[Review]Hearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitch Smith|Weird Pacing and an Underdeveloped Cast of Characters

Hearts UnbrokenHearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitch Smith

Page Count: 304
Genre: Contemporary
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Expected Publication: October 9th 2018

Goodreads Summary:When Louise Wolfe’s first real boyfriend mocks and disrespects Native people in front of her, she breaks things off and dumps him over e-mail. It’s her senior year, anyway, and she’d rather spend her time with her family and friends and working on the school newspaper. The editors pair her up with Joey Kairouz, the ambitious new photojournalist, and in no time the paper’s staff find themselves with a major story to cover: the school musical director’s inclusive approach to casting The Wizard of Oz has been provoking backlash in their mostly white, middle-class Kansas town. From the newly formed Parents Against Revisionist Theater to anonymous threats, long-held prejudices are being laid bare and hostilities are spreading against teachers, parents, and students — especially the cast members at the center of the controversy, including Lou’s little brother, who’s playing the Tin Man. As tensions mount at school, so does a romance between Lou and Joey — but as she’s learned, “dating while Native” can be difficult. In trying to protect her own heart, will Lou break Joey’s?

TheBlackLit (3)

This was so disappointing! There was no flow, no likable characters, the romance was terrible, and the character development was meh. The only redeeming quality about this was some of the meaningful conversations. The writing was not my taste, so this took me a while to get through. This had so much potential but just didn’t work for me.

I was excited because we hardly get to see Native American main characters, especially ones written by Native American authors. Although I did not enjoy reading the book, I do recognize it’s importance. I know a lot of people loved this book so perhaps this was just personal taste.

TheBlackLit (5)

The Plot

I actually enjoyed the overall plot of this book. Louise school production is The Wizard of Oz, but the school is taking significant measures in adding more marginalized people, including people of color. However, parents of the white teenage actors think it’s unfair because they think the musical director is giving people of color more attention than those who don’t fall into that category.  In other words, these parents believe its “reverse racism.” The school newspaper is covering the story, but the parents feel the newspaper is further promoting the musical’s unfair policies.

“It’s not like anybody ever said, ‘Hey, you’re black, so forget it.’ But when people start talking about their ‘vision’ and whether or not you ‘fit the part,’ it’s not hard to figure out what they really mean”

That’s basically it, and it saddens me that I did not like the book so much. Controversies are surrounding affirmative actions and whether or not “reverse racism” is real and the book dives into the topics almost well. It all honestly felt more surface level and not well-developed. This is a race 101 book, and as someone who has read so much of the topic, it all felt dull.

I honestly have no clue what’s up with the timeline of this book. The events either moved way too fast or way too slow? One minute we are at Louise’s school and the next we are at the Gym. Transitions might have been used and might have caused the story to flow much better.

Themes

The theme that I did appreciate was the conversation between on “color-blind casting” and “color-conscious casting.”

“A colorblind approach can lead to white-washing–white actors in blackface, yellowface, redface…”
“Color Conscious means casting actors of color or, in Hughie’s case, Native actors, in roles where race, ethnicity, skin hue of the character doesn’t matter to the story. It opens up opportunities, pushes back against the white default”

I’M LOOKING AT YOU FROZEN

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The Writing

The writing was one of the factors that really hindered me from enjoying the story. There are multiple instances where the author unnecessary describes an action or an event that drove me off the wall. I don’t know why, but it annoying and seems like the author was trying to meet a word count

For example

“Carrying his joyfully clapping daughter Flynn excused himself to pick out a song on he flashing jukebox. His wife Natalie, was off co-hosting a baby shower in Topeka.”

His wife Natalie, was off co-hosting a baby shower in Topeka.

Why was the last sentence added? Flynn’s wife was never even mentioned in the text.

“‘Could you please change the channel!’ ‘yes ma’am.’ Like the rest of the wait staff, Phoebe (according to her name tag) sported a checked pink-and-white shirt with black slacks. She skipped to the service station, switched from the news channel to a fashion channel, and skipped back.”

