Categories
In Reading Color

Voodou Queens, Morally Gray Witches, and New Releases!

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

It’s officially October, which means I have started watching/reading all the spooky things! Spooky vibes are what led to me randomly watching the new Interview with the Vampire show this past weekend and it is so good. Like, I was upset there were only two episodes, and ended up watching the original movie with Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise. I have to say, as much nostalgia as I feel for the original movie, it definitely had some plot holes and the acting in the new show is so far way, way better overall. I’m excited to see Claudia make her debut this weekend!

Bookish Goods

Voodoo Queen Bookmark

Voodoo Queen Bookmark by BookishHeaux

I love the designs of this shop’s bookmarks (the thigh! the moon! the snek!) and have several of these. $5

New Releases

Our Missing Hearts Book Cover

Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng

Bird is 12-years-old and has been living under an increasingly oppressive American government with his father, a former linguist. In addition to censoring, authorities have just started being allowed to take children away from people who disagree with them, many of whom are of Asian descent. When Bird gets a mysterious letter, he begins on a journey to find his absent mother, whose poetry he has spent years distancing himself from. The gag is that this premise doesn’t sound too far off from reality.

A Minor Chorus by Billy-Ray Belcourt 

A Minor Chorus by Billy-Ray Belcourt 

I love novels written by poets, and Belcourt has won awards for his poetry. In this latest book, a queer Indigenous doctoral student wavers on the border between his old life, his childhood on the reservation, and the new academic one he’s trying to establish. Throughout the book, he’s reminded of Jack, a cousin who was in a toxic lifestyle involving police and drugs, an outcome that is not rare for Indigenous people living under the legacy of colonialism. He soon finds out that the escape he was hoping academia would be also has its consequences for people of color.

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

As I mentioned before, it’s October, so I’m just going to be reveling in all the spooky things. First up: witches!

Cover of The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

Immanuelle is a young woman living in a puritanical society who tries to be as pious as possible as a way to atone for her mother having a child— her— with someone outside of her race. One day she comes to find herself in the woods that surround her town, where the Prophet killed four witches. The spirits of the witches give Immanuelle a gift, and she learns that the woods were once a sanctuary for her deceased mother. She also learns that there are secrets about the Church and the town that will reshape how she views everything.

violet made of thorns book cover

Violet Made of Thorns by Gina Chen

Violet influences the court with her prophecies, which is all well and good, except she sometimes lies. She had been looking for a way to prevent Prince Cyrus from firing her once he’s crowned when the king asks her to lie about a prophecy concerning Cyrus’ love life. Obvi her morally gray self doesn’t have a problem fibbing, but doing so in this case awakens a curse which threatens the future of the kingdom. As she tries to save herself and the kingdom, she also seems to be falling for a certain prince…

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 week,

Erica

Categories
In Reading Color

Latine Horror, New Releases, and an Indigenous Coloring Set

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

I went to a lil birthday get together on a friend-of-a-friend’s rooftop this weekend, and it was cute. The girlies wanted to go out dancing after though, and I, homebody that I am, had to ask another friend if she was going to make sure I wasn’t being a fuddy duddy. She said no, absolving me of my guilt, and my response was fitting. I was so glad I didn’t because my feet started hurting soon after. I am old *cries in millennial*.

Today, I’ve got a few new books and some spooky ones by Latine authors for the next time you have to “wash your hair” or “clean your apartment” (but really you’re just tired and your feet/knees hurt). I gotchu, friend!

Bookish Goods

Indigenous Art Coloring Book with Colored Pencils

Indigenous Art Coloring Book with Colored Pencils by SageAndOats

Bust out this colored pencils + coloring book set if you’re looking for something for your hands to do while you listen to an audiobook. $20+

New Releases

Best of Friends cover

Best of Friends by Kamila Shamsie

Zahra and Maryam are two opposites who gravitate to each other in Karachi, Pakistan. The two become best friends and grow up with each other under a dictatorship. Decades later, the women have each made their own mark on London, but when certain people from their past reappear in their lives, the two women’s friendship is challenged.

