ARC's, diverse books

Assassins: Nemesis Review

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I didn’t know what I was getting into with this story but I must say I enjoyed it quite a lot. Not at first. I tried reading it a while back and wasn’t able to get into it but I think now was the right time for it.

It’s a crazy action packed story. We’ve got espionage and assassins galore. You really get thrown into it in the first chapter and need to read past there to allow things to settle before getting back into action. Blake is going through all of it pretty suddenly and just making their way through. We are along on the journey with them.

Blake is not an Assassin. I believe the first book followed someone raised to kill. That is not Blake. Blake is after the people who put the hit on their father but not fully ready for the harsh realities. The uncomfortableness when they first shoot someone is the first indicator of that. They continue to shy away from violence when the people around them are more prone to using it in missions. it was interesting to see these spy operations through Blake’s perspective.

I liked that inclusions of talk about sexuality just happened. It’s part of life. You don’t need a reason to make Blake genderfluid or intersex.This book has an intersex protagonist without being about being intersex and I love that so much.They just are. We don’t need to put too much more focus on it than that in this story. It’s just part of Blake’s life. I think that was the best way to go with a plot that had so much going on already. Staying committed to the plot and to the character by showing all that is a part of them.

Blake identifies as “mixed race, multiethnic, allergic to more things than I want to name, intersex because of partial androgen sensitivity syndrome, expressively genderfluid but mentally agender, and panromantic graysexual.” Blake states what her/his pronouns are at the time and we keep going. I like that a lot. Also, Daelen and the others asked so they wouldn’t misgender her/him. They cared and it was really nice.

I was excited to see a romance blooming for a genderfluid character as well. I could ship Daelan and Blake. Not sure if I do ultimately but I could. I feel like the connection is surprisingly strong and well-written. They just meet right at the beginning of this and it works. It’s really only a thing I’ve started seeing in books I read this year for genderfluid characters. It’s also a romance with a gray ace character. I loved that so much. I felt like it was presented well. It made me so happy.

I loved the characters and the way that the author handled them in this so I’m really happy I’ve had the opportunity to read this. I fell like it’s something I could reread. Also, I have to say that the Shakespeare nerd in me got real happy about some things in this book. Shakespeare references will get me every time.

YA

Diverse Characters in Hammer of Thor

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Have I talked about how much I love all the diverse elements Rick Riordan has brought into his books? It’s honestly so nice to see as a person who grew up with the Percy Jackson series. To see the world become more and more real if that makes sense to say in a fictional world where Gods and demigods exist. Heroes of Olympus had such a diverse set of heroes and I might say that made me love it even more than Percy Jackson. Now Magnus Chase is on it’s way to being that way as well.

In this book we have Magnus and friends in search of Thor’s hammer. They have to obtain the hammer before Loki enacts some crazy plan of his. Loki is up to Loki things as always. He’s always got a reason for the things he does. Probably not something that will work out well for the good guys. I mainly want to talk about some of the awesome characters in  this book for this review.

Samirah is such an interesting character to me. She is a Muslim girl who is devoted to her faith. She’s also a  Valykyrie. I like that we got more conversation on how this all adds up for her. How she is able to reconcile the two very different beliefs. Samirah is a really great character. You really see the toll that being a child of Loki has put on her in this book through her relationship with her sibling Alex. Plus because of everything Loki puts the both of them up against over the course of this book. Loki gets no points in the parent department even if he’s not complete trash all the time. I feel like Alex and Samirah need to meet Nico and Hazel. I feel like they’d be able to compare experiences a little. The stigma with being a child of Loki vs. being a child of Hades. I’d like to see it.

I love Hearthstone and Blitz’s friendship. In the first book you definitely see it but here you see how much they really mean to each other. Blitz is Hearthstone’s family. Hearthstone’s real family didn’t treat him well. Partially because of his inability to hear. Anything different was a problem for them. Hearthstone’s father is really frustrating to read when we finally meet him in this book. It definitely made me want to see more about Hearthstone’s background but also made me excited to see Hearthstone get more powerful going forward. His reverence for the Gods is also really nice to see in this story. I’m ready for more magic use. I didn’t know about the Norse God Vidar. often known as the Silent God. Having Vidar draw a connection to Hearthstone because of it was interesting.  Vidar even signs to Hearthstone in a type of sign language only Hearthstone understood. Possible Alf Sign language.  It was a really cool moment to me.

