Categories
In The Club

In the Club 07/07/21

Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed. If you will, please picture me singing those first dulcet notes of Adele’s Skyfall like a loser because this, indeed, is the end. After just shy of three years bringing you nibbles, sips, and tips for book club, this is my final edition of In the Club.

The good news is that I’m now Book Riot’s Managing Editor (wut wut!)! I’ll still be around doing all the Book Riot things, it’s just time to pass the club torch to someone new. So allow me to introduce our new Associate Editor Erica Ezeifedi! She’ll be taking over this newsletter as of next week. Give her a warm club welcome!

For my final newsletter, I’m hitting you with the club’s greatest hits: random club memories from the last three years that even I have looked back on and went, “how do you have friends?” Then I’ll drop a few club lessons before I bid you adieu.

To the club!!


Nibbles and Sips

Listen, I can’t write my final newsletter and not suggest a toast. Next time you gather for book club, grab some bubbly. Add a little juice for a brunchy mimosa (tangerine has been a recent fave for me), or maybe a little St. Germaine for that sweet, delicate floral flavor. Raise your glass to me—just kidding! Raise your glass to yourselves—to good company, good books, and for just making it through the last couple of years. As for me, I will indeed raise a glass to endings, new beginnings, and the wonderful unifying power of the written word. Salud!

A Look Back at Three Years In the Club

image of two people reading at a wooden table

My Very First Newsletter

First things first — I’m not Jenn! My name is Vanessa and I will be taking over this here newsletter. I’ve been writing for Book Riot for just shy of a year and am super jazzed to be the new bouncer of this club. Get it? Because clubs have bouncers. No? I’m sorry, I’ll stop.

From my very first newsletter back in August 2018

The First of Many Cheesy Song Remixes

This feels like the right time to confess that every time I type the words “in the club,” I most definitely start rapping my very own remix of what was once a college party anthem:

You can find me in the club… of books so there’s no snubs
Look buddy I got the blurbs if you’re into bookish plugs
I’m into reading ARCs from the big and the indie pubs…

What’s that? I’m a loser? Right. Let’s get back to bookish things.

From my second newsletter in April 2018, after which I was shockingly not canned.

P is for Poison

… I really did ask myself, “Would it be weird if I suggested concocting poisons from A is for Arsenic as a book club activity?” I mean, it’s really just chemistry. Yay science! Since I’m really not trying to go down for a mass poisoning though, I do have an alternate suggestion.

From June 2019’s “Please Don’t Get Me Arrested” newsletter

Has Anyone Checked on Andrew Keegan?

…Ah, the film that had all the girls thinking they could drop it low to Biggie’s “Hypnotize” just because Julia Stiles tried it. Shade aside, I love this movie and instantly start singing “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” when I think of it. I invite you to join me in spending a little time with Willy Shakespeare, then with Heath Ledger. Also, when’s the last time anyone checked on Andrew Keegan? Is he okay? Does he have snacks? Is he living comfortably off that Tiger Beat money?

From April 2020, book + adaptation pairings
still frame of Andrew Keegan and Larisa Oleynik from movie 10 Things I Hate About You https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0147800/mediaviewer/rm2609944577/
“Do you know who I am? I have TIGER BEAT money!” – a thing Andrew Keegan probably said

That Poor, Poor Family

…After a fire drill and a miscommunication result in a rescue gone viral, the two embark on a fakelationship with some very steamy sexy time scenes. In case you’ve forgotten, I learned this while audiobooking in my car as Dani went on about her throbbing clitoris right as I pulled up next to a family in a Subaru at a stoplight.

From November 2020’s “pick a mood and I’ll give you a book to read” newsletter. I still think about that Subaru.

That Time I Called a Character Hottie McGuapo

… To prove that he’s a brujo, he performs the sacred coming-of-age ritual wherein brujx come into their powers; with the help of his BFF cousin, he uses his powers to summon the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free. Pero….. the ghost he summons isn’t his cousin. His name is Julian, he refuses to leave, and he’s what I’ve affectingly dubbed a Hottie McGuapo. The book is inspired by lots of different Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) rituals and is full of Spanish much to my heart’s delight. It’s a sweet, funny and romantic read with great conversation potential.

From December 2020, Best Book Club Books of 2020

What the Club Life Taught Me

Finally, I leave you with lessons I’ve learned from writing this newsletter.

  • Book clubs can be big and boisterous or a one-person affair. Whether you’re gathering with a large group or reading independently at a silent book club, it all counts.
  • People want to be heard, or at least know that they could be. One of the most important aspects of book club is to make sure it isn’t just one or two people dominating the conversation. Everyone should feel like they can contribute, or like they could at any given time. Sometimes it takes a minute for some folks to speak up, but they should feel empowered to do so.
  • Life Happens. So you can’t make this month’s meeting, or maybe the whole things gets postponed. Maybe it’s still on but you didn’t finish the book. It’s all fine! Book club should be a thing that adds to your life, not one detracts from it or gives you feelings of guilt. Jump in and out as you see fit, meet irregularly, go to the meeting for discussion even if you haven’t read the book.
  • Book club is a great place to learn. We’re all on different paths on our journey to be our best selves, and while I certainly don’t think books alone are going to save the world, they can be a fruitful start. I’ve suggested a lot of uncomfortable topics in the last three years and I’ve received a ton of great feedback about the discussions these topics have encouraged. I hope you’ll always read for joy, but that you’ll also take the time to read to learn, grow, and challenge the status quo.

Suggestion Section

This Bronx-based book club shows how community can help anyone build wealth at any age.

A review of Oprah’s latest book club pick, The Sweetness of Water

BuzzFeed’s July book club pick asks: what would you do if your best friend was all, “Hey, so, I’m starting a cult!”?


Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at vanessa@riotnewmedia.com with your burning book club questions or find me on Twitter and the gram @buenosdiazsd. Sign up for the Audiobooks newsletter and catch me once a month on the All the Books podcast.

Stay bad & bookish, my friends. 
Vanessa 

Categories
Audiobooks

Audiobooks 07/01/21

Hola Audiophiles! Ok, for reals this time: this is my last Audiobooks newsletter! It’s been such a blast bringing you the deets on the latest and greatest in the audio universe. I thank you for all of your kind words and support of this newsletter, for putting up with my gratuitous body rolls and rolling with my Spanglish. As I take on a new role at Book Riot, I’m sad to say adios but muy excited for what comes next.

On that note, allow me to introduce you to the new Head Audiophile in Charge: Kendra Winchester! Does that name sound familiar? Perhaps you know her as the Executive Producer of Reading Women, a wonderful podcast that features books by or about women, or from Book Riot’s weekly audiobooks feature which she does so well. She is a wealth of audiobooks knowledge and her passion for the format shows. You are in such, such good hands with Kendra. Show her the same love you all showed me, ya hear?

Alright, familia. Let’s audio one last time.


