While I was listening to the audiobook, I wanted to write down so many passages that I lost count.
Oluo pulls no punches.
We live in a society where if you are a person of color, a disabled person, a single mother, or an LGBT person you have to be exceptional. And if you are exceptional by the standards put forth by white supremacist patriarchy, and you are lucky, you will most likely just barely get by. There is nothing inspirational about that.
And her writing is sometimes funny and sardonic and always true.
Race is everywhere and racial tension and animosity and pain is in almost everything we see and touch. Ignoring it does not make it go away. There is no shoving the four hundred years’ racial oppression and violence toothpaste back in the toothpaste tube.
One of the most amazing things that resulted from my reading this book is being reminded of the necessity of continuing to check my privilege. One or two instances of doing so is not enough.
When somebody asks you to “check your privilege” they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing and may in fact be contributing to those struggles. It is a big ask, to check your privilege. It is hard and often painful, but it’s not nearly as painful as living with the pain caused by the unexamined privilege of others.
Oluo’s book has me thinking about and acknowledging my privileges in real ways. It has me trying to keep in the forefront of my mind the actions I can take to help dismantle systemic racism everyday–for example, buying books from black-owned independent bookstores and calling/emailing the local powers that be to urge them to enact much-needed reforms. (Yesterday I went to a Black Lives Matter march for Justice for Dion Johnson in my city with at least 1,000 other people in ninety-six degree heat.)
This is absolutely necessary reading.
Have you read this book? Are there any anti-racist books you highly recommend?
Today I’m sharing a list of excellent speculative fiction by Black authors, some of which I’ve read and others I’ll be reading soon. All are currently available for purchase. Won’t you join me in reading them?
Essun, masquerading as an ordinary schoolteacher in a quiet small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Mighty Sanze, the empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years, collapses as its greatest city is destroyed by a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heartland of the world’s sole continent, a great red rift has been been torn which spews ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.
But this is the Stillness, a land long familiar with struggle, and where orogenes — those who wield the power of the earth as a weapon — are feared far more than the long cold night. Essun has remembered herself, and she will have her daughter back.
She does not care if the world falls apart around her. Essun will break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.
New Hyde Hospital’s psychiatric ward has a new resident. It also has a very, very old one.
Pepper is a rambunctious big man, minor-league troublemaker, working-class hero (in his own mind), and, suddenly, the surprised inmate of a budget-strapped mental institution in Queens, New York. He’s not mentally ill, but that doesn’t seem to matter. He is accused of a crime he can’t quite square with his memory. In the darkness of his room on his first night, he’s visited by a terrifying creature with the body of an old man and the head of a bison who nearly kills him before being hustled away by the hospital staff. It’s no delusion: The other patients confirm that a hungry devil roams the hallways when the sun goes down. Pepper rallies three other inmates in a plot to fight back: Dorry, an octogenarian schizophrenic who’s been on the ward for decades and knows all its secrets; Coffee, an African immigrant with severe OCD, who tries desperately to send alarms to the outside world; and Loochie, a bipolar teenage girl who acts as the group’s enforcer. Battling the pill-pushing staff, one another, and their own minds, they try to kill the monster that’s stalking them. But can the Devil die?
The Devil in Silver brilliantly brings together the compelling themes that spark all of Victor LaValle’s radiant fiction: faith, race, class, madness, and our relationship with the unseen and the uncanny. More than that, it’s a thrillingly suspenseful work of literary horror about friendship, love, and the courage to slay our own demons.
When Jessica marries David, he is everything she wants in a family man: brilliant, attentive, ever youthful. Yet she still feels something about him is just out of reach. Soon, as people close to Jessica begin to meet violent, mysterious deaths, David makes an unimaginable confession: More than 400 years ago, he and other members of an Ethiopian sect traded their humanity so they would never die, a secret he must protect at any cost. Now, his immortal brethren have decided David must return and leave his family in Miami. Instead, David vows to invoke a forbidden ritual to keep Jessica and his daughter with him forever. Harrowing, engrossing and skillfully rendered, My Soul to Keep traps Jessica between the desperation of immortals who want to rob her of her life and a husband who wants to rob her of her soul. With deft plotting and an unforgettable climax, this tour de force reminiscent of early Anne Rice will win Due a new legion of fans.
A proud and reserved alien society finds its homeland destroyed in an unprovoked act of aggression, and the survivors have no choice but to reach out to the indigenous humanoids of their adopted world, to whom they are distantly related. They wish to preserve their cherished way of life but come to discover that in order to preserve their culture, they may have to change it forever.
Now a man and a woman from these two clashing societies must work together to save this vanishing race—and end up uncovering ancient mysteries with far-reaching ramifications. As their mission hangs in the balance, this unlikely team—one cool and cerebral, the other fiery and impulsive—just may find in each other their own destinies . . . and a force that transcends all.
Odd-mannered, obsessive, withdrawn, Aster has little to offer folks in the way of rebuttal when they call her ogre and freak. She’s used to the names; she only wishes there was more truth to them. If she were truly a monster, as they accuse, she’d be powerful enough to tear down the walls around her until nothing remained of her world, save for stories told around the cookfire.
Aster lives in the low-deck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. For generations, the Matilda has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. On its way, the ship’s leaders have imposed harsh moral restrictions and deep indignities on dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster, who they consider to be less than human.
When the autopsy of Matilda’s sovereign reveals a surprising link between his death and her mother’s suicide some quarter-century before, Aster retraces her mother’s footsteps. Embroiled in a grudge with a brutal overseer and sowing the seeds of civil war, Aster learns there may be a way off the ship if she’s willing to fight for it.
Have you read any of these books? Do you have any to add to this list?
Hello, friends! How are you today? Can you believe it’s already May?
Since I missed it last year, I decided to participate in #Rombklove this month. It’s a month-long celebration of the romance genre brought to you by Ana Coqui.
Here are the prompts for the month:
Day 1: Comfort Reads
This is a great prompt because this past month I’ve been doing a lotof comfort reading and, more recently, thinking about what authors and subgenres are comforting to me.
I’m not much of a re-reader so I don’t have specific go-to books, but I do have authors I’ve turned to when the anxiety and/or stress has ramped up. One of them is the inimitable Tessa Dare. I listened to The Governess Game (Girl Meets Duke #2) last month, and it was precisely what I needed. It’s narrated by Mary Jane Wells, who is an excellent voice actor. It made me laugh and boosted my hope in humanity, and I loved the heroine Alex. Here’s a more in depth review of the book.
Another of my go-to authors for comfort reads is Sarah MacLean. Her books are feminist and lovingly written. One of my favorites of hers is A Scot in the Dark (Scandal & Scoundrel #2), which I read in 2018 and then convinced a friend to borrow last year. It features one of my all-time favorite couples, Lily Hargrove and Alec Stuart, the Duke of Warnick, an imposing, broody Scotsman.
Charlotte Langley, being the cautious sister of her family, has agreed to marry her lifelong friend. When she drinks a cordial that’s supposed to help relieve her discomfort on the night of a dinner involving her betrothed’s family, the cordial turns out to act as an aphrodisiac that elicits in Charlotte a desire for Kingston, a man who isn’t her fiancé. He’s the visiting stepbrother of her brother-in-law the Duke of Warrington. Sexy shenanigans ensue.
I loved this book! The unique premise attracted me in the first place, and the fact that Charlotte begins the story experiencing the onset of the painful cramps that precede her menstruation hooked me in. Not at all what I’ve come to expect from historical romance, to be honest, but completely welcome. (And relatable.)
Since the idea of someone being dosed can be problematic because consent, I want to be clear about how it’s handled in the book.
Somewhat spoilers ahead:
Charlotte is given the tonic that turns out to be a kind of aphrodisiac by her sister Nora, an herbalist and scientist who gives her a tonic for her pain every month but has tinkered with the ingredients this time around. The fact that neither one of the main characters dosed each other and that the tonic’s effects were essentially an accident allowed me to read through their first sexual encounter without feeling squicky. Having said that, I know these events are going to affect different readers in different ways.
What I loved about the book was the character growth of both Charlotte and Kingston. Their interactions with and attraction to each other lead to the two of them realizing their own true worth. This realization allows them to break out of their predefined roles and choose each other. In that way, the title of the book is perfect.
Besides the extremely satisfying and lovely character growth of the relatable main characters, the rompy plot was enjoyable and fun, with just a touch of angst, and the steamy scenes were well done (read: hot). I gave the book 4 stars on Goodreads. This is the kind of historical romance I’m here for.
After Annabel Werner’s husband, a banker for an offshore bank, boards a private plan to Geneva that disappears, he is presumed dead, and Annabel begins searching for answers. She comes to the conclusion that his death wasn’t an accident and that she may be in danger, too. At the same time, society journalist Marina Tourneau has finally made her dream come true now that she’s engaged to Grant Ellis, the son of a powerful billionaire. After the sudden death of her mentor, Marina decides to do one more story, and she uncovers information that points to some of the most powerful men in the world of finance.
Holy crap! I devoured this book. Talk about a page-turner. Intrigue and plot twists abound, and the momentum never lets up.
The subject matter was very timely. It involved events I can believe are happening right now in the world, unfortunately.
I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads.
Alger definitely knows how to write a stylish thriller. I look forward to reading her other books.
I ended up starting this book late the other night after flying through The Banker’s Wife. I wanted another fast-paced read, and this shaped up to be very tense and a bit of a rollercoaster ride.
Vivian Miller is a CIA analyst in counterintelligence trying to discover the identities of leaders of Russian sleeper cells in the U.S. Whilst accessing the computer of a probable Russian agent, she stumbles upon a secret that changes everything for her.
It was a fun, quick read. Not really what I expected, but I don’t read a lot of spy thrillers. (Perhaps it’s time to change that.) I figured out most of the major twists, not an uncommon occurrence for me.
