Categories
In Reading Color

The Nebula Awards and a Little Escapism

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

I feel like I’ve been saying this a lot lately, but it has been a helluva week. While I’m fed up and angry, I’m also having moments where I need to step away from the news updates and regroup. And I know I’m not the only one.

So, with this newsletter, I’ve decided to talk about some books that can offer some sort of pick-me-up or even a little escapism. Now, of course, what counts as a light-hearted and fun read for me may be different from the next person, so I’ve made sure to include a variety of genres, like romance, fantasy, and contemporary.

Whatever you decide to read, I hope you and yours are safe!

Also, here is a Verified Gofundmes for Uvalde families that another Book Riot writer shared.

the cover of the order of the pure moon reflected in water

The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho

If you’ve ever wondered about wuxia fantasy, this novella is wuxia lite. In it, a nun from the Pure Moon Order joins a group of thieves *clutches pearls*. With this new ragtag team of criminals, she hopes to protect a sacred object. While the characters live in a time of war, they still manage to find happiness through found family, humor, and queer joy. Cho writing is lyrical and the magic in her world subversive.

cover The Way of the Househusband

The Way of the House Husband by Kousoke Ono

I haven’t been recommending too many graphic novels in this newsletter, so let me start remedying that by recommending this slice-of-life manga! For those of you unfamiliar, slice-of-life is essentially just as it sounds: you’re following characters who are doing everyday things. As someone who has always gravitated towards the fantastical as far as books are concerned, I’ve only just began to get more into this quiet genre and realized how much I like it. It’s low-key, low-stakes, and very relaxing for me. And, in the case of The Way of the Househusband, it’s also pretty funny.

Main character Tatsu provides a good portion of the comic relief as a former member of the yakuza who now spends his days as a loving househusband to his wife Miku. Turns out you can take the husband out of the yakuza, but you can’t take the yakuza out of the husband. Tatsu’s natural aesthetic and demeanor are just a little too gangster-adjacent and still reflect his time as the much-feared “Immortal Dragon.” And, his facial expressions still make people sweat. They’re also just a little out of place in the clearance section of the grocery store. Tatsu brings a hilarious intensity to the most mundane and everyday househusband chores, and it’s fun to watch him interact with his neighbors.

Get you a man who can do both! “—Miku, probably

*Bonus*: here’s an ode to the hilariously scary ex-gangster boss.

US cover of ayesha at last

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

This is a contemporary and Muslim Pride and Prejudice retelling that tells the story of Ayesha Shamsi. Ayesha dreams of being a poet, but has to sideline that path so she can work as a teacher to pay back money she owes to her uncle. She also has to contend with constant reminders that her causing Hafsa is getting all the marriage proposals. Sheesh.

When she comes to meet the ultra traditional (but handsome) Khalid, the two are turned off from each other, and, well, you know how the rest goes if you’re familiar with Pride and Prejudice. While this is a retelling of a story that’s commonly retold, it breathes new life into it. Ayesha’s poetry-writing, bold character is likable, and her family members entertaining. Plus, Talia Hibbert, author of Get a Life, Chloe Brown, said it’s super romantic, which makes its romantic-ness a scientific fact.

cover of Of Dragons, Feasts and Murders

Of Dragons, Feasts and Murders by Aliette de Bodard

This is a fun romp through a gothic and Vietnamese-inspired fantastical world. When someone is found dead nearby, dragon Prince Thuan grudgingly finds himself once again in the thick of it, politically speaking. While Thuan is salty, his messy fallen angel husband Asmodeus is actually enjoying the investigation. With Thuan’s wit and Asmodeus’ fighting skills, the two try to solve the murder… but their relationship also needs “solving.”

A Little Sumn Extra

Nebula Awards were announced!

Here are some of the best recent book adaptations

The worst covers of classic books

Fun quiz on first lines in YA novels

A discussion of the “AAPI” label

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!


Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at erica@riotnewmedia.com or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with the fab Tirzah Price, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next time,

-E

Categories
In Reading Color

Rewriting Books for Feminist Characters and New Releases

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

Summer decided to jump out this past week here in the Northeast and give us a couple 90 degree days *sob*. I’ve always been averse to hot weather, despite being a summer baby born in the South, and have been just trying to make it. So, trust and believe that I will be firmly planted under the shade/inside in front of a fan with these new releases!

cover of You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi

You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi

Feyi Adekola’s best friend Joy, who she shares a brownstone with, has convinced her that it’s time to start dating again. The last time Feyi was with anyone was five years ago when an accident killed her husband. Now, Feyi is having a steamy lil something-something at a rooftop party with a man she just met. Probably not what her friend had in mind, but anyway… Since the encounter, Feyi has become open to other men and starts to explore new love interests, even as she is still contending with grief.

cover of The Evening Hero by Marie Myung-Ok Lee; illustration of tree branches growing down from the top of the cover into several pastel-colored shapes

