Tag: diversity

6 Reasons You Should Read Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows Duology

After finishing Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology, it bumped The Lunar Chronicles right out of the top-spot as my favorite book series (sorry Marissa Meyer, but you’re always in my heart). This high-fantasy heist series is a striking read. I can’t get enough of the characters, the narrative, the world. Despite having read it a few years ago, to this day it’s left me with the biggest book-hangover of my life. Here are the top six reasons why you need to read this duology too.

 

 

6. You don’t have to read her first series to understand it

Grisha Trilogy

Image via Goodreads

 

While technically a sequel series to Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy, you definitely don’t have to be well-versed in the world to dive right into these books. I personally didn’t read any of the original series and was still able to fall head-first into everything Six of Crows had to offer. It’s completely different than the first series with all new characters. And while I’m told there are a few minor cameos by characters from the Grisha Trilogy, this duology works brilliantly as a standalone.

 

5. It doesn’t play into YA fiction tropes

YA love triangle

Image via WordPress

 

Spoiler alert: there are no lost princesses in this duology! No love triangles, no “I’m not like other girls” girls, and absolutely no Chosen Ones. Even though this is a fantasy novel (and a high fantasy one at that), it strays greatly from the YA conventions of the fantasy genre. With those elements gone, it makes way for a truly unpredictable narrative. With the absence of these stylistic tropes, this series makes way for different aspects of YA to be explored. Not to mention without the comforting predictability of the high fantasy story structure, you’re constantly on your toes while you’re reading.

 

 

4. It delves into real-world issues

 

World Vs. Money

Image via Investopedia

 

Ketterdam is where the duology is primarily set and it’s a nation that is so dedicated to capitalism that it’s a religion to them. Bardugo uses these books to explore the dangers of a country that values money above all else. As a consequence of this world, we see characters as members of gangs, having to be prostitutes, and being plagued by illness and addiction. Bardugo paints a grimy world—one that requires her teenage-aged protagonists to grow up faster than most and she writes the psyche of each character so incredibly well.

 

3. The writing is extraordinary

 

Image result for six of crows quotes

Image via WordPress

 

Bardugo’s one of those authors whose writing just hits you. She balances the serious with the loving and the heartbreaking. And despite how grim the subject matter might seem, the duology still manages to be uplifting, relatable and hilarious. Not to mention quotable as hell. Careful, though. You might end up with a Six of Crows quote as your Twitter bio.

 

 

2. The diversity is on point

 

Image result for six of crows characters

Image via We Heart It

 

Much needed discussions in the YA community about diversity are finally being had. And as a tough critic on the lack of book characters of color and how they’re treated when they are there, I can actually give these series a stamp of approval. Not only are the characters racially diverse, but Bardugo is also inclusive in other ways. There’s a character that is plus sized, characters with both physical and mental disabilities, and LGBT+ representation. And when I say LGBT+ representation, I don’t just mean That One Gay Character in the main friend group and his under-developed boyfriend. I’m talking MULTIPLE queer characters of varying identities that are fleshed out. Not only is this diversity baked into the narrative, but it’s also not tokenized or stereotyped. Bardugo strikes a nice balance between writing her diversity so obscurely that nobody knows they are until she retroactively tells us in interviews (looking at you J.K. Rowling) and making that diversity the sole trait of those characters. She’s able to write diverse characters as people and that’s what we want when we ask for representation.

 

1. It’s going to be a TV series

 

Image result for netflix

Image via Vox

 

This is your chance to be the “I saw it first” friend. As of January of this year, Netflix has ordered an eight episode series of Shadow & Bone and Six of Crows. While there’s no details on how yet, the show will be combining both of Bardugo’s book series to make the show. Get a jump on the narrative by reading the Six of Crows duology. Not only will you be ahead of the curve for what is sure to be a highly talked about adaptation, but it’ll also be fun watching the world and character you know come to life onscreen.

 

Featured image via Affinity Magazine

The Academy Ensures Diversity with Gemma Chan, Gillian Flynn, Winston Duke and Letitia Wright Among New Inductees

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released its list of invitees for 2019. The list seems more women and people of color included than ever before, many of them tied to recent book adaptations.

After the “Oscars So White” controversy of 2016, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is stepping up and becoming more inclusive by inviting more women and people of color. Finally they are paying respect to some incredibly talented people in the film industry, many of whom have been ignored for years.

 

Related image

Image via azatty

 

The official release opens up with the statistical difference this year’s new members make. “The 2019 class is 50% women, 29% people of color, and represents 59 countries.” Looking through the list you’ll notice a number of these invitees were a part of the two most talked about adaptations of 2018 – Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians, two films that were praised not only as fantastic films and adaptations but also for the impact they have on an industry that has been so lacking in diversity.

 

 

Crazy Rich Asians helped actress Gemma Chan attained an invite, as well as director Jonathan M. Chu

 

Actress Gemma Chan | Image via NY Post

 

Sterling K. Brown, Winston Duke, and Letitia Wright from Black Panther earned invites of their own, along with make-up artist Tym Shutchai Buacharern, and visual effects artist Jessica Harris.

 

Sterling K. Brown | Image via Hollywood Reporter

 

Many more have been included, such as actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Suicide Squad) and cinematographer Autumn Durald Arkapaw (The Sun Is Also A Star), and author of Gone Girl and Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn.

 

Gillian Flynn | Penguin Random House Speakers Bureau

 

 

 

With so many other amazing novels and series out there just waiting to be adapted for the big screen, more roles and opportunities for women and people of color are sure to be created!

 

Bi Pride

10 Incredible YA Novels with Bisexual Protagonists

Pride Month may be drawing to a close, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t celebrating now and year-round! Pride, after all, is about more than the plastic whistles thrown off parade floats slapped with the labels of various corporations. It’s not [insert alcohol company here] that we love; it’s both the celebration and the space to celebrate.

Before we dive into this list, let’s cover all the bases of bisexuality. (No, I don’t mean the same ‘base system’ you probably learned at a middle school sleepover.) First, bisexuality does not necessarily mean attraction to ONLY men and women. Instead, it means attraction to more than one sex or gender—and it doesn’t exclude non-binary people. Second, while bisexuality and other non-monosexual identities, like pansexuality and omnisexuality, may overlap, it’s still insensitive to tell someone that they’re ‘basically pan’ if that isn’t how they identify. Some people see these terms as essentially interchangeable; others feel the distinction is valuable.

Lastly, “bisexual” is a catch-all term to incorporate a wide range of identities. While many bi+ people are both bisexual and biromantic, others may fall on the asexual & aromantic spectrum. Since “bisexual” is the most common and widely-understood term for the bi+ experience, it’s a convenient term for discussing people who experience attraction to multiple genders—but it doesn’t exclude other experiences under the bi+ umbrella.

Ready? Let’s check out these UN-BI-LIEVABLE reads!

 

 

 

 

I WISH YOU ALL THE BEST

 

'I Wish You All the Best' by Mason Deaver

 

Remember what we were just saying about bisexuality being inclusive of non-binary genders? I Wish You All the Best follows Ben (who is both non-binary and bisexual) and Nathan (their bisexual love interest). When Ben tells their family that they’re non-binary, they’re forced to move in with their estranged sister or face homelessness. Dealing with anxiety and an unsupportive family, Ben is able to find love and acceptance in its most important form—the kind you give yourself. While many authors now prefer to shy away from coming-out narratives to focus on queer stories that DON’T revolve around gender & sexuality, the non-binary coming out story is almost entirely unprecedented in books and pop-culture… as is the reminder that bisexuals can be non-binary and love non-binary people!

