Tag Archives: books

The Subject of Race and Ethnicity

Today I read a blogpost called You can’t do that! Stories have to be about white people and it reminded me of a subject I had been wanting to write about for a while that isn’t about the representation of gays in the media (btw yes I will review When We Rise when I see it in it’s entirety), Christianity, or essays on genres. Today we are talking about race and how the default protagonist is still white. I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing, but it’s something that still happens. and as Darren Chetty mentioned in his blog post if you want to write about someone who is black or of another race, you have to make your story about the fact they are black/their race (as in your black character has to struggle with racism, they can’t just be black), because if your protagonist isn’t white, it doesn’t sell books as well.

What do you mean you have to make the story about a person’s race if they’re not white?

One of the things I loathed hearing about in middleschool, highschool and my first few years of college was people assuming I would write about my Mexican heritage. Like THAT was the only thing ticking in my mind. It’s not a bad thing, but every time we read stories about Mexicans in school it was always about struggle and how life was shitty for the main protagonist.

Granted I acknowledge that these authors were writing about their own life experiences and respect their stories and life struggles, but my life wasn’t their story and isn’t that story to tell. I had my own struggles, they were nothing like the struggles seen in Hispanic literature. In comparison my life would be seen as a piece of cake by those authors and my struggles would be labeled as a first world problem (which sadly they are).

As I mentioned above Chetty did mention that if I ever write a story with a Mexican protagonist, I gotta write about Mexican heritage or problems or my book (allegedly) isn’t selling squat! For publishers to even consider publishing my book, my protagonist has to either have Mexican problems or have his whole plot centered around coming out as gay (yes I snuck that in too).

What about the TV?

Television has been interesting about race; let’s start with Star Trek the original series. It had Nichelle Nichols playing Nyota Uhura and George Takei playing Hikaru Sulu. A “black woman on the tv who wasn’t a maid” (as described by Whoopi Goldberg) and a Japanese man (who would later come out as a proud homosexual) portraying characters on a science fiction show treated as equal to their colleagues despite their ethnicity.

It took a while for both movies and tv to move past have characters of different races be portrayed as characters beyond just being token minority (it’s debatable if Uhura or Sulu were token minorities). As a kid in the 90’s I saw tokenism at it’s extreme in afterschool specials, and educational television. I remember this one show shown to us at school called The Human Race Club where all the races and ethnicities were represented…and led by a blond haired blue eyed kid with glasses (it had a smart Asian girl, a black kid who liked basketball, a tom boy ginger, and a fat kid).

There was also Power Rangers; three fifth’s of the main five rangers were white (Jason, Kimberly, Billy) with Zack and Trini as the token black and asian without the producers ever realizing that they assigned Zack and Trini as the black and yellow ranger to match their races until it was too late. There was also Tommy who was later revealed to be of Native American decent, not sure if it counts though since it took four seasons to reveal that. This was fixed later when Austin St. John, Walter Emanuel Jones, and Thuy Trang left the show with Rocky (Steve Cardenas), Aisha (Karen Ashley), and Adam (Johnny Yong Bosch) as the new red, yellow, and black rangers respectively of Hispanic, black, and Asian/Jewish ethnicities included.

After the first season, Power Rangers has actually been pretty good about representation of all the races and even had a few ranger teams where the girl or a black person IS the leader (Alien Rangers, Turbo, Time Force, SPD, RPM, Dino Charge). Still no female red ranger though…

Captain Planet also had a minorateam, with the only white American usually being the whiner who had to learn a lesson in the episode. If any of the other members had a plot devoted to them, they were not the whiner. Trust me.

On the CW DC television something interesting happened; races of characters were changed from white to whatever the creators wanted. The whole West family? Black. Jimmy Olson is no longer a adorkable ginger, but is now a hunky black guy with dreamy eyes for Kara and the audience to oogle at (don’t worry, Kara has an adorkable tech friend for fans who are into that sort of thing to oogle at too). There is the issue too some that even though diversity has been added to the cast of these shows, the leads are still white people. With the addition of Legends of Tomorrow (with no MAIN character, but rather having a team lead) and Vixen (female African american (she actually is from Africa)) things are nice and diverse in the live action DC universe.

