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August Color Challenge

Well Hello August! With August comes the dog days of Summer. county fairs and music festivals. Life of a Book Addict is choosing to honor this “venerable” month with rust and gray covers. Slate, like the plummage of the Great Grey Owl and the sleek coat of the Timberwolf. Rust – the transformative reddening that occurs with exposure to the elements.

As I am behind on my reading I decided to combine this challenge with ARC Apocalypse. Below are my NetGalley and giveaway ARCS that satisfy this color scheme. Let’s see how many I can knock out this month.

The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata by Gina Apostol

  • Historical Fiction
  • Hardcover, 360 pages
  • Published January 12th 2021 by Soho Press

Raymundo Mata is a nightblind bookworm and a revolutionary in the Philippine war against Spain in 1896. Told in the form of a memoir, the novel traces Mata’s childhood, his education in Manila, his love affairs, and his discovery of the books of the man who becomes the nation’s great hero José Rizal (Rizal, in real life, is executed by the Spaniards for writing two great novels that spark revolution—the Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. At the time Rizal died, he was working on a third novel, Makamisa).

Raymundo Mata’s autobiography, however, is de-centered by another story: that of the development of the book. In the foreword(s), afterword(s), and footnotes, we see the translator Mimi C. Magsalin (a pseudonym), the rabid nationalist editor Estrella Espejo, and the neo-Freudian psychoanalyst critic Dr. Diwata Drake make multiple readings of the Mata manuscript. Inevitably, clashes between these readings occur throughout the novel, and in the end the reader is on a wild chase to answer enduring questions: Does the manuscript contain Makamisa or is it Makamisa? Are the journals an elaborate hoax? And who is the perpetrator of the textual crime?

In this story about the love of books, the story of a nation emerges. But what is a nation? What The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata imagines is that through acts of reading, a nation is born.


Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby

  • Mystery/Thriller
  • Hardcover, 336 pages
  • Published July 6th 2021 by Flatiron Books

A Black father. A white father. Two murdered sons. A quest for vengeance.

Ike Randolph has been out of jail for fifteen years, with not so much as a speeding ticket in all that time. But a Black man with cops at the door knows to be afraid.

The last thing he expects to hear is that his son Isiah has been murdered, along with Isiah’s white husband, Derek. Ike had never fully accepted his son but is devastated by his loss.

Derek’s father Buddy Lee was almost as ashamed of Derek for being gay as Derek was ashamed his father was a criminal. Buddy Lee still has contacts in the underworld, though, and he wants to know who killed his boy.

Ike and Buddy Lee, two ex-cons with little else in common other than a criminal past and a love for their dead sons, band together in their desperate desire for revenge. In their quest to do better for their sons in death than they did in life, hardened men Ike and Buddy Lee will confront their own prejudices about their sons and each other, as they rain down vengeance upon those who hurt their boys.

Provocative and fast-paced, S. A. Cosby’s Razorblade Tears is a story of bloody retribution, heartfelt change – and maybe even redemption.


The Sisters of Reckoning by Charlotte A. Davis

  • Young Adult/ Western
  • Hardcover, 352 pages
  • Expected publication: August 10th 2021 by Tor Teen

The Good Luck Girls are free. Aster’s sister and friends have new lives across the border in Ferron, while Aster remains in Arketta, helping more girls escape. But news of a new welcome house opening fills Aster with a need to do more than just help individual girls. And an unexpected reunion gives her an idea of how to do it. From there, grows a wildly ambitious plan to free all dustbloods, who live as prisoners to Arketta’s landmasters and debt slavery.

When Clementine and the others return from Ferron, they become the heart of a vibrant group of fearless fighters, working to unite the various underclasses and convince them to join in the fight. Along the way, friendships will be forged, lives will be lost, and love will take root even in the harshest of circumstances, between the most unexpected of lovers.

But will Arketta’s dustbloods finally come into power and freedom, or will the resistance just open them up to a new sort of danger?


The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin

  • Young Adult/Fantasy
  • Hardcover, 384 pages
  • Published June 1st 2021 by Sourcebooks Fire

For centuries, witches have maintained the climate, their power from the sun peaking in the season of their birth. But now their control is faltering as the atmosphere becomes more erratic. All hope lies with Clara, an Everwitch whose rare magic is tied to every season.

In Autumn, Clara wants nothing to do with her power. It’s wild and volatile, and the price of her magic―losing the ones she loves―is too high, despite the need to control the increasingly dangerous weather.

In Winter, the world is on the precipice of disaster. Fires burn, storms rage, and Clara accepts that she’s the only one who can make a difference.

In Spring, she falls for Sang, the witch training her. As her magic grows, so do her feelings, until she’s terrified Sang will be the next one she loses.

In Summer, Clara must choose between her power and her happiness, her duty and the people she loves… before she loses Sang, her magic, and thrusts the world into chaos.


A Pair of Wings: A Novel Inspired by Pioneer Aviatrix Bessie Coleman by Carole Hopson

  • Historical Fiction
  • Hardcover, 332 pages
  • Published June 15th 2021 by Jet Black Press

A Pair of Wings is an epic novel about the life of pioneer aviatrix Bessie Coleman. Arriving in Chicago in 1915, Coleman is in the first wave of African Americans to be part of the Great Migration, the largest movement of Black people fleeing the agricultural South towards the promise of opportunity in the North.

By 1921, America was a nation of change, steeped in both turmoil and progress. Jim Crow laws forced segregation in the South, lynchings terrorized, prohibition loomed, and Tulsa, Oklahoma smoldered after being bombed from the air. While American women had just earned the right to vote, Coleman can find no one willing to teach a Black woman to fly. Undaunted, she learns French and travels by ship to France in order to fulfill her dream of earning a brevet.

As the 1920s progress, Coleman comes of age, and both aviation and the Great Migration continue in parallel. Hardscrabble and burnished, Coleman becomes the only woman in the world to compel these lines of latitude to bend and intersect. Just as she translates deftly from English to French, she also converts wargame maneuvers into daring, graceful, and swashbuckling performances which she brings back to the United States. This fearless woman inspires a nation, earning the nicknames Daredevil, Queen Bess, and Brave Bessie for her breathtaking airshows.