 

Let’s talk about love

 

'Let's Talk About Love' by Claire Kann

 

 

It’s rare to see any media that makes a distinction between romantic and sexual orientation. Since many people have the same romantic and sexual orientation, they may never realize that there can be a difference. Claire Kann’s Let’s Talk About Love is the absolutely adorable story of Alice, a biromantic asexual girl struggling with her college major… and her feelings for Takumi, her cutest coworker at the library. The novel depicts Alice reeling from a breakup with an ex-girlfriend and struggling to cope with her feelings for a male coworker, proving that she isn’t, as the rhetoric commonly goes, ‘choosing sides.’

 

tHE GENTLEMAN’S gUIDE TO viCE & vIRTUE

 

'The Gentleman's Guide to Vice & Virtue' by Mackenzi Lee

 

Anyone who’s ever made the mistake of deep-diving into a YouTube or Facebook comments section has seen a lot of the same negative rhetoric: largely, false accusations that all this ‘gay stuff’ is a development of the past ten years, something done from a desire to gain social media followers rather than, you know, live. This hilarious-yet-poignant historical fiction follows Henry Montague, a bisexual British lord; his aro-ace little sister, Felicity; and his gay best friend, Percy on a caper-filled romp across Europe featuring piracy and a lot of alcohol. Of course, Percy might ALSO be the love of his life… which would be the biggest complication if there weren’t a deranged duke desperately trying to kill them. The novel inserts LGBT+ characters into a historical setting from which they’ve often been erased, and it brings a lot of laughs and heartfelt moments along the way.

 

lOVE IN THE TIME OF glOBAL warming

 

'Love in the Time of Global Warming'

 

Here’s another fact about bisexuals: a bisexual girl dating a man is just as bisexual as she would be dating another woman. This gorgeous, Odyssey-inspired epic follows Pen (bisexual) and Hex (a bisexual trans man) as they approach the outer limits of the romantic relationship they’re clearly hurtling towards. Both feel the need to come out to the other but are afraid to broach the topic of sexuality and gender for fear of driving the other away. Pen’s assertions that her sexuality is real despite not being currently involved with a girl are powerful for any bi reader—and her dreamlike journey through flooded Los Angeles to save her friends from flesh-devouring giants is sure to wow just about anyone, bi or otherwise.

 

Belly Up

 

'Belly Up' Eva Darrows

 

It would be easy to assume that teen pregnancy drama is all played out, but this isn’t an after-school special. Most pregnancy storylines are overwhelmingly heteronormative, and many coming-out moments on TV come with a parental sigh of relief. At least I don’t have to worry about you getting pregnant. But many LGBT+ people can and will become pregnant—and that doesn’t mean their identity is less valid. Belly Up follows bisexual Latinx teen Sara, whose pregnancy is more Juno than Degrassi. With her support system, her demisexual love interest, and her Ivy League dreams, she handles being the new girl in school—the pregnant new girl—with humor and grace.

 

Radio Silence

 

'Radio Silence' Alice Oseman

 

You might think that demisexual Aled Last and bisexual Frances Janvier are going to fall in love. He’s the anonymous mind behind Radio Silence, Frances’ favorite science-fiction podcast. She’s his biggest fan—and soon, she’ll become his co-contributor. But their relationship is more complicated than that: Aled is also brother to Carys Last, Frances’ best friend who ran away from home when they were younger. Frances has never forgotten Carys… and she’s never forgotten the way that Carys made her feel. If this is a love story, it’s a story of deep love between friends as they struggle to navigate academic and personal pressure. The novel may deal with issues of sexuality and depression, but it still crackles with the raw joy of caring for another person, like a sparkler waved in a dark summertime field.

 

They Both Die At The End

 

They Both Die At The End Cover

 

In case you’ve somehow missed out, Adam Silvera is one of the most popular LGBT+ authors in YA fiction today. If you’ve never checked him out, here’s the sign you’ve been looking for. This inventive dystopian novel follows two queer boys of color, one gay and one bisexual, as they open up and fall in love over the course of a day. What could go wrong? Well, they both die at the end. Death-Cast is an organization that lets people know when they’re going to die so that they can live their last day accordingly. With the help of an app called Last Friend, Rufus and Mateo connect for their last chance to imbue their lives with meaning. The novel is a powerful exploration of the role of vulnerability and openness in our lives—and that we need both to live fully.

