Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week’s prompt is Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters. I went with five because I honestly couldn’t think of ten! Obviously I need to expand my reading pool. Of course, there have also been books with diverse characters that I didn’t like, so I didn’t include those (I don’t care if Zoey’s part Cherokee or whatever, I think the House of Night books are awful and they do not deserve a place on this list).

1) Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertali

One of my favourite books of 2015, Simon is not-yet-out-of-the-closet but someone may be trying to blackmail him. I adored Simon – add this to your list right now if you haven’t already!

2) Nimona – Noelle Stevenson

Not only is Nimona herself not your typical heroine, but the hint of a relationship between Blackheart and Goldenloin is precious.

3) When Everything Feels Like the Movies – Raziel Reid

While this book may not be to everyone’s taste, I think it’s an important read and I love that it was part of Canada Reads because it brought LGBTQ issues (and YA novels!) into mainstream media for at least a little while.

4) Every Breath – Ellie Marney

Am I just obsessed with Every Breath? Maybe. But the secondary characters are diverse and fleshed out, not just stereotypes thrown in to mix things up (Mai is Vietnamese, Gus is Sudanese).

5) The Rearranged Life – Annika Sharma

I wasn’t in the right mood for this book when I originally read it, but I like that the protagonist was from a traditional Indian family. A interesting look at a culture that’s so very different from your typical “North American” household.

ARC Reviews – May 2015

This month, I’ve read four ARCs – one of which was for a blog tour – and just started a fifth. Here’s a round-up of what I read! (please click the titles for a full review)

  • Sing for Me – Gracie Madison: “I have complicated feelings about this book. It wasn’t bad per se, I just didn’t really enjoy it. I read the whole thing, though admittedly I started skimming at about 30%.” (2 interrobangs)
  • The Rearranged Life – Annika Sharma: “This book read like a cross between Bend it Like Beckham and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and it was definitely interesting to read the descriptions and think about the differences between cultures…a cute summer read.” (3.5 interrobangs)
  • The Blooming Goddess Trilogy – Tellulah Darling: “I really enjoyed this series: it was fluffy at times but still had a strong plot. The writing was funny and compelling, and if you like contemporary takes on Greek mythology, you’ll love Sophie’s world.” (4.5 interrobangs)
  • Beyond Clueless – Linas Alsenas: “I’m sure there’s an audience for it, but this is one of those rare cases where I feel too old to read this and I think it would be better received by readers aged 12-14.” (2 interobangs)

I just started reading Devil’s Daughter and it’s interesting so far – hopefully I’ll have a review for it up next week!

What ARCs have you read this month? Anything I should look forward to?

BLOG TOUR: The Rearranged Life – Annika Sharma

Review tour

24356955Nithya, a vivacious, intelligent and driven college senior has always known what she has wanted: a successful career in medicine and the love of her family. She’s even come to terms with the idea of an arranged marriage, a tradition her conservative Indian family has held up for thousands of years.

When a night of partying puts her on a collision course with danger, Nithya’s entire life changes.

Enter James St. Clair, the smart, challenging and heartbreakingly handsome American.

As Nithya and James fall in love, she questions the future she and her parents have always planned. Now, Nithya has a choice to make: become a doctor and a good Indian bride, or step away from her family and centuries of culture to forge her own path.

The decision she comes to takes her on a journey that transforms how she sees her future, her relationships with loved ones, and how she learns to put herself back together when even her best-laid plans fall apart.

Release Date: May 15th, 2015

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

Thank you to NetGalley/Curiosity Quills for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review!

Thank you especially to Curiosity Quills for reaching out to me about taking part in the blog tour! Make sure you check out the full list of participating blogs!

What I liked:

-the Indian protagonist. Heck yeah, diversity!

-the descriptions of Indian culture. Nithya attends a Indian wedding near the beginning of the book, and it was cool to read about all the traditions involved. Granted, I was just picturing the wedding in Bend it Like Beckham the entire time, but still! It was well written and described enough that you could visualize what was going on.

-the characters (for the most part). While Nithya occasionally got on my nerves (see what I didn’t like below), the supporting cast was great: Sophia and Luca, James (and his family), even Nithya’s parents and younger sister.

-this quote (I relate to it so much, especially at this point in my life):

“Life is a blank slate. It can be geared toward one goal, with a narrow focus and tunnel vision, and then the world steps in. It can hit you like a brick wall or it can touch you like  feather, but from that moment, you are never the same[…]But for now, every time I consider a path, whether it is old or new, a new road sprouts up from the one I am traveling on. They are parallel, perpendicular, loopy, and zigzaggy, and hilly, but they are taking me where I need to go. Where I’m meant to be.”

-there were quite a few relatable moments throughout the story, in terms of the pressure you feel in school, and the hopeless feeling when your dreams fall through (which is why the above quote resonated with me so much)

What I didn’t like:

-every so often, Nithya annoyed me. She was very realistic and relatable, but, being human, she also had her flaws. While it made her relationship with James more “real” (i.e. not perfect), it was also grating at times.

-I ended up backing their relationship, but I honestly didn’t feel it at first. I actually thought Nithya had more chemistry with the Indian guy, Nishanth, but I could tell which direction that was going in.

Sidenote: I assumed that, since the book was NA (new adult) and not YA (young adult), it would avoid a love triangle. I was wrong. It apparently happens even in NA (I don’t have anything against love triangles, per se, I just figured once your characters hit 20+ it stopped being a thing).

-the synopsis makes it seem like Nithya gets into all sorts of danger (specifically the line “When a night of partying puts her on a collision course with danger, Nithya’s entire life changes“) but it wasn’t as bad as I expected. Please understand, I’m not belittling her experience or taking away from the seriousness of what happened to her, but when you say “collision course with danger”, I automatically think drugs/kidnapping/ransom.

This book read like a cross between Bend it Like Beckham and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and it was definitely interesting to read the descriptions and think about the differences between cultures. I’ll admit that I was pretty grumpy last week so maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I was in a better frame of mind, but it was still a cute summer read.

Rating:

3 interrobangs

3.5 interrobangs

To celebrate, Annika Sharma is hosting a Rafflecopter giveaway in which one lucky person will win a $25 Starbucks Gift Card, in honor of characters Nithya and James’ first date! Enter for a chance to win:

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The ReArranged Life giveaway

About The Author:

Annika SharmaAnnika Sharma was born in India and moved to the United States (Pennsylvania!) when she was a baby. Annika was a daydreamer from day one, always coming up with stories and games of pretend that seemed real. She was a serious journal-writer from fifth grade to college and wrote dramatic scenes for stories often, inspired by soap operas she watched in summers off from school.

Eventually, when the time for college came around, Annika’s parents encouraged her to pursue journalism. Convinced she couldn’t make a living from writing, Annika disagreed. After five years, two degrees, two minors, working with children, being a dancer teacher, and creating a two-and-a-half page resume in college that had interests so all-over-the-place that even she couldn’t make sense of it, Annika finally decided her parents were right. Writing was where her heart was, all along.

In the month before graduate school, the idea Annika had in mind for years finally poured out in the form of the novel, The Rearranged Life. Annika began editing in earnest after she finished her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education, landing Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary Group as an agent. Three months later, she had a book deal with Curiosity Quills.

In her spare time, Annika loves spending time with her family and friends, often indulging in the three S’s: Starbucks, shopping and superhero movies. As a chocolate lover and general all-around vegetarian foodie, Annika also adores cooking.

Find Annika Sharma Online:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads