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Books Diversity Reading Challenge

An Unconventional Librarian’s Holiday Guide: Speculative Fiction

 

Speculative Fiction is my FAVE fiction!

Warcross by Marie Lu

 

Sovereign by April Daniels

The Door at the Crossroads by Zetta Elliott

 

Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor

 

bonus: many of these books contain diversity. WINNING!

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Diversity Reading Challenge

Have you read Wild Seed by Octavia Butler?

Wild Seed by Octavia Butler is gripping on so many levels. It’s not an easy book to read to be sure. Octavia Butler may be one of the first African American speculative fiction writers, but her books are from an African perspective, which is difficult to digest depending on your knowledge of African history.

Wild Seed by Octavia Butler

I’ll admit I had never read Butler’s work, which as a POC and an avid reader felt like a failure on my part. But after speaking with friend Carol Binta, author of Civilized Blacks, I made a mental not to get a book of Butler’s read.

Civilized Blacks by Dorrance Publishing

It may have taken me a year to read it, but I did it! I listened to it on audio and I think for this type of book, audio really works: you don’t have to struggle with the pronunciation of unfamiliar words and your imagination can still see images in your mind’s eye.

What is so AMAZING about Wild Seed isn’t the African bits. The amazing bit is that if you like spec fic or sci-fi or dystopian reads or anything like that then this book is for you. There are two main characters: Doro, who is a spirit who can inhabit anyone’s body and live in it. Anyanwu is a shapeshifter! Is there any more I need to say about that? Imagine a book that is so forward thinking that in the 80s Butler was writing about shapeshifters which is now a commonly used trope.

For the shapeshifting alone you should read Wild Seed. Once you get used to it you will love it! Older teens and adults only, please. This title qualifies for the Diversity Reading Challenge.

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Books

I’m a Round 2 Speculative Fiction Cybils Judge!

I’m a Round 2 Speculative Fiction
Cybils Judge!

I love being a CYBILS judge! It’s so fun to see what the Round 1 judges have narrowed down as the best picks of 2016. That said, I’ll be a little bit busier than usual reading these extra  books so I might be a bit silent. But just know that I’ll still be curating books containing diverse characters for you.

For more information about Cybils go to Cybils.com.

Categories
Diversity Reading Challenge

Have you read Wild Seed by Octavia Butler?

Wild Seed by Octavia Butler is gripping on so many levels. To be sure, it’s not an easy book to read. Octavia Butler may be one of the first African American speculative fiction writers, but her books are from an African perspective, which is difficult to digest depending on your knowledge of African history.

Wild Seed by Octavia Butler

I’ll admit I had never read Butler’s work, which as a poc and an avid reader felt like a failure on my part. But after speaking with friend Carol Binta, author of Civilized Blacks, I made a mental not to get a book of Butler’s read.

Civilized Blacks by Dorrance Publishing

It may have taken me a year to read it, but I did it! I listened to it on audio and I think for this type of book, audio really works: you don’t have to struggle with the pronunciation of unfamiliar words and your imagination can still see images in your mind’s eye.

What is so AMAZING about Wild Seed isn’t the African bits. The amazing bit is that if you like spec fic or sci fi or dystopian reads or anything like that then this book is for you. There are two main characters: Doro, who is a spirit who can inhabit anyone’s body and live in it. Anyanwu is a shapeshifter! Is there anymore I need to say about that? Imagine a book that is so forward thinking that in the 80s Butler was writing about shapeshifters which is now a commonly used trope.

For the shapeshifting alone you should read Wild Seed. Once you get used to it you will love it! Older teens and adults only, please. This title qualifies for the Diversity Reading Challenge.

Categories
Diversity Reading Challenge Young Adult

CYBILS Finalist: Shadow Shaper by Daniel Jose Older

CYBILS Finalist: Shadow Shaper by Daniel Jose Older

Shadow Shaper by Daniel Jose Older

 

This lovely title was my personal favorite but sadly didn’t win the Cybils award. Don’t despair Daniel Jose Older, cuz it made it to the final round and that’s VERY impressive!

