#ownvoices · Diverse Books · Diversity Spotlight Thursday

Diversity Spotlight Thursday #4

diverse-spotlight1Diversity Spotlight Thrusday is a weekly meme hosted by Aimal from Bookshelves and Paperbacks. Every week, the participants are suppost to choose one book for each of the three categories: a diverse book you have read and enjoyed, a diverse book on your tbr, and a diverse book that has not yet been released. 

I have decided to pick  books that have  less than a thousand ratings on Goodreads, because I want to promote less known diverse books and authors, and I will try to choose only #ownvoices books, because I want the authors that I promote to be members of minorities and marginalized groups.

read

City of Clowns by Daniel Alarcón & Sheila Alvarado

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Oscar “Chino” Uribe is a young Peruvian journalist for a local tabloid paper. After the recent death of his philandering father, he must confront the idea of his father’s other family, and how much of his own identity has been shaped by his father’s murky morals. At the same time, he begins to chronicle the life of street clowns, sad characters who populate the violent and corrupt city streets of Lima, and is drawn into their haunting, fantastical world.

 This graphic novel, with its short punches of action and images, its stark contrasts between light and dark, truth and fiction, perfectly corresponds to the tone of Chino’s story. With the city of Lima as a character, and the bold visual language from the story, City of Clowns is moving, menacing, and brilliantly vivid.

Goodreads | Amazon

City of Clowns was originally published as a short story in spanish written by Daniel Alarcón, a peruvian author, and later it became a graphic novel illustrated by Sheila Alvarado, who is also peruvian. If you haven’t read any books by Latin American authors, you can start with this short graphic novel that tells an  interesting and heartfelt story that revolves around loyalty, family and poverty and includes an amazing portrait of Perú.

tbr

This Side of Home by Renée Watson

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Identical twins Nikki and Maya have been on the same page for everything—friends, school, boys and starting off their adult lives at a historically African-American college. But as their neighborhood goes from rough-and-tumble to up-and-coming, suddenly filled with pretty coffee shops and boutiques, Nikki is thrilled while Maya feels like their home is slipping away. Suddenly, the sisters who had always shared everything must confront their dissenting feelings on the importance of their ethnic and cultural identities and, in the process, learn to separate themselves from the long shadow of their identity as twins.

Goodreads | Amazon 

I have been hearing a lot about this book recently and the synopsis makes it sounds amazing. I know this book discusses racism in different forms and that there are reference to Black History Month, and I’m excited to see how that it’s incorporated in this story. At the same time, I have heard great things about the writing, plot and characters. Can’t wait to read this!

coming-soon

It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sugiyra

its-not-like-its-a-secretSixteen-year-old Sana Kiyohara has too many secrets. Some are small, like how it bothers her when her friends don’t invite her to parties. Some are big, like that fact that her father may be having an affair. And then there’s the one that she can barely even admit to herself—the one about how she might have a crush on her best friend.

When Sana and her family move to California she begins to wonder if it’s finally time for some honesty, especially after she meets Jamie Ramirez. Jamie is beautiful and smart and unlike anyone Sana’s ever known. There are just a few problems: Sana’s new friends don’t trust Jamie’s crowd; Jamie’s friends clearly don’t want her around anyway; and a sweet guy named Caleb seems to have more-than-friendly feelings for her. Meanwhile, her dad’s affair is becoming too obvious to ignore anymore.

Sana always figured that the hardest thing would be to tell people that she wants to date a girl, but as she quickly learns, telling the truth is easy… what comes after it, though, is a whole lot more complicated.

Goodreads | Amazon 

I love books with f/f romances, so I’m incredibly excited to read this book. It looks like a really cute book, but at the same time, I have heard that there’s a good portrait of racism. The release date is  May 9th 2017. 

Have you read any of these? Did you like them? Can you recommend me some diverse books you love? 

