Sovereign (Nemesis #2) – Review: ARC

sovereignSovereign (Nemesis #2) by April Daniels – 4/ 5 stars

This book delivered! If you read my reflection last Wednesday, you know I was worried Sovereign would not keep me engaged, with my not liking superhero books and all. The book started slow for me and I had a hard time getting into as I wasn’t interested in the superhero conference or some of the other events early in the book, but as the book progressed, it hit on some tough issues in the same fun way Dreadnought tackled other issues.

Sovereign is the second book in the Nemesis series. It picks up several months after Dreadnought, which is nice as that book ended with a decent amount of chaos and I was happy the first part of Sovereign didn’t try to resolve all of it. Instead, much of it has been resolved in the months between the two books. Instead, the book starts with a superhero conference and an introduction to a few new characters, including Kinetiq, a nonbinary Iranian-American superhero, and Cecilia, Dreadnought’s publicist and lawyer. It was nice to have new characters, though I would have liked Kinetiq be more developed and play a greater role in the novel.

We see a different side of Danny as she has come into her new role and it’s a side I had a hard time reading, but it’s also a point of growth and I welcomed the honesty and vulnerability of that side of Danny. This book surprised me with its depth, particularly because in the beginning it did not feel like there was going to be much depth. For me, the build up to the heart of the story was slow, but once I ended up there, it was action packed and full of incredible depth. I’m incredibly excited to see where the next book in the series takes us.

I could talk about this book forever, and I certainly have to anyone who has decided to ask me what I am reading, but I do not want to give away too much of the plot and ruin Dreadnought for those of you who have not yet read the first book in the series. Know that this book is still on the cutting edge of diversity and intersectionality and that everything from book one is wrapped up by the end of this book.

My biggest complaint with this book, besides how slow the beginning is, is one particular aspect of how the book ended. Danny and Doc make a unilateral decision about something that ideally should be left up to a much broader public and do so by essentially stealing control over a system. Maybe this makes sense in the context of the world of superheroes, at least the gaining control over supervillain property, but it was not explained as such. Assuming that the collateral gain is standard for superheroes, I was still greatly bothered by the unilateral decision and greatly worry about the consequences said decision will have on the future of the world. But, to be fair, it also makes me want to read the next book in the series to learn whether I am correct in my apprehension about this decision.

Again, like Dreadnought this story has more than just superhero action scenes, making it a wonderful book for anyone who enjoys significant character development and insight. Like Dreadnought, this book caused me to look within myself and reflect on myself as well as caused me to look outside myself and reflect on the world around me. I am still amazed at how incredible April Daniels is as a writer and I expect great things from her in the future. I strongly encourage everyone to give this series a shot as you will not be disappointed. We need more writing like this, so please, support this writer!

I received this ebook free from Netgalley and publisher Diversion Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

 

Considering reading it? Check out a free Kindle preview! Please note that Diversifying Perspective is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to free Kindle previews through Amazon.com. This does not impact the selection of books nor the content of reviews.

The Awesome Blogger Award

I’ve been nominated for an award and I’m blushing with excitement! I never expected for my blog to take off so quickly. I’m over the moon!!!

I was nominated by Harini over at Books and Readers and she is my favorite book blogger right now. Not only is her blog amazing, but also she has shown me great kindness and support from the very beginning. If I could nominate her again, I absolutely would. Definitely check out her blog – it’s wonderful!

awesome-blogger-award1.jpg(I stole this image from Harini who stole it from Des!)

The award was created by Maggie at Dreaming of Guatemala who stated:

This is an award for the absolutely wonderful writers all across the blogging world. They have beautiful blogs, are kind and lovely, and always find a way to add happiness and laughter to the lives of their readers. That is what truly defines an awesome blogger.

Rules :

1.Thank the person who nominated you.
2. Include the reason behind the award.
3. Include the banner in your post.
4. Tag it under #awesomebloggeraward in the Reader.
5. Answer the questions your nominator gave you.
6. Nominate at least 5 awesome bloggers.
7. Give your nominees 10 new questions to answer.
8. Let your nominees know that they’ve been nominated.

My Answers to Harini

What’s ‘peace’ according to you?

Man, starting with the hard questions! I feel like there are two ways I could go – the world peace way or the inner peace way. Since I’ve been focusing a lot on my inner peace lately, I will focus on that in my response. Peace for me is stillness, strength, and quiet no matter what is happening outside of me. It is this beautiful cave I retreat to.

What’s the one book everyone loves but you absolutely hate?