 

Autoboyography

 

'Autoboyography' Christina Lauren

 

The reality is that coming out can be dangerous—but staying out can be dangerous, too. When out bisexual Tanner moves to Utah, he feels the need to re-closet himself to stay safe in the predominantly-Mormon community. When his last semester of high school ends, he’ll be able to leave Utah and this will all be. Except it’s not over yet: just months from graduation, Tanner meets a boy in his creative writing class. A prodigy with a novel already sold for publication. A devout Mormon. The novel explores the distinction between being comfortable with your identity and feeling safe in the world… and every reader loves a book about books.

 

Lady Midnight

 

Most people already know about Magnus Bane, bisexual warlock, fan-favorite, and early example of LGBT+ representation in YA. But fewer people know about Cassandra Clare’s bisexual representation throughout the canon. In her third trilogy, The Dark Artifices, Clare gives us the bisexual drama we’ve been craving since we read Twilight and realized that a TRUE love triangle needs at least one bisexual in it. Clare gives us more than one: there’s Mark, an odd Shadowhunter boy who’s been living with the Fair Folk; Kieran, a noble fey (also Mark’s ex-boyfriend); and Christina, a strong and empathetic Shadowhunter warrior. It starts off simply enough: Mark falls for Christina. Then Kieran comes back and complicates Mark’s feelings. Then Kieran and Christina get close. Then you go out and buy the book.

 

Honorable mentions:

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

The Last 8 by Laura Pohl

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

The Disasters by M.K. England

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Why are such incredible books in the honorable mentions? Well, because I talk about them too much in other articles! For more LGBT+ book recommendations, check out my list of recent LGBT+ releases, YA LGBT+ genre fiction, and banned LGBT+ classics. You can also check out my feature of LGBT+ YA writers from the Read With Pride panel at BookCon 2019.

 

 

 

 

All In-Text Images Via Amazon.
Featured Image Via Adagio.com.

'Trans Mission,' 'Little Sister,' & 'Knockout'

Bookstr’s Three to Read This Week 6/13/19

Sometimes, the most incredible stories are true. Yes, that includes the anecdotes of party fouls and beach meet-cutes you’re surely hearing from your friends as summer rolls in. But it mostly refers to true stories on a much grander scale: tales of overcoming adversity and accomplishing incredible things. This week, Bookstr is bringing you three life-changing works of nonfiction, from a trans man’s memoir-slash-guide to pursuing the life you want, to a financier raised in a cult, to the legacy of an enduring cultural icon. All three of our authors have faced difficult circumstances, whether it’s coming out and undergoing surgery; being isolated from TV, music, and the outside world through adolescence; or growing up under segregation. Keep reading to get a look at three stories as powerful as their narrators.

Check out Bookstr’s Three to Read, the three books we’ve picked for you to read this week!

 

OUR HOT PICK

Trans Mission: My Quest to a Beard 

 

'Trans Mission' by Alex Bertie

 

Synopsis:

Being a teenager is difficult enough, but having to go through puberty whilst realising you’re in the wrong body means dealing with a whole new set of problems: bullying, self-doubt and in some cases facing a physical and medical transition.

Alex is an ordinary teenager: he likes pugs, donuts, retro video games and he sleeps with his socks on. He’s also transgender, and was born female. He’s been living as a male for the past few years and he has recently started his physical transition.

Throughout this book, Alex will share what it means to be in his shoes, as well as his personal advice to other trans teens. Above all, he will show you that every step in his transition is another step towards happiness. This is an important and positive book, a heart-warming coming-of-age memoir with a broad appeal.

 

Why?