A full century after her accomplishments, Coleman’s story is brought to life by author Carole Hopson. A United Airlines pilot who flies the Boeing 737, Hopson, considers Bessie Coleman the pioneer who cut the path for her and believes that it is her job to continue Coleman’s work to make that path wider for those who follow. It’s Coleman’s bold determination and courage that lifted Hopson, as well as an entire people upon A Pair of Wings.


The Spanish Daughter by Lorena Hughes

  • Historical Fiction
  • Hardcover, 352 pages
  • Expected publication: December 28th 2021 by Kensington Books

Set against the lush backdrop of early twentieth century Ecuador and inspired by the real-life history of the coastal town known as the birthplace of cacao, this captivating #OwnVoices novel from the award-winning author of The Sisters of Alameda Street tells the story of a resourceful young chocolatier who must impersonate a man in order to survive…

Puri inherited two things from her father: a passion for chocolate, and a cacao plantation located in Ecuador. After learning the art of chocolate-making from her grandmother, Puri opened a chocolate shop in her native Spain. But the Great War that devastated Europe has also ruined her business. Eager to learn more about the source of her beloved chocolate, Puri sets out across the ocean with her husband, Cristóbal. But someone is angered by Puri’s claim to the plantation…

When a mercenary sent to murder her aboard the ship accidentally kills Cristóbal instead, Puri dons her husband’s clothes and assumes his identity, hoping to stay safe while she learns the truth. Though freed from the rules that women are expected to follow, Puri confronts other challenges at the plantation—newfound siblings, hidden affairs, and her father’s dark secrets. Then there are the dangers awakened by her attraction to an enigmatic man as she tries to learn the identity of an enemy who is still at large, threatening the future she is determined to claim.


Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri

  • Contemporary, Translation
  • Hardcover, 160 pages
  • Published April 27th 2021 by Knopf

Exuberance and dread, attachment and estrangement: in this novel, Jhumpa Lahiri stretches her themes to the limit. The woman at the center wavers between stasis and movement, between the need to belong and the refusal to form lasting ties. The city she calls home, an engaging backdrop to her days, acts as a confidant: the sidewalks around her house, parks, bridges, piazzas, streets, stores, coffee bars. We follow her to the pool she frequents and to the train station that sometimes leads her to her mother, mired in a desperate solitude after her father’s untimely death. In addition to colleagues at work, where she never quite feels at ease, she has girl friends, guy friends, and “him,” a shadow who both consoles and unsettles her. But in the arc of a year, as one season gives way to the next, transformation awaits. One day at the sea, both overwhelmed and replenished by the sun’s vital heat, her perspective will change.

This is the first novel she has written in Italian and translated into English. It brims with the impulse to cross barriers. By grafting herself onto a new literary language, Lahiri has pushed herself to a new level of artistic achievement.


Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead

  • Historical Fiction/Mystery
  • Hardcover, 336 pages
  • Expected publication: September 14th 2021 by Doubleday

“Ray Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked…”

To his customers and neighbors on 125th street, Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably priced furniture, making a decent life for himself and his family. He and his wife Elizabeth are expecting their second child, and if her parents on Striver’s Row don’t approve of him or their cramped apartment across from the subway tracks, it’s still home.

Few people know he descends from a line of uptown hoods and crooks, and that his façade of normalcy has more than a few cracks in it. Cracks that are getting bigger all the time.

Cash is tight, especially with all those installment-plan sofas, so if his cousin Freddie occasionally drops off the odd ring or necklace, Ray doesn’t ask where it comes from. He knows a discreet jeweler downtown who doesn’t ask questions, either.

Then Freddie falls in with a crew who plan to rob the Hotel Theresa — the “Waldorf of Harlem” — and volunteers Ray’s services as the fence. The heist doesn’t go as planned; they rarely do. Now Ray has a new clientele, one made up of shady cops, vicious local gangsters, two-bit pornographers, and other assorted Harlem lowlifes.

Thus begins the internal tussle between Ray the striver and Ray the crook. As Ray navigates this double life, he begins to see who actually pulls the strings in Harlem. Can Ray avoid getting killed, save his cousin, and grab his share of the big score, all while maintaining his reputation as the go-to source for all your quality home furniture needs?

Harlem Shuffle’s ingenious story plays out in a beautifully recreated New York City of the early 1960s. It’s a family saga masquerading as a crime novel, a hilarious morality play, a social novel about race and power, and ultimately
a love letter to Harlem.

But mostly, it’s a joy to read, another dazzling novel from the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning Colson Whitehead.

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#5 On My TBR – Revenge

They say revenge is a dish best served cold. But be careful while you are plotting away your enemy’s comeuppance Karma waits in the wings for her time to shine and she never loses an address.

5 On My TBR is a weekly meme that gets you digging into your massive TBRs to find five special books. Created by E@LocalBeeHuntersNook this meme centers on a new prompt each Monday. For those of you interested in participating in #5 On My TBR you can find additional info and future prompts here.

So let’s get to it!

#1 – The Perfect Ruin

A brutal tragedy ended Ivy Hill’s happy family and childhood. Now in her twenties and severely troubled, she barely has a life—or much to live for. Until the day she discovers the name of the woman who destroyed her world: Lola Maxwell—the mega-wealthy socialite with a heart, Miami’s beloved “first lady” of charity. Accomplished, gorgeous, and oh-so-caring, Lola has the best of everything—and doesn’t deserve any of it. So it’s only right that Ivy take it all away . . .

Little by little, Ivy infiltrates Lola’s elite circle, becomes her new best friend—and plays Lola’s envious acquaintances and hangers-on against her. But seducing Lola’s handsome, devoted surgeon husband turns into a passionate dream Ivy suddenly can’t control. And soon, an insidious someone will twist Ivy’s revenge into a nightmare of deception, secrets, and betrayal that Ivy may not wake up from . . .


#2 – The Wicked Deep

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.


#3 – City of Saints and Thieves

In the shadows of Sangui City, there lives a girl who doesn’t exist. After fleeing the Congo as refugees, Tina and her mother arrived in Kenya looking for the chance to build a new life and home. Her mother quickly found work as a maid for a prominent family, headed by Roland Greyhill, one of the city’s most respected business leaders. But Tina soon learns that the Greyhill fortune was made from a life of corruption and crime. So when her mother is found shot to death in Mr. Greyhill’s personal study, she knows exactly who’s behind it.