Anything by Jane Austen, but particularly Pride and Prejudice. It may have been the first book I bailed on and it was required reading in high school. I couldn’t even stand the movie. It was a rough few weeks in that English class.

Dream Destination?

When I was younger, it was always Hawaii, though I’m not sure why as I don’t really like the beach. Now, I really want to travel to Turkey or somewhere similar. I feel in love with Arabic and Moorish architecture in Spain and would love to see so much more of it.

One mistake that you regret so much?

Leaving the PhD program, though I’m much more compassionate toward myself about why I did.

Favorite subject at High school?

Statistics. I was really weird. English was a close second. And if we are including non-formal/ non-required subjects, than band was my ultimate favorite followed by pottery.

The one thing you want to change about yourself?

Currently, I’d like to improve my health enough to return to work, or really, just any level of improvement would be greatly welcomed.

The person you can’t imagine being without?

My sister. She’s a huge piece of me and I need her. She’s quite often the first person I turn to.

Favorite pet ever?

Nica, who is the cute pup in my profile pic!

Book People Vs Real People – Who do you prefer?

There are definitely times in my life when I would have said book people, but after falling ill and finding a large community of people supporting me, who are all my extended family now, I have to say real people. Real people are actually there when things are hard. ❤

One thing about the world that you hate?

Hatred itself, especially that which is based on shallow qualities like race, sex, or sexual orientation

Thanks again, Harini!

My nominees:

JD at Studious Creatives
FNM at NZFNM blog
Alyssa at Book Huntress’ World
Elin at Book Owlie
TJL at Books & Other Pursuits

My Questions:

Which book “changed your life”?
What’s your favorite thing about blogging?
Would you rather be a bookstore owner or an author?
Where’s your favorite place to visit?
What is something you really, really like?
Outside of reading, what’s a favorite activity?
What’s your favorite ice cream?
Would you rather have dinner with current famous people or dead/historical famous people (you get to pick who you invite)?
What’s a nonfiction topic/ genre you enjoy?
Do you hope to still be blogging in 5 years?

For those tagged, I completely understand if you cannot get to this right now. Just know that I enjoy your blogs!

I’d love to hear your answers to these questions as well! Comment below with your thoughts!

Dreadnought – Reflection: Inner Voice

3685379062_499fbcac69_zSpoiler alert: there is a small spoiler in this review, though it is something that one learns very early on in the book

Trigger warning: verbal and emotional abuse

I’ve been avoiding writing this post. I keep pretending it’s because I don’t know what to say about this book, but really, it’s just that I will have to be really vulnerable in this post if I want to be authentic and true to how this book impacted me. It’s not that I haven’t been vulnerable before on this blog, but I haven’t been this vulnerable before and vulnerability is something I’m not very comfortable with. It’s why I’ve read so much of Brené Brown’s work. I know I need to learn to be more comfortable with vulnerability, but it is really, really hard for me.

But back to Dreadnought and the reflection at hand. This book tore me open, and not exactly in the way I’m okay with being torn open. This book made me take a hard, long look at myself. Too hard of a look, honestly, to the point where I almost wanted to bail on the book, not because of the book, but because I did not want to have to face myself. What was Dreadnought causing me to confront? My inner voice.

In Dreadnought, (sort of spoiler alert, but you discover this pretty early in the book) Danny’s dad is emotionally and verbally abusive. It was uncomfortable for me to read as a survivor of verbal and emotional abuse myself, but it wasn’t very difficult for me to get through. The aspect that was incredibly challenging was how well Daniels depicts Danny’s inner voice, which is the internalized version of this emotional and verbal abuse. The internationalization of the abuse is the crux of why it is so debilitating and damaging; at some point, the things other people say become the things the victim tells herself, making it impossible to differentiate between the abuser’s voice and the victim’s. For Danny, her internalized voice calls herself “stupid,” a lot, and in very harsh ways – or more precisely, at times when she is not being stupid at all. She doubts herself, even though she has superpowers that make her practically invisible. In moments when she needs to act, she hesitates because she does not trust her decision-making abilities and is afraid of making the wrong decision. But that hesitation becomes the wrong decision. It was painful to read. I wanted to scream at her to just trust herself, but at the same time, if I did that, then I would have to do that with myself as well.