I love to see books that are centered around platonic friendship.

house of hunger book cover

House of Hunger by Alexis Henderson

That cover! I think it perfectly encapsulates the overall vibes of this book. It’s about Marion Shaw, who grew up in abject poverty, and who is desperate to finally get out of it. She sees an odd ad in the newspaper looking for a bloodmaid and figures it’ll give her as good a chance as any to get out of her current situation. Well, the position involves allowing wealthy nobles to drink her blood. In exchange, she’ll be taken care of. So she applies and becomes a bloodmaid for the House of Hunger, where she gets swept up in bloody hedonism. She also falls prey to the charms of her mistress, Countess Lisavet, who inspires admiration and fear equally. She becomes especially interested in Marion, but when other bloodmaids start going missing, Marion must learn what’s going on in the noble house before she’s unable to leave.

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

Here are a couple spooky/horoor books written by Latine authors to start off the season with!

Scout's Honor by Lily Anderson

Scout’s Honor by Lily Anderson

Ugh, Lily Anderson is so good at writing fun, spooky YA novels! The first one of hers I read was Undead Girl Gang, and it had me gagging— in the bad way (because it was gross) and the good way. This one is similarly fun, creepy, and full of diverse characters. The main character herself, Prue, is half Puerto Rican, half white and a legacy Ladybird Scout. These are similar to girl scouts, except instead of selling cookies, etc. Ladybird Scouts protect humans from space parasites known as mulligrubs. So, while they present to outsiders as a demure ladies’ organization, the Scouts are actually training girls from a young age to kill with poisoned teas, knitting needles, axes, and swords. Prue turned her back on the organization once her friend was killed in action, and three years later, has only rejoined in order to swipe a powerful amnesiac tea that she’s hoping will wipe her memory of her trauma. She’s a tried and true Scout, though, so she naturally once again gets caught up in all the monster slaying.

Side note: I’d love to see a graphic novel adaptation with the same art as the cover.

THE QUEEN OF THE CICADAS cover

The Queen of the Cicadas by V. Castro

In the ’50s in southern Texas, an undocumented farmworker, Milagros, is lynched. Her murder goes uninvestigated by the largely white town, but the Aztec goddess of death, Mictecacíhuatl, takes notice. Now the goddess plans for both herself and Milagros to be reborn and get their bloody revenge on Milagros’ murderers and other perpetuators of colonialism’s evils.

I love a good colonialism revenge story, letmetellyou.

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 week,

Erica

Categories
In Reading Color

The National Book Awards Longlist and New Releases!

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

The Longlist for the National Book Awards has been announced! I don’t know how you feel about these awards, but they actually align with my reading tastes. I’ve read books that were nominated/won other awards, and…they just didn’t land for me. The National Book Awards do, though, so I’m excited to add allll of these to my TBR (if I haven’t already).

Bookish Goods

bad witch sweatshirt

Bad Witch Book Club Crewneck Sweatshirt by CelestialSageCo

This is for all the Bad Witches! Rep your book club with this sweatshirt that comes in different colors and sizes up to 5X. $34.

New Releases

rust in the root book cover

Rust in the Root by Justina Ireland

Okay, so I am very excited about this YA novel! It’s about a young root worker, Laura, and is set in an alternate United States in 1937, a time when the country is split between those who are magical and those who aren’t. Laura takes a portal form her native Pennsylvania to New York City when she turns 17 to become a licensed mage. But the going’s slow, and half a year later she decides to settle for a job within a branch of the U.S. government that focuses on repairing issues that started with an event called the Dynamism. She becomes a mysterious mage’s apprentice and together they set out to rebuild America. Thing is, with their first mission, they come across mystical arts that were last seen when Black mages were killed and exploited.

I’ve said it before, but I’m really loving all the new historical novels that show Black people in different decades we haven’t seen much of before. This one is made extra interesting with its pictures and documents.

The Book of Goose cover

The Book of Goose by Yiyun Li

Two girls are raised in a war-torn, small village in France where they fold into themselves and each other — making a world that is all their own through writing stories. Fabienne is the more assertive one who doesn’t go to school, and Agnes is her willing follower. From the intense friendship comes a book, which is a collection of the stories the girls have written, and Fabienne insists Agnes take the credit. This catapults Agnes into the book publishing world as a prodigy, but also away from Fabienne. Years later, when Agnes learns of Fabienne’s death, she begins to recount the childhood she spent with her friend, and all the messy, messy details.

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

Here are the fiction books by authors of color that were long listed!

When We Were Sisters by Fatimah Asghar cover

When We Were Sisters by Fatimah Asghar

Author of poetry collection If They Come for Us (which has a beautiful, illustrated cover and is also on my TBR!) Fatimah Asghar writes of three sisters who become orphaned with the loss of their parents. Each has their own struggles — from questions surrounding gender and identity to assuming the role of parent as an older sibling — and only each other as they try to navigate life as Muslim American girls.