The Evening Hero by Marie Myung-Ok Lee

After the Korean War, Dr. Yungman Kwak left everything he knew behind in Korea when he immigrated to the U.S. For the last few decades, he’s done his best to achieve the American DreamTM in a small Minnesotan town as a doctor delivering babies. That is, until drama arrives in the form of a letter that threatens to expose the truth about who he is. Now he’s questioning all his life choices, and even if what America promised him is even real amidst all the ways the U.S. fails its citizens. This books travels back and forth in time and has a dark sense of humor.

cover of The Stardust Thief (The Sandsea Trilogy Book 1) by Chelsea Abdullah; an illustration of a gold locket design surrounded by swirling flames

The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah

Loulie al-Nazari finds and sells illegal magic with the help of her jinn bodyguard. One day she saves the life of a prince and attracts the attention of his sultan father, who blackmails her into finding a priceless item lest she be executed. The item in question is an ancient lamp that has the power to restore barren land, but that comes at the cost of all jinn. So, she sets out with the sultan’s oldest son to find the lamp, encountering ghouls, a jinn queen, and her and her bodyguard’s pasts along the way.

I love a good fantasy adventure, and am super excited to read one that has One Thousand and One Nights teas!

More New Releases

Children’s

Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor by Xiran Jay Zhao

cover of Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor

The World Belonged to Us by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Leo Espinosa

Growing an Artist: The Story of a Landscaper and His Son by John Parra

YA

The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes

Just Your Local Bisexual Disaster by Andrea Mosqueda

Once Upon a K-Prom by Kat Cho

Adult

cover of Mirror Made of Rain by Naheed Phiroze Patel

My America: Recipes from a Young Black Chef: A Cookbook by Kwame Onwuachi 

We Measure the Earth with Our Bodies by Tsering Yangzom Lama

Translating Myself and Others by Jhumpa Lahiri 

City of Orange by David Yoon

Mirror Made of Rain by Naheed Phiroze Patel 

A Little Sumn Extra

Biography of Rapper MF DOOM Coming in 2024

That Time Isabel Allende Got Fired for (Re)Writing Feminist Characters

1600 book predicting the existence of aliens

The Worst Books of All Time

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!


Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at erica@riotnewmedia.com or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with the fab Tirzah Price, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next time,

-E

Categories
In Reading Color

The Fight for Control and “Booklooks” as New Method of Censorship

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

Between New York and California, this past weekend was unreal. I’ve been oscillating between thinking things will never change, maybe there’s hope, and a bit of desensitization, which alarms me. It truly feels like we’re living in a dystopian novel. And, even though there is a clear cut path to how we got here, it’s still a little hard to believe that we actually are here, and that there’s the potential for it to get a lot worse.

I personally think what we’re seeing now in terms of censorship, the attack on women’s rights, the fight against universal healthcare and minimum wage increases, and hate-based violence (among all the other things!) are all a result of a desire to return to the days of slavery.

I realize say that may seem like I’m reaching back too far, but follow me for a minute. It was during a trip to the National Museum of African American History in D.C. that I realized that capitalism, as it is in the U.S., can be traced back to slavery. There was a descriptive plaque under a display of confederate money I was reading that detailed how so many of today’s monied families got their initial wealth from slavery. In fact, it was through slavery that the country was able to become wealthy overall and gain an international presence. There are even management practices that enslavers used that are used by capitalists today.

From attacking abortion rights to encouraging hate crimes, so much of the far-right’s rhetoric and machinations seem to be centered on regaining that absolute kind of control over others that mirrors slavery. I think the domestic terrorism we saw this weekend is a part of that.

I thought about talking about some books today that were more light-hearted, but my spirit said otherwise, so I’ll stick to ones aimed at dismantling the patriarchy.

Let’s go.

book cover killing the black body by dorothy roberts

Killing the Black Body by Dorothy Roberts

This is from almost twenty years ago and still wholly relevant. I largely credit the realization about capitalism and this book with my thoughts around how our current state is directly tied to slavery. Here, Roberts explains how the fight for— and oppression of— reproductive rights in the United States started with enslaved Black women. She talks about how the regulation of Black women’s reproduction has “been a central aspect of racial oppression in America.” Case in point, one of the United States’ first laws concerned the social status of the child of enslaved women and white men. She goes on to talk about other aspects of reproductive health, like contraception, abortion, and sterilization, in the modern day and how all of these things have been used at some point to control Black women’s reproduction as a way to control Black people overall.

as long as grass grows cover

As Long as Grass Grows by Dina Gilio-Whitaker

The U.S. was, of course, started with taking control of the land, which meant displacing entire populations of Indigenous people. Then, further control was exerted by breaking up families and sending children to residential schools, and eventually forcing BIPOC into certain areas that were disproportionately affected by environmental issues. Gilio-Whitaker talks about how Indigenous people, especially women, have been fighting against white supremacy— and the food and water insecurity, loss of sacred sites, and treaty violations it has brought— since the colonizers first came ashore.

between the world and me

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

There is a lot packed into this 152-page nod to James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time. Coates describes the feeling of disembodiment that Black Americans have felt for so long. He writes a letter to his son explaining the feeling and how it’s tied to police brutality, racist narratives, poverty and other aspects of systemic racism. He also tells his son to expand past the narrative and reclaim/claim himself.

