Library Loot

Library Loot 08.12.2020

It’s that time again to talk library treasures! It’s almost impossible to return one set without taking another home, so without further ado, some of the books I’ve had coming and going from the library recently!

When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk:

You can’t rewrite the past, but you can always choose to start again.
It’s been twenty-seven days since Cleo and Layla’s friendship imploded.
Nearly a month since Cleo realized they’ll never be besties again.
Now, Cleo wants to erase every memory, good or bad, that tethers her to her ex–best friend. But pretending Layla doesn’t exist isn’t as easy as Cleo hoped, especially after she’s assigned to be Layla’s tutor. Despite budding new friendships with other classmates—and a raging crush on a gorgeous boy named Dom—Cleo’s turbulent past with Layla comes back to haunt them both.
Alternating between time lines of Then and Now, When You Were Everything blends past and present into an emotional story about the beauty of self-forgiveness, the promise of new beginnings, and the courage it takes to remain open to love.

Spirit Run: A 6,000 Mile Marathon Through America’s Stolen Land by Noé Álvarez:

Growing up in Yakima, Washington, Noé Álvarez worked at an apple-packing plant alongside his mother, who “slouched over a conveyor belt of fruit, shoulder to shoulder with mothers conditioned to believe this was all they could do with their lives.” A university scholarship offered escape, but as a first-generation Latino college-goer, Álvarez struggled to fit in.
At nineteen, he learned about a Native American/First Nations movement called the Peace and Dignity Journeys, epic marathons meant to renew cultural connections across North America. He dropped out of school and joined a group of Dené, Secwépemc, Gitxsan, Dakelh, Apache, Tohono O’odham, Seri, Purépecha, and Maya runners, all fleeing difficult beginnings. Telling their stories alongside his own, Álvarez writes about a four-month-long journey from Canada to Guatemala that pushed him to his limits. He writes not only of overcoming hunger, thirst, and fear―dangers included stone-throwing motorists and a mountain lion―but also of asserting Indigenous and working-class humanity in a capitalist society where oil extraction, deforestation, and substance abuse wreck communities.
Running through mountains, deserts, and cities, and through the Mexican territory his parents left behind, Álvarez forges a new relationship with the land, and with the act of running, carrying with him the knowledge of his parents’ migration, and―against all odds in a society that exploits his body and rejects his spirit―the dream of a liberated future.

Hurry Home by Roz Nay:

Blood is thicker than water… And it could cost you everything.
Alexandra Van Ness has the perfect life. She lives in an idyllic resort town tucked away in the Rocky Mountains, shares a designer loft with her handsome boyfriend, Chase, and has her dream job working in child protection. Every day, Alex goes above and beyond to save children at risk.
But when her long-lost sister, Ruth, unexpectedly shows up at her door, Alex’s perfect life is upended. Growing up, Ruth was always the troublemaker, pulling Alex into her messes, and this time will be no different. Still, Alex will help Ruth under one condition: we will never, ever, talk about the past. But when a local child goes missing, both women are forced to confront the secrets they’ve promised to keep buried.
Utterly engrossing and claustrophobic, Hurry Home is a tantalizing reflection of the chain-and-shackles relationship between sisters that asks: what lines wouldn’t you cross for your own?

Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal:

If you ask her, Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has way too many names: six! How did such a small person wind up with such a large name? Alma turns to Daddy for an answer and learns of Sofia, the grandmother who loved books and flowers; Esperanza, the great-grandmother who longed to travel; José, the grandfather who was an artist; and other namesakes, too. As she hears the story of her name, Alma starts to think it might be a perfect fit after all — and realizes that she will one day have her own story to tell. In her author-illustrator debut, Juana Martinez-Neal opens a treasure box of discovery for children who may be curious about their own origin stories or names.

Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills by Renéé Watson:

From acclaimed author Renee Watson and Caldecott Honor winner Christian Robinson comes the true story of Florence Mills. Born to parents who were former-slaves Florence knew early on that she loved to sing. And that people really responded to her sweet, bird-like voice. Her dancing and singing catapulted her all the way to the stages of 1920s Broadway where she inspired songs and even entire plays! Yet with all this success, she knew firsthand how bigotry shaped her world. And when she was offered the role of a lifetime from Ziegfeld himself, she chose to support all-black musicals instead. Fans of When Marian Sang and Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa will jump at the chance to discover another talented performer whose voice transcended and transformed the circumstances society placed on her.

Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed:

When Little Mae was a child, she dreamed of dancing in space. She imagined herself surrounded by billions of stars, floating, gliding, and discovering.
She wanted to be an astronaut.
Her mom told her, “If you believe it, and work hard for it, anything is possible.”
Little Mae’s curiosity, intelligence, and determination, matched with her parents’ encouraging words, paved the way for her success at NASA as the first African American woman to travel in space.

Members Only by Sameer Pandya:

Members Only follows an Indian-American college professor through one week, as he’s chastised for being racist by his all-white tennis club following a major misstep with an African-American potential new member, and denounced as a reverse racist by a group of conservative students.