Twenty-three-year-old Alex Bertie is a popular YouTuber who has been profiled for both BBC and The Times—and, more importantly, he’s chronicled his gender transition online for the last six years. With 300,000+ subscribers, he’s made his platform count with educational videos on binding safely, preparing for top surgery, and avoiding offensive language to describe trans people. While trans issues have recently moved into the public consciousness, activists like Alex who have bravely publicized their experiences for years. In addition to these educational videos, Alex also shares his opinions and experiences having sex as a trans person, attending pride, online dating, and coping with mental health issues. For young people who may not have found a LGBT+ community of their own, Alex’s open discussion of gender & sexual identities provides support and advice that some may not otherwise have access to. Trans Mission: My Quest to a Beard is a profoundly honest and potentially lifesaving resource for anyone questioning their gender identity: Bertie discusses self-harm, dysphoria, and how he gradually came out and began his path to emotional healing. Perfect for LGBT+ pride month!

 

OUR BEACH READ

 Little Sister: A Memoir 

 

'Little Sister A Memoir' by Patricia Chadwick

 

Synopsis:

They promised her heaven, but there was no savior.

Imagine an eighteen-year-old American girl who has never read a newspaper, watched television, or made a phone call. An eighteen-year-old-girl who has never danced—and this in the 1960s.

It is in Cambridge, Massachusetts where Leonard Feeney, a controversial (soon to be excommunicated) Catholic priest, has founded a religious community called the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Center’s members—many of them educated at Harvard and Radcliffe—surrender all earthly possessions and aspects of their life, including their children, to him. Patricia Chadwick was one of those children, and Little Sister is her account of growing up in the Feeney sect.

Separated from her parents and forbidden to speak to them, Patricia bristles against the community’s draconian rules, yearning for another life. When, at seventeen, she is banished from the Center, her home, she faces the world alone, without skills, family, or money but empowered with faith and a fierce determination to succeed on her own, which she does, rising eventually to the upper echelons of the world of finance and investing.

A tale of resilience and grace, Little Sister chronicles, in riveting prose, a surreal childhood and does so without rancor or self-pity.

 

Why?

In the tradition of Tara Westover’s Educated: A Memoir, Patricia Walsh Chadwick’s Little Sister: A Memoir tells a story of success despite harrowing odds. Featured in the New York Post, the gripping memoir depicts a childhood as impossible to imagine as it must have been to inhabit. As a child, Chadwick had never watched TV or read a newspaper. After being indoctrinated into a sequestered religious life since birth, a series of natural teenage crushes led to the cult community determining she was not fit to serve God. They allowed her to finish her senior year of high school, and then—not even an hour after her graduation—she was exiled from everything she had ever known. Despite all this, Chadwick became an incredible success with an accomplished thirty-year financial career and a CEO position in theLGBT+ health organization she founded herself. Powerful and moving, this is a memoir you’re unlikely to forget—a memoir unlike any other you’ve ever read before.

 

OUR DARK HORSE:

Knockout: The Art of Boxing 

 

'Knockout: The Art of Boxing' by Ken Regan

 

 

Synopsis:

Ken Regan was a young photographer in 1964 when he covered Muhammad Ali’s first fight: his historic victory over Sonny Liston in Miami Beach. Afterward, the young photographer embarked on a life-long love affair with the sport of boxing.

For the next four decades, Regan would go on to chronicle the greatest fights and the greatest fighters of the age. His extraordinary photographs include many of the most enduring images ever created in the annals of boxing, as well as portraits of notable trainers, managers, promoters, writers, and the whole panoply of celebrities associated with the sport. Featuring some of the greatest ring action in boxing history, Knockout takes us from sparring sessions and press conferences to weigh-ins and post-fight sessions.

Knockout also features Regan’s compelling stories and firsthand accounts of his amazing photographic journey into the heart of boxing. Beginning with his early magazine work shooting prizefights and throughout the following decades, Regan developed close personal friendships with some of the greatest fighters. Regan captures intimate moments showing fighters with their families at home and on the road. With numerous black-and-white and color images, many of them seen here for the first time, Knockout is destined to be one of the most celebrated books ever published on the subject of boxing.