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#ownvoices · Diverse Books · Review

Book Review: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

is-everyone-hanging-out-without-me

Title: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

Author: Mindy Kaling

Published by: Crown Archetype

Publishing date:  November 1st 2011

Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir

Pages: 222

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”
 
Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!
 
In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? is both funny and insightful at times. Some other times however, this book misses the mark by a lot. Comedians or people trying to be funny so often rely on making fun of marginalized groups and their struggles to make people laugh and, unfortunetly, Mindy Kaling ends up falling into this trap. She jokes about hate crimes, rape, throwing acid at people and she uses being depressed as a synonim to being sad. None of those things are okay, none of those things are funny and all of those things are problematic. On the other hand, she talks about body positivity and beauty standards, she talks about being the daughter of immigrants and she talks about beign a woman of color. She talks about all these things honestly and unapologetically. This book is full of these contradictions, it goes from trying to be funny by dealing with important subject in careless ways  to making thoughtful commentary on some other important issues. 

Beyond that, the more interesting part of this book is when Mindy talks about working as a writer. The chapters where she talks about her job are brilliant. She is insightful and entertaining; she talks about how success in college doesn’t always means success outside of it, how hard is to find a job as a writer, how you end up taking jobs that are of little interest to you, but also about good things like getting success for something you wrote or  getting to work with people that you admire and that help you be better at your job. Those parts of the book where she talks about the good and the bad of being a writer are what makes parts of this book captivating.

Nontheless, there are a lot of chapters that felt like they were just there to fill space. Instead of talking about writing and about her job, Kaling spends big part of this book talking about her childhood, her teen years, how much she doesn’t like sports and other random stuff. The main problem is that she addresses those subjects by trying to be funny but not completely succeding at it. She doesn’t talk enough about what she actually does, what made her famous and what made her book possible in the first place, instead she talk about a bunch of random stuff in a not so entertaining way. It would be much more fascintaing to hear anecdotes about her shooting The Office, about having writers block, about sexism in comedy, than hearing various anecdotes about how much she hates sports (there are a lot of these type of anecdote, like a lot of them!).

Overall, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? is honest and insightful about the life of a writer. But when Kaling is not talking about writing, she often is neither funny nor captivating, and a lot of times, by trying to be funny she can be insensitive and hurtful.

Rating: 3 stars

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Review: The Backstagers by James Tynion IV & Rian Sygh

the-backstagers

Title: The Backstagers

Author: James Tynion IV & Rian Sygh

Published by:  Boom! Box

Publishing Date: August 17th 2016

Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy, YA.

Pages: 25

When Jory transfers to the private, all-boys school St. Genesius, he figures joining the stage crew would involve a lot of just fetching props and getting splinters. To his pleasant surprise, he discovers there’s a door backstage that leads to different worlds, and all of the stagehands know about it! All the world’s a stage…but what happens behind the curtain is pure magic!

Goodreads | Amazon 

The Backstagers is a short and cute graphic novel about finding people to fit in with. It has a diverse cast of characters that includes a lot of POC’s, also an underrepresented body type, and it seems like there’s gonna be characters that belong to the LGBTQ+ community, which makes this graphic novel so important in terms of representation.

There is a bit of a mystery that’s introduced in this first issue about rooms and creatures and it seems like it’s gonna be expanding through all the issues of this graphic novel. The mystery and the fantastical elements are definitely what make this graphic novel interesting and intriguing.

Also, it’s worth-noting that this has a really cool art style that goes really well with the story and manages to convey this different sense of space that’s portrait in it. There’s room that shouldn’t be there and corridors that move and that sort of thing, but it’s never confusing because the art style is really clear and shows those elements really well.

Overall, the first issue of The Backstagers is definitely a strong one, it manages to intrigue the reader by introducing fantastical elements in a contemporary setting and it has an incredible art style. More important, it does a great job in terms of diversity by including different types of minorities.

