As I reviewed my 2020 reads, I realized that I barely touched any of my TBR books, especially the ones that I already owned. So to help me with that, I am going to attempt the following reading challenges:
By Alexis Daria
Leading Ladies do not end up on tabloid covers.After a messy public breakup, soap opera darling Jasmine Lin Rodriguez finds her face splashed across the tabloids. When she returns to her hometown of New York City to film the starring role in a bilingual romantic comedy for the number one streaming service in the country, Jasmine figures her new “Leading Lady Plan” should be easy enough to follow—until a casting shake-up pairs her with telenovela hunk Ashton Suárez.
Leading Ladies don’t need a man to be happy.
After his last telenovela character was killed off, Ashton is worried his career is dead as well. Joining this new cast as a last-minute addition will give him the chance to show off his acting chops to American audiences and ping the radar of Hollywood casting agents. To make it work, he’ll need to generate smoking-hot on-screen chemistry with Jasmine. Easier said than done, especially when a disastrous first impression smothers the embers of whatever sexual heat they might have had.
Leading Ladies do not rebound with their new costars.
With their careers on the line, Jasmine and Ashton agree to rehearse in private. But rehearsal leads to kissing, and kissing leads to a behind-the-scenes romance worthy of a soap opera. While their on-screen performance improves, the media spotlight on Jasmine soon threatens to destroy her new image and expose Ashton’s most closely guarded secret.
Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness
Written and Read by Austin Channing Brown
Duration: 3 hours 54 minutes
From a leading voice on racial justice, an eye-opening account of growing up black, Christian, and female that exposes how white America’s love affair with “diversity” so often falls short of its ideals.
“Austin Channing Brown introduces herself as a master memoirist. This book will break open hearts and minds.” (Glennon Doyle, number one New York Times best-selling author of Untamed)
Austin Channing Brown's first encounter with a racialized America came at age seven, when she discovered her parents named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white man. Growing up in majority-white schools and churches, Austin writes, "I had to learn what it means to love blackness," a journey that led to a lifetime spent navigating America's racial divide as a writer, speaker, and expert helping organizations practice genuine inclusion.
In a time when nearly every institution (schools, churches, universities, businesses) claims to value diversity in its mission statement, Austin writes in breathtaking detail about her journey to self-worth and the pitfalls that kill our attempts at racial justice. Her stories bear witness to the complexity of America's social fabric - from black Cleveland neighborhoods to private schools in the middle-class suburbs, from prison walls to the boardrooms at majority-white organizations. For listeners who have engaged with America's legacy on race through the writing of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michael Eric Dyson, I'm Still Here is an illuminating look at how white, middle-class Evangelicalism has participated in an era of rising racial hostility, inviting the listener to confront apathy, recognize God's ongoing work in the world, and discover how blackness - if we let it - can save us all.
Written and Read by Cary Elwes (with guest stars)
Duration: 7 hours 1 min
From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.
The Princess Bride has been a family favorite for close to three decades. Ranked by the American Film Institute as one of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories and by the Writers Guild of America as one of the top 100 screenplays of all time, The Princess Bride will continue to resonate with audiences for years to come.
Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets and backstage stories.
With a foreword by Rob Reiner, As You Wish is a must-have for all fans of this beloved film.The full list of narrators includes: Cary Elwes, Christopher Guest, Carol Kane, Norman Lear, Rob Reiner, Chris Sarandon, Andy Scheinman, Wallace Shawn, Robin Wright, and Billy Crystal.
By William Goldman
This tale of true love, high adventure, pirates, princesses, giants, miracles, fencing, and a frightening assortment of wild beasts, as depicted in the 1987 film directed by Rob Reiner and starring Fred Savage, Robin Wright, and others, is now available in a beautiful new package, with foil and embossing on the cover and an interior printed on elegant uncoated cream stock with rough-cut edges.
This keepsake edition also includes fifty full-page color illustrations by Michael Manomivibul, full-color chapter openers, and a gorgeous color map printed on the endpapers. A stunning package no fan will be able to resist!
Read by Emily Bauer
Duration: 8 hours 59 minutes
Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.
Told in journal entries, this is the heart-pounding story of Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all--hope--in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world.
Bart's Books was pretty much an open air bookstore. There were bookcases and bookcases of books all around. There was either sheet metal or a piece of wood covering above the bookcases to protect the book from the elements. There were so many books that we, in fact, felt a bit overwhelmed. Every time we finished browsing down a row of books, we noticed that there was another row just around the corner.
This cute LFL was next to the cafe we got our lunch from. I wonder if it stays outside like this, rain or shine. Or do they bring it in during the rain?
Space-obsessed 12-year-old Paola Santiago and her two best friends, Emma and Dante, know the rule: Stay away from the river. It’s all they’ve heard since a schoolmate of theirs drowned a year ago. Pao is embarrassed to admit that she has been told to stay away for even longer than that, because her mother is constantly warning her about La Llorona, the wailing ghost woman who wanders the banks of the Gila at night, looking for young people to drag into its murky depths.
Hating her mother’s humiliating superstitions and knowing that she and her friends would never venture into the water, Pao organizes a meet-up to test out her new telescope near the Gila, since it’s the best stargazing spot. But when Emma never arrives and Pao sees a shadowy figure in the reeds, it seems like maybe her mom was right. . . .
Pao has always relied on hard science to make sense of the world, but to find her friend she will have to enter the world of her nightmares, which includes unnatural mist, mind-bending monsters, and relentless spirits controlled by a terrifying force that defies both logic and legend.