?????????????

This entire paragraph was just random. I imagine Phoebe (according to her name tag) skipping like this.

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The Characters

Louise was extremely 2-dimensional. There wasn’t anything that set her apart from the other YA characters I’ve already read about. I admire that she’s proud of her Native American Heritage and how she stands up for her brother, but overall it seemed like I was reading this in 3rd person instead of in first. Coming from fellow women of color, I didn’t feel her strong emotions towards the bigoted people of her town. I was told about her feelings and not shown.

Joey was also another 2-dimensional character that I flat out just did not give a crap about. He was used more as a plot device that helped drove Louise character development. Joey could have been erased from the story because Louise could have quickly developed the same way, with or without him.

I would like to talk about Cam because he was the absolute worst. He literally insulted Louise’s heritage, slut-shamed her and continuously spread lies about her. SPOILER ALERT: AT THE END HE’S AN ALRIGHT GUY BECAUSE of UNITY?!?!?!?! Get out of here.

The Romance

The romance was fast and has a strong case of insta-love. On page 50, Louise can’t stand Joey, but then at the 60ish page mark, she’s like “I like him,” and then they become a couple 20 pages later?

Then there’s the miscommunication trope that I”m starting to get vastly annoyed at. Joey got mad at Louise for some dumb comment she made. We literally spent around 70 pages of Louise trying to talk to Joey about the miscommunication, but he wouldn’t listen to her FOR A GODDAMN SECOND. This was beyond annoying. 

TheBlackLit (7)

 Again, this just was a disappointing read. I honestly thought I was going to absolutely adore this book, but it eventually fell short for me. I understand the messages it was trying to send, and although it did that somewhat effectively, the character and relationship development were sacrificed in the process.

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Queer Lit ReadaThon+Cramathon TBR|I’m Extremely Busy This Week but Let’s Give This a Try Edition

Two Readathons in one week?!?! The one week where I’m extremely busy?!?! My birthday week?!?!

Yes, I’m going to attempt to do two readathons even though both have a bunch of challenges. However, some of these should cross paths so I’m not too worried! I also still have my PRIDE Challenge so yeah, a lot of challenges.

Queer Lit Readathon (June 10-June 16)

This readathon is hosted by Rogan and Kathy (Great Booktubers!) I saw their annoucemnt videos and TBRs and I was like, “hey, I’m already reading exclusively queer lit this month, might as well join in!” They have 16 challenges but a lot of the challenges will overlap so it’s not too difficult. My goal is to maybe, sort of complete all the challenges but I’m not sure because again, I’m busy.  Also, I won’t be doing to the group read because I can’t for the life of me find it anywhere!

 

Cramathon (June 10-June 17)

Cramathon is hosted by Dylan, Ali, Jay, Julia. Bacially, this readathon challenges you to read as many books from your TBR as possible in one week. And of course, they’re challenges that people can complete and I don’t know if I’ll be one of those people but we shall see.

Here are the EIGHT books that I am planning on reading this week. However, I will most likely change it, add more books, take away books, etc. All of that business will be in my wrap up!


 

Let's Talk About Love

Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann.

This Satisfies:

ACE SPEC MC/POC MC/HYPED+POPULAR/CONTEMP/REC FROM FRIEND or OTHER/ EITHER NON-COMING OUT OR REALIZATION/ A BOOK W/FAVE COLOR ON COVER/ PREDICTED 5 STAR BOOK

 

 

 

Good Enough to Eat (The Vampire Diet Series, #1)

Good Enough to Eat by Alison Grey +Jae

This Satisfies:

SCIFI or FANTASY/MOST RECENTLY ACQUIRED/OUT OF COMFORT ZONE/EITHER NON COMING OUR OR QUEER REALIZATION

 

 

 

All In The Family

All in the Family by Q.Kelly

This Satisfies:

DISABLED MC/BOOK OUT OF COMFORT ZONE/EITHER NON-COMING OUT OR QUEER REALIZATION

 

 

 

 