Rating: 4 stars

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#ownvoices · Diverse Books · Review

Book Review: God Smites and Other Muslim Girl Problems by Ishara Deen

god-smites

Title: God Smites and Other Muslim Girl Problems

Author: Ishara Deen

Published by: Deeya Publishing Inc.

Publishing Date: January 15th 2017

Pages: 236

LIKE NANCY DREW, BUT NOT…

Craving a taste of teenage life, Asiya Haque defies her parents to go for a walk (really, it was just a walk!) in the woods with Michael, her kind-of-friend/crush/the guy with the sweetest smile she’s ever seen. Her tiny transgression goes completely off track when they stumble on a dead body. Michael covers for Asiya, then goes missing himself.

Despite what the police say, Asiya is almost sure Michael is innocent. But how will she, the sheltered girl with the strictest parents ever, prove anything? With Michael gone, a rabid police officer in desperate need of some sensitivity training, and the murderer out there, how much will Asiya risk to do what she believes is right?

Goodreads |Amazon

*I recieved a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. * 

God Smites and Other Muslim Girl Problems is a funny, charming and interesting book that talks about the problems Muslims have to deal with in everyday life, particulary, Muslim teenage girls. The heart of this book is the main character Asiya, she is funny and smart, she has a unique voice that shines throughout the book, she cares deeply about other people, while being a bit naive at times.

Furthermore, the humour in this book is absolutely brilliant and that comes from being honest and outspoken about things that are not often talked about in YA and turning the awkwardness that can surround topics like sex and religion in something funny. Some of the funniest moments in the book are when Asiya has conversations with God, she thinks about the most innapropiate things while she prays or simply talks to God in her head. Those moments were relatable and hilarious, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t moments where that those same subject are addressed seriously and with thoughtfulness, but there’s a good balance between the funny and the serious.

Also, the way this book talks about muslim problems is insightful and it can be uncomfortable in its truths. As this books addresses Muslim problems, it also shows perfecly that not all Muslims share the same ideas or have the same interpretation of what the Quran says. They are a community, they are part of the same religion, but that doesn’t mean they are all the same, that they all have the sames opinions or attitudes. They are all individuals and have their own personalities and their own ways of seeing and understanding the world.

The relationship between Asiya and her parents is really important to the story and religion plays a big role in that relationship. Sometimes it’s really frustrating to see how her parents refuse to listen and are really overprotective, but at the same time, it’s easy to see that they love her and want the best for her. Not to mention, that the relationship developes throughout the book, and by the end, the door starts to open for a more open and honest relationship between Asiya and her parents.

Moreover, the relationship between Asiya and Michael plays a big part in the story and the scenes between them are extremely cute; the whole ‘I don’t really know you yet, but you are nice and I like you’ thing was written so well, because it didn’t feel like insta-love. Asiya likes Michael but she reminds herself throughout the book that she doesn’t knwo him that well and that she doesn’t know if she can trust him, which was refreshing. On the other hand, Michael is a mystery and he is not enterely trustworthy; only time will tell if he is good enough for Asiya. Additionally, Asiya’s best friend, Abby, is amazing. Even if she isn’t in the book that much, her character shines and it seems she is going to be a lot more present in the next book. Asiya and Abby’s relationship is definitely a great representation of a healthy female friendship.

Finally, this books manages to be funny and insightful at the same time; the writting is incredibly strong, the pace is even throughout the book and the mystery is not predictable. Likewise, the main character has a unique voice and the other characters feel real and flesh out.

Rating: 4,2 stars

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Review

Book Review: My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

my-brilliant-friend

Title: My Brilliant Friend (The Neapolitan Novels #1)

Author: Elena Ferrante

Published by: Europa Editions

Publishing Date: September 25th 2012

Genre: Historical Fiction, Adult, Italian Literature

Pages: 331

A modern masterpiece from one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense, and generous-hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante’s inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship.

The story begins in the 1950s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow, as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge, Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other. They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists, the unforgettable Elena and Lila.

