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In Reading Color

New Releases: The 1619 Project, Nigerian Cyborgs, a half Korean journalist, and more!

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

I’m not sure how it is where you are, but here on the east coast, I was minding my business when the cold weather just came out one day ready to fight! It turned from being crisp and cozy to what New Yorkers call “brick.” As I bundle up something fierce, here are a few new releases with some pretty meaty topics to look out for:

cover of The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones

The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story by Nikole Hannah-Jones

This retells America’s beginnings in a more honest and well-rounded way by centering perhaps the most defining aspect of it: chattel slavery. By looking at U.S. history from that focal point, The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story expands on the award-winning efforts of the 1619 Project‘s depiction of American democracy being rooted in the enslavement of Black people. It does so through eighteen essays and thirty-six poems and works of fiction. Hannah-Jones’s lead essay from the original project won a Pulitzer.The reaction to the original project has been so strong that Sen. Tom Cotton, one of its detractors, has fought to keep it from being taught in schools.

cover of Noor by Nnedi Okorafor

Noor by Nnedi Okorafor

One of the reigning queens of Africanfuturism, Okorafor is back with a tale of Nigerian cyborgs and herdsmen. Even since before birth, AO has been considered abnormal. A car accident further saw to her otherness, as it required major body augmentations that would make her a target one fateful day in the market. There, she’s forced to kill five men in self-defense. Now she’s on the run. She comes across a Fulani herdsman who was similarly unfairly accosted, and the two set out together to find a secret community where they will be free from persecution. Familiar elements—like mentions of Greta Thunberg and other well-known people— keep the reader tethered to our world while reimagining an alternative one in this novel that serves as a critique of capitalism and what defines otherness.

cover of O Beautiful by Jung Yun

O Beautiful by Jung Yun

Elinor Hanson, a half Korean and white journalist and former model, finds she must return home to North Dakota. In efforts to reinvent herself, she takes on a story from a prestigious magazine covering an oil boom that was recommended to her by an old professor. As she unearths details for the story, so too does she unearth uneasy old feelings of ostracization, objectification, and a general lack of belonging. Meanwhile, back in New York, there is a case being made against her old professor and Elinor’s classmates ask if the relationship she had with him was consensual.

cover of New York, My Village by Uwem Akpan

New York, My Village by Uwem Akpan

Ekong Udousoro is a Nigerian book editor who has just won a Toni Morrison Publishing Fellowship, and is on his way to New York City to learn about the publishing world from one of its capitals. Once there, he is set to edit an anthology of writers of color who were affected by the Nigerian Biafran War of the ’60s. When he actually arrives, he finds a shabby living arrangement, bed bugs, callousness in the form of agents and landlords, and other unsavory NYC drawbacks. Akpan draws a parallel between the tribalism that resulted in the war back home and the tribalism by another name that plagues New York City, sowing discord among its inhabitants. Despite all of this, Akpan still manages to weave in hopefulness, tenderness, and humor in this satirical novel.

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

A Little Sumn Extra

Don’t forget to check out our new podcast Adaptation Nation if you haven’t already! The first episode is out already and covers the adaption of Dune.

A fun RuPaul’s Drag race quiz for ya

A great introduction to romance writer Jackie Lau for those who aren’t familiar

The best books to give as gifts this year

An interesting look at what’s popular in public libraries

Jesse Sutanto, author of Dial A for Aunties, has just signed a five book contract!

Author of All Boys Aren’t Blue talks about their book being removed from libraries

Looking to sample an author without committing to an entire novel? This list of free short stories is sure to help. All of these authors are great, and a few of them are of color! A few included here are: Malindo Lo, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Rivers Solomon, P. Djèlí Clark, Yoon Ha Lee, Ken Liu, and more!


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 our new co-host Tirzah Price, as Kelly has retired after five years (!), as well in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next week

-E

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In The Club

Reach For the Stars

Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed.

Book club friends! I hope you’re doing well. I finally finished Only Murders in the Building, and I must say that I was a little… underwhelmed. I just felt like the last episode wasn’t as strong as others, and the reveal was kind of *womp*. I guess the penultimate episode made it kind of anticlimatic. What did y’all think?

As we ponder cliffhangers, let’s get to the club!

Nibbles and Sips

sass squash dish

Chef Elena Terry of the Ho-Chunk Nation is a founder of Wild Bearies, a nonprofit outreach catering organization. She works to uplift the Indigenous Food Sovereignty movement, and also shows us how to make a dish similar to pumpkin pie that she conceptualized. It’s called sass squash, and it uses ingredients that are local and more sustainable to certain parts of North America.

Now let’s get to the books!

The Space Race

I’m sure you’ve heard of the billionaire space race. They seemed to think the earth is ruined and the future for humanity (or maybe just their future??) lies in the as yet barely explored cosmos…? With it being Native American Heritage month, I can’t help but be reminded of manifest destiny when I think about this, and the idea of exploring with the intent to use the resources of the newly discovered area. If we find life in space, do we have a right to it? Do we have a right to any inanimate resources as well?

