Book Riot Challenge – Read Harder

rhc_cover_pinterestIt’s been a while since I updated my Book Riot Challenge, so I decided it was time to let you all know how I’m doing. It looks like I’m about on schedule for the year, since we’re in May and I’ve completed 17/24 so far.

*1. Read a book about sports. Done! Psmith in the City, cricket. by P G Wodehouse.

*2. Read a debut novel. Done! Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

*3. Read a book about books. Done! End of Chapter, mystery about publishing company.

4. Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American author. – still looking!

5. Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative. A Hope More Powerful than the Sea

*6. Read an all-ages comic. Done! American Born Chinese

*7. Read a book published between 1900 and 1950. Done! Cakes and Ale, published 1930

*8. Read a travel memoir. Done! Three Singles to Adventure, to Guyana.

*9. Read a book you’ve read before. Done! Murder Over Easy, read first in 2007

10. Read a book that is set within 100 miles of your location. – Desert Solitaire, Utah

*11. Read a book that is set more than 5000 miles from your location. Done! The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds, Malaysia/China

*12. Read a fantasy novel. Done! The Spirit Thief by Rachel Bach

13. Read a nonfiction book about technology. Unstoppable by Bill Nye

*14. Read a book about war. Done! Valiant Ambition, about American Revolution

*15. Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+. Done! Last Seen Leaving, by Caleb Roehrig

*16. Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country.  Done! Animal Farm, by George Orwell

17. Read a classic by an author of color. – Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley or Native Son by Richard Wright

18. Read a superhero comic with a female lead. – either Spider Woman or Daughters of the Dragon

*19. Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey (From Daniel José Older)

*20. Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel (From Sarah MacLean) Done! Also Last Seen Leaving

*21. Read a book published by a micropress. (From Roxane Gay) Done! Future Worlds, A Science Fiction Anthology, published by Future World Publishing

*22. Read a collection of stories by a woman. (From Celeste Ng)  Done! Miss Marple by Agatha Christie

23. Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love. (From Ausma Zehanat Khan) Beowulf

*24. Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color. (From Jacqueline Koyanagi) Done! Black Panther, Number 1 by Ta-Nehisi Coates

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Book blurb

This is going to be shorter than a regular review, but I wanted to mention a book I read recently by Adre Norton called Wraiths of Time. Written in the 1970s it features a Black female archeologist as the main character. She is an expert on ancient Africa who gets sucked back in time. I love seeing a POC as a protagonist, and a female at that. Plus it was written by a woman.

Unfortunately, the story is a mess. Aliens are involved, there’s no exposition, and the other characters are flat. But if you want to read it as proof that women can and should to sci fi, go for it.

Book Review: Winter by Marissa Meyer

Title: Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, book 4)

Author: Marissa Meyer

Genre: YA dystopian science fiction

Princess Winter is the stepdaughter of Queen Levana of Luna. Her wicked stepmother plans on becoming Empress of the Eastern Commonwealth, killing Cinder, and ruling all of Earth. But not before she tortures a few pathetic souls who get in her way.

Winter could possibly stand up to her, because she’s also has powerful Lunar mind control gift, but for *reasons* she refuses to use her gift. And that causes her to hallucinate.

That’s everything you need to know about Winter. Oh, except that she is EXCEPTIONALLY beautiful – so much that when every single person sees her for the first time, they are struck SPEECHLESS by her AMAZING beauty. And all the people love her more than her horrible stepmother.

As you can probably tell, I wasn’t exactly in love with this book myself. In fact, I had a lot of problems with the basic premise. As a person with mental illness and a mom of three kids who have mental illness, I really objected to the way people nicknamed Winter “Crazy” and made light of her hallucinations. Even Scarlett, who is her friend, still calls her crazy. And why does she refuse to use her powers? Because she doesn’t want to deceive anyone. Right. So she’d rather believe that the walls are bleeding than make herself look a couple of inches taller. The whole thing was ridiculous and offensive. Let me tell you, if I could make my depression disappear, you better believe I would find a way to do it. And what about hallucinations? You could turn your hair green, make your kids thing the vegetables they were eating were ice cream, anything at all. There are 100 ways you could use this power without hurting anyone. Because living with hallucinations IN REAL LIFE is pretty much hell.

There’s other stuff to the book too. In fact, Winter and her morose boyfriend Jacin are really the least interesting part. But I’m still so freaking furious about this angle that I don’t even care about the rest of the story right now. I will say that I loved Iko, and I would have loved to read more about her.

If you have already read this series, then you should definitely read the conclusion. But be warned, Winter’s story is really messed up.

The Sorcerer Heir

Spoilers for the series!

Title: The Sorcerer Heir (The Heir Chronicles, book 5)

Author: Cinda Williams Chima

Genre: Teen fantasy

Format: Audiobook

Plot: Magical savants Emma and Jonah are suspected of murdering mainline wizards and must find out if the person who poisoned them as children is the same person trying to frame them for murder now.

Pros:

Chima is a really good writer. The basic idea for the series was really intriguing, the characters are well developed with plenty of growth (mostly), and her action sequences are always super exciting and really solid. I liked the narrator on this one – good job making the large number of characters each have their own voice.

Cons: 

This would have been better as a new series. The first three books are so different that adding these next two books on just doesn’t work for me. In fact, Book 3 really wrapped everything up. Then I found out there were two more books, and they just didn’t need to be there. The only benefit to adding on these two books, really, was that she got to have Leesha’s character arc come to a satisfying end. Also, I didn’t like these two MCs as much as the main characters from the previous books. Jonah in particular seemed so hard to relate to – he was super at combat, he was super charming, super handsome, he was this super protective brother, he has deadly touch – just enough already. She could have dialed it back a bit and he would have been a more human character. As it is, I never really worried about him in a fight. I knew he would win, everything would be fine, and then he’d find a way to feel guilty afterward.

Verdict:

I would definitely recommend this series for fans of teen fantasy. There are some great characters in here, the plots are really exciting, and the romance is pretty clean. There is strong language, but not often. The first book in the series is The Warrior Heir and you should start there.