Maria, Maria: & Other Stories cover

Maria, Maria: & Other Stories by Marytza K. Rubio

This is another one that is so super, duper up my alley. This collection of stories takes place in varied environments throughout the Americas — from bustling cities to jungles — and looks at the magic inherent within. Stories with everything from resurrected saber tooth tigers to tarot to beginner Brujeria offer chances at righting moral wrongs and I’m so here for them all.

cover image for Shutter

Shutter by Ramona Emerson

The plots, the premises in these books, I tell you! This is set in Navajo Nation and follows Rita Todacheene, a forensic photographer who is very good at her job. Like, too good. This is because she can see the ghosts of victims who point her to clues that solve their cases. She encounters one ghost who is very persistent and latches onto her, though. Now she’s being pressured to exact revenge, but this may come at the cost of her own life.

More long-listed fiction:

The Birdcatcher by Gayl Jones

The Haunting of Hajji Hotak and Other Stories by Jamil Jan Kochai

If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery

All This Could Be Different by Sarah Thankam Mathews

The Town of Babylon by Alejandro Varela

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 week,

Erica

Categories
In Reading Color

Banned Book Week, Trippy New Releases, and a Cute Book Sleeve!

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

Friends, can someone tell me why brunch is so expensive? It’s cute and everything, but these prices are really trying me. It’s upsetting me and my homegirl.

For the next couple months, my friend dates might just need to be little book buying excursions where we go sit and read in the park or sumn *cries in I just wanna have funds*.

Bookish Goods

latine dresses book sleeve

Dancing Ladies book sleeve by JosiesBookCosies

Book sleeves are trying to become the new tote bag for me — meaning I keep wanting to buy more and more, and this one is so cute. Almost hypnotic (or is that just me?). $18+

New Releases

Bliss Montage cover

Bliss Montage by Ling Ma

I’m excited to read this one. The official blurb mentions it being a collection of stories in which fantasy breaks through our reality to “wake us up,” which is an interesting thing for a fantasy to do. One story follows two girls who take a drug that makes them invisible as a way to commemorate a last night in New York. Their engaging in invisible shenanigans eventually leads them to analyzing their friendship, and they realize that they felt obligated to be friends only because they were both immigrants from China. The other stories sound just as trippy, and I’m super here for these surreal scenarios jostling free some epiphanies.

Also, I really really like this cover for some reason. It’s like, Erica, it’s just a bag of oranges, but it’s doing something for me…

The Birdwatcher by Gayl Jones cover

The Birdcatcher by Gayl Jones

Three Black American expatriates live on the island of Ibiza. Two of them are married, and the third is the friend of the married woman, Amanda Wordlaw. Fittingly, Amanda is a writer, and her friend, Catherine, is a sculptor…who just so happens to keep trying to kill her husband. You would think once would be enough, but the good sir wants more, I guess. Each time she tries to kill him, he has her institutionalized, only for her to be released and try it again. For this and other reasons, the three make for an eccentric trio on the very white Island. Jones weaves references to classic literature as she depicts the artists’ experiences.

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

This year, Banned Books Week will take place from September 18-24. Its theme is “Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.” While simply reading books that people have tried to ban or have been banned is not enough to combat the flood of censorship attempts, it’s always a good time to talk about censorship, the kind of books that tend to be censored, and what can be done about it.

If you hadn’t already guessed, many of the books that conservative groups try to restrict access to are written by authors of color and/or queer people. I’ll discuss a couple of the most banned of 2021 now, but if you want to know more about censorship, our own Kelly Jensen has been doing phenomenal work (I honestly haven’t seen anyone else covering the recent cases as much as she has been), which you can read here. You can also sign up for out Literary Activism newsletter.

book cover all boys aren't blue by george m. johnson

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson

Johnson chronicles his life growing up a Black, queer boy in New Jersey, as well as his experiences as a young adult in college in Virginia. He recounts the trauma that is often experienced by queer youth of color, but he also speaks of the joy, like his time spent with his grandmother. The racists and bigots and big madT about this one; it’s the third most challenged book of 2021.