A Little Sumn Extra

A new censorship effort in the form of “booklooks”

Some teens have started a fundraising auction to fight book bans

Author Rick Riordan had some words— a letter, actually— for people complaining about the casting of a young, Black actress

Here’s a brief history of bell hooks

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!


Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at erica@riotnewmedia.com or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with the fab Tirzah Price, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next time,

-E

Categories
In Reading Color

New Releases and a New Doctor Who!

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

So normally, I’d mention this in the news section at the end, but there’s a new Doctor for Doctor Who and I’m excited! His name is Ncuti Gatwa, and he’s starred in Sex Education, which I’ve never watched but have heard great things about. He’ll be the first Black Doctor, and comes after the first female Doctor. Now, I have to admit that I’m really behind as far as the good Doc is concerned. The last episodes I watched were with Matt Smith, who, interestingly enough, appeared in last week’s House of the Dragon trailer. I’ve heard they did sis dirty with the script for Jodie Whittaker’s 15th Doctor, so here’s to hoping Ncuti gets his due. I’ll definitely be tuning in to watch his seasons, though.

And with that, let’s get into a few new releases!

Trust by Hernon Diaz cover

Trust by Hernan Diaz

Trust is Pulitzer-nominated Diaz’s second novel. It’s actually four stories told in distinct styles and voices about capitalism, gender, love, and mental illness. The first, “Bonds,” has been likened to writings by Edith Wharton and follows a fictional character based on Andrew Bevel, and is written by Harold Vanner. Bevel survived the Wall Street crash of 1929 and became one of the richest men in the U.S.— and is, himself, also fictional (little bit of a story within a story, Book-ception situation going on here). Well, Bevel doesn’t care for Vanner’s portrayal of his life, and writes an unimaginative memoir in response (the drama!), which supplies the novel with its second story. The third is written by the daughter of an Italian anarchist in exile (more drama!) who is hired by a super messy Bevel and swallows her own ethics to help the magnate come for Vanner. The last story is from a journal written by Mildred, Bevel’s wife who suffered from mental illness, and whose writings give the story a bit of a twist.

If it seems a little confusing, it is a bit at first, but will make sense once you read it. It’s essentially giving multiple angles on a story of how one man came to be so rich even while the rest of the country entered into a depression, and all the people who were sacrificed for that to happen.

Siren Queen by Nghi Vo cover

Siren Queen by Nghi Vo

Siren Queen is about Luli Wei who is desperate to be a star in 1930s Hollywood. The industry she fights so hard to be a part of is one in which young female stars like her and her lovers are sacrificed and controlled. And one in which the only roles for outsider Chinese American girls are monsters. No matter, she plays the game and takes the roles given to her, navigating a world of dark and ancient magic.

Confession: I’m a Nghi Vo simp and am always down for her beautiful writing and magic realism, so there’s that…

cover of All the Lovers in the Night by Mieko Kawakami, translated by Sam Bett and  David Boyd

All the Lovers in the Night by Mieko Kawakami, translated by Sam Bett and  David Boyd  

Fuyuko Irie is a woman in her 30s who sees herself in a reflection one day and realizes that she’s not quite where she’d like to be in life (which reminds me of this). As a freelance editor living in a city where it’s hard to meet people, her social life only extends to interacting with her editor, Hijiri. She decides to stop making excuses for herself and steps outside of her comfort zone. By going to sign up for a class, she meets a man named Mitsutsuka who she starts meeting at a cafe regularly where they have conversations about the science of light.

As Mitsutsuka helps Fuyuko develop the changes she wants in life, so too do the women she knows, who are all quite different from each other. There is her editor, Hijiri, who is pro-sex and assertive, the more traditional Kyoko who dispproves of Hijiri, and Norioko whose marriage is in shambles. With poetic writing, Kawakami offers reflections on the nature of living and perception and how there’s no one right way to live as a woman.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

More New Releases

Children’s

Freddie Vs. The Family Curse by Tracy Badua 

The Prince of Nowhere by Rochelle Hassan

Moonflower by Kacen Callender

The Marvellers by Dhonielle Clayton

Young Adult

Hollow Fires by Samira Ahmed

Burn Down, Rise Up by Vincent Tirado cover

Ballad & Dagger by Daniel José Older 

Burn Down, Rise Up by Vincent Tirado 

Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl by Joya Goffney

Inheritance: A Visual Poem by Elizabeth Acevedo and Andrea Pippins 

Adult

By the Book by Jasmine Guillory

The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

By the Book by Jasmine Guillory cover

Jameela Green Ruins Everything by Zarqa Nawaz

Plans for Sentences by Renee Gladman 

Line and Light: Poems by Jeffrey Yang 

Seen and Unseen: Technology, Social Media, and the Fight for Racial Justice by Marc Lamont Hill and Todd Brewster 

My Seven Black Fathers: A Young Activist’s Memoir of Race, Family, and the Mentors Who Made Him Whole by Will Jawando

The Immortal King Rao by Vauhini Vara

Circa by Devi S. Laskar

The Stand-In by Lily Chu 

Mother Country by Jacinda Townsend

A Little Sumn Extra

Some of the most influential Asian Lit of all time!

