#24in48 Readathon: July 2017

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Heyo, it’s that time of the summer again, #24in48 is back!

I think I’ve been pretty vocal about my love for all things readathon before, and I stand by them all. Squaring away some quality reading time with a bunch of other bookworms all over the globe is just as amazing as it sounds. I can’t get enough of it. As most of you know I’m currently laid up in bed, so this readathon couldn’t come at a better time for me. Not only does it keep me occupied the whole weekend, but a whole lot of other people will be pretty much doing what I’m doing, and we’ll all be revelling in the joy, which I’m really looking forward to. 

In case you’re new around here or to the bookish internet in general, 24in48 is a fun weekend readathon organized by Rachel Manwill. The “aim” is to read for 24 hours over the course of a 48 hour weekend. I say aim, but really, it’s about chalking away some time for yourself to read, a break from the humdrum and chaos that is life and such. It’s also a great time to stuff your face with snacks and beverages, discover readers from all around the world, squee about books and bookishness, and have a grand time. Super low key, super chill. If you haven’t signed up yet or are looking for more information, you can check out the official site

Here’s my stack of reading material for the weekend. Plenty more than I’ll actually get through, but I like having more options than not:

Anyone notice a theme here?

I’m pretty much most active on my Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat (jananivaidya), and Litsy  (@theshrinkette) during readathon time, because those are quick and easy places to update my progress and what I’m doing throughout the weekend. This time, just to make things easier, any readathon updates I make will be within this post itself, including a wrap-up at the end. 

That’s all I have for now. Sign up if you haven’t already, and drop me a line to let me know if you’re participating so that I can keep an eye out for your social media posts. Cheers!

Day 1:

Typically I try and get in about 15 hours of reading on the first day, when I’m super pumped and motivated by the challenge. This time around, I had a couple of commitments, and an unexpected visit from a friend, so I was able to read for about only 10 hours. Luckily for me, I started the challenge at the official readathon start time, which gives me till about Monday morning 9.30 a.m. to get in my 24 hours. Here’s my reading stats so far:

Time Read: 10:00:51

Books read: The Liberation of Sita by Volga, A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi, and The Duchess War by Courtney Milan. 

No. of pages: 771

-J

Mini Reviews: Books With Aro and/or Ace Characters

Wishing you a Happy New Year full of love, light and laughter!

Thanks to making more friends in the ace and aro communities on Twitter, I’ve gotten the chance to read books representing these identities. They’re usually ownvoices and SFF and indie/self-published, which has also been a great way to diversify my reading from just traditional publishing. It’s so cool that there’s authors out there not waiting around for traditional publishing to catch up, otherwise we’ll be waiting a lot longer for representation. I thought I’d do quick reviews of three books I read and loved recently.

34337959 No More Heroes by Michelle Kan: There are Vigilantes with special Abilities all over the world who patrol the streets at night to keep the peace. However, a series of Vigilante deaths ensue- the identity and the motive of the person responsible for these deaths are unknown. Three young Vigilantes have no idea what they’re getting into when they get involved, and team up with a bunch of older Vigilantes to solve the mystery.

This is a fast-paced urban fantasy that features a diverse cast of characters and high stakes adventure time. I thoroughly enjoyed the pacing, the mystery, the action sequences and the Abilities were really cool. I could almost visualize it all. I loved that the author focused on friendships and fostering teamwork among these characters, a lot of whom were essentially just introduced and getting to know one another. It also features Fang, a genderfluid aroace character, which is a huge bonus. The only thing I’d have liked more was character development. There were a lot of characters and we really didn’t get any background on anyone but Fang. However, the author has been mentioning a sequel, and the book seems to be set up that way, so I’m hoping we get to know them more then. 

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The Trouble by Daria Defore: Danny Kim, lead of a Seattle indie rock band called The Trouble, embarrasses himself by rudely hitting on a cute guy Jiyoon, who attends one of his band’s shows, only to find out that the guy is the TA of his Accounting class. However, events occur and soon a friendship is formed between Danny and Jiyoon. 