Out of Darkness cover

Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez

This is another YA book, this time a love story set in the very racist Texas of 1937. It follows Mexican American Naomi Vargas and Black American Wash Fuller as they navigate East Texas and all its bleak racism, as well as their own forbidden feelings for each other. This novel can get very depressing, but it does such an excellent job of showing what life could be like for a Mexican girl in that time. It’s also been nominated for a few awards. It was fourth most challenged book (Kelly Jensen actually wrote it being pulled for review in Texas.)

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 week,

-Erica

Categories
In Reading Color

Latine Heritage Month and New Releases!

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

Friends! We are heading into some good times, as it is officially fall in my mind (even though it technically starts on the 22nd) and it’s almost time for Hispanic Heritage Month, which officially begins on the 15th. I’ve got a cute book mark, new releases — a couple by Latine authors — to celebrate!

Bookish Goods

Library Card Bookmark Acrylic

Acrylic Library Card Bookmark by FaneshaFabreArt

Using this book mark has to be like getting hit with a ray of sunshine every time you open your book! Plus, it’s handmade and sold by a Latina Etsy store owner. $12+

New Releases

What We Fed to the Manticore cover

What We Fed to the Manticore by Talia Lakshmi Kolluri

Kolluri’s debut is a collection of nine stories, each told from the point of view of different animals. From vultures in Central Asia to pigeons in Delhi, all of these stories are told with tenderness and care as they explore the nature of the world and how a certain species of intelligent mammals relates to it.

the weight of blood book cover

The Weight of Blood by Tiffany D. Jackson

Phew, been waiting for this one, y’all. Maddy is a teenager in Springville, Georgia with a few secrets. For one, she’s actually mixed — which is something her white father has made her keep hidden. Except it doesn’t stay hidden forever, and when it comes out, her bullies have even more fodder to tease her with. But when the racist history of the school is revealed and it has its first ever integrated prom, Maddy’s bullies won’t be too excited about her other secret… They may not be too much of anything, if you know what I mean. This retelling of Stephen King’s Carrie gets an update with this book, which weaves more social commentary in with the framework of the original story, which, I feel is so fitting for horror. Oh, and segregated proms are def still a thing in Georgia and a few other southern states *heavy sigh*.

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

The Family Izquierdo by Rubén Degollado cover

The Family Izquierdo by Rubén Degollado

The Izquierdos all have their own, distinct personalities, but they’re all close. They’re also cursed. Or, at least, that’s what Papa Izquierdo thinks, after curious items that are known to be used for curses are found buried in their yard. As a result, any sadness or misfortune that befalls the family gets blamed on the jealous man he believes cursed his family. Each chapter is told by a different family member, and shows how the family perseveres through hardships because of their love for each other.

Cover of The Sunbearer Trials by Aiden Thomas

The Sunbearer Trials by Aiden Thomas

Given the success of Cemetery Boys, I know this is going to be popular. Every decade, Sol’s power must be restored so that he can keep the Obsidian gods from destroying Reino del Sol. To do this, he needs someone who will carry light to all the temples in his kingdom, and someone whose body will serve as a sacrifice to him. To determine who gets chosen for either, Sol selects 10 teens — semi gods — 13-18 years old who will enter into the Sunbearer Trials. Now Teo, the 17-year-old trans son of the the goddess of birds, Quetzal, isn’t too worried about the trials until he and his friends are chosen. Now, as a Jade semi god, he’s worried about making sure he and his friends survive the mysterious competition.

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 week,

-Erica

Categories
In Reading Color

The Cats of Japan, New Releases, and More Translations!

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

The temperature was reasonable for a few days, and then I feel like Outside was like “That was cute for y’all, but psych!’ and snatched back the cooler temps. *heavy sigh*

Anyway, I’ve got one more round of women in translation before August is up! Let’s get into it.

Bookish Goods

Cats of Japan bookmarks

Cats of Japan bookmarks by HollieEloise

There is no such thing as too many bookmarks, so here are more! I don’t personally know anyone who could resist Cats of Japan bookmarks, I mean, come on. And they’re only $2!

You can also check out more of the Etsy seller’s artwork here.