Because I can’t cover ALL media, here are some honorable mentions. Codename Kids Next Door (it’s like The Human Race Club, except bigger budget and isn’t corny), Star Wars The Clone Wars/Rebels (they have aliens, it counts), W.I.T.C.H. (multiraced badass magical girls), Steven Universe, and Drawn Together (look that show was hilarious regardless of what today’s politically correct millenials will post on Tumblr)

TV comedies (Ugly Betty, The Mindy Project, and Fresh Off the Boat)

It seems races and ethnicities get an easier time at representing different races. In some cases, rather than playing their race for the sake of drama and story telling, they play them for comedy. In the case of Ugly Betty, being of Mexican decent wasn’t a big deal too often. While the show did fall victim to relying on problems faced by immigrants today (for the first and second season Betty’s father was illegally in the US), Betty’s heritage is played for laughs except for one episode (Mark said Betty only got a job to fill a token Mexican spot).

The Mindy Project is awesome; Mindy’s Indian heritage is a joke most of the time and has only been the subject of drama once when Mindy was scared that her son would only know of his Indian half based on a Indian food menu on Mindy’s fridge. Bonus points for Mindy being the subject to large amounts of slapstick humor during the show despite being a woman.

Fresh Off the Boat is a touchy subject; despite being based on the memoirs of Eddy Huang, Huang hates the show feeling they turned his emotional outlet of rap and hiphop and life struggles into one dumb asian joke for the other races to laugh at. Eddy Huang if you ever read this I am sorry, but it is a hilarious show, I have read your book and I understand your anger concerning the show. If it makes you feel better, it has given more exposure to asian actors and actresses.

A Wrinkle in Time movie adaption (this time it won’t be awful)

As many have heard Madeleine L’engle’s A Wrinkle in Time is getting a film adaption with an open cast. Meg Murry being played by Storm Reid and the rest of the Murry family (minus Chris Pine’s character) now black. To add to this Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which will be portrayed by Mindy Kaling and Oprah Winfrey respectively (gotta read that book again and imagine Mrs. Who shrilling like Kaling now).

What can one do to add diversity to books and entertainment?

I’m not sure actually, but you can start by reading The Lunar Chronicles since it does have a racially diverse cast. And tell your favorite authors “hey, I would like some diversity in the fiction you are producing.” Support authors who do write about characters of different backgrounds. Write your own stories about these things fight to get them to be published, I know I am with my books.

 

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Six of Crows Review

Things will be a little different for this review; for the first time I have listened to a story rather than reading it. In an effort to try to read all of Six of Crows before my friend and I could go to Texas Teen Book Festival I purchased the audiobook of Six of Crows. I must say it was an interesting experience.

At first I had thought I could listen to the book while doing schoolwork, but I realized that was not the case with how my mind works in terms of concentration and stories. I did find that listening to the book while cleaning, walking, and waiting was a more enjoyable experience rather than listening and doing work.

The act of listening to a story was a little hard to get use to, especially considering how thick the book is, I actually appreciated that multiple narrators were used for the story rather than relying on one narrator, I couldn’t help but wonder if some of them had background as voice actors in anime at some points. I will admit it was a little more difficult to retain what I listened to and felt things came along far more easily halfway through the story when I started reading the hardcopy book while listening to the story.

Now for the Actual Book Review

I wasn’t sure what to expect when my friend lent me her copy of Six of Crows, all I recall is that she asked me to take a photo of it alongside some lgbt books I had. At the time I took the photo my head was in a whirlwind of life concerns and a week later I wondered what was in the book that it had to have a photo taken alongside my lgbt books.

I was very pleased with the story; I had never really read a heist type of story, especially one like this with nearly all the protagonists ready to kill with only a few of them with actual heroic qualities (Matthias, Inej, Nina) and our primary protagonist Kaz being far from a hero. There’s also Jesper a gambling addict and Wylin who is the only protagonist not to get his own point of view chapter.

