Things ramped up in June. The movements and protests increased. Corona infections continued to rise (in the U.S.) despite earlier claims that things might get better by now. The wind brought the U.S. a sand cloud from the Sahara, and there was news that there’s a swine flu that could reach pandemic levels (sigh).
Let’s Rewind is my version of a monthly wrap up but instead of talking about only books, I include all types of other stuff, like articles… bookish news… commercials… random-ass links… movies… art… podcasts… cartoons… and whatever else happened to me in the month. You know, the usual stuff that people talk about in monthly wrap ups. So read on to see what I did and read this month. You might stumble upon something that interests you.
Is it just me or are the months starting to run into each other? In my personal life, not much happened in June. I worked. I slept. I ate. I talked to folks. I stayed inside, tried to stay 6 feet away from others when outside, and reminded myself not to touch my face when out and about, which is becoming increasingly difficult. Has that been happening to you?
I now realize that my hand is often in my face during the summer months, mostly because I’m wiping sweat away or swiping my hair away from my forehead and neck because it’s hot and humid and I’m trying to stay cool. I always look forward to summer, but so far summer 2020 is a bust. I’m not enjoying it. It’s too hot. I’m inside too much. And when I’m outside, I keep forgetting not to touch my face or my mouth.
A couple days ago I bought some ice cream and because I got some on my finger, my natural reaction at the moment was to lick it off because my other hand was full and the napkin was deep in the bag. I barely stopped myself. Ugh!!
Anyway, June was a pretty typical reading month, and I managed to read a couple articles, which I’m very happy about.
The Inheritance is an anthology of short stories written by Robin Hobb and Megan Lindholm, pseudonyms for the same author. A few of the stories are set in the Realm of the Elderlings world, which is why me and Emily at Embuhleeliest, my buddy-reader in all things Hobb, decided to read it. (That and we just want to read everything the author has written.) As anthologies go, some stories I liked, some stories I didn’t like as much. But overall, it was a decent read.
Then I completed Brass Carriages and Glass Hearts by Nancy Campbell Allen. It’s the fourth novel in the Steampunk Proper Romance series, a paranormal romance series with some steampunk in which each novel is influenced by a particular fairytale. This one hints at the Cinderella fairytale. I was looking forward to reading it but unfortunately, I didn’t like it. The protagonist was very unappealing, which made me uninterested in the plot. It was a disappointment. I read an ARC; the novel will be pubbed in October.
Greyborn Rising by Derry Sandy was next. It’s a paranormal fantasy novel set in Trinidad that contains creatures from Caribbean folklore. It’s about a young man, who’s part of a secret society that hunts supernatural creatures, pairing up with a psychic, a soucouyant (like a shapeshifting vampire; it’s a witch who sheds her skin at night, becomes a fireball, and feeds on human blood), and several other individuals to hunt an obeah man who has tampered with the veil between the human world (the Absolute) and the world of supernatural creatures (the Grey). It took a long time for me to get into the story because there is a lot of exposition at the beginning that immediately turned me off. I was bored, but at about 30% or so into it, my interest in the story grew.
My plan is to FINALLY complete the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan on this read-through of it. I completed The Shadow Rising, which is the fourth book in the series. I continued reading it by audiobook, which is narrated by Kate Reading and Michael Kramer. I guess it’s because I read this twice or so before that I was beyond bored this time through. Only the Mat chapters interested me.
I ended the month with Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia, a middle-grade fantasy novel that contains African American folklore characters in the story. It’s about an African American boy who must use his storytelling talent to save a fantasy world. I liked the story. It started out strong but started to drag a bit later.
There was a rush to buy and (hopefully) read anti-racism books in May and June. In this for Harriet episode, Kimberly talks with author Ibram X. Kendi, author of Stamped From the Beginning and How to Be an Antiracist. They also talk about racism in America and the recent increase of books by Black authors on the bestseller lists due to the antiracism reading trend.
Those with a star (★) are the ones that stuck with me.
Social issues & current affairs
★ The Fight to Redefine Racism (newyorker.com)
— This was published back in 2019, but it’s still a timely read. It’s about racism in America, but it also digs into Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped From the Beginning and How to Be an Antiracist and Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility. I highly recommend the article if you are planning to read, or have read, these books.
So Brutal a Death (newyorker.com)
— By Edwidge Danticat, it’s about the outrage over George Floyd’s killing by the police.
“At the same time, the image of these police officers squeezing the life out of Floyd might serve as a metaphor for the way U.S. Administrations have, for generations, dealt with the countries many of us come from — through invasions, occupations, wars, the buttressing of dictators, and the removal of democratically elected governments, among other tactics. In the agony of his final moments, while crying out for his mama, water, and breath, George Floyd reached out to and became all of us. He has joined a vast community of people, across the globe, who see echoes of the injustices and the inequalities of their own societies in his American story, and recognize their own torment in his suffering.”