New Releases – Week of June 29

publisher descriptions in quotes

audiobook cover image of This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron

This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron

I have been salivating over this latest work from the author of Cinderella is Dead for months, and I somehow missed that it’s a modern take on The Secret Garden?! When Briseis’ aunt dies and leaves her a rundown mansion in rural New York, Bri and her parents leave Brooklyn behind for the summer and head to the creepy old house for some R&R. Bri hopes to use this time to hone and control her gift: she can grow plants from tiny seeds to full blooms with a single touch. But the sinister old house has other plans involving a very specific set of instructions, an old-school apothecary, and a walled garden filled with super deadly botanicals that only Bri’s family can enter. So we not not only get a magical lineage, tonics and tinctures, and a mysterious queer love interest, but I’m told this book features some of the most supportive parents in contemporary YA fiction. Sold! (YA fiction)

Read by Jordan Cobb (A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown, Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland)

audiobook cover image of Gearbreakers, Book 1 by Zoe Hana Mikuta

Gearbreakers, Book1 by Zoe Hana Mikuta

I’ve been hearing sooo much buzz about this one! Godolia warlords are spreading their tyrannical rule over the Badlands using giant mechanized weapons called Windups. Eris is a gearbreaker who specializes in destroying Windups from the inside, but she lands in a Godolia prison when one of her missions goes awry. That’s where she meets Sona, a Windup pilot and obviously Eris’ mortal enemy, right? Plot twist!! Sona has a secret: she actually infiltrated the Windup program to destroy Godolia from within. As they join forces to take on their deadist mission yet, they grow closer as comrades, as friends, and (body roll!) maybe a lil something more. (YA science fiction)

Read by Catherine Ho (Black Water Sister by Zen Cho), Cindy Kay (These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong)

audiobook cover image of The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

This is a fictionalized version of the very real story about Belle da Costa Greene, J. P. Morgan’s personal librarian. She was hired as a twenty-something to curate a rate collection of manuscripts, art, and books for Morgan’s library, a role in which she excelled. But she kept a secret to herself all the while: she was Black. She wasn’t born Belle da Costa Green but Belle Marion Greener, the daughter of the first Black graduate of Harvard and a well-known advocate for equality. She claimed her dark skin came from her alleged Portuguese heritage when she was really African American. I wonder just how many more stories there are out there of Black Americans who had to pass as white to protect themselves, their families, and their legacy. The answer of course is many, and I hope we see more and more of those stories being told more widely. (historical fiction)

Read by personal favorite Robin Miles (The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin)

audiobook cover image of Survive the Night by Riley Sager

Survive the Night by Riley Sager

Liberty described this one as an over-the-top thriller and a locked room mystery on wheels, so fasten your seatbelts for a Riley Sager special! This one takes place in November 1991 when college student Charlie’s best friend has been murdered by the Campus Killer. To escape the grief and guilt, she decides to go back home to Ohio, opting to share the long drive with a stranger named Josh who she met on a campus message board. It all seems fine at first, but the further they get into the drive, the more she begins to suspect that she might have hitched a ride with a killer.

Read by Savannah Gilmore – I’m not familiar with Gilmore’s work, but samples of other titles sound super crisp, clear, and great for building the tension of a thriller.

Latest Listens

audiobook cover image of Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anaparra

I’m not even close to done with this one, but I have to talk about it because I’m loving it so much (thanks to Jamie for recommending this one over and over again)! This is an adult novel that is mostly told from the point-of-view of children in the slums of India, starting off as a coming-of-age narrative and moving slowly into noir territory. Nine-year-old Jai has watched a ton of police procedural shows, so he feels pretty confident in his crime-solving skills. When a classmate goes missing, he enlists the help of schoolmates Faiz and Pari to find out whether it’s a bad djinn is responsible for the disappearance, or a really bad person.

It starts off as a somewhat of a game, but things take a dark turn when more children go missing. Frustrated by the adults and police’s refusal to take the sudden onslaught of disappearances seriously, Jai, Faiz, and Pari take it upon themselves to get to the bottom of things.

The pacing of this book is excellent, and the narration a wonderful balance: I find adults narrating children to be real bad so much of the time, but Indira Varma, Himesh Patel, and Antonio Aakeel do an excellent job with age-appropriate storytelling that doesn’t border on the super-pitchy and ridiculous.

From the Internets

at Audible: Because we read queer lit all year round: The Best LGBTQIA+ Listens by Queer Authors

at AudioFile: More Mystery Audio Gifts from Golden Voice Narrators

at Libro.fm: 3 Ways to Become a Better Reader with Audiobooks

at The Washington Post: 3 great new audiobooks for your drive, your walk, your laundry folding…

at Forbes: Self-Published Audiobooks Are The Next Great Entrepreneurial Side Hustle

Over at the Riot

Where to Find Free Audiobooks

6 of the Best Appalachian Audiobooks – written by Kendra!


Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at vanessa@riotnewmedia.com with with all things audiobook or find me on Twitter and the gram @buenosdiazsd. Sign up for the In The Club newsletter and catch me once a month on the All the Books podcast.

Stay bad & bookish, my friends.
Vanessa

Categories
In The Club

In the Club 06/30/21

Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed. Two more newsletters to go together, people of the club! Today I’m going to hit you with some of my favorite book club picks of the year so far. The truth is I could have added another 10 titles from the list of books I have read this year, and another 10 from my TBR. But I’m not trying to go out with a 4,000 word newsletter, you know?

To the club!!


Nibbles and Sips, and Sometimes Tips

I came back to Portland just in time to miss the epic heatwave that smashed temperature records in the Pacific Northwest three days in a row. Bruuuuuh 116 degrees? No quiero! I’ve experienced that ish before and have absolutely no desire to do so again. Climate change!!!!

Because super hot temps are popping up all over the place, I thought today I’d share this thread all of helpful tips for staying cool when you don’t have AC. I used to do A LOT of these when I lived in inland San Diego and my brother unknowingly bought a house with no AC. I hope these will come in handy in helping you beat the heat!

Best of the Club, So Far

cover image of Women and Other Monsters: Building a New Mythology by Jess Zimmerman

Women and Other Monsters: Building a New Mythology by Jess Zimmerman

I love this book so much (I know, I know: Vanessa likes a book about mythology. Shocking!). This cultural analysis dedicates one chapter to each of 11 mythological female monsters to illustrate how women have been labeled as monstrous throughout history. She examines the lore surrounding creatures like Scylla, Medusa, and the Sphinx to show how women’s anger, sexuality, and even ugliness have been used to turn us into villains. You’ll find yourself looking at these “monsters” in whole new light.

Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark

What do the words “magical steampunk Egypt,” matcha, floral cocktails, and cheese have in common? Putting any one of those on a string is easy bait to lure me. In alternative Cairo in 1912, djinn and humans exist alongside one another. Special Investigator Fatma el Sha-arawi is the youngest woman working for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments, and Supernatural Entities and she’s just been tasked with investigating the killing of a brotherhood dedicated to a famed Sudanese mystic. That man, known as al-Jahiz, is said to have torn a hole in the veil between the magical and mundane worlds decades ago before disappearing, and the man claiming responsibility for the killings claims to be al-Jahiz returned. Together with her new partner and her mysterious lover, Fatma sets out to solve the case and uncover the truth about this self-professed prophet.

cover image of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw

The collection of nine stories explores “the raw and tender places where Black women and girls dare to follow their desires and pursue a momentary reprieve from being good.” It does it so perfectly, painfully, and poignantly, the kind of read you need to stop and savor. My favorite stories include one about two 40-year-old lifelong friends whose relationship turned sexual years ago; when the narrator drops suggest to her friend that they could be more than occasional lovers, the friend stills dream of life as a “good Christian woman” and recoils in horrified disgust. Another favorite is one about two women who fled their hometown in the South to live freely and safely as a same-sex couple. But one of the women grapples with the concept of home, of belonging, of community, of longing for people and places that made you but may no longer serve you (this passage KILLED ME). The collection is a slim one but packs such a punch. The stories are so vulnerable and revelatory. It almost feels like an invasion of privacy to witness this beautiful if sometimes heart-breaking intimacy, these slices of life that often go unseen.

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine is a biracial, unenrolled tribal member with dreams of studying medicine. She defers enrollment to stay local and care for her mother and grandmother, then witnesses the murder of her best friend. When the killing is followed by a strings of other suspicious deaths, the murders appear to be linked to a new lethal cocktail of meth wreaking havoc on the res. Daunis gets pulled into an undercover investigation into the source of the meth, one that brings her into close contact with a new boy in town who might be hiding something about himself. She also pursues her own secret investigation, using her knowledge of chemistry and Ojibwe traditional medicine to uncover buried secrets in her community. 

cover image of The Bombay Prince by Sujata Massey

The Bombay Prince by Sujata Massey

All of the books in the Perveen Mistry series are fun, smart historical mysteries with a feminist message, but this one also has something to say about colonial rule. In 1920s Bombay, Perveen Mistry is India’s first female lawyer. The Bombay Prince opens in November 1921 as the Prince of Wales is getting ready to come to India on a four month tour. There’s major unrest in India and a lot of tension surrounding the visit; people are getting tired of British rule and they’re pushing back against it. When a young Parsi student falls from a second story window just as the Prince Edward’s grand procession is passing by her college, the death rattles Perveen. That very young woman had come to her for a legal consultation just days before her death, asked about the legality of skipping classes on the day Edward would be visiting Bombay. Plagued with guilt and a sneaking suspicion that this death wasn’t accidental, Perveen promises to get justice for the woman. Can Perveen help a suffering family when her own is in danger, and in the middle of so much turmoil?

Suggestion Section

Good Morning America announces its July Book Club

This Bushwick-based book club writes original songs for every book they read. This is amazing, and also feels like a challenge…. *begins scheming in Spanish*


Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at vanessa@riotnewmedia.com with your burning book club questions or find me on Twitter and the gram @buenosdiazsd. Sign up for the Audiobooks newsletter and catch me once a month on the All the Books podcast.

Stay bad & bookish, my friends. 
Vanessa 

Categories
Audiobooks

Audiobooks 06/24/21

Hola Audiophiles! So guess what: I’m a big ol’ liar. Well, not so much a liar as a person who can’t correctly read a calendar. This is my second-to-last Audiobooks newsletter, not the last like I accidentally told you it was. That’s good news though, right? Let’s get right to it!

Ready? Let’s audio.


New Releases – Week of June 22

publisher descriptions in quotes

audiobook cover image of What a Happy Family by Saumya Dave

What a Happy Family by Saumya Dave

The Joshis are outwardly an immigrant success story and the quintessential Indian American family. Bina is a pillar in her community, Deepak a successful psychiatrist. Their eldest daughter is following in the footsteps of her father’s career; their middle daughter is getting engaged to a longtime family friend; and their youngest son is a blessing—because all sons are! Then a family scandal cracks the veneer of perfection surrounding the Joshis; friendships unravel, a marriage is shaken, and rejections lead to overwhelming self doubt. In the midst of public humiliation, the Joshis learns that sometimes families fall apart only to come back stronger than before. (fiction)

Read by Soneela Nankani (Recipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev, The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey)

audiobook cover image of Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon

Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon

Six beloved, best-selling, critically acclaimed authors come together in this beautiful celebration of Black teen love. Set during a New York City summer when a heatwave blankets the city in darkness, the collection is comprised of interlinked stories that are as hilarious as they are heartwarming, a testament to the light of love and the power of Black joy. (young adult, romance)

Read by an ALL STAR TEAM, are you ready for this!? Joniece Abbott-Pratt, Dion Graham, Imani Parks, Jordan Cobb, Shayna Small, A.J. Beckles, Bahni Turpin. What a lineup!

cover image of Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

My Contrary Mary by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

This is the first book in the next installment of the historical Lady Janies series. While the first three books focused on Lady Jane Grey, the Mary books now set their sights on one of my favorite historical figures, Mary Queen of Scots. In Renaissance France, Mary is Queen of Scotland and the jewel of the French court. But also: she’s sometimes a mouse. You read that right: a mouse. When the French king meets a suspicious end, Mary and her betrothed Frances are forced on the throne. Mary will need to keep her shapeshifting identity a secret, otherwise heads might just start to roll. (young adult, historical fiction)

Read by Fiona Hardingham (Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall, An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir)

audiobook cover image of Yoke: My Yoga of Self-Acceptance by Jessamyn Stanley

Yoke: My Yoga of Self-Acceptance by Jessamyn Stanley

Jessamyn Stanley is a proudly fat, Black, queer yoga teacher whose first book Every Body Yoga got me to see a place for myself in yoga. While that book focused on the how, Yoke is about the why. “This yoga of the everyday is about finding within life’s toughest moments the same flexibility, strength, grounding energy, and core awareness found in a headstand or Tadasana or cobra pose.” Jessamyn is very real, very funny, and very no-f*cks-given on social media; I have no doubt these very personal essays on self-love, body positivity, race, sexuality, cannabis, and more will follow suit. (nonfiction, spirituality)

Read by the author

cover image of All the Water I've Seen Is Running by Elias Rodriques

All the Water I’ve Seen Is Running by Elias Rodriques

Aubrey, a self-identified “Southern cracker”, and Daniel, the mixed-race son of Jamaican immigrants, were high school classmates and friends in a North Florida town. Years after they’ve lost contact, Daniel is living in New York when he hears of Aubrey’s death. Now comfortable in his queerness, he’s left to confront his love for Aubrey. He begins a frantic search that takes him back to the place of his upbringing, tinged by racism and poverty, to find out not only what happened to Aubrey, but to find meaning in her death. (fiction, LGBTQ)

Read by Landon Woodson (Light It Up by Kekla Magoon, That Way Madness Lies by Dahlia Adler)

Latest Listens

audiobook cover image of The Road Trip by Beth O'Leary

The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary

This book, I heart it so. I haven’t read Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare, but I was obsessed with The Switch last year. This next rom-com was exactly what I needed, though a little more hard-hitting than I expected it to be. Lemme give you the deets.