New Releases

cover image for Murder in Westminster

Murder in Westminster by Vanessa Riley

Lady Abigail is a young woman living in Regency era England when she finds a dead body on her property. That’s problem enough, but then there’s the fact that it’s her neighbor’s wife and that she is of mixed heritage so suspicion falls on her. Thing is, she has an alibi, but doesn’t exactly want to admit that she was at a pro-abolition meeting. Luckily, and surprisingly, the husband of the slain woman, Stapleton Henderson, tries to divert suspicion away from her, and together they set out to find out who in well-manned London society could be a murderer. This is being described as Bridgerton + murder, which sounds kind of fun, not going to lie.

cover of the spear cuts through water by simon jimenez

The Spear Cuts Through Water by Simon Jimenez

This one is being super hyped by Tordotcom and other sites and I honestly see why. It’s about how the Moon family has been ruling a land for centuries as monstrous tyrants. The emperor and his sons are able to bully their subjects into submission because of powers they get from the god they keep imprisoned under their palace. A guard with a past and an outcast help the god escape and the three set out to find a way to permanently free the god, and therefore the people, from the tyrants, some of whom happen to be her sons. Jimenez’s writing is lyrical and original, and the world and characterization is *chef’s kiss*.

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

Here are a couple more translated books by women, one of which is a graphic novel. I feel like I speak a lot about sci fi and fantasy books, so I aimed for a couple that are more earth-bound.

Aya: Life in Yop City cover

Aya: Life in Yop City by Marguerite Abouet, illustrated by Clément Oubrerie and translated by Helge Dascher 

This is a funny and endearing graphic novel that follows 19-year -old Aya in 1978 Ivory Coast. Its art style is cute and fun and it’s super entertaining (former Book Rioter Rincey Abraham likens it to a nighttime soap), but one of the things I like best about it is that it’s a West African story that isn’t based in trauma. The Ivory Coast Aya lives in—which is similar to the one the author lived in—is an affluent one. At the time, the Ivory Coast was experiencing a golden era of stability and affluence, the kind that allowed a teen girl to get into funny shenanigans with her friends and other eccentric characters.

Where Dogs Bark with Their Tails cover

Where Dogs Bark with Their Tails by Estelle-Sarah Bully, translated by Julia Grawemeyer

Different worlds converge in the heritage of a young girl growing up in the Parisian suburbs. Her skin color sets her a part from many of her neighbors and is a constant reminder of the connection to Guadeloupe she has through her father. A connection that is fleshed out by an older aunt, who tells her of the Guadeloupean Ezechiels from which she hails. Wrapped up in the family saga is a doomed romance between lovers of different classes, life in the countryside, modernization, and most of all, how all of this unfolded under the umbrella of colonization.

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 week,

-Erica

Categories
In Reading Color

Romances, Spicy Stickers and New Releases!

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

As the temperatures continue to cool (mostly), and my form changes from melted liquid to something more solid, I’m reminded that fall is right around the corner. Every season is great for book lovers, but something about fall is so, so perfect. I mean, there are the massive number of books released, yeah, but there’s also the pumpkin spice, opportunities for general coziness, and witchy season. And just general vibes, honestly.

Fall is just forever the mood.

Bookish Goods

Spicy Books Vinyl Sticker

Spicy Books Vinyl Sticker by MidnightDoorStudio

This is me writing the second half of this newsletter in sticker form. Don’t mind me; just sprinkling a lil spice in your reading life real quick! $4+

New Releases

Babel cover

Babel by R.F. Kuang

Y’all. This book has so much going on — in the best way! It follows Robin Swift, a Chinese boy who was orphaned by cholera and raised in London by a professor. There, he was made to learn Chinese, Ancient Greek, and Latin so that he’d enroll in Oxford’s highly competitive Royal Institute of Translation, or Babel. Babel is not only the world’s center for translation, but also of silver-working, which is a way of conjuring the meaning that gets lost as a result of translation. This magical ability to silver-work has made the British empire strong, and when Britain starts an unjust war with China for silver and opium, Robin questions where his loyalties lie.

The magical, 19th century world Kuang has built here is so interesting (think of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, vibe-wise), and I love how she juxtaposes academia and colonialism, which are very related. I am super excited to finish this one.

cover of Perish by LaToya Watkins; brown with a tree growing out of the title font

Perish by LaToya Watkins

Bear it or perish.

These are the fateful words Helen Jean hears one night in an outhouse in Texas that go on to influence not only her life, but her descendants’. This debut novel has decades of the Turner family — which Helen Jean is the matriarch of — wrapped up in it. It’s chapters alternate between four of the family members: Alex, whose dark past haunts his life as a police officer; Jan, a mom who desperately wants to leave; Julie, who recognizes how much time she’s wasted; and Lydia, whose marriage is crumbling. All of them descend upon Jerusalem, TX to bid farewell to Helen Jean, who ultimately set the stage for the entire family’s dysfunction and trauma. Heads up that this is super sad, like along the lines of A Little Life kinda sad.

