TBR: The Keeper’s Vow (Guardians) by Francina Simone

All Katie Watts wants is to pass her junior-year, at Hamilton Private, with as little effort as possible—devoting time to knitting hats, breeding gerbils, becoming a movie critic, or even just sleeping. No wonder she isn’t ready for a world with vampires, werewolves, and nightmares. Her life is shattered to pieces when Tristan gets stabbed in her front yard. She has no idea where he came from and worse, he hears her thoughts—and when she can’t take anymore, she starts to hear his. No one is who she thought they were. Her father is keeping secrets and when she searches for the truth, she ends up homeless. As the truth claws its way to the surface, Katie and Tristan grow closer together and they find themselves connected in more ways than she can believe. But is honesty worth more than the peace blissful, ignorance brings? Especially if it sparks a chain of events that will end the lives of millions? Can she live with the truth that begins with her dead mother and ends with The Keeper’s Vow? The Keeper’s Vow is a YA Epic Urban Fantasy brimming with Magic and Moral Ambiguity.

Francina Simone is one of my favorite BookTubers.

The Toxic Drama on YA Twitter By Kat Rosenfield

The diversity-in-publishing debate is very much at the root of the outrage when it comes to campaigns like the one against The Black Witch, reflecting larger dissatisfaction with an industry that’s overwhelmingly white at just about every level. The multiyear push for more diverse books has yielded disappointing results — the latest statistics show that authors of color are still underrepresented, even as books about minority characters are on an uptick — and while the loudest critics demanded that The Black Witch be dropped by its publisher, others simply expressed exhaustion at the ubiquity of books like it. In a representative tweet, author L.L. McKinney wrote, “In the fight for racial equality, white people are not the focus. White authors writing books like #TheContinent or #TheBlackWitch, who say it’s an examination of racism in an attempt to dismantle it, you. don’t. have. the. range.” (McKinney did not respond to multiple interview requests.)

Among the book-buying public, though, that parade may be mostly passing unnoticed. The scandals that loom so large on Twitter don’t necessarily interest consumers; instead, the tempest of these controversies remains confined to a handful of internet teapots where a few angry voices can seem thunderously loud. Still, some publishing professionals imagine that the outrage will eventually become powerful enough to rattle the industry. Another agent, who describes himself as devoted to diversity in publishing since before it became a mainstream concern, is ambivalent about the current state of affairs.

“I think we’re in a really ugly part of the process,” he says. “But as we’re trying to encourage a greater diversity of readers and writers, we need to be held accountable for our mistakes. Those books do need to get criticized, so that books which are written more mindfully, respectfully, and diligently become the norm.”

It’s also a process in which tough questions lie ahead — including how callout culture intersects with ordinary criticism, if it does at all. Some feel that condemning a book as “dangerous” is no different from any other review, while others consider it closer to a call for censorship than a literary critique. Francina Simone, for one, falls firmly in the latter category. “People seem to want these books to validate them, and that’s almost completely impossible,” she says. “It would be like me watching The Simpsons and saying, ‘It’s harmful to me, take it off the air.’ It’s baffling. People pretend as if there is no off switch. [The idea] that it shouldn’t be in the public atmosphere — I find it extremely funny that people don’t think that’s censorship.”

But in an interesting twist, the teens who make up the community’s core audience are getting fed up with the constant, largely adult-driven dramas that currently dominate YA. Some have taken to discussing books via backchannels or on teen-exclusive hashtags — or defecting to other platforms, like YouTube or Instagram, which aren’t so given over to mob dynamics. But others are pushing back: Sierra Elmore, a college student and book blogger, expressed her frustration in a tweet thread in January, writing, “[Being] in this community feels like being in high school again. So much. No difference of opinion allowed, people reigning, etc… I and other people I know (mostly teens) are terrified about speaking up in this community. You don’t get a chance to be wrong here.”

Read the rest. 

Radical Veganism and Rape Language in Animal Advocacy

‘Socially speaking, rape is less about penetrative sex and more about the one-on-one performance of power and domination against a vulnerable individual. So far as dairy production is concerned, this is often absent. The theft of reproductive autonomy is performed out of economic interest. Is it sexual violence? MOST DEFINITELY. And we should call it that unapologetically. But I don’t think rape actually even begins to cover how the scope and horror of that sexual violence. And centering penetration is also reductive with regard to the bodies who are molested in order to procure the sperm for impregnation. By the way, notice that I’m using the term bodies instead of male or female. Why? Because…

Our rape discussions unnecessarily genders bodies, which promotes gender conformity.’

Striving with Systems

Author’s Note: I covered this in part during my October 2016 talk at VegFestUK on Queering Animal Liberation. But I wrote the following piece for anyone who doesn’t have time for a 30-minute presentation and just want an easy read that focuses specifically on this issue. Personally, I do NOT use rape in my own advocacy (perhaps not for the reasons you probably think), even though some ecofeminist vegans have done historically and still do. My views are not meant to silence anyone else or tell any reader how to conduct their advocacy. These are merely MY OWN reflections on MY OWN approach and why I choose it.

