all drawn to the books that appeal and speak to us. Harry Potter is still so popular because readers of all ages reader the books. I don’t think it’s fair to say that only one age group can read any book. Some young people are more mature and can read adult books, some adults prefer YA books. Reading is suppose to generally be an enjoyable experience. I think the only time it isn’t is when you are forced to read something you don’t want to.

Being mindful of your voice when reading outside the target community

I think the real problem with reading outside your target age is when you try to take too much ownership of that space. Everyone has a right to an opinion and can review how they’d like, but as an adult reviewing YA books my voice should not try and speak of the voices of young adults who are reading these books. The books were written with them in mind. It is not my job to try and police them or try to argue with what they’re saying. I can disagree, but it shouldn’t be my voice that is the loudest. This is really true for when reading any book that belongs to a community that isn’t yours. You have your right to your review and your feelings, but your voice should not be speaking over those from within that community. You could love a book and it’s harmful to that community, you could hate a book and that community could be in love with it. Let that community speak for it. Your job is to be in the supporting role of raising those voices if that’s what you’d like. Please stay in your lane.


What do you think? Should you read outside of your target age range? What are your thoughts on reviewing books outside of your community? I’d love to hear what you think!

Let's Talk Bookish

Let’s Talk Bookish: Are TBRs need to be a book blogger/reader?

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, created and hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts. Posts are written on Friday’s.

This Friday’s discussion the question is do you need to have a TBR to be considered a book blogger/reader?

First, for those of you who might be confused. TBR is an acronym meaning To Be Read. Many readers have lists of books that they really want to read, but haven’t yet had the time. Hence, the creation of TBR list.

Secondly, the very simple answer. No, absolutely not. You don’t need a TBR to be a book blogger/reader. Your book blog is whatever you make it and if you don’t have a TBR and aren’t worried about it then its not a big deal. Most book bloggers want smaller TBRs so if you don’t have one then you’re already ahead of the game.

Why it might feel like you need a TBR

So, this question really threw me for a loop if I’m honest. I feel like my answer is the obvious answer, but as I continued to think about it I can see how someone could really wonder about it. The book blogging community talks A TON about TBRs. It’s a uniting force within our community, because most of us have them. There are even reading challenges based specifically on getting your TBR list under control. I can see if you’re someone with no TBR to speak of that it might seem like you’re missing something. However, outside of bonding over the length of your TBR or similar conversation you’re not missing anything. You are still a very valid reader and blogger TBR or no.

If I don’t need one why are they a big deal?

  1. Community. As I mentioned before the book blogging community really seems to bond over TBRs. It’s nice sometimes to know you’re not the only one obsessing over book or have a large stack of unread books on your shelf especially if you have friends that aren’t big readers.
  2. They help people remember the books they want to read. As a book lover I want to read SO MANY BOOKS. I don’t have time or money to purchase all the books that I’ve seen that I think I would enjoy, but a part of my bookish heart dies at the thought of forgetting about a book that I was once so excited to read. That is why I have a TBR via Goodreads.
  3. People enjoy lists. There’s nothing more satisfying then making a list or setting a goal then getting to cross off a line of it as often as you can. While a small fraction of the reason I have a TBR it is nice to get that feeling of success not only from having read a good book, but also being one step closer to reaching your goal of books you’d like to read.

So, in short if you have a TBR that’s cool, but also if you don’t that’s also cool. You are still a reader and a book blogger if you don’t have TBR. I applaud your restraint at not hoarding books like a possessive dragon.


So, what do you think? Do you feel like you need to have a TBR to be a valid member of the book community? Do you have a TBR? I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Let's Talk Bookish

Let’s Talk Bookish- Sexual Content in YA

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, created and hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books, where we discuss certain topics, share our opinions, and spread the love by visiting each other’s posts. Posts are written on Friday’s.

This Friday’s topic is sexual content in YA and is there too much?

I find this topic interesting, but also makes me feel old for really feeling like I might have an answer.

What even is sexual content?

