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Writers of Color 50 Book Challenge

Book 19: The Naked Truth: Young, Beautiful and (HIV) Positive by Marvelyn Brown
This book treated many of the same subjects as the previous book, I Wish I Had a Red Dress by Pauline Cleage, but the presentation is very different. It's a memoir rather than a novel, about the life of AIDS activist and educator Marvelyn Brown.

One of the things that it made me think about is who the mainstream listens to for different communities that are trying to lift themselves up. I don't believe it's a coincidence that Marvelyn is young, cisgendered and photogenic or that she contracted HIV through a monogamous, heterosexual relationship. Respectability politics are often at play here and I think that applies to Marvelyn Brown just as it once did to Rosa Parks. (That takes nothing away from these women's contributions to the struggle - it's an indictment of the audience, not the speakers.)

This was a quick and interesting read. If you're surprised to hear that African-Americans represent the largest growing group of new HIV infections than I suggest you read it. With that being said the book maintains a positive, upbeat tone throughout.

You can see my full review here.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before - Jenny Han
I'm not someone who typically enjoys YA but this book came highly recommended and when I was in the mood for some light fluff it completely delivered.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before is about Lara Jane Song Covey, the middle of three "Song" girls, who are forced to somewhat fend for themselves after their mother died in a freak accident (their loving father is still very much in the picture but the girls try to be as mature as possible in order to make single parenting a breeze). Lara Jane is 16 and her neat orderly life is turned upside down when her older sister Margot heads off to university in Scotland dumping her long-term boyfriend, Josh, in the process. Lara Jane likes to pretend that she thinks of Josh only as an older brother but with her sister out of the way long dormant feelings start to rise up again and she pens a love letter to him telling him how she feels, one she never intends to send.  Of course, this being a YA romance novel, the letters, of which there are 5, all addressed to various boys, get sent. To Lara Jane's horror Josh reacts with confusion to her letter and even ends up admitting that he had a crush on her before he started to date her sister. In order to pretend that she's over him, Lara Jean ends up pretending that another boy, Peter, who she also sent a letter to, is her boyfriend and to her surprise he is more than willing to fake date her for reasons of his own.

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Book 18: I Wish I Had a Red Dress by Pearl Cleage
My third romance for this project was I Wish I Had a Red Dress by Pearl Cleage. I found it on a list of African-American romances, but honestly I feel this particular book was more of a novel than a romance. An excellent novel, too, definitely the best of the romance-themed books I've tried so far for this project.

Set in an aging resort town, it has a sweet, heartwarming feel. The end of the book packs a punch but is ultimately hopeful. I highly recommend it.

Read my full review here!

17. Hunting Monsters by SL Huang
Book 17 for me was an e-book. At the center of the e-book is the short story/novella "Hunting Monsters" which you can all read for free, right now, right here. You should do this, because it's terrific!

At the bottom of the story is a link to buy the e-book for $.99 (cheaper than Amazon, and no DRM!). In addition to the story, the e-book also includes an interview with the author and an essay about some of her inspirations for the story.

The story itself is amazing, and I do recommend you shell out the $.99 to support the author and to see the context pieces in the e-book which I thought were really interesting.

See my full review here!

3.11 Sally Morgan, The Last Dance, 2012
Oh Jonathon!
Sally Morgan, The Last Dance, 2012

As with most picture books by Sally Morgan, this one has colourful art and challenging text. It’s a bit grim, though, as the book catalogues a whole lot of endangered native fauna, all doing their last dance. Alas.

Gerritsen, Komusubi & Poitier
AtlA - Katara reading
Tess Gerritsen; The Keepsake

Solid mystery with some nice twists. Will read more by her.

Haruka Komusubi; Fünf Fälle für Sherlock Holmes

As far as I could find this hasn’t been translated into English. A manga adaptation of five Sherlock Holmes short stories. It was okay, but the way Watson was portrayed didn’t suit Doyle’s Watson very much.