With revenge always on her mind, Tina spends the next four years surviving on the streets alone, working as a master thief for the Goondas, Sangui City’s local gang. It’s a job for the Goondas that finally brings Tina back to the Greyhill estate, giving her the chance for vengeance she’s been waiting for. But as soon as she steps inside the lavish home, she’s overtaken by the pain of old wounds and the pull of past friendships, setting into motion a dangerous cascade of events that could, at any moment, cost Tina her life. But finally uncovering the incredible truth about who killed her mother—and why—keeps her holding on in this fast-paced nail-biting thriller.


#4 – The Dispatcher

One day, not long from now, it becomes almost impossible to murder anyone – 999 times out of a thousand, anyone who is intentionally killed comes back. How? We don’t know. But it changes everything: war, crime, daily life.


Tony Valdez is a Dispatcher – a licensed, bonded professional whose job is to humanely dispatch those whose circumstances put them in death’s crosshairs, so they can have a second chance to avoid the reaper. But when a fellow Dispatcher and former friend is apparently kidnapped, Tony learns that there are some things that are worse than death and that some people are ready to do almost anything to avenge a supposed wrong.


It’s a race against time for Valdez to find his friend before it’s too late…before not even a Dispatcher can save him.


#5 – The Girls Are All So Nice Here

A lot has changed in years since Ambrosia Wellington graduated from college, and she’s worked hard to create a new life for herself. But then an invitation to her ten-year reunion arrives in the mail, along with an anonymous note that reads, “We need to talk about what we did that night.

It seems that the secrets of Ambrosia’s past—and the people she thought she’d left there—aren’t as buried as she believed. Amb can’t stop fixating on what she did or who she did it with: larger-than-life Sloane “Sully” Sullivan, Amb’s former best friend, who could make anyone do anything.

At the reunion, Amb and Sully receive increasingly menacing messages, and it becomes clear that they’re being pursued by someone who wants more than just the truth of what happened that first semester. This person wants revenge for what they did and the damage they caused—the extent of which Amb is only now fully understanding. And it was all because of the game they played to get a boy who belonged to someone else and the girl who paid the price.

Alternating between the reunion and Amb’s freshman year, The Girls Are All So Nice Here is a “chilling and twisty thriller” (Book Riot) about the brutal lengths girls can go to get what they think they’re owed, and what happens when the games we play in college become matters of life and death.

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#5 On My TBR – Healers

Healers come in many forms. They treat the mind, body and spirit and selflessly give of themselves while building up others.

5 On My TBR is a weekly meme that gets you digging into your massive TBRs to find five special books. Created by E@LocalBeeHuntersNook this meme centers on a new prompt each Monday. For those of you interested in participating in #5 On My TBR you can find additional info and future prompts here.

So let’s get to it!

#1 – Ghana Must Go

Kweku Sai is dead. A renowned surgeon and failed husband, he succumbs suddenly at dawn outside his home in suburban Accra. The news of Kweku’s death sends a ripple around the world, bringing together the family he abandoned years before. Ghana Must Go is their story. Electric, exhilarating, beautifully crafted, Ghana Must Go is a testament to the transformative power of unconditional love, from a debut novelist of extraordinary talent.  

Moving with great elegance through time and place, Ghana Must Go charts the Sais’ circuitous journey to one another. In the wake of Kweku’s death, his children gather in Ghana at their enigmatic mother’s new home. The eldest son and his wife; the mysterious, beautiful twins; the baby sister, now a young woman: each carries secrets of his own. What is revealed in their coming together is the story of how they came apart: the hearts broken, the lies told, the crimes committed in the name of love. Splintered, alone, each navigates his pain, believing that what has been lost can never be recovered—until, in Ghana, a new way forward, a new family, begins to emerge.

Ghana Must Go is at once a portrait of a modern family, and an exploration of the importance of where we come from to who we are. In a sweeping narrative that takes us from Accra to Lagos to London to New York, Ghana Must Go teaches that the truths we speak can heal the wounds we hide.


#2 – The Book of Longings

“I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus.”

Raised in a wealthy family in Sepphoris with ties to the ruler of Galilee, Ana is rebellious and ambitious, a relentless seeker with a brilliant, curious mind and a daring spirit. She yearns for a pursuit worthy of her life, but finds no outlet for her considerable talents. Defying the expectations placed on women, she engages in furtive scholarly pursuits and writes secret narratives about neglected and silenced women. When she meets the eighteen-year-old Jesus, each is drawn to and enriched by the other’s spiritual and philosophical ideas. He becomes a floodgate for her intellect, but also the awakener of her heart.

Their marriage unfolds with love and conflict, humor and pathos in Nazareth, where Ana makes a home with Jesus, his brothers, James and Simon, and their mother, Mary. Here, Ana’s pent-up longings intensify amid the turbulent resistance to the Roman occupation of Israel, partially led by her charismatic adopted brother, Judas. She is sustained by her indomitable aunt Yaltha, who is searching for her long-lost daughter, as well as by other women, including her friend Tabitha, who is sold into slavery after she was raped, and Phasaelis, the shrewd wife of Herod Antipas. Ana’s impetuous streak occasionally invites danger. When one such foray forces her to flee Nazareth for her safety shortly before Jesus’s public ministry begins, she makes her way with Yaltha to Alexandria, where she eventually finds refuge and purpose in unexpected surroundings.

Grounded in meticulous historical research and written with a reverential approach to Jesus’s life that focuses on his humanity, The Book of Longings is an inspiring account of one woman’s bold struggle to realize the passion and potential inside her, while living in a time, place, and culture devised to silence her.


#3 – The Bone Witch

A story of scorned witches, sinister curses, and resurrection, The Bone Witch is the start of a dark fantasy trilogy, perfect for fans of Serpent & Dove and The Cruel Prince.

Tea can raise the dead, but resurrection comes at a price…

When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother, Fox, from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training.

In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha—one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice.


#4 – The Samurai’s Garden

A 20-year-old Chinese painter named Stephen is sent to his family’s summer home in a Japanese coastal village to recover from a bout with tuberculosis. Here he is cared for by Matsu, a reticent housekeeper and a master gardener. Over the course of a remarkable year, Stephen learns Matsu’s secret and gains not only physical strength, but also profound spiritual insight. Matsu is a samurai of the soul, a man devoted to doing good and finding beauty in a cruel and arbitrary world, and Stephen is a noble student, learning to appreciate Matsu’s generous and nurturing way of life and to love Matsu’s soul-mate, gentle Sachi, a woman afflicted with leprosy.


