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Showing posts from 2020

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. Naïve, 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

Judicious Women, Authenticity, Crossroads & Legacies

  The loss of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is devastating. All the heartfelt tributes are well-deserved, and have turned my thoughts toward consideration of the early years of her legal career at the ACLU and the Women's Rights Project. Without RBG and WRP then, would we now have women in combat in the U.S. military? The Lilly Ledbetter Law? Marriage equality? Federal mandates for equitable insurance coverage? And many more legal protections against sexism and other forms of discrimination?   The #TWWBF2020 More Than Tragic: Happy Endings, Adventure, and Fantasy for All panelists and authors of the following titles, and I, along with millions (billions?) more people have benefitted from Justice Ginsburg's life and work for human rights. Her existence improved the world and will continue to do so, which is a significant part of her substantial legacy.    Standby Counsel (Monica Spade #2) by Alexi Venice   Contemporary legal thriller romance    August 2020   Aft

#TWWBF2020 #WOMXNLITOUT2020 #reading OR #writing @thewritewomenbookfest

  (My personal video highlights some benefits of reading anthologies, and falls under the category of "Do as the guidelines say, not as I have done." 😊) PARTICIPATE IN OUR “READING & WRITING OUTSIDE OF YOUR EXPERIENCE” ON SOCIAL MEDIA  HOW IT WORKS   Read a book that is by somebody outside of your own experience. White readers, please use the below for guidance as to the criteria.    #OwnVoices is a term coined by the writer Corinne Duyvis, and refers to an author from a marginalized or under-represented group writing about their own experiences/from their own perspective, rather than someone from an outside perspective writing as a character from an underrepresented group.   (Source -    Or that could be tagged with #100blackgirlbooks by    “This resource g

2020 Third Quarter Roundup of Reviews in Limbo

Reading for pleasure, research, and for more than one professional outlet for book reviews makes it easy to lose a few submissions in transmission. Through absolutely no fault of their own, the following worthy titles' reviews didn't reach their intended online destinations earlier this year.   Vitality    Crysta Levere (Twitter: @LevereCrysta)     YA contemporary supernatural romance   Hot    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 confrontatio

#TWWBF2020 Monday, September 21st - Saturday, September 26th

Drop in with us Monday, September 21st through Saturday, September 26th!  Check out Vikki J. Carter's interview with Heather Brooks, founder of The Write Women Book Fest.

Some Summer 2020 Beach Reading

Love Wins (Eventually): Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole Then Came You by Kate Meader Two Rogues Make a Right by Cat Sebastian Trauma, Recovery, Leaps of Faith & Cultural History: Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai Contemporary Culture Clash Drama: Then, Now, Always by Mona Shroff Historical Culture Clash Romance: Forever My Duke by Olivia Drake Repartee as Foreplay: The Two-Date Rule by Tawna Fenske First Comes Scandal by Julia Quinn Books Nerds Collide: The Write Escape by Charish Reid Smooth Covert Operators: The Cost of Honor by Diana Munoz Stewart Forever Strong by Piper J. Drake YA Fantasy: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas June 2020* (Bloomsbury reprint of 2015 original) Eight years ago Fate turned its back on nineteen-year-old Feyre, her two older sisters, and her lame father. Keeping them fed becomes Feyre's responsibility, which she teaches herself to fulfill through trial, error, and some fickle luck. They're living on

Juneteenth 2020 (& There's Still Strange Fruit in the Trees)*

First line of "Strange Fruit" by Billie Holiday Southern [California] trees bear a strange fruit... What happened to Malcolm Harsch on May 31, and Robert Fuller on June 10, 2020? There is a long, documented history of domestic terrorism in the United States. It started with the exploitation, subjugation, and annihilation of indigenous North Americans by invading missionaries and colonists who committed to a belief in their Manifest Destiny with violent dedication. The Trail of Tears, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Schools, reservations, bombing Black Wall Street in Oklahoma; the internment of those survivors, lynchings, Rosewood in Florida, the internment of American citizens of Japanese descent during World War II, the Klu Klux Klan (and other Aryan Superiority Societies), unleashing police dogs and pressurized water hoses on American children of African descent during the Civil Rights Movement… These and other similar events are points along a continuum sour

Let Me Breathe

Two Women in One by Nawal El Saadawi Translated from the Arabic by Osman Nusairi literary fiction Saqi  July 2020 First published in 1985 during waves of Egyptian political upheaval with friction between nationalist and opposition factions and an economic depression, then reissued in 2005 in the swell of contentious elections and their aftermath, and now being published again in the wake of the worldwide #MeToo movement and the recent global expansion of Black Lives Matter, Two Women in One taps into the continuum of generations of the anatomy of systemic oppression in a narrative voice with present-day resonance. Following a dedication that warns readers about the under-reported martial facets of love, the foreword by musician and singer Deeyah Khan refers to Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex and that author's rational laments regarding the gendered indoctrination of women into femininity as a restrictive force that smothers individuality, condemning each of them to

