Writers of Color 50 Book Challenge

Book 28 - The Vampire's Beautiful Daughter by SP Somtow
SP Somtow is Thai American with dual citizenship. In addition to being a writer, he is also a composer.

I was happy to revisit this author, since I had previously very much enjoyed his collection of creepy modern fairy tales Tagging the Moon: Fairy Tales From LA. Given the nature of that book I was surprised to learn that Somtow had also written a young adult novel. I definitely wanted to give it a try.

I enjoyed this book, although at times it was a bit creepy and dark also. Best for teens and older children.

Read my full review here!

Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
aliens against racism
Book 26 for my project was the enthralling fantasy _Throne of the Crescent Moon_ by Saladin Ahmed.
It was nominated for the Hugo and Nebula award and it won the Locus Award for Best First Novel.

This was a surprisingly traditional fantasy novel. It reminded me of some of the first fantasy novels I ever read, like the Belgariad series by David and Leigh Eddings. The setting in a medieval city in the Middle East (or an alternate universe equivalent - it was a little hard to tell) was interesting and the writing was really good.

My one critique of the book is that it was a bit patriarchal. Most of the main characters are male and it only barely passes the Bechdel Test. You can graphically describe necromantic rituals and using baby bodies as ingredients for black magic spells, but you need a euphemism to talk about menstruation? Fascinating.

With all that being said I would definitely read Ahmed again. The book was very engrossing and I liked the characters.

Find out more here!

ETA: I just noticed that a collection of Ahmed's short works is currently available for free on amazon.com. Check it out here: http://smile.amazon.com/Engraved-Eye-Saladin-Ahmed-ebook/dp/B009CVYQG2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1437667388&sr=8-1&keywords=engraved+on+the+eye

Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner City Funeral Home by Sheri Booker
Folks, we're halfway through the year! Can you believe it?? And here's my halfway point, book 25: Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner City Funeral Home by Sheri Booker.

When I saw a review of this book I was immediately intrigued. I enjoy memoirs of the "I used to have this odd job" type, whether written by former call girls or dessert chefs. Nine Years Under is a fast, fun read. It was funny in some places and touching in others. Read all about it here!

If you enjoy quirky memoirs, give it a look!

Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord
Book 24 for me was an amazing short piece, Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord. This is a retelling of an African folk tale. I found it so beautiful and evocative! I strongly recommend this one and I'm looking forward to exploring more of Lord's work.

Read all about it here!

God Help the Child - Toni Morrison
Joan Smalls, Yoncé
Morrison's 11th novel was highly anticipated and recieved mixed reviews upon publication and after reading the book I have to say that I agree with most of the criticism.

It's a very short novel and Morrison's beautiful writing makes it a breeze to read. God Help the Child starts off almost like a fairytale, with Sweetness describing how she and her husband, both black but extremely light-skinned had a child that was born blue-black. The child, Lula Ann Bridewell, is treated with contempt by her mother and abandoned by her father, but the story picks up when Lula Ann is 23 and has transformed herself into the beautiful and sophisticated Bride, who works at a makeup company and dresses only in white to show off her skin. Despite her ultra-successful life Bride begins to fall apart when she is dumped by her lover.

I really wish that Morrison had gone full fairytale with her book. Any time she adds in contemporary details like about the makeup line, it comes across as bizzare and forced. In order to work completely the novel should have exorcised these details completely or added more of them. Still, this is a minor work by a master and fans of Morrison or people who just want a short read chalk full of good prose will enjoy this very much.  

Book 23: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I had been thinking about reading Americanah, which was suggested to me by a few different people. It seemed like a big commitment though so I wanted to start out with something a little shorter. So I read this short book based on Adichie's TED Talk. Well, the joke is on me - it was excellent and made me want to read a full-length piece of hers!

Read all about it here!

With that being said it's really been surprising me how much I've been enjoying the nonfiction I've been reading for this project. I don't normally read as many books of essays, for instance, but I've been getting a lot out of them.

Balm: A Novel by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Joan Smalls, Yoncé
I first came across Perkins-Valdez because of her first book, Wench a novel set in America in the 1850s a few years before the start of the civil war. Wench was a great novel, with a sublime hook, interesting characters and a central dilemma that was intruiging and managed to carry the entire book forward. My one quibble was that the writing was somewhat flat.

This is the good news for Balm: the writing is incredibly lush and beautiful and it really seems like Perkins-Valdez learned from her first work and grew as an artist. The bad news is that for fans of plot there is not a whole lot to hold on to. Balm is set in a burgeoning reconstruction era Chicago. The civil war is over and broken families litter the streets. Three people, Sadie, a white war widow, Hemp AKA Horse, a former Hemp plantation slave and Madge, a second generation black freeborn healer, find themselves thrown together after Sadie is invaded by the spirit of a dead civil war soldier and becomes a spiritualist, communicating with the dead and trying to help the living cope with their grief. The supposed through line that binds these characters is Hemp's search for his wife whom he is not sure is dead or alive and his growing love for Madge, who works for Sadie. The reality is that the plot lines are messy. Individually they are great, compelling stories that probably would have worked well on their own but together they are a muddle. 

Picture books
Oh Jonathon!
.12 Katrina Goonack, Marlene Goonack, and Myron Goonack, Scaly-Tailed Possum and Echidna, 2010

This traditional story is way too scary for my kids - the possum has its tail skinned and the echidna falls into prickles.

3.13 Better Beginnings Family Literacy Project, Katanning Kids, 2011.

This story was developed by the Family Literacy Project to develop culturally inclusive books. The kids in the Katanning kindy got to work on it themselves and the illustrations are of the kids.

Significantly more appropriate for my kids.

The Girl Who Spun Gold by Virginia Hamilton (illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon)
Book 22 for my project! How is everyone else getting on?

This is one of the few times so far that I have doubled up on one author. I had previously read Her Stories by Virginia Hamilton, which was also illustrated by the talented husband and wife team of Leo and Diane Dillon. (Here's their take on the strange little spirit who in the European tradition is called Rumplestiltskin.)

I recently realized that Virginia Hamilton was also the author of Justice and Her Brothers, a sf/f novel I enjoyed as a young adult. I'm planning to reread that one and find out how it looks through the lens of adulthood, which should bring my total up to three for Virginia Hamilton!

Read more about my impressions of The Girl Who Spun Goldhere.

This Strange Way of Dying by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Book 21 for my project! This book was actually a recommendation here in this community by ms_melissa.

Check out the droolworthy cover art:

I enjoyed this anthology a great deal. It's very short and the pieces are quite striking and lyrical. They are also different from each other, ranging from horror to fantasy to science fiction. I'm not normally a horror fan, but the horror stories here are mostly more creepy/haunting than gross, which I appreciated.

They didn't have it at my local public library, but the science fiction library I belong to had a copy so it wasn't hard to get after all.

For more information you can see my full review here.


Log in