When it comes to discussions of rape, I commonly see two main positions. The intersectional vegan position frequently argues that use of strong language about rape diminishes human victims and frequently triggers women. Conversely, the mainstream community argues that omission of…

View original post 1,096 more words

TBR: We’re All Bad in Bed by Shelby Simpson

They say that sex is a lot like pizza: Even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good. The difference is that no one wants to hear about your worst slice of pizza. But what about your most embarrassing, mortifying, and hilarious sexual escapades? Trade in the cheese for some sleaze, and people are all ears. In We’re All Bad in Bed, award-winning author and unrepentant ragamuffin Shelby Simpson mines her past (and the past of her most trusted friends) for the ultimate bedroom debacles. From hitting puberty in small-town Oklahoma to traveling the world with a flask of vodka and a contagious smile, Shelby’s unique perspective on sexual education, intimacy, and doin’ the nasty is sure to please anyone who’s ever been caught with their pants around their knees. Shelby’s highly entertaining and deliciously scandalous stories will have you pondering the word “blowjob” as the ultimate misnomer, whether the legend of the Killer Coochie could be more than just a legend, and the worst way to completely and utterly embarrass yourself sexually in front of the worst person imaginable. Inside these pages, there is no judgment. There is only uncensored and uncircumcised honesty. This book is the most fun you can have with your pants on (or ditch the pants, your call). Take two parts hilarity, one part poignant self-reflection, bake it on a crust of gangsta rap and top it with a dollop of Southern twang, and you have a healthy helping of the juiciest and jauntiest nookie book of the year. Dig in. Pizza optional.

I only like vegan pizza, honestly.

Buy on Amazon.

TBR: Forgotten Reflections by Young-Im Lee

1945. Rice fields seem endless in a quaint farming village of South Korea, yet Iseul the villagers have been starving for as long as they can remember. Their Japanese colonizers have taken every last grain with them as they are finally forced out of the Peninsula. In the newly independent Korea, Iseul and Jung-Soo dream of what their future might bring. Yet, war is on the horizon, and Iseul has fallen for an alleged North Korean communist spy.

Men are conscripted and rice is taken to feed the growing army as the Peninsula is thrust into an international war that would determine if the strategic region will become communist or democratic. With nothing but the news of death and hunger awaiting the village of women, children and the aged, Iseul musters up whatever hope she has left to bring the village together to make paper. Soon, the village once known for its rice, becomes famous for its paper, becoming a beacon of hope for their battle-worn soldiers awaiting letters from their loved ones.

Yet spies and communists continue to roam South Korea, turning neighbors and families against one another. For years, Jung-Soo has been suspicious of his father’s allegiances. With a series of mysterious revelations about his father, Jung-Soo is forced to choose between his tainted communist past, and the future he hopes to have with Iseul after the war.

In the current international climate where North Korea takes center stage, “Forgotten Reflections” weaves an inspirational tale of family, lost memories, folklore and an unforgotten history, spanning three generations as South Korea rises from the ashes.

This book is getting a lot of good reviews on Goodreads.

TBR: Beasts of Burden: Animal Disability and Liberation by Sunaura Taylor

A beautifully written, deeply provocative inquiry into the intersection of animal and disability liberation—and the debut of an important new social critic

How much of what we understand of ourselves as “human” depends on our physical and mental abilities—how we move (or cannot move) in and interact with the world? And how much of our definition of “human” depends on its difference from “animal”?
Drawing on her own experiences as a disabled person, a disability activist, and an animal advocate, author Sunaura Taylor persuades us to think deeply, and sometimes uncomfortably, about what divides the human from the animal, the disabled from the nondisabled—and what it might mean to break down those divisions, to claim the animal and the vulnerable in ourselves, in a process she calls “cripping animal ethics.”

Beasts of Burden suggests that issues of disability and animal justice—which have heretofore primarily been presented in opposition—are in fact deeply entangled. Fusing philosophy, memoir, science, and the radical truths these disciplines can bring—whether about factory farming, disability oppression, or our assumptions of human superiority over animals—Taylor draws attention to new worlds of experience and empathy that can open up important avenues of solidarity across species and ability. Beasts of Burden is a wonderfully engaging and elegantly written work, both philosophical and personal, by a brilliant new voice.

Read more of Sunaura Taylor’s work online for free, like here.

See also: Are Disability Rights and Animal Rights Connected?

Buy on Amazon. 

TBR: Brooding YA Hero

 

Have you ever wished you could receive a little guidance from your favorite book boyfriend? Ever dreamed of being the Chosen One in a YA novel? Want to know all the secrets of surviving the dreaded plot twist?

 

Or maybe you’re just really confused about what “opal-tinted, luminous cerulean orbs” actually are?