Addie and Dylan spent a summer falling in love under the Provence sun. Addie was a wild child working at her friend Cherry’s glamorous villa as a caretaker for the summer. Dylan was a wealthy Oxford student vacationing at that very villa, a trip he elected to make on his own when his family bailed after a big dramatic fight. From the moment Addie and Dylan locked eyes for the first time, it was game over. Twas a wild, romantic, sexy, and sun-drenched affair.

Years later, that bliss is entirely a thing of the past when the now former couple’s lives collide most comically: on their way to their friend Cherry’s wedding (you know, the one with the villa), Addie and her sister Deb are involved in a crash. Addie looks in the rear view mirror to get a look at the car behind her, and wouldn’t ya know: it’s Dylan in the driver’s seat. With one car wrecked and time a’ticking, Addie and Deb (very) begrudgingly agree to drive Dylan and his best friend Marcus to the rural Scotland wedding. Things so super smoothly and there’s absolutely no drama or awkwardness.

Obviously, I’m kidding. It’s a hot damn mess! There’s clearly all kinds of unresolved stuff between Addie and Dylan, details of which are revealed in alternating perspectives and in flashbacks to happier (then unhappier) times. It’s got some heavy stuff (trigger warnings to follow) and there’s some good commentary on the immense value of therapy. I won’t lie, I spent a LOT of time despising the Marcus character, and I think this would make a great book club read for the discussion of “what’s the difference between loyalty and just hanging onto a toxic friendship” thing, a topic with a lot of grey area when you take into account the “hurt people hurt people” thing, and that most of us don’t want to be defined by the actions of our youth. The book is also absolutely hilarious, even a little slapstick at times in an unexpected but delightful way. The side characters here add a lovely touch and I laughed out loud more than a few times.

The narration felt spot on for Addie and Dylan specifically, from the tender moments to the sensual ones and the raw expressions of hurt and betrayal. This was much heavier than I expected, but also that much more delightful when the HEA came around. It felt earned and not thrown together just for the sake of the HEA. (romance, rom-com)

(tw: sexual assault, non-graphic) 

Read by Eleanor Tomlinson (One Day in December by Josie Silver) and Josh Dylan (Saturdays at Noon by Rachel Marks)

From the Internets

at Slate: The audiobook industry is collectively squirming through the cultural debate on representation and casting (honestly, it’s about time)

at Audible: 10 “Finfluencers” You Should Know – I’m reading the book by Tiffany Aliche right now (Get Good With Money) and it is so accessible and great.

at Libro.fm: Quiz: Your Next Audiobook for Pride Month and Queer-Owned Bookstores to Support – which we of course do all year!

at AudioFile: In Conversation with Golden Voice Narrator Soneela Nankani

Over at the Riot

6 Epic Listens for Your Summer Reading List


Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at vanessa@riotnewmedia.com with with all things audiobook or find me on Twitter and the gram @buenosdiazsd. Sign up for the In The Club newsletter and catch me once a month on the All the Books podcast.

Stay bad & bookish, my friends.
Vanessa

Categories
In The Club

In the Club 06/23/21

Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed.I have some news for you, people of the club: the July 7th edition of In the Club will be my final one! It’s been almost three years since I made my club debut and it’s been a blast getting to spend time in your inbox weekly. Fret not, I’m not leaving Book Riot so I’ll still be around. More info for you soon as to your new Club host; for now, let’s enjoy the time we have together.

To the club!!


Nibbles and Sips

As the weather gets warmer, I start to look for meals that involve as little time near an oven or sweating over a hot stove as I can. The instant pot comes in clutch here, but sometimes all I want is a no-cook or low-cook salad.

Thing is, I very often find lettuce so boring! While I do love a tender butter lettuce, or even romaine in a delicious Cobb, I’m always looking for lettuce-less salads that are hearty, filling, and bursting with flavor. I add chicken to this salad my family used to make a lot when I was a kid and I’m obsessed! Bust this one out at book club meetings—plus this strawberry cucumber margarita I’m throwing in as a bonus—when you need to beat the heat.

Avocado Cucumber Salad: combine all of the ingredients below in a large bowl. The olive oil and seasoning should be to your taste. If you can, def add that bouillon powder, but go easy on it! It adds a nice salty bite, but a little goes a very long way.

  • 1 large cucumber, 1-2 Roma tomatoes, and 1-2 avocados, all diced (I like a decent sized chunk)
  • Half of a red onion, thinly sliced
  • Juice of 1-2 lemons depending on how citrusy you like things. Me? I have no respect for my tooth enamel.
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Seasonings: salt, lemon pepper (yes, lemon pepper specifically), chicken bouillon powder
  • Parsley or spinach, finely chopped (I sneak spinach into my food this way for some extra nutrition)

Ouch, My Brain

I was going to call this week’s theme “What the F*ck” Books, and that still holds! I recently read the first book in this week’s roundup and it made my brain hurt a little in a wonderful way. That got me thinking about some of the other books that have made me go, “Huh.” Put your thinking caps on, friends.

cover image of Slipping by by Mohamed Kheir, translated by Robin Moger

Slipping by Mohamed Kheir, translated by Robin Moger

The story takes place in Cairo and nearby Egyptian towns during the Arab Spring. Struggling journalist and magazine writer Seif is grief-stricken after his girlfriend, Alya is killed during a protest. He been assigned to accompany a former exile on excursions to unfamiliar places, a man who possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of Egypt’s obscure, magical places. Together they embark on a very surreal journey to see the elusive corners of the world the Arab Spring left behind: a place where giant corpse flowers fall from the sky, another where it’s said you can walk on the water of the Nile. The further they go and the more stories Bahr tells, the more reality starts to blur for Seif as memories of past trauma begin to surface.

Book Club Bonus: The very structure of the book is a huge discussion point; Bahr’s anecdotes are woven into the story in alternating chapters, which if you don’t know right away may leave you hella confused. But keep going: you’ll see how the stories are linked as you get further in. Discuss, also, the lasting effects of trauma and how it alters our perceptions of reality.

cover image of The Third Hotel by Laura van den Berg

The Third Hotel by Lara van den Berg

A woman travels to Havana, Cuba to attend a Latin film festival, one her husband, a horror scholar, was supposed to attend. Then she sees him standing outside a museum in a white linen suit she’s never seen before, but that can’t be–because he’s super dead. She trails him throughout the crowded city, always seemingly a few steps behind him, as the line between delusion and reality is distorted further and further. Through flashbacks to her childhood in Florida and moments in her marriage, the truth of her role in her husband’s death and reappearance is revealed. I recommended this book a lot as a bookseller, and my shelf talker for the title just said, “What the f*ck did I just read?”

Book Club Bonus: Book Riot Editor Kelly Jensen is always telling readers that horror is not a genre, but a feeling. This is the kind of book that makes that statement make sense for me. There’s no gore or ghosts or big giant scares of the kind many might associate with horror, but there’s a sense of dread and unease that just sort of looms on the page from beginning to end. The fog of grief is almost a character all on its own. Discuss!

cover image of The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander

The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander

This alternate history novelette was recommended to me back in my bookseller days by a customer. I looked it up and saw it described as Radium Girls but with sentient elephants and I thought, “Sure, let’s do this!” In the early 1900s, a group of female factory workers in Newark, New Jersey slowly died of radiation poisoning. Around that same time, Topsy the elephant was deliberately put to death by electricity in Coney Island. Both of these things are true. In the book, elephants have inherited the earth and a mama elephant is telling her calf a lil story. How did we get here? You’ll have to read to find out.