The books below, two of which are memoirs, find human beings wrestling with the ills of humanity while looking past it to the cosmos.

book cover of The disordered Cosmos by Chandra Prescod-Weinstein

The Disordered Cosmos by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

Prescod-Weinstein talks of how the wonder of the cosmos beckons so many, but because of discrimination, few are allowed to pursue careers in the physics and astronomy fields. She’s the first Black woman to be tenured in a theoretical cosmology faculty position, and as a result, knows all too well the roadblocks in the way of inclusive academic environments. In The Disordered Cosmos, she juxtaposes the exploration of her field— her speciality is finding dark matter— with issues that are more earth-bound, like Indigenous peoples’ land and experiments. She describes a hopeful future where the scientific community is able to benefit from the inclusion of all races and genders.

cover of Bewilderment by Richard Powers

Bewilderment by Richard Powers

Astrobiologist Theo Byrne looks to the cosmos for life as his own turns to shambles. His wife died, leaving him to raise their nine-year-old son Robin. Robin is a kind boy who likes to draw pictures of animals, no doubt a hobby developed as a result of his recently departed animal rights activist mother. Robin is also neurodivergent and prone to outbursts of violence, the latest of which he faces expulsion from school for. This is a touching novel that explores a father-son relationship alongside their loves of nature and science.

cover of A Quantum Life by Hakeem Oluseyi

A Quantum Life by Hakeem Oluseyi

Oluseyi tells of the balancing act he had to achieve as someone who was always academically gifted and interested in the sciences, but grew up in rough areas that required a certain exterior for survival. His nomadic childhood saw him in some of the more dangerous areas in Houston, New Orleans, and Los Angeles, where he eventually learned to adapt by doing things like selling weed to get the target off of his back. Although he’s now an astrophysicist at NASA, the road getting there once he became an adult was rife with drug addiction and other challenges, which he explores in this novel of self-reinvention.

Suggestion Section

Don’t forget to check out our new podcast Adaptation Nation if you haven’t already! The first episode is out already and covers the adaption of Dune.

Brooklyn Public Library Lit Prize Winners Revealed

Here’s a nice overview of the Poet Laureates in the U.S.

Alice Wong: ‘I Don’t Center Nondisabled People’

A good list to start buying gifts


I hope this newsletter found you well, and as always, thanks for hanging out! If you have any comments or just want to connect, send an email to erica@riotnewmedia.com or holla at me on Twitter @erica_eze_ . You can also catch me talking more mess in the new In Reading Color newsletter as well as choppin’ it up with Kelly Jensen on the Hey YA podcast.

Until next week,

-E

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

Categories
In Reading Color

Indigenous Authors to Get Into

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

Newsletter friends! I hope this past week found you well! I have good news to share, myself. Occasionally, I instruct an SAT prep course through a public library in Jersey City, the latest one having just ended in September. It’s offered free to students, and my classes are always teens of color who wouldn’t have access to prep courses otherwise. Well, a couple days ago, one of my students from the course reached out to me to tell me she had scored in the 90th percentile! I’m beyond proud. Teaching the course was yet another reminder of the importance of representation and access to resources.

Speaking of representation, November is Native American Heritage month (!!), so I’ll be shining a brighter light on authors indigenous to America in this newsletter. These authors breathe life into the people who walked this land before us (for those of us in North America), using traditional storytelling to flesh out narratives that have been all but erased.

cover of Ancestor Approved by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Ancestor Approved by Cynthia Leitich Smith

This collection of eighteen contemporary and intersecting stories of tribal life is told from the perspective of young protagonists. It features tales from the Ojibwe, Cherokee, Cree, Choctaw, Cherokee, Navajo, and Abenaki nations, as well as others. Well-known and newer authors shine here in these stories of resilience, humor, and honoring the past.

A Snake Falls To Earth cover

A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger

Little Badger writes from the perspectives of an asexual Lipan Apache teen girl— similar to her novel Elatsoe— and a cottonmouth snake teen from the spirit world in her second YA novel. The two teens’ worlds collide after a catastrophic event on earth. Lipan Apache storytelling is woven around tales of environmental destruction in this coming-of-age story.

Here’s an interview with the author.

cover of The Sentence by Louise Erdrich

The Sentence by Louise Erdrich

This often funny novel is out today and follows Ojibwe woman Tookie as she starts to get settled into her new life outside of prison. Having found solace in books during her sentence, Tookie still looks to books on the outside and finds herself working at the independently and Indigenous owned books store, Birchbark Books in Minneapolis. When the bookstore’s most annoying customer Flora dies with a book open next to her, not having had enough time to properly mark her place, no doubt, she continues to peruse the bookstore aisles as a ghost. In addition to Flora’s ghost, the characters throughout are haunted by George Floyd’s murder (especially as it happened in Minneapolis) and COVID. This novel sees to it that America has a reckoning with its ghosts, which were born of its violent past and present.

