Top Ten Tuesday: Books With Diverse Main Characters

Top Ten Tuesday(9)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish.

So this week’s theme is basically anything to do with characters! You can put any spin on it that you’d like and I decided to do diverse characters since we could always use more diverse book recommendations, am I right? The characters I’m including are diverse in ethnicity and sexuality and there’s also some mental illness rep here as well.

I’m slowly working my way through the diverse books on my TBR but putting this list together has made me realize I really need to read more of them faster!

These are in no particular order and I will link each book title to my full review in case you’re interested!


top ten tuesday diverse characters


Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

This book has a Latino main character who also happens to be a bruja (witch) and when she seeks to rid herself of her power she ends of losing her family and to find them again she must enter a magical realm to save them. This is a very creative and magical book, highly recommended for Halloween coming up too!


Want by Cindy Pon

While I wasn’t the biggest fan of this book I did still enjoy it and it’s diverse cast of characters (mostly Taiwanese) and Pon’s tackling of many big issues such as global warming, pollution, and poverty within the plot line. Still a very interesting book even though the pacing was a little off for me.


Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

While this isn’t the most diverse book on this list it still includes a really adorable F/F romance between the main character and another side character, I don’t want to give it away. This is a Snow White retelling that really delves into new representations of “Snow White and the Evil Queen” in a very unique way.


Timekeeper by Tara Sim

This is a very underrated book that’s set in a steampunk Victorian London with a gay main character who falls in love with a clock tower’s spirit. It’s so incredibly adorable and heart warming! Plus it’s something I’ve never seen done before!


The Steep & Thorny Way by Cat Winters

Cat Winters is an incredible writer and her books should be in the lime light a lot more than they are! This book deals with a biracial girl in the 1920’s dealing with racism and hate crimes who is starting to suspect her father’s death wasn’t an accident. There is also the inclusion of a gay character dealing homophobia and hate crimes as well. This is said to be a sort of retelling of “Hamlet” and there is a bit of the paranormal in the plot as well.


Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Probably the most diverse book included on this list! We have bisexual characters, gay characters, characters of different ethnic backgrounds, characters with mental illness or other disabilities. Everything is also handled and represented incredibly well due to it being an #OwnVoices book and I personally can speak for the anxiety rep as well. There is so much adorableness and so many heart warming moments as well, overall fantastic book full of diversity!


A Gentleman’s Guide To Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

A story with a M/M romance and the characters both think the other doesn’t love them back, but it’s also full of some crazy shenanigans and a trip across Europe. You’ll ship these two so hard, trust me!


Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

This was a huge surprise to me, I found it way more enjoyable than I had originally anticipated! This is what I wanted “Throne of Glass” to be, full of violence and a main character who isn’t afraid to show their skill and do anything it takes to win. The main character is also gender fluid!


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Pretty sure everyone’s heard of this one by now! This is a fantastic story with a very powerful plot which includes an African American girl as our wonderful main character who is dealing with the aftermath of a police officer shooting her unarmed friend. As I said it’s incredibly powerful and so well written, I highly recommend reading it.


The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan

The main character of this book is Welsh Romani (which we definitely do not get to see very often in books at all) and is studying herbcraft (and hopefully witchcraft) under her Gran. However, her and her friend are brutally assaulted and in order to save his life she must harvest body parts from the boys who did it. I recommend checking out my trigger warnings in my review before reading this one.

my page divider

Have you read any of these books as well? What did you think?

Do you have any of these on your TBR?

What are some of your favorite books with diverse characters?

Let me know in the comments!

The Sassy

Advertisements

ARC Review: Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller

a title here(88)description

Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class and the nobles who destroyed their home.

When Sal Leon steals a poster announcing open auditions for the Left Hand, a powerful collection of the Queen’s personal assassins named for the rings she wears — Ruby, Emerald, Amethyst, and Opal — their world changes. They know it’s a chance for a new life.

Except the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. But Sal must survive to put their real reason for auditioning into play: revenge.

review

****Huge thank you to Sourcebooks Fire for sending me an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review!****

There seem to be a lot of mixed feelings on this book with people either DNF’ing their ARCs or loving them, fortunately I was one of the people who LOVED it! I was very pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed “Mask of Shadows” everything about it was entertaining and it really blew away all of my expectations!

Trigger Warnings: Misgendering and Much Violence (gets pretty brutal at times)

PLOT

As you can see in the descriptions right away this is being compared to books by both Sarah J. Maas and Leigh Bardugo but let me tell you I thought this book was so much better than those! You can see the similarities to the plot of this book and that of “Throne of Glass” right away, which I did, but trust me when I tell you I thought this was far better than “Throne of Glass”. “Mask of Shadows” was essentially everything I had wanted “Throne of Glass” to actually be: full of action, brutal violence, and a main character who isn’t all talk! So I personally thought the descriptions didn’t do this book justice, or it did in case you’re a big fan of either of those authors I suppose.