Goodreads | Amazon

My Briallian Friend is a quite and personal book, it focuses almost entirely in these two girls, Elena and Lila, that are incredible dislikeable at times and really complex characters throughout the entire book. This is their story, from early childhood until their teenage years, and it doesn’t have much more plot than that, which can make the story slow at times. Nonetheless, reading about this two very different girls and the complicated friendship they have is never boring because the story is impeccably written with delicacy and intelligence and that makes the expirience of reading it delightful.

There are two topics that are especially interesting throughout the book: the first one is the relationship between poverty, education and violence and the second one is this exploration of living with the enemy in your neighborhood. My  Brilliant Friend does a very good job of showing the cycle of poverty: the way doors close for people without economic resourses; how even a brilliant girl sees her education interrumpted because of material circunstances; how gender plays a huge role in who gets to do what; what education can mean to the life of a person; how it can pull him or her out of that cycle of poverty; and ultimately, how violence becomes interwined in the life of people in conditions of extreme poverty and little education.

You could say this is a book plaged with tension and one of the main reasons is that it portraits the time after WWII, when people that were in opposite sides during the war had to live together. The book shows how the girls -even when they don’t really understand what is happening- pick up on the tension that is suffocating their neighboorhood. Most people relate wars with a larger scale, countries fighting each other or different sides fighting in a civil war, and even when thinking about the people involve in war it’s about what they go through during the war and not so much what happens after. In that sense, it is really interesting to read about war enemies in such a small scale, the setting is a poor neighborhood in Napoles, and realizing that when everything is said and done this people that supported different sides still have to live together and the fact that the war is over doesn’t mean they stop beliving in whatever they believed in or stop hating whoever they hated before, but they are forced to cohabitate and poverty plays an important role in that.

Finally, My Brilliant Friend tells the story of two complex girls, that have a complicated friendship and  live surrounded with violence and old tensions, while making a poignant commentary on the relationship between poverty and education.

Rating: 4 stars

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#ownvoices · Diverse Books · Diversity Spotlight Thursday

Diversity Spotlight Thursday #3

diverse-spotlight1

Diversity Spotlight Thrusday is a weekly meme hosted by Aimal from Bookshelves and Paperbacks. Every week, the participants are suppost to choose one book for each of the three categories: a diverse book you have read and enjoyed, a diverse book on your tbr, and a diverse book that has not yet been released. 

I have decided to pick  books that have  less than a thousand ratings on Goodreads, because I want to promote less known diverse books and authors, and I will try to choose only #ownvoices books, because I want the authors that I promote to be members of minorities and marginalized groups.

read

When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez 

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A Goth girl with an attitude problem, Elizabeth Davis must learn to control her anger before it destroys her. Emily Delgado appears to be a smart, sweet girl, with a normal life, but as depression clutches at her, she struggles to feel normal. Both girls are in Ms. Diaz’s English class, where they connect to the words of Emily Dickinson. Both are hovering on the edge of an emotional precipice. One of them will attempt suicide. And with Dickinson’s poetry as their guide, both girls must conquer their personal demons to ever be happy.

In an emotionally taut novel with a richly diverse cast of characters, readers will relish in the poetry of Emily Dickinson and be completely swept up in the turmoil of two girls grappling with demons beyond their control.

Goodreads | Amazon 

This book  portraits depression through the stories of two main characters that experience this mental illness in very different ways and that it’s definitely the thing that makes this book unique, as well as incredibly important. This book does not only represent mental illness, there’s different kinds of diversity represented. Something else that I really like about it is all the Emily Dickinson poems and references; they add so much to the story. Here’s my full review.

tbr

Well Played by Katrina Ramos Atienza

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Patrice Reyes is starting her junior year at the University and she’s convinced it’s going to be the best semester ever. For starters, it looks like this is the year her team will win the regional football (soccer, for you Yanks) championships. Her subjects are looking good, and there’s even a chance she might finally get somewhere with her rock star crush. But a new classmate—arrogant, cold math nerd—is seriously throwing off her groove. Will she ever get rid of him and have the awesome semester she deserves? Or is there truth to never judging (math) books by their cover?