Gearing Up for the 2nd Annual The Write Women Book Fest

UPDATE:  We're going virtual!  Monday, September 21 - Saturday, September 26, 2020  A mix of live and prerecorded activities for a variety of interests, plus 100 free swag bags filled with T-shirts, books, and other bookish items for curbside pickup from Marietta House in Glenn Dale, Maryland on Saturday 9/26 to preselected and notified recipients. Distribution is on a first come, first served basis. Register here: While BEA successfully took their annual celebratory publishing industry extravaganza online last month, and the National Book Fest plans to do the same this September, a modified version of the second annual The Write Women Book Fest is still on for Saturday, September 26, 2020 at lovely historic Marietta House in Glenn Dale, Maryland. [6/23/2020 update] Prince George's County Parks and Planning has decided to suspend on-site activities until at lea

Celebrating Black Men and the Boys They Once Were (and Sometimes Forever Remain)

Today's post is a departure from my often light-hearted tone and brief word count. Monday starts the month of June, in which fathers are acknowledged for their value to their families, their communities, and society. My love and appreciation for my dad, my grandfathers, uncles, male cousins, and other black men who are important to me have been at the forefront of my mind. Whether still living like my dad, two of my uncles, and my cousins or dead like my grandfathers and my dad's brother, all of their lives beat the odds that were, and still are, stacked against their existence. My dad grew up in the Jim Crow South. As a very young child he developed a heart condition, which doctors told his parents would likely kill him by his tenth birthday. My dad was ten years old when Emmett Till was murdered on August 28, 1955, a fact that makes me wonder if other potential external threats to his life ascended to the top of my grandparents' list of concerns for his health tha

HunkerDown-Enabled Binge Reading

Greetings to all from the odd and challenging new world of isolation and social distancing—or as innate recluses call it, everyday life. Seriously though… Gratitude, support, and prayers for all of the essential workers from medical professionals to cleaning staff, people in the food supply chain, store clerks, mass transit and postal workers, truckers, mail carriers, and everyone who is obligated to leave their homes and families each day while the rest of us stay safe at home. Your sacrifices and suffering in service to the greater good of humanity is appreciated. On an entirely frivolous note, following the Maryland stay-at-home order has provided me with the opportunity to indulge in gluttonous consumption of my favorite brain candy—books. First, the 20+ borrowed from the public library. (Truthfully, at the time that quantity seemed excessive in the context of what was supposed to be a two-week shutdown.) Second, e-books from OverDrive and NetGalley (because the anticipat

#HunkerDown Reading

Resistant by Rachael Sparks Spark Press 2018 Sci-fi surrealism Is this author clairvoyant? Or as a scientist has she extrapolated a possible future based on current facts? In Resistant, it's 2041 and fifteen percent of the human population is dead from being infected by an antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Sound eerily relevant? Sure, COVID-19 is a virus, but the template for this imaginary manmade catastrophe bears striking similarities to the world's present-day reality. Die-off survivor and microbiology student Aurora “Rory" Stevigson lives with her climatologist father Byron Stevigson on an apple farm in Massachusetts. Their grief over the loss of Dr. Persephone Tyler-Stevigson shadows their playful father-daughter rapport as they struggle to heal themselves while also helping others in their isolated community. When a mysterious man who introduces himself as Navy appears, everything Rory believed about her life becomes questionable, which puts her in danger. Her

Real American Dirt, a Chef, Cowboys & Sleuths (w/Fur Babies)

Reviewer’s note: The two books by Reyna Grande were read in anticipation of attending her panel discussion with American Dirt author Jeanine Cummins at the #GaithersburgREADS event on March 31, which is cancelled for now with the intention of rescheduling. The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande memoir Washington Square Press, 2012 A Dream Called Home by Reyna Grande memoir Atria Books, 2018 The Distance Between Us begins with a map showing the border of the lower forty-eight United States and the northern Mexican states. It appears deceptively benign. For this author the more than two thousand miles separating Iguala, Guerrero from Los Angeles, California represent generational divides overflowing with dreams deferred and associated through spiraling cycles of economic oppression, despair, and cruelty. Alienation of affection from self and others builds momentum in the family’s psyche and manifests in their daily lives in ways that are subtle and explosive. Unpredictable

#Smashwords Annual Sale during #EbookWeek20

Dodging Eros, Through Past, Present and Pleasure (Extra Stories) by Cardyn Brooks is FREE! More Than Enough by C. X Brooks is only $.99! (Remember to deactivate the adult content filter.)