#DiversifyTheVerse | A Diverse Book Club

Hey everyone! I'm here today with a rather short post, but one I hope you'll all find interesting and informational. Recently my best friend Belinda (@bookstorm) and I have decided to start a book club based on Instagram. This book club is going to be solely based on reading diverse books from diverse authors. As Asian-Americans, Belinda and I have seen the small amount (or lack thereof) of representation of ourselves in books today. And we wondered, "how many other people are feeling this way?" SO MANY! Because of this fact, we wanted to start a reading experience that would bring you up close and personal with the books that are reflective of EVERYONE. We hope that you'll join us in our mission to bring diverse books and diversity to Bookstagram! 

So because we launched in mid January, we thought it would be nice to start reading in February. We had a lot of book choices to choose for next month but we had to narrow it down to only one book! 

Our February Book Choice Is...

February is Black History Month! We thought it was imperative to choose a book that represents PoC and recognizes the vital role of African Americans in U.S. history.

I have to give it to Belinda because she was the one who suggested this book! After reading into this book, I was so excited about choosing it as our book choice.

"Well, no, actually, a lady tripping over Rashad at the store, making him drop a bag of chips, was what started it all. Because it didn’t matter what Rashad said next—that it was an accident, that he wasn’t stealing—the cop just kept pounding him. Over and over, pummeling him into the pavement. So then Rashad, an ROTC kid with mad art skills, was absent again…and again…stuck in a hospital room. Why? Because it looked like he was stealing. And he was a black kid in baggy clothes. So he must have been stealing.

And that’s how it started.

And that’s what Quinn, a white kid, saw. He saw his best friend’s older brother beating the daylights out of a classmate. At first Quinn doesn’t tell a soul…He’s not even sure he understands it. And does it matter? The whole thing was caught on camera, anyway. But when the school—and nation—start to divide on what happens, blame spreads like wildfire fed by ugly words like “racism” and “police brutality.” Quinn realizes he’s got to understand it, because, bystander or not, he’s a part of history. He just has to figure out what side of history that will be.

Rashad and Quinn—one black, one white, both American—face the unspeakable truth that racism and prejudice didn’t die after the civil rights movement. There’s a future at stake, a future where no one else will have to be absent because of police brutality. They just have to risk everything to change the world.

Cuz that’s how it can end."

-  from the synopsis of the book 

Authors of the Book

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Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely everybody. Hearing the story of how these two authors were hit with the idea of writing this book makes me so incredibly excited to read it. They genuinely saw a problem and couldn't handle staying out of it anymore, they wanted to write a book about it. And writing, as we know these days, has the power to change minds and lives. I've read so many great things about this poignant and important book, and I JUST CANNOT WAIT TO READ IT AHHHH. 

We hope you're interested in joining us as we read diverse books from month to month! 


Welcome to my tour stop for The Crown's Fate by Evelyn Skye! It is with great honor that I present myself as apart of the Tsar's Guard, since I've been training since I was very young! If you haven't read the first book in the series yet, The Crown's Game, read that and then come back. I assure you, you won't regret it. But if you read the synopsis of this book, you're going to be spoiled big time for the first book, so read with heed! 

Title: The Crown's Game 
Author: Evelyn Skye
Pages: 400 pages 
Release Date: May 16th, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Historical Fiction 
Russia is on the brink of great change. Pasha’s coronation approaches, and Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter, but the role she once coveted may be more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever expected.

Pasha is grappling with his own problems—his legitimacy is in doubt, the girl he loves loathes him, and he believes his best friend is dead. When a challenger to the throne emerges—and with the magic in Russia growing rapidly—Pasha must do whatever it takes to keep his position and protect his kingdom.

For Nikolai, the ending of the Crown’s Game stung deeply. Although he just managed to escape death, Nikolai remains alone, a shadow hidden in a not-quite-real world of his own creation. But when he’s given a second chance at life—tied to a dark price—Nikolai must decide just how far he’s willing to go to return to the world.