The bookstore setting is based on Erdrich’s actual bookstore Birchbark Books in Minneapolis. I bought Elatsoe online from them for the Insiders’ group read and received it very quickly if you’re looking to support an Indigenous owned bookstore.

cover The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

This recently won the 2021 Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award. It follows four young Blackfeet men after their indiscretion of hunting elk on forbidden elders’ land. Unfortunately for them, one elk is unusually hard to kill and they find themselves changing roles from predator to prey. With this novel, Jones offers an exploration of generational trauma and justice.

A Little Sumn Extra

cover of Fevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse

Rebecca Roanhorse’s follow up to Black Sun, Fevered Star, is set to be released in April 2022. The cover is absolutely s t u n n i n g.

Deepa Mehta is set to direct an adaption of Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi.

Billy Porter To Direct ‘Camp’ For HBO Max And Warner Bros.

This post by Sarah Rahman gives an overview of Poet Laureates in the U.S. Joy Harjo, the first Native American Poet Laureate, is mentioned here.

Kelly Jensen gives us the rundown on censorship news this week.

Danika Ellis dissects Matt Krause’s foolishness.

Danika, again, but with a palette cleanser in the form of some good bookish news, leading with how characters of color in U.K. kids’ books have quadrupled in the last four years.

One more palette cleanser: find out which 90s witch you are for a book recommendation


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 reigning Queen of YA, Kelly Jensen, as well in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next week,

-E

Categories
In The Club

🎉 It’s Native American Heritage Month! 🎉

Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed.

We’ve got a new podcast called Adaptation Nation, which will be about TV and film adaptations of your favorite books! The first episode features Jeff, Amanda, and Jenn breaking down the sci-fi classic Dune and the new adaptation (it’s also out now!). Subscribe on your podcatcher of choice.

Anyone else have terrible allergies? Here’s actual footage of me for the past three weeks. Like, we’re in an age of technology and I’m allergic to… outside. A week and a half ago, I was commiserating with my friend about our sinuses and we were trying to figure out if it was the change of seasons or maybe just how we had been staying inside more since the pandemic started. Who knows! All I know is that I wish I could breath like a normal person.

While I decide between Allegra or Zyrtec, let’s get to the club!

Nibbles and Sips

fry bread taco

Today’s recipe is for fry bread tacos. It’s interesting how much food can tell the history of a people. The invention of fry bread is directly linked to the oppression of Native Americans by the U.S. government. It was born of necessity and the result of the limited rations given to Native tribes when they were forcibly removed from their lands.

Recipes for fry bread have been passed down for generations and now many view it as part of their heritage. Among them is Lawrence West— of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe— who owns the restaurant Watecha Bowl in South Dakota. He gives us a recipe for his fry bread tacos, which are vegan (as a lot of Native food naturally is).


November is Native American History month, and I just have to say it’s absolutely wild how little we’re taught of Native Americans in history classes in America. Like, it’s shameful, really. When I was studying to take the MCAT, there was a passage I read that was talking about how U.S. democracy came to be influenced by Native American government. Here is an article that isn’t the one I read, but speaks on the topic.

It was interesting because I felt I’ve always heard the Ancient Greeks being credited with the entirety of democracy as a concept, even though everyone having a say is the most logical thing for a society, but I digress. Reading the passage was a great example of how history is so routinely whitened, and why we still need heritage months just to highlight what really happened.

The books below help us remedy our lack of knowledge of Native American culture just a bit.

cover of Poet Warrior: A Memoir by Joy Harjo, blue with a native beadwork design

Poet Warrior by Joy Harjo

Harjo was the first Native American to serve as the U.S. poet laureate. In this musical and poetic memoir, she explores the many influences that put her on the path to being a poet who writes towards compassion and healing. Her love of words began with her hiding under the kitchen table trying to catch her mother reciting poetry by the likes of William Blake and others. Harjo mixes prose, poetry, and song in this memoir about grief, compassion, abuse, and justice.

cover image of Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley 

Daunis Fontaine is eighteen, biracial, unenrolled from her tribe, and a bit of a misfit. She wants to study medicine after high school, but puts her dreams on hold to help her ill mother. Her and her Anishinaab half-brother spend a lot of time playing hockey, and one day she stumbles upon a drug trade that is centered on selling a new form of meth. Bodies start to pile up and Daunis becomes involved with the case to the point of going undercover, during which time she conducts her own investigation. This dark thriller has a fairly realistic main character and is a great look into Ojibwe culture.

cover of White Magic by Elissa Washuta

White Magic by Elissa Washuta

Washuta’s decade-long struggle with addiction, abuse, and PTSD culminated in her being drawn to the spirits and practices of her ancestors. She talks of witch craft and the gentrification of her culture’s practices in the form of plastic-wrapped starter “occult” kits with sage and other traditional Native spiritual tools. She references the pop culture she consumed during her formative years— like Fleetwood Mac, Twin Peaks, and the Oregon Trail video game (I remember playing this in 1st grade!)— and presents them as personal cultural artifacts, drawing a parallel to stories of her ancestors.