Book Club Bonus: There’s a ton of symbolism in the use of an elephant as a narrator, an animal knows for its memory. Can we ever really forget the wrongs that have been done to us, especially if those wrongs weren’t mere slights but an attempt to eradicate? There’s also a lot of commentary here on our need to reckon with the long term effects of nuclear waste.

Suggestion Section

at The Washington Post: KidsPost Summer Book Club: ‘Clues to the Universe’

BuzzFeed announces their July book club pick (how is July around the corner already?!!)

This brief announcement about a Martha’s Vineyard book club got me thinking: why don’t I see more walk & talk book clubs!? We so often think of book club as “gather round and sit in a circle” situation with possible food & drink, but taking book club for a stroll seems like an excellent idea!

Publishers Weekly shares a list of book club picks for June


Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at vanessa@riotnewmedia.com with your burning book club questions or find me on Twitter and the gram @buenosdiazsd. Sign up for the Audiobooks newsletter and catch me once a month on the All the Books podcast.

Stay bad & bookish, my friends. 
Vanessa 

Categories
Audiobooks

Audiobooks 06/17/21

Hola Audiophiles! I’m coming to you once again from (very) sunny Southern California and my two-week visit to San Diego. You already know what it is: tacos, babies, aggressive sunblock application, more tacos.

I don’t have a Latest Listen for you this week because WOW have I been busy, but I do have some news! Let’s get to the new releases first and then I’ll spill the chisme.

Ready? Let’s audio.


New Releases – Week of June 15

publisher descriptions in quotes

cover image of The Hellion's Waltz by Olivia Waite

The Hellion’s Waltz by Olivia Waite

Awww yeah, the conclusion to Olivia Waite’s Feminine Pursuits series is here! After losing their piano shop to a con man in London, Sophie and her family move to a new town to start anew. Sophie meets stunning beauty Madeline Crewe and immediately suspects the silk-weaver of being up to no good—no one’s that good looking without having something to hide, surely! As for Maddie, she just needs oooone more big score to finally fund the weaver’s union. The last thing she needs is a nosy piano teacher poking around in other peoples business. Only one thing left to do: seduce her into the cause. Is it time for a body roll? I think it’s time for a body roll. (romance)

Read by Morag Sims (Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price, The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley)

Phantompains by Therese Estacion

Phantompains by Therese Estacion

Familia, I have been a big ol’ slacking slacker who slacks about including poetry audiobooks this year! This one was brought to my attention and I just couldn’t look away. Author Therese Estacion survived a rare infection that almost killed her, but not without losing both her legs below the knees, several fingers, and her reproductive organs. With elements of Filipino horror and folk tales, Estacion pulls from stories of ogres, mermen, and gnomes straight from Filipino children’s nightmares and weaves them in with imaginings from the hospital room where she spent months in recovery. This promises to be a unique work of poetry and an immersive, if haunting, listening experience. (poetry)

Read by the author

audiobook cover image of The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

The follow up to The Silent Patient sorta feels like if The Secret History were a psychological thriller set in Cambridge instead of New England, but with less outright elitism and really scary rich people (this is a gross oversimplification, just trying to communicate some of the vibes and themes). Mariana is a troubled therapist grieving the loss of her husband. Her niece is a student at Cambridge, where Mariana once studied herself, and she’s bereft when her friend’s dead body is found. That friend was a member of a secret society known as The Maidens, a group of young female students who fawn over Greek tragedy professor Edward Fosca in most icky fashion. When other members of The Maidens start turning up dead, Mariana knows it’s the untouchable Fosca who’s done it. She’ll stop at nothing to prove it, and doing so will mean confronting some buried memories and unprocessed trauma. (mystery/thriller)

Read by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell) and Louise Brealey (The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson)

audiobook cover image of Bath Haus by P.J. Vernon

Bath Haus by P.J. Vernon

Yeah, I’m including a second thriller because LAWD this sound like a ride! Oliver is a recovering addict who finally has everything he wanted: sobriety and stability, including his wealthy trauma surgeon partner Nathan. He knows he has no business going to a gay bath house, and even less business following a complete stranger into a private room therein. Just like that, a line is crossed, one Nathan can never ever know about. But then! Things go horribly wrong and Oliver barely escapes with his life. It’s bad, it’s very bad, and what to tell Nathan? That’s when Oliver falls back on old habits: he lies. Just in reading the description, I was saying aloud, “Nooooooo don’t do iiiiiitttt!” This sounds so thrilling and twisty. (thriller)

Read by Michael Crouch (They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera) and Daniel Henning (The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune)

cover image of Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury

Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury

Can we talk about that gorgeous cover? The power! Voya has long awaited her Calling, the trial all witches must go through before they come into their powers. Then the unthinkable happens—she fails. When an ancestor offers Voya an unprecedented second chance at the Calling, the price for redemption is steep: it will mean sacrificing her first love—who she’ll have to find and fall for first—and her entire family will lose their magic if she fails once again. This is also the first in a series, can’t wait to dive in. (YA fantasy)

Read by Joniece Abbott-Pratt (Legendborn by Tracy Deonn, The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris)

Siri, Play “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men

Gather round, audiophiles, I have something to tell you. Next week will be my final Audiobooks newsletter! I’ve so enjoyed getting to rant and rave about all things audio with you lovely people for I think a little over two years now. I’m not leaving Book Riot, just embracing growth and taking on new projects. I’ll still be around, still audiobooking, still injecting Spanglish into bookish conversations.

I can’t wait to tell you who’s taking over, more on that next week. You’re in good hands, rest assured, with this fresh voice and perspective! For now, keep on listening, and thank you for an awesome two years. It’s been swell.

From the Internets

at Audible: Casey McQuiston’s Secret Sauce in Her Unbearably Lovable Queer Rom-Coms

at AudioFile: Audiobooks on Perseverance and Renewal

hands holding a mobile phone displaying the audiobook cover image of On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed

Juneteenth is a couple of days away! To honor this historic day, Libro.fm is working with 23 Black-owned partner bookstores to give away audiobook copies of On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed, narrated by Karen Chilton (Recorded Books, Inc.). These Black-owned partner bookstores will distribute more than 1,500 copies of the audiobook to their customers! Head to https://libro.fm/juneteenth for to explore Black-owned bookstores’ Juneteenth recommendations, browse audiobooks by African-American authors, find Black narrators to listen to, and more!

Over at the Riot

On Learning to Embrace Audiobooks as a Reader

6 of the Best Fantasy Books to Listen To Again and Again

5 Grammy Award-Winning Audiobooks to Listen To

What Rioters Like to Do While Listening to Audiobooks


Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at vanessa@riotnewmedia.com with with all things audiobook or find me on Twitter and the gram @buenosdiazsd. Sign up for the In The Club newsletter and catch me once a month on the All the Books podcast.