#5 – Ill Will

Two sensational unsolved crimes—one in the past, another in the present—are linked by one man’s memory and self-deception in this chilling novel of literary suspense from National Book Award finalist Dan Chaon.

“We are always telling a story to ourselves, about ourselves,” Dustin Tillman likes to say. It’s one of the little mantras he shares with his patients, and it’s meant to be reassuring. But what if that story is a lie?

A psychologist in suburban Cleveland, Dustin is drifting through his forties when he hears the news: His adopted brother, Rusty, is being released from prison. Thirty years ago, Rusty received a life sentence for the massacre of Dustin’s parents, aunt, and uncle. The trial came to symbolize the 1980s hysteria over Satanic cults; despite the lack of physical evidence, the jury believed the outlandish accusations Dustin and his cousin made against Rusty. Now, after DNA analysis has overturned the conviction, Dustin braces for a reckoning.

Meanwhile, one of Dustin’s patients gets him deeply engaged in a string of drowning deaths involving drunk college boys. At first Dustin dismisses talk of a serial killer as paranoid thinking, but as he gets wrapped up in their amateur investigation, Dustin starts to believe that there’s more to the deaths than coincidence. Soon he becomes obsessed, crossing all professional boundaries—and putting his own family in harm’s way.

From one of today’s most renowned practitioners of literary suspense, Ill Will is an intimate thriller about the failures of memory and the perils of self-deception. In Dan Chaon’s nimble, chilling prose, the past looms over the present, turning each into a haunted place.

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#5 On My TBR – Yellow Covers

Yellow is the color of sunshine, sweet summer corn and buttercups. It is also this week’s theme for 5 On My TBR.

5 On My TBR is a weekly meme that gets you digging into your massive TBRs to find five special books. Created by E@LocalBeeHuntersNook this meme centers on a new prompt each Monday. For those of you interested in participating in #5 On My TBR you can find additional info and future prompts here.

So let’s get to it!

#1 – Loving Day

From the author of the critically beloved Pym comes a ruthlessly comic and moving tale of a man discovering a lost daughter, confronting an elusive ghost, and stumbling onto the possibility of utopia.

“In the ghetto there is a mansion, and it is my father’s house.”

Warren Duffy has returned to America for all the worst reasons: His marriage to a beautiful Welsh woman has come apart; his comics shop in Cardiff has failed; and his Irish American father has died, bequeathing to Warren his last possession, a roofless, half-renovated mansion in the heart of black Philadelphia. On his first night in his new home, Warren spies two figures outside in the grass. When he screws up the nerve to confront them, they disappear. The next day he encounters ghosts of a different kind: In the face of a teenage girl he meets at a comics convention he sees the mingled features of his white father and his black mother, both now dead. The girl, Tal, is his daughter, and she’s been raised to think she’s white.

Spinning from these revelations, Warren sets off to remake his life with a reluctant daughter he’s never known, in a haunted house with a history he knows too well. In their search for a new life, he and Tal struggle with ghosts, fall in with a utopian mixed-race cult, and ignite a riot on Loving Day, the unsung holiday for interracial lovers.

A frequently hilarious, surprisingly moving story about blacks and whites, fathers and daughters, the living and the dead, Loving Day celebrates the wonders of opposites bound in love.


#2 – Black Nerd Problems

The creators of the popular website Black Nerd Problems bring their witty and unflinching insight to this engaging collection of pop culture essays on everything from Mario Kart and The Wire to issues of representation and police brutality across media.

When William Evans and Omar Holmon founded Black Nerd Problems, they had no idea whether anyone beyond their small circle of friends would be interested in their little corner of the internet. But soon after launching, they were surprised to find out that there was a wide community of people who hungered for fresh perspectives on all things nerdy, from the perspective of #OwnedVoices.

In the years since, Evans and Holmon have built a large, dedicated fanbase eager for their brand of cultural critique, whether in the form of a laugh-out-loud, raucous Game of Thrones episode recap or an eloquent essay on dealing with grief through stand-up comedy. Now, they are ready to take the next step with this vibrant and hilarious essay collection, which covers everything from X-Men to Breonna Taylor with insight and intelligence.

A much needed and fresh pop culture critique from the perspective of people of color, Black Nerd Problems is the ultimate celebration for anyone who loves a blend of social commentary and all things nerdy.


#3 – The House of Spirits

In one of the most important and beloved Latin American works of the twentieth century, Isabel Allende weaves a luminous tapestry of three generations of the Trueba family, revealing both triumphs and tragedies. Here is patriarch Esteban, whose wild desires and political machinations are tempered only by his love for his ethereal wife, Clara, a woman touched by an otherworldly hand. Their daughter, Blanca, whose forbidden love for a man Esteban has deemed unworthy infuriates her father, yet will produce his greatest joy: his granddaughter Alba, a beautiful, ambitious girl who will lead the family and their country into a revolutionary future.

The House of the Spirits is an enthralling saga that spans decades and lives, twining the personal and the political into an epic novel of love, magic, and fate.


#4 – An Untamed State

Mireille Duval Jameson is living a fairy tale. The strong-willed youngest daughter of one of Haiti’s richest sons, she has an adoring husband, a precocious infant son, by all appearances a perfect life. The fairy tale ends one day when Mireille is kidnapped in broad daylight by a gang of heavily armed men, in front of her father’s Port au Prince estate. Held captive by a man who calls himself The Commander, Mireille waits for her father to pay her ransom. As it becomes clear her father intends to resist the kidnappers, Mireille must endure the torments of a man who resents everything she represents.

An Untamed State is a novel of privilege in the face of crushing poverty, and of the lawless anger that corrupt governments produce. It is the story of a wilful woman attempting to find her way back to the person she once was, and of how redemption is found in the most unexpected of places. An Untamed State establishes Roxane Gay as a writer of prodigious, arresting talent.


#5 – Our Short History

How can a woman learn to let go of the people she loves the most? 

Karen Neulander, a successful New York political consultant and single mother, has always been fiercely protective of her son, Jacob, now six. She’s had to be: when Jacob’s father, Dave, found out Karen was pregnant and made it clear that fatherhood wasn’t in his plans, Karen walked out of the relationship, never telling Dave her intention was to raise their child alone.