Book Club Bonus: What are some things you’ve noticed that we’ve borrowed from Native American culture that don’t get credited as being Native? Also, if you read all three books, what are some things that the Native characters deal with that you weren’t expecting?

Suggestion Section

Noname’s Book Club picks for November are Black Slaves, Indian Masters by Barbara Krauthamer and As Long as Grass Grows by Dina Gilio-Whitaker

The November pick for Reese’s Book Club is The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak, with the Fall YA pick being Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood.

Jenna Bush Hager selects a mafia-drama— The Family by Naomi Krupitsky— as the November book club pick

Still Life by Sarah Winman is the ‘GMA’ November Book Club pick

Here’s a book club focused on uplifting Indigenous voices

The Days of Afrekete by Asali Solomon is the November pick for Belletrist


I hope this newsletter found you well, and as always, thanks for hanging out! If you have any comments or just want to connect, send an email to erica@riotnewmedia.com or holla at me on Twitter @erica_eze_ . You can also catch me talking more mess in the new In Reading Color newsletter as well as choppin’ it up with Kelly Jensen on the Hey YA podcast.

Until next week,

-E

Categories
In Reading Color

Award-Winning Books: The Kirkus Prize

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

We’ve got a new podcast called Adaptation Nation, which will be all about TV and film adaptations of your favorite books! The first episode will feature Jeff, co-host of the Book Riot podcast, and Amanda and Jenn, hosts of Get Booked, breaking down the sci-fi classic Dune and the new adaptation. Subscribe on your podcatcher of choice!

Now, let’s get into some award-winning and nominated books! Since joining Book Riot, I’ve been paying a little more attention to book awards. I was always aware of them before, of course, and would even choose books to add to my TBR based on certain awards they had won. I just didn’t necessarily know a lot about what went into choosing the winners, what the winners were awarded (apart from the award itself, of course), and things like that. For instance, the Kirkus Prize winners were just announced, and although I like reading the Kirkus Reviews, I just learned that their awards grant the winners $50,000 each. I gotta admit, reading that made my eyes pop out of my head like the wolf eyes used to do in cartoons when they would see a lady they liked (lol). What’s more, there were a great number of winners and finalists that were people of color!

A little more about the award. As this is In Reading Color, I’ll focus on the authors of color, but offer my congrats to all the finalists and winners!

There were three categories of books judged— fiction, nonfiction, and young readers’ literature— and two of them were won by authors of color. Now let’s get into them!

Nonfiction Winner

Punch Me Up to the Gods a memoir

Punch Me Up to the Gods Brian Broome

Phew. This one, y’all. Let me tell you. Broome structures his upbringing in Ohio as a Black, gay kid to an abusive father who used to hit him like he “was a grown-ass man” around Gwendolyn Brooks’s poem “We Real Cool.” There were so many places that rejected him for him being who he was, whether it was because of his race or sexuality. When he gets older, he self-soothes through sex and drug use, to (foreseeably) disastrous results. These are heavy topics, but there is at least some dark humor strewn throughout this searing debut.

Nonfiction Finalists of Color

Young Readers’ Literature Prize Winner

cover of All Thirteen by Christina Soontornvat

All the Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team by Christina Soontornvat

This is the first nonfiction book in the Kirkus Prize’s eight year history to win in the young readers’ category. June 23, 2018 saw the young players of the Wild Boar soccer team and their coach become trapped in a cave in northern Thailand. This is the meticulously researched account of their survival and rescue. Soontornvat was visiting family in Thailand when news outlets began covering the seventeen-day rescue that involved people from around the world. First-hand accounts from the rescue workers, color photos, details of the engineering required for rescue, as well as aspects of the region’s culture and religion all combine to tell an amazing story of endurance and the human spirit.

Young Readers’ Literature Finalists of Color

Fiction Finalists of Color

A Little Sumn Extra

Speaking of award winners, Abdulrazak Gurnah’s book Afterlives will be coming to American bookshelves in 2022. Gurnah recently became the first Black Nobel laureate for literature since Toni Morrison in 1993. If you’re wondering why you may not see his books around much, the New York Times wondered the same thing.

cover of re-release of Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno Garcia

Silvia Moreno Garcia’s debut novel Signal to Noise about “1980s teens casting spells with vinyl records” is getting a makeover.

The Well Read Black Girl Festival is underway! Check out the virtual presentations here.

Book Riot’s own Erika Harrison talks Hoodoo in celebration of October being Black Speculative 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 reigning Queen of YA, Kelly Jensen, as well in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next week,

-E

Categories
In The Club

It’s All Greek to Me

Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed.

Book club friends! Before we get to the books, I wanted to remind you that it’s the last week to get your hands on some Book Riot anniversary merch that I must say is perfect for fall. The gold sweatshirt is hella cute, by the way.

