Reviews

Sizzling- A Review of Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Overall Enjoyment: 5/5

World building: 4/5

Characterization: 5/5

Diversity: 4/5

Personal Summary: Lei is of the paper caste, completely human in a whole full of hybrids and demons. Life may not be easy, but it is the only life Lei has known. That all changes when a group of demons abducts her to take her to the palace as one of the king’s paper girls. At the palace Lei is faced with new challenges, but also finds a love that strengthens her is ways she didn’t realize were possible. Together they may just be able to defeat the king and gain their freedom.

Review

I fell completely in love with this story about five pages in. This is the first book I’ve read with an f/f pairing that I’ve really enjoyed. It was a sizzling romance my readers and it was glorious.

The world is set in a Malaysian-inspired fantasy world full of humans, hybrids, and demon. I really enjoyed this world. There were smatterings of history throughout the book that really pulled everything together, but never got to the point of overwhelming. What I think I really enjoyed were the cultural nuances of this book. This book is full of its own cultural practices and beliefs and while I can see how some of it is based on real world cultural practices it didn’t take away any of my enjoyment. If you want a non-European fantasy world this book is a really great choice.

Characterization. I had mixed feelings about this rating. Lei and Wren had great characterization. I would say most of the characters that are more than just passing characters do, but sometimes I wanted a little bit more history from some of them. Many of them have a rough back story that’s alluded to, but never fully explained that I was hoping for.

Diversity. Full of women of color and are main characters are lesbians in an Asian-inspired world. It was beautifully done.

So, if you want a fantasy book featuring a diverse setting featuring two strong and brave lesbian lovers I couldn’t recommend this book enough for you. You can purchase it here.


Have you read this book yet? What did you think of it? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Friday Feature

Friday Feature- Marlon James

Marlon James, photo taken from Wall Street Journal

Marlon James is a Jamacian-born author who works in both Minnesota and New York as a professor. In New York, he works as an adjunct lecturer at St. Francis College. In Minnesota, James is associate professor in the English department. He has published four novels so far. Two novels have received multiple awards.

What’s so great about him?

He is taking a different perspective to writing a book series than I’ve seen before. Marlon’s most recently published novel Black Leopard, Red Wolf is the beginning of a series. This series is going to be telling the same story, but with each book being from a different perspective. He says it is then up to you to decide which character you choose to believe. There may be other book series that do this, but I haven’t heard of them and I’m very excited to see where this story and this changing of perspective goes.


His Published Books

John Crow’s Devil

The Book of Night Women

A Brief History of Seven Killings

Black Leopard, Red Wolf


Most information came largely from this wikipedia post. All source information on this post was checked and proven accurate, but in order to not write a large list I direct you to a single post.

Authors, Friday Feature

Friday Feature: N. K. Jemisin

photo taken by Laura Hanifin, 2015. Permission given under creative commons license

N.K. Jemisin is a multiple award-winning fantasy author. She was born in Iowa, but currently lives in New York working as a full-time writer.

What’s So Great About Her?

She is the first person to win the Hugo Award three years in a row. What an accomplishment! If that isn’t a phenomenal statement of the quality of her work I’m not sure what is.

Jemisin also creates stories with diverse, complex characters that challenge the epic fantasy status quo:


“As a black woman,” Jemisin tells me, “I have no particular interest in maintaining the status quo. Why would I? The status quo is harmful, the status quo is significantly racist and sexist and a whole bunch of other things that I think need to change. With epic fantasy there is a tendency for it to be quintessentially conservative, in that its job is to restore what is perceived to be out of whack.”

Quote taken from: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jul/27/nk-jemisin-interview-fantasy-science-fiction-writing-racism-sexism

She also discusses writing about characters of color. As writer this is personally a big deal to me. I know a lot of authors are willing to give advice, but she’s very honest and blunt. If you want to write characters of different racial backgrounds she’s providing plenty of examples for you. You can find the beginning of those posts here.