But now Jake is asking to meet his dad, and with good reason: Karen is dying. When she finally calls her ex, she’s shocked to find Dave ecstatic about the son he never knew he had. First, he can’t meet Jake fast enough, and then he can’t seem to leave him alone. Karen quickly grows anxious as she watches Dave insinuate himself into Jake’s life just as her own strength and hold on Jake grow more tenuous.

As she struggles to play out her last days in the “right” way for Jake, Karen wrestles with the knowledge that the only thing she cannot bring herself to do for her son—let his father become a permanent part of his life—is the thing he needs from her the most. With heart-wrenching poignancy, unexpected wit, and mordant humor, Lauren Grodstein has created an unforgettable story about parenthood, sacrifice, and life itself.

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Maya and the Rising Dark

“Tell me everything.” Papa sucked in a deep breath. “From the beginning.”

“Which beginning? The beginning when I stood at the chalkboard while black lightning cut across the sky? The beginning in which a man made of ribbons drained the color from our neighborhood in a dream? The beginning when shadows reached out of the darkness and grabbed my arms? The beginning where werehyenas threatened to eat me and my friend?”


Maya and the Rising Dark is a middle grade book full of action, adventure and magic.

Twelve year old Maya seems like your average girl. All she wants to do is to go to Comic Con and spend time enjoying the summer with her two besties Eli and Frankie. That is until she starts seeing things. Things she cannot explain but scare her very much. Then her father goes missing. While trying to find him she learns that he is the Orisha Elegua who holds the keys between worlds. Apparently the veil that separates our world from the dark has been torn and the Lord of Shadows has come seeking his revenge. But he is not alone. He has an army of darkbringers who are hell bent on destroying our world and everything in it.

This book is reminiscent of mythology based adventure tales like Percy Jackson and the Olympians. My entire family enjoyed that series. While I remember getting excited every time Riordan dropped the name of a god I had learned about in grade school, I was exhilarated to discover the Yoruba Orishas who served as Maya’s neighbors and protectors.

The characters were vividly drawn. Maya and her friends were like the three strands of a braid united in their power, equal in their importance.

Young readers will be so enchanted by the story they won’t even realize they are learning something new. Would recommend to readers seeking fast paced adventure with a strong sense of community.


Coming September 21st!

In this highly anticipated sequel, Maya and the godlings must return to the sinister world of The Dark to retrieve the one thing keeping the veil between the worlds from crumbling: her father’s soul. Perfect for fans of Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky and Willa of the Wood. 

The threat from The Dark is far from over. Twelve-year-old Maya knows this. After crossing the veil between the two worlds, saving her father, and narrowly escaping the sinister clutches of the Lord of Shadows, tensions between the human world and The Dark are higher than ever. And even worse, Maya’s orisha powers as a godling are out of control.

Now a guardian in training, Maya spends her days patching up veils with her father and cleaning up near-disasters like baby wormholes that her erratic powers create. But when Maya and her friends discover that something went terribly wrong during their journey to bring her father back to the human world, they are forced to return to The Dark and restore what they left behind, the one thing keeping the veil from falling: her father’s soul.

The Lord of Shadows is mobilizing his forces for an all-out war against the human world. And this time, Maya and her friends will need all the help they can get. Even if that means teaming up with their greatest enemies, the darkbringers.

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#5 On My TBR: Sea & Seaside

5 On My TBR is a weekly meme that gets you digging into your massive TBRs to find five special books. Created by E@LocalBeeHuntersNook this meme centers on a new prompt each Monday. This week’s theme is sea and seaside.

The beach holds a special place in my heart as I grew up in an oceanfront town. I miss the cool summer breeze, the smell of salt in the air and most of all fresh seafood. Shrimp are my chocalate!

For those of you interested in participating in #5 On My TBR you can find additional info and future prompts here.

I know that this meme is featured on Mondays but I have some pretty awesome books with this theme and figured what the hey, it’s not like I’m going to get in trouble for turning in a late assignment.

So let’s get to it!

#1 – Migrations

Franny Stone has always been the kind of woman who is able to love but unable to stay. Leaving behind everything but her research gear, she arrives in Greenland with a singular purpose: to follow the last Arctic terns in the world on what might be their final migration to Antarctica. Franny talks her way onto a fishing boat, and she and the crew set sail, traveling ever further from shore and safety. But as Franny’s history begins to unspool—a passionate love affair, an absent family, a devastating crime—it becomes clear that she is chasing more than just the birds. When Franny’s dark secrets catch up with her, how much is she willing to risk for one more chance at redemption?

Epic and intimate, heartbreaking and galvanizing, Charlotte McConaghy’s Migrations is an ode to a disappearing world and a breathtaking page-turner about the possibility of hope against all odds.


#2 – Creatures

On the eve of Evangeline’s wedding, a dead whale is trapped in the harbor of Winter Island, the groom may be lost at sea, and Evie’s mostly absent mother has shown up out of the blue. From there, in this mesmerizing, provocative debut, Evie remembers and reckons with her complicated upbringing in this lush, wild land off the coast of Southern California. 

Evie grew up with her well-meaning but negligent father, surviving on the money he made dealing the island’s world-famous strain of marijuana, Winter Wonderland. Although he raised her with a deep respect for the elements, the sea, and the creatures living within it, he also left her to parent herself. With wit, love, and bracing  ashes of anger, Creatures probes the complexities of love and abandonment, guilt and forgiveness, betrayal and grief—and the ways in which our ability to love can be threatened if we are not brave enough to conquer the past. 

Lyrical, darkly funny, and ultimately cathartic, Creatures exerts a pull as strong as the tides.


#3 – The Light Keepers

In The Lightkeepers, we follow Miranda, a nature photographer who travels to the Farallon Islands, an exotic and dangerous archipelago off the coast of California, for a one-year residency capturing the landscape. Her only companions are the scientists studying there, odd and quirky refugees from the mainland living in rustic conditions; they document the fish populations around the island, the bold trio of sharks called the Sisters that hunt the surrounding waters, and the overwhelming bird population who, at times, create the need to wear hard hats as protection from their attacks.

Shortly after her arrival, Miranda is assaulted by one of the inhabitants of the islands. A few days later, her assailant is found dead, perhaps the result of an accident. As the novel unfolds, Miranda gives witness to the natural wonders of this special place as she grapples with what has happened to her and deepens her connection (and her suspicions) to her companions, while falling under the thrall of the legends of the place nicknamed “the Islands of the Dead.” And when more violence occurs, each member of this strange community falls under suspicion.