My inner voice is pretty cruel at times and it has caused me to be so afraid of making a decision, that I do not make one. Which, I have learned over time, is still making a decision. It feels like it isn’t, but really, the decision to not decide is a decision. It is an awful one that leaves the decider with a bad decision (really, probably the only clear bad decisions are the lack of decisions) that fuels that cruel inner voice, and the decider is further ensnared in the inability to decide. It is a debilitating feedback loop that leaves the abuse victim ineffectual in their day to day lives. These are all things I know on an academic level and thus, at this level I know I should talk back to this cruel inner voice and override it. But knowing something on an academic level is different than truly seeing it in action. After reading Dreadnought, I have seen it in action and I am left having to confront whether I can continue on letting this cruel voice have a platform in my head. I suspect I cannot.

While I do not exactly enjoy the internal struggle this book has caused, it is what I love about books. I love how books touch me in deep, meaningful, and impactful ways, even when I’m reading a YA superhero novel. It’s these moments that keep me coming back to books over and over, constantly searching for another one of these such moments.

This is also why I greatly enjoy reading books written by authors with different backgrounds than myself, because it is powerful to see one’s own experience reflected in someone that is different from oneself. One of the best ways to ground us, pull back to humanity, and remind us that there is something bigger than us that matters so much more than the small stuff, is seeing ourselves reflected in others and knowing we are not alone. As Brene Brown discusses in her various books, in those moments when someone opens up to you and shares an experience (quite possibly a shaming experience) that you haven’t experienced, it is easy to say, “oh, I can’t relate to this,” but the reality is, yes you can. Maybe you or I don’t know exactly what it is like to be a transgender teen, but you or I might know what it is like to be an abused teen hiding part of herself from the rest of the world or frankly, any person that has felt compelled to hide a huge part of themselves from the world. We are more alike than different and books remind us of that. I thank April Daniels and Diversion Books for reminding me of that once again.

Photo credit: h.koppdelaney / Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Dreadnought – Reflection: The Sequel

sovereignAs I mentioned in my review on Monday, the magic of Dreadnought is how well it dives into how Danny and society cope with her becoming a superhero and transforming into an anatomical female. For me, that’s what made the story great as I love being transported into other people’s lives and gaining new perspectives. But can a sequel keep readers like me engaged; readers who love depth and introspection, but don’t care for superheroes? Is it possible to move the series forward without reducing Danny to a transgender superhero, especially while trying to keep readers like me engaged?

This is a pertinent question as yesterday, July 25th, Sovereign (Nemesis #2) by April Daniels was released. I have been excited for this sequel for quite awhile now – so much so that I requested, and received, the ARC and then read Dreadnought. Yes, you read that correctly – I read the description of Sovereign and decided the story sounded amazing enough for me to read the first in the series to then be able to read the second before its release. I’ve never done that before, and it’s probably not the smartest way to go about deciding what to read next, but I am happy I did because I read Dreadnought and it was wonderful.

Back to the question at hand; how does a book that focuses so much on how the protagonist comes to terms with drastic changes keep engaged the readers who are excited for the sequel solely because of that focus? I’m not a writer and I’m glad I do not have to answer that question. As for how it plays out in this series, I haven’t finished the reading the sequel at the time of writing this (though I will have by the time it posts) so I cannot fully comment, but I will say that so far, I do not think this will be a series I will stick with.

Which is unfortunate as there are other deep topics that could be covered. To be fair, in the sequel, there is discussion around challenging topics such as transgender superhero visibility. Unfortunately, most of the book has focused on a superhero challenge around the nemesis, which will likely make superhero fans happy, but has left me mostly uninterested. I very much hope that changes as I want this series to succeed and I fear it will not if it only resonates with superhero fans, but I respectfully imagine the challenges faced in writing a sequel. This sequel is faced with the great enormity of coming after such a vulnerable #ownvoices story where the author likely bared her soul and quite justifiably might not want the entire series to be focused on hard, vulnerable, and challenging stories. After all, Danny is more than a transgender superhero and the series needs to be about more than just that one aspect of her. It’s just that for readers who are not superhero fans, it maybe hard for us to stay engaged if it isn’t, which bothers me. As a lesbian, I am constantly frustrated by stories that focus exclusively on the character(s) sexuality as if that’s all there is to someone who is attracted to the same sex. Danny deserves to be more than a transgender superhero, but in some ways, that is all I want her to be. I want to justify that by saying, oh, but I do not like the superhero genre so that’s why I want to focus on transgender issues and intersectionality. While there is truth in that statement, there is a piece of me that is just not yet able to go beyond that. Which is a me problem and not a problem with the sequel. While it is hard to face, this series has shown me I still have growth to do around transgender identity. For that, I am grateful.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

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Photo credit: Steve Portigal / Flickr / CC0 Public Domain

Check out the reblogged book review below. This book features a strong black woman protagonist. If you like the review, be sure to follow the original blogger, You Otter Read!