Her Novels:

The Broken Earth Trilogy: The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, and The Stone Kingdom

The Inheritance Trilogy: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, The Broken Kingdom, and The Kingdom of the Gods.

Dreamblood Duology: The Killing Moon and The Shadowed Sun

How Long ’til Black Future Month (short story collection)

Geek Wisdom: The Sacred Teachings of Nerd Culture (collaboration with other authors)

And numerous other short stories that I’m not adding, but if you’re interested you can see the full list here.


Want more from N.K. Jemisin? Check out her patreon!

Sources: Information came from http://nkjemisin.com/ unless otherwise stated.

Book Haul

My January Book Haul

So, I’ve seen many blog posts floating around about people’s book hauls. I’m always super curious about what other people are buying and reading so I’ve decided to share my own. I’ve gone a little crazy this month so I’ve got a lot to share!

Here are most of my books, but this is mainly just to show off my bearded dragon, Smaug.

My Physical books

Below are the books that I mostly purchased this much, with one exception that I borrowed from the library.

The Wicked King by Holly Black. I’ve been a huge Holly Black fan since high school and I continue to really enjoy her work. This is the sequel to The Cruel Prince and wow. Strong female characters and court intrigue. I love it!

Evermore by Sara Holland. So, I purchased this book not realizing that it was a sequel. Oops, but the plot just sounds so intriguing. I’ve read mixed reviews though so we’ll see how it turns out. Maybe I’ll read the first book first.

Girls Write Now by a whole lots of ladies. As someone who works in education I’m forever looking for way to empower young girls and women. This book is an anthology written by young women about the personal experiences. Very excited about this!

The Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty. This is the sequel to The City of Brass. I loved the first book and I was very excited to read the second one. I’ve heard some rumors about the content though and while it sounds just as brilliant as the first it also seems to end on a sad note which makes me a bit hesitant to read it.

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman. Dragons? Count me in!

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan. I’ve only read the first couple pages so far, but I’m already in love with it.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. Read this book! It’s wonderfully done. It’s a long read, but well worth your time.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I’ve been meaning to read this books since it’s come out. I finally have in my hands.

The complete Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin. This book series has won so many awards that I can’t wait to see what it’s all about.

NetGalley eARCs

Fury by Will O’Shire. I requested this book, because of the cover and it looked interesting. It was short fic. It had potential, but I wasn’t very impressed.

Prince of Air and Darkness by M.A. Grant. An lgbt novel that has fantasy elements. It’s a nice entertainment read, but I would have liked more world building.

No Man of Woman Born by Ana Mardoll. I requested this book because of the title and the description. It’s a series of short stories. The author was very heartfelt.

Wild Country by Anne Bishop. I was so excited to see this coming out. I love this series.


Those are the books I received/ bought this month! Have you purchased any of these books too? What other books have you purchased this past month?

Reviews

Speechless- A Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi Review.

Overall Enjoyment: 4/5

Characterization: 5/5

World building: 4/5

Diversity: 3/5

My Personal Summary: Zélie is a girl who grew up on pain; watching her mother die and her people suffer. A chance meeting in the market begins a series of events that could change the whole of Orisha. But change doesn’t come for free and if you want freedom you have to be willing to pay the price.

Review

I’ve been interested in this book for awhile now and have, for the longest time, been putting it off, but I’ve finally read it. This book is not for the faint of heart. If you want something light and fluffy look elsewhere. Tomi Adeyemi had an idea when she wrote this novel and she definitely succeeded. While this is a fantasy book if you at all keep up with current events you’ll see very quickly that there is social relevance written all over the pages. This book will hit you where it hurts and make you think. Let’s start with the characters.

The characters were amazing! Zélie isn’t perfect, but she’s strong and she has so much history and pain. She’s driven and she’s rash and she’s pushing for change. Then Amari, she experiences so much growth throughout the book. Inan, breaks my heart yet I want to throttle him too. If you want to read a cast of complex, believable characters then this is a great book for you.

