Perhaps you’ve seen the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, a response to the lack of diversity in panels at BookCon that has grown into a campaign to raise awareness of diversity in fiction in general. The dedicated Tumblr site is pretty powerful. Today is:
Day Three, May 3rd, will begin the ongoing Diversify Your Shelves call to action. There’ll be another online chat, once again using the #WeNeedDiverseBooks hashtag, to share out recommendations, raves, and reviews of our favorite diverse books. And then? Why, of course, we should go out there and get them, documenting and sharing out our newly diversified shelves in photographs.
Although I never actually need an excuse to buy books, this turns out to be perfect timing for me because I finished teaching for the semester yesterday. Also it’s my birthday weekend and I have a little money to burn. Right now I am looking at a sweet sweet stretch of about 30 hours where I don’t have to answer to anyone, and I’m planning to read all weekend.
No, a hashtag won’t change the world, but it definitely changed my plans for this weekend.
I spent $49.99 and here’s what I got:
Forever’s Promise, by Farrah Rochon. Apr. 2014. Harlequin Kimani Romance. $4.61
It all begins with a kiss…
After tragedy brings her home to Louisiana, all Shayla Kirkland wants is to reconnect with her family. Between helping care for her nieces and running her recently opened coffee shop, there’s no time for romance. Until the workaholic entrepreneur meets Xavier Wright, the hunky E.R. doctor who has the local females waiting in line.
The sleepy town is the perfect transition place for Xavier to heal others while trying to mend his own heart. Falling for the owner of Gauthier’s hottest new hangout isn’t part of his short-term goals—even if the passion Shayla’s arousing in him is impossible to resist. But how will Xavier offer her forever, if he plans to leave as soon as his work is done?
Bollywood and the Beast, by Suleikha Snyder. Feb. 2014, Samhain Press. $3.44
Bollywood Confidential, Book 3
American-born ingénue Rakhee “Rocky” Varma knows a career in Bollywood is no fairy tale, but that truth hits home when her outspoken nature lands her in hot water with the media.
Banished to her leading man’s crumbling mansion on the outskirts of Delhi until things cool down, she is wholly unprepared to meet her costar’s reclusive brother, Taj Ali Khan. Taj, a former action hero until a stunt gone horribly wrong ended his career, wears a cape of scars and a crown of rudeness.
As his cynicism collides with her determination to stick it out in Bollywood no matter what, sparks fly. But little do they know that demons not of their making may turn their fiery, fragile connection to ash. And it will take more than sheer grit to face down the most frightening monsters of all—the ones inside themselves.
Warning: This book contains lewd comments, forbidden love, lots of angsty glances, inappropriate use of an Indian scarf, and an oddly appropriate reference to Lord of the Rings.
The Tycoon’s Socialite Bride, by Tracey Livesay. Feb. 2014. Entangled Publishing. $2.99
To avenge his mother’s mistreatment at the hands of her upper-crust employer, self-made real estate tycoon Marcus Pearson needs entree into their exclusive world. When D.C. socialite Pamela Harrington comes to him for help, Marcus realizes the golden admission ticket he’s been seeking has suddenly fallen into his lap.
Pamela will do anything to save her favorite cause, even agree to a marriage of convenience. The altruistic “it-girl” isn’t worried about the pretend passion with Marcus turning real; she’s sworn off powerful, driven men who use her for her family’s connections.
So she’ll deny the way her pulse races with one look from his crystalline blue eyes. And he’ll ignore the way his body throbs with each kiss from her full lips. Because there’s no way he’ll lose his blue-collar heart to the blue-blooded beauty.
The Jade Temptress, by Jeannie Lin. Mar 2014. Harlequin. $3.82
Welcome to the infamous Pingkang Li–home of the celebrated Lotus Palace courtesans, and a place of beauty and treachery…
Charming and seductive, Mingyu is the most sought-after hostess in the pleasure quarter. She has all men wrapped around her finger–except Constable Wu Kaifeng, the one man she can’t resist, the only man to have placed her in chains.
Wu Kaifeng’s outwardly intimidating demeanor hides a reluctant, fierce attraction to beautiful Mingyu. But the passionate temptation she presents threatens to destroy them both when a powerful official is murdered and they find themselves on a deadly trail. Amid the chaos, a forbidden affair could change Mingyu’s fate forever, for following her heart is bound to have consequences…
Cream, Christiana Herrell. Aug. 2013. Self-pub. $6.99
Cream, an androgynous beauty, knows what it’s like to be abandoned, broke, and used. Left to the state by her parents and taken under the wing of her selfish foster mother, Cream sets her focus on one thing: money. She dives head first into the exotic lifestyle of stripping. Starting out in gentlemen clubs, drama seems to follow her wherever she goes. Instead of facing the turmoil, she moves on to the next city, causing more chaos than what she left behind.
