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Hola Audiophiles! Thank you for joining me for another week in the decade known as 2020. Whether you’re blasting through your TBLs at record speed or saving listens up for later, I’m honored you’re taking time out of your day to read my nerdy descriptions and muppet-arms reviews. I loooove my latest listen and am jazzed for all these new books!
Before I dive in, favor? We’re running a reader survey and would love it if you’d take a few minutes to fill it out. As a thank you, you’ll be entered for the chance to win an ereader!
Ready? Let’s audio.
New Releases – June 23 (publisher descriptions in quotes)
The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho, read by Nancy Wu (fantasy novella) – I love this description so much: “A bandit walks into a coffeehouse, and it all goes downhill from there.” It gets even better: Displaced nun Guet Imm (badass nuns?? hell yes!) joins an eclectic group of thieves in order to protect a sacred object, and finds she has no idea how complicated a situation she’s gotten herself into. This is a found-story inspired by wuxia—a genre of Chinese fiction chronicling the adventures of Ancient Chinese martial artists—by the author of Sorcerer to the Crown.
Narrator Note: Nancy Wu’s work includes performances of Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, Warcross by Marie Lu, and Severance by Ling Ma.
Thank You for Voting: The Maddening, Enlightening, Inspiring Truth About Voting in America by Erin Geiger Smith, read by Lisa Cordileone (nonfiction) – This kind of book feels so important right now; it’s a history of voting, of the fight for the voting rights of the disenfranchised, and an examination (and explanation) of everything from how the voting system works to voter suppression, trends, and current movements to increase both awareness and access. This books is also available in a version for young readers and I could not love that fact more.
Narrator Note: Lisa Cordileone reads both the adult and young readers editions of this book.
Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory (romance), read by Janina Edwards – Olivia Monroe just moved LA to start her own law firm and has no time for dating. Then she meets a sexy man at a hotel bar and they get their flirt on, and she discovers way too late in the game that this dude Max is a famous junior senator. Olivia has zero interest in dating a politician (relatable), but he wins her over with her charm (and cake!) and they begin dating in secret. When they finally go public, it goes precisely as you might expect it to go if… oh I dunno, a beautiful Black woman with her own career and money dated a white royalty figure and the public lost its ever loving mind. Olivia knows what she has with Max is special, but is special enough to deal with the endless scrutiny?
Twisted: The Tangled History of Black Hair Culture by Emma Dabiri (nonfiction), read by the author – In this collection of essays blending the personal and the political, Emma Dabiri explores the ins and outs of Black hair culture, including the ways Black hair has been appropriated throughout history, the continued stigmatization of Black hair today, and the cultural movements celebrating black hair. She uses Black hair as a lens to examine racism, pop culture, body politics, and history.
Narrator Note: Emma Dabiri, please write more books so you can narrate them, or just pick up a narrator hustle on the side! Her voice is so pleasant to listen to, I needs more pronto.
Still working on Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi because a)that book needs to be consumed slowly, and b)Spotify made it available to stream but didn’t add (that I know of??) a way to bookmark where you left off. I keep having to figure out where to jump back in!
In the meantime, I tore through Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half. It’s a multi-generational story told from multiple perspectives set in both Louisiana and California from the 60s to the 90s. The Vignes twin sisters were inseparable at birth but went on to lead entirely different lives after running away from their remote hometown of Mallard, LA. One sister eventually goes on to live with her Black daughter in that same town after vowing she’d never return, and the other is passing as a white woman whose white husband has no idea she’s Black. They haven’t spoken in years, but their storylines intersect when their daughters’ paths cross in California.
That summary barely scratches the surface of what Brit Bennett accomplishes in this absolutely stellar follow up to The Mothers. Her characters are so complex and the conversations they engender so nuanced, diving deep into the toxicity of white supremacy and the lengths to which a person is driven in the pursuit of survival and self preservation. There are no easy answers here; every element of this narrative requires thoughtful consideration of the factors that make each moment possible, even inevitable. It’s a call to think critically about race, a condemnation of the “niceness” that upholds white supremacy, and a whole emotional gut punch. If you’ve read it or don’t mind spoilers, check out the latest bonus episode of the Book Riot podcast where I got to rave about this book with Sharifah and Rebecca.
TW: racist language, colorism, and a few flashback references to the murder of the twins’ fathers by white supremacists. Nothing is discussed in detail but YMMV. If it helps, I went into this book thinking I wasn’t going to be able to handle it, but Brit Bennet has a way of writing about painful subject matter with care and a kind of restraint that I find both powerful and readable as an extremely sensitive person.
From the Internets
Libro.fm’s Juneteenth initiative raised just over $67,000 for 42 Black-owned bookstores! Click here for a recap and an action plan for the future. Also check out Libro’s interview with author George M. Johnson.
Anyone else craving romance right now as much as I am? Audiofile recommends these new romance audiobooks to boost your spirits. I just checked out The Bromance Book Club from Libby!
Speaking of romance, check out this Audible playlist of Black voices in romance.
June is Audiobook Month (I won’t blame you if you kinda forgot like I did because… you know, THINGS), and Audiobooks.com has a ton of resources to celebrate: staff picks, upcoming film adaptations, and a few active giveaways (sorry for not altering you all sooner!)
Over at the Riot
These memoirs are both written and narrated by queer women. You al know how I feel about In the Dream House!
Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your burning book club questions or find me on Twitter and the gram @buenosdiazsd. Sign up for the In the Club newsletter, catch me once a month on the All the Books podcast, and watch me ramble about even more new books every Tuesday on our YouTube channel.
Stay bad & bookish, my friends.