The Lightkeepers upends the traditional structure of a mystery novel —an isolated environment, a limited group of characters who might not be trustworthy, a death that may or may not have been accidental, a balance of discovery and action —while also exploring wider themes of the natural world, the power of loss, and the nature of recovery. It is a luminous debut novel from a talented and provocative new writer.


#4 – Untamed Shore

Renowned author Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s first thriller, UNTAMED SHORE, is a coming-of-age story set in Mexico which quickly turns dark when a young woman meets three enigmatic tourists.

Baja California, 1979. Viridiana spends her days watching the dead sharks piled beside the seashore, as the fishermen pull their nets. There is nothing else to do, nothing else to watch, under the harsh sun. She’s bored. Terribly bored. Yet her head is filled with dreams of Hollywood films, of romance, of a future beyond the drab town where her only option is to marry and have children.

Three wealthy American tourists arrive for the summer, and Viridiana is magnetized. She immediately becomes entwined in the glamorous foreigners’ lives. They offer excitement, and perhaps an escape from the promise of a humdrum future.

When one of them dies, Viridiana lies to protect her friends. Soon enough, someone’s asking questions, and Viridiana has some of her own about the identity of her new acquaintances. Sharks may be dangerous, but there are worse predators nearby, ready to devour a naïve young woman who is quickly being tangled in a web of deceit.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia is one of the most exciting voices in fiction, and with her first crime novel, UNTAMED SHORE, she crafts a blazing novel of suspense with an eerie seaside setting and a literary edge that proves her a master of the genre.


#5 – Malibu Rising

Four famous siblings throw an epic party to celebrate the end of the summer. But over the course of twenty-four hours, their lives will change forever.

Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.

Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them… and what they will leave behind.

How many of these do you already have on your TBR? Which new book has caught your eye?

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#5 On My TBR – Road Trip

The summer is the time for barbeques, lazy days at the beach and family road trips. Especially after this year of being in lockdown, we can all appreciate the gift of friends, the miracle of the outdoors and the excitement of adventure.

5 On My TBR is a weekly meme that gets you digging into your massive TBRs to find five special books. Created by E@LocalBeeHuntersNook this meme centers on a new prompt each Monday. As you probably have guessed, this week’s theme is road trips.

For those of you interested in participating in #5 On My TBR you can find additional info and future prompts here.

So let’s get to it!

#1 – The Adventures of China Iron

This is a riotous romp taking the reader from the turbulent frontier culture of the pampas deep into indigenous territories. It charts the adventures of Mrs China Iron, Martín Fierro’s abandoned wife, in her travels across the pampas in a covered wagon with her new-found friend, soon to become lover, a Scottish woman named Liz. While Liz provides China with a sentimental education and schools her in the nefarious ways of the British Empire, their eyes are opened to the wonders of Argentina’s richly diverse flora and fauna, cultures and languages, as well as to its national struggles. After a clash with Colonel Hernández (the author who ‘stole’ Martín Fierro’s poems) and a drunken orgy with gauchos, they eventually find refuge and a peaceful future in a utopian indigenous community, the river- dwelling Iñchiñ people.

Seen from an ox-drawn wagon, the narrative moves through the Argentinian landscape, charting the flora and fauna of the Pampas, Gaucho culture, Argentinian nation-building and British colonial projects.

In a unique reformulation of history and literary tradition, Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, with humour and sophistication, re-writes Martín Fierro from a feminist, LGBT, postcolonial point of view. She creates a hilarious novel that is nevertheless incisive in its criticism of the way societies come into being, and the way they venerate mythical heroes.


#2 – American Gods

Days before his release from prison, Shadow’s wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America.

Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.

Scary, gripping and deeply unsettling, American Gods takes a long, hard look into the soul of America. You’ll be surprised by what – and who – it finds there…


#3 – November Road

Set against the assassination of JFK, a poignant and evocative crime novel that centers on a desperate cat-and-mouse chase across 1960s America—a story of unexpected connections, daring possibilities, and the hope of second chances from the Edgar Award-winning author of The Long and Faraway Gone.

Frank Guidry’s luck has finally run out.

A loyal street lieutenant to New Orleans’ mob boss Carlos Marcello, Guidry has learned that everybody is expendable. But now it’s his turn—he knows too much about the crime of the century: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Within hours of JFK’s murder, everyone with ties to Marcello is turning up dead, and Guidry suspects he’s next: he was in Dallas on an errand for the boss less than two weeks before the president was shot. With few good options, Guidry hits the road to Las Vegas, to see an old associate—a dangerous man who hates Marcello enough to help Guidry vanish.

Guidry knows that the first rule of running is “don’t stop,” but when he sees a beautiful housewife on the side of the road with a broken-down car, two little daughters and a dog in the back seat, he sees the perfect disguise to cover his tracks from the hit men on his tail. Posing as an insurance man, Guidry offers to help Charlotte reach her destination, California. If she accompanies him to Vegas, he can help her get a new car.

For her, it’s more than a car— it’s an escape. She’s on the run too, from a stifling existence in small-town Oklahoma and a kindly husband who’s a hopeless drunk.

It’s an American story: two strangers meet to share the open road west, a dream, a hope—and find each other on the way.

Charlotte sees that he’s strong and kind; Guidry discovers that she’s smart and funny. He learns that’s she determined to give herself and her kids a new life; she can’t know that he’s desperate to leave his old one behind.

Another rule—fugitives shouldn’t fall in love, especially with each other. A road isn’t just a road, it’s a trail, and Guidry’s ruthless and relentless hunters are closing in on him. But now Guidry doesn’t want to just survive, he wants to really live, maybe for the first time.

Everyone’s expendable, or they should be, but now Guidry just can’t throw away the woman he’s come to love.

And it might get them both killed.


#4 – Summer of 69

With his girlfriend, Robin, away in Canada, eighteen-year-old Lucas Baker’s only plans for the summer are to mellow out with his friends, smoke weed, drop a tab or two, and head out in his microbus for a three-day happening called the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. But life veers dramatically off track when he suddenly finds himself in danger of being drafted and sent to fight in Vietnam. If that isn’t heavy enough, there’s also the free-loving (and undeniably alluring) Tinsley, who seems determined to test Lucas’s resolve to stay faithful to Robin; a frighteningly bad trip at a Led Zeppelin concert; a run-in with an angry motorcycle gang; parents who appear headed for a divorce; and a friend on the front lines in ‘Nam who’s in mortal danger of not making it back. As the pressures grow, it’s not long before Lucas finds himself knocked so far down, it’s starting to look like up to him. When tuning in, turning on, and dropping out is no longer enough, what else is there?