Nashville does me proud and creates limited edition banned book library cards . I know it’s only a matter of time before Tennessee does something else raggedy, but at least there’s this!

Also, a Florida public school system cancels free math and English/reading services as a result of a new bill.

More in censorship news: Idaho State rep claims that “Libraries are promoting an agenda to destroy families”. Which leads me to believe these people have never stepped foot in an actual library.

Some new science fiction and fantasy books coming out this month!


Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at erica@riotnewmedia.com or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with the fab Tirzah Price, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next time,

-E

Categories
In Reading Color

Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month with These Books!

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage month! While part of me loves heritage months as celebrations of culture and opportunities for me to learn about more great books I need to add to my TBR, they aren’t without their flaws. Specifically, I feel like it’s reductive to group two very different ethnic groups together as the AAPI label does. Asia alone has so many different cultures and languages, but I at least understand categorizing them together because of the land shared. Adding Pacific Island cultures to this categorization, on the other hand, doesn’t allow the space to fully recognize either group.

The U.S. government began formally recognizing AAPI Heritage month in 1992 as a much-needed step in 1) coming to terms with its discriminatory treatment of Asians and Pacific Islanders, and 2) acknowledging and highlighting what both of these groups have contributed to the U.S. The thing is, in 2000, the label “Asian and Pacific Islander” was split into “Asian Americans” and “Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders” (NHOPI), which seems to take the differences I mentioned before into account. I would think that this would lead to different heritage month celebrations, especially as I know there are those who identify as Asian American and NHOPI who also have issues with the labelling.

With that said, I still jump at the chance to highlight books during heritage months, and will continue to highlight authors of Asian and Pacific Islander descent. I just think it’s time to reevaluate what this label means, and unflatten our views of Asians, Pacific Islanders, and all other non European ethnicities.

Now, a few books for you to get into!

What My Bones Know by Stephanie Foo cover

What My Bones Know by Stephanie Foo

The past few years have seen trauma being explored in interesting ways. For one, there’s the idea that it can be passed through generations, which is aptly referred to as generational trauma. Foo, an award-winning radio producer, comes to understand that her daily crying sessions and panic attacks are a result of complex PTSD (C-PTSD) as a result of trauma. With this memoir, she includes thorough research and interviews with experts to detail how she came to heal from inherited trauma, emotional and physical abuse, and abandonment by her parents.

Circa by Devi S. Laskar cover

Circa by Devi S. Laskar

Heera is a teenager growing up in the ’80s in North Carolina who feels suffocated by parents who immigrated from Bengali before she was born. She and her friends Marie and Marie’s brother Marco, dream of escaping to New York City, and engage in pickpocketing to make it happen. Petty thefts aren’t Heera’s only act of rebellion, though, as she and her friends paint anarchy symbols on water towers. Although Heera feels stifled by her community, it provides needed support when Marie is killed in a car accident, which is contrasted with Marco’s excessive freedom and eventual downfall. After the tragedy derails Heera’s plans, she finds another way to live in NYC and go to school, but it involves marrying a 26-year-old stockbroker. This a funny, sad, and lyrical coming-of-age story.

Year of the Reaper book cover

Year of the Reaper by Makiia Lucier

That cover! This is a YA, stand alone fantasy that I will warn you is a plague story. It’s the Black Plague, though! Lord Cassia is a young nobleman who comes to be imprisoned by the enemy because of said plague. He eventually gets out and returns to a home that has changed in many ways. For one, his castle now houses the royal court. Secondly, it seems like they brought their raggedy enemies with them. There’s an assassin on the loose who seems to be targeting those close to Queen Jehan, so Cassia teams up with the king’s younger sister, aspiring historian Lena, to uncover their identity. And Cassia can also see ghosts, so there’s that.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

A Little Sumn Extra

A pineapple upside down cake recipe showdown!

On defining historical fiction

The most f*cked up books ever

Stop everything you’re doing right now and find out which American Girl doll you are

Why do people say that having your book banned is good?

Oprah defends controversial book club pick

Here is an AAPI care package assembled by the Smithsonian that includes meditations, poems, and films.


Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at erica@riotnewmedia.com or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with the fab Tirzah Price, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next time,

-E

Categories
In Reading Color

A Book Is Pulled by the Publisher and New Releases for Your Tuesday

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

There’s been a lot of talk the past few days about a book that was published called Bad and Boujee: Toward a Trap Feminist Theology. It claims to be an exploration of the intersection of feminism, hip hop culture, and the Black experience and has a cover that features a Black woman with an afro (and glowing skin!). Sounds kind of interesting, right? Well, the reason it’s been getting attention is because it was written by a white female professor. After podcaster Jo Luehmann asked Jennifer M. Buck, the author, “Can you help me understand how you are qualified to write this book?” others began to question Buck’s authority on writing on the topic as well. The backlash ultimately resulted in the publisher pulling the book from public distribution.