I was really excited when Alex was introduced. It’s so refreshing seeing a genderfluid character in a series that spins off from a series I grew up watching.  Also, I have to wonder if Alex is Magnus’ love interest. When you read the first Percy Jackson book you already have a feeling who might be endgame.  You don’t get that with Magnus Chase book 1. The Sword of Summer. There is definitely a connection between Magnus and Alex in this book that is making me think it could happen.

Magnus reaction to meeting Alex was so well done. Magnus spent most of his life homeless. Living on the streets. He’s met many queer homeless youth in that time. He knows people who are non-binary. He’s been in shelters with people that are Trans and genderfluid before. So he really doesn’t have a big reaction to it at all like a large portion of Valhalla seems to. If Magnus is falling for Alex I’m wondering if Alex is possibly pansexual too. Magnus never has shown attraction to anyone in the series yet so he is an open book in a book that explores many different identities. Maybe Magnus just likes Alex. We’ll have to see. Either way having the protagonist of the series in a queer relationship would be really awesome.

The characters keep me coming back to this series. They are all so great. I love the direction the plot is going. Ragnarok could be coming if our heroes don’t prevent it. Maybe Loki is actually up to something else entirely. I really don’t know. I’m just excited to see more of these characters going forward. Especially some of the new characters we are seeing. The Gods we met were interesting as well. The Norse Gods are something else. I really like the ones that are being incorporated into the story so far. I think I’ll talk more about the book and some other elements in a Youtube video soon. Until then tell me what you thought of the book if you’ve read it and if you haven’t I definitely suggest you try out this series.

Book Reviews, diverse books, YA

The Hate U Give Book Thoughts

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Angie Thomas delivers a fresh and extremely real story here. I feel like this is a book that so many people could benefit from reading. It could be timeless. Many important discussions can be had from the book. This book ties into current events and I feel like it’s a book many people can really get something from. This book really makes you feel things.

I also have to say that Thomas does an amazing job at taking us on this journey. Such a variety in scenes all handled really well. It’s pretty straight forward. Here’s what’s happening. Here is what Starr is feeling. It works. Starr witnesses a friend who is unarmed get gunned down by police. It’s intense topic. There are scenes and moments where you feel so frustrated for Starr and what she is going through throughout.

Thomas finds moments to fit in humor that works really well. I can go from being frustrated by Starr and her situation. Feeling frustration for her family. Anger over the reactions of some people. Then have these moments where things are lighter. I can laugh along with Starr. Part of that was how relatable Star situation was. How similar Starr’s family and friends were to people in my life.

Starr is s relatable to me throughout this book in many ways.  Hiding parts of yourself depending on the group you are hanging out with. The vulnerability Starr feels in certain situations that weren’t that different from some things in my past. Her connection and love for her family. Her relationship with her boyfriend Chris. The emotions she expresses as she deals with loss. Sometimes I felt like I related to so much to what was happening.

I’ve talked about crappy YA families this year on too many occasions. The family Dynamics in The Hate U Give are amazing. I could not believe how much time we were getting to see the way this family worked. An unconventional family maybe but it’s a family that was relatable to me so many times throughout this book. You have a group of people who are not perfect but they take care of each other and love each other. You can feel the love coming off the page. There is nothing Starr’s parents would not do to protect their kids. You don’t even have to be a blood relative to them for them to treat you like family either. I loved that.

The sense of community at times in this story was amazing. Moments where you saw people really coming together like a family.Even with their differences.  Even when they’ve been fighting for so long. There are these moments that were beautiful to see.

I loved Staar and Chris’ relationship.I felt like there was such a nice arc for it in this. I saw the way they struggled and related to some of the things they struggled with. I’m in an interracial relationship and even if my experiences were not exactly the same as Starr’.Some definitely were. I have family who talked down about black people who decide to date someone that is white growing up. Off hand comments from family growing up caused me to be a lot more cautious than was good for me with revealing many things about myself. While seeing the way Starr took that in and made decisions based on it all I could do was nod along because I’ve been there.

This story is one of the most real stories I’ve read in a while.I love that this book had a   13 publishing house auction, I love that people knew this was a book that needed to get out there. I hope this book continues to get so much love. If you haven’t picked up this book I definitely think you should. I highly recommend it.

Comics, LGBTQIA+, YA

Runaways Complete Collection Vol 2.

