Books!, Signal Boost

Banned Books Week 2018

Hey all, Dani here.

Once again we find ourselves at the time of year to celebrate Banned Books Week, and like every previous year, I like to write up a little post to talk about the occasion. You can find out a lot more information by checking out the Banned Books Week site or by checking out the Banned Books Week section of the ALA(American Library Association)’s site.

Banned Books Week is the annual celebration by libraries, publishers, booksellers, authors, and readers, to celebrate the Freedom to Read. There are a number of different events being held all over at libraries and bookstores, so check out your local ones to see what might be going on near you. Banned Books Week was started back in the 1980s, in response to the increased challenges and protests, including a 1982 Supreme Court case (Island Trees School District v. Pico) which ruled that school officials can’t ban books simply because of their content.

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Each year a list is released of the top 10 most challenged books for the previous year. Take note of the reasons these books are challenged. I feel like most of these books are challenged by a small yet very vocal group of people, and the sad fact is that for a vast majority of these challenges, the person asking for the removal of the book from libraries and/or schools actually has not picked up the book. They are going off of the summary and/or what they might have heard about the book.

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There are a lot of popular books that find themselves on this challenged/banned list, and I have talked about them in a previous post. This topic is one that I feel like I need to talk about each year, so you can find my posts from 2016 and 2017 at these links. I also have a Banned Books Recommendations post, which I definitely recommend.

And the ALA’s Banned Books Week Web site also includes a bunch of handy dandy infographics, which I think are cool to include. They give a quick glimpse at why books are challenged, where they are challenged, and more.

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So this might not be my longest post, but I still think it is absolutely an important one. As members of the book community, we pretty much have a responsibility to fight against censorship. If a book has content you don’t want to read, then that’s fine. The sensible solution is to just not buy/borrow/read that book. Don’t ruin the reading fun for others just because you don’t agree with the content of a book.

That’s like saying that because you don’t like hamburgers that nobody else should have access to hamburgers. Not cool.

On another somewhat unrelated note, I am getting pretty near to 500 followers on my blog –THANK YOU ALL–and I have always had it in mind that I will be doing a giveaway when I reach that point. So when I reach 500 followers I will be uploading a post with details on how one of you awesome people can win $25 worth of books from Book Depository.

I do believe that is all from me today. Thanks for reading and I’ll be back soon with more bookish content.

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Book Releases, Books!, Cover Reveal, Graphic Novel, Manga, Signal Boost

Most Anticipated Releases Fall 2018

Hey all, Dani here.

How are we almost at fall already? Time is just flying by, and seriously, fall may have the most releases I’m looking forward to. There are just so many interesting sounding books coming out in the next few months. Because of that, I’m not actually going to spend a lot of time coming up with a fun or rambly introduction. Let’s just start talking about the book releases of September, October, and November that I’m looking forward to. Trust me, there are a lot of them.

First off is September. In September I have the third installment of a series that started off okay for me, but the second book was a definite improvement, so I’m excited to see where this next one leads. Then there is the conclusion to the Warcross duology, and I’m hoping it is as worthwhile as the first one. There is also a Pride and Prejudice retelling that has completely intrigued me, as well as a fantasy debut about three illegitimate daughters of the king fighting to inherit the crown, and of course the continuation of a series I recently discovered that is absolutely amazing (and the new covers are way better than the original ones).

Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake (Sept 4), Rule by Ellen Goodlett (Sept 11), Wildcard by Marie Lu (Sept 18), Pride by Ibi Zoboi (Sept 18), and Charmcaster by Sebastien de Castell (new cover edition: Sept 18)

Next up is the craziness that is October releases. There is no way I will be able to buy all of these right when they are released, because there are just so many. Plus, some of these covers are just absolutely stunning. Cover design is just getting so good; there are so many covers I’d love to have art cards for so I could hang them up on my book art wall.

Anyway, October has a great number of fantasy reads, as well as a few manga and graphic novel releases that I really really can’t wait for. Oh, and then of course a new special B&N edition release of a book, and another Illustrated Harry Potter book. No, it isn’t Goblet of Fire, which I had been expecting for this year, but hopefully that one will come out next fall.