The conversation around the book has also lead to the question of who can write about what. There are many who say you can write about whatever you want, and I would agree, but with a disclaimer. If you’re from a group that has traditionally held power in the area of the world you’re in and you want to write about the experiences of a group that has been disadvantaged, then I think you should proceed very cautiously. If you don’t, you run the very real risk of adding to the narrative that most likely exists that has helped oppress the marginalized group. Sensitivity readers exist for a reason, after all, and I have the impression that they weren’t consulted (or listened to) for Buck’s book. I also suspect that the author might have been hoping to tap into some of Hood Feminism‘s success. Either way, Buck made a choice to write about a very specific intersectional group and didn’t seem to be open to questions about her work or to adequately appreciate the person who coined the term she centered her book around. If you can’t stand by your work and engage with constructive criticism, should you have written it in the first place?

Before we get to some books, I’ll leave you with the first sentence of Buck’s book, which Roxane Gay had some thoughts on. 🍵

A Few New Releases

Viola Davis - Finding Me Cover

Finding Me by Viola Davis

I remember seeing Viola Davis here and there in supporting roles in movies and TV shows before I noticed people recognizing her as one of the great actors of our time. She calls these roles “best friends to white women roles” in this memoir and tells how she had to do a string of them at one point due to a lack of other roles. Before she was even able to act, though, she was a child born on the South Carolinian plantation on which her grandparents were sharecroppers, and one who grew up poor in Rhode Island. She gets real about all that entailed. Really real. Like, abusive, alcoholic father and wetting the bed so much that you went to school smelling of urine real. She was a traumatized, misunderstood girl who suffered the effects of dire poverty as well as racism, but who was also inspired to pursue a dream by seeing someone who looked like her on TV. Through her memoir, Davis shows the importance of rejecting the narrative others paint around you, being honest, and letting go of shame in order to live authentically.

Also, if you follow Oprah’s book club, she’s made it a book club pick.

Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel cover

Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel

This is another retelling that reimagines the motivations for certain figures in mythology a la Circe. Although I’m not as familiar with the Indian mythology from the epic poem the Ramayana as I was with Ancient Greek mythology when I read Circe, I’m always here for female characters being reexamined. Here, Kaikeyi is raised on stories of gods and their benevolence only to have that dashed by the reality of her father banishing her mother and her own reduction to a thing to be married off and bear children. One day she learns of a magic she has that allows her to transforms herself into a warrior, thereby creating a space for independence for herself and hopefully other women in the kingdom.

She decides to become the third wife of King Dasharath’s on the promise that her son will inherit the throne instead of the rightful heir. Now, Kaikeyi isn’t really known as a hero in the epic poem, as she was the one to encourage the king to exile his son, the true heir Rama, for fourteen years. Instead of her reasons being to keep her own son on the throne, Patel shows that Kaikeyi, whom Rama addresses affectionally, only wished to teach the young prince the downfalls of patriarchy and was trying to establish balance for her kingdom to benefit all citizens.

cover of The Fervor by Alma Katsu; photo of a woman with long dark hair looking away into the distance at a guard tower, image is tinted red

The Fervor by Alma Katsu

I just finished reading all of the manga that the Demon Slayer anime hasn’t adapted yet *sobs in book hangover*, and I’m caught up on the Jujutsu Kaisen manga. I say all that to say that I’m super into Japanese folklore, especially as it relates to demons, or the yokai, as this book does. Instead of taking place in Japan, as the manga I mentioned do, The Fervor takes place in the U.S. in 1944 as the U.S. government is imprisoning citizens of Japanese descent for simply being Japanese. Meiko and her daughter Aiko are forcibly removed from Seattle and sent to one of the internment camps in the Midwest. There, a mysterious disease starts to take hold. Suddenly, simple colds turn into aggression that can become lethal. The group of doctors that arrive to investigate provide the opposite of comfort and assurance, so Meiko and her daughter join forces with a reporter and a widower to find out exactly what is happening around them. There is a demon that Meiko learned about from childhood stories clawing its way onto her plane of existence, but there is also the already existing evils of racism and anti-Asian discrimination that the U.S. government displays on its own.

More New Releases

Children’s

The Second Chance of Benjamin Waterfalls by James Bird cover

The Second Chance of Benjamin Waterfalls by James Bird

Always with You, Always with Me by Kelly Rowland and Jessica McKay, illustrate by Fanny Liem

Zara’s Rules for Record-Breaking Fun by Hena Khan 

Young Adult

Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf cover

Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf 

My Sister’s Big Fat Indian Wedding by Sajni Patel

The Genesis Wars by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Adult

the memory librarian book cover

The Memory Librarian by Janelle Monáe

Fevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse

Forbidden City by Vanessa Hua

Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez

Never Cross a Highlander by Lisa Rayne 

Such Big Dreams by Reema Patel

When We Fell Apart by Soon Wiley

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

A Little Sumn Extra

LeVar Burton to host the next National Spelling Bee (!!)