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I enjoyed this volume of the comic but not nearly as much as the first one. It’s a brand new direction since the parents are dealt with in the first volume. There are arcs here that I really loved. I think the general direction and who the big villain is for this volume wasn’t the greatest for me. I feel like this needed more focus to really work like the first Volume does.

I liked the new additions to the team.Victor Mancha who is Ultron’s son apparently. Not sure how that happened still. Pretty sure that makes him related to Vision, though which is really cool. I’m pretty sure they will meet in a crossover between The Runaways and The Young Avengers. I’m excited to read that.

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Then we meet a shape-shifting Skrull named Xavin. Xavin is there to find Karolina who they are supposed to marry. Karolina is a lesbian and I thought it was so interesting that Xavin decided to just turn into a girl for her. I felt like Karolina and Xavin had a big arc in this. it may have happened a bit too fast but I’m interested to see where it goes.Also love that Xavin is black when in human form. This is a pretty diverse cast. Xavin changes gender often throughout the story.The pronouns used in reference to Xavin changed because of that. I’d love to see how they handle it.I hope the upcoming show based on the comic gets to the point where Xavin will be introduced.

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I love Nico Minoru in A-Force. In the Runaways, she just keeps getting worse right now. I really can’t warm up to her character at all. I’ve read further than this volume by the time that I’m writing this and her actions after what happens at the end continue that. I really don’t get why she acts the way she does. They also really need to figure out something for her magic to be useful again. Her method in A-Force is really fantastic.

I wish Gert/Arsenic was more confident in her body. The bad guys seem to consistently call her fat and I just want her to kill them with her Dinosaur. She goes through a lot in this volume. I think she’s such a strong character and puts up with so much.She deserves more. Her relationship with Chase comes out of nowhere in the first volume for me. I think there were some great moments between them in this. I still can’t find myself to really like Chase, though. He makes a lot of mistakes here.

The end of this volume was so sad. I’m jumping into the next volume. Don’t want to linger with what happened here too long. I want to see how the team handles it going forward. I feel like they won’t fare well.

Quote1 Most people in life don’t have great power, and the few that do are almost never responsible with it. The people who have the greatest responsibility are the kids with no power because we’re the ones who have to keep everybody in check. Quote2 – Gertrude Yorkes to Spider-Man

 

 

 

Comics, diverse books, LGBTQIA+, Readathon

#DiverseAthon Potential Reads

It’s time for the first Diverseathon of 2017. Super excited. I am the biggest mood reader ever. I will stop a book just because I’m not feeling the genre at the moment so I will be doing a very long list of potential reads for this Diverseathon. My list consists of primarily queer lit as it normally does. I did try to focus on books with queer characters of color a bit more and get some Own Voices books in the list as well. You can look at my rundown on my Youtube post or read through my choices here. Check out Naz’s DiverseAthon post on his blog ReadDiversebooks.com  for more information on the readathon.

 

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None of The Above is the book of The month for The Rainbow Library. Members of the group will be posting reviews all this week. Super excited to finish this story. It follows a teenager who finds out they are intersex. I definitely have not read much on intersex people before and I’m glad I’m doing it with a group. There has been some great discussion around the book already.

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Dreadnought is a story about a trans girl whose body transforms when she accidentally gains superpowers. The book comes out on January 24th. I have a digital ARC and am really enjoying it so far. About 30% into the story. Hoping to see a bit of a hero journey with this character.

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I loved More Happy Than not. I feel like Adam Silvera’s new book might wreck me like it did but I’m excited. The main character is gay. He’s dealing with the death of his first love. He has OCD I believe. I definitely want to read a story with a character who has OCD and have for a while.

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I didn’t finish this during #DAReadahon so I hope I can finish it now. Really love the main character from the part I did read. I’ve wanted to read more stories with LGBTQ + Asian protagonist for a while.

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I am so excited to read this story. I love queer superhero stories. This one follows a teenage superhero named Javier Medina. You get to see how he balances or fails to balance his life as a junior superhero and his life at school.

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A revelatory novel about being queer and Muslim, set in war-torn Iraq in 2003.Ramy is a young gay Iraqi struggling to find a balance between his sexuality, religion, and culture. I’m excited to read this story. I feel like it’s going to be intense and wonderful. Really happy I got a copy of this novel.

 

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This is written by the author of Nimona. It’s been on my radar for a while. It has queer characters and that’s really all I know right now. Hopefully, I will like it. Definitely will get to this soon since it’s due back to my library in a few days.