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee (Oct 2), Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor (Oct 2), Damsel by Elana K Arnold (Oct 2), Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep (Oct 2), My Hero Academia Vol 15 by Kohei Horikoshi (Oct 2), My Hero Academia Vigilantes Vol 2 by Hideyuki Furuhashi (Oct 2), What If It’s Us by Adam Silvera and Becky Albertalli (Oct 9), The Wicked + The Divine Vol 7 by Kieron Gillen (Oct 9), The Tales of Beetle the Bard, Illustrated Edition (Oct 9), A Sorrow Fierce and Falling by Jessica Cluess (Oct 16), An Assassin’s Guide to Love and Treason by Virginia Boecker (Oct 23), Red Rising (Signed B&N exclusive edition, Oct 23), Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J Maas (Oct 23), and Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa (Oct 30)

Finally there is November, which is rather light after the release heaviness of October. Honestly, I am not complaining about that at all. And honestly one of the releases is just the screenplay, so it will be super fast to read.

Archenemies by Marissa Meyer (Nov 6), Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald by J.K. Rowling (movie screenplay, Nov 16), The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman (Nov 27)

Okay then, well I guess that is about all from me for today. Let me know in the comments if any of these books are on your anticipated release list. Or, tell me some books that are on your list that didn’t make it on mine. I’d love to find more books to add to my never-ending TBR. All right, everyone, I’ll be back soon with more bookish content.

Book Releases, Book Review, Book Tag, Books!, Conventions, Cover Reveal, Graphic Novel, Manga, NaNoWriMo, NetGalley, Readathon, Reading Challenge, Recommendations, Signal Boost, TBR Purge, Writing

The Road So Far (2)

Hey all, Dani here.

Why mess with the tradition I started last year? I might as well keep using the awesome “Supernatural” reference for my retrospective over the last year. You can find my overview of 2016 here.

Today also happens to be my 2 year blogaversary. I started this blog in 2016 to help me cope with my paternal grandmother’s death. Well, technically that was the catalyst for starting it; I had been thinking of starting up a blog again for a while because I needed to talk about books with someone.

2017 was such a rollercoaster year for me, and yet, looking back I wouldn’t change any of the lows I went through. Not only because the highs really kept me afloat, but also because the lows allowed me to fully understand how great the highs were.

Anyway, in January I found out that I was approved for the vacation days from work that would allow me to go to Book Expo and BookCon. Though I knew I was going alone, I knew that I would have a fun time surrounded by other book lovers and getting to check out a bunch of upcoming releases.

Also in January, my parents separated after 30 years together, and started the process of getting a divorce. The drama and issues from this event would send shockwaves through roughly 2/3 of the year.

I lost myself in books, both reading them and buying them. I pushed myself to work more on my blog, and to start interacting more with other members of the book community. It was the start to me really feeling like a good book blogger. But in those early months it was also the way I had to cope with what was happening in my life. Well, my books and Dungeons & Dragons.

It was Dungeons & Dragons that introduced me to the man who I would start dating in April. As it turns out this would be the event that helped me get through everything else. Admittedly, I know some people in my real life got annoyed with how much I gushed about my guy and how great things were. I can’t help it that my life started to feel like I was part of a romance story.

After my trip to NYC for Book Expo and BookCon, my blog really started to take off. I reached 100 followers, and later in the year 200. I’m not sure when follower 250 came around, but it might have been just before 2017 ended. So thank you to each and every one of you who has joined me in this process. You are all amazing.

Even with my work and my relationship, I somehow managed to still keep up with all of my reading and blogging, and actually I started having posts go up every single day, something I never would have thought I would be able to do.

I participated in quite a few readathons over the course of the year, from both sessions of Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathons, to a few other assorted events. All in all I think those helped me connect with more of you, and to read a bunch more books. The 24 Hour events always seem much more successful to me than the week long events, but I still keep trying with them. Hey, any excuse to read more, right?

I rekindled my fondness for manga in 2017, and I can honestly say that I am devouring so many of them. My list of manga reviews waiting to be written up is getting decently long.

Oh, and my boyfriend and I were able to go to Indianapolis in August with another friend of ours for a one day pass to Gen Con, which is a gaming convention. There we were able to get a lot of books, dice, and games, as well as to meet the cast of Critical Role. It was a really fun day.

For the 12th time I participated in NaNoWriMo, and managed to earn my 12th win, but I realize that the novel that came out is mostly incoherent. With any luck I’ll be able to start from scratch and re-write the book in 2018. I’d actually love to be able to share it with the world. And it would be nice to really get back into writing (and possibly publishing) again.

And I managed to do a TBR purge and go through a list of well of 800 books on Goodreads, taking it down to just over 400 books. I imagine this will be something I’ll have to do again soon, but I still feel pretty good with where I’m at now.