I feel like in order to truly answer this question I need to let you know what I define as sexual content in YA. When I think sexual content I’m going to be honest and say I mostly think of graphic sex. This is probably because I’ve read a lot of other adult stories that have a heavy romance element, but that’s what I think of. If it’s in YA though I scale it back a bit, because honestly the USA is generally pretty prudish about sex and young people. The USA on a whole is not a sex positive country. So, sexual content in YA strike me as detailed descriptions of kissing, groping, or beyond.

Is there too much in YA?

In my opinion, no there isn’t too much sexual content in YA. Maybe it’s because I read mostly YA fantasy, but I honestly haven’t read much sexual content in YA at all. Sure there are descriptions of kissing sometimes and on rare occasion more than that, but it never seems excessive or generally graphic. Is this a thing in YA romance? I’m not sure, but really I don’t feel the need to be the morality police when it comes to sexual content. I think we as a society need to become more sex positive where we are more honest about sex and sex education. As an educator I know the whole absence only teaching doesn’t work and I kinda feel that way about sexual content. Also, young adults deserve to have themselves represented in their age group’s stories. Some people are sexually active at a fairly young age. You can feel how you want about that, but that doesn’t take away the fact that it happens. Even if young adults aren’t sexually active they still know what sex and related behaviors are. Most schools do sex ed around 5th and 6th grade.

My Personal Preferred Handling of YA sexual content

My biggest concern about anything having to do with YA and relationships is how relationships are portrayed. I feel like there are many books where there are a girl and a boy, they’re working together or something, and BAM they love each other. There’s no build, there’s just hey we’re around each other and attractive, we’re obviously meant to be together forever. Please show young people how to actually have and start a relationship. OR, and this one is worse, one character is mean to the other character, but they still fall in love and its never addressed. I get unhealthy relationship vibes and it makes me cringe. Now, I think exploring unhealthy relationships and the consequences/ effects of that are fine topics to explore. I think some young adults may need to read those stories. What I don’t like is unhealthy relationships being seen as an epic modern romance. Personally, when I was younger I didn’t really see the problems with it as I do now, but I remember hoping maybe one day to have a romance like in the books I read. I had no idea that a relationship like that wouldn’t be the ideal or healthy. Now, obviously as you learn and grow you can usually figure out what is a more healthy option, but as a young person its confusing and I’d just prefer better book role models. Please don’t teach people that abuse is attractive.

So, I kinda got off on a tangent there, but no I don’t personally believe there is too much sexual content in YA.


What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Have you even thought about this topic before? I’d love to hear what you think!

Top Ten Tuesdays

Top Ten Tuesday: Character Traits I love

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

The rules are simple:

  • Each Tuesday, Jana assigns a new topic. Create your own Top Ten list that fits that topic – putting your unique spin on it if you want.
  • Everyone is welcome to join but please link back to The Artsy Reader Girl in your own Top Ten Tuesday post.
  • Add your name to the Linky widget on that day’s post so that everyone can check out other blogger’s lists.
  • Or if you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment.

Hello lovely readers, I don’t normally participate in top ten Tuesdays. They tend to stress me out more than its worth, but I really enjoyed the idea for this one so I wanted to share my thoughts with you.

#1 – Intelligence

If you know me at all you will know one of the qualities I value most in people I know and characters I enjoy is their intelligence. Nothing is more annoying then reading about a character continuously getting into trouble because they’re doing something dumb.

Character: Theo or most characters honestly from The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky

#2 – Strength

This can be anytime of strength really. Physical, mental, or emotional. Any type of strength is something that I really admire; especially, in female characters.

Character: Ox from Wolfsong by T.J. Klune

#3- Cunning

What can I say, it’s the slytherin in me. I want a character that can plot and make moves without it being super obvious.

Character: Jude from The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

#4- Perseverance

I appreciate a character that just doesn’t give up. I like characters that struggle. I want to cheer them on and watch them succeed against the odds.

Character: Zelie from Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

#5- Kindness

While I like characters that are strong and cunning it really irritates me when there isn’t any kindness or goodness to the character. They don’t have to be kind to everyone or even most people, but they need to be kind to at least someone.