They Both Die at the EndThey Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera 

This Satisfies:

A LGBTQIA+OWN VOICES/#OWNVOICES/HYPED+POPULAR/EITHER NON COMING OUT OR QUEER REALIZATION

 

 

 

I Was Born For This

I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman

This Satisfies:

CONTEMP/COVER COLOR/REC/POC MC(?)/SOMETHING THAT’S NOT A STANDARD NOVEL (AUDIOBOOK)

 

 

 

 

Nimona

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

This Satisfies:

GRAPHIC NOVEL/TBR FOR A LONGTIME/SCIFI+FANTASY/HYPED+POPULAR/EITHER NONCOMING OUT OR QUEER REALIZATION/SOMETHING THAT’S NOT A STANDARD NOVEL (GRAPHIC NOVEL)

 

 

Lost BoiLost Boi by Sassafras Lowrey 

This Satisfies:

SCIFI+FANTASY/RETELLINGS/EITHER NONCOMING OUT OR QUEER REALIZATION

 

 

 

GeorgeGeorge by Alex Gino

This Satisfies:

LGBT OWN VOICES/ #OWNVOICES/TRANS SPEC MC/CONTEMP/EITHER NON COMING OUT OR QUEER REALIZATION

 

 

 

 

Look, this is ambitious as hell but I’m ready for the challenge. I got public transportation, Lunch Breaks, Working Out, Car Rides, etc. I think I will be able to get at least 4 books done?!?! But I want to read them all so we’ll see.

 

Are you participating in any of these readathons? What are you going to be reading? Let me know in the comments!

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{review}Keeping You a Secret by Julie Ann Peters|That’s it?!?!

272315Keeping You a Secret

With a steady boyfriend, the position of Student Council President, and a chance to go to an Ivy League college, high school life is just fine for Holland Jaeger. At least it seems to be. But when Cece Goddard comes to school, everything changes. Cece and Holland have undeniable feelings for each other, but how will others react to their developing relationship? This moving love story between two girls is a worthy successor to Nancy Garden’s classic young adult coming out novel, Annie on My Mind. With her characteristic humor and breezy style, Peters has captured the compelling emotions of My young love.

 

TW/CW HOMOPHOBIA, ACCEPTING PARENTS

Initial Thoughts

That’s it?!?!

 

Was the Plot Good?

This is your generic coming out story of a popular beloved high school girl with the equally popular boyfriend but then this new girl shows up and shakes the female protagonist world and discovers her true sexuality.  I understand this was published in 2005 but it just wasn’t engaging and I didn’t care what happens in the story because I already knew the ending. I was bored most of the time and I was close to DNFing the book.

Since this was published in 2005, it definitely seemed outdated such as the homophobia graffiti, lockers, slashing tires, the language in general. Although this stuff may still happened, it just seemed extreme. Though, this could be because I live in a bluer than the sky state and that shit would never been tolerated here.

 

Engaging characters?

Holland was very 2 dimensional and her thoughts were a tad bit questionable.

I felt Cece’s character was just centered around her sexuality and nothing else. Everytime she’s on page, she’s wearing a new gay pride shirt and we are told constantly about her sexuality. I don’t know if this is done to contrast her from the closeted Holland or what but it grew annoying as the reader. It strained the character development because we didn’t really get to know Cece apart from her sexuality (even at her performance because it was mostly Holland gawking at Cece).

I didn’t understand Holland’s mom because her logic never made sense to me. She kicked Holland out, then was like no baby come home but come back home straight please and when Holland refused she said leave but then she was like nevermind come back home. Also Holland’s mom went through a lot of BS in her life yet she’s still holds oppressive ideas????

All the other characters seemed forgettable, I forgot Holland’s sister’s name oops!

 

Relationship

I was disappointed with this relationship. I was expecting something adorable and enduring. However, the relationship seemed unnatural and a little unhealthy. I liked how it was one of those slow burn relationship since those bring light into my ever so cold world but once they proclaim their attraction towards one another, BOOM INSTA-LOVE. “I love you” was said after 5 minutes into the official relationship, alright okay.