The world building was phenomenal as well. This story is loosely based in Africa, based on Adeyemi’s background I’m going to guess West Africa. The world has a history, a religion, and all the little details that really make a fantasy world spring to life for me. I really loved reading it.

Diversity. This book was based in a fantasy Africa and with that the whole cast of this book are people of color which is awesome. This book also had kickass women which I obviously very much enjoyed. Racial diversity was fantastic.

Overall, it was a game-changing book that I would highly recommend. As I mentioned before it’s not a light and fluffy read, but it’s a powerful read. I highly recommend you check it out here.

Authors, Friday Feature

Friday Feature: Tomi Adeyemi

Picture taken from Instagram with permission of the author.

Tomi Adeyemi, what a lady! She is 25 year old Nigerian American who graduated from Harvard with a degree in English literature. Before writing a bestselling novel Tomi studied West African mythology and culture. Tomi Adeyemi’s first published book was Children of Blood and Bone. She is currently working on the sequel, Children of Virtue and Vengeance, which should be released June 4th of this year.

What’s So Great About Her?

Tomi Adeyemi is a woman on a mission.


I was determined to write an incredible YA story, with adventure and imagination like nothing people had ever experienced. And my protagonist was going to black.
And you know what? It wouldn’t matter.
Because when you have a good story, it doesn’t matter who the story is about. 

Or more specifically,


So that is why I write. The dream is the same, but the purpose is different. It isn’t fame or success; it is a burning passion to tell a story about someone who is different and to force readers to fall in love with what is different from them.


To give you a little bit more background on those statements, Adeyemi was greatly affected by the internet backlash about Rue being cast as a young black girl in the movie version of The Hunger Games . She was particularly upset when people stated they were less affected by Rue’s death specifically because she was black. Now, even I remember hearing about the Rue controversy and being upset that people could be so outraged simply because the casted actress was black. But, Adeyemi didn’t just get upset. She took that hurt and used it to craft a best-selling novel. She wrote to give representation to girls who may not have felt like they had it before. You can’t get motivation better than that. She is everything I want in an author and you should definitely check her out. She even offers free writing advice and courses on her website! You can check it out here.

The quotes came specifically from this blog post. All other information came from Toni Adeyemi’s personal website.

Friday Feature

Upcoming Friday Features


Photo by Suad Kamardeen on Unsplash

Hello beautiful readers,

February is just around the corner and along with it I’m going to begin what I like to call Friday Features. What are Friday Features you may ask? Well, let me tell you. February is Black History month. In celebration of this every Friday I will be doing a feature on a black fantasy writer. Now, I realize that there are way more than four black fantasy writers out there, but I hope this will begin to introduce you to new, amazing authors.

When I thought up this idea I took a look at my book shelves and I must sadly admit that I had maybe one or two black authors within all the books I owned and those weren’t even fantasy books. I thought that was odd considering the sheer number of fantasy books I own, but I also thought it was telling. I want more diverse stories and if you’re here you probably do to, but I wasn’t yet actually purchasing any of them. I have since bought at least one book from each of these authors that I will feature. If we want more diverse stories and more diverse authors then we must support those stories and authors.


Do you consider diversity when you purchase any of your books? I’d love to hear from you!

ARC, Reviews

ARC Review- Prince of Air and Darkness by M.A. Grant

Release Date: February 25th

At a Glance

Overall: 3/5

Characterization: 4/5

World building: 2/5

Diversity: 2/5

Note: I received this book free of charge from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Personal Summary: Finn, an all American boy from a small town in Iowa, who has powers beyond his control.

Roark, the prince of the unseelie court, struggling to be true to himself under the weight of the thrown.

Roark and Finn both attend Mather’s School of Magick together and have been uneasy roommates for several years. Finn, is constantly being targeted for his powers and Roark is constantly helping him. This is both their final year at Mather’s and tensions are running high. There’s a war brewing and their growing feelings for each other could be what saves them or the very thing that destroys them both.