Sidney Poitier; Life Beyond Measure

A memoir written in the form of letters to his great-grand daughter. I’d have liked to read more about his acting career, but it was still an interesting book.

Book 16: The Color of Water by James McBride
So far, the best books I've read for this project have been nonfiction. I don't normally read a ton of nonfiction, but I do enjoy memoir and essay and I've definitely been visiting those categories for my project.

Now, as for The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride.

I loved this book. I absolutely loved it. It is funny, it's poignant, it has great writing, and it has a happy ending. What could be better than that?

I highly recommend this to anyone. Might make a good present for Mother's Day, which is coming up next week for those of us in the US...

3.09 How I Go to School, Sharon Galleguillos, Perri-Ann Kelly, 2002
Oh Jonathon!
How I Go to School, Sharon Galleguillos, Perri-Ann Kelly, 2002

My daughters both enjoyed this picture book which is about how other Australian (Indigenous) kids go to school. Their focus was on whether they walked, took the bus, took a ferry, etc. They did not seem to notice that all the kids in the photographs were Aboriginal, being too busy explaining the different modes of transport that they personally use and comparing them.

The co-authors are Perri-Ann Kelly and Sharon Galleguillos, who was one of the first Indigenous graduates in the Certificate of Teaching program at Kedron Park Teachers' College, Brisbane. She is currently Deputy Chair of the Aboriginal Education Council (NSW) Inc. Sharon also holds a Bachelor of Education (Primary) from the University of Sydney. I can’t find any information on Perri-Ann Kelly.

The text was a nice read for a Grade Two, and my only quibble is that a map showing where the kids lived would have been an asset. My answers were clearly too vague. They were unimpressed with my description of Prince of Wales Island as being a little island in the north of the country.

Vampire Hunter D and Battle Angel Alita
We're jumping over to two Japanese authors for my next two reads!

Vampire Hunter D by is a novel by Hideyuki Kikuchi. It has lovely illustrations interspersed by Yoshitaka Amano. Now, the disambiguation can be a little confusing, because Vampire Hunter D is also the title of the book series (which has 26 novels in it), as well as the manga, anime, and video game that it inspired. I was able to see immediately why all of that followup happened because this book is simply amazing. You could call it a crossover between sci fi and fantasy - although there are vampires, werewolves, and magic this is described as owing to nanotech, unusual power sources, etc rather than anything mystical. I loved this book!! I'm very interesting in trying out the manga as well as the anime.

Battle Angel Alita: Rusty Angel is volume one of the BAA series. This manga was written and illustrated by Yukito Kishiro. The art is absolutely beautiful and possibly one of my favorite things about the manga. I appreciated that this went beyond a basic "she's a beautiful girl, but she's a battle cyborg!" level of engagement to have some philosophical discussions between the heroine and villain. This was also my first time learning about the interesting issue of sound effects in Japanese typically being portrayed as kanji and kana that are worked into the image - this can make them difficult to translate without changing the look of the manga. You can see some examples here.

Really excellent books in both cases. Stay tuned as I move back to memoir for my next review!

Letter to my Daughter by Maya Angelou
I selected this book of essays by Angelou as book 13. It was a fairly light read. I especially enjoyed the way she shared openly her own failings and mistakes, as describing a time when she and a friend were waiting for a meal in a restaurant for a long time. She thinks that it is a racist incident - it turns out to be a running-out-of-grits incident. It takes a lot of grace to admit your mistakes publicly like that. I mean, on paper! In black and white! I admire that and I definitely have a ton to learn in that area.

I felt very welcomed by the tone of this book.

You can read more about my impressions here.

I have been thinking about whether to try to read 50 books by different authors of color, or just fifty books by authors of color. So far, I haven't repeated any authors, but when it comes to someone like Lorde or Angelou, I'm certainly tempted! Fifty authors, or fifty books? What do the rest of you think about this?

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