There are many moments of cross and doublecross between the protagonists as they are all hired to kidnap a scientist behind a powerful drug that can turn gifted people known as Grisha into nearly unstoppable forces and become addicted to the drug known as parem. The book is a nice relief of uniqueness in the YA I’ve read recently with many high points and my particular favorite character being Nina the Grisha.

My only regret is not being in the best mood when I met the author Leigh Bardugo at the Texas Teen Book Festival as I got her to autograph the copy I purchased for a friend of mine. Unfortunately waiting in lines constantly brought out the worst in me and if you ever read this Leigh Bardugo, I really am sorry for my attitude and please forgive me for not being happy that you took the time to speak with your fans about your book and what they loved about it. Sam I am sorry for bitching half the time while waiting in line.

I give Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Six knives named after saints out of Six.

Shifting Genres

There is a humorous show on YouTube called FiftyShadesofGreen/BoozeYourOwnAdventure where I learned quite a bit more about the writing and publishing world than I expected to hear from a video sharing website. I also learned quite a bit about my own reading habits, so today we are going to talk about how sometimes it’s good to shift genres among books.

Signs You Need to Shift

There’s nothing wrong with reading YA, I’ve been reading it since I was eleven and now I’m getting ready to start pushing thirty. However I do have periods of “I’m bored with this,” the first time this happened was the summer of 2013 where I decided I’d read Divergent based off the suggestion that “it’s like The Hunger Games” and that was the problem, it’s like The Hunger Games. I had read dystopian novels such as the Uglies series, The Hunger Games, 1984, Logan’s Run, and some of the Ender’s Game series (until I discovered Orson Scott Card is a hypocrite concerning religion and a homophobic jerk).

I began to just predict things like who our main female protagonist will fall for, who she unwillingly/unknowingly betray, who she loves dearly will be killed, what happens to her family, how her decision alone turned the whole fictional universe on it’s head, etc. It wasn’t with the dystopia genre, it was also with the paranormal genre (we DID have countless Twilight clones for a while), and while I did fully enjoy some of them (the first half of Beastly and Bewitching by Alex Flinn are actually pretty good).

I’m not saying you need to abandon the genre completely, another example was when I started reading The Lunar Chronicles and discovered I liked it alot and things weren’t so predictable (I caught on to what was happening when I discovered Merissa Meyer is quite the Sailor Moon fangirl,) and it was a nice breather from the books I’ve mentioned above and I plan to reread it when I get the opportunity.

I’m also not saying you constantly need to be switching things up, but if one finds themselves bored with reading and have the following symptoms along with it, then you may want to consider something new.

Well Then What do you Mean Shift?

I mean take a break, read something new, shortly after finishing Cress I didn’t know what to read, my friend constantly told me to read The Fault in Our Stars and after three months of nagging, I read it. I actually enjoyed it; despite the subject matter of the book it is very light hearted and brought up new views. Same couldn’t be said for John Green’s other books when I read them, but I did enjoy the shift of genre.

Recently I’ve been reading books from the Doctor Who and Star Wars franchises, mainly because I wanted to discover the fate of Asajj Ventress and because I really like Doctor Who. I’m currently reading two books, Dorothy Must Die and I just started the Longmire series because my dad is a fan.

It’s very relieving to switch between the two books. If I’m not feeling it with one universe, I jump to the other. A third book may be thrown in just incase though.

This is alot shorter than your usual ranting

It’s not a rant, rather a suggestion for people who suffer from what I suffer from at times. It can be applied to tv and music too.

 

A Big Apology and Mini Announcment

I haven’t forgotten about this little dog and pony show of reviewing books, but I’m just feeling out of it. I have piles of books I want to read, but I just don’t have the ability right now.

I also want to say sorry about some of the previous half assed reviews and if it seems like I’m just doing a copout and buying anything on sale at Target (granted I am very guilty of doing that…), I can’t blame school this time and life has been a little hectic and I can’t put the blame on that either. I am going to force myself to read again starting tomorrow and tone down my time wasted on watching reruns  on cable tv. However for those curious as to what I’ve been doing lately here are a few points.