I have mixed feelings (read: frustration) about the main character’s actions and behavior. But I don’t go into a thriller expecting great characterization.
I appreciated that one of the book’s themes is the problematic idea of the question “Can women have it all?”
I read this book in one day. It’s a very quick read about a CIA analyst in Russian counter-intelligence who discovers something that changes everything and tests her loyalty. I’ll be sharing a spoiler-free review of it soon.
What I’m Reading Next
I have no idea! Lol. Since I’m a mood reader, I’ll probably browse Overdrive/Libby and my bookshelves to see if anything catches my eye.
What about you? What are you currently reading? Have you recently finished anything good?
Alexandra Mountbatten makes her living setting clocks when she finds herself having to accept a post as governess to two unruly orphans. Their guardian is Chase Reynaud, the heir to a dukedom and the man Alex refers to as the “Bookshop Rake,” after they literally run into each other at a book shop called Hatchard’s.
I adored this book. The Governess Game is delightful and funny, with a touch of angst and a cast of wonderfully drawn and wonderfully endearing characters. One or two scenes made me laugh aloud–a rare occurrence when I’m reading.
Alex is one of my favorite heroines that I’ve read so far this year. She’s intelligent, independent, ambitious, determined, and refuses to put up with disrespect from Chase. Her goal is to turn her love of astronomy into her profession, and she shows herself to possess savvy in how to go about it.
The witty banter between Alex and Chase is always on point. The two of them make for a very ahem interesting dynamic on page. The tension between them is fire, and the sexy scenes are steamy and so well rendered.
I also enjoyed how much Chase’s two wards Rosamund and Daisy brought to the story. They are precocious, but in a believable way, due to what they went through prior to landing with Chase. Their scenes with Chase and Alex are the ones that made me laugh aloud. And, without Rosamund and Daisy, the book’s overarching theme of found family wouldn’t resonate as well as it does.
I gave the book 4.5 stars on Goodreads. The only reason I didn’t give it 5 stars is because the pacing felt a little off to me, particularly in the latter half of the novel. Part of it was Chase’s sometimes immature and self-sabotaging behavior. (Thankfully, he eventually pulls his head out of his own rear end.)
I listened to most of the audiobook–narrated by the fantastic voice actor Mary Jane Wells–in one night and then stayed up late the next night to finish it. It was exactly what I needed to readearlier this week, considering all of the upsetting headlines coming out daily.
With The Governess Game, Tessa Dare has become a go-to author for me, and I plan to check out the rest of her backlist ASAP.
Have you read this book? What did you think?
I hope you’re staying safe. Until next time, friends.
It’s not actress Lily Lamprey’s fault that she’s all curves and has the kind of voice that can fog up a camera lens. She wants to prove where her real talents lie—and that’s not on a casting couch, thank you. When she hears esteemed director Luc Savage is renovating a legendary West End theater for a lofty new production, she knows it could be her chance—if only Luc wasn’t so dictatorial, so bad-tempered and so incredibly sexy.
Luc Savage has respect, integrity and experience. He also has it bad for Lily. He’d be willing to dismiss it as a midlife crisis, but this exasperating, irresistible woman is actually a very talented actress. Unfortunately, their romance is not only raising questions about Lily’s suddenly rising career, it’s threatening Luc’s professional reputation. The course of true love never did run smooth. But if they’re not careful, it could bring down the curtain on both their careers…
There was so much to enjoy:
The complex, engaging characters: Lily and Luc both have something to prove when the story begins (even if Luc won’t admit it, especially to himself). Both of them end up breaking through each other’s high walls and growing as people toward each other. It’s wonderful to watch.
The dialogue: Lucy Parker is so very good at writing dialogue, and her witty banter is no exception. Much like in the first book in her series, the heroine and the hero trade satisfying banter that was delightful.
The cameos: Lainie and Richard, the heroine and hero, respectively, from Act Like It make an appearance at a cocktail party where they talk to Lily. In this scene, Richard says to Lily,
Play to the public, not the critics. They’ve paid a lot of money, they’re out for a good time, and once that curtain is up and they’re caught in the plot, most of them will be backing you.
The audiobook narrator: Morag Sims does an amazing job voice acting. Her performance of Lily’s natural voice is spot on.
The grovel: Luc has an excellent grovel scene once he wises up to how wrong he was about Lily.
I wish there had been more theatre scenes. What we see about the goings on at the London theatre Luc has renovated and runs is fascinating. I would’ve liked to see more of the rehearsals between the characters before the opening night of 1553, the play they’re putting on about the three Tudor queens.
I recommend this to anyone who reads contemporary romance. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable read featuring very human characters who undergo satisfying development. The witty banter is top-notch. The theme of keeping up appearances versus choosing your own happiness resonated with me and is handled well through the setting of the theatre world in the West End of London.
With this second book in her London Celebrities series, Lucy Parker has written another gem.
Have you read Pretty Face yet? What did you think?