Let’s Talk Bookish

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme created by Rukky at Eternity Books. This week’s discussion question is, “What are some tropes/characters that you think are poorly or under represented in books? “

So this is going to seem weird after my passionate defense of sexual content in YA last week, but I think that asexuality and teenage characters who aren’t ready to have sex are under represented in books. And, of course, those are two totally separate situations.

The way I define asexuality is a lack of sexual desire. I know there are many degrees of asexuality and asexual people who have sex, but my basic definition is someone who doesn’t have the desire to have sex. I like the way it was defined in Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann, where the main character said something to the effect of, “You know how some people don’t care about running? Well, that’s me. I don’t care about sex.” While that’s not how I personally define asexuality for me, it’s pretty damn close.

There are some books out there about people who are asexual. I’ve read three: Let’s Talk About Love, The Girls Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzie Lee, and All the Wrong Places by Anne Gallagher. I also know there are more books coming out or that are out. But it’s not a widespread thing and I would like to see it more normalized.

The second under represented trope is teenagers who aren’t ready to have sex. It seems like any romance with teenagers ends up, at some point, with the teenagers choosing to have sex. And, like I said last week, having sex and exploring sexuality is perfectly natural and many teenagers do it, there are also many teenagers who choose not to have sex for a whole host of reasons. I’d like to see more books where someone tries and realizes, no, it’s not for them. Not yet, not now. Or doesn’t try and just knows that they’re not ready. Where are all the books about late bloomers? I’d like to see more.

What are some tropes or characters you think need better representation? Let me know in the comments!

Top 10 Extraordinary Book Titles

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is top 10 extraordinary book titles.

A Curse so Dark and Lonely is a fantastic title. It captures the essence of not only Rhen’s curse, but Harper and Grey’s isolation and situations as well.

Daisy Jones and the Six is a great title because it sounds exactly what is it: a book about a rock band. It brings to life that era of seventies music and is just very evocative.

Muse of Nightmares is such a wonderful title, it’s a shame I didn’t enjoy the book. I love the idea of a figure that inspires nightmares. Not gives nightmares, but help the dreamer to weave them. And it’s such a perfect companion title to Strange the Dreamer.

The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is just… I love it. It sounds like a self-help book or one of those books for kids that tells them how to seek adventure. It’s wonderful.

The Ladies Guide to Petticoats and Piracy. See above.

I, Iago is another fantastic title that’s attached to another book that disappointed me. I just love the simplicity of it, they way it’s slightly sinister (maybe just because it’s attached to one of the greatest villains of all time). It’s just a strong title.

The Hate U Give is a great title that I didn’t realize was a pop culture reference until I read it. It’s strong and powerful.

The Misadventures of Maude March. It’s alliterative and I love alliteration. The title alone made me want to read this.

Under the Never Sky is a fantastic title. Right away, I need to read the book just to find out what a never sky is. Are they in space? Underground? Where are they? And it’s just poetic.

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. I love this title because you know it’s about a girl who’s done something she needs to confess. It intrigued me right away.

What are some of your favorite titles? Let me know in the comments!

Let’s Talk Bookish – Sexual Content in YA

It’s time for another Let’s Talk Bookish discussion. This is a weekly meme hosted by Rukky at Eternity Books. This week’s topic is, Is there too much sexual content in YA?

I read a lot of YA, but the books I choose don’t tend to have a lot of sexual content. At least not sexually explicit content. I guess Throne of Glass by Sara J. Maas is considered YA, and that does have sexual content, but, outside of that, I can’t really think of many books that I’ve read that have sexual content. Maybe it’s because I don’t read much contemporary; is that where all the sexual content is?

However, that being said, I don’t think there’s too much content in YA and not because I’m not coming across it. While I completely sympathize with people who don’t want to read about sex, sexual tension, or romance, when I was a kid, that’s exactly what I wanted to read. I read Forever by Judy Blume when I was in fifth or sixth grade because I knew it had sex in it. When my parents left me alone at home, I went through the adult books in the house looking for sex scenes. My library checked out any book to anyone, and when I was in sixth or seventh grade, I checked out a romance book. Even before the sex started, I knew it was the type of book I was looking for because of the sensual descriptions of clothing.