This relationship also made me feel icky because Cece told Holland how she followed her to/in school. work, home, dates with Seth and Holland is like “OH SHE LIKES ME YAY” Like no, she’s stalking you. Cece in general was manipulated and I just couldn’t ship them at all. I didn’t really care if they were going to last till the end because they were just MEH and again it was a little bit toxic.

Messages/Themes

 Alright let’s get started

Bi rep: I’m bi myself so when I see the actual word “bisexual” on page, I get a little excited. However, I do wish this was delved into a bit more because Holland dismissed the idea so fast.

Coming out: Being a coming out story, this topic was apparent throughout the story.  There’s no right way to come out, even if someone says otherwise. Though, I could have not done the whole “someone else pushes me out of the closet” trope but you get what you get. Even though Holland’s was a little extreme, these stories are important. That being said, I still haven’t come out to my family (friends know though) so reading this and having basically having the same type of family members as Holland, this scared the shit out of me.

Cheating: Holland kissed Cece while still in a relationship with Seth. So yes, Holland cheated on Seth even though she was going to break up with him the next chapter. It’s pretty easy to break up with Seth BEFORE she kissed Cece but nope this happened because SUSPENSE.

Girl Hate: Holland hates all the girls in the story except Cece and maybe her irrelevant friend Leah. There was so much slut shaming and unnecessary hate. Holland literally imagined her killing on a character because she was talking to Cece. Holland just hated all girls (even her “friends”)

Homophobia: I don’t know what Peters was trying to accomplish when depicting homophobia. We have Kirsten, the typical homophobic of the story. When she said homophobic things, no one really called her out on it. Holland would just get mad and complain about it but like, I don’t know SAY SOMETHING?!?! Even at the end, Holland still never said anything. Kirsten probably thinks her homophobic beliefs are valid because no one told her why she’s wrong, like NO ONE. I understand that someone might be scared/anxious to go against someone like that but there was no redemption arc for Holland or Cece or Kirsten. Even with everything else when the guys try to “convert” Cece. Holland was like “go away” and that was it. Like okay?!?! Nothing was accomplished and that’s what annoyed me. HOWEVER, I will give props to the novel for giving resources on what a teenager should do if they have overly unaccepting parents (clinics, homes, etc).

 

Would I recommend?

Yes and no. Some people say that closeted people should read this but I’m going to say maybe no?!!?!? Or yes?!?! I don’t know. As one who is basically half in and half out of the closet, this book made me put one foot back in the closet.

Final Thoughts

So yeah, I just feel like this wasn’t for me. I couldn’t identify with any of the characters, the plot was meh, and I just had problems with it overall.

There are better f/f romance out there and I encourage you to read those and perhaps pass on this one. OR not, maybe someone might gain something from the book but I gained absolutely nothing.

 

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{review} The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka|A Compelling Mystery With an Even More Compelling Bisexual Protagonist

The Last Place You Look (Roxane Weary, #1)The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka [Goodreads]

Sarah Cook, a beautiful blonde teenager disappeared fifteen years ago, the same night her parents were brutally murdered in their suburban Ohio home. Her boyfriend Brad Stockton – black and from the wrong side of the tracks – was convicted of the murders and sits on death row, though he always maintained his innocence. With his execution only weeks away, his devoted sister, insisting she has spotted Sarah at a local gas station, hires PI Roxane Weary to look again at the case.
Reeling from the recent death of her cop father, Roxane finds herself drawn to the story of Sarah’s vanishing act, especially when she thinks she’s linked Sarah’s disappearance to one of her father’s unsolved murder cases involving another teen girl. Despite her self-destructive tendencies, Roxane starts to hope that maybe she can save Brad’s life and her own.

TW: Murder, Rape/Sexual Assault, Alcohol/Substance Abuse

Initial Thoughts

I had no expectations when it came to The Last Place You Look. I never heard of the author, never seen a single review on Youtube or on WordPress, and honestly only found it because I looked up “LGBT mystery/Thrillers.” The Synopsis looked compelling enough and luckily, my library had it available.