 

Well, popular Twitter personality @broodingYAhero is here to help as he tackles the final frontier in his media dominance: writing a book. Join Broody McHottiepants as he attempts to pen Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (Almost) as Awesome as Me, a “self-help” guide (with activities—you always need activities) that lovingly pokes fun at the YA tropes that we roll our eyes at, but secretly love.

 

As his nefarious ex, Blondie DeMeani, attempts to thwart him at every turn, Broody overcomes to detail, among other topics, how to choose your genre, how to keep your love interest engaged (while maintaining lead character status), what’s his secret formula for guaranteed love triangle success, and how to make sure you secure that sequel, all while keeping his hair perfectly coiffed and never breaking a sweat.

 

This book sounds hilarious. I follow Broody on Twitter too.

TBR: Sistah Vegan: Black female vegans speak on food, identity, health, and society by Breeze Harper

Sistah Vegan is a series of narratives, critical essays, poems, and reflections from a diverse community of North American black-identified vegans. Collectively, these activists are de-colonizing their bodies and minds via whole-foods veganism. By kicking junk-food habits, the more than thirty contributors all show the way toward longer, stronger, and healthier lives. Suffering from type-2 diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure, and overweight need not be the way women of color are doomed to be victimized and live out their mature lives. There are healthy alternatives.

Sistah Vegan is not about preaching veganism or vegan fundamentalism. Rather, the book is about how a group of black-identified female vegans perceive nutrition, food, ecological sustainability, health and healing, animal rights, parenting, social justice, spirituality, hair care, race, gender-identification, womanism, and liberation that all go against the (refined and bleached) grain of our dysfunctional society.

Thought-provoking for the identification and dismantling of environmental racism, ecological devastation, and other social injustices, Sistah Vegan is an in-your-face handbook for our time. It calls upon all of us to make radical changes for the betterment of ourselves, our planet, and by extension everyone.

WE NEED THIS IN OUR LIVES RIGHT NOW.

Buy on Amazon.

Now offering author interviews!

Hi everyone! I’m now offering sponsored author interviews to help maintain the site. You can answer all questions or only some. It’s up to you! It’s meant to be informal in nature and a way for you to reach out to potential readers. Copy and paste the interview questions below with your responses into an email using the guidelines from my advertisement content post here. Put “Author Interview” in the subject line so I can identify it quickly.  Please contact me in advance if wanting to schedule it for a specific date.  I cannot promise a quick turnaround time otherwise. If no date is supplied when you send your responses, interviews will go live as soon as payment is received. Interviews will be $25 via PayPal.  All interviews will have a disclaimer of “Sponsored content” at the bottom. 

Interview Questions:

Who are you?! What are your credentials? Where are you from?

 

What book(s) have you written?

 

What is the title of your most recent book and how did it come to be named?

 

What does the cover look like?

 

Describe the book in 5 words.

 

What genre(s) do you think it fits into or breaks?

 

What’s the synopsis for the book?

 

What is one thing you want readers to know about this book that the official synopsis doesn’t cover?

 

Where can we buy the book?

 

Where did your main sources of inspiration come from for this story?

 

Who is the book dedicated to and why?

 

What three other books would you use to describe your book?

 

Why is indie publishing important to you and why do you think it is important to our culture?

 

If you could choose one ideal reader – no matter who – to read your book, who would it be and why?

 

If your book was an animal, what would it be and why?

 

What is your favorite sentence from the book?

 

If you were to collaborate with another writer, who would they be and why?

 

What books do you think the world needs to read more of and why?

 

What does diversity in publishing mean to you?

 

How have libraries affected your writing?

 

What do you see as problems that need to be fixed in the traditional publishing model?

 

What is the best piece of advice you got from another writer?

 

What indie authors have influenced you and how?

 

Is the Amazon publishing model scary to you in any way?

 

What is something you learned about writing when writing your most recent book?

 

What do you think of the focus on indie bookstores over indie authors and indie books?

 

What are some ways you think gatekeepers in publishing (literary agents, librarians, book bloggers) can help indie authors gain discoverability?

 

What is one book that changed your life and how?

 

What is your favorite online resource as an author?

 

How do you feel about authors giving their work away for free?

 

What are you reading now?

 

What music do you write to or find inspiration in?

 

What roadblocks did you encounter when publishing your work?

 

What TV show are you watching now?

 

Cat or dog or both person?

 

Alice in Wonderland or Wizard of Oz – and why?

 

Coffee or tea or both person?

 

Print book or ebook or both person?

 

How do you see book culture changing, other than the ways it already has, because of ebooks?

 

How do you see book culture changing, if at all, because of indie publishing?

 

What is one thing you would like to say to millennial readers?

 

What is one cause or charity you support and want to give a shout-out to?

 

What is your biggest grammatical struggle to overcome in your writing, or what is your most common typo?

 

Where can we stalk you? (What are the links to your social media platforms and blog?)