But, the greatest event of 2017 was towards the end of December. On Friday, December 22nd, on a day when we thankfully had a shutdown day at work, my boyfriend and I went shopping at Barnes & Noble where he both bought more books than me and spent more money than me. You guys, that rarely happens. You’ve seen my typical book hauls. I usually get a heck of a lot of books.

After that shopping trip, we made our way to the zoo, where we walked around for a couple hours, looking at all of the animals and then also checking out the massive holiday light display they put up each year. And it was while sitting on a bench overlooking Conservation Lake at the zoo, that my wonderful boyfriend sank down on one knee and asked me to marry him. It was honestly just like a scene out of a Hallmark channel holiday movie, and I so look forward to seeing what our future will be like.

I hope you all had some moments of 2017 that were really nice as well, and I hope that we all have a very nice 2018.

Books!, Signal Boost

Top Reads of 2017 (Part 2)

Hey all, Dani here.

It is that time of year again…actually the last day of the year. Wow, where did the time go? Okay, so there are a lot of people all over the book community sharing videos or posts where they list their top ten reads of the year. I realized a while ago that it is just not realistic for me to try and limit my favorite list down that far. I read roughly 130-150 books a year.

So I do this post twice a year. In July I write up a post on my top ten reads for the months of January thru June, and then now at the end of the year, I post my top ten reads for July thru December. This works a lot better for me and means I can share even more awesome books with all of you.

If you’d like to check out my first list for 2017, you can find that here.

Oh, and I suppose I should also add the note that I only include books that have already been published (so sorry to books like The Forgotten Book, Zenith, Gunslinger Girl, etc), and I also don’t include rereads (sorry Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban–though the illustrated edition is new, the text is still the same). And, as always, the books are listed in a mostly chronological order, not an order of best to worst or anything like that.

All right, I think it is time to jump into the list.

1. Alex & Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz. Yes, this book made my list. Come on, I think most people know of my Hamilton obsession by now, and Melissa de la Cruz was inspired to write this book after seeing the musical. Anyway, there is also apparently a sequel coming out in 2018 so I’m excited to read that one as well. Because I loved the intelligence and snappy banter from the Schulyer sisters. It was wonderful.

2. Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger. I do believe I have mentioned this book a few times before, so it’s probably no surprise that it made the list. I learned about this book randomly but then devoured it so quickly. Magical alcoholic drinks and a rich Chicago setting. I greatly enjoyed this one.

3. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. Hey look everyone, a poetry book made my list. This book had so many poems that resonated with me, and ones I thought would be helpful to my mom considering my parents’ divorce this year. I gave my copy to my mom, and then she ended up passing it on to a friend of hers who she thought would appreciate it as well. Honestly in this scenario I am perfectly fine with the fact that I have to replace this book.

4. Autoboyography by Christina Lauren. Man, my list is all over the place this year. This was such a good contemporary story. I loved the story writing aspect of the book, and the romance as well as the religious issues were all well done (in my non-expert opinion).

5. The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo. Of course this book had to make the list. I mean, my consistent praise of the Six of Crows duology means that I would gladly read anything in the Grishaverse, and this collection of fairy tales and folklore from that world was just phenomenal. Oh, and the illustrations were lovely as well.

6. All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson. When I picked this book up I didn’t realize that it was a graphic novel. It was such a great read, and I loved the Renaissance Festival/Faire elements of the book. As I went to my first Renn Faire this year, I felt like I understood that part of the story more.

7. The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty. Definitely one of my favorite books of the year, even if I did one list instead of two. The descriptions and the setting were just so rich and reading this made me feel like I was escaping reality for a while. I absolutely adored this one and can’t wait for the sequel.

8. Kat and Meg Conquer the World by Anna Priemaza. Another contemporary story with a nice focus on fandom, specifically two girls who are fans of a YouTuber who does Let’s Play videos for a video game. I adored the female friendship in this book, as well as how the girls support each other with their anxiety and OCD. It was just fantastic.

9. Searching for Billy Shakespeare by Crista McHugh. A cute romance that features a Hollywood star and a woman studying Shakespeare for her PhD. Yeah, the concept alone had me reaching for this story. And it was a fun and quick read, plus there were ties to my favorite series by the author, the Kelly Brothers series.

10. Waterworld Vol 1: Ezra by Rachel E Kelly. This is the last novel I am reading this year (though I still hope to finish another manga or two before the clock strikes midnight). And this book just barely makes it onto this list, because it is supposed to be released today. The cover is great, the story is awesome, and I am now highly anticipating the arrival of Vol. 2.


All right, well I suppose that is all for 2017. I hope you all have a wonderful rest of the year and I will be here to talk a lot more about books and other geekish things in 2018.

Books!, Signal Boost

Underwhelming Reads of 2017

Hey all, Dani here.

Welcome to a controversial (maybe?) post I like to write up at the end of the year. We all like to share the list of our best or favorite reads of the year, but how many of us talk about those disappointing reads of the year? You know, the reads that don’t quite match our expectations, the ones that aren’t OMG 5 star reads!

That’s what I’m here to talk about today.

Let me add this disclaimer, okay everyone. Just because the books are on this list does not mean that they are bad reads. It just means that either the hype was so great and it just didn’t meet those expectations for me, or that there was just something missing that didn’t make it absolutely outstanding.

All right, let’s just jump into these books. There really aren’t that many.

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Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza. This book had sounded so interesting to me, and the cover is really nice to look at. So I was expecting this to be a good sci-fi read. And it was BUT it was also lacking for me. Overall it was actually a short book and I feel like so much more could have been expanded on, particularly when it came to the world-building and the political differences. Also, I feel like the summary was a bit misleading. All in all, this story had a lot of potential and it just fell short for me. I ended up giving it 3.5 stars.

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Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. Okay, so this one is probably going to be the one that might upset people most. But please, as I said in the intro for this post, just because the book is on this list doesn’t mean that it is a bad book. In fact, I did give this book 4 stars. But honestly, I think it was all the hype surrounding this book that ended up making it so I expected so much more from it. Plus there were just some parts that felt a bit forced to me, and overall this book just didn’t end up giving me that emotional impact I expected or that I had felt with other books read in 2017.

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Perfect Ten by L. Philips. Now this one is definitely an underwhelming read for me. I only gave it 3 stars because honestly though it was easy to read and didn’t take long, I finished it only because I received an early copy from Penguin’s First to Read program and felt it deserved to be fully read before I reviewed it. But the suspension of disbelief needed for this book is ridiculously high. Sam is wishy-washy in his decisions, and he is not really all that loyal to the person he’s dating, as he ends up flirting with others–and at the same time he scolds his friend for staying in a relationship with someone who continues to cheat on her. Overall it was just super disappointing.

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The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash. For the setting and the geekery, this book is actually not that bad. I’ve read a few books in 2017 that take place in or around a convention, so I relate to those books really easily. But the romance aspect of this story just didn’t do anything for me; I couldn’t root for the unrequited love at all, because to me it was so clear that they were nothing more than friends and there were better options out there for our leading man.


Okay, so there’s one more book I kind of want to add to this list, but I feel like it should be separate from the others because this is my only DNF book. It isn’t something I do often, but in this book’s case, I just couldn’t think of forcing myself to continue with it any longer.

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King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard. I really liked the first book, Red Queen. Though the overall tale was one I had read before, I nevertheless enjoyed the experience and was excited to see what the series would amount to. Then Glass Sword came out and I felt like I was dragging myself through most of the book to reach the end (and what an ending that was!), so honestly the ending was what saved the book for me and made me willing to give the third book a shot. Unfortunately I ended up giving up about halfway through this. For me personally it just felt like nothing really was happening, and I just couldn’t continue trying to force myself through a book when there were so many others waiting to be read. So, I will not be finishing King’s Cage nor will I be picking up War Storm. If you love the series though, then I’m glad you connected with the book in a way I just didn’t.


All right, well I guess that is all for this post. I’ll be back again in a few hours with my next post…which is actually my final post for 2017.

Book Releases, Books!, Diverse December, Inspiration, Signal Boost, Writing

Guest Post: FADVERSITY – Diversity as a Genre by Hannah Carmack

Hey all, Dani here.

 

Okay so today I am excited to bring to you a guest post by an author I’ve been speaking with recently. I shall also have a review up for her newest release within the next week based on my currently scheduled posts.

But I’ll start off with giving you some details about Hannah’s book.

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In the midst of the cold war, the CIA’s finest and most fatal female agent, Diana Riley, vanishes. Kidnapped by the KGB and taken to the backcountry of North Carolina, she and her team of unsavory partners are forced to undergo illegal experimentation.