After finishing this, it’s astonishing that no one ever talked about this series, like at all.

This was fast-paced, where we were immediately pulled into the plot. Brad Stockton is sitting on death row after being convicted for murdering his girlfriend’s (who is also missing and assumed dead) parents. Roxane gets hired by Brad’s sister after claiming that she saw Brad’s girlfriend at a gas station, hoping that Roxane can prevent her brother’s execution. When she looks at her father’s unsolved cases, she makes a connection with one of them, wondering if they can be related. From there on, the story goes full speed.

Although this short summary may seem like a simple case, Roxane discovers that it’s going to be a lot harder to find the answers she seeks. Every other 2 chapters there is a new discovery that throws Roxane and the reader completely off and the case becomes even more complicated. It’s a page turner and I was never bored.  

I also liked that Brad’s race wasn’t ignore and Roxane even admits that him being black may have a role in the entire case.

The Twist

In every mystery/thriller there’s going to be an unexpected twist, especially near the end. Of course that is what happened in this book. The ultimate twist at the end kind of shocked me but at the same time, I sort of saw it coming. The journey getting there was executed really well and everything made completely sense. 

Our Main Character

I’m a Gillian Flynn fan. She creates these anti-hero, aloof, morally gray characters and that’s what generally like in most of my mystery novels.

However, with our main character Roxane, she’s quite the complete opposite. Yes, she is on the brink of a serious alcohol problem, has the complicated relationships and her father’s death definitely put a huge toll on her, but overall, she’s an amiable go-getter private investigator. She’s very cooperative with the police but also doesn’t let them push her around. Her father’s death is always on her mind, especially since she believes that he wasn’t proud of who she became. She originally took the case because she needed the money and was tired of sulking but she didn’t half-assed her job, even if at times she wanted to. She finds things and she’s great at it. As I read, I want to both be and be with Roxane because she is such a kickass character. 

Roxane is also bisexual! I loved seeing representation in the novel since I never read a mystery book featuring a bi main character. What I liked about bisexuality in the book is that no one questions it. Maybe because Roxane isn’t a teenager but it’s awesome to see other characters understand rather them stereotyping Roxane. It’s prominent that Roxane is bisexual but it isn’t really part of the plot which is honestly really refreshing.

Tropes/Themes

This book does have one of my least favorite bi tropes: the girl/girl/guy love triangle.I will say that it isn’t that in your face where the main character contemplates who she really wants to be with in the end. This love triangle is  definitely not part of the major plot or even the major side plot. It’s a tiny part of the story but doesn’t deter the narrative or Roxane’s character which I can appreciate especially from a non-romance book.

Aloof PI/Detective Female Character: Another trope I’m glad this book did not fall victim of is the typical woman in a mystery/thriller novel. For some reason, a lot of thrillers have women seem to always be involved in casual sex, who are aloof and sarcastic I mean, hey, I love those characters but it’s nice to see some variety in characterizations and personalities, especially in adult thrillers. 

Race: Although this was not the vocal point of the story, it was not ignored. Brad is black and the author dives into the prejudices that people may have towards black men.  The conversations of dating outside ones race and attitudes of black men in jail was done well, even if it wasn’t a black #ownvoices book.

Negatives

There isn’t really a lot of weaknesses. The only minor flaw I found is that there are a couple of mental health/psychological terms used to describe someone who does not fall into that mental illness but is just used as an insult/adjective.I hate that a lot of crime thrillers have these terms so it’s one of my personal pet peeves. Other than that, this story was pretty solid.

Final Thoughts

This is one of the best mystery thrillers I’ve read in awhile. The characters are full of depth and the story is fleshed out without any plot holes. I’m glad to that there’s more books in this series and I can’t wait to read the rest! Highly recommend The Last Place You Look. 