I always lean towards realistic fiction over fantasy, and was delighted to find a contemporary fiction book featuring an aro character. The author did a really good job establishing and developing Danny and Jiyoon’s relationship, and how Danny navigates it as an allosexual aromantic person. This is not a “romance is a cure” storyline at all. Danny is firmly aro-spec, and there’s great scenes discussing what that means, both their expectations from their relationship, and establishing boundaries. I also loved that Danny is extremely close to his bandmates, and that relationship status doesn’t change regardless of whatever is happening with Jiyoon, which I especially appreciated. If you’re looking for aromantic rep in contemporary fiction, you should definitely pick up this one.

34031351The Traitor’s Tunnel by C. M. Spivey: This novella features a brother-sister duo in the city of Arido who are estranged- Bridget is a robber, and Theodore is the apprentice of a well-renowned city engineer, on his way to his dream job as the Lord Engineer of Arido. The two of them cross paths accidentally, and must reunite to stop a traitor and save their city and the empire.

I received an advance copy of this novella in exchange for an honest review.

Although the events in this book occur several years before the ones in FROM UNDER THE MOUNTAIN (which I haven’t read), it works great as a standalone. I had no issues following the plot or the worldbuilding. Two specific things I loved about this were: 1. the main characters are siblings, not romantic partners (or to-be romantic partners), playing to a great family dynamic, as well as alternating POVs. 2. Theodore is an established panromantic asexual character. His relationship with Leander is explored and fleshed out not only from his perspective, but from Bridget’s as well. Bridget’s own relationship with Keaton isn’t super defined, which fits in naturally with her personality. The world-building is solid and I had no trouble following it at all, it’s such a well-structured plot. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I’m definitely picking up From Under The Mountain soon. 

P. S. If you don’t already follow Claudie Arseneault on twitter, you really should. She’s created a great database for SFF books featuring ace and/or aro characters, and is always happy to chat about them on twitter as well. 

-J

Social Justice Book Club: Updates and August Selection

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Hey friends,

I know it’s been a while from both Kerry and me on the SJBC front. For those of you new here, this was a monthly book club co-hosted by us over on Slack, where we picked and chatted about books that covered several different social issues. Our last selection was Evicted: Poverty And Profit In An American City by Matthew Desmond, which just won the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction this year (absolutely well-deserved). 

Unfortunately, both Kerry and I have had unexpected things happen in our personal lives which didn’t really allow us to devote the kind of time we wanted to devote to the club, so we decided to skip the months of June and July, brainstorm and figure how we wanted to proceed. We will be going back to a bi-monthly rotation of the book club. It gives us time to actually do things like come up with discussion questions and foster conversations, which was pretty much the intention of putting together the club in the first place. It gives members time to acquire the book selected, and to read over a decent time period. We’re hoping this will be amenable to current and future members of the group.

25942967Our August pick: Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano.

From Goodreads: “In the updated second edition of Whipping Girl, Julia Serano, a transsexual woman whose supremely intelligent writing reflects her diverse background as a lesbian transgender activist and professional biologist, shares her powerful experiences and observations—both pre- and post-transition—to reveal the ways in which fear, suspicion, and dismissiveness toward femininity shape our societal attitudes toward trans women, as well as gender and sexuality as a whole.” 

 

We will be kicking off on August 1st with this pick. For those of you who are interested in joining us over on Slack, you can fill out the form below, or drop your email in the comments, and we can add you!

