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Adulting & Saving the Universe Are Exhausting

Reality in Chaos by Monique Kelley  Contemporary women's fiction  Black Rose Writing, January 13, 2021   In 1999 best friends and newly minted Hampton University graduates Simone, Jackie, and Taylor move to Los Angeles, California to pursue their respective professional goals in advertising, acting, and art. Eighteen years later as their fortieth birthdays approach their lives have unfolded into disappointing circumstances beneath the surface of their self-confident public personae. Will their shared milestone year mark a reset or a death knell for turning their dreams into reality?   Monique Kelley uses a first-person confessional style that fosters a deep sense of emotional intimacy between characters and readers. Starting with HBCU culture in the prologue evolves into broader issues of skin-color hierarchies, biases related to social class and geographic region, and ageism. Those themes and more are layered upon the foundation of gilded cages of privilege and the often high cost
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Celebrating You & Breaking Through in 2021, Plus Romance

Is last year's bumper crop of lemons the main ingredient for this year's success?  Here's a book with plenty of reasons why yes is the answer.  Rethink, Smashing the Myths of Women in Business   Andi Simon, Ph.D.   Non-fiction business biography  Fast Company Press (Greenleaf Book Group, distributor)   January 5, 2021   At a time when the world is reeling from being forced to improvise almost everything on a daily basis, Rethink profiles eleven women, including the author, whose lives and professional careers are prime examples of adaptability that defy entrenched gendered expectations. Invisible barriers to achievement in science, management, finance, and other industries are examined through the lenses of these accomplished women's experiences. Their profiles make for compelling reading and comprise the majority of the text, which is its strength. Notable reading frustrations include points of view and blanket statements that reinforce a narrow focus on a hetero, priv

Season's Readings  (Forgot to mention the Festival of Epiphany/Three Kings' Day, too.)  

Giving Thanks for a Cornucopia of Tasty 2020 Reads

  Vitality by Crysta Levere  YA contemporary supernatural romance   August 25, 2020   Dangerous secrets churn beneath the veneer of small-town charm in Aberdeen, Massachusetts. Nineteen-year-old Ava has pulled herself up from abandonment and homelessness into being a student at Agatha College. A classified ad leads her to off-campus housing with Dahlila, a local, and friendship with her fellow designated Outcasts. Their small group ventures to an underground social club that pulses with sinister intentions. Soon, Ava's life becomes entangled with mysterious Layton's murky existence and hidden agenda. Their chemistry sizzles. Volatile confrontations, multiple mysteries, a sometimes unreliable narrator in Ava, and sliding timelines combine to make Vitality a whirlwind tale of obsession.   Loaded with young adult angst and declarations of existential philosophy, Ava and Layton's story also includes smooth integration of sexual orientation as a fluid trait, and references to mi

Earlier Reads Worth Revisiting for Fall

  Aura of Dawn (Zyanya Cycle prequel) by Morgan J. Muir   Teen/YA historical romance   April 2020   Eighteenth-century Maracaibo is a bustling port city in Venezuela, filled with everyday personal dramas and commerce. Wealthy merchants, hard-working laborers, slaves, and sailors along with the indigenous Wayuu people create a rich mix of humanity with its assortment of major conflicts and petty jealousies. Sixteen-year-old Mariah's mother died when she was born, leaving her heartbroken father, merchant Don Bosque to raise her. Na├»ve, somewhat spoiled Mariah knows almost nothing about her mother because her father refuses to discuss his dead wife. On the day Mariah mourns another emotional loss and feels a subtle calling from the sea, Michael/Miguel, a mysterious sailor, enters her life. Without a surname, and with only vague references to his early life with his father, Miguel’s curious omissions lure Mariah and her three friends closer to him once Don Bosque employs him and invite

#CardynBrooksReviews #books October 18, 2020: Family Is What We Make It

May We All (Culhane Family #3) by Gay G. Gunn   Recent 20th-c. historical literary fiction   Different Drummer, 2017   May We All resumes its compelling interpersonal and sociopolitical journeys with the Culhane Family in 1955 in the shadow of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling. Beloved eight-year-old daughter Jaz manages to infiltrate a fascinating all-male bastion when her father, Coach Hep Culhane, takes her to watch football practice with her older brother TC. Jaz is curious about unfamiliar people and places. Limitations imposed upon her explorations prod her to move beyond them to discover what's on the other side. Curiosity and a willingness to step forward into the unknown are signature personality traits that assert themselves throughout her life and the entire narrative for each featured character. Jaz's point of view yield's to her sister Mel's, then her aunt's and so forth, per character, providing radial perspectives shaped according to age, gender,

Murphy's Law #TWWBF2020 Zoom Almost-Doom Averted by Panelists Who Saved the Day

[Photo credit: courtesy of Alexi Venice 2020] (Filed under the “Champagne Problems” category)   Panel Prep Checklist  Four talented panelists and one moderator in agreement on a date and time to record “More Than Tragic: Happy Endings, Adventure and Fantasy for All” chat?  Check.  #TWWBF2020 logo backdrop hanging on the moderator's wall?  Check.  Strong WiFi signal, functioning 100% charged tablet, and legible discussion notes?  Check—at least until an hour before start time, when the moderator's home Internet connection suddenly disappeared. Totally gone; wouldn't reboot. (Some people's nightmares are about falling. Mine are about dropped tech connectivity.)  Options?  Cry. Curse. (Are you kidding me with this right now, Divine Cosmic Forces of the Universe?!) Run to a nearby generous neighbor's house. Which friendly neighbor? The ones with the pack of adorable spoiled rotten yappy fur babies or the ones with the adorable rambunctious