With revolution on the rise, dangerous new magic rearing up, and a tsardom up for the taking, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha must fight—or face the destruction of not only their world but also themselves.

Preorder here! 
We all know The Crown's Game is some fancy spectacle between two talented enchantresses, who fight to gain the title of the Imperial Enchanter. Last book, we had Vika and Nikolai battle it out the name, but what if we had one competitor? What if another young enchantress made her way into the arena, prepared to duel with both Vika and Nikolai for chance at the title? Those questions seemed to have lingered in my head since the day I finished TCG. So I thought, why not? WHY NOT CREATE MY OWN ENCHANTRESS MUAHAHHAHAH? Without further ado, I present to you...

At the age of 17, Anastasia's magic is darker and more captivating than any other magic-wielder. She is motivated by the death of her mentor and trainer, who died by her side in an attempt by gang members to kidnap her. Originally hailing from Moscow, she has traveled far to see the Crown Prince of the empire. Anastasia will fight to win at all costs, or die trying. She will fight for the power, the name and the revenge she will have on her mentor's killers.

Follow the blog tour... 
Jan. 9th - Brittany's Book Rambles: The Crown's Fate Review
Jan. 10th- Sarcasm & Lemons: Fancast
Jan. 11th- The YA Book Traveler: History of Russian Crowns
Jan. 12th- Picnic Reads: Character-Based Book Tag
Jan. 13th- Book Nerd Addict: Inspired Tote Design

Jan.16th- Dazzled by Books: Top 5 Reasons I Love The Crown's Game
Jan. 17thRants and Raves of a Bibliophile: Characters Matched to Teas
Jan. 18thThe Book Buzz: New Enchanter
Jan. 19th- The Aus. Library: Famous Russian Fairytales
Jan. 20th My Thoughts Literally: Character Inspired Dessert

Jan. 23rdOmg Books and More Books: Books that Characters of TCG Would Enjoy
Jan. 24thIt Starts at Midnight: Virtual Tour of Russia
Jan. 25thNext Page Please!: Character Blog
Jan. 26thThe Book Nut: Playlist
Jan. 27thArctic Books: Make-up Looks

Jan. 30thTwo Chicks on Books: Pinterest Recipe Board
Jan. 31thLost in Ever After: Typical Date for Nikolai & Vika
Feb. 1st- Alexa Loves Books: Fashion Book Look
Feb. 2nd- Sophie Reads YA: Russian History In and Out of The Crown's Game
Feb. 3rd21st Century Once Upon A Times: Drink Your Way Through The Crown's Game

Feb. 6th- The Eater of Books: 10 Reason I'm Excited for TCF
Feb. 7th- A Thousand Words A Million Books: Top 5 Magical Moves in The Crown's Game
Feb. 8th- Seeing Double in Neverland: Fanmade Bookmarks & Swag
Feb. 9th- A Page With A View: YA Fantasy Books set in Russia
Feb. 10th- Dana Square: Recipe from The Crown's Game

Feb. 13th-YA Wednesdays: Favorite Quotes from The Crown's Game
Feb. 14th- Juniper Reads: Sorting Characters into Fandoms
Feb. 15th- Nicole's Novel Reads: Nail Polish Looks
Feb. 16th- The Queen Reads: What the Characters of TCG would take to a Deserted Island
Feb. 17th- A Perfection Called Books: The Crown's Fate Review

Evelyn Skye

Evelyn Skye is the New York Times bestselling author of THE CROWN’S GAME (out now!) and THE CROWN’S FATE (May 16, 2017). She was once offered a job by the C.I.A., she not-so-secretly wishes she was on “So You Think You Can Dance,” and if you challenge her to a pizza-eating contest, she guarantees she will win. When Evelyn isn’t writing, she can be found chasing her daughter on the playground or sitting on the couch, immersed in a good book and eating way too many cookies.

