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?

ARC

ARC Review- The Unspoken Name by A. K. Larkwood

Overall Enjoyment: 4/5

Characterization: 4/5

World building: 5/5

Diversity: 4/5

Goodreads summary:

What if you knew how and when you will die?

Csorwe does — she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice.

But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard’s loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power.

But Csorwe will soon learn – gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due. “

I requested this book because of the summary. Csorwe seemed like she’d be interesting, and I was curious at the culture that would encourage sacrifice of a person (orc). I enjoyed this book. This book felt massive to me though. There were many arcs within this book with an overarching story, but there was so much going on and it was so long that at the end I lost a bit of interest in it. This is book 1 of 3 from my understanding and I must admit I’m really not sure how this story will continue for 2 more books.

The world building was a bit confusing to me in the beginning. This is a book that explains elements only when it becomes relevant to the story and not just in the interest of world building. However, when you need answers the author is very deliberate about explaining the necessary information or leaving it for later as a twist later. There is a small element of cyberpunk with the technology of this world with flying ships which was the part that got the least attention and was the most confusing for me. The three main sentient species in this story were orcs, humans, and elves (black elves specifically). Each group is given its own religion which is what is given the most attention in this story and is really a major driving force throughout this fiction. The religions are a bit darker than I’m use to, but they were well thought out and interesting. A very interesting grouping of worlds.

For characters I felt that everyone had a pretty distinct voice with enough story to the main characters that I felt like they were very well rounded. Csorwe is a character I really enjoyed though I didn’t fully understand all the time. She’s very loyal in a way that was unquestioning and then she suddenly wasn’t. I like the character development with her though at the beginning it didn’t make much sense. Then, Tal. I didn’t like him at first, but he grew on me. I think I liked him a bit more simply because he felt more relatable to me. He’s just trying to do his best and is just getting the rough end of deal most of the time. There’s also Oranna who I guess you could say could be consider the villain, but within the world she just comes off as a very strong-willed determined lady. You also have Shuthmili and Sethannai, but while they both play very important roles within the story, I feel like they don’t get as much attention.

The diversity in the book was refreshing. The main characters are mostly people of color and there are sprinklings of queer characters throughout the book including the main characters.

Overall, even though there were points where the book was slow, I think the book was really well written. The worlds were carefully written and built, and the story line was interesting. If you’re looking for a diverse adult fantasy book, then this book is for you. The book will be published on February 11th. Keep a look out for it!

Note: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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!

Fun Stuff

November’s Indigathon Wrap-up

So, November is over and so is Indigathon. This posting is way later than I wanted it to be and I didn’t participate much on twitter due to trying to also complete nanowrimo. I loved these books and I think I am better for having read them. Below is my board as well as the books I read to complete each one. I have checked off more boxes than the categories I have below my board. Many of these books check multiple boxes and so I have decided to be kind to myself by checking all the boxes that are elements in the stories I’ve read. I have placed a Goodreads link on the title if there was one available so that you can look into the books if they’re of interest to you.

The group read: The Break by Katherena Vermette. This was a hard book for to me read. These women have obviously been through a lot. The whole book was based around the investigation of a raped young girl, but also the stories of the women of the family. This is not what I would call a happy book, but a real book that discusses the hardships of life and how a family can help you find the strength to get through it all.

Poetry Collection: How to be an Indian in the 21st Century by Louis V. Clark 111 (Two Shoes). I truly enjoyed this poetry collection. It had a rhythm to it that I really enjoyed. I also felt it was an open and honest poetry collection about his experiences in life good and bad. It was easy to read and understand. Would highly recommend.

SF/F: Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse. I loved this book. I love when you take bits of beliefs and put them into a story. It was so beautifully done. I love Maggie and Kai. You should definitely read this book! There’s even a sequel already!

Other than 5 CT: The Beadworkers stories by Beth Piatote. I struggled reading this book. I enjoyed reading the different types of writing in this book. I think it’s an interesting and unique way to put a book together, but I was just kinda bored the whole time and parts of it were hard for me to fully understand.

Books that were on my TBR

I truly wanted to get to these books and I am definitely still going to read them, but I just could get to them in November.

Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead. This is a story is about a two-spirited queer character who is living and struggling through life and what it all means

Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith. A high school girl who is growing up and learning what it means to be true to yourself while finding love

Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson. The summary kinda of gives me an indigenous percy jackson vibe only cooler. I’m excited to read it, but I couldn’t get my hands on a copy of it

Pemmican Wars (A girl called Echo #1) by Katherena Vermette and Scott B. Henderson. This is a comic book where a girl is transported into the past. I’m generally a sucker for time travel stories and the drawing looks beautiful.