The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar:

When Dimple Met Rishi meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this rom com about two teen girls with rival henna businesses.
When Nishat comes out to her parents, they say she can be anyone she wants—as long as she isn’t herself. Because Muslim girls aren’t lesbians. Nishat doesn’t want to hide who she is, but she also doesn’t want to lose her relationship with her family. And her life only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life.
Flávia is beautiful and charismatic and Nishat falls for her instantly. But when a school competition invites students to create their own businesses, both Flávia and Nishat choose to do henna, even though Flávia is appropriating Nishat’s culture. Amidst sabotage and school stress, their lives get more tangled—but Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush on Flávia, and realizes there might be more to her than she realized.

5*, LGBTQ, Reviews

Review: Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

CW: Homophobia, transphobia, forced outing, deadnaming, parental abuse and neglect, drug and alcohol use, cyberbullying

I have put off writing this book for far too long because I wasn’t sure how to put into words how I felt about this book, a book that’s not for me, but that I feel so incredibly happy to have read. But as a much wiser friend is so fond of telling me — the only way to do the thing is to do the thing. So. Today we’re going to do the thing and talk about why I loved Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender and why I think you will, too.

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Five on Friday 7.31.2020

  1. Last week, one of the larger readathons throughout the Booktube/Booktwitter/Bookstagram community, The Reading Rush, came to an unfortunate end when the two hosts, after a series of missteps, ended the week with a live event during which they laughed off not reading the group readathon, a book by a black woman about, in part, performative activism. This is following other insensitivities (annoucing the group read on Juneteenth; posing a ‘read a book outside’ prompt during a global pandemic, and other occurances in past years of being abelist and often times insiderate of other access barriers to Rush participation).
    Needless to say, a number of folks have had things to say about this event, and perhaps more importantly, how discussion of this event has been handled. As of writing this, the Reading Rush has issued a public apology, although it should be noted that for the first week or so following the event, the only public apology wasn’t public and instead was behind a Patreon paywall. I also think, personally, that too much of the apology was spent in perpetrator-first, explanatory language that doesn’t offer enough accountable measures for improvement.
    And while obviously (or, maybe not so obviously, which is part of the problem) threats of violence or abuse are never okay, it’s also really really important that we hold the hosts of the Reading Rush accoutable for actual, actionable steps for change. It’s what the Black and brown members of this community deserve, and the responsibility that these two hosts, with their combined platform sizes, have to bear.
    (And, because there really should be more than a handful of community-wide reading events that really take off, anyway, absolutely check out some of these)
  2. FIFTEEN FUCKING EMMY NOMINATIONS FOR SCHITT’S CREEK (also Succession did good too, yay Succession). The show of my heart, breaking records all over the place.
  3. I can’t get this ode to ass-eating out of my head. It’s stunningly written, a beautiful reflection on what it means to get a deep sense of joy out of the areas and ideas society still considers the most taboo.
  4. Did you know this is the noise otters make when they eat?! Me either!
  5. In case you missed it, this past week was CoNZealand and while the convention itself had it’s share of issues, what I want to highlight is CoNZealand Fringe, a “series of complementary genre fiction programming at European-friendly times”. This absolutely stunning free programming runs through Sunday, August 2nd and has a whole host of already-streamed panels available to watch online! Some of my absolute favorites:
    1. “Dear WorldCon Fandom: Welcome to Booktube”
    2. “Dragons on a Spaceship: The Resurgence of Science Fantasy”
    3. “Your Fave is Problematic: A Perennial Fandom Dilemma”
    4. “Making Space for the New: How YA Trends Predict Cultural Shifts in SFF”
5*, LGBTQ, Reviews, Romance

Review: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

CW: internalized fat shaming, references to child abuse (off the page), xenophobia, depictions of anxiety

There are so, so many romance tropes in the world to choose from that, simply stated, picking a favorite is a losing battle. BUT. If hard-pressed to pick one, having to go with “the prickly rules-y one falls for the unbuttoned kindly rebel” wouldn’t be the worst possible decision. Add to that a heaping helpful of adorable precocious children you’ll actually like, an island home that seems to have a magic all it’s own, and several lessons in appreciation over tolerance, keeping secrets, and when to make good trouble, and you’ll walk away with the absolutely darling The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. 

Continue reading “Review: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune”
Reviews, Sci-Fi

Review: To Be Taught, if Fortunate by Becky Chambers

There is no such thing as too many hopeful, optimistic narratives in fiction. Not now, in 2019, and not in science fiction specifically, a genre whose existence is dedicated to the imagination of potential futures. And while she is no stranger to bright, character-based science fiction adventures, Becky Chamber’s most recent novella, To Be Taught, if Fortunate is a step away from her Wayfairers universe into a different kind of story – one with a heart that beats so loud it screams, an enduring love letter to the mysteries of science, with an ending that will strike like lightning as a divide between those who loved it and those that didn’t. 

Continue reading “Review: To Be Taught, if Fortunate by Becky Chambers”
LGBTQ, Reviews, Romance

Imperial Stout (Trouble Brewing #1) by Layla Rayne

Imperial Stout is the first book in Layla Reyne’s romantic suspense series Trouble Brewing, which exists as a companion/spin-off series to her previously published Agents Irish and Whiskey series. The book is hot, hot, hot, and the reading equivalent of the summer’s action blockbuster, with way more sex. Steamy, powerful, dynamic sex.

Continue reading “Imperial Stout (Trouble Brewing #1) by Layla Rayne”