*This is a re-blogged post. I was not prompted to share or compensated for sharing this blog post or these links with you. I, in no way, claim copyright to the featured blog post or images.

You Otter Read

small-great-things-hc-300hOriginally published in: 2016

What it’s about: Racism, the kind you respond to viscerally, but also not the kind you might think. When an infant dies of a medical emergency the black nurse who was helping care for him is accused of murder by his white supremacist father. Her white lawyer says that, despite the obvious, race can’t be mentioned during the trial.

What made me pick it up: I really like Jodi Picoult as an author. She writes trials extremely well, and always has some twist at the end to make your jaw drop. The way she weaves stories and characters together enthralls me. When I heard this was about race, I was intrigued. When it started getting phenomenal reviews, I jumped on the holds list.

My favorite things: The word that most comes to mind is masterful. Picoult left me completely speechless with this book. My Goodreads review…

View original post 116 more words

Dreadnought (Nemisis #1) – Review

Dreadnought CoverDreadnought (Nemisis #1) by April Daniels – 4/ 5 stars

April Daniels’s debut novel transports the reader into the life of a transgender teenager with incredible depth and humanity. If you have ever wondered what it is like to be a transgender teen, you need to read this book.

Danny (aka Daniel/ Danielle) is a transgender teen hiding her identity when a superhero dies right in front of her. As he is dying, he, Dreadnought, hands over his powers to Danny. When she receives the powers, she is transformed from an anatomical male to a female. Suffice it to say that this transformation causes all sorts of issues and the rest of the book is spent trying to address these issues.

The heart of this book is how Danny deals with her body transformation as well has how others react to her. There are some reactions that are hard to stomach, but very true to life. Here is where I really gained the insight into what it is to live in a transgender body and interact with the world. It is a constant challenge and struggle. But there are other struggles as well, like sexism and adjusting to powers. Watching Danny deal with these challenges are what made this book so hard for me to put down.

Which leads to an important point – I normally dislike the superhero genre. I was not excited by the superhero battles nor am I a fan girl, though Danny is. I deeply enjoyed this book because it was about so much more than superheroes. It is about the struggles of finding oneself and overcoming challenging circumstances. The superhero idea is simply a vehicle to share that experience and I loved every minute of it.

Well, maybe not every minute because there are some challenging topics in this book. Trigger warnings are necessary for verbal and emotional abuse (by others and towards herself), hate speech, and violence. For a book about a transgender person, there is little mention of body dysmorphia, which is likely because Danny is only in the male body for the first several pages, thus no trigger warning. There are other brief teenage situations which could be triggering, such as around eating disorders. But for the most part, the hardest part of this book to read is the abuse and hate speech and it is entirely because those moments are so authentic. This is an #ownvoices story and those moments are not sugar-coated, which is exactly how they need to be presented.

Overall, this was a fantastic book I recommend to superhero lovers as well as people who love to be transported into someone else’s life. But please do heed the trigger warnings as those moments can be pretty intense. I appreciated that other characters, including superheros were diverse, though race was a minor theme of the book. My biggest complaint with the book was the ending. It seemed like a typical superhero ending with several unbelievable moments. It wraps up well enough that it can stand alone without having to read the next in the series. But I will read the next book as I am curious to see how Danny comes into her own.

Considering reading it? Check out a free Kindle preview! Please note that Diversifying Perspective is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to free Kindle previews through Amazon.com. This does not impact the selection of books nor the content of reviews.

Updates – New Socials & Updated Commenting

update-1672349_640I, Maygin Reads, have a new social media page! If you have Google+, head over and check out my page. It will feature posts from this blog and other book reviews. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and the Litsy app!

In addition, new social share features have been added to all blog posts and new follow us links have been added to the sidebar. You can now easily find my reviews on Amazon and Audible through those links! These have also been added to the About Me page.

Also, I now have an email address, which is maygin.reads at gmail.com. You can still contact me through the contact form on the Review Policy page.

It was brought to my attention that in order to comment, people had to login to WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. I have updated the blog so that one only needs to provide a name and email address to comment on the blog. I apologize for not having this feature available sooner. If there is ever anything that is not working right or other feedback you have, do not hesitate to contact me through the contact form or now email!

Photo credit: Gerd AltmanPixbay / CC0 Public Domain