But, when the experiments leave them horribly deformed and unable to reenter society without someone crying monster, the previously glamorous and high-maintenance spies must escape KGB captivity and avoid recapture at the hands of Nikola, a ruthless KGB agent with an intense and well-justified grudge against her former flame.

You can snag a copy of this book right now from Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.

And now I’m going to pass this post over to Hannah. Enjoy.


I’m going to open right away by saying these are some deep waters. In no world is a 300-500 word post going to cover the intricate details of the recent viralization of #ownvoice/Diverse Voices manuscripts. I’m coming at this simply as a debut-author publishing through a niche, #ownvoices dedicated press.

To say that navigating what is acceptable and what isn’t acceptable in the genrefication of diversity is difficult is an understatement. From MSWL to Twitter Pitch Scandal, there’s no right way to talk about it. The only thing we can know for certain is although diversity shouldn’t be a fad, it is.

In a perfect world, diversity is just a way of life. Our world is diverse, so our fiction is. Currently, there is a push for more diverse book, which I think is good! More marginalized voices are being heard. I would have never found my publisher and gotten SEVEN-SIDED SPY published if not for the active search for LGBTQIA+ voices.

That said, there’s also anxiety in the publishing world that sometime soon diversity is going to go out of style. I was at a literary conference not too long ago. While there I was able to grab lunch with some fairly reputable authors, all of whom were talking about when the “vampire bubble” burst. You know, that sweet spot in literary history where the vampire boom from Twilight was finally over. A lot of authors, and readers rejoiced (As someone who loved Vampire’s Assistant I was –slightly- bummed). But, there’s no denying that for a while it seemed like you couldn’t pick up a YA book without a bloodsucker jumping out of the pages at you, and then just as sudden as it started, it was gone.

The conversation seemed normal, until everyone then transitioned into talking about “the diversity bubble.” In which case, all the wheels in my mind came to a screeching halt. I want to say that there will be no end to #ownvoices. That in this good perfect world our books will always be as diverse as our world. But, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think they were right.

“Trends” in literature come and go. For a while it was vampires, then it was zombies, currently, it feels like we’re in the ending days of dystopia, and soon we’ll be ushering in an era of #ownvoices. It’s no secret that one of these things is not like the other. Diversity shouldn’t be shelved alongside “dystopia” and “paranormal romance,” but it very well could be if we don’t keep speaking up and demanding our voices be heard.

The authors at that conference were right. We’re in a “diversity as a trend” bubble. Which has its pros –easier to find books featuring different races, religions, abilities, genders, ect, ect- and cons- trivialization of serious topics, problematic representation. It seems like the best thing we can do at the moment, is keep writing. Don’t shy away from your all-queer cast or your genderfluid track star or your coming of age about a girl with an ileostomy. Keep writing and keep reading books that speak to cultures that aren’t your own, the unconventional, the often shyed away from. There is a “trendification” of diversity going on. It’s up to readers and writers, to make sure it lasts even if this “bubble” bursts.


All right, Dani again. So tomorrow I’ll have two posts up: one on my underwhelming reads of 2017 and one for my top reads of 2017 (the July-December edition).

Books!, Recommendations, Self-Published Books

Recommendations: Classics

Hey all, Dani here.

Happy Thursday everyone, and Happy Thanksgiving to those of you in the US. Also, welcome back to another post in my series of book recommendations. We have made it to a topic that I haven’t really read much of the past couple years, at least by my definition of the term. Anyway, let’s get started.

First of all, when it comes to books, how do we define what is and is not a classic? Technically speaking, from a literary standpoint, a classic is a book that is generally accepted as noteworthy or exemplary. But the definition of a classic has shifted and evolved and been reassessed many times over the years. Some say that a classic is something we assume everyone has read. Others have said that classics are books that people want to say they have read, but they actually don’t want to read.

For those of us who have taken many literature courses in school, classics probably defined our existences for a while. We read them, discussed them, watched adaptations of them, analyzed them, compared them to other works of the time…and just when we thought we were done, we’d have to do it all over again with another book, another story, another poem, or just another class. I enjoyed about 95% of my assigned reading in college, and I’ve kept all of my literature textbooks in case I want to reread anything.

So, while this list could probably include some more recently published books that I could suggest as modern classics, for the moment I’m going to stick to some of my favorite literary classics from 30ish years ago or more. Basically nothing that has come out in my lifetime.

