Saturday, August 23, 2014

A More Diverse Universe 2014



If I am being completely honest, one of the reasons I am creeping back into the blogging world is because I knew I REAAAALLLY wanted to participate in A More Diverse Universe 2014 this year. So it's time to sign up!

What is this, you ask?

For those who have not heard about #Diversiverse before, it's a very simple challenge.  For those of you who have participated in the past, it's even easier this year.  The criteria are as follows:
  • Read and review one book
  • Written by a person of color
  • During the last two weeks of September (September 14th - 27th) 


 Yep, that's it! ONE book. That's it. You might ask, why in the world is one book written by a person of color that important? Here's what Aarti, the originator of the challenge, has to say:



"I know your TBR list is huge.  I know your commitments are many.  I know that there are so many things on which you must take a stand, and it can be exhausting to make reading a political activity.  But this is so important to me, and I really think it should be important to you, too.  None of us lives in a monochromatic world, and yet the fact that terrifying hate crimes still occur makes it clear that we do not fully understand or trust each other.  And maybe part of the reason is because the media we consume does not accurately reflect the diversity of our society.  And books are such a massive part of the media we consume that we should demand and fight for those that do represent minorities and those that do present the world from a different perspective than the one we are used to.  So please - participate.  You may just discover a character or an author or a setting or a story that will completely change your life."



And she's right. The beauty of reading is that is can open up worlds for us that we would never have experienced - introduce us to perspectives that we would never know on our own. I think this is important, and I'm so excited to participate this year.

What am I going to read? Here are a few authors I'm considering -

N.K. Jemisin - The Hundred Thousand Kingoms
Nnedi Okorafor - Who Fears Death
Heidi Durrow - The Girl Who Fell From The Sky
Abraham Verghese - Cutting for Stone
Neil DeGrasse Tyson - Space Chronicles


Am I going to get through all of these in two weeks? Nope. But they are a great place to start. Join me! You can sign up here. Let's diversify our reading lists together!



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Book Thoughts - The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
published 1989
282 pages

Synopsis from publisher -

Clear-eyed and spirited, Taylor Greer grew up poor in rural Kentucky with the goals of avoiding pregnancy and getting away. But when she heads west with high hopes and a barely functional car, she meets the human condition head-on. By the time Taylor arrives in Tucson, Arizona, she has acquired a completely unexpected child, a three-year-old American Indian girl named Turtle, and must somehow come to terms with both motherhood and the necessity for putting down roots. Hers is a story about love and friendship, abandonment and belonging, and the discovery of surprising resources in apparently empty places.


My thoughts -

There is something about Barbara Kingsolver's work that just appeals to my reading sensibilities. Her novels always just feel like they are right in my reading groove. I seem to be reading her backwards - starting with her more recent work, and making my way back to this, her first novel. It's interesting to see how she has progressed as a novelist, and also recognize the common elements in her work. This novel certainly has her signature strong female protagonists, as well as her commentary on some aspect of social justice. This book is very much about the need for finding a community, and the importance of family - your own, or the one you choose. I'm excited to find out that Kingsolver has written more books about the Greer family - I look forward to reading them.


Finished - 8/13/14
MPAA Rating - PG-13 for some discussion of adult situations
My rating - 4/5




Saturday, August 9, 2014

Soulless by Gail Carriger

Soulless by Gail Carriger
published 2009
373 pages

Synopsis from publisher -

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations.

First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire--and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?



My thoughts -

One of my favorite things is when a book that seems to be loved by readers I respect lives up to the hype. This was definitely one of those novels, and I had so much fun reading it. Alexia is a fantastic heroine - smart, quick-witted, and strong, she's not a Victorian lady to be taken lightly. I found her internal struggles with self-esteem to be quite honest, and I appreciated the way she didn't take herself too seriously, but also never dismissed her own abilities. Carriger's cast of characters was SO entertaining - I'm hard pressed to pick a favorite, but Lord Akeldama certainly tops the list.

This book was a true joy to read - Carriger clearly loves language, and plays with it to great effect. Her writing is witty and sharp, and had me laughing many times. As an example -

“The vampire's eyes were open, and he was staring at her intently. It was as though he were trying to speak to her with simply the power of a glare.
Alexia did not speak glare-ish.”

Moments like this were found throughout the book, making it easy to turn the pages. There were a few times that I thought the author might have played a bit loose with Victorian convention, but I suppose when you create and England that has accepted vampires and werewolves, you have a bit of license to change up the rules. This was one of the most fun novels I've read this year, and I'm looking forward to more adventures with Alexia.


Finished - 8/8/14
MPAA Rating - R for adult situations and fantasy violence
My rating - 4.5/5