-J

ARC Review: The Queen of Dauphine Street (NOLA Nights #2) by Thea de Salle

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The Queen of Dauphine Street (NOLA Nights #2)

Pub. date: May 15th, 2017
Publisher: Pocket Star
Format: E-galley
ISBN: 9781501156090
Source: Netgalley

Thanks so much to Netgalley and Pocket Star for providing me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

Plot: Madeline Roussoux screams extravagance: she’s got money, houses, a private jet, a cruise ship, and a pet tiger; not to mention she’s gorgeous and hella sexy. Everyone in the social scene knows who she is. None of this takes away from the fact that she’s got some demons to deal with- growing up a lonely child in a noveau riche family, watching her father commit suicide and her mother subsequently having breakdowns, drugs, rehabs, failed marriages- and is wrecked on the inside. Darren Sanders is a stunning looking man, oozing Texan charm and a giant heart. While trying to get away from his stalker ex-girlfriend, he meets Maddy in New Orleans through a mutual friend, who offers to take him on her boat when there’s an attempt made on his life. 

Trigger warnings: Stalking, attempted murder, PTSD

Thea de Salle has given us another hella entertaining and hella sexy book, balanced with a story centering trauma survivors. The PTSD content is not in a savior complex way, in that nobody is getting cured of their traumatic experiences by virtue of being in a romantic relationship. Instead, Maddy is able to harness her experiences and coping mechanisms to help Darren out when he is struggling. I love that the author took the time to detail what Darren’s panic attack looks like and include a conversation about it after. Of course, it’s never the same for everybody, but the book doesn’t shy away from the fact that the characters are trauma survivors. The story isn’t morbid, and offers hope to readers in the end. 

Maddy and Darren are just so wonderfully fleshed out in this book.We were introduced to Maddy in the first book in the series, and she’s such a vivacious, flirty, fun, and kind person. She’s well-versed in kink as a Dom, and absolutely owns her sexiness and sexuality. I love a woman who knows what she likes and how she likes it and has no qualms about owning it. She’s also super aware of her privilege and how people perceive her, but that doesn’t stop her from living her life. She has a friggin’ tiger for a pet, for crying out loud. It’s hard not to love her. And then there’s Darren. Oh my god, Darren with the dad jokes. I AM DEAD. Ugh I’m such a sucker for dad jokes you guys, and even though I didn’t ship these two in the beginning of the book the dad jokes pushed me over the edge. They’re hard to resist. Oof. He’s just…such a dork. I love it.

It was also great to see some of my favorite characters from book one make an appearance in this one. Sol and Rain (my loves), Vaughn, Alex, Cylan (still mercilessly teased by Sol all day everyday), and Tempy (she’s just so badass I want her book  so much). Sol and Rain are still so in love, and I also love that Darren and Maddy are so appreciative of that couple in their own way. 

This book is a great mix of adorable and goofy and sexy, and such a great sequel to the first. I love all of these characters from this series so much and I would love for each of them to have their book. The next book in the series is going to be Alex DuMont’s, and he’s such a curmudgeonly bastard it’s going to be such a delight to see pages and pages of that, it is going to be a testament to my patience.

-J

 

 

Review: The King of Bourbon Street (NOLA Nights #1) by Thea de Salle

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The King of Bourbon Street (NOLA Nights #1)

Pub. date: Feb 13th, 2017
Publisher: Pocket Star
Format: Ebook
ISBN: 9781501156076
Source: Owned

 

 

Plot: Sol DuMont is a recently divorced, gorgeous, hotel chain owner, whose interest in partying and drugs and booze and sex is at an all time low. Arianna “Rain” Barrington is a wealthy heiress who is vacationing in New Orleans with her brother to escape her godawful mother and her incessant matchmaking. Rain and her brother Vaughn are of course, staying at The Seaside, Sol’s hotel. When Sol and Rain encounter each other, there are sparks, and a whirlwind romance ensues.

HOT. DAMN.