All right, let’s get started.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Obviously I have to start my list here. This book is still taught in a large number of schools. It has also made it on the banned books list many times. But obviously the issues of race contained within this book are still relevant today. Maybe we’d be a better society if we took the advice of understanding someone by walking a mile in their shoes.

1984 by George Orwell. Of course, Animal Farm could just as easily be on this list. Honestly, I think the portrayal of governments, politics, and power in these books are what makes them so important and relevant. Actually, I haven’t read either in quite some time. I think I’m very overdue for a reread.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding. On the other side of things, I think this book is important because of what it shows about not having proper rules of society, or technically not having consequences or punishments for wrongdoing. I remember reading this one back in school and then watching an old VHS film version of it. I think the movie was in black and white too. But it’s a story that sticks with you.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. This series was obviously a big part of my childhood, and I desperately need a reread of them all because it has been far too long. I loved visiting Narnia, even with the obvious issues and turmoil in the land. Plus they were just fun adventure stories. And how many of us started exploring every closet/wardrobe we came across in the hopes that the path to Narnia would reveal itself? I know I did.

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. A classic staple of childhood, the tale of spider Charlotte and Wilbur the pig. Despite being two completely different creatures, it is clear that they looked out for one another and helped each other. This is another story I need to reread. Thank goodness I can just buy a copy and read it before donating it to my boyfriend’s little niece’s library collection. She may only be 5 months old, but I’ve made sure that she will have a good collection of books to appreciate for years to come. This will have to be one of them.

The Odyssey by Homer. I have to include this one. Come on, Odysseus has the longest trip ever trying to get back home, but he doesn’t give up. And he has to face a number of hurdles and roadblocks along the way. Patience and determination and perseverance can really help a person survive though. And hey, this is about as classic as you can get with a story.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker. How could I not include this book? I have had to read it a couple times for school and it is such a valuable read. There are so many issues covered in this book, and you can’t help but connect with Celie and hope for her to keep fighting and to find a better life for herself.

Matilda by Roald Dahl. This is about as close to my personal restrictions as you can get. Technically this book was released in 1988, which also happens to be the year I was born. I said I was just going to limit myself by not having books from my lifetime..but this is Matilda. It is the classic tale of an adorable bookworm who faces neglect and bullying and still manages to handle it all in a really cool way. How could I not recommend my favorite reader from literature?

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. Another staple of my childhood. I don’t know how many times I read this book over the years, partly due to my obsession for horses. This book is important for its treatment of animals. Black Beauty is good to the people who are good to him, but does not do so well with those who are cruel or neglectful. And yet even when in not so good conditions, Black Beauty trudges on, and eventually things do get better.

Honorable Mentions

Okay, so I have a few others that aren’t quite high enough on my list to be full recommendations, but I still feel that they are worth mentioning.

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. It may be obvious by now that I rather liked books with animals in them. This tale of a boy and his two hunting dogs has really stuck with me, but not in the way to where I could rattle off the details or events of the story. It’s more what I recall feeling when I read it. But I still think it’s a worthwhile read.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. This book did not make the list for one reason only–it was published in 1989. However, I read this book in 4th or 5th grade and it has stuck with me ever since. The tale of two girls, one who is Jewish while the other girl’s family is protecting her, during WWII was something that has been cemented in my mind for the past two decades. I definitely recommend this book. It isn’t very long, but I still think it’s important.

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K Le Guin. I had to include this one. I just think reading the classics of fantasy and science fiction can be truly beneficial to us in the modern day. Plus following around Ged as he learns magic and gets into all sorts of trouble and adventure is just rather entertaining.

Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Okay, yeah, another obsession of my childhood. I loved the family dynamics in this series, and I don’t feel like we see that as much at all in books. It’s sad how often a YA or MG book will just push parents etc into the background as if they don’t play a role in the lives of children and teens.

Anyway, those are just a few classic recommendations. I’m sure I could list off a whole lot more though. Notice how I did not include any Austen or Shakespeare, Doyle or Poe, or so many other authors we accept as being classic.

What about you guys? Do you have any classic books you’d like to add to my list? Let me know in the comments.

 

Books!, Reading Challenge, Signal Boost

Diverse December TBR

Hey all, Dani here.

I think I’m ready for all the food I’m going to eat tomorrow. I have two, possibly three, Thanksgiving meals to attend. But before I can enjoy the holiday and then my weekend, I have to make it through this last work shift. Naturally I pass the time by thinking about books.