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Hunger by Roxane Gay|A Raw and Authentic Narrative About a Women’s Body

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) BodyIn her phenomenally popular essays and long-running Tumblr blog, Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and body, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance, and health. As a woman who describes her own body as “wildly undisciplined,” Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care. In Hunger, she explores her own past—including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life—and brings readers along on her journey to understand and ultimately save herself.
With the bracing candor, vulnerability, and power that have made her one of the most admired writers of her generation, Roxane explores what it means to learn to take care of yourself: how to feed your hungers for delicious and satisfying food, a smaller and safer body, and a body that can love and be loved—in a time when the bigger you are, the smaller your world becomes.

Trigger Warnings: Rape, Eating Disorders, Anorexia, Bulima, Fatphobia

Initial Thoughts: “YES”

REVIEW

Oh this book.

It’s raw, it’s real, it’s a book that I haven’t read before and I honestly don’t think I will ever read again.

I’ve been a fan of Roxane Gay for a while. Granted, I only read one of her books, Difficult Women, and I instantly fell in love. The stories were well-crafted, the emotional aspects and complexities of her characters were evident and I honestly just saw so much heart into these narratives.

However, despite proclaiming Roxane Gay to be my favorite author, Difficult Women was the only book I’ve read by her. So I decided to give one of her newer books a go and oh boy this went a little too close to home for me.

While reading, some of Gay’s daunting and cruel thoughts about other people and herself, I literally kept saying “Oh God, I’m not the only one!”

Roxane Gay narrates her body’s journey, from her sexual assault, school, family, college, TV shows, and public places. Her body has had a lot of painful experiences, especially from a society who values a women’s figure rather women themselves. She talks about relationships such as with her past romantic partners, her family, diet/fitness gurus and her body. This isn’t a self help book where the fat person loses 100+pounds and tells you the ways of a healthy fulfilling “skinny” life. No, this is a story about what is like to live in a body that you loathe so much but is also scared to go away.

“What does it say about our culture that the desire for weight loss is considered a default feature of womanhood?”

What I love about Hunger was that it was brutality honest and doesn’t sugar coat anything. When it comes to her rape story, she calls herself the victim rather than the survivor because she doesn’t want to empower her experience since it was so horrible. She mentions people with eating disorders and how she’s actually jealous of people who have them because they are so discipline but feeling bad you have these feelings. She talks about people in society views fat people (especially TV shows such as the Biggest Loser) and how society can make you think you don’t deserve love.

Gay makes an extremely valid point on the attitudes of being fat. People don’t understand that it’s a constant struggle and almost being anxious at every social situation. From public bathrooms (using the bigger stalls) from worrying about something so trivial like chairs, and from stairs being almost a public horror display, being fat is not easy.  There is some stigma with fatness. “Why don’t you just get up and lose the weight?” “Dieting isn’t that hard” “Get a gym membership.” Gay isn’t a stranger to these comments and even does everything they say. However, in Gay’s point of view, her body has become her protection due to past experiences and difficult to give up that protection.

I’ve personally struggled with my weight for years. When I was a kid, I didn’t weigh much but when I entered middle school, I gained so much weight (I believe I might have been close to 200 at the time) A lot of middle schoolers complained that they weren’t “big enough” for the JR/teen section at department stores but I was already deep into that size of clothing. I became jealous of them that they have something to complain about. I became so insecure of my body that the only article of clothing I wore was jeans and a hoodie and no joke that’s all I wore. Noticeable in high school, people would always comment “why are you always wearing a sweater? It’s almost 90 degrees?” And I was just say, “eh it’s my style.”  I couldn’t show my arms, my legs, my skin, the outline of my belly because I was so insecure about myself. I hated going to school, with people looking at me, with my whole self on display.

Like Gay, I tried to “fix the problem.” I tried motivating myself by watching the biggest loser, tried all the diets out there, and I even started binging and purging. The binging/purging didn’t last super long though because frankly I was super bad at that. I hated my body so much that I wanted to punish it. When Gay talked about punishing herself, I almost went into tears because I was once that person too. Instead, I use a razor in order to punish myself for not even being able to binge/purge. I’m still struggling with my weight today. It’s a physical and mental roller coaster. Trying to be happy in a body that other sees as dissatisfying puts a toll on someone.

