Sunday, December 14, 2014

2nd Annual Diversity Month Day 14: Blogger Interview w/ Deva @UPBookBlog +Kindle Fire 6" and Book Giveaway!

We first discovered this blogger well before we started blogging ourselves and were happy to see that other people were really interested in diverse characters enough to dedicate a blog to it. There were a bunch of us already talking about the diversity in books movement well before it became this gigantic hashtag and this opinionated blogger was one who kept the conversation going. Let's hear a round of applause for Deva @ Urban Paranormal...

1. So Deva, this is your first time on Twinja Book Reviews, so obviously you have to introduce yourself! What can you tell us about yourself and your blog "The Urban Paranormal Book Blog?"

First, I want to say thanks for having me! I appreciate the love way down here in Texas. Hehe. Anyhow, hello all, my name is Deva. It's short for something I dislike so I keep it there. *smiles* I'm currently in my last semester of my third stint in college. This time, I'm getting a degree in Teaching and am very excited about that. I was born and raised in Texas. I love country music, Starbucks, and owls. 

My blog, The Urban Paranormal Book Blog, was started to serve one purpose; for me not to forget what I've read. I have severe ADD. I forget absolutely everything. At one point, I was only in school and not working, and therefore only reading during my spare time and would go through books quickly. A month or two down the road (and about 5 books in that same amount of time), I couldn't remember what I'd read. When something off topic would jog my memory, I had to read the whole book again so I could really remember what the plot was. It was maddening! So I started the blog to keep track of the books I'd read. Over the years, I moved away from just reading anything, to wanting to read something with someone in it who looked like me. I found interracial romances really cute in book form. Add a paranormal element to it and I was head over heels in love so that's where I basically stay now. What I also didn't realize, at that time, was how hard it was to find an interracial paranormal book that was at least decent. Sure, there are plenty of erotic ones out there, but I don't need all that. I want a great story above all.

2. What is your review policy? Do you have any restrictions? What would make you approve or deny a book? Do you have a particular system when it comes to reading and reviewing?

My review policy? I'd always been really relaxed about that and would read anything given to me as long as it was interracial. YA is okay for me also but they can't be under the age of 18. Later on, I was getting too many requests to read erotic interracial paranormals that I couldn't stomach. I read maybe 3 out of 10 that I thought were good enough to suggest to someone, but even then, I felt like my small bit of credibility was on the line. After that, I decided on no erotic works. Romance is a given. I can tolerate maybe 1 sex scene as long as it's written well. 

Approving or denying a book has a very thin line. Their are certain words that make me throw a book away (delete from my Kindle all together), and if the description of the book alerts me to how erotic it is, it will definitely get denied. Generally I find phrases like "a burning desire" or "the heat between them intensifies," things of that nature, those are a definite deny.

I never had a system for reading and reviewing. I should probably adopt one. That would help me organize my thoughts a lot better. If you've read a 5 star review on my blog, and found it completely ridiculous, it was probably a really good book and my mind was so blown that I couldn't review it properly. That happens a lot. Anyway, I read on a First Come First Served basis. I currently have some traffic right now but I've been writing paper after paper after paper for school so I haven't gotten much reading done.

3. What types of themes do you look for in books? Why is diversity important to you? Have you always read diversely? What was the last book you loved?

I lean towards female leads who are of some kind of color. At first, it was only Black female leads, then I branched out. I think I like Urban Fantasy the best out of everything because it's the most believable of the unbelievable. It's set in the current world that I can relate to or recall if I've been there. I love being able to read a book and say "oh I know where that is." Anyway, I love a female lead who is basically badass. I like for her to be tall. I'm 5 foot 10 so height is a big deal to me. It's not a MUST that the heroine be tall but it's a bonus if she is. I feel like the tall ones really mean business. I like for the heroine to be surrounded by the paranormal but she try to keep her own life as 'real' as possible. I like for the danger to be almost too much to handle because it throws me right into it with her.

Diversity is important simply because when I started binge reading books some years ago, I couldn't find anything diverse. I would go to the bookstore and spend hours there going through the fantasy or sci fi sections, looking at book covers, or even for author names that sounded ethnic. It was so hard before eBooks became The Thing. Amazon made life easy but I still had to comb through reviews to see if anyone mentioned anything remotely diverse. Also, it stands to reason that in a book that isn't real at all, it can't hurt to throw some color around. It's bad enough to watch TV and see no color anywhere on screen (it's gotten much better over the past 4-5 years), but to fall into a book, full of things that are basically fake, and still notice that we, people of color, are not there either ... It's ridiculous! And when I say 'people of color,' I mean anyone who can relate that is non-white.

I haven't always read diversely. When I first started reading heavily, it was a book called The Iron Hunt by Marjorie M. Liu. It's lily white but I loved it. My sister gave it to me and ever since that, I haven't stopped reading. I found out later that she had another series that had a Black female heroine in one of the books, but I still wasn't satisfied. That's when I started hunting for the diversity. But of course, I've found some great books that weren't diverse, but I ended up loving.
The last book I loved. That's a tough one. I just came off of a 5 star review for book 8 in the Jane Yellowrock Series. But one that I love and keep going back to is probably Book 3 in the Vampire Huntress series by LA Banks. The Bitten. I've read it so many times I lost count. That series gave me all the diversity I could ask for, plus, the sex scenes were written in a way that had me gripping the book. None of those 'naughty' words, but it was almost poetic and straight up beautiful. If more books had sex scenes written in a way that the late LA Banks wrote them, I wouldn't mind reading them.

4.  You've mentioned diversity a lot on your blog. You've even featured interviews and guest posts about controversial subjects like cover "whitewashing." Is there any post you're particularly proud of the most? yea! My favorite was a post I did about The Negotiator Trilogy by CE Murphy. It's an excellent EXCELLENT interracial, diverse, romantic, paranormal set about a Black woman, Margrit, who basically has to negotiate peace among the Old Races. The post was written because I wanted to know why in the world there was a white woman on all 3 books when the lead was clearly Black. I searched around the internet and found that she'd done an interview for another blog and addressed the issue. I loved her response. That was quite a while back, however, recently, I'd gotten on Twitter and stated that I would re-read that trilogy. I hashtagged it 'diversity' along with the author and I got a hit back from her saying that it was the first time she'd seen that series mentioned with a diversity tag. I was elated to give her that first, but it also sucked that the diversity was nearly snuffed out by her publisher in the first place.
5. Lastly, where can we all go to get review updates, social media updates, or just anything and everything "The Urban Paranormal Book Blog?"

Check out my randomness on twitter @UPBookBlog 
My FB group is small but trudging along and can be found at Interracial Diverse Paranormal Books Facebook Group 
Finally, my goodreads group, which is the birth of all of my social media relating to this topic: Interracial and African American Paranormal Goodreads Group

Please be sure to enter our Annual giveaway! Not only are we giving away tons of books by many of the authors included in the event, we're also throwing in a Kindle fire!

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