Anyway, my buddy Kathy over at Books & Munches is hosting this fun reading challenge in the month of December called Diverse December. The basic concept is to read as many diverse books as you can in the month. What’s fun for me with this idea is that my recommendations post next week actually is about diverse reads.

Now, I absolutely do not believe that I will make it through all of these books in December, but this is an idea of some of the books I’m hoping to read next month. Obviously I do also have some NetGalley review copies to read and all that, but I’m hoping to finish my year off strong and really boost my total number of books read for 2017. This may be fairly easy considering that I am off work the whole last week of the year and plan to read as much as possible in that time.

Let’s just go ahead and list off the books I might be reading next month.

First off, The Librarian of Auschwitz sounds like such an important and interesting read. I think it qualifies as a diverse read because I am not Jewish, so it is a different culture for me to read about. Mask of Shadows follows a gender fluid main character and it has been high on my TBR for months. Then there’s And I Darken, which I’ve heard amazing things about and apparently there is a potential gay relationship, though I’ve heard that has a greater focus in the sequel.

Okay, so Phantom Pains has a diverse cast of characters, most of whom are dealing with some sort of psychological diagnosis. For example, the main protagonist is a double amputee who deals with borderline personality disorder. I’ve been wanting to read Heroine Complex for a few months now but keep putting it off. Well, it features a main character who is an Asian-American, so it definitely fits the qualifications for Diverse December. And The Upside of Unrequited has at least a girl-girl romance and possibly more. Plus I’ve been wanting to give Becky Albertalli another try because while I liked Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, it didn’t quite meet my expectations.

Two teenage secret agents sent to seduce one teenage girl and they end up falling for each other instead. Yeah, I’ve been wanting to read The Love Interest for a while. Next is a John Green book, and honestly I hadn’t originally planned on reading this. Then I read some wonderful reviews, ones that praised the mental health representation in the book, so I’m going to give it a try. Of course, I also still need/want to read The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. I have heard so many wonderful things about this story, and I need to stop putting it off.

In this final batch of TBR possibilities, I have When Dimple Met Rishi, which I’ve heard is a cute contemporary read, and the two main characters are Indian-American. Next is the middle grade novel for Lumberjanes. Now I love the graphic novels and I’ve heard great things about this story too. And I know that a couple of the Lumberjanes start a relationship together, so we’ll see if that ends up in the books too. The Hate U Give is a story I have been hearing about all year, and I think its focus on police brutality and the black lives matter movement is important. Actually, I should probably have Dear Martin on this list for the same reason. Finally, my last option is A Closed and Common Orbit. I have gushed repeatedly about the wonderful political, racial, religious, and sexuality diversity in the first book of this series, so I’m expecting this one to be more of the same. We’ll see what happens.

Okay, that is all for my TBR possibilities in December. Hmm…adding Dear Martin to this list, I have almost challenged myself to read 14 books. Will I succeed? So long as I read a few books then I’ll consider it a success, but if I could read all of these, that would be an amazing end to 2017. I suppose if all goes well I’ll have a lot of book reviews coming soon enough.

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Review: The sun and her flowers by Rupi Kaur

Hey all, Dani here.

Okay, so I’m back with another review for a book I read while participating in Readathon by Zoe, which was last weekend on October 14th. This is a book I was eagerly looking forward to, and I knew it would be perfect for a readathon because it is a collection of poetry.

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Summary

From Rupi Kaur, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of milk and honey, comes her long-awaited second collection of poetry. A vibrant and transcendent journey about growth and healing. Ancestry and honoring one’s roots. Expatriation and rising up to find a home within yourself.

Divided into five chapters and illustrated by Kaur, the sun and her flowers is a journey of wilting, falling, rooting, rising, and blooming. A celebration of love in all its forms.

this is the recipe of life
said my mother
as she held me in her arms as i wept
think of those flowers you plant
in the garden each year
they will teach you
that people too
must wilt
fall
root
rise
in order to bloom

My Thoughts

Rating: 5 stars

I read and reviewed Rupi Kaur’s first collection of poetry a couple months ago, and I really enjoyed it. A number of the poems resonated with me, and several others I thought would be beneficial to my mom, especially considering what she has gone through this year. So after finishing it, I passed it on to her, and then she ended up passing the book on to another person who she thought would benefit from it.

So basically knowing that Kaur’s second collection of poetry was coming out, I had expectations that it would also resonate with me, and I can say that I was not disappointed. Now, I don’t believe I had as many “wow” moments with this collection as I did with Milk and Honey, but I still definitely thought that it is a well put together selection of poems.

