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October 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

In a move no one saw coming, especially me, I actually read 99% of the books on my October TBR??

There were also a couple of additional reads thrown in there, and here’s what I thought!

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

I said this in my Goodreads review, but I didn’t enjoy this as much as other seem to have. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely enjoyed it. There are very important themes (allyship and racism) that are discussed throughout. But I thought the main characters were boring and therefore couldn’t really engage with the story. I would still recommend it and will be checking anything out Kiley Reid publishes.

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

Please don’t come for me but I was bored the whole time I was listening to the audiobook. But classics do that to me!!! It definitely does NOT denote the importance of this work in Black/LGBTQIA+/classic literature.

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

This one was fine, but the characters were underdeveloped and things happened prettily conveniently to keep the plot going. A good spooky book for those who don’t like spooky (me!) but not a standout.

Our Italian Summer by Jennifer Probst

This is an ARC I got to review for Booklist, so when that review is available I will post it here. This is about a three generations of women who visit Italy to try to reconnect.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

This is my second Colson Whitehead that I have read this year (having previously read The Nickel Boys) and he will definitely be an author that I continue to check out. Whitehead is very skilled at writing compelling prose and dialogue in such a succinct manner. The Underground Railroad follows Cora, an escaped slave, as she attempts to travel to safety on The Underground Railroad that turns out to be an actual railroad.

Chief Joy Officer: How Great Leaders Elevate Human Energy & Eliminate Fear by Richard Sheridan

This was my professional development read for the month. This was good but repetitive. Sheridan works in a different field than I do (software company vs. public library) so some of his suggestions are not super applicable to what I can do at this time. The main gist I got from this (which I get from a lot of leadership books) is essentially don’t be an asshole.

How We Fight For Our Lives by Saeed Jones

This is a slim memoir on Jones’s experience as a Black gay man in the United States. It is heartbreaking and an excellent listen on audiobook.

The Deep by Rivers Solomon

Ok this one was kind of a disappointment! I listened to this on audiobook because David Diggs (from Hamilton for the uncultured) narrates it, but he just did alright?? Instead of truly narrating, it sounded more like a recitation, and I just didn’t vibe with it. The story is captivating, about a community of merpeople that are descendants of pregnant African women thrown overboard from slave ships. This community has a historian who must bear the memories of the entire population, and the most recent historian, Yetu, decides they would rather not. Yetu then leaves the community and must deal with the consequences. The themes are important but repetitive. I would check something else out by this author though!

The Stone Sky (Broken Earth #3) by N.K. Jemisin

I don’t want to say too much since this is the finale of a series but here are some thoughts:

1) The series as a whole is A+. There is a reason Jemisin won a Hugo for each one.

2) I will read anything N.K. Jemisin writes.

3) Some parts of this novel went over my head and therefore I felt a little disconnected from the story, but overall I enjoyed this finale.

Bluebird, Bluebird (Highway 59 #1) by Attica Locke

This is the first in a series about a Black Texas Ranger named Darren Matthews who is investigating a potential racially motivated double homicide in a small Texas town. It was a solid mystery and I am looking forward to following Matthews to his next case.

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

This is a short novel about a woman who starts to find the deaths of her sister’s boyfriends suspicious. Her sister claims self defense, but when the third one shows up dead with knife wounds in the back, Korede starts to wonder what’s really going on. And when Ayoola gets caught up with a man Korede has feelings for, she wonders if it’s finally time to turn her sister in. This one packs a solid punch and was definitely a fun read. Weird to say about a serial killer novel, I know.

The Empress of Salt & Fortune (The Singing Hills Cycle #1) by Nghi Vo

A well written novella about a cleric who listens and records the story of a handmaiden who served an exiled empress. Short and interesting, but nothing that really stood out to me. I will be checking out the next one in the series though.

Call Me American: the Extraordinary True Story of a Young Somali Immigrant by Abdi Nor Often

This is a remarkable story about Abdi Nor Iftin, who dreams of going to the United States, but that dream seems out of reach when him and his family gets caught up in the Somali Civil War. Abdi gets to the Unite States eventually, but it isn’t necessarily the United States he had been dreaming of. An incredible look into an immigrant life. The writing was a little simplified, but the impact of the story still comes across.

So that’s what I read! Definitely the most I’ve read in a month this year and lots of good stuff read. Let me know what you read in the comments below!

Until next time,

Readathon, TBR

My 2020 Black-Oween-Athon TBR

It’s almost October! We’re going to ignore the fact that I haven’t updated this blog in more than 6 months, right? Thank you.

So…it’s almost October! Time to get spooky and read spooky. Now, I’m not really a fan of spooky/horror reads, so I had no plans to read spooky. But I still wanted to participate in a readathon this month, and lucky for me there are tons to choose from! The one I am going to participate in for October is Black-Oween-Athon, which was created by Bre, aka Loc’D Booktician (check out her announcement video here).

The purpose of this readathon is to shine the light on Black authors who write speculative fiction as well as other genres, which is definitely something that I can get behind! Reading diversely has been a consistent goal of mine but I will never say no to adding a fun twist to that goal. Below is my currently planned TBR for this readathon. These may change depending on whether I can get ahold of a copy, but for now this is what I’m going with.

A fantasy novel by a Black author

I’m almost finished with the second book in this trilogy, so I might as well finish it out! Ps. This series is REALLY good.
A book by a Black trans, queer, or non-binary author
I have heard nothing but good things about this one.

A book that features Black mermaids/sirens

Again, I’ve heard nothing but good things. Also, it’s apparently inspired by a song? So that’s cool.

A mystery book by a Black author

Ok, so mystery/thrillers aren’t normally my jam, but this discusses race and justice & all of my Goodreads friends who have read it said it was good, so I’m feeling like I will like it too.

A historical fiction novel by a Black author

I read Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys earlier this year (which I definitely recommend) so I knew I had to add this to the list.

A thriller by a Black author

Again, this is one I’ve heard good things about. And what’s more thrilling than a serial killer?

A book that discusses intersectionality by a Black author

It’s a book that discusses feminism, so duh.

A book that includes a Black witch

I mean, that cover.

Read a book by an underrated Black author

I got an ARC of this at the Public Library Association conference back in February which is how this is on my radar but have not really heard anyone else talking about it.

Read Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

A classic.

So this is my current reading list for Black-Oween-Athon! Most of these books have been on my radar so I’m excited to finally get to them. Let’s hope they’re as good as I think they’re going to be!

Are you participating in any readathons in October? What are your reading plans? Let me know!

Happy reading!