Gay teaches us that we shouldn’t punish ourselves for being who we are. We shouldn’t punish ourselves about not satisfying society’s standards of physical beauty. We shouldn’t punish ourselves at all.

This is one of those books that I’m probably am going to end up buying in the near future (although I don’t buy books anymore). I’m glad someone finally wrote a book that talks about being fat in a humane and honest way instead of trying to motivate the reader to “fix the problem”

There’s so much more to unravel with this novel but I will leave you with this. Open your mind and read this book. Set aside past prejudices, the glamorizations of losing weight, and all the typical things society wants us to do. Just read and learn.

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Mini Reviews| #Diverseathon Wrap Up Edition

#Diverseathon Wrap Up

WOW, what a crazy week. I almost made (and still tempted) to make a post about my thoughts on what’s going on in America (though, it would mostly be angry) but I want to make the post organize and thoughtful, so we’ll see. Again, reading usually calms me down and I’m glad I participated in this readathon!

Anyways, in my TBR post, I said that I would most likely read only two books and I was completely right! I ended up reading and finishing Shadowshaper. I decided to not read George because at the airport, I saw a hardcover of Difficult Women on sale for 40% off and I was like “ima buy dat” since it was on my most anticipated list (when I make those lists, I never actually end up reading those books because I hate buying new releases since they are so expensive, I ain’t rich). But I bought it and read it! Both the books I read were also #ownvoices! On to the reviews!

 


22295304Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

Published:  June 30th 2015 by Arthur A. Levine Books

Page count: 304

Rating:★★★

Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her friends, and skating around Brooklyn. But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season. Sierra’s near-comatose abuelo begins to say “No importa” over and over. And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep…. Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on.

Sierra soon discovers a supernatural order called the Shadowshapers, who connect with spirits via paintings, music, and stories. Her grandfather once shared the order’s secrets with an anthropologist, Dr. Jonathan Wick, who turned the Caribbean magic to his own foul ends. Now Wick wants to become the ultimate Shadowshaper by killing all the others, one by one. With the help of her friends and the hot graffiti artist Robbie, Sierra must dodge Wick’s supernatural creations, harness her own Shadowshaping abilities, and save her family’s past, present, and future.

Review: I really enjoyed this book but something fell flat with me. I’m not sure what that is, but I want more from the world, from the characters. I loved the magic system and found myself memorized when Sierra or Robbie would use their Shadowshaper powers.  I think the concept of using art to manifest spirits is incredibly fascinating. However, for some reason, I didn’t care for the plot. Most of the time, I felt ‘meh’ about everything. The character development lacked to me and wished Sierra was more complex (though I did like her as I will mention later).  Like I said in the beginning, I wish there was more. It’s pretty face paced and i think that’s where the novel fell. It was too fast pace and a lot of situations seemed convenient. However, what I appreciated about the story was the subtle and not so subtle discussions on racism. The cast was also extremely diverse, containing POC (lantinx) and individuals who are in the LGBT community. Also, Sierra as a character felt real to me. She’s slightly insecure about her wait and second guess whether if she’s going on a date or not with Robbie (something I do all the time when someone asks me to go somewhere with them). I thought the relationship between Sierra and Robbie was a tad bit fast, but nonetheless really cute. Overall, it was a good quick read. If you want to read about a cool magic system with diverse character, I recommend this one!

 

28818921Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

Published:January 3rd 2017 by Grove Press

Page count: 260 pages

Rating:★★★★★

The women in these stories live lives of privilege and of poverty, are in marriages both loving and haunted by past crimes or emotional blackmail. A pair of sisters, grown now, have been inseparable ever since they were abducted together as children, and must negotiate the marriage of one of them. A woman married to a twin pretends not to realize when her husband and his brother impersonate each other. A stripper putting herself through college fends off the advances of an overzealous customer. A black engineer moves to Upper Michigan for a job and faces the malign curiosity of her colleagues and the difficulty of leaving her past behind. From a girls’ fight club to a wealthy subdivision in Florida where neighbors conform, compete, and spy on each other, Gay delivers a wry, beautiful, haunting vision of modern America reminiscent of Merritt Tierce, Jamie Quatro, and Miranda July.

