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

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.

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.

lists

My Top Diverse Fantasy Reads of 2019 That You Should Definitely Read

Hello lovely readers! 2019 is over and we’re well into 2020 on hopefully a positive note. Below is a list of my favorite books that I have read this year. Each book has a Goodreads link with it. If you’re interested in learning more about the book. Enjoy!

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

This book has the first lesbian couple that I felt like actually understood and could feel the same about. The written descriptions aren’t crude, but you still definitely feel the attraction. Not to mention you have strong women of color keeping secrets and smashing the patriarchy. What’s not to love?

Representation: Lesbians, Asian characters, Asian women as main characters, own voices

Find it here

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

This book wrecked me. The characters are so good, but you’re going to go on a hard and painful ride with these characters. This is not a happy book, but it’s a very real book. The world building is good too.

Representation: African characters, African girl as main character, own voices

Find it here

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

This book is the first book that really brought to life some Aztec gods for me. I’m always a bit hesitant to read when people give voice to gods because sometimes it can come off really cheesy, but this was very well done and beautifully written.

Representation: Latinx characters, Latinx woman as main character, own voices

Find it here


Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse

This book is a sequel and possibly even better than the first book. I love the character development in this story, the moral grayness that characters deal with. Navajo mythology put in a post apocalyptic world done VERY well.

Representation: indigenous people, indigenous woman as main character, own voices

Find it here

Heartsong by TJ Klune

This is the third book in a series. It’s Robbbie and Kelly’s story. If you want an interesting plot, but also some deeper character relationships that focuses on family and love there you could really enjoy this book. Not to mention, werewolves and witches!

Representation: gay and asexual characters, own voices

Find it here

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

This book has so many great elements to it. The beginning is Mulan-inspired, but then we get into a quest with beautiful mythology. I loved the writing style of the book and just couldn’t recommend it enough.

Representation: Asian characters, Asian woman as main character, own voices

Find it here


Did you read any of these books during 2019? Are any of these some of your favorite reads too? What are some of your favorite books that you read in 2019?

Let's Talk Bookish

Lets Talk Bookish- Is there a time limit on spoilers?

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. So, this discussion post was supposed to be written in December, but due to time constraints I didn’t get a chance to post it then. So, here it is.

Previous week’s topic: Is there a time limit on spoilers?

My answer: Yes! I think spoilers are the worst. I hate when things are spoiled for me and I know others do too. However, if you don’t make an effort to see and/or read something after a certain point my sympathy fades a bit. I would say the larger question for me is how long do you have to wait?

I have two answers.

Two Weeks

My impatient answer is two weeks. I love talking and sharing my joy with people about good books or movies. I feel like I’m almost bursting if I can’t share my thoughts with anyone. This can be in on the internet or to people who have no intention of watching/reading whatever it is I’m excited about. I would say that this is the super fan timeline of willingness to wait.

A month

This is the more patient and understanding part of me. We all have busy lives and not all of us can read everything right as it comes out. A month gives someone much more time to go at their own pace and schedule without having to drop everything in order to beat the super fans and their crazy love.

Spoiler Warnings

I know I said there is a time limit on spoilers, but I think a nice thing to do is put a spoiler warning; especially, if you’re writing a review. People have very strong views on spoilers and whether you agree with them or not I wouldn’t recommend alienating readers. If you give a spoiler warning then at least people know what they’re getting into.


How do you feel about spoilers? Do you think that there is a time limit? If so, how long do you think it should be? I’d love to read your thoughts!

Top Ten Tuesdays

Top Ten Tuesday- Most Anticipated Book Releases for the First Half of 2020

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.

This year looks (as always) like it’s going to be a great year for books. I can’t wait to show you these top ten books I’m excited about and to see yours as well! These books are put in chronological order of when they are being published.

Seven Deadly Shadows by Courtney Alameda and Valynee E. Maetani

published on January 28th


The Shadows between Us by Tricia Levenseller

Published February 25th


Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing by Charlie Adhara

Published on March 2nd


The Electric Heir by Victoria Lee

Published on March 17th


Queen of Coin and Whispers by Helen Corcoran

Published on April 6th


The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

Published on May 26th


The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska

published on June 1st


Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Published on June 9th


Forest of Souls by Lori M. Lee

Published on June 23rd


The Empire of Gold by S. A. Chakraborty

published on June 30th


Those are my top ten books coming out in the first half of 2020. Do any of our books match? Have you heard of any of them before? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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!

lists

Mood Reading List: Love- The Good, Bad, and the What is Even Happening?

Hello lovely readers, I toyed with the idea of doing some posts about mood reading for awhile now. I definitely go through stages throughout the year of what type of books I’m interested in reading and figured there were other readers out there who are similar. In these mood reading posts I will provide a list of books that are based on a certain theme. This posts theme is obviously love. Below, I have listed a variety of book based on the type of love you’re interested in. Each title has a Goodreads link if you want to learn more about the book.

If you want deep and beautiful love

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. Representation-lgbtq+ characters w/ focus on gay relationship. biracial character

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger Representation- none really. straight, white couple, but there’s time travel

If you want love is a hellscape or at least it doesn’t solve anything

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi representation- characters of color (African)

Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natasha Ngan representation- women of color in lesbian relationship (Asian)

If you want super slow build

The Other series by Anne Bishop representation: not much, some light mental illness

If you want it hurts so good

The Green Creek Series by T. J Klune representation – gay men

If you want Do They Actually Like/Love Each Other?!

The Folk of the Air series by Holly Black representation – minor characters of color

The Fever King by Victoria Lee representation – biracial, jewish character, lgbtq+ men in gay relationship

If you want a more realistic romance in a fantasy setting

Olympus Bound series by Jordanna Max Brodsky representation – none, but greek gods/goddesses are cool

Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy. representation – lgbtq+ characters, characters of color, nonbinary character, gay and lesbian main relationships

If you want slow and secret

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan representation – women of color in lesbian relationship (Asian)

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim representation – people of color (Asian)

If you want romantic elements, but maybe no quite a full romance

A Storm of Locust by Rebecca Roanhourse representation – people of color (Indigenous)

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia representation – people of color (Latinx)


What do you think of the list and the categories? Do you have any books you enjoy reading that have love as a large theme in the fantasy genre? I’d love to read your thoughts!