As for the latest in my bookish life, I just recorded a great Hey YA episode with my cohost Kelly Jensen that includes some YA retellings and airs today *ahem*. Thinking about retellings in general made my mind wander to ones based on Greek mythology, as there are so many. I feel like there are a few that come out each year, and, although I love them, I sometimes wonder why it’s such a popular category. Is it because they’re such good representations of the human condition? Or are people simply reliving familiar tales from their childhood and making them new?

What do you think? As you mull the question over, let’s get to the club!


Nibbles and Sips

A pecan pie with a few slices taken out of the pan

It’s about that time! Time for me to bust out the pie pans and try to recreate that buttery magic my grandmother made all through my childhood. I was prompted to include a great recipe for pecan pie by an article featuring another foodie showdown. This time, the best recipe for punkin pie was at stake (or steak?… heh). For Thanksgiving and/or Christmas gatherings I attend, I like to make both a pecan pie and a pumpkin one. If you’re thinking, Erica, that’s a bit much. Yes, yes it is, and to that I say “and what about it?” I have no shame in my game.

Revel in this delicious tradition (laced with whiskey), courtesy of Toni Tipton-Martin at Texas Monthly. Here’s another one by Jocelyn over at Grandbaby Cakes that doesn’t have a paywall.


Book Club Bonus: Years ago, I watched a documentary on mythologies that said that the harshness in mythology is supposed to represent the harshness of life. The stories where the hero is facing some beast or god were meant as analogies of Man vs. The Elements. I think that same struggle is kept central to the plot in the books I mention below, as they are told from the perspective of people that have been marginalized— whether it be because of race, class, or gender— who are up against their own version of The Elements. Discuss how accurate you think these analogies are. Also, what did these adaptions grant the original story? What did they take away?

cover of Home Fire by  Kamila Shamsie

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

Isma has been recently freed from the shackles of older-sister-itis— a moment of silence for her, because I honestly feel you, girl. Her role of caretaker to her younger siblings was brought on by the death of her mother years prior. She’s since accepted a mentor’s invitation to finally go after a dream she’s been delaying. She leaves her home in London to start earning her PhD in America, but can’t stop thinking about her younger siblings: the fiery and gorgeous Aneeka and Parvaiz, who wishes to realize his absentee father’s jihadist dreams. In America, Isma crosses paths with Eamonn Lone, whose powerful father wins favor back home with Islamophobic propaganda. As the two families become intertwined, romance, intolerance, and familial loyalty are explored in this retelling of Antigone.

Circe by Madeline Miller

Circe by Madeline Miller

I hesitated to add this one as it is already pretty popular. I decided to, anyway, as I really enjoyed it and I can’t resist mentioning a good witch protagonist.

“When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.” 

So starts the novel, which follows the titular character who is neither powerful like her father Helios, nor breathtakingly beautiful like her mother Perse. Instead, she’s largely seen as unremarkable as she searches for acceptance and love in the world of the gods. When she is banished to the island of Aeaea, Circe realizes her innate magic and takes to learning about herbs and potions as she surrounds herself with lions. I love how Circe’s magic is treated here. It’s a natural, comfortable thing that works as if she were merely having a thought at times. As she continues to step into her own, she takes on several, powerful mythical figures, lovers, and motherhood. Her journey sees her gradually rising above the scorn directed at her by other immortals.

“I did not go easy to motherhood. I faced it as soldiers face their enemies, girded and braced, sword up against the coming blows. Yet all my preparations were not enough.”

As ancient as the character is, many of her concerns are modern.

cover of An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozi Obioma

An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozi Obioma

Young poultry farmer Chinonso intervenes when he sees Ndali preparing to jump off a bridge. In a bid to demonstrate the finality of what she’s contemplating, he throws his two prized chickens off the bridge. The young woman is moved by his demonstration and goes on to have a relationship with him. Issues arise, however, in the form of Ndali’s educated family disapproving of Chinonso’s lowly farmer status. As a result, he decides to go to college, a decision that puts him on a life changing journey that will show how far he’s willing to go to change his lot in life. A lot of traditional Igbo spirituality is incorporated in this reimagining of the The Odyssey. Case in point, it’s narrated by Chinonso’s Chi— or life force— which has been summoned in front of the almighty creator to represent Chinonso in a hearing that will determine his guilt in a serious crime.

cover of Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint 

Ariadne and her sister Phaedra are princesses of Crete that grow up knowing the shame of their Minotaur brother’s existence. The product of their mother Pasiphaë’s obsession with a snow-white bull, the Minotaur stalks the labyrinth built beneath the palace, demanding human blood. When Ariadne falls in love with the prince of Athens, who came to Crete as a sacrifice to her half brother, she has to decide whether to help him or stay loyal to her family and country. This story follows Ariadne through her life, showing her position in a world of powerful gods and cruel men. It’s another great addition to the list of well-known myths being retold from their often silent female characters’ perspectives.