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Okay, okay, I’m getting way ahead of myself. First of all, this is the FIRST fat-positive romance I’ve ever read. I know the cover is deceiving (the author went over this in detail on Twitter a while ago; publishing needs to evolve), but Rain is fat. The word “fat” is used to describe her, more than once, and not in a derogatory manner at all. No fetishizing or negativity, which is amazing, especially since a lot of the descriptions are from Sol’s POV. This is a D/s relationship, and Sol looks at her a lot as a Dom, but all of his trains of thoughts about her are nothing but positive throughout the book. It’s great. Sol himself is a fucking delight- his banter with his best friend Cylan, especially all the one-sided flirting and the general snark, had me in splits. It’s hilarious. He’s bi and has no qualms about it. It was also great to read the book from the Dom’s POV during play, which again, I haven’t read a lot. Rain’s the less experienced of the two, but all the play is super consensual- there’s pain play, orgasm control, objectification- and the kink is ridiculously hot.

Outside of the kinky stuff, I really did love both characters. Rain is a ray of sunshine, wicked smart, adorable, and extremely kind. Sol is all snark and flirty and protective, but not the slightest bit overbearing. Their relationship is very well fleshed out, as are all the side characters. What I liked most is that the book avoids the trope of the partners having some sort of blow out that results in a separation and then another incident causes them to get back together. I’ve read it a lot in several other romances (that I’ve enjoyed) but it was a breath of fresh air not to have that story arc for once. I also love that there’s multiple queer characters in the book, and not in a sensationalized manner, so there’s no token representation going on.

This book is entertaining and endearing and laugh-out-loud funny, so if you’re a romance/kink fan, you should definitely pick this up. If you’re not an avid romance reader this is still a great book to try out the genre. It’s very well-written, and just a damn delight.

-J

ARC Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

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When Dimple Met Rishi

Pub. date: May 30th, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Format: E-galley
ISBN: 9781481478687 
Source: Author

Thanks so much to Simon Pulse and Sandhya Menon for providing me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

Summary: 18-year old Dimple Shah is more than ready to start university, to catch a break from her mother talking ad nauseum about the importance of finding an “Ideal Indian Husband.” So it’s almost a miracle that her parents are letting her attend a summer program for web developers. Rishi Patel is your Bollywood romantic, and eager as all hell to find his future wife, preferably set up by his parents. The Shahs and the Patels want to use this summer program that their kids are attending to nudge them towards each other, and Rishi is more than happy to be on board with this arrangement. The only problem- Dimple has no idea that all this is happening. So what happens when the two eventually meet? 

So, in case it wasn’t clear, this book is a Bollywood romcom in a nutshell. I am not kidding. I grew up watching this story. Several movies of this story. This book is the YA version- but sex positive, not misogynistic, no gaslighting, and none of that patriarchal bullshit. I will be totally honest- I know how important this story was going to be for desi kids outside of the subcontinent- they never get to see themselves or their culture represented positively, front and center. But I was also worried- the synopsis screamed Bollywood to me, and Bollywood is a buttload of misogynist garbage fire even on its good days. That apprehension was the reason it took me so long to actually pick up the book (a book I was so excited about that Sandhya was kind enough to send to me). I read it in one setting. Long story short, it’s fucking amazing. It’s funny, heartfelt, wonderful characters, and I SHIP THEM. I SHIP THESE DORKS. Dishi, Rimple, whatever the fuck the kids are gonna name them. I’m rooting for these kids to have a good time. 

Now that’s out of the way, let’s start with how desi this book is. Ultimate desi. The mum who is constantly haranguing Dimple to dress like a girl, and put on that damn kajal (I spent the first 17 years of my life not touching kajal on regular days and then college happened and I realized what a lifesaver it actually is to make me look less hungover), the dad who is the voice of reason when Dimple and her mum get into it, all the fussing in the name of love that can be suffocating but you miss when you’re away from home for a bit, the nosy aunty who simultaneously made me go “ARGH AUNTY WHY” and “Holy shit yes good lord these aunties that’s exactly how they are!”, and the desi family dynamics. They rang true and were hilarious and heartwarming all at the same time.  