Here are the winners of the LA Times Book Prizes

Dawnie Walton wins the Aspen Words Literary Prize for The Final Revival of Opal & Nev

How one district is pushing back against book banning

How familiar are you with Rumi?

Some of the best books on ancient Egyptian mythology


Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at erica@riotnewmedia.com or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with the fab Tirzah Price, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next time,

-E

Categories
In Reading Color

Arab Heritage Month!

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

In addition to being National Poetry month, it’s also Arab American Heritage Month! *blares DJ club horn* The two taking place at the same time is fitting, especially since Arab writing is so influential, crossing over languages and through time. These Arab writers— who write for children, young adults, and adults— add to that legacy.

cover of The Cat Man of Aleppo by Karim Shamsi-Basha and Irene Latham and Yuko Shimizu (Illustrator)

The Cat Man of Aleppo by Karim Shamsi-Basha and Irene Latham, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu

This is the Caldecott Honor winning true story of Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel, who decides to stay behind to help out in Aleppo, Syria when the war comes. As he starts to feel loneliness from his now empty neighborhood, he realizes the cats people had to leave behind are lonely, too. He starts to feed and love on them and soon more and more cats come. People all over the world hear about his story and help out and he’s able to get a cat shelter. Alaa gives tidbits of how life was in his town before the war in the form of notes throughout the book, painting the picture of a vibrant community before the war hit.

cover of Home Is Not a Country by Safia Elhillo

Home Is Not a Country by Safia Elhillo

This is a YA novel in verse about Nima, who is fourteen-years-old, Muslim, and the daughter of an immigrant. Nima is in between two worlds— her mother’s home country and her current suburban home in the U.S.— neither of which she feels she truly belongs to. Haitham is her neighbor and her only friend, but one day he’s attacked in a hate crime and the chasm between her mother and her only seem to grow bigger as she learns more about her father and things that could have been.

cover of The Wrong End of the Telescope by  Rabih Alameddine

The Wrong End of the Telescope by Rabih Alameddine

Mina, a surgeon in her late 50s, has been booed up with her wife in Chicago for awhile now. When she gets a request from a friend to come help the non profit she’s working for, Mina flies to the refugee camp on the Greek island Lesbos. This is the closest she’s been to her home of Lebanon since she was rejected for being trans. There, she starts to bond with a Syrian woman whose cancer diagnosis she keeps hidden from her family. The story is told through Mina’s experiences treating patients and through an account she writes and directs at a Lebanese writer who convinced her to document what the refugee camp was like. Mina manages to mix a little humor in with the tragedy of displacement.

cover of Sparks Like Stars by  Nadia Hashimi

Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi

Hashimi uses beautiful writing to tell the story of how Sitara came to survive the 1978 Afghanistan coup. When she was ten, her father served as an advisor to the president. Once the presidential palace is attacked, her entire family is killed and only she survives with the help of a guard named Shair. She’s raised in America where she adopts a new name and studies hard to become a surgeon.Then, thirty years after the coup, she sees Shair again, this time as a patient, and traumatic memories resurface concerning who really killed her parents.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

A Little Sumn Extra

Books like Our Flag Means Death

Here’s a guide to becoming an audiobook editor

An interesting look at how literature handles the Chinese Cultural Revolution

Indigenous poets you should get into

Help increase the library budget!

The banning of Persepolis has inspired its own graphic nonfiction book


Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at erica@riotnewmedia.com or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with the fab Tirzah Price, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next time,

-E

Categories
In Reading Color

National Poetry Month

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

How’s your relationship with poetry? I’ll admit to being one of those who was kind of scared of it— if “scared” is the right word— to being someone who is now wanting to read all of it. My previous hesitation of it was due, I think, to it just not being presented to me well. I’ve always liked it, but just used to think some of its meaning was beyond me. And I’m sure losing a poetry contest I had entered in 5th grade where one of my poems featured a chönky cat falling from the sky and hitting someone didn’t help. Yes, the memory sometimes keeps me up at night.

Awkward 5th grade poetry aside, it’s National Poetry Month, and a perfect time to get into some poetry collections!

time is a mother book cover

Time Is a Mother by Ocean Vuong

This just came out last week and is Vuong’s follow-up to his award-winning collection Night Sky With Exit Wounds. Where Night Sky had his father shot in the back and floating in the sea, Time Is a Mother has Vuong contending with his mother’s death. Here, time, trauma, language— and sometimes the lack thereof— all converge into a perplexing and at times paradoxical experience. These poems are deeply personal, even as form is experimented with.

 Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head by Warsaw Shire  cover

Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head by Warsaw Shire

Shire is a British poet born to parents who immigrated from Somalia. You may have heard of her because of Beyoncé, who featured her poetry in Lemonade. In other words, Shire is that girl. In her first full poetry collection— which also just came out last month— she draws inspiration from her own experiences and pop culture to explore motherhood, immigration, trauma, racism, sexism, and what it means to be a woman. Also make sure to pick up her chapbook Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth.