Suggestion Section


I hope this newsletter found you well, and as always, thanks for hanging out! If you have any comments or just want to connect, send an email to erica@riotnewmedia.com or holla at me on Twitter @erica_eze_ . You can also catch me talking more mess in the new In Reading Color newsletter as well as choppin’ it up with Kelly Jensen on the Hey YA podcast.

Until next week.

-E

Categories
In Reading Color

A Different Kind of Murder Mystery

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

Before we get to the books, here’s a little reminder that this is the last week to get a hold of the limited edition Book Riot anniversary gear. There’s a hoodie with the Book Riot logo that is a particularly nice shade of gold, just in case you were wondering.


I’ve mentioned before in another newsletter I write *cough* In the Club *cough* about how science fiction and fantasy (sff) have been foretelling society’s inventions and wrestling with societal ills since forever. Now, I’d like to add to that list of duties: carrier of culture. By that, I mean that some sff that is written by authors of color infuses elements from their native folklore, mythology, or religion, thereby becoming a vessel through which that culture can be shown to and experienced by the reader. The increase in authors of color publishing sff has shown just how many different perspectives and new ideas— things that are so central to sff — we’ve been missing out on.

The books mentioned below combine my adoration of sff with my other love of a good murder mystery. I realized that, although it may be a bit niche, I love a whodunit that has some magical or futuristic elements. I think you will, too.

Elatsoe book cover

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

Elatsoe, or Ellie, is a high school Lipan Apache girl that lives in an America similar to our own. The only difference is that it has been molded by the monsters, spirits, and magic of Indigenous as well as other cultures. Courtesy of her maternal ancestors, Ellie has the ability to raise the ghosts of dead animals. One day, her ghost dog Kirby warns her of danger. She finds out her cousin has been in an accident and is in critical condition. He passes away in the night. She was told he was in a car accident, but before he fully passes into the spirit world, he visits Ellie in a dream to tell her that he was murdered. He begs her to protect his family from the man that murdered him, a man that lives in the mysterious town of Willowbee. Ellie travels down to Texas to find out what really happened to her cousin.

Side note: I’m actually in the process of reading this for our quarterly group reads book club alongside members of our Insiders’ program.

cover of Far from the Light of Heaven by Tade Thompson

Far from the Light of Heaven by Tade Thompson

After carrying sleeping passengers for ten years— a necessity for having traveled light years— colony ship Ragtime docks in the Lagos system. As its first mate Shell Campion awakens, she finds things have gone horribly wrong. For one, the A.I. that was meant to be running the ship is running ragged, secondly, and most importantly, people have been murdered. She contacts investigator Rasheed Fin and his artificial partner to figure out what’s happened. The only issue is that she’s a main suspect, and the one that’s been sabotaging the ship and causing deaths is still aboard.

cover of Seven of Infinities by Aliette de Bodard

Seven of Infinities by Aliette de Bodard

Vân, a poor scholar, and Sunless Woods, a mindship that just so happens to be a master of disguise, previously only knew each other from Vân’s poetry club. When a dead body is found in the room of one of Vân’s students, the two work together to find the culprit. The journey takes them from teahouses to ascetic havens, and even uncovers secrets they’d prefer stayed hidden.

This is another novella in which De Bodard deftly guides us through the Xuya Universe, a fully imagined and unique world. It, like the others, is part space opera and part mystery, and peppered with details from Vietnamese and Chinese culture. Also, the covers for these are beautiful!

cover of The Good House by Tananarive Due

The Good House by Tananarive Due

TW: self harm

The Good House was built by a pharmacist in 1907, and passed on to Marie Toussaint, a beloved Creole herbalist and Angela Toussaint’s grandmother. Despite its name, the Good House has seen many tragedies. Firstly, Angela’s mother took her own life when Angela was still a child. Years later, after divorcing his father Tariq, her son Corey also commits suicide with his father’s gun. Years later, as Angela tries to repair her legal practice, she goes back to Sacajawea, Washington where the Good House is to confront her ghosts and demons and find out why there has been so much concentrated tragedy there. Keep in mind that this definitely leans towards horror, like some of Due’s other works.

Due’s The Between was chosen for Emma Roberts’ Belletrist book club pick earlier this month.

A Little Sumn Extra


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 reigning Queen of YA, Kelly Jensen, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next time,

-E

Categories
In The Club

All Thrill, No Chill

Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed.

Friends! Have you been keeping up with Only Murders in the Building? Last week I told myself that I would only watch again once all the episodes were in. Those cliffhangers really irk my soul. Naturally, I watched it anyway and found myself, once again, being upset at those credits rolling. A part from that, though, Jane Lynch in last week’s episode was *chef’s kiss*. I mean, she’s always wonderful in everything she’s in, but her role in this show! Plus, that whole gag about hip motions was sending me. By the time this newsletter comes out, the finale will have aired. We’ll talk more about who killed Tim Kono then. In the meantime, don’t forget to get your Book Riot 10th anniversary schwag that’s only available for a short time!