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

Bookstore Romance Day was this past Saturday, so even though it’s already passed, I haven’t highlighted romances in a minute and thought it would be a good opportunity. Here are some new ones!

cover of To Catch a Raven

To Catch a Raven by Beverly Jenkins

Thee Beverly Jenkins gives us another book in her Women Who Dare series. This one’s about Raven, who is basically a scammer who lives for drama. When she’s forced to scam on behalf of the government, she understandably feels some type of way. They’ve got her masquerading as the housekeeper for a former Confederate official in order to recover the Declaration of Independence. Thing is, the man posing as her husband/the valet is Too Fine TM, and things… happen.

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches cover

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna 

I’m so excited for this one! Mika Moon has never quite felt like she belonged. Not only was she was orphaned at a young age and raised by strangers, she’s also one of very few witches in Britain and has to keep her magic a secret. The secret gets out, though, after she posts videos online pretending to be a witch. Now there’s this weird request asking that she go to this place called Nowhere House where she is to teach three young witches about their magic. She goes, naturally, and what she finds there — a part from her three pupils — is a host of other colorful characters, danger, and a steamy romance with a prickly librarian. This is the perfect way to bring in witchy season.

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 week,

-E

Categories
In Reading Color

Translated Books by Women of Color, New Releases, and Your Faves on a T-Shirt

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

Have y’all been feeling super tired lately? I have been unexplainably sleepy the past week or two. I’ve heard from a couple friends that they have been, too. I always find it interesting when one thing is experienced by different people. Probably means something is in retrograde or something.

As I consult the stars (and pop some vitamin D and B12 *lolsob*), I’ve got some new releases, a bomb shirt with writers, and some translated works by women of color.

Bookish Goods

golden black women writers shirt

Black Women Writers Shirt by crystaljSTUDIO

Love the color options (there’s also a rainbow one!) and LOVE every one of the writers listed. $21+

New Releases

Cover of The Oleander Sword by Tasha Suri

The Oleander Sword by Tasha Suri

This is the much anticipated follow-up to the World Fantasy Award-nominated book The Jasmine Throne, which I mentioned a couple weeks ago. In it, we rejoin Malini and Priya as they fight to pry the kingdom from the clutches of a tyrant. Malini has been declared the rightful empress by a god’s prophecy, and readies her loyal army. Meanwhile, Priya, a reborn priestess, sets out to cure her country’s land of a mysterious sickness that has been spreading and affecting all living things. The two women’s paths again cross, and together, they wage war on oppressive forces.

cover of Stories from The Tenants Downstairs by Sidik Fofana; illustration of a brick apartment building

Stories from the Tenants Downstairs by Sidik Fofana 

This has been described as giving serious The Women of Brewster Place vibes, and I agree. I’d even say it’s kind of like an updated version, but outright set in Harlem. Each of its stories is about a tenant at Banneker Homes, a low income housing unit. As gentrification looms, Swan in 6B is excited about his friend’s release from prison, Mimi in 4D is struggling to raise the child she has with Swan, and Quanneisha hopes her education will be enough to leave the high rise for good. Banneker Homes has a pull, though, that seems to keep tenants there, and their stories interwoven.

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

It’s Women in Translation Month, so I’ve got some excellent books in translation by women of color for you. Once you read about (and hopefully actually read them), you’ll feel some type of way about how less than 31% of books translated into English are by women, and how only 36% are from non-European countries. I know I do.

cover of Strange Beasts of China by Yan Ge

Strange Beasts of China by Yan Ge

An amateur cryptozoologist has accepted a job investigating the fabled beasts of Yong’an, a fictional Chinese city. As she uncovers each creature’s story, a deep mystery presents itself that may unravel everything she believes about what it means to be human.

Cover of Witches by Brenda Lozano

Witches by Brenda Lozano

Friends, I am simple. If I see a book about an Indigenous Mexican healer that’s titled “Witches,” and has a woman with a rooster head on the cover, I’m reading it, period.

Here, Zoe, a young journalist from Mexico City, is sent to a mountain village to report on the murder of a woman named Paloma. She soon finds out that Paloma was not like other women, though. Before she was killed, and before she even drew breath as Paloma, she lived as Gaspar, a traditional healer. Once Zoe meets Paloma’s cousin Feliciana, the two woman become entangled in each other, their disparate experiences complementing the other’s as they try to survive in a man’s world.

