Featured Bloggers: Guinevere and Libertad Tomas

This month’s featured bloggers are Guinevere and Libertad at Twinja Book Reviews. We met them at KidlitCon last month, and were impressed by their enthusiasm and energy and passion, and wanted to get to know them a big more. We were glad they took some time to answer our questions about their blog and diversity in YA/Speculative Fiction.

Tell us a bit about you and your blog.
Well our names are Guinevere and Libertad and together we blog at Twinja Book Reviews(We’re Twins, lol). Our Review blog was partly inspired by our love of books, but the theme of it centers on Diversity in Books in every form, especially in YA and Speculative Fiction. Since becoming a blogger and making ourselves aware of diversity in books, we just wanted our review site to focus on something that was really important to us and being Women of Color, it was hard ignoring the fact that nearly every book we picked up didn’t feature People of Color, Quiltbag characters and characters outside the typical Christian Faith. While there are so many hundreds, maybe even thousands of Book Review sites out there, we wanted ours to celebrate the stories and authors who incorporate Diversity in their writing.

Why did you start blogging?
All in honesty, we started blogging because we wanted to be writers and wanted insight on what other readers like and dislike about the books they read. It started out as a way to “spy” on what other readers were connecting to. After about a month of “fluff” posts, we started writing posts about how in even our favorite books, there just weren’t enough characters that mirrored the multicultural world we live in. After looking into a bunch of the other cool blogs that talk about diversity like Rich in Color, Nathalie Mvondo’s Multiculturalism Rocks! and Cindy Pon and Malinda Lo’s Diversity In YA blog, we thought hey at least we’re not the only ones bothered by it! And that’s how our blog began.

You are heavily invested in bringing diversity to YA Speculative Fiction. Why did you pick that genre, specifically to focus on?
Well, It’s mainly due to the fact that it’s our favorite genre, but to get deeper into it, It’s a very popular genre. Which means that it’s a genre that reaches many, so it’s a genre that should reflect all different outlooks. But the truth is that it doesn’t. There is some diversity but it’s no where near close to how many books are about the “default” narrative. When you’re left out of a popular conversation, it’s hard not to want to shed some light on the subject.

Tell us a bit about the Diverse Book Tours, and your involvement with that.
Diverse Book Tours is a Virtual Book Tour Company founded by our partner Sasha, who blogs @ So Bookishly. While diversity was something she was passionate about, she asked us if we were interested in helping her with getting the project out there and available to both Traditionally published and Independently published writers interested in promotional services. My sister and I work as her outreach and co-partners, so we’re very much involved with Diverse Book Tours. Our goal is simple really, to help get the word out about books featuring diverse characters other readers may or may not have heard of, or are reluctant about. Because we also work with Independently Published authors, we do have a strict screening process on what we are able to promote. Titles NEED to be professionally edited and a great cover is a must.
At the moment, we aren’t charging for services because that’s how passionate we feel about the project, all we want to do for now is help readers get their hands on stories that celebrate Diverse Characters,

What’s your favorite kidlit/YA/Teen book you’ve (you can do this singly, or collectively) read this year?
Guinevere: Hands down, The Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda. I was looking something like Percy Jackson but with a person of color and highlighting a culture outside of the overdone Greek Mythology(Although, I REALLY love Greek Mythology!)and this kind of fell into my lap at the right time!

Libertad: Omg, I have so many.But if I really had to choose it would be The Farsighted Series by Emlyn Chand, which features a Blind Main Protagonist in the first book and a South Asian girl in the second or Blood of my Blood by Barry Lyga! Barry Lyga is one of those authors that writes these gritty, thought provoking things that nearly scare you into reading anything else from him, but he’s just addictive!

Thank you, Guinevere and Libertad! Be sure to go check them out.