Review

I have mixed feelings about this book. I love the premise of the book. I was highly intrigued by the idea of Finn having a power that was a bit beyond his control. What a flaw, right? I loved the characterization of Roark and Finn. They were obviously very different people with different dialogue and tone patterns which is something a lot of books I’ve been reading recently sometimes struggle with. So, I was very pleased with that. I think their behaviors also speak well to their backgrounds and personal histories. But, the world building was sorely lacking. There’s fae and even other patheons all at Mather’s, but it didn’t really play into the story in any major way that I was hoping for. I wanted a lush fae culture that somehow managed to stay hidden in the human world with the help of magic, but if you took out the fact that Roark was a fae and made him human it wouldn’t make much of a difference to his character. He was basically a human with powers. Now, there were tiny bits of world building in the novel with the concept of the knight of the winter court. I thought that was a really interesting idea. The pacing of this book is kinda shaky, but the end of the book the plot definitely picks up and things start falling into place. I enjoyed the last part of this novel way more than I enjoyed the beginning so if you pick up this book I recommend sticking with it until the end. With a note to diversity, our main diversity in this book is the two main characters are gay, but that’s all the diversity we get. Both characters are young white males.

In conclusion, it was an enjoyable, light fantasy read with two enjoyable main characters, but if you’re looking for something new spin on the fae and/or a deep, gritty story then this is not the book for you. If you would like to check out The Prince of Air and Darkness you can find it here.


Has anyone else read this book? Is it on anyone’s TBR? What do you think?

Advice

Top 5 Reasons I Follow a Blog

One question I believe all first time bloggers and bloggers in general ask themselves is how can I get followers? Followers are really the lifeblood and fun part of a blog. Without followers you’re basically shouting into the void. Followers bring great conversations and shared interests. So, I’ve been doing research which includes looking at tons of blogs and I’ve analyzed why I follow some blogs rather than others. As a caveat, I’ve been looking primarily at book blogs. Consider some of these things as you create your blog.

  1. Interesting content– all book blogs have lots of similarity when it comes to content. So, it makes sense that what really sets a blog apart is new and interesting content. I love a good discussion or blog post about something I haven’t heard of before. This concept also works no matter what topic you’re blogging about. If you’re saying the same thing as everyone else then there’s less interest.
  2. A desire to connect with readers– I love bloggers that seem like they want to talk with me. Blogging is a very social activity and if you never respond to anyone when they comment or seem disinterested then people aren’t going to go out of their way to chat with you.
  3. Evergreen Content– evergreen content is content that never really expires. Like all those My Top 5/10/20…lists. It draws me in. I can read a post that you made a year ago and still enjoy it. I’m not sure what’s so appealing about lists, but I love them.
  4. Visually Appealing- I love looking at well-organized, easily read blogs and I don’t think I’m alone in that one. I want to enjoy looking at your blog and navigating through it. If it’s hard to read or just really rough to look at I’ll find a different blog.
  5. Lots of Content- The more content the more I can read from you and the more I can learn if we have similar interests and tastes. This is really tough when you first start a blog if you don’t want to burn out. I would advise like many bloggers before me to stick to a schedule. Then, you won’t burn out, but you still have regular content coming out even if it’s just once a week.

What do you think? Are there other things you consider when deciding if you’re going to follow a blog or not?

wonder wednesday

Wonder Wednesday

Welcome to Wonder Wednesday! This idea came into being when I was wondering how to interact more with all of you. I’m a bit more an introvert so I thought the best way to get to talk with you all was to dedicate a post a week to a question for us all to discuss if you’re interested. These questions will usually be related in some way to books, reading, or writing since that’s what we’re all here for.

My first wonder is, what is your favorite fantasy book or book series? And what do you enjoy about it? Is it the characters? The plot? The wonderful world that you just want to be a part of?

I personally have a really hard time with this question, because I have lots of books I have enjoyed reading. I would say right now though that it is The Others series by Anne Bishop. It’s five books long. I love the characters, plot, and the world though based on ours is fascinating. Has anyone read this series? I look forward to hearing from you!