What is so interesting to me with Kaur’s poetry is that the ones that hit me the most powerfully are not the poems that are a page long or a couple pages long. No, it seems the ones that pack the most punch to me are the ones that are only a few lines long. The fact that she can say so much in so few words is remarkable.

Much like with Milk and Honey, I found myself bookmarking certain poems so I could read them…usually to my boyfriend. Of course those were poems that typically had to do with love, romance, relationships, etc. They were poems that in some ways made me think of him, so I had to share.

But I definitely think that Kaur is a poet worth reading. This collection continued with similar style, structure, and art as before. And it was a bit longer, which was awesome, but still read rather quickly. As I mentioned before, there are a number of poems that are only a couple lines long. I am trying to read more poetry, and I’m glad this is an author who was recommended to me.

Where to Buy

You can pick up this lovely collection of poetry from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-million, Book Depository, or your local indie bookstore. I actually got my copy at my local grocery store so it’s basically anywhere books can be found.

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LGBTQ+ Recommendations

Hey all, Dani here.

Okay, so I’m back with more book recommendations. Today I’m talking about books that feature characters who identify as LGBTQIAP+. Now, I know there are a large number of books that will be missing from my list, and please feel free to mention them in the comments. I’m pretty much sticking to books I’ve read in the past couple of years that really stood out to me. Obviously I will include links to reviews where I can.

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren. This was a recent read and I just really enjoyed it because it was cute, but I think the issues of sexuality and religion are nicely touched upon within the novel.

Dreadnought and Sovereign by April Daniels. Would you like to read about a transgender superhero? Just say yes and go pick up these books. I just enjoyed Danny’s story and seeing how everyone responded when superpowers caused her body to become the female body she had always wanted.

Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee. Firstly, for all of my awesome classic literature nerds out there, main character Tash is creating a web series based on Anna Karenina, so that’s cool. But Tash is also asexual, and I don’t think I’ve read many ace books, if any, before this.

Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson and Shannon Waters. Even if this didn’t have any LGBTQ+ representation in it, I would recommend this graphic novel series. Plus it also has a focus on female friendship and is such a fun adventure.

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde. So yet another fun geeky story, this one takes place at a convention, which is awesome. Also, one of the main characters was dating a guy, but has a crush on a girl, and starts a relationship with her in the book. This was a cute read that I flew through as soon as I got my hands on it.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. The diversity in this book is fantastic. Okay, yeah, so it is a science fiction novel so there are a number of alien races, but there are characters with a wide variety of sexual preferences, religious ideals, and more. I just highly recommend this book.

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson. I read this book last year and it is another book that revolves around characters who are transgender. It was an interesting story and I became so invested in the lives of the characters.

More Happy Than NotHistory is All You Left Me, and They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. Any book by Adam Silvera is going to probably make you cry, but aside from that, Adam does typically have some characters who identify as bisexual or gay. I have devoured these books since I first discovered them last year.

Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. Another set of books that have awesome diversity. I absolutely adore these books. Plus, Jesper and Wylan are just the cutest couple.

Shades of Magic trilogy by V.E. Schwab. Okay, so it’s been a little while since I read the first book in this trilogy, but I know for sure that the second book has some LGBTQ+ representation in it. And I would recommend these books anyway because they are outstanding.

Heroes of OlympusMagnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, and The Trials of Apollo series by Rick Riordan. Man, there is so much to say about basically any Rick Riordan book. There are trans characters, gay characters, bisexual characters…the list goes on and on. And it is all handled so well, and the stories are great. If you haven’t jumped into the worlds of Rick Riordan, then where have you been?

And these two books are technically on my TBR list, but I’m going to go ahead and add them to the list as well:

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

Oh, and for you “Riverdale” fans out there, you can also check out the new series of Jughead comics, as Jughead is an aromantic asexual character.

As I said, I’m sure I am missing a lot of great books, so please, feel free to rattle them off down in the comments.

Finally, next week my genre for this series of recommendation posts will be Fantasy. But I still have plenty of other options, so let me know down below what you’d like to see next:

  • Contemporary
  • Science Fiction
  • Paranormal
  • Romance
  • Historical
  • Poetry
  • Memoir
  • Classics
  • Graphic Novel
  • Diverse Reads
  • …or suggest another genre or theme that you’d like to see me include.