Many kids are interested in sex, and many kids don’t have access to healthy depictions of sex. Their parents either won’t talk to them about it and/or give them rotten information. Books with sexual content are the only place they’ll get an education. I mean, yes, in reality they’re going online and looking at porn and talking to their friends who are as badly educated as they are, but if they can read a book that depicts a sexual relationship and it’s consequences, isn’t that better?

Judy Blume wrote Forever in 1975 because the only books out there about teenagers having sex ended in tragedy. Her daughter wanted to read something more realistic or at least different. (Side note: I have no proof that’s why she wrote it; I believe I read that many years ago somewhere, but don’t quote me on it). So, Blume wrote a book about teens having sex and detailed (or at least soft-focused) the sex scenes. And while those scenes were incredibly cringey (the guy named his penis Ralph, and I pictured a penis wearing tiny glasses), they showed fairly realistic sex between two inexperienced people. And, how just because you have sex, it doesn’t mean your relationship is going to last. But it doesn’t mean your life is going to be ruined, either.

So, I think sexual content in YA is important. It seems that most YA depicts healthy relationships that focus on consent and protection and the consequences of rushing into things unprepared. I think of how hugely important Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez was in not only portraying gay relationships, but realistically dealt with the consequences for one of the characters when he took risky chances.

Again, not everyone wants to read sexual content. But I also think there’s enough diversity in YA to satisfy everyone.

Calendar Girls October: Books that Lit Your Way Out of a Reading Slump

Calendar girls is a monthly blog event that’s hosted by Katie at Never Not Reading and Adrienne at Darque Dreamer Reads . This month’s discussion prompt is Books that Lit Your Way out of a Reading Slump.

So, I can’t remember when I’ve ever had a proper reading slump. I’ve read less than usual, like February when I only read about three books. But I’ve still always read every night. So, there hasn’t been a particular book that’s pulled me out.

That being said, I have had a genre light me from reading a book every week or so to reading almost a book a night. And that genre was M/M historical romance.

I’d read a few in the genre and enjoyed it, but it didn’t spark until I discovered Cat Sebastian and K.J. Charles. Once I read them, I devoured whatever I could find. I tore through Cat Sebastian’s book, The Soldier’s Scoundrel like a wild fire. Then, K.J. Charles’s Society of Gentlemen books entered by world. The first, A Fashionable Indulgence was okay, but the second, A Seditious Affair cemented my love.

With such lovely lines like, ” Wednesday by Wednesday, week by week, I have loved you.” I was a goner.

After that, for months after, I read almost nothing but m/m historical romance. I discovered more authors and more series. I read until I couldn’t find anything I hadn’t read. And while I’ve branched back out into other genres, m/m historical romances have a special place in my heart.

What’s a book or genre that snapped you out of a slump? Comment below and let me know!

Let’s Talk Bookish – Star Ratings: Are they fair or necessary?

It’s Friday, so that means it’s once again time fro Let’s Talk Bookish, a weekly meme hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books.

This week’s discussion is Star Ratings – Are they fair or necessary?

So, I’m going to preface this by saying that this is something I’ve never thought about before. I just sort of took for granted it’s what people did. You read a book, you rate it, end of story. But the issue is more complex with that.

I’ll start out by saying that, no, they probably aren’t very fair. For one thing, stars mean different things to different people. This is what my star ratings mean:

Five stars: I loved it, I cherish it, I want to own it and reread it.

Four stars: I really liked it a lot.

Three stars: It was okay, I liked it.

Two stars: I didn’t enjoy it much, but there was something redeeming about it.

One star: I hated it.

However, not everyone attaches the same meaning to starts. To some people, giving a three star review is a huge insult to the book. To others, it means they enjoyed it a lot. So, star ratings aren’t standard and, except for five and one star ratings, it’s hard to tell what the person means when they star.

At the same time, I think it’s the easiest way to get across our relative enjoyment of the book. Reviews are great, but sometimes I don’t want to read a review, I just want to know if someone liked it or not. Stars give me a quick and easy guide to figuring that out.