Goodreads| Amazon 

Well Played is a Pride and Prejudice retelling- which always makes me excited-  that I have been meaning to read for quite some time and I just won it on a giveaway, so I will be reading it soon. Anyway, I’m curious about how similar it’s to the original story and what new things bring to the story, because it takes place in the Philippines and it has POCs as the main characters.  Also, the kindle version is $1.99 on Amazon!

coming-soon

d2042-when2bdimple2bmet2brishiDimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right? 

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not? Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

Goodreads | Amazon

I have never read a book about an arrange marriage in a contemporary setting and I’m really intrigued about it. I know I have a  lot of preconceived ideas about arrange marriages and I would like to read about it and learn what shapes it takes in the modern time. Still, this books sounds incredibly cute and the cover is gourgeous and it’s diverse and I’m excited. Ok? I’m really excited about this one, it’s one of my most anticipated books of 2017.

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Have you read any of these? Did you like them? Can you recommend me some diverse books you love? 

Review

Book Review: Delicious Temptation by Sabrina Sol

delicious-tentation

Title: Delicious Temptation

Author: Sabrina Sol

Published by: Entangled Publishing, LLC

Publishing Date: May 16th 2015

Genre: New Adult, Romance, #ownvoices

Pages: 236

Amara Maria Robles is a good girl. So good that she gave up her dreams of becoming a renowned pastry chef to help her parents with their struggling Mexican bakery. Yet her parents reject any changes she suggests, and refuse to sell her mouth-watering confections. Clearly being a good girl isn’t paying off. So when her brother’s sexy ex-best friend walks into the bakery, Amara’s tempted to be very bad indeed…

After a scandal twelve years ago, resident bad boy Eric Valencia has returned to make things right with his family and friends. One glance at Amara and her wicked curves, however, and Eric finds himself thinking about how she’d feel beneath him—something he promised Amara’s brother he would never think about, let alone do.

But this bad boy is in deep trouble…because Amara’s determined to have her cake, and Eric, too.

Goodreads | Amazon 

Delicious Temptation is an okay book, it has its steamy moments and it talks about delicious Latin American desserts, but the writing isn’t that strong  and because of that the plot lacks originality and it’s easy to predict and the characters end up being two dimensional and very formulaic. Amara is the ‘typical’ good girl, a bit naive, she lets her parents make decisions for her even when she’s 26 years old, she is bit inexperienced when it comes to sex and she wants to be ‘bad’ for a little while. That’s the reason she ends up with the male protagonist, which again is the ‘typical’ bad boy. He doesn’t have much of a personality, he is a really jealous guy but at the same time he can be caring and supportive.

One of the things that makes this book interesting is the fact that it’s a new adult book where the main characters are Latinxs, which isn’t that common. Nonetheless, those characters are written in a way that follows a mold used by a lot of the new adult novels out there and the Latino heritage gets a bit lost because of that. Other that the traditional food and random Spanish phrases, it was hard to tell it had Latinx main characters, which it’s a shame, but it’s more a mistake in the writing than in the representation of latinxs itself.

In term of representation, it’s worth noting that the best part of the book is the Latin American food and desserts, which are portrait in such an authentic and accurate way that while reading you can perfectly imagine how good they would taste. This part of the book is the only one that feels unique, it’s the redeeming aspect, and it’s what leaves the reader with the sensation that there was potential in the story and that there may be something to look forward in the other books in this series.

Finally, Delicious Temptation is a story that, while predictable and full of unoriginal characters, shows the potential of the author to show Latino culture in an honest and accurate way.

Rating: 3 stars

Have you read this book? Did you like it? Have you read the other books in this series? Do you think they are better than this one? Let me know! 

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