I really loved how we are tossed into some action immediately at the beginning of the story and we don’t waste anytime getting into all the action the synopsis promised! Of course considering the fact that Sal is auditioning to become part of the Left Hand there is quite a bit of training in many various areas so those parts can become a bit tedious, I personally found them enjoyable though. I also liked how none of the contestants were messing around either, they were hardcore! I actually really liked how brutal and violent the lot of them were because this means the author wasn’t sugar coating the fact that these people are trying out to be ASSASSINS. That’s what they do.

While the pacing wasn’t necessarily fast and went kind of back and forth a little bit, I still never got bored while reading since there was always something going on. The action definitely wasn’t lacking here! But as I said the pacing did go back and forth pretty erratically.

The plot was very entertaining, even though it seems it could be a run of the mill YA fantasy plot. Sal’s thirst for revenge and the lengths they go to achieve the revenge was interesting to read about and definitely had me rooting for them.

Another thing that was very well done was the world building but I could have used a little more of it as well. I thought one of the most interesting points were the “shadows” which I won’t go into detail about but the descriptions honestly terrified me! I personally never felt like I was being “info dumped” on but I could see some people getting annoyed with the amount of info being spilled all at once throughout reading.

There were quite a few shocking plot twists and that ending definitely has me dying to read the sequel!

characters

One of the best things about “Mask of Shadows” is the fact that the main character, Sal, is gender fluid, that’s right we have a gender fluid main character in a YA fantasy! While I personally cannot say whether this was represented well or not I read a review from an amazing blogger I follow (Avery @ The Book Deviant) who has an own voices review up that I will link for you to check out!

It’s stated in the book that Sal prefers to use the she/her pronouns when dressed as a woman, the he/his pronouns when dressed as a man, and they/their pronouns when dressed as neither. Since this is just a book review I will refer to Sal using the they/their pronouns.

Sal was a fantastic character and I really adored them, they just had so much spunk and spirit. However, they also came with their flaws as well from the rough past that they’ve had and what they’re willing to do to get their revenge as well. I LOVED that Sal came into the competition with a realistic set of skills and admitted that they didn’t know everything and did their best to learn other skills worthy of an assassin. That is so unbelievable refreshing, a main character that doesn’t magically have ALL the skills!

I’d also like to take a moment here to discuss the cases of misgendering Sal that occurred in the book. This happens in one instance at the beginning of the story and Sal corrects them right away explaining how they liked to be addressed according to what they are wearing and it doesn’t happen again. However, there is a more villainous character that misgenders Sal more than a few times and Sal challenges it immediately, which I loved. There is just one thing that goes along with this that I wanted to mention was that Sal states they like to be addressed as they dress: dresses for she/her and trousers/tunics/leggings for he/him. Now I KNOW this is just a fantasy and most clothing is gendered and that’s accepted but when Sal is misgendered by what they are wearing they state that “clearly” they are a woman/man by how they are dressed and would get very angry (which is understandable of course). I just kind of didn’t like this considering the fact that women and men can dress in whatever clothes they like and not have to identify as that gender based off of the clothes they are wearing, especially since this is a book about a diverse character.

Food for thought and hopefully that made some sort of sense.

AS for the secondary characters I really enjoyed quite a few of them but mostly I adored the other members of the Queen’s Left Hand: Emerald, Amethyst, and Ruby (MOST OF ALL RUBY!). I didn’t have too hard of a time keeping track of the other contestants but it did get a little annoying at times considering they were only ever referred to by number. Elise was also a pretty great character and I loved that she was diverse as well (either bisexual or pansexual) since she states that she’s interested in more than just men.

There is a romance in this story but it doesn’t take central stage and is more of a minor plot device. It really wasn’t anything special though and was more of your run of the mill YA fantasy romance.

in conclusion

Overall I really did have a great time reading this book and it surpassed ALL of my expectations!

What I Loved:

  • Genderfluid and overall fantastic main character
  • Stabby plot that doesn’t sugarcoat!
  • Interesting world building
  • Great secondary characters (mostly Ruby…)

What I Didn’t Love:

  • Erratic pacing
  • Sal’s outlook (or just the book’s) on gendered clothing

RECOMMEND

I highly recommend checking out this book whether you’re looking for a fun new YA fantasy or if you’re looking for a great diverse read as well!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy

Book Review: Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

a title here(86)description

When BFFs Charlie, Taylor and Jamie go to SupaCon, they know it’s going to be a blast. What they don’t expect is for it to change their lives forever.