The Tradition by Jericho Brown cover

The Tradition by Jericho Brown

In Brown’s award-winning third poetry collection, Greek mythology, Christianity, science, and art are offered up to show just how vulnerable the most vulnerable are. The history of Black bodies— especially those of queer, Black men— being both belittled and abused is explored through different scenarios, some personal and others historical. Brown even invented another poetry form in the duplex, which combines the blues, a sonnet, and a ghazal.

Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz cover

Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz

This is another recent award winner! Diaz is a queer Aha Makav woman, and with great range for poetic styles, shows how merely existing as a minority in the U.S. is an act of defiance and protest. Despite immense oppression, though, how the land, as well as Brown and Black bodies, can heal and still feel love and desire is detailed. As history, pain, and family linages are explored throughout these poems, Diaz pushes towards a future with happiness.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

A Little Sumn Extra

The latest in censorship news

And, if you feel like these recent attacks on books sound familiar, here is a history of Nazi book burning

Danika Ellis speaks on something that plagues a lot of under represented groups (which is: “what counts as good representation?”) with this article on there being room for both dark and fluffy queer media

Do you keep up with the TikTok? Here are some fantasy books the youngins are into


Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at erica@riotnewmedia.com or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with the fab Tirzah Price, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next time,

-E

Categories
In Reading Color

There Are So Many Great New Releases!

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

I hope your weekend + Monday have treated you well. As we begin April, I again find myself babysitting a mildy ornery, yet totally adorable pit bull Blue. Last night, she seemed really pressed by something in the bushes. When I looked to see what she was barking at, I noticed something that seemed to be child/adolescent height standing in one place by the bushes. It was too dark to make out details and the thing just seemed to stay there, facing us. After I stopped mentally gagging, I realized it must be a large, semi-deflated helium balloon that somehow drifted into the yard (despite the fence, etc.) and got caught in front of the bushes. Luckily it was just that, because Blue is a big scaredy cat and if it were someone with nefarious intent, she and I would have been tripping over each other Scooby-Doo style trying to get into the house. My nerves!

In addition to questionable balloons, these April showers are making it rain… books (buh-dum-tss)! Dad jokes aside, there are so many new releases coming out today that we need to get into. Of course, this list is not exhaustive, only a starting point.

cover of Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li; photo of Asian man wearing sunglasses

Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Li

Remember that scene in Black Panther where Killmonger is looking at the West African masks on display in the museum? He asks the museum “expert” if she thought her ancestors paid a fair price for the artifacts when she scoffs at his offer to take an axe “off her hands.” It raised a good question that a lot of museums in Europe and North America have conveniently not answered, which is: is it ethical to display the spoils of colonialism in museums? It’s something that I’ve been hearing about more and more, and this book takes the topic to another level, realizing a win-win scenario for marginalized people.

In it, Will Chen is the perfect embodiment of the American Dream to his Chinese parents. He’s a senior at Harvard, makes good grades, and all that good stuff. Well, a Chinese billionaire disrupts all that when he reaches out to him to steal back five priceless Chinese sculptures that were taken from Beijing hundreds of years ago. To do it, he’ll need to assemble a team with a con artist, a thief, a getaway driver, and a hacker. All for a $50 million cash prize. Yes, this sounds like a typical heist scenario, but I think it turns a few things on their heads. For one, the entire crew is Chinese and contending with their dual identities as Chinese and American— sometimes feeling like neither identity truly suits them. This book also sees to it that they and Will totally upend the stereotype of “model minorities.”

cover of The Trayvon Generation by Elizabeth Alexander; photo of a young Black boy

The Trayvon Generation by Elizabeth Alexander

Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet Elizabeth Alexander wrote an essay for the New Yorker in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder in 2020. In it, she focused on the challenges of Black life as it applied to her sons’ generation. Here, she furthers her points made in that essay about who she names the Trayvon Generation for their early exposure to the death brought about by racial violence. She examines America’s past and future, and its simultaneous obsession with and denial of race. Her analysis is punctuated by beautiful artwork.

cover of The Return of Faraz Ali by Aamina Ahmad

The Return of Faraz Ali by Aamina Ahmad

In the late 1960s in Pakistan, a young, midlevel police officer is called to cover up the murder of an 11-year-old girl. She was killed in the red light district of Lahore and it becomes clear she was a worker there. The cover up seems to be a common enough task that shouldn’t be too hard to carry out, and even comes with the promise of curried favor among higher-ups. Despite this, Faraz just can’t bring himself to do it. The memories of living with his mother and sister there before his politically connected father had him taken away tie him too strongly to the slain girl. Farad’s inner turmoil is juxtaposed with that of the country’s, as Bangladesh fights Pakistan for its independence.