#5 – West

When Cy Bellman, American settler and widowed father of Bess, reads in the newspaper that huge ancient bones have been discovered in a Kentucky swamp, he leaves his small Pennsylvania farm and young daughter to find out if the rumours are true: that the giant monsters are still alive, and roam the uncharted wilderness beyond the Mississippi River.

West is the story of Bellman’s journey and of Bess, waiting at home for her father to return. Written with compassionate tenderness and magical thinking, it explores the courage of conviction, the transformative power of grief, the desire for knowledge and the pull of home, from an exceptionally talented and original British writer. It is a radiant and timeless epic-in-miniature, an eerie, electric monument to possibility. 

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Reading the Rainbow – June

I’m sure by now that you have heard the old adage “Never judge a book by its cover.” But if you’re like me some book covers simply make you swoon. Before I go too far this post is not about cover lust but a challenge to read books from your TBR that are of a particular color. Each month Life of a Book Addict group on GoodReads assigns two colors. The challenge is to read as many books within that month that prominently display that color. At the end there’s a beautiful collage of books generated by all the members of the group. This month Jackie has picked green and navy as “June is bright and colorful with flowers and blooming trees all around. We have green grass and lots of water sports again.”


My shelf

My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal

For fans of The Language of Flowers, a sparkling, big-hearted, page-turning debut set in the 1970s about a young black boy’s quest to reunite with his beloved white half-brother after they are separated in foster care.

Told through the perspective of nine-year-old Leon, too innocent to entirely understand what has happened to him and baby Jake, but determined to do what he can to make things right, he stubbornly, endearingly struggles his way through a system much larger than he can tackle on his own. My Name Is Leon is a vivid, gorgeous, and uplifting story about the power of love, the unbreakable bond between brothers, and the truth about what, in the end, ultimately makes a family.


Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson

Nalo Hopkinson–winner of the John W. Campbell Award, the Sunburst Award, and the World Fantasy award (among others), and lauded as one of our “most inventive and brilliant writers” (New York Post)–returns with a new work. With her singular voice and characteristic sharp insight, she explores the relationship between two sisters in this richly textured and deeply moving novel . . .


Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby

A new essay collection from Samantha Irby about aging, marriage, settling down with step-children in white, small-town America.


Caul Baby by Morgan Jerkins

New York Times bestselling author Morgan Jerkins makes her fiction debut with this electrifying novel, for fans of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jacqueline Woodson, that brings to life one powerful and enigmatic family in a tale rife with secrets, betrayal, intrigue, and magic.


The Passengers by John Marrs

Eight self-drive cars set on a collision course. Who lives, who dies? You decide.

The new gripping page-turning thriller from the bestselling author of THE ONE – soon to be a major Netflix series.


The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Finnmark, Norway, 1617. Twenty-year-old Maren Magnusdatter stands on the craggy coast, watching the sea break into a sudden and reckless storm. Forty fishermen, including her brother and father, are drowned and left broken on the rocks below. With the menfolk wiped out, the women of the tiny Arctic town of Vardø must fend for themselves.

Inspired by the real events of the Vardø storm and the 1621 witch trials, The Mercies is a story of love, evil, and obsession, set at the edge of civilization.


Skippy Dies by Paul Murray

A tragic comedy of epic sweep and dimension, Skippy Dies wrings every last drop of humour and hopelessness out of life, love, mermaids, M-theory, the poetry of Robert Graves, and all the mysteries of the human heart.


Someone Knows by Lisa Scottoline

From the New York Times-bestselling author comes a pulse-pounding domestic thriller about a group of friends who have been bound for twenty years by a single secret—and will now be undone by it. Someone Knows is an emotional exploration of friendship and family, as well as a psychological exploration of guilt and memory.


How many of you are doing color challenges this year and how do you select your books?

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My Reading Journal Journey

In the beginning there was the Family Journal.

This was a fun way to commemorate our Summer Reading challenge. We simply used a looseleaf binder with alphabetical tabs. Back then I was big on finding pictures that tied into the book. Star ratings were included as part of the header along with the title.

Then I found Peter Pauper.

I realized that I was reviewing less and forgetting more as my schedule did not allow me to type of reviews right away. The kids fell off from reviewing books as school and sports picked back up. But it wasn’t enough for me to simply read the book. I wanted to be able to discuss it when I bumped into other bookish people as well as remember how it made me feel. I started just jotting down my initial imoressions. Now my reviews are more lengthy as I sometimes journal as I read. I also feel less inhibited as I am not required to share these with anybody. I can include all the spoilers I want and I don’t have to worry if I have an unpopular opinion.

2018: First impressions while reading a book
2021: New Journal Review format

Notice the post it tabs in the “first impressions” photo? That was how I marked off the pages of my reading challenges. While I liked the idea of having the freedom and the space to express my viewpoints, this setup did not motivate me to complete my challenges. My new system includes both a traditional journal and a bullet journal (BuJo). I keep my reviews in my Peter Pauper but have migrated all of my reading challenges to the front of my bullet journal.

In addition to writing reviews I try to prioritize my reading by writing out my obligations (NetGalley vs. Book club for example) and recording what I actually read. Below is the old and new set ups. Notice that the bullet journal spread also tracks dates read, ratings, reading challenges and monthly stats.

2018 – 2020: My TBR vs. What I actually read
2021: Bujo TBR spread

The Versatility of a Bullet Journal

In my bullet journal I also track my moods, ARC release dates, the source of my books and whether I am reading books I already own. I’m enjoying using my BuJo as a creative outlet and find that I am more organized. Lately I’ve been experimenting with adding more elements to my BuJo like health and spending trackers. I’m excited for my 2022 setup and have already started planning out my spreads.