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 week,

-E

Categories
In Reading Color

The Artist’s Life, New Releases, and a Little Toni Morrison for You

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

I went to a 3D Van Gogh exhibit the weekend before last and really liked it. I don’t quite know what I was expecting, but I guess it wasn’t that. I knew there would be original paintings, of course, but I really liked the main exhibit. I’ve heard some criticize it for simply being projections, and it was in a way, but they were immersive, in my opinion, which made all the difference. Also, the whole room had immaculate vibes. So maybe it was just vibes?? I might be a vibe girl this summer, who knows.

As I ponder my new identity, I’ve got a bookish goody, new releases, and some books about artists for you!

Bookish Goods

toni Morrison book mark

Toni Morrison bookmark by KLigg

This cute bookmark features a quote by my late play auntie, Toni Morrison. $4

New Releases

Bronze Drum Book Cover

Bronze Drum by Phong Nguyen 

Picture this: 40 CE Vietnam. Two sisters —Trưng Trắc and Trưng Nhi — live privileged lives as the daughters of a lord, but it’s under the oppression of the Han Chinese. So, they spend their days training and studying, trying to resist complete assimilation into their oppressor’s culture. One day, Trac’s dutiful studying and Nhi’s straight mackin’ (IYKYK) come to an end when their father is executed, and the tenuous peace Lord Trưng had maintained falters. Now, with no protection from the Han, the sisters step up, forming an army of 80,000 women. Okurrrr! And let me tell you, the girls put on a show when they went to war — the elephants! the drumms! The good sis Han had to collect all the bronze drums after a while, they had her so shook.

The Undead Truth of Us by Britney S. Lewis cover

The Undead Truth of Us by Britney S. Lewis

After Zharie’s mom dies, she’s left with many questions. Chief among them: why no one else noticed her mother turning into a zombie right before she passed away. If that seems like it came out of nowhere, that’s kind of how I feel this feels, but in a good way. Now Z is living with her aunt, whose emotional distance adds to her loneliness. When a charming and cute boy, Bo, becomes her new neighbor, she is eventually intrigued by him. But once he starts switching back and forth between being a zombie and not, she starts to wonder if learning more about him will answer somethings she’s been wondering about her mother. This YA novel is a poetic exploration of grief wrapped up in a trippy, surreal zombie package.

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

In the spirit of the artists’ life, here are a couple books by and about artists!

cover of 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows: A Memoir

1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows by Ai Weiwei

The history of Ai Weiwei’s family and that of China seem to be intrinsically linked. His father, Ai Qing was once the country’s favorite poet and a friend of Mao Zedong. once he was labeled a rightist, however, he was banished to Little Siberia and forced to do hard labor. After surviving a childhood in exile, Ai Weiwei moved to the U.S. to study art. There, he became friends with people like Andy Warhol and Allen Ginsberg. The link connecting him to China called him back, though, taking him from an unknown artist in his home country to a highly celebrated one. But with his artistic renown also came notoriety for being a human rights activist. Like his father, he became an enemy of the state, despite his earlier favor, and was secretly imprisoned for months without being charged in 2011. With this memoir, Ai juxtaposes his life against his father’s — highlighting how his father was silenced as an artist — as well as the culturally relevant moments of their nation.

The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo cover

The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo by F.G. Haghenbeck, translated by Achy Obejas  

Frida Kahlo is an obvious art icon, but I wonder how much people know of her life. Here, a fictionalized version of her life is imagined, courtesy of several actual notebooks of hers that were found in her Mexico City home. From her terrible car accident to her lovers (like Tina Modotti and Diego Rivera) to her distinctive art, this book fully fleshes out a larger-than-life person. The recipes included are also a really nice touch.

While we’re talking about Toni Morrison, Akwaeke Emezi shared some amazing reading charts you should get into ASAP.

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.

-Erica

Categories
In Reading Color

A Summer Renaissance, Courtesy of Beyoncé

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

So I went to a Beyoncé Renaissance album listening party the day the album dropped, because obviously I did. And, it wasn’t what I was expecting, but in the best way. I knew the flyer for it on Eventbrite said that it was an album listening party, yes, but that it was also a space for women of color to network, make connections, feel supported, and all that good jazz. And it really was that. As soon as I stepped in, it felt like being at an older sister’s or auntie’s house.