  • Spending time with my parents and trying to help them with whatever I am able to do (that’s as deep as I’m getting)
  • Playing with my Dog
  • Improving my artistic abilities and working on a collection.
  • working on my own fiction
  • costumes

Now for the announcement!

As I stated earlier I am working on a collection right now, the theme I’m going with are books I’ve read. It will be both paintings and drawings because i’m still not the best painter and I’ve recently taken up drawing with charcoal and toned grey paper and have discovered I enjoy it very much. It’s not a high priority thing, but it’s something I’m doing whenever I have the time and the right scene in a book to paint. Wish me luck.

Thoughts on Fangirl

Happy New year everyone who reads this. Let’s skip all the holiday stuff and go straight towards my thoughts on Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Generally around Christmas time I was exhausted from shopping with my mother and forgot to bring a book/my ereader with me. Luckily we were breifly at a Target and I walked to the book section
I gazed through the books available and I had the choice between John Green books and other YA novels. I then saw Fangirl and it sparked my interest because the plot involved a girl who was a big fan of a Harry Potter expy. She wrote fanfiction and entered college with the intention of becoming a writer. THe book follows Cath, a fangirl who is abnormal to the rest of the world since she is a fangirl.
Her twin sister Wren was once a fangirl too, but wants to move on with life.
Spoilers Start Here.
Generally through most of the book Wren is a bitch. She behaves recklessly during her first two semesters of college while our hero Cath is concerned with her school work and keeping up with her fanfiction for Simon Snow.
I like that the book concentrates primarily on Cath adjusting to a life outside of her comfort zone and I like that Rainbow Rowell had Cath slowly adjust to living like a normal person without sacrificing any of her fangirl mannerisms.
The only problem I had with the books is when Cath reads her fanfiction to her love interest Levi and while it is sweet that the two bond over her reading out loud to him, I wasn’t interested at all in hearing about her fanfiction (if I don’t read fanfiction in real life why would I read fictional fanfiction,) generally the fanfic portions of the book can be skipped without missing much of the plot.
Although the book was entertaining, I feel a little misled. I still give the book a B-.

The Lunar Chronicles-Cress

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Apologies, for some reason my post deleted itself, here is the review for The Lunar Chronicles Cress. Damn this is so annoying that I lost three paragraphs of writing.

I liked Cress ALOT! This made up for Scarlet so much, the pacing was so much better and it was so much nicer to not be jumping back and fourth between Cinder and the primary protagonist of the book. I mean it does happen, but it’s not as bad as it happened with Scarlet.

Spoilers from this point on, please do not read if you don’t want to be spoiled.

At the end of Cinder we are introduced to the character Cress that I couldn’t help but label a fangirl despite her barely having any screen time. As of this book I can confirm that Cress is a fangirl. A shockingly realistic one too. I’m thinking Merissa Meyer may have gotten inspiration from the fact that most fans of anime or television in general are aware of torrent sites and with the few clicks of a mouse and clicking of a keyboard can get media through torrent sites to flesh out Cress’ character more. Cress is a computer genius who can hack satellites and has been making Lunar spaceships invisible to Earth nations for seven years with her computer abilities all alone on a satellite.

However she does get bored and due to Lunar’s not caring for recorded work she settles for Earth media and grows to love it and becomes a fangirl of Earth and humans. She is a shell so she doesn’t have any glamor abilities and isn’t affected by them. I gotta say I really do like her as she felt more relatable to me. Despite having a Y chromosome and not necessarily being a fangirl (yes even men have inner fangirl moments), I was able to sympathise more with her concerning her living situations. Sadly with no combat abilities Cress is more of a damsel in comparison to Scarlet and Cinder who have some minor combat abilities.

I can also feel that Cress really is a fangirl since like most people in fandoms she researches her favorite characters (in this case Thorne) and has daydreams about falling in love with them. She’s actually adorkable.