 

Why?

Although it’s been three years since Muhammad Ali’s passing, the legendary boxer remains a cultural icon. Just last month, HBO released What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali, a powerful documentary depicting not only his athletic career but also his legacy as an activist. Knockout: The Art of Boxing contains an introduction from actor Liam Neeson and never-before-seen photos from Ken Regan, a world-renowned photographer who has profiled the likes of Bob Dylan and Madonna, among others. Regan’s photography expertly juxtaposes the brutality inherent in the sport with the grace and strength of Ali’s character. If you’re short a gift for Father’s Day, why not check out this beautiful release from Insight Editions? It’s sure to be a winner.

 

 

 

All In-Text Images Via Amazon.
Featured Image Made With PhotoCollage.

Annie E. Casey photos at Dunbar Elementary School, The Center For Working Families, Inc., and the Early Learning and Literacy Resource Center in Atlanta, GA Wednesday, October 10, 2012. Photos by JASON E. MICZEK - www.miczekphoto.com

The ‘Picture Book Bias:’ In Children’s Books, Girls & Minorities Aren’t Speaking

If picture books are meant to give voice to the experiences of young children, then why aren’t girls and racial minorities speaking? Using data from the top 100 bestselling children’s picture books, researchers have noted a growing gender and racial disparity in terms of which characters speak in children’s books.

Over half of children’s books feature a predominantly male cast; comparably, less than a fifth such books feature a predominantly female cast. It’s evident that male characters are literally dominating the conversation: not only does the gender gap exist in picture books, but it’s also growing. The Guardian reports that “speaking roles for male characters rose by 19%,” and at the same time, “one in five bestsellers did not feature any females at all.”

Only five of the top 100 books feature a BAME (Black, Asian, & Minority Ethnic) character in a prominent role. Of those five, three titles’ spots rely on the same character: Lanky Len, a mixed-race “nasty burglar” who hardly represents the sort of relatable character that nonwhite children can connect to. Statistics regarding BAME characters in less central roles are just as grim: 70% of such characters never speak at all. Across all 100 titles, only eleven BAME characters have speaking roles. And among these eleven, only seven have names. Of course, we’re discussing the umbrella of ethnic minority identities—on this list, there’s only one black male protagonist. Off the list, the disparity isn’t any better. Of all the 9,000+ children’s books published in 2017, only 1% featured a BAME protagonist… while 96% featured no BAME characters, speaking or silent.

 

 

(Right) Lanky Len, one of the few BAME children's characters of 2018
(Right) Lanky Len, one of the few BAME children’s characters of 2018 | Image Via What The Ladybird Heard

 

 

When it comes to picture books featuring LGBT+ families and disabled characters, it’s the same story. None of the 100 bestsellers featured same-sex parents. Only one title included a disabled character—but that character doesn’t speak or play any major role in the plot. We may be talking about fiction, but these statistics are unrealistic. Predominantly white, male stories for children deny the experiences of many readers, but they also don’t reflect the mathematic facts concerning the gender and racial breakdown of English children. Around 33% of English schoolchildren are from minority backgrounds; 48% are female. Our stories should reflect the varied experiences of the children they aim to depict.

What causes this disparity? Among the 100 books studied, not one author or illustrator is BAME. This lack of diversity extends beyond the list: only 2% of all children’s book illustrators in the UK, not just the bestsellers, are people of color. The lack of diversity in publishing is a capitalistic Ouroboros: because few children’s picture books feature diverse characters, publishers come to believe these books won’t earn large sums of money. At the same time, these books rarely earn money for their publishers because they are rarely published. But while the exact cause of this phenomenon may be unclear, the results aren’t—girls, minorities, and disabled children don’t see themselves in stories that are supposed to be for them. It’s also possible that these sorts of disparities in children’s media could reinforce disparity and bias as the children grow into adulthood.

 

 

 

Featured Image Via Annie E. Casey Foundation.