And then there’s Rishi. Rishi (who will be a young Rishi Kapoor in my head, fight me) is a diehard, Bollywood romantic. He’s 17 and ready to find his life partner. He arrives at SFSU with every intention of getting to know Dimple so that they can fall in love and get married and live happily ever after and endgame. This is a boy who is sure of himself, who s grounded in his identity and his culture, and has no qualms about it. None of these traits are lost through the story, at the same time it was wonderful to watch his character grow and his ideas about his life be moulded based on the events in the story. He instantly falls for Dimple, and she challenges him every step of the way. All of the swoons. 

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Can we also talk about how adorable the book jacket is? Actually, we don’t have to talk about it because it’s downright adorable. Just look at it.  

Another thing I really appreciated about the book- while the romance is the main plotline, that characters aren’t presented only in that one dimension. Dimple isn’t just all ambition and competitiveness, she’s a person with multiple facets, thoughts, ideas, values, notions. Rishi isn’t just a die-hard romantic- he has passions, aspirations, and let’s be honest, they’re both so dorky in their own ways it is only natural they find a safe space in each other’s company. The book takes the time and several different scenes to explore these two as individuals and together- it’s the mark of a very very good writer. 

Here’s a place where the book scores again- sex positivity! Some teens may engage in sexual behavior (if they so choose)- surprise, surprise. Also, spoiler alert, but some brown teens may engage in sexual behavior (there seems to be this assumption that sex is a big no no for desi kids because strict parents or whatever, and again, if they so choose). So, extra points to Menon for including conversations about sex, consent-seeking, and sex positivity!

Needless to say, I’m thrilled this book exists. I’m thrilled desi teens will get to read it, to see themselves on the page, to laugh out loud at the melodramatic and occasionally clichéd desi romance moments (including a very Bollywood climax) that they will appreciate and nod at because familiarity. If you enjoy contemporary romcoms, I highly recommend you pick this one up, it’s a goddamn delight.

P. S. I read this in April so I can’t count it, but this book qualifies for #AsianLitBingo, if you’re looking for a title for the South Asian MC/Contemporary Asian MC/ Romance with POC squares. 

Dewey’s Readathon: Spring 2017 Edition

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Hey friends,

I know, it’s been a while. A long while. My sincerest apologies. I just cannot seem to get a handle on this life thing. We’ve moved and I’m still adjusting. It’s been weird. Also yes, I’ve had to change the blog format, for reasons (that are mostly financial). Apologies if that’s throwing anyone off.

I’ve been a little off the blogosphere and bookternet in general recently- minus yelling on twitter. Nothing outside of YA has been grabbing my attention lately, so this edition of Dewey’s could not have come at a better time. I’m more than ready to hunker down for some uninterrupted reading and bookternet time (and yes, of course, will be going grocery shopping because what is a readathon without the snack really?) It’ll be interesting because I’m in a completely different timezone this time, so my readathon is from 5.30 p.m. Saturday evening to 5.25 p.m. Sunday evening. This is going to be very interesting. Somehow, 7 to 7 doesn’t feel quite as long. I’m not sure if I’ll be awake all 24 hours this time, but really I’m just looking forward to being in the zone and have a good time. 

I’ve been particularly absent this time around- I usually like to help Andi and Heather out with writing a warm-up post or hosting a twitter chat- and the reasons are mostly along the lines of me flailing at life in general. I’ll spare you the boring details. However, I managed to spend some time yesterday catching up on the official blog, and this beautiful tribute to our dear friend Heather from Bits and Books left me teary-eyed. Please check it out. 

I will probably do one quick midway update on here and a wrap-up post at the end, but I will be active on Twitter, Instagram (Amanda aka nerdybookgirl is hosting an IG challenge), and Litsy (@theshrinkette). Use the hashtag #readathon to find your peeps!

Whether you read 2 hours or 20, make yourself sick on too many cookies, or just lounge about in your pajamas reading one book, it’s still an amazing thing to be a part of for a whole 24 hours. Don’t miss it. I’ll be there doing my thing: 

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-J