Review: WOW. Just wow. The first story definitely sucked me. Roxane Gay’s writing is honestly just memorizing. It’s easy to read yet contains so much depth. All the women she constructs in her stories were all so memorable. They were “difficult women” they were real. Throughout these collections, I was stunned and uncomfortable. A lot of these stories were harder to read than others because how vividly Gay describes the events that are occurring. Her writing was compelling, honest, real. One of my favorites was the first one, “I will follow you” where Gay tells the story of two sisters who were abducted when they were younger and as adults they are inseparable that many seem to be weird. I also liked “Mark of Cain” where a woman marries a twin. The twins switch places (the husband with a mistress) and the women pretends to not be aware of the swapping and accepts what’s happening. Another being “Difficult Women,” where Gay lists distinct groups of women(crazy women, mothers, loose women) and expresses why they are misunderstood.  These are just the first stories and I can easily list all of them because they were just absolutely stunning.The characters were 3-dimensional, the love stories seemed realistic, the situations many characters are in are heartbreaking. Each story is unique in its own way and many of them I will reread in the future. Also, the representation of WOC and LGBT is also presented, making this more relatable to me personally (especially the biracial representation). If you’re a woman, a man, a LIVING person, you should read this (I know I’ve been saying this a lot lately but you should make this one a priority). I can’t wait to read more by Roxane Gay. TW: abuse, rape.

 

 

Read any of these books? Did you participate in #Diverseathon?  Let me know down below!

 

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#Diverseathon TBR!| #ReadDiverse2017 Challenge

Two announcements in one post! I will try to keep this short and sweet.

I thought I would share with you something exciting that I will be participating in this year. I will be taking part in ReadDiverse2017! If you guys aren’t aware of this challenge, it basically encourages bloggers to read and review more diverse books (especially #ownvoices). There’s also monthly reading lists that will be provided and giveaways sprinkled throughout the year.

Naz is hosting this challenge and you can find it over @readdiversebooks  in FULL detail! 

I will also be participating in the Diverseathon that will be from the Jan 22-29. Diverseathon is exactly what is sounds like–a reading marathon where we all read books that promote diversity! On the official twitter, instead of sprints, there’s going to be discussions revolving around diversity in literature, #ownvoices, etc.

Here are the links to the hosts

Christina Marie|Monica|Simon| Mara (instagram host)|Naz (blog host)

TBR

I don’t have the best success rate for tbrs BUT I’m more determined this time (and I only have two books on this list because I feel like this is manageable but hopefully I’ll be able to read more). The only sucky part is that I move back to college so it’s going to be a hectic week but I will be at an airport for 2 hrs and on a flight so I should get a lot of reading done from that day alone!  This TBR is all going to feature #ownvoices books so I’m super excited! There’s also the group book, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead but I am currently on hold for that book on overdrive so I don’t think I’ll be able to read it this week :(.

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

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Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her friends, and skating around Brooklyn. But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season. Sierra’s near-comatose abuelo begins to say “No importa” over and over. And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep…. Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on.

Sierra soon discovers a supernatural order called the Shadowshapers, who connect with spirits via paintings, music, and stories. Her grandfather once shared the order’s secrets with an anthropologist, Dr. Jonathan Wick, who turned the Caribbean magic to his own foul ends. Now Wick wants to become the ultimate Shadowshaper by killing all the others, one by one. With the help of her friends and the hot graffiti artist Robbie, Sierra must dodge Wick’s supernatural creations, harness her own Shadowshaping abilities, and save her family’s past, present, and future.

George by Alex Gino

George

BE WHO YOU ARE. When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you participating in #ReadDiverse2017 and/or Diverseathon? Let me know!

 

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