Essential Workers Are the New “Magical Negro” (electricliterature.com)
— An article about how “essential workers” are being exploited and how to support them and show that you value their work.
“We must not allow their pain to be reduced to “resilience,” because what we are witnessing is a spell of structural subjugation.”
Books & publishing
— The writer talks about the presumption that White means universal.
“Blackness is a tool that makes fiction more universal, not less.”
“…when white writers write from life, their books tend to be taken as universal, whereas books about black characters tend to be taken as statements made on behalf of a racial or ethnic group.”
“Literary novels about black people don’t have to serve as homework for well-meaning activists just as they don’t have to stand as political statements for the black community as a whole. Literary fiction featuring the life experiences of a black woman can be pitched, marketed and read as universal, because (news flash) everyone in the universe isn’t white.”
— L.L. McKinney, author of A Blade So Black, writes about the need for books by Black authors about Black people that do not focus on Black pain.
“Black people recognize how vital it is to read books like these in order to avoid being besieged by Black trauma at every turn. It’s getting everyone else to realize the importance of these types of stories that’s the problem.”
Writing & editing
— On why the Columbia Journalism Review capitalizes “Black” but not “white” when talking about race.
— An article about how deforestation affects us.
Around the blog-o-verse
— A post on some of the social commentary horror stories featuring the undead make.
— If you’re looking for comic books by Black authors/illustrators, check out this list on Biblionyan.
One Pencil Drawings (avignettist.com)
— I love Somali’s blog and her illustrations! 🙂 In this post, she talks a bit about her process and how absence of color forces her to focus on other design elements.
Judging a Book by Its Cover: Beauty and the Beast (milliebotreads.com)
— Millie featured a book from my collection for her Judging a Book by Its Cover post, which admires and praises beautifully designed books.
Appleton Estate Reserve Blend Review: A Glorious Introductory Jamaican Rum (therumration.wordpress.com)
— Another rum review over on the Rum Ration. I had to feature it here because it’s a review of a Jamaican rum! 😀 Yes, yes! I’m reppin’. Of course, whenever I mention these posts, I have to include a song to go with it. So far, it’s always a soca song (no idea why, lol). See video below.
“In the rum world, Jamaican grog has earned a reputation for being the cream of the crop.”
More Rum (Jab Fete Riddim)
Stuff I pubbed
— A list of 20 picture books by Black authors about a Black character
— A discussion post about the assumption (I guess presumption is the better word) in book publishing that White means universal. I wrote it after reading the LitHub article I linked above as well as McKinney’s article over on Tor.com.
— The tour of my bookshelves continue.
Well, not really bookish news, more so other posts from around the web:
Introducing the Terry Pratchett Book Club! (tor.com)
An Anti-Racist Graphic Novel Reading List (publishersweekly.com)
5 Post-Apocalyptic and Dystopian Stories by African Authors (tor.com)
Queer True Crime: A Reading List (crimereads.com)
What Happens to Black Women and Girls in a World Without Police? with Dr. Brittney Cooper (for Harriet YouTube channel)
— Another great discussion video over on the for Harriet YouTube channel. Kimberly talks with Brittney Cooper about why Black women and girls affected by police brutality aren’t much discussed in the current movement.
There’s Something About Mary (npr.org)
— About Mary Mallon, the woman who was called Typhoid Mary, and how she got that name
Why Publishing Advances Matter (coffeebookshelves.com)
— Shade created two videos discussing racism and inequality in publishing and the Twitter hashtag #publishingpaidme that authors used to highlight the disparity in the types of advances Black authors receive in contrast to White authors.
Here’s what I watched in June (spoiler alert, I gave into my love of supernatural shows).
I found out about it in June and easily got hooked. The story has its faults. I often rolled my eyes at it, and it was obvious the show was trying to be like SyFy’s the Magicians, but it still appealed to me. I liked it. I binged on the first and second seasons.
I never watch these types of shows but somehow, I got hooked on Schitt$ Creek. I could not stop watching. It’s so funny! Oh man, boredom is making me try some weird shows, so I’m glad I ended up liking one of them.
This is a stand-in for all the Resident Evil movies. I think I’d only seen one of them before this, but I’ve been bingeing on all of them. I’m now on Afterlife. I love these movies. I love zombie flicks with lots of action. Even if the story doesn’t make much sense, if there are zombies and action, I’ll most likely love it, lol!
I’m rewatching it since the Order is done and since season 5 is it’s last and I haven’t seen any episodes from that season yet.
Also binged again on Avatar: the Last Airbender and Supernatural. Those two are my go-to shows when I don’t know what to watch or what to do with myself.