2021 Yearly Reading Statistics – # Read, # Reviewed, # Pages and Source
Tracking how many books I own will hopefully curb my book spending.
Black-a-thon Reading Challenge

Sources of Inspiration

Amanda Rach Lee

Jashii Corrin

Shayda Campbell

Brittany the Bibliophile


Supplies

  • Peter Pauper acid free, archival lined journal; Retail $15.99 (purchased on sale at Barnes & Noble)
  • Carnet Artist’s dotted journal 120 gsm, 180 pages; Retail $8.99 (purchased with 20% coupon at Michael’s)
  • Tombow Dual Brush pens 12 pc Tropical palette set; Retail $26.99 (purchased 50% off at Michael’s)
  • Artist’s Loft glue tape, 4 pack; Retail $6.99
  • Sakura Pigma Micron Fine Line pen set Black 005, 02, 08; Retail $9.99 (purchased with 20% coupon at Michael’s)
  • Pentel Hi Polymer Eraser
  • Sharpie markers
  • Washi tape (can be found in Michael’s sales bins for as little as a dollar)
  • Stickers, craft paper, colored pencils (Dollar Tree)

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#5 On My TBR – Green Covers

5 On My TBR is a weekly meme that gets you digging into your massive TBRs to find five special books. Created by E@LocalBeeHuntersNook this meme centers on a new prompt each Monday.

This week’s theme celebrates the beginning of Spring and St. Patrick’s Day– the color GREEN.

For those of you interested in participating in #5 On My TBR you can find additional info and future prompts here.

So let’s get to it!

#1 – Love is a Revolution

From New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Rene Watson comes a new YA–a love story about not only a romantic relationship but how a girl finds herself and falls in love with who she really is.

When Nala Robertson reluctantly agrees to attend an open mic night for her cousin-sister-friend Imani’s birthday, she finds herself falling in instant love with Tye Brown, the MC. He’s perfect, except . . . Tye is an activist and is spending the summer putting on events for the community when Nala would rather watch movies and try out the new seasonal flavors at the local creamery. In order to impress Tye, Nala tells a few tiny lies to have enough in common with him. As they spend more time together, sharing more of themselves, some of those lies get harder to keep up. As Nala falls deeper into keeping up her lies and into love, she’ll learn all the ways love is hard, and how self-love is revolutionary.

In Love Is a Revolution, plus size girls are beautiful and get the attention of the hot guys, the popular girl clique is not shallow but has strong convictions and substance, and the ultimate love story is not only about romance but about how to show radical love to the people in your life, including to yourself. 


#2 – Wow, No Thank You

A new essay collection from Samantha Irby about aging, marriage, settling down with step-children in white, small-town America.

Irby is turning forty, and increasingly uncomfortable in her own skin. She has left her job as a receptionist at a veterinary clinic, has published successful books and is courted by Hollywood, left Chicago, and moved into a house with a garden that requires repairs and know-how with her wife and two step-children in a small white, Republican town in Michigan where she now hosts book clubs. This is the bourgeois life of dreams. She goes on bad dates with new friends, spends weeks in Los Angeles taking meetings with “skinny, luminous peoples” while being a “cheese fry-eating slightly damp Midwest person,” “with neck pain and no cartilage in [her] knees,” and hides Entenmann’s cookies under her bed and unopened bills under her pillow.


#3 – Black Women in the Ivory Tower 1850 -1954: An Intellectual History

Evans chronicles the stories of African American women who struggled for and won access to formal education, beginning in 1850, when Lucy Stanton, a student at Oberlin College, earned the first college diploma conferred on an African American woman. In the century between the Civil War and the civil rights movement, a critical increase in black women’s educational attainment mirrored unprecedented national growth in American education. Evans reveals how black women demanded space as students and asserted their voices as educators–despite such barriers as violence, discrimination, and oppressive campus policies–contributing in significant ways to higher education in the United States. She argues that their experiences, ideas, and practices can inspire contemporary educators to create an intellectual democracy in which all people have a voice.


Among those Evans profiles are Anna Julia Cooper, who was born enslaved yet ultimately earned a doctoral degree from the Sorbonne, and Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of Bethune-Cookman College. Exposing the hypocrisy in American assertions of democracy and discrediting European notions of intellectual superiority, Cooper argued that all human beings had a right to grow. Bethune believed that education is the right of all citizens in a democracy. Both women’s philosophies raised questions of how human and civil rights are intertwined with educational access, scholarly research, pedagogy, and community service. This first complete educational and intellectual history of black women carefully traces quantitative research, explores black women’s collegiate memories, and identifies significant geographic patterns in America’s institutional development. Evans reveals historic perspectives, patterns, and philosophies in academia that will be an important reference for scholars of gender, race, and education.


#4 – No Heaven For Good Boys

Set in Senegal, this modern-day Oliver Twist is a meditation on the power of love, and the strength that can emerge when we have no other choice but to survive.

Six-year-old Ibrahimah loves snatching pastries from his mother’s kitchen, harvesting string beans with his father, and searching for sea glass with his sisters. But when he is approached in his rural village one day by Marabout Ahmed, a seemingly kind stranger and highly regarded teacher, the tides of his life turn forever. Ibrahimah is sent to the capital city of Dakar to join his cousin Etienne in studying the Koran under Marabout Ahmed for a year, but instead of the days of learning that Ibrahimah’s parents imagine, the young boys, called Talibe, are forced to beg in the streets in order to line their teacher’s pockets.

To make it back home, Etienne and Ibrahimah must help each other survive both the dangers posed by their Marabout, and the darker sides of Dakar: threats of black-market organ traders, rival packs of Talibe, and mounting student protest on the streets.

Drawn from real incidents and transporting readers between rural and urban Senegal, No Heaven for Good Boys is a tale of hope, resilience, and the affirming power of love.


#5 – The Hole

Winner of the Akutagawa Prize, The Hole is by turns reminiscent of Lewis Carroll, David Lynch, and My Neighbor Totoro, but is singularly unsettling.

Asa’s husband is transferring jobs, and his new office is located near his family’s home in the countryside. During an exceptionally hot summer, the young married couple move in, and Asa does her best to quickly adjust to their new rural lives, to their remoteness, to the constant presence of her in-laws and the incessant buzz of cicadas. While her husband is consumed with his job, Asa is left to explore her surroundings on her own: she makes trips to the supermarket, halfheartedly looks for work, and tries to find interesting ways of killing time.

One day, while running an errand for her mother-in-law, she comes across a strange creature, follows it to the embankment of a river, and ends up falling into a hole—a hole that seems to have been made specifically for her. This is the first in a series of bizarre experiences that drive Asa deeper into the mysteries of this rural landscape filled with eccentric characters and unidentifiable creatures, leading her to question her role in this world, and eventually, her sanity.

*All synopses were taken from Goodreads.*