On the other hand, tastes vary wildly and reviews are really a better metric of what a person thought about a book. I can get a clearer idea of how our star ratings align by reading a review. Maybe they rated it two stars, but they really liked the book and thought it was okay. That gives me a better idea of what they think that just looking at a star. And reading a review also helps me understand why someone rated something five stars when I really didn’t like the book and gave it a two.

So, I guess star ratings aren’t really fair, but, until we come up with a better way to rate things, they’re necessary. They can be useful to a degree and help give a quick idea of a book’s quality. But, they have to be taken with a huge grain of salt.

What do you think? Are star ratings fair or necessary? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Let’s Talk Bookish – Questions for More Experienced Bloggers

Let’s talk Bookish is a new weekly meme hosted by Rukky @Eternity Books. Each week, Rukky offers a topic to discuss and people are invited to chime in. This week the topic is Things You Wish You could Ask Other or More Experienced Bloggers.

So, I’m quite shy when it comes to asking questions, but I do have a few burning ones on my list.

  1. How do you come up with such wonderful discussion posts?
  2. When did you get the courage to start commenting on bloggers with 1,000+ followers?
  3. What do you do when you’re busy or in a reading slump and haven’t finished a book to read?
  4. When did you start contacting publishers directly for ARCs? Any advice?
  5. What are some tried and true methods for gaining more followers?
  6. What made you decide to start a book blog?
  7. What are some of your favorite books that you don’t get around to talking about as much?
  8. What are you writing/blogging inspirations?
  9. What’s your favorite post of all time?
  10. How do you encourage others to comment on your posts?

Okay, I think that’s all the questions I have. Got any answers for me? Any questions you have? Drop a comment below and let me know!

Favorite Banned Books

Hi! I was supposed to write a review today, but have nothing to review. Instead, in honor of Banned Book Week, I’ll give a list of some of my favorite banned or challenged books.

I read Deenie by Jude Blume when I was probably in fourth or fifth grade. I loved it. It’s about a beautiful girl whose mother wants her to be a fashion model. She keeps getting turned down because her posture isn’t correct. A doctor finally diagnoses her with scoliosis and she has to wear a brace to straighten her spine. The controversial part? She masturbates. Now, it’s not explicit or anything. There’s a scene where she’s taking a bath and uses the wash cloth to rub at a special place that makes her feel good. I decided that place must be on her back, which confused me because I didn’t get similar feelings. Maybe I was a little too young to read it. But, the story is great and the message is good, and I love how Judy Blume never shies away from showing kids as they really are.

The Hunger Games trilogy came out when I was an adult, but I still love it with all my heart. I was at the bookstore searching for a book that A) had a female protagonist and B) was dystopian. This was the first book I picked up after setting that criteria, and I quickly fell in love. With the violence, stark view of poverty, sexuality, and fraught family connections, it’s been challenged and banned in many places. I remember being surprised by Finnick’s experiences being so explicit in a YA book, but I thought it was very brave and honest. And, it sadly is a challenge that children are facing. Anyway, I think The Hunger Games is a fantastic book series.

I have to admit, I’ve only read the first of the Vampire Academy books, although I do plan on rectifying that one day. However, this book had what I think is one of the best depictions of depression I’ve ever read. It blew me away. This book has been banned because of sexuality and nudity, which is so silly because it’s a book. You can’t see the nakedness. And, besides, what’s wrong with a teenager reading about another teenager being naked? To top it off, the entire series was apparently banned before the series was even completed!

I’m so utterly unshocked by the fact that Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez was banned. Banned for being gay positive, sexually explicit, and promoting homosexuality, Rainbow Boys is frequently targeted by parents. Which is a shame. When it came out, there were only a handful of books about that featured gay protagonists, and I think this was the only one that explored how desperation could drive even a child with a sex-positive mother to make risky choices. Now, I admit: when I reread it again a few years ago, I didn’t love it as much as I did the first time I read it. But it’s still an important book to because it shows a variety of gay young men with different personalities and how relationships at that age can work and be a positive thing.

Okay, I have to get to work, so I’m leaving this list here, even though I could include a dozen others. What are some of your favorite banned or challenged books?