I’m not sure if anyone has participated in the IndigAThon, but if so I’d love to hear your thoughts. Even if you didn’t participate did any of these books sound appealing to you?

Reviews

Everything I Hoped It’d Be- Once and Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

Overall Enjoyment: 5/5

Characterization: 4/5

World building: 4/5

Diversity: 5/5

Goodreads Summary:

“I’ve been chased my whole life. As a fugitive refugee in the territory controlled by the tyrannical Mercer corporation, I’ve always had to hide who I am. Until I found Excalibur.

Now I’m done hiding.

My name is Ari Helix. I have a magic sword, a cranky wizard, and a revolution to start.

When Ari crash-lands on Old Earth and pulls a magic sword from its ancient resting place, she is revealed to be the newest reincarnation of King Arthur. Then she meets Merlin, who has aged backward over the centuries into a teenager, and together they must break the curse that keeps Arthur coming back. Their quest? Defeat the cruel, oppressive government and bring peace and equality to all humankind.

No pressure. “

Review

First off, I’ve been waiting for this book since I first heard about it. I’m not really a SyFy fan, but this was a retelling that I just couldn’t ignore. I haven’t read a ton of King Arthur stories recently, but I remember a bit about them from when I had to read them in school. This book has so many elements that I enjoyed.

First, let talk about the characters. There’s Ari who is an action first, think later kind of girl. She’s an orphan refugee that was taken in my two women and has grown up under the radar. She’s a fighter with the quest of returning to her planet and freeing her people. She’s skeptical and brash and I really enjoyed it. Now, there can of course be no Arthur without a Merlin. I’m going to be honest and say that Merlin is probably my favorite character. He’s just as much as a main character as Ari in this story. What really drew me in was his past though and his memory and relationship with all the past Arthur-s. It hurts to read sometimes, but I think it just added such a great, new element to the typical Arthurian legend that I was completely taken with him. Honestly, I’m taken with all of the characters. They’re so diverse and each of them has at least a little bit of backstory and history all that are new, but also tied to past King Arthur stories. Loved it.

The world of this story is set far in the future and it takes an interesting look on what could happen to not only our world, but our whole universe if we let our love of capitalism go too far. Corporations especially Mercer are out of control in this novel and it shows through how the planets are designed, built, and controlled. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it dystopian, but if you’re worried about the power of consumerism it could maybe feel that way.

The diversity in this book flourishes all over its pages and it didn’t feel like fan service! These characters got enough love and attention that they all seemed well entrenched and important to the story. Most of our characters are characters of color as well as lgbtq+. We even have a character that I really enjoy that is nonbinary. I love these characters.

Overall, I loved this book. As I mentioned, I was really pulled in by the summary and I wasn’t disappointed.


Have you read this book? What did you think? Is it on your TBR?

Reviews

Another Magic School novel: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Overall Enjoyment: 3.5/5

Characterization: 4/5

World building: 2/5

Diversity: 2/5

Goodreads Summary:

“Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On – The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story – but far, far more monsters.

Review

I picked this book up because of the cover. I was interested in the possibility of there being a dragon-type character. Well, there really wasn’t, but this book was still pretty good. I’m going to be honest and say that at first I did not enjoy this book. I’m not a huge fan of Rainbow Rowell. I think most of her books are boring and this just seemed like a stereotypical magic school book. BUT, if you can make it to the middle of the book and especially the end then you find a little bit more substance to this book.

Let start with the characters. There’s Simon, the chosen one who can’t actually control his own powers. He’s impulsive and fiery and that normally gets him in trouble. Simon also has the typical orphan chosen one status. Every summer he goes from foster home to foster home without true family. I really enjoyed this part of Simon’s character. Now because I like orphan stories, but because it explains a little bit around why he may be so fiery and impulsive. Then, you have Baz who is about the exact opposite. The relationship between them was okay. I wouldn’t say it’s anything too crazy simply because it seems pretty quick to me after years of antagonism, but most say love and hate are closer than we usually think. Rowell does do a great job though of filling you in on the characters history together. You get to read a lot about their feuds and pranks. What really kept me reading though was the villain. The villain that has the face of Simon as a child. Just think about what that could mean for a second. There’s not a ton about the villain, but how he’s connected into the story really moved me into thinking about the cost of power and what some people may be willing to pay for it.

The world building was almost nonexistent. There was a magic world, but it is basically like ours and so didn’t really contain anything new or unexpected from our own world.

The diversity was mainly with Baz and Simon would were lgbtq+. Others most characters are white and pretty uneventful.