There is so much to love about Shadowshaper, and prolly DJO (Daniel, call me, you can be my new boo) so I’ll dive in.  Excellent diversity: black and latino characters, in and around Bed Stuy NYC. Smart characters, witty, personable, LGBT representation, hipsters, etc. fairly a-typical depiction of Hispanic teens. The kids in this story are smart and funny and their very quick one liners kept me in stitches.  They SLAY!

The Shadowshaper bit was an interesting twist. Some people can see these supernatural ghost type creatures and make them bend to their will, in a good way. So there’s some kind of revolution going on in this ghost world and it manifests in the artwork around the neighborhood. Our heroine is an artist and I think most of her friends are artsy in some sort of way? And so when the art starts crying and disappearing (I know right?) the kids need to figure out what’s going on.

There are dark family secrets and dying grandfathers with coded messages and danger. Lots of weird supernatural danger.

It’s all good.

Even though this title didn’t win the Cybils Award it’s still a great read for kids who want to see more people of color.  Given that the protagonists are African American and Latino American this title will also count toward the Diversity Reading Challenge for its diversity!

Categories
Books

CYBILS Award Winner: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

CYBILS Award Winner:
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

 

I’m so ding dong excited to share this book with you! I’m not sure what’s going on with the book cover, but yeah this is THE book to read this year! The Walls Around Us is a speculative fiction YA book that will have you scratching your head early on.  Scratching and and really using your lil ol noggin to figure out what the author is getting at. The book seems to be about ballerinas. But oh wait, then it’s about these young women in a juvenile detention facility. But then, the weird stuff starts happening.

And you’re like WHOA. Did I read this right? She did what? Where? Who’s story do I believe? What is REALLY going on at the juvenile detention facility? Are ballerinas really that cruel? I’ve heard rumors that they are so, there’s another person I’ll want on my zombie apocalypse team. Think Mean Girls meets Orange is the New Black.

Here’s our commentary on the winner and the other contenders for the Speculative Fiction YA judging portion of Cybils.

And remind me to stay out of prison.

 

 

 

Categories
Lists Young Adult

Best of 2015: YA

Best of 2015: YA

Best of 2015: YA

Categories
2015 Diversity Reading Challenge Young Adult

Andrew Smith Month: Grasshopper Jungle

Hey yall. It’s Andrew Smith month around here and *all* I’m reading is Andrew in June! I’ve been trying to get through Grasshopper Jungle. My youngest graduated from high school (yay!)  so we’ve been a little busy and I’m a little behind in my reading but BOY OH BOY am I glad I picked this book up first.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
morguefile

If this photo doesn’t scare you then there is no hope for you.  Travis Pope is chewing on Ollie Jungfrau’s body, yall! Run, run!

Run for the hills!!

Many people have compared Grasshopper Jungle to Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five. While there’s no time travel there is that speculative fiction weirdness to it.  While we’re getting all erudite (huh huh?) lets throw in Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange because really, we are talking good and evil.

Believe it or not folks, add this to your Diversity Reading Challenge cuz the main characters are homosexual or bisexual.

BOOM POW.

p.s. i know the difference between a praying mantis and a grasshopper. but these guys were so cuuuuute.

Categories
Young Adult

CYBILS Award YA Speculative Fiction Judging: COMPLETE!

There comes a time in your life when you can’t believe a stroke of good luck happens to you. I’m living this dream as a CYBILS judge for the YA Speculative Fiction category.

Cybils-Logo-2014-Round-Lg

If I’ve learned nothing from my time on this planet I’ve learned and hopefully passed on to you that reading takes you away. Not only does it take you away but it takes you away with friends you might not have necessarily made without some help. That’s why I’ve made the focus of this blog finding books with multicultural characters.

I hoped that by becoming a judge for YA Spec Fic I would open myself up to new friends and new adventures. And I did! Over the next seven days I’ll post my reviews of the 7 books we read. Some I loved, some not so much. But the one thing I learned about the whole experience is that there are certain themes that I’m drawn to more than others; unknowingly, to be sure, and I hope to pull myself out of that darkness and learn more about these themes.

I’ll explain more in later posts.

Here is a link to the books that we judged.