Now, on to the club!


Nibbles and Sips

I had some drunken noodles for the first time the other day, and let me tell you, they slap. Like many Thai dishes, fresh basil is center stage in the flavor profile. Many add chicken or shrimp, but the tofu I had with mine was delicious. Just make sure your noodles are extra t h i c c. Pai leads us to glory.

SN: the picture is from a different site.


For When You Want a Little Turbulence

…but don’t want to crash. Know what I mean? Here are some interesting thrillers by women to shake you up a little.

Your House Will Pay cover image

Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha

Learning about the story that inspired this made my blood boil. Grace Park’s family, despite the sheltered life her Korean immigrant parents have afforded her, is broken. Shawn Matthews deals with a disjointed family as well. One that suffered the murder of his teenage sister in 1991. When Grace’s mother is shot in a drive-by, Shawn must provide an alibi. Although he’s eventually cleared, he begins to wonder about his cousin Ray’s involvement, and Grace starts to realize why her sister Miriam hasn’t spoken to their mother in years.

The Lost Man cover image

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Here, three brothers manage land in Queensland so vast there are hours between each of their houses. One of the brothers, Cam, never comes home one day and is later found on the stockman’s grave— an old landmark associated with local ghost stories— with his keys neatly placed in the front seat of his car. Cam is thought to have taken his own life, but the unsettling dynamic amongst those in his household as well as family secrets seem to suggest otherwise. Jane Harper always seems to write the Australian settings she uses as other characters, and this one helps to push themes of isolation, which serves to amplify the family drama.

cover image of Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

This YA novel falls under what the kids call dark academia and secured its twenty one year old author a seven figure book deal. Gen Z just being built different is a reality I often discuss, and clearly, Àbíké-Íyímídé is no exception. It follows head girl Chiamaka and the talented Devon —the only two Black students at a prestigious and very white high school— as they contend with an anonymous texter known as Aces. Aces is hellbent on exposing everything Chiamaka and Devon want to keep secret and takes their torture of the two students quite far in this queer novel that explores systemic racism with echoes of Gossip Girl.

Suggestion Section


I hope this newsletter found you well, and as always, thanks for hanging out! If you have any comments or just want to connect, send an email to erica@riotnewmedia.com or holla at me on Twitter @erica_eze_ . You can also catch me choppin’ it up with Kelly Jensen on the Hey YA podcast every couple of weeks. I also write the new newsletter In Reading Color that focuses exclusively on literature by people of color. It’s out every Tuesday.

Until next week,

-E

Categories
In Reading Color

Orange is the New Book Club, Rare Books, and more!

Welcome back fellow readers in color! If you’re new here, In Reading Color is a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

I’m writing to you from the crispest of fall temperatures. My city has decided to accommodate my perfect idea of autumn, and the past couple of days have been mid to low 60s. All of this means I was able to bust out my lil cardigans and whatnot that I’ve been saving, and I’m now walking around cute n cozy.

Before we get into some news, updates, and new releases, how has the change of season been treating you?


Now, let’s get started!

Solange Knowles  in When I Get Home album cover photo

In celebration of Solange’s Free Library of Rare, out-of-print books by Black authors, let’s revisit her 2019 album When I Get Home, which is still the ethereal bop it was when it first came out. There hasn’t been any other album I’ve been able to listen to lately from start to finish straight through as I have Solange’s. Almeda is a standout. Please have a listen if you haven’t already.

The adaption for Argentinian author Samanta Schweblin’s book Fever Dream is out now.  Also, Netflix is starting a book club that will feature books the streaming service has adapted. The selections will be curated by Uzo Aduba from Orange is the New Black (but more like Orange is Uzo Aduba’s Color, amirite?). Uzo will sit with the author and speak about the connection between the original book and the adaption. All together, it seems like a pretty unique and interesting concept. Passing by Nella Larsen will be the first discussed, as the release of Netflix’s adaption with air on November 10th.

The Frangipani Tree Mystery cover image

In more adaption news, Singaporean writer Ovidia Yu’s Frangipani Tree Mystery series is being adapted for TV. It takes place in 1936 in Singapore amidst political uncertainty. In a bid to escape an arranged marriage, Su Lin takes the place of a slain Irish nanny in the house of the acting governor of Singapore. When another murder takes place in the governor’s house, Su Lin puts her journalism experience to use to aid British Chief Inspector LeFroy in solving the case.

DC is developing an animated movie based on Black-centered comics from its Milestone imprint. “Milestone launched in 1993 with the intention of creating more mainstream Black superheroes, featuring a group of characters from the fictional city of Dakota whose identities and backgrounds were central to their power.”

Some New Releases

cover of Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli

A Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli— a romance about an über practical data analyst who explores her Indian roots, and her more impulsive, passionate side. Eow!

Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall— a YA graphic novel with a lesbian and Asian main character who gets caught up with the popular girls in high school…who also happen to be werewolves.

Sankofa by Chinudu Onuzo— Reese’s Book Club pick for October. This follows Anna after her mother dies as she traces her roots back to a father she never knew, who also happened to be the president of a small country in West Africa.

A Little Sumn Extra

The book bans aren’t letting up. Now, Toni Morrison books are being requested to be banned by Virginia Beach School Board Member

Kelly Jensen has more on the latest book challenges.

K.W. Collard gives us an extensive list of the greatest science fiction through the ages.

Leah Asmelash reports for CNN on poetry’s modern resurgence, with poets of color leading the charge

Keke Palmer and Jasmine Guillory are collaborating on a story collection


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 reigning Queen of YA, Kelly Jensen, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next time,

-E

Categories
In The Club

The Witches Have It

Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed.

Before we get to the books, shimmy on over here to get some 10th anniversary merchandise that’s only offered for a limited time.

Now, book club besties. I feel some type of way. My little brother and I are trying to coordinate holiday travel. Holiday travel. Already. How is next month Thanksgiving?? I feel like… someone’s been lying to me. Like I need a refund or something. On the other hand, I am ready for a lil Black Friday deal or two, if I’m keeping it real.

Conflicted feelings aside, let’s get to the club!


Nibbles and Sips

image of a plate with Chile rellenos

Have you ever had chile rellenos? Because you should. They’re basically fried poblano peppers stuff with cheese (usually Oaxacan cheese, but other cheese can work), which sounds simple enough, but they’re boommmb. Isabel at Isabel Eats guides the way.

Now let’s get to the books!

The Witchery

The reason so many fall releases are so much fun to me is because of all the new books about witches. I’ve always loved reading about powerful women, whether their power is based in how they carry themselves or some outward thing (like magic, say).

Cover of Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis

Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis

Katrell is a mess. Period. It’s not her fault, though. Her mother is even more of a mess and exploits her daughter’s ability that allows her to speak to the dead. The money Katrell gets from connecting people with their departed loved ones goes towards paying for said deadbeat mother and whoever her mother’s abusive loser-of-the-month boyfriend is. All while (barely) going to high school and working a low-wage job. Bless her heart, you know how much I would be charging with that power?! I would have what they call eff-you money. Katrell is young and doesn’t know any better, though, and it shows. She’s warned one day by her best friend’s dead grandmother during a session to stop communing with the dead, but she doesn’t listen. And, it gets bad bad.

Book Club Bonus: Talk about the type of family trauma that binds and why Katrell seemed to keep making the same mistake over and over. Why do you think some people hurtle towards self-destruction?

book cover of The Manningtree Witches by A.K. Blakemore

Manningtree Witches by A.K. Blakemore

This is set in a small town in England in 1643. While I feel there’s a lot written about witches during this time, this felt a little different because Manningtree is a place where there is a dearth of men on account of the war. Women are left to their own devices. That is, until Matthew Hopkins arrives dressed in head-to-toe black, asking what the women in town are up to. To which I say: Sir, if you don’t mind your damn business. You can imagine what happens next. Whispers of suspicion, betrayal, covens, and pacts converge as the independence of the women of Manningtree starts to be realized.

Book Club Bonus: Female independence and sexuality are often viewed contentiously in witch stories set in Puritan settings. It’s obviously sexist, but why do you think that is? What do you think is it about these things that Puritans found so threatening?

Conjure Women Book Cover

Conjure Women by Afia Atakora 

This technically came out last year, but you’ll still want to bump it up on your TBR, especially since Atakora used interviews from formerly enslaved people collected by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s to inform her writing. It’s set on an isolated former plantation in the south after the Civil War. Rue is the reluctant local midwife and occasional setter of curses (upon request), continuing on her beloved mother’s position in town. One day Rue helps to deliver a baby that’s got the whole town pressedT. He’s born with a caul and strange, black eyes. Then other children start dying. Whispers of Rue being a witch rather than a healer start to circulate, and people seek comfort in a preacher. Rue has to determine if this preacher is for her, or not, as she tries to keep her own secrets hidden.

Book Club Bonus: It’s interesting how a lot of witches throughout history have had a close tie to medical things. Many times a connection to witchcraft may be drawn to midwives, healing women, etc. Even the potions and tinctures of the craft may be likened to medicine (and were the only medicine available at times). Discuss: Would a man doing similar things as witches (mixing herbs, delivery babies, etc.) be considered a witch or something else?

Suggestion Section


I hope this newsletter found you well, and as always, thanks for hanging out! If you have any comments or just want to connect, send an email to erica@riotnewmedia.com or holla at me on Twitter @erica_eze_ . You can also catch me choppin’ it up with Kelly Jensen on the Hey YA podcast every couple of weeks. I also write the new newsletter In Reading Color that focuses exclusively on literature by people of color. It’s out every Tuesday.

Until next week,

-E