Character: Meg from Written in Red by Anne Bishop

#6- Relatable

What person doesn’t like to read about characters that they can see themselves in and/or relate to?

Character: Alex from Red, White, Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

#7- Growth

I appreciate a character that grows throughout the story. We all learn and grow every day and I enjoy reading it in a character

Character: Nahri from The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

#8- Maturity

As I age reading about teenagers can get a bit frustrating. Everything is so new and they’re learning and everything seems like such a big deal. I remember that time in my life, but now I can look back a realize I really had no idea what I was doing. So, I like to read about characters with more mature voices that seem to have a bit more of a handle on life.

Character: Fatima from The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson

#9- Unique

As much as I like relatable characters I don’t want to read about the same character over and over again. I want to read from unique and new viewpoints that share new thoughts, ideas, or ways of being with me.

Character: Hun-KamÉ from Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

#10- Believable

I love fiction and my favorite genre is fantasy, but I get really frustrated when the writing and characters aren’t believable.

Character: Clare from The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger


What character traits do you look for in your favorite book characters? Do we have any traits in common?

Fun Stuff

Book Tag: I Should Have Read That

Hello lovely readers, I read through this book tag that Sara @ The Bibliophagist posted about and it looked fun so I decided to do a post about it myself. Thanks for sharing Sara. Feel free to join in on the fun!

RULES:

  1. Thank the person who tagged you, and link back to their post.
  2. Link to the creator’s blog.
    This was originally created by Beth from Books Nest.
  3. Answer the questions below.
  4. Tag 10 others to take part.
  5. ENJOY!

A book that a certain friend always tells you to read

This one is a bit tricky for me since most of my friends aren’t big readers and I have read most of what they’ve said they liked. So, I’m going to put one down that I just read after being pestered for months about it.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

I will admit I was extremely skeptical about reading this book. Why? I’m not quite sure. The summary interested me, but it seemed very much like traditional, European-based medieval fantasy. In a lot of ways that’s true, but the writing is so good that I really enjoyed it.


A book that has been on your TBR forever, and yet you still haven’t picked it up

It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura

I saw it. I feel like I could enjoy it. I haven’t gotten it. My list of unread books is piling up and I guess I just haven’t felt the pull enough to go out of my way to get this book.


A book in a series you have started, but haven’t gotten round to finishing

The Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty

I loved The City of Brass. I pre-ordered this book I was so excited about it coming out, but I don’t know I just never have gotten around to actually reading it.


A classic you have always liked the sound of, but never actually read

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

I head a lot that this book is A LOT to handle, but I’m also intrigued by it. I think there’s a lot going on there that I’d be interested in reading.

But Also,

The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu (maybe?)

This is the oldest novel found in Japan. I love Japanese history and I’ve really wanted to read this, but it is a beast of a book and every time I look at it I get a bit intimidated.


What do you think? Do you also have books you’ve felt like you should read? I’m interested to see all of your lists and hear your thoughts.

Reviews

Stunning- How Long ‘Til Black Future Month by N.K. Jemisin

Overall Enjoyment: 4/5

Characterization: 5/5

World building: 5/5

Diversity: 4/5

Goodreads Summary: In these stories, Jemisin sharply examines modern society, infusing magic into the mundane, and drawing deft parallels in the fantasy realms of her imagination. Dragons and hateful spirits haunt the flooded city of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow south must figure out how to save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises. And in the Hugo award-nominated short story “The City Born Great,” a young street kid fights to give birth to an old metropolis’s soul.

Review

I chose this book mainly based on the summary, but also because I’ve heard such great things about N.K. Jemisin’s writing, but was having a hard time committing fully to reading one of her full length novels. I’m generally not a fan of short stories, but Jemisin really impressed me. She has an amazing ability to pull you straight into a world in a very short amount of written words. She definitely introduced a lot of new ideas in fantasy and syfy that I hadn’t considered or thought about before, but really enjoyed. There was a large mix of stories and topics that were covered in this anthology. Most I really enjoyed though there were a few in the mix that I didn’t care for.