Alot more is also explained concerning the backstory of the world Cinder takes place in; the discrimination towards cyborgs is explained, ironically I was nearly spot on about people discriminating against cyborgs for the sake of having something to discriminate against something.

We also get character development from all the characters with CInder realizing that she has no choice but to start a revolution against queen Levena, Dr.Erland’s backstory fully revealed and his regret at sacrificing so many lives, Iko getting her own humanoid body (my favorite part), and Thorne proving to himself and everyone else that he is more than a freeloading perverted thief based on the feelings Cress has for him.

The book does end on a cliffhanger (again), but with a war finally starting between Earth and Luna and with two books coming out next year (one a prequel about Queen Levena and the final book based upon Snow White) the series is definitely going to have a dramatic ending.

Also it appears that with the addition of a Snow White character Merissa Meyer has indeed created her own Sailor Senshi team. I give the book four out of five starts.

 

The Lunar Chronicles part 1-Cinder

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Here is the first official blog concerning my thoughts on books/entertainment. What better way to do this than with the Young Adult genre (nevermind that I’m in my mid twenties…) I discovered the book via the webshow Booze Your Own Adventure (formally 50 Shades of Green), at first I was reluctant to read along with our two lovely hostesses because the Spring Semester for classes had just started, but after a while I gave in.

Despite the size of the hardcopy book itself Cinder is a pretty fast read. The actual story is a retelling of Cinderella, with a twist to actually make the book readable. Cinder is a cyborg, the scum of society because society needs discrimination one way or another, she’s also a mechanic and earns the money for her household of the typical wicked stepmother and stepsisters, one stepsister nice and the other following in her mother’s footsteps.

For the first two thirds of the book the story loosely follows the usual Cinderella story, unlike the majority of Cinder’s counterparts the ball and Prince charming/Prince Kai aren’t the highest priorities for her. Her highest priority is her own freedom from her stepmother and the health of her stepsister Poeme who has been infected with a deadly virus that Cinder is immune to.

At this point I will warn that there will be spoilers, please do not read on if you hate them or intend on reading the books.

One of the different things between Cinder and it’s Cinderella counterparts is that aside from being set in the future is that there is political friction between the earth alliance and the moon government. Lunars are humans that have evolved to ‘glamor’ not only themselves, but the naked eye of regular people. The moon queen desires to rule both the moon and the earth by any means necessary. She desires to pull this off by marrying prince Kai and killing him and the only person who can stop her is the long lost moon princess.

Does this story sound familiar to you? Well if you grew up in the nineties it should because it’s the plot for the first arc of Sailor Moon, and just like the first arc of Sailor Moon it’s pretty obvious who the moon princess is if you’re older than the target age group. In fact that’s the only flaw I could find in Cinder was that it was predictable. Not in a bad way like most ‘Twilight clones’ are where ‘muggle meets X and has their world turned upside down and discovers an amazing life’. But predictable in sense that you know that Cinder is the moon princess, the emperor of China will die, Kai will have to take over and the Lunar queen is evil for the hell of it. It’s also predictable who will die and that Cinder has to go to the ball.

There are a few flaws in the story aside from the predictability. Mainly my questions of why are the Lunar’s so evil? What happened that there is harsh feelings between the earth alliance and the moon kingdom? Why is the royal family of the moon kingdom so blood thirsty? How did Lunar’s gain the ability to glamor? (sorry Marissa Meyer, evolution doesn’t work like that).

The Pro’s outweigh the cons though. Do you wonder why this story sounds alot like Sailor Moon? Well here’s the reason, Marissa Meyer, author of The Lunar Chronicles is a Sailor Moon fan and wrote Sailor Moon fanfiction. And unlike most people these days who wrote fanfiction and eventually got their work published (some of them partially cheating and self publishing (THAT MEANS YOU E.L. JAMES!)) Meyer produced very GOOD fanfiction. She took two stories, one known to nearly every person around the world and the other known to all who watch anime and read manga and she created her own original story out of it.

If you want a fast read, then please pick up Cinder! You will enjoy it greatly! I give it 3 1/2 out of 5 stars 🙂