Author Links

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ARC Review: Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza | #ownvoices

Title: Empress of a Thousand Skies
Author: Rhoda Belleza
Pages: 344 pages
Release Date: February 7th, 2017
Source: ARC from PenguinTeen
Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Rhee, also known as Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an, is the sole surviving heir to a powerful dynasty. She’ll stop at nothing to avenge her family and claim her throne.

Aly has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a holo-vision show. But when he’s falsely accused of killing Rhee, he's forced to prove his innocence to save his reputation—and his life.

With planets on the brink of war, Rhee and Aly are thrown together to confront a ruthless evil that threatens the fate of the entire galaxy.

Preorder now!
**I received an advanced reader's copy from the publisher. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own** 

If this own voices space opera isn't on your 2017 TBR, then you must be doing something wrong. This 2017 release will make you obsessed with books that take place in space and, not to mention, make you want to reread the TLC series by Marissa Meyer. So bear with me as I try to recall my first impressions of this book that I read way back in December (shame on my procrastination)...

Empress of a Thousand Skies gave me major Lunar Chronicle Marissa Meyer vibes, and I love how much it reminded me of my favorite series. I though the plot was kind very similar in terms of TLC, as in a runaway princess who plans to take back her throne while the whole universe thinks she's dead. If you're a huge fan of TLC, I think you'd really enjoy this upcoming release.

I'm such a tech nerd, so you could imagine how I devoured the mention of this world's technology. Spaceships, cubes, programmers, hackers. Basically each person has a 'cube' implanted behind their right ear, and it has the ability to record memories, experiences, translate languages, communicate with other people and most importantly, let the government know what you're up to. The cubes play a major role in our characters' story as they mean the difference between getting caught and staying alive. Another reason for Marissa Meyer fans to reach for this book sooner rather than later.

One of my favorite aspects of the book was the dual POV. Similar to the TLC series, the different characters' storylines don't converge until the very end. And I liked that, I really did. All this buildup, all this anticipation, is setting a foundation for a hell of a meetup when the two characters Rhee and Aly finally come together.

From the back of the book, I kind of predicted there to be a romance between Rhee and Aly. But there wasn't, in fact, each character met someone along the way and started their own romances. When I started realizing that, I appreciated the story more because I didn't have to expect any budding romances to come out of their meeting. It was finally going to be more about saving the throne than falling in love!

While we're on the topic of romance, there is very little romance in this book, which I quite enjoyed. It was refreshing to see in a YA debut. Because the author was able to focus less on romance, she was able to build some really great family and friend relationships that sealed the deal for me. One of my favorite characters was Vin, Aly's best friend, and I thought their relationship was by far the best in the book.

This book includes the best of a diverse cast, beautiful scenery, character relationships and space politics! Yes folks, you heard me right. Space politics! We learned a great deal about how this world functioned and the importance of their hierarchal system. It's nothing too confusing, especially because she breaks it down so nicely and it blends well into this fast-paced story.

One of my initial reasons for being so excited for this book was the promise of a diverse cast and an own voices story. And while we did see an amazingly diverse set of characters, I didn't quite grasp the own voices concept at first until I read other reviews. A group of people in the story, Wraetans, are frowned upon because of their past clashes with the Kalusians (the reigning power). We're told that the Kalusians are more fair-skinned while Wraetans are much more tan. I liked how the two characters originated from these two different groups, Rhee as a high profile Kalusian and Aly, as a high profile Wraethan. Through Rhee we were enlightened of her political view of the Wraetans and her desperate longing for the Kalusians and Wraetans to join as one force. Through Aly we are shown what he goes through living as a Wraethan in Kalusian society. Through Aly's story, we see a strong oppressed main character who proves that his people aren't only capable of war and violence.

The writing style was very unique and whenever an author takes the time to develop their own phrases, I'm immediately impressed. You know how we have our typical slang? Yeah, well this book creates some new sci-fi space slang that I was all for.

