Category Archives: Challenges

#ReadDiverse2017 Update

One of my challenges this year is #ReadDiverse2017, which is hosted by the Read Diverse Book blog. It’s fairly self explanatory, as far as challenges go. The idea is to read and review diverse books.

Eligibility being (and I’m quoting the RDB blog, here):

  1. Books written by people of color or Native/Indigenous Peoples
  2. Books about people with disabilities (physical, neurodiversity, etc.)
  3. Books with LGBTQIA protagonists or about LGBTQIA issues 
  4. Books with practicing Muslim, Jewish, Hindu (i.e. non-Christian) MCs
    • Please prioritize #ownvoices for this category

Marginalized authors take priority for #ReadDiverse2017. At all times, please consider reading books written by POC, Indigenous, LGBTQIA, and Disabled authors, #ownvoices whenever possible.These will always qualify, whether they are #ownvioces or not. If a straight, white, able-bodied author writes a book with a straight, able-bodied POC protagonist, the book will not qualify. UNLESS that book is intersectional. For example, if the protagonist is a POC and Queer or disabled, then the book will qualify. I make this distinction because books with Queer/disability representation are more rare than books with POC/Indigenous rep and there are some great books out there with Queer/disability rep by non-mariginalized authors. I also encourage you to seek out books with plus-sized/fat protagonists, especially if they have other marginalizations, such as plus-sized+POC/Queer/Disabiled.

Today’s little update is to say that I earned my 5 point badge. (See that shiny badge above?) Meaning I’ve submitted five eligible reviews of diverse books. I could maybe have submitted more, I read enough M/M romance after all. But I personally have a little trouble seeing ‘white boys kissing’ (that’s quoting someone, I just don’t know who) as qualifying. So many such books are written for a cis-gendered, white, straight female audience. So, in the spirit of the challenge, if not the explicit rules I haven’t submitted them.

These are the ones I did:

 

Review of No Tea. No Shade. by Billione

No Tea. No Shade.I picked up a copy of Billione‘s No Tea. No Shade. from Amazon, when it was free.

Description from Goodreads:
Detroit poet Billione (pronounced bill-LEE-yon) ventures into new territory with his first novel entitled No Tea. No Shade. Inspired by the late E. Lynn Harris, Billione offers an insightful glimpse into the life of Chauncey King: a closeted, black, gay man nearing 40 who seems to stop at nothing to get what he wants. 

On the surface, this dapper, charismatic, successful Editor-in-chief of the Detroit Daily news seems to have it all. However, Chauncey goes from reporting the news to being the center of his own scandal after coming face-to-face with his turbulent past. His life seems to unravel until he meets Malcolm Dandridge at a local bathhouse and realizes that in order to be happy he must first face his biggest fear.

Review:
OK, I’m going to start with my hesitation to read this book, that being a debut author billing himself as well known enough to go by a single name and that name being more prominent than the title of the book. This being the origins of the term Big Name Author. Further, that name taking place of precedence in the book’s blurb, with its pronunciation coming before any other information about the book. It takes a lot of confidence put yourself out in the world this way, but experience makes me wary of such authors, as they often have more ego than skill.

I found that to be sadly true in this case. Now, let me be fair, the book is sweet. It has a nice theme about being true and open with yourself and the author obviously knows his character well. However, the writing is amateurish. Names and titles are used far too often in dialogue to feel natural. There are too few contractions, inconsistencies in POV and contradictions in the plot. The timeline of the flashbacks is uncertain. There is far too much tell and no where near enough show. The plot lurches along in a clunky manner, everything resolves itself far too easily (most off page even) and there is a frankly ridiculous epilogic lead-in to a sequel. It is not a smooth or satisfying read.

The author does show promise though. Perhaps when he has as much experience in writing prose as he does poetry he’ll be one to watch.

Review of Moments in Time (Moments in Time #1-3), by Karen Stivali

I won a signed copy of Karen Stivali‘s Moments in Time (#1-3) from Just Love Romance. I read it as part of my #DiverseRomanceBingo challenge, as it contains a bi character, Jewish characters and is written by an #OwnVoices author.

Description from Goodreads:

Moment of Impact
Beyond Collin Fitzpatrick’s dorm room, the students of his conservative college think he’s straight, as does his Catholic family, who’d disown him if they learned the truth. Inside, he’s safe with his sexy roommate Tanner D’Amico. Tanner wants to show the world how much he loves Collin, but Collin’s not sure he’s ready for the impact stepping outside will make.

Moment of Truth
Collin expected to spend another summer fixing cars and working at the college pizzeria. Instead, he’s living in a beach house on Fire Island, and for the first time, he and Tanner can publicly be known as boyfriends. Being “out” takes some getting used to, and doubt and jealousy threaten their happiness. Collin and Tanner must confront the truth or risk losing it all.

Moment of Clarity
Spending the summer on Fire Island brought Collin and Tanner closer than ever, but back in their conservative college town, new challenges confront them.

When Collin’s relationship with Tanner becomes an issue in his brother’s custody battle and Tanner struggles with feelings for his heartbroken friend Wendy, Collin wonders if everyone would be better off without him. In order to save them both, Tanner must make it clear his love for Collin is all that matters.

Review:

Hmm, there is plenty to appreciate here. It’s a sweet read about two university-aged guys falling in love. And it is sweet. It’s nice to see a confident bi character. It’s nice to see Catholic and Jewish characters. It was nice that the guys didn’t go from virginal to straight porn sex in an instant and that sex could be something other than penetrative. I liked that there wasn’t a lot of angst about who did what to who and what that did or didn’t make them. I liked Collin coming exploring himself for the first time and Tanner’s patience with him. And I just plain liked Collin and Tanner.

However, the plot often felt like little snippets of life between extended sex scenes. There was far too much sex for me. Not that I mind a lot of sex, but the balance of sex to plot felt too heavily weighted toward sex. I got bored with it. I thought a lot of the conflict felt contrived (and often predictable) and the easy way everything miraculously resolved itself in the end was too pat and easy to be believable.

Lastly, I had major concerns with the representation of women in the novelettes. There are basically only six women in the whole book. One is the classic saintly mother. Of the other five, one was willing to abandon her friends for a boyfriend and willing to steal another’s lover. A second was a wife/mother who cheated on her husband, abandoned her children and was vilely homophobic. A third was a homophobic mother that disowned her gay son and the last was a girl who actively pursued a man she knew to be in a committed, monogamous relationship. I get that this is a book about men loving men, but why does that mean women are so often only presented as the enemy? As if we can only be saints, which less face it removes them from the human realm and consideration, or dangerous to the male characters in the book?

For the most part however, I enjoyed this and have no real qualm recommending it to readers.


What I’m drinking: Loyd: The Magical Experience Flowery Earl Grey (seriously, that’s what it’s called!) I’d add a link, but it’s kind of frightening, in this day and age, how little web presence Loyd tea apparently has.