Overall, I rated this book so high because of the final half of the book. It does have some interesting plot elements that I didn’t expect and there are some twists that I didn’t expect right away. I would say if you really enjoy magic school novels than you could really enjoy this book. If you’re looking for a new and exciting spin on the magic college thing or an epic romance this probably is not the book for you.

ARC

A Fantastic Political Fantasy- Master of Restless Shadows Book One by Ginn Hale

Overall Enjoyment: 5/5

Characterization: 4/5

World building: 4/5

Diversity: 4/5

Goodreads Summary:

“Freshly graduated Master Physician Narsi Lif-Tahm has left his home in Anacleto and journeyed to the imposing royal capital of Cieloalta intent upon keeping the youthful oath he made to a troubled writer. But in the decade since Narsi gave his pledge, Atreau Vediya has grown from an anonymous delinquent to a man renowned for penning bawdy operas and engaging in scandalous affairs.

What Narsi―and most of the larger world―cannot know is the secret role Atreau plays as spymaster for the Duke of Rauma.

After the Cadeleonian royal bishop launches an unprovoked attack against the witches in neighboring Labara, Atreau will require every resource he can lay his hands upon to avert a war. A physician is exactly what he needs. But with a relentless assassin hunting the city and ancient magic waking, Atreau fears that his actions could cost more than his own honor. The price of peace could be his friends’ lives. “

Review

I received this book as a free ARC from NetGalley and all opinions are completely my own.

People, this book was SOOOOOO amazing! The beginning is a little shaky. Nasri is a bit too idealist for me at the beginning, but he grows on me. The fantasy aspect of this book is based mostly on spells and magic with more fantastical beasts being in the far off distance. The intrigue though. It’s amazing, there’s some death and darkness in this book, but for a political fantasy this book is very light. I mostly don’t like political fantasy, because the dark plotting against each other and graphic nature is too much for me. However, this book has the intrigue without the graphic and/or gratuitous violence.

Let’s start with the characters first because characters are always what really are the draw for me. First, we have Narsi. He’s the optimism in our story, a bright young physician who may be a little too trusting for his own good, but is smart and sincere. Then, Atreau, who is a talented spy who poses as an author of smutty, but historical novels. Fedeles who was once possessed by dark magic and is still trying to recover from the trauma and Atriz, a man who is controlled by another through a mark of obedience. These are just our four mains, there are even more characters that we learn and see that are interesting as well. But, these characters are interesting. They all have their different personalities with secrets and stories to tell. I thought that the attraction between Narsi and Atreau was weak. It’s not really based on much, but a meeting or two. I feel like that about their characters in general. Not that they’re weak or poorly written, but more that we didn’t get a ton of time with them learning their stories. They move along most of the action of the book and so there is minimum development of them. However, Fedeles and Ariz, I yearn for them! Their relationship and what they’ve both experienced is a large part of their part of the story and I love it. I’m a sucker for hurting, but strong men and I want them to make it both out of this alive.

The world building is great, but a bit overwhelming at times. This definitely reads like a story that’s part of a series. Which after doing some more research there are definitely books in the same world as this new book that I think if were read first could make this book a bit easier to understand. There are rich characters with interesting stories that are just mentioned in passing and that can make stuff a bit confusing or hard to follow. There are multiple characters with similar J names not to mention there is also the medieval fantasy problem where one person has multiple titles and names which can make it even more confusing. However, there are written religions in this book that have a well describe history though it slowly is revealed to the reader. I also enjoyed the magic in this book. It’s glanced over a lot, but whenever its included I’m also curious to read more on it. There’s also some mild racism and hints at homophobia. Honestly, it was the worst in the beginning and honestly wasn’t really necessary for the novel to be honest. It’s just kinda shaken off and then never much mentioned again so I think the author could have ditched it all together and it really wouldn’t have been a big deal.

I would say the diversity in this book is pretty good. One of the main characters is a man of color, all of our four main characters appear to be at least bisexual. We also have a side transgender character which I was very impressed with how the author handled to be honest. There was no misgendering or anything. Just comes out as part of the story so I liked that. There are also multiple character characters dealing with trauma. It’s not heavily explored, but is definitely there.

If you enjoy political intrigue, LGBTQ+ representation, and a rich world then this is a great book for you. If you’re looking for a gay Game of Thrones this is not for you. There is as mentioned before lots of politics and scheming even some minor death. However, the intrigue and plots are the main draw to this story as well as the characters not lots of fighting, backstabbing, and generally horrible people.

Master of Restless Shadows will be available soon! October 8, 2019 to be exact. I really loved this book and would highly recommend it!