Stay bad & bookish, my friends.
Vanessa

Categories
In The Club

In the Club 06/16/21

Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed. I’m so excited because I’m headed down to San Diego for a couple of weeks to see my family, and you know what that means: snuggles with my nephew and niece! Translation: I am going to get kicked in the face by a toddler who loves to wrestle and feel my arms go numb from holding a little chonk of an almost-three-month-old. Oh, and tacos. TODOS LOS TACOS. It’s also going to be 90 degrees so…. let me just start applying the sunscreen now.

To the club!!


Nibbles and Sips

You all know I’m the most basic when it comes to my love of brunch, and I own that basic status because brunch is awesome. I’ve been making these cheesy eggs recently (I’ve seen them referred to as “keto friendly breakfast tacos” but I couldn’t care less about the keto part). In a small nonstick saucepan over medium-low heat, add a layer of cheese (I fill the whole saucepan, so I have a circle of cheese) and then crack one or two eggs on top of that. Place a lid on the saucepan and let the eggs cook to your desired consistency–I like a runny yolk, but you could flip and cook on the other side for a bit if you want the eggs hard over. Season with a tiny bit of salt and other spices of your choice, then slide that whole concoction onto a plate. I top mine with crushed red pepper flakes, some sliced avocado, and a little bit of Cholula or fresh green salsa, then fold it up and eat it like a taco. The bottom layer should be crisp, golden, just-shy-of-burnt cheese cooked just to your liking. So easy, so cheesy, so delish.

In Celebration of Juneteenth

Juneteenth, a portmanteau of “June” and “nineteenth,” marks the day in 1865 when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to take control of the state and declare the abolition of slavery. Sadly, I’ve found that A TON of white folks and non-Black POCs still don’t know about about Juneteenth and its historical significance (I didn’t learn about it until after college, yikes). Since June 19th is right around the corner, I thought I’d suggest reads that dive into the history of Juneteenth and the legacy of slavery.

A note on my picks: this time last year, copies of titles like How to be an Anti Racist and White Fragility topped all the anti-racist reading lists and flew off the shelves. Part of me wanted to see those sales as hope for the future, but another part of me feared those purchases were just displays of performative allyship. Perhaps the truth is somewhere in the middle. I say all that to say that those books are certainly worth reading in one’s anti-racist journey. Here though, I’ve tried to select ones that really dive into the history of slavery and its aftermath, ones I didn’t see making the rounds with as much frequency and/or ones that are newer.

My Book Club Bonus is the same for all three of these titles. A hard lesson 2020 taught me is that I didn’t have enough knowledge in my toolkit for combatting that good ol’ “slavery was forever ago, why can’t you just get over it” refrain and all its hateful variants. I knew that slavery shaped this country and does till this day, I knew that systemic racism wasn’t (and isn’t) an accident. But I made a goal for myself to be able to cite examples of these truths with more specificity (events, policies, laws, trends, etc). So as you read these books, make note of some of these specifics for yourself and draw connections to the racial disparity we still see today.

cover image of Stony the Road by Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates Jr.

The title of this book is a reference to “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” a song still widely known as the “Negro national anthem.” It is a living history of the Reconstruction era, the period between the abolition of slavery at the end of the Civil War and the rise of Jim Crow. This isn’t your average history, though; Gates dissects and catalogues the visual culture of the era—postcards, photographs, newspaper cartoons, political broadsides, theater posters, playing cards, children’s books, and more—to paint a vivid portrait of white supremacy and its virulent backlash to the end of slavery.

cover image of How the World is Passed by Clint Smith

How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith

I am a huge, huge fan of writer and poet Clint Smith’s wonderful work in The Atlantic. This is his debut work of nonfiction, a “deeply researched and transporting exploration of the legacy of slavery and its imprint on centuries of American history.” He starts with his hometown of New Orleans and takes readers on a tour of moments and landmarks that tell an intergenerational story of how slavery was central in shaping this nation from the ground up. Yeah, slavery ended in theory; but it was’t that long ago at all and other racist policies have just replaced it to disenfranchise Black Americans at every turn.

cover image of On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed

On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed

Pulitzer Prize–winning historian and Texas native Annette Gordon-Reed combines American history, family chronicles, and memoir to create a a historian’s view of the long road to Juneteenth, from its origins in Texas and the enormous hardships that African Americans have endured (and continue to endure) in the aftermath. Gordon-Reed, who is herself the descendant of enslaved people brought to Texas as early as the 1820s, “shows how, from the earliest presence of Black people in Texas to the day in Galveston on June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger announced the end of legalized slavery in the state, African-Americans played an integral role in the Texas story.”

Suggestion Section

Oprah selects Emancipation-era novel The Sweetness of Water as her next book club pick

from the L.A. Times book Club Newsletter: How an ER doctor found her purpose

over at Book Riot: take book club on an armchair travel expedition to the Emerald Isle and brush up on its classics – lots of book club discussion in these titles!

This piece isn’t about a specific book, but has excellent potential for discussion in any book club, especially if not everyone enjoyed the read: Books Don’t Have to Explain Themselves To You


Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at vanessa@riotnewmedia.com with your burning book club questions or find me on Twitter and the gram @buenosdiazsd. Sign up for the Audiobooks newsletter and catch me once a month on the All the Books podcast.

Stay bad & bookish, my friends. 
Vanessa 

Categories
Audiobooks

Audiobooks 061021

Hola Audiophiles! I’m one week away from good tortillas, mom’s cooking, and smothering my niece and nephew with kisses, aka a week away from a visit to San Diego. Have I mentioned how thankful I am for Moderna? I can’t wait!

This was my week on All the Books, so catch me over there for some of my faves from this and last week’s new releases. Some of the titles below were discussed on the show and others are fresh additions. So many good books, and it’s supposed to be the slow season!

Ready? Let’s audio.

New Releases – Week of June 8, 2021

publisher descriptions in quotes

cover image of Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch by Rivka Galchen

Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch by Rivka Galchen

You may hear “witch trials” and think exclusively of Salem, but thousands upon thousands of women died as a result of witch hunts all over Europe, too. This historical novel begins in the German duchy of Württemberg in 1618 right as the plague is spreading and The Thirty Years War has begun. When illiterate widow Katharina is accused of being a witch by a deranged woman in their small town, Katharina’s scientist son must use his talents to defend his mother against the hysteria. Facing financial ruin, torture, and possible execution, Katharina tells her side of the story to her neighbor and friend Simon, a reclusive widower with dangerous secrets of his own. (historical fiction)

Read by Natasha Soudek (The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson, The Regional Office Is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzales)

cover image of The Marvelous by Claire Kann

The Marvelous by Claire Kann

Socialite Jewel Van Hanen is known for her super popular video-sharing app, Golden Rule. After a mysterious year-long hiatus from the app, she surprises everyone again when she comes back with a big announcement: she’s inviting six Golden Rule users on an all-expenses-paid getaway at her private estate and calling it the Golden Weekend. When the invitees get to Jewel’s estate, she hits them with another announcement. They’re going to play a game she’s calling The Cruelest Jewel, an elaborate escape-room style situation wherein the players must complete a series of tasks for a chance at being one of two winners of $500,000. Let the games begin! (contemporary YA)