 

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The is a story based on the Green Turtle. The Green Turtle was the first Asian American Superhero in golden age comics. Super excited to read this. It’s own voices with the writer and artist. The art looks so good.

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Teen guys who are neighbors. One is a popular jock and the other is a nerd. We get to see them fall for each other. Super excited. Reminds me of the gay version of You Belong With Me by Taylor Swift. Hope I love it.

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I’ve wanted to read an Elliot Wake book for a while. I have followed Elliot Wake on Instagram and twitter and am really excited to finally read one of his books. I love that this one follows a Vlogger who is also secretly a vigilante. I’m excited to see how this story goes.

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Two awesome authors writing two gay characters who meet during Pride weekend and have an adventure. I love books that focus on friendships. Especially queer friendships. This book has been on my shelf unread for way too long. I even have two copies. I need to read this soon.

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Last potential read is Boy Robot. I’ve wanted to read this since I found out Simon Curtis was writing it. I love his music. I’m excited to see the story of Isaak in this. He finds out he’s a robot and his adoptive parents are killed in one night. I know this book is LGBTQ in some way and I am excited to read it.

This is my tentative TBR for this week. Super excited to read some of these great books. Also really excited for the #Diversathon twitter chats. The conversations were amazing last year and I can’t wait to see what everyone has to say this year.

 

diverse books, LGBTQIA+

Juliet Takes A Breath Review

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Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But Juliet has a plan, sort of, one that’s going to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. She’s interning with the author of her favorite book: Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff.

Will Juliet be able to figure out her life over the course of one magical summer? Is that even possible? Or is she running away from all the problems that seem too big to handle?

With more questions than answers, Juliet takes on Portland, Harlowe, and most importantly, herself.

This is a really good novel.I think a lot of that is because of Juliet’s voice. She’s beautifully insightful in some moments of the book. She’s nerdy and quite funny at times too.Juliet is just a great character and it’s great to see how much she develops over the course of this novel in various areas of her life.

Juliet goes on a journey throughout the four parts of this book and I didn’t really get into the story until further along her journey but all of it is wonderful. Juliet takes this internship and doesn’t really know what she wants to get out of the experience. In the end, she got a lot more than she really thought she could. She has a place to move forward from.

This book starts out with Juliet in a stressful and relatable time. She’s coming out to her family. Juliet decides to do it at a family dinner. I like how much this book dealt with family. Even with Juliet away from them for a majority of the book you could see how important family was. Just from conversations with her mom or cousin Ava over the phone. Sometimes just from Juliet contemplating the way they reacted to things or might react to something. She thinks about her family often and I liked the focus on the family bonds.

Juliet meets some amazing women of color in this book. I felt like I was learning from Maxine and Zaira through Juliet’s encounters with them in the novel. This is a novel about feminism but more importantly intersectional feminism. Juliet is able to start figuring out where she stands in the feminism she sees on tv or reads in one of her favorite books. I absolutely loved the conversations Juliet has around this.

Sometimes as Juliet struggled I just wanted to jump in the book and answer things when she had questions she wasn’t asking anyone out loud yet.It takes her a while to feel the confidence needed to do more than just contemplate the tings she didn’t understand about queer terms or why Zaira made spaces specifically for women of color. I liked seeing Juliet learn and make mistakes while learning.Her exploration into all things queer and feminism. It was really well done.

Sidenote.There is a really odd character who is only in the story for a short time and never appears again and I didn’t understand the point of his words toward Juliet and couldn’t stop thinking what was the point there or if it was needed.Juliet never really thinks of him again after that section so it didn’t feel like it mattered.

The most relatable moment in this book for me was a feeling. The feeling that Juliet has when she is in an all QPOC space for the first time. She’s freer than she has been able to in a long time.No one is going to judge her or say the wrong thing. She won’t have to deal with microaggressions or blatant racism there. She is able to make decisions about how she perceives herself.

For me, that was an impromptu caucus for queer people of color at TheMidwest Bisexual, Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, and Ally College Conference. It was a room filled with QPOC and a space for us to talk about issues we face separate from all the other events of the conference.I didn’t even know there was that many of us in the conference. It was a major moment for me. I was dealing with not being able to embrace all aspects of my identity depending on the situation I was in. I had some rough school years and I feel like that was one of the moments that got me through. It changed things for me.It gave me perspective, I really needed.You see how much Juliet’s experience changes her on the final sections of the book.She’s able to take on the world after having run away from her problems before that. It’s great storytelling.