More New Releases:

Middle Grade

Behind the Mountains by Edwidge Danticat

A Duet for Home by Karina Yan Glaser (side note: Karina writes for Book Riot!!)

cover of a duet for home by karina yan glaser

Rabbit Chase by Elizabeth LaPensée, illustrated by K.C. Oster

Aru Shah and the Nectar of Immortality by Roshani Chokshi 

Witchlings by Claribel A. Ortega 

It’s the End of the World and I’m in My Bathing Suit by Justin A. Reynolds

Swan Lake: Quest for the Kingdoms by Rey Terciero, illustrated by Megan Kearney

Young Adult

Nothing Burns as Bright as You by Ashley Woodfolk

cover of Scout's Honor by Lily Anderson

Does My Body Offend You? by Mayra Cuevas and Marie Marquardt 

Scout’s Honor by Lily Anderson

Heartbreak Symphony by Laekan Zea Kemp

Adult

Memphis by Tara Stringfellow

The Wedding Crasher by Mia Sosa

At Least You Have Your Health by Madi Sinha

Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments by T. L. Huchu 

cover of Song for Almeyda and Song for Anninho by Gail Jones

Four Treasures of the Sky by Jenny Tinghui Zhang

Post-traumatic by Chantal V. Johnson

I Was the President’s Mistress!! by Miguel Syjuco 

Song for Almeyda and Song for Anninho by Gayl Jones 

Of Blood and Sweat: Black Lives and the Making of White Power and Wealth by Clyde W. Ford 

Braking Day by Adam Oyebanji 

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

A Little Sumn Extra

Find out what the stars have in store for your reading

Danika Ellis makes the case for fab and fire book covers only from here on out!

A cute lil witchy quiz is always on time

Get your fill of historical K-Dramas in book form

You’ve heard of noir, but what about sunshine noir?


Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at erica@riotnewmedia.com or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with the fab Tirzah Price, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next time,

-E

Categories
In Reading Color

Historical Romances for After Your Bridgerton Marathon

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

This year’s movie award season, y’all, phew! It’s just been… a lot. But at least we have the new season of Bridgerton to look forward to! I’ve been speaking to a couple friends and family members about it, and they are already fully immersed again in that world of extra-ness I love. I haven’t started it just yet, though, as I know I’ll want to marathon it, and may need a few days to process it all. But I’ve heard good things so far!

In the spirit of Bridgerton, I thought we could discuss a few historical romances.

An Extraordinary Union Book Cover

An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole

Elle Burns is a formerly enslaved Black woman living in the U.S. during the Civil War. She gives up her freedom to spy as an enslaved woman within a household of white people who appear to be living a pampered life despite those suffering around them. Malcolm McCall works for the Pinkerton Secret Service, and is also spying for the war effort. The two have a connection, but trying to maintain their covers in public may destroy their relationship. I haven’t come across many spy adventures set during the American Civil War, much less ones that are also romances with complex characters, so this is a win all around.

The Infamous Miss Rodriguez by Lydia San Andres cover

The Infamous Miss Rodriguez by Lydia San Andres

This fun little novella takes place in the Caribbean, where Graciela is determined not to marry the island’s most sought after bachelor. Even if it means tarnishing her family’s reputation. Graciela’s aunt hires Vincente to keep her together, but of course, he ends up being amused and enthralled by her antics. Side note: Talia Hibbert (author of Get a Life Chloe Brown) likes this book, so you know it’s good!

The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin  cover

The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin 

Within the Pingkang Li, beautiful courtesans, imperial scholars, and bureaucrats all intermingle. Yue-ying was forced into prostitution, but isn’t considered to be one of these beauties on account of a red birthmark on her face. She resigns to being her mistress’s maidservant when she meets Bai Huang. She chalks up the aristocratic socialite’s interest in her to drunkenness, but it proves to be much more than that. The pair’s relationship deepens once a courtesan is murdered and they both become involved in the aftermath. The mystery isn’t at the forefront of this story, though. Instead, the main focus, and what will probably appeal most to you, is how Yue-ying and Bai Huang fight insecurities and social standards to find a place where they can be together.

Wild Rain by Beverly Jenkins cover

Wild Rain by Beverly Jenkins

This is another book that takes place around the time of the Civil War, but this one is right after, during the Reconstruction era. Spring Lee is a Black woman has been through it. She’s been able to find some semblance of peace, though, through owning a ranch in Wyoming where she trains wild horses. When she stops to help Garrett McCray, a Black man who’s come from Washington, D.C. to interview her brother, she’s not really looking for love like that, but you can guess how that goes. This is an interesting look into a time in Black history that isn’t explored much, with a fiercely independent heroine.

The Duke Who Didn't by Courtney Milan cover

The Duke Who Didn’t by Courtney Milan

This cute romance takes place in a small town, which just so happens to be owned by Jeremy, the Duke of Lansing. Now, Jeremy kind of banished himself from the town years ago when he told Chloe about his feelings for her and she told him to get serious. Ouch. Now he’s back to convince type A personality Chloe to accept him as he is, even though he’s never told her his title, and she has all these other plans for her life. This is a friends-to-lovers type of romance with lots of characters of color and a dash of the sunshine/grumpy trope.

Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!

A Little Sumn Extra

Tupac’s unpublished childhood poetry is up for aucton

An event that aims to help organize against censorship

In when you do clownery news, Ted Cruz drove up sales for antiracist books

The best manga for you to get into!

The Pachinko adaptation is on Apple TV now


Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at erica@riotnewmedia.com or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with the fab Tirzah Price, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next time,

-E