Read by Joniece Abbott-Pratt (The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris, Legendborn by Tracy Deonn, Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko)

cover image of The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri

The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri

Malini is a princess held captive in a decaying temple by her despotic, woman-hating brother. Priya is a maidservant and survivor of a temple massacre whose hiding a secret about her true nature. When Malini witnesses the terrifying magic that Priya possesses, she sees not only a woman she could love, but way to overthrow her brother. (fantasy)

Read by Shiromi Arserio (Thorn by Intisar Khanani, Unnatural Magic by C.M. Waggoner)

The Ugly Cry by Danielle Henderson

The Ugly Cry by Danielle Henderson

Danielle Henderson’s childhood was unconventional. At age 10, she was abandoned by a mom who chose her abusive, drug-addict boyfriend over her daughter, leaving Danielle to be raised by grandparents who thought their child-rearing days were far behind them. She grew up Back, weird, and uncool in a predominantly white neighborhood in upstate New York, the perfect storm of factors for an identity crisis. “Under the eye-rolling, foul-mouthed, loving tutelage of her uncompromising grandmother – and the horror movies she obsessively watched – Danielle grew into a tall, awkward, Sassy-loving teenager who wore black eyeliner as lipstick and was struggling with the aftermath of her mother’s choices.” But her grandmother also instilled in her a faith in her abilities, one she’d draw from to go on and save herself. (memoir)

Read by the author

cover image of Hola Papi: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons by John Paul Brammer

Hola Papi: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons by John Paul Brammer

“What if Dear Abby was a Mexican man on Grindr?” This was the question that made me snort-laugh during a recent episode of Keep It! The podcast hosts interviewed author JP Brammer, the self-described “Chicano Carrie Bradshaw” of his generation. The first time someone called him “Papi” was on the popular gay hookup app Grindr. It was maaaaybe fine at first, but it kept happening over and over and over again (and as a Latina who’s been called Mami by non-Latinx men more times than I can count, I am triggered!). The radicalized moniker and all the messiness around it became the inspiration for his wildly popular advice column, named… you guessed it, Hola Papi! This book sounds like a hilarious and moving story about JP’s experience growing up biracial and closeted in America’s heartland.

Read by the author

Latest Listens

cover image of Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

I was feeling super impatient the other day as I waited for my Libby holds to come in and started looking up available audiobooks like I sometimes do. This one from my TBR popped up and it was the perfect twisty weekend listen.

At the start of the book, Jules is living at a resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico when a strange interaction with a fellow guest leaves her rattled. That’s when we learn that Jules is in hiding, and now it seems she’s been found and must go on the run again. The book then progresses backwards with each chapter, revealing bits of her tragic childhood and eventual friendship with the rich and glamorous Imogen, who by the way has mysteriously gone missing. The further back the story goes, the more clear it becomes that we don’t really know anything about Jules or Imogen at all.

I “figured it out” pretty quickly, if that’s even the best way to describe this mystery, one of those thrilling reads that’s less about a whodunnit and more about the why. You’ll be confused for a good part of the book, but not in a bad way. Every chapter is a new revelation and a whole new batch of what-the-f*ckery. The narration by Rebecca Soler (Caraval by Stephanie Garber, The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert) was taught and tense, never giving more away than was called for in the moment. I listened this one on a hike and found my pace quickening during the especially tense parts. So fun!

If you’re looking for a mystery with a less traditional structure, complex characters, and explorations of women’s relationships and ambition, this one’s for you.

From the Internets

at Audible: Tarana Burke and Brené Brown Created ‘You Are Your Best Thing’ as a Soft Place for Black People to Land

at AudioFile: 10 Romance Listens from Golden Voice Narrator Soneela Nankani

at Libro.fm: Black Narrators You Should Be Listening To

Over at the Riot

6 More of the Best Audiobooks by Women for Caribbean Heritage Month


Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at vanessa@riotnewmedia.com with with all things audiobook or find me on Twitter and the gram @buenosdiazsd. Sign up for the In The Club newsletter and catch me once a month on the All the Books podcast.

Stay bad & bookish, my friends.
Vanessa

Categories
In The Club

In the Club 6/9/21

Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed. The rain came back to Portland, but a little moisture won’t bring me down! I’m making actual plans to do fun things this summer—keeping things safe, wearing a mask etc—but hot damn, it feels so good to have stuff to look forward to. Thanks, Moderna!

So listen. I’m going to go look up kayaking equipment. You go and and read about some club-tastic books.

To the club!!


Nibbles and Sips

Am I plugging a Half Baked Harvest recipe for the umpteenth time? Yes I am, but hear me out. I had serious reservations when my friend said she was bringing a “breakfast salad” to the brunch potluck this weekend, but those worries were quickly put to bed from my very first bite into these dreamy Turkish eggs: wilted greens, avocado, and whipped feta crowned with a fried egg. The runny yoke adds a silky richness while the bright dressing and peppery bite of the greens balance out the salty cloud of feta. It’s just divine, I tell you. Divine! Book club must do brunch, and when you do, make this dish.

Happy Pride!

It’s the second week of Pride and a wonderful time to bring some queer reads into book club. Of course, we do that year round: but here are three to pick up in celebration!

Cover for The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

Jordan Baker is as set up to win as can be in 1920s America: she has money, education, social clout, even a mean golf handicap. She’s also a queer Vietnamese adoptee who gets treated like an exotic pet by her peers and finds many doors aren’t open to her. Her world isn’t just money and parties though; it’s also full of ghosts, infernal pacts and dazzling illusions. This Gatsby reimagining is full of magic, mystery, and glittering excess—feels perfect not only for Pride, but for delicious summer reading.

cover image of All My Mother's Lovers by Ilana Masad

All My Mother’s Lovers by Ilana Masad

A queer 20-something returns to her hometown after her homophobic mother dies in a tragic car accident. When she finds five letters to five men in her mother’s will—none of whom is her father—she skips the shiva and goes on a mission to deliver each letter in person. On a road trip that takes her over miles of California highways, she discovers how little she really knew about her mother’s life. She’s also forced to confront her own fears as she navigates a new relationship.

cover of with teeth by kristen arnett

With Teeth by Kristin Arnett

Sammie Lucas works from home in the close quarters of the Florida house she shares with her absent wife Monika where she keeps one eye on her son Samson at all times. He’s a sullen unknowable boy who grows from feral toddler to surly teenager, resisting Sammie’s every attempt at bonding. When Samson’s behavior goes from quiet hostility to physical aggression, their picture-perfect queer family begins to unravel. Sammie is forced to confront her role in the mess—and the chance it’ll never be clean again.

Bonus: I can’t mention Kristin Arnett and not remind everyone her first book Mostly Dead Things. Keywords: queerness, grief, lewd taxidermy.