I get butterflies just thinking about what an awesome debut this is going to be. With complex characters, surprising twists and turns and an awesome world to jump into, Empress of A Thousand Skies sets the groundwork for a new sci-fi space opera series to emerge. With very little that irked me, I have to mention that this book didn't blow me away as much as I thought it would. Might come as a shocker considering all the good that I've said about it. Don't get me wrong, it was a good book, fantastic even. I just didn't feel any feeling of 'OMG I'M GOING TO DIE WITHOUT THE SEQUEL' after reading it, you know?

And although the synopsis is a poor summary for what the book is actually about, you do get quite the mix of surprises and twists that you won't see coming. Frankly, I think the synopsis is misleading! But it's all fine and well because I enjoyed the book!

Will you be picking up Empress of a Thousand Skies?

Classic Books I Didn't Expect to Like

Classics and I, we don't have too strong of a relationship. I made it a resolution of mine for 2016 to read more than 5 classics, but of course, that didn't go as planned. I took that goal and put it under my 2017 resolutions list, so hopefully I can smack some sense into myself before the end of the year comes. This year, I plan to challenge my reading and analysis skills, particularly going towards more challenging texts (in this case classic books). I wasn't completely useless in 2016, though. I did have classics assigned from school, and those are the books we're going to look at today!

1. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

I remember reading this in 9th grade and really enjoying the pace. Apart from being a really symbolic story in terms of the manifestation of evil and savagery, it was an action-packed and angsty book. I didn't expect to like this one at first because, like my initial reaction with all classic books, I thought it was going to be a hard book to read and understand. I also thought it was going to be boring because it was labeled under the "classic" category. To be honest, I was very wary of reading any classics because I thought I wouldn't understand the writing style. I ended up really enjoying this one, especially because the characters were young and their actions were relatable. 

2. The Odyssey by Homer

My obvious reluctance towards reading this book was because it was COMPOSED SOMETIME IN THE 8TH CENTURY. I was sure this book was going to be hella cryptic, and I would spend more time on Sparknotes rather than reading the actual book. Fast forward to today, I actually appreciate this book more than I thought I would. One reason could be attributed to my love for Greek mythology, which is the groundwork for The Odyssey. I also thought this particular novel challenged me because it was a poem and there was a very rhythmic tone to it.  

3. 1984 by George Orwell

This book was reminiscent of a dystopian novel, and I like how this book made me pay attention to every detail. With most classics, I like how they don't give you happy endings. That would be too unrealistic. The best part of this book was that knuckle-gripping ending, wow! I also had the pleasure of watching the film adaptation with my class, and it really eventuated my understanding. 

4. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

I thought that this book had the shared the same kind of vibes with 1984, and I enjoyed it just as much. No, not only because it was about books! Well of course not, they outlaw books in this book! This was the first classic book I ever read for school, as it was assigned during the summer of my first year of high school. I remember reading it at first but feeling extremely bored because I wasn't used to reading classics. Again, after discussing it in class and even writing a play with the characters, I have come to appreciate its message. 

5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I actually just finished TGG two nights ago, so excuse me for a second. *sips water, clears throat* GUYS, GUYS, GUYSSSSSS. I can't get over this book, literally the perfection of it all and the entire message of the book coming together in the end. My entire perception of it might be altered because I loved the movie, but the book added so much more depth the characters and the world. The movie missed a lot of small things that happened in the book and the small quirks of the characters. I was so happy to finally have read this book, after having my doubts at first because this is historical fiction. Historical fiction and I are like water and oil- we don't mix! Yet again, the 1920's is my favorite time period! 

I didn't 100% understand everything but after discussing a lot with my classmates, I understand and appreciate the themes behind the book and the direction that Fitzgerald took to get the message out there. Now all I need is the beautiful Penguin Classics edition, muahahhaha! 

What are some of your favorite classics?

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