She thinks she has life all figured out until she crosses paths with Payton, a daddy’s girl with lots of cash and a lust for women. Payton makes her learn things about herself that she never saw possible and with her new discovery comes a big change in her look and personality.
Cream is at the top of her game, surrounded by money and beautiful women. Then, one wild night forces her to discover yet another truth about herself and face the reality of her lifestyle. Will she continue to dwell in her unstable comfort zone? Or, will she finally open her eyes?
Hot Head, Damon Suede. June 2011. Dreamspinner Press. $5.38
Winner of One Perfect Note (Overall Honorable Mention) in the 2011 Rainbow Awards.
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire…
Since 9/11, Brooklyn firefighter Griff Muir has wrestled with impossible feelings for his best friend and partner at Ladder 181, Dante Anastagio. Unfortunately, Dante is strictly a ladies’ man, and the FDNY isn’t exactly gay-friendly. For ten years, Griff has hidden his heart in a half-life of public heroics and private anguish.
Griff’s caution and Dante’s cockiness make them an unbeatable team. To protect his buddy, there’s nothing Griff wouldn’t do… until a nearly bankrupt Dante proposes the worst possible solution: HotHead.com, a gay porn website where uniformed hunks get down and dirty. And Dante wants them to appear there—together. Griff may have to guard his heart and live out his darkest fantasies on camera. Can he rescue the man he loves without wrecking their careers, their families, or their friendship?
The Secret Side of Empty, Maria E. Andreu, Young Adult, March 2014. Running Press Kids. $9.99
A Junior Library Guild Selection, 2014What’s it like to be undocumented? High school senior M.T. knows all too well. With graduation and an uncertain future looming, she must figure out how to grow up in the only country she’s ever called home… a country in which she’s “illegal.”M.T. was born in Argentina and brought to America as a baby without any official papers. And as questions of college, work, and the future arise, M.T. will have to decide what exactly she wants for herself, knowing someone she loves will unavoidably pay the price for it. On the way, M.T. must navigate first love, letting go of her childhood friends as they begin a life she can’t share, a difficult relationship with a father who grew up a world away and a mother struggling to find her way in America. What is it like when the only country you’ve ever known says you don’t belong? The Secret Side of Empty offers an intimate, often surprising glimpse into a story you often hear on the news but have never heard told this way before.
A Time to Dance, Padma Venkatraman, Young Adult, May 2014. Penguin. $9.78
Padma Venkatraman’s inspiring story of a young girl’s struggle to regain her passion and find a new peace is told lyrically through verse that captures the beauty and mystery of India and the ancient bharatanatyam dance form. This is a stunning novel about spiritual awakening, the power of art, and above all, the courage and resilience of the human spirit.
Veda, a classical dance prodigy in India, lives and breathes dance—so when an accident leaves her a below-knee amputee, her dreams are shattered. For a girl who’s grown used to receiving applause for her dance prowess and flexibility, adjusting to a prosthetic leg is painful and humbling. But Veda refuses to let her disability rob her of her dreams, and she starts all over again, taking beginner classes with the youngest dancers. Then Veda meets Govinda, a young man who approaches dance as a spiritual pursuit. As their relationship deepens, Veda reconnects with the world around her, and begins to discover who she is and what dance truly means to her.
The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo, Zen Cho, May 2012. Self-pub. $2.99
For writer Jade Yeo, the Roaring Twenties are coming in with more of a purr. She’s perfectly happy making a living by churning out articles on what the well-dressed woman is wearing. But when she pillories one of London’s leading literary luminaries in a scathing review, she may have made the mistake of her career.
Sebastian Hardie is tall, dark and handsome–and more intrigued than annoyed. Jade is irresistibly drawn to the prospect of adventure he offers. But if she succumbs to temptation, she risks losing her hard-won freedom–and her best chance for love.
Ok, I’ve done some serious damage. I think I’ll have another post when I spend the rest, but right now I want to start reading. If you have any recs, in any genre, please let me know. I’d especially like recs for “diverse” historical rom and transgender romance.