Characterization: I can’t go into detail about all the characters because there are so many for them, but even though most of these stories are no more than 10-ish pages I still felt drawn into all the characters lives that were exposed to me. These stories contained so much detail and at times emotions that it is hard not to root for most of the characters.

World building: Jemisin just throws you into her worlds with really no build up. When most authors do this it leaves me confused and left to muddle through it until everything is slowly revealed which I personally find frustrating. But, not here! Jemisin has talent to not only throw you into multiple different worlds through her stories, but also the skill to have it all make sense with little to no explanation. A mastery of the craft.

Diversity: This book focused mostly on characters of color with a variety of thoughts and sexualities. I would say we definitely had a lot of different enjoyable viewpoints.

Overall: I would say its definitely worth the read even if, like me, you’re not a fan of short stories. These stories have left me satisfied with their completeness as well as uniqueness.


Have you read this book? Is it on your TBR? Let me know what you think!

lists

Must Read: My Top 10 Books with Strong Female Leads

I don’t know about you, but I love a well-developed, strong female main character. As a woman myself I love the positive representation. Below are my top ten fantasy books with strong female leads.

  1. Selene from The Olympus Bound Series
    by Jordanna Max Brodsky. I’m in love with everything about this series, but I think Selene is definitely what sold me to begin with. Selene in the fallen goddess Artemis. She strong, tough, and a little emotionally distant at times. I kinda want to be her.

2. Zélie from Children of Blood and Bone from Tomi Adeyemi. Zélie is one tough cookie. She has grown up where her people are oppressed, but instead of giving in she fights all the more. Mentally, physically, and magically strong. A role model for us all in a lot of ways.

Art by Megan Ward. Find it here.


3. Jude from The Wicked King by Holly Black. This girl has been fierce her whole life and though she may be scared at times she doesn’t let that stop her. She’s Queen of Shadows and usually a step ahead.

Art by Wictorian_art. Find it here.


4. Alina from The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. Alina, weak and sickly until she allowed herself to use her power. If that isn’t a metaphor for us all I don’t know what is.

Art from Golden Rose. Find it here.


5. Laia from An Ember in the Ash by Sabaa Tahir . She started out scared and a little helpless, but for those she cared about she accomplished some truly daring tasks.

Art by Tpiola. Find it here.


6. Agnieszka from Uprooted by Naomi Novik. Agneiszka might be a bit of a mary sue, but she came from nothing and then she saved her kingdom. It was dark, but she makes it.

Art by Taryn. Find it here.


7. Meg from The Others series by Anne Bishop. Meg is not what I would consider physically strong, but she’s a strong female lead nonetheless. Meg like most of these ladies has been through a lot, but her force will and kindness alone make her a great pick for this list.


8. Wren from Girls of Paper and Fire. She’s the last remaining member of a special warrior family. Physically and mentally strong. She’s a powerhouse.

Art from Laya Rose. Find it here.


9. Fatima from The Bird King. She goes from concubine to runaway to leader. A hard choice in order to save a friend. She doesn’t have a lot of physical strength, but she has a strong will.


10. So many women in How long ‘Til Black Future Month? by N.K. Jemisin. Normally I wouldn’t put such a vague answer here, but there are just so many strong women throughout this anthology that I feel like I would be doing all you readers a disservice by not mentioning them.


What about you? Do you agree with the list? Do you have any other strong female leads you really enjoy?

wonder wednesday

Wonder Wednesday: The Traits of a Great Character

Happy Wednesday my lovely readers. This week I’ve been wondering a lot about what makes a great character. I watched Avengers: End Game this past Friday and I’m a huge Iron Man fan, but it’s hard for me to really pinpoint what about him I love so much. So, maybe all of you can help me think about characters and what in particular makes them so great. What, in your opinion, makes a character great? Now, I don’t necessarily mean a character that is morally great although that might be part of what draws you to a character. What I really mean is what makes a character so real that you can’t help but thinking of them as a real person/being?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!