Suggestion Section

The Book Club of My Dreams Was at the Library All Along (seriously, libraries rock)

Okay, so: the “porch pirate snatches books” part of the headline made me cackle. But the part where books intended for a prison book club were stolen off someone’s porch is terrible. The program relies on donations; if you can, consider dropping a few bucks here.


Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at vanessa@riotnewmedia.com with your burning book club questions or find me on Twitter and the gram @buenosdiazsd. Sign up for the Audiobooks newsletter and catch me once a month on the All the Books podcast.

Stay bad & bookish, my friends. 
Vanessa 

Categories
Audiobooks

Audiobooks 6/3/21

Hola Audiophiles, and happy Pride month! I’m kicking off the celebration by finally reading Casey McQuiston’s latest which just came out this week. Tell me, what books are you reading this month? While you get your answers ready, let’s talk about new books and the fantastic collection of short stories I just devoured.

Ready? Let’s audio.


New Releases – Week of June 1st

publisher descriptions in quotes

audiobook cover image of One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

Cynical 23-year-old August has just moved to New York City with a very firm “magical love stories don’t exist” mentality. Then she meets a dazzling, edgy, and mysterious woman named Jane on the train and BOOM, instant crush. Jane soon becomes the best part of August’s day, until she discovers a pretty big problem: Jane doesn’t just look and dress like an old school punk rocker: she literally IS from the 70s. August will have to use everything she tried to leave in her own past to help June get back where she belongs. (romance)

Read by Natalie Naudus (The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo, a new queer retelling of Gatsby!)

audiobook cover image of The Road Trip by Beth O'Leary

The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary

Four years ago, Addie and Dylan fell in love under the Provence sun. He was a wealthy Oxford student vacationing at their friend Cherry’s gorgeous villa and she a wild-child working there as a caretaker for the summer. They were a perfect match…until they weren’t. Now their lives have collided most comically: on their way to Cherry’s wedding, Dylan and Addie’s cars are involved in a crash. With one car wrecked and time a’ticking, Addie and her sister Deb find themselves begrudgingly agree to drive Dylan and his best friend Marcus to the rural Scotland wedding. Things so super smoothly, right? Wrong. Hilarious! But so, so wrong. (romance, rom-com)

(tw: sexual assault, non-graphic)

Read by Eleanor Tomlinson (One Day in December by Josie Silver) and Josh Dylan (Saturdays at Noon by Rachel Marks)

audiobook cover image of Somebody's Daughter by Ashley C. Ford

Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford

Ashley C. Ford is an American writer, podcaster and educator and this is her much-anticipated memoir. “Through poverty, adolescence, and a fraught relationship with her mother, Ashley Ford wishes she could turn to her father for hope and encouragement. There are just a few problems: he’s in prison, and she doesn’t know what he did to end up there.” Ford shares her deeply personal story with readers, exposing how isolating a childhood growing up a poor with a family fragmented by incarceration can be. This promises to be an impactful, if heartbreaking, read. (memoir)

This audiobook is read by the author and includes a bonus conversation with Clint Smith—who also has a new book out this week!

audiobook cover image of Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

It’s August 1983 in Malibu. The four Rivas siblings are the offspring of legendary singer Mick Riva. There’s Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer and the other a famed photographer; and their baby sister, Kit. Together the siblings command a Kardashian-esque fascination the world over. Nina is getting ready to throw her annual end-of-summer party; but over the course of 24 hours, all of their lives will change forever. (historical fiction)

Read by Julia Whelan (People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid)

audiobook cover image of How the World is Passed by Clint Smith

How the World is Passed by Clint Smith

Many of you may know writer and poet Clint Smith’s wonderful work from The Atlantic. This is his debut work of nonfiction, a “deeply researched and transporting exploration of the legacy of slavery and its imprint on centuries of American history.” He starts with his hometown of New Orleans and takes readers on a tour of moments and landmarks that tell an intergenerational story of how slavery has been central in shaping this nation. I am going to take my time with this one. (history)

Read by the author

audiobook cover image of Dead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia

Dead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia

This debut is the first in a new historical mystery series set during the Harlem Renaissance, so I’m already sold. Louise is a young Black woman who works at a café by day and at Harlem’s hottest speakeasy by night. When a girl turns up dead in front of the café—the third local Black girl to turn up dead in the past few weeks—Louise is forced to confront a past she’s tried so hard to run from. When an altercation with a cop gets her arrested, Louise is given an ultimatum: she can help the police catch the killer or wind up in a jail cell. Not really much of a choice, is there? Louise will have to go toe-to-toe with a murderer bent on taking more lives, possibly her own… (mystery)

Read by Shayna Small (The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna)

Latest Listen

audiobook cover image of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw

I haven’t been great about reading short stories lately and wanted to change that, so I borrowed this audiobook from Libby after no less than seven friends commended it (LOL: one of them told me to read “this amazing audiobook, I think it’s called Women Who Go to Church?). I told myself I’d listen to one story every night during my skincare routine. Theeeeen I liked it so much that I finished it in a day.

The collection of nine stories is described as exploring “the raw and tender places where Black women and girls dare to follow their desires and pursue a momentary reprieve from being good.” I couldn’t have put that better myself if I tried. There’s the story of two 40-year-old lifelong friends whose relationship turned sexual years ago; on New Year’s Eye 1999, the narrator suggests to her friend that they could be more than occasional lovers, but the friend stills dream of life as a “good Christian woman” and rebuffs her with horrified disgust. In another stories, two women have fled their hometown in the south to live freely and safely as a same-sex couple. But one of the women grapples with the concept of home, of family, of longing for the people and places that made you even though they may no longer be good for you. There’s another story of a teenage girl reckoning with her mother’s cold, abusive behavior and years-long affair with their pastor. She struggles to understand who or what God really is, and what it means to be a god-fearing person at all.

The stories are read with such warmth and tenderness by Janina Edwards (The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton, The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory). She puts so much heart into each narrative, like she’s reading from her own diary and not a collection of short fiction. On a personal level, I related sooo hard to the stories where characters examined their relationship with faith and religion with new eyes. I cried in my car at least twice as these fake people poured their hearts out and shared the softest parts of their conflicted souls.

This is one of the best story collections I’ve read in years and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

From the Internets

at Audible: The Best Lesbian Listens by Queer Authors

at Libro.fm: Take their quiz to get an audiobook rec for Pride!

at Publishers Weekly: According to the Audio Publishers Association, audiobook sales rose 12% in 2020.

at The Washington Post: The best audiobooks for your summer drive, sorted by length — and who’s in the car.

Over at the Riot

An Ode to Audiobooks Improving My Life – I love this post so much.

6 Audiobooks for Pride Month

AudioFile has announced the latest Golden Voices inductees. I am slow-clapping for Cassandra Campbell and Soneela Nankani!


Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at vanessa@riotnewmedia.com with with all things audiobook or find me on Twitter and the gram @buenosdiazsd. Sign up for the In The Club newsletter and catch me once a month on the All the Books podcast.

Stay bad & bookish, my friends.
Vanessa