The music was loud, but not so loud that you couldn’t hold a conversation, and everyone was warm and happy. Once I started speaking to the friend I came with, my conversations kept flowing. From her it went to one of the hosts, then to a new person who I spoke with at length about entrepreneurship and an app she was developing. It seemed like so many women there had apps, nonprofits, or some other business of theirs in the works.

Surprisingly, I didn’t pay as much attention to the album when I was at the event — I definitely blasted it on the drive back home, though, trust — but the glimpses of it I heard, had Beyoncé singing of owning your singularity, being a bad bitch, and basically every other aspect of exhibiting TGE (That Girl Energy TM). All of it was over the backdrop of a very ’90s House — dare I say Mansion? — accompaniment. Make sure to blast Renaissance as you read these books.

Bookish Goods

booked and busy sticker

Booked and Busy Sticker by 525DesignShop

This vinyl sticker fully exhibits TGE, is waterproof, and perfect for sticking on laptops and water bottles. It also comes in a bookmark version, and even within a set of other TGE giving stickers. $4

New Releases

What's Coming to Me cover

What’s Coming to Me by  Francesca Padilla

Minerva Gutiérrez is 17 and dealing with a lot. Apart from having to contend with a sexist boss, her mother has been hospitalized yet again, and she’s been kicked out of school…but back to her boss real quick: an armed robbery at her job reveals money hidden somewhere on site and her and her neighbor are desperate to find it. If she can get things to go her way this time, she may finally be able to find a way out of her situation while also getting revenge on her boss. Sis is into some shady stuff, but desperate times and all that!

the book eaters cover

The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean

You think you love books? Well, there’s a line of people living in the Yorkshire Moors for whom books are literal food. Certain genres even carry particular flavors (spy novels are peppery, apparently). Devon is a descendant of book eaters, and, like other book eater women, was reared on a diet of cautionary fairy tales while her brothers feasted on adventures. Things change, though, and Devon’s son was born with a more sinister appetite. One for human minds.

Side note: Sunyi Dean is an autistic science fiction and fantasy writer and this is her debut. You love to see it!

For a more comprehensive list of new releases, check out our New Books newsletter.

Riot Recommendations

Apart from the new releases, today’s books fully exhibit TGE just like the new album (the first song is titled “I’m That Girl”). This means that characters are true to themselves despite any opposition, social norms, or anything else that would stifle or oppress them.

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

The Secret Life of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw

Philyaw’s church ladies are anything but simple. Her collection of stories shows the multifaceted and complex lives of Black women as they carve out their own lives despite expectations of the Black church, which has been a huge presence in the lives of many Black Americans for hundreds of years. Queer women meet with their lovers, young girls start to piece together their individual identities, and therapy — still not wholly accepted in many communities — is sought to break unhealthy ties. Philyaw’s characters jump off the page as she explores their most intimate moments.

Fittingly, Beyoncé has a song titled church Girl, which has the lines “church girl, don’t hurt nobody” followed by “You can be my daddy if you want to.” I mean, not that I know what those words in that order mean, or anything *cough*, but they really fit this book so well.

book cover wayward lives beautiful experiments by Saidiya Hartman

Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments by Saidiya Hartman

Black people — Black women, in this book’s case — have never been granted the opportunity to meet societal expectations in the Western world. Many would argue that what Black people were not allowed to do — and what white people could do in contrast — defined what it meant to be white, but that’s another point for another book. Considering all this, though, it makes sense that, following the Victorian era’s strict social mores, many Black women bucked so-called respectability politics and lived as they wanted. Hartman outlines how they redefined what marriage, motherhood, and sexuality meant. By determining which kind of relationships — and even working conditions — they wanted for themselves, they shaped a cultural movement.

Wash Day Diaries cover

Wash Day Diaries by  Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith

Might I suggest you don’t mess with my sis

Cause she comfortable

Comfortable in my skin

Cozy with who I am

I feel like this is the song Cozy from the Renaissance album in book form. We follow Kim, Tanisha, Davene, and Cookie as they navigate their own friendship, as well as their everyday lives, in the Bronx. As the title suggests, the importance of wash day — when many Black women set aside time for self-care through hair maintenance — centers the friends’ story. Differing color palettes help set the mood — which is often cozy! — in this graphic novel as the women revel in their sisterhood.

I’ve been loving slice-of-life graphic novels/manga lately, and it’s dope to see Black women’s everyday lives brought to life on the page. I could see myself spilling tea with them in the hair salon as we sang along to someone’s playlist.

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.

-Erica