Charlie likes to stand out. SupaCon is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star, Reese Ryan. When Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

While Charlie dodges questions about her personal life, Taylor starts asking questions about her own.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

review

This is the wonderful kind of book that I’m going to go around recommending to everyone all the time. It’s full of diversity and fandom culture which let’s face it we need more books with either or both! I found it to be so relatable on all levels and I feel it would be the same for many other readers as well.

PLOT

Of course one of the biggest reasons I enjoyed this book was because of how well I thought it handled many issues from sexism, racism, homophobia, slut shaming, fat shaming, and girl on girl hate. The characters, when confronted with these issues in the book, handled them in a very positive way and I loved it. There were many scenes where the characters were put down by others for things such as their sexuality, weight, or mental illness but they fired back and didn’t let people judge or hate on them!

There’s also a ton of diversity as well but I’ll get into that in my “characters” section.

One of the other BEST parts about this book was all of the fandom and geek culture, this is the kind of stuff I live and breathe for you guys! I’m that person who will bust through a wall if I hear even the slightest reference to something nerdy that I love so of course a book that has tons of said references has me all moony-eyed and in love!

Image result for when you hear someone mention harry potter

So I absolutely loved all of the references from cosplayers dressed as Captain Malcolm Reynolds to Taylor and Jamie’s Supernatural love and countless movie quotes! However, being the greedy little geek that I am I would have loved to see even more fandom references throughout the story since you know…they are at a convention.

The only little problem I had with “Queens of Geek”would be that I felt there wasn’t really any story going on. It mostly consists of the characters doing panels or walking around looking at merchandise at SupaCon and the two growing relationships between the characters. There really isn’t anything else going on and between all of the convention events and things and the relationships you don’t notice too terribly but I personally would have enjoyed if there was a little something else added to the plot to make things more interesting.

The writing was also very simple and easy to read, I enjoyed it!

characters

This is also probably one of the most diverse books I’ve had the pleasure of reading and I thought the representation was also well done. We have the two main characters: Charlie who is a Chinese-Australian, bisexual vlogger and Taylor who is the “chubby” girl somewhere on the Autism spectrum who also suffers from anxiety.

I have to say what made this book so much more relatable to me was Taylor and her anxiety, I just felt a connection to her and it was so amazing to see someone with anxiety represented this well. I loved how her friends would help her through it and how she found ways, such as her love of Queen Firestone and other geeky things, to help her get through her anxiety attacks. I personally suffer from anxiety as well and I thought the way anxiety was represented in this story was very, very well done.

I can’t speak for the representation of Taylor’s autism or Charlie’s bisexuality but I do know that Jen Wilde is autistic and bisexual as well (so I discovered via Twitter) so this is an Own Voices book and I feel she probably portrayed it very well!

I loved Charlie and Taylor’s friendship and it was awesome to see a positive representation of female friendship!

As for the secondary characters I would have loved to have seen a little more development with Jamie and Alyssa but I still loved them and how adorkable they were! There were also many other side characters that were gay, POC, or also had autism and I thought they were all handled very sensitively as well.

Also just a quick side note on Reese Ryan, Charlie’s ex: I fucking hated his guts. I would have liked to have seen him learn a good, hard lesson in this story but I loved how Charlie, Taylor, and Jamie all put him in his place later on. Still, I felt they went too easy on him because he was AWFUL! I get that he was supposed to be the sort of antagonist of the story and represented the people out there that are sexist and homophobic (among other things as well) but I still hated his guts! I wanted to transport myself into the story when he would go after the characters and say hurtful things and kick his ass!

romance

This book is ALL about that romance! Usually I am not one for contemporary romances but everything in “Queens of Geek” is so ADORABLE AND FLUFFY AND CUTE!

I was completely sold on both relationships in this story: Jamie x Taylor and Charlie x Alyssa. Both couples were so dorky, adorable, and sweet! I also really loved how both relationships were very positive as well there was no mistreatment at all between all of them.

There was quite a bit of insta-love in this story but it was the kind of insta-love that I really didn’t mind, which really says something since it’s one of my most hated tropes in YA!

in conclusion

Overall very, very happy with this book and there was just so much POSITIVITY from being body positive to being mental health positive.

What I Loved:

  • Diversity to the max!
  • Issues were handled very well
  • Anxiety rep was also handled very, very well
  • Positive depiction of female friendship
  • Positivity everywhere!
  • Fandom and geek culture representation and references
  • Adorable, sweet relationships
  • Fun, amazing characters

What I Didn’t Love:

  • Reese Ryan (seriously I would destroy this guy)
  • Would have liked a little bit more of an overall story-line
  • More geeky references would have been great too
  • More development for Jamie and Alyssa

RECOMMEND

YES! I highly, highly recommend checking out this book period but especially if you’re looking for a well represented diverse and Own Voices book or if you’re just looking for a fun, geeky fandom book! This book is hands down amazing!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository

The Sassy