A Mixtape Memoir of Growing Up and Standing Up
by Cristela Alonzo
In this memoir full of humor and heart, comedian, writer, and producer Cristela Alonzo shares personal stories of growing up as a first-generation Mexican-American in Texas and following her dreams to pursue a career in comedy.
When Cristela Alonzo and her family lived as squatters in an abandoned diner, they only had two luxuries: a television and a radio, which became her pop cultural touchstone and a guiding light.
Cristela shares her experiences and struggles of being a first-generation American, her dreams of becoming a comedian, and how it feels to be a creator in a world that often minimizes people of color and women. Her stories range from the ridiculous—like the time she made her own tap shoes out of bottle caps or how the theme song of The Golden Girls landed her in the principal’s office—to the sobering moments, like how she turned to stand-up comedy to grieve the heartbreaking loss of her mother and how, years later, she’s committed to giving back to the community that helped make her.
Each significant moment of the book relates to a song, and the resulting playlist is deeply moving, resonant, and unforgettable. Music to My Years will make you laugh, cry, and even inspire you to make a playlist of your own.
A little late on this review...but hey, better late than never. :)
By Angie Thomas
Read by Bahni Turpin
Duration: 11.7 hours
Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill.
But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral…for all the wrong reasons.
Bri soon finds herself at the center of a controversy, portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. But with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri doesn’t just want to make it—she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.
Insightful, unflinching, and full of heart, On the Come Up is an ode to hip hop from one of the most influential literary voices of a generation. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; and about how, especially for young black people, freedom of speech isn’t always free.
Good morning. Do NOT get stuck in the comments section of life today. Make, do, create the things. Let others tussle it out. Vamos!
Before he inspired the world with Hamilton and was catapulted to international fame, Lin-Manuel Miranda was inspiring his Twitter followers with words of encouragement at the beginning and end of each day. He wrote these original sayings, aphorisms, and poetry for himself as much as for others. But as Miranda’s audience grew, these messages took on a life on their own. Now Miranda has gathered the best of his daily greetings into a beautiful collection illustrated by acclaimed artist (and fellow Twitter favorite) Jonny Sun. Full of comfort and motivation, Gmorning, Gnight! is a touchstone for anyone who needs a quick lift.
It's been a while since I posted an update. It's hard (and sad) that I don't have much to share since my activities have slowed down tremendously. So many factors came into play: 1) I am working 10+ hours 6 days a week, 2) temperatures were in the high 90s and triple digits, and 3) the wildfires! We have such poor air quality because our poor forests are burning all over California. Despite all of this, I did find a few occasions to at least walk & hike:
By Jewel Parker Rhodes
Read by Miles Harvey
Duration: 2 hours 52 minutes
A heartbreaking and powerful story about a black boy killed by a police officer, drawing connections through history, from award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes.Only the living can make the world better. Live and make it better. Twelve-year-old Jerome is shot by a police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real threat. As a ghost, he observes the devastation thats been unleashed on his family and community in the wake of what they see as an unjust and brutal killing. Soon Jerome meets another ghost: Emmett Till, a boy from a very different time but similar circumstances. Emmett helps Jerome process what has happened, on a journey towards recognizing how historical racism may have led to the events that ended his life. Jerome also meets Sarah, the daughter of the police officer, who grapples with her fathers actions.Once again Jewell Parker Rhodes deftly weaves historical and socio-political layers into a gripping and poignant story about how children and families face the complexities of todays world, and how one boy grows to understand American blackness in the aftermath of his own death.
Written by J.C. Cervantes
Read by Ozzie Rodriguez
Duration: 11 hours 17 minutes
Zane Obispo's new life on a beautiful secluded tropical island, complete with his family and closest friends, should be perfect. But he can't control his newfound fire skills yet (inherited from his father, the Maya god Hurakan); there's a painful rift between him and his dog ever since she became a hell hound; and he doesn't know what to do with his feelings for Brooks. One day he discovers that by writing the book about his misadventures with the Mayan gods, he unintentionally put other godborn children at risk. Unless Zane can find the godborns before the gods do, they will be killed. To make matters worse, Zane learns that Hurakan is scheduled to be executed. Zane knows he must rescue him, no matter the cost. Can he accomplish both tasks without the gods detecting him, or will he end up a permanent resident of the underworld?
In this cleverly plotted sequel to The Storm Runner, the gang is back together again with spirited new characters, sneaky gods, Aztec royalty, unlikely alliances, and secrets darker than Zane could ever have imagined. Secrets that will change him forever.
If you like to support independent bookstores, then you're in luck! Today is Independent Bookstore Day!!!
This event was rescheduled from April to August 29th because of COVID-19. Not only are many local independent stores celebrating, but a lot of events are happening virtually. You can visit the event page to find all the different ways to celebrate the day.
My plan was to attend a few virtual author discussions today, but due to work stress I only got 3 hours of sleep last night. I don't think I'll be able to focus much if I try attending a Zoom event. So instead, I plan to visit my local independent bookstore's websites and support them by buying a couple of books.
Here are some of my local independent bookstores that I enjoy visiting:
Stories from a South African Childhood
by Trevor Noah
The memoir of one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.
Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.
Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.
I love watching Book Riot's "New Release Tuesdays" on YouTube. While watching, I wondered how I was able to look into other book releases and luckily, Goodreads has a page for that. Here's what I found
Books released August 25, 2020:
The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline
I'm changing this up a bit. Instead of posting every Monday, I would post every other Monday that includes 2 weeks worth of activities. This is to help with my sanity while I get use to my new workload.
Yesterday was Bookstore Romance Day and I had so much fun! I didn't participate all day but I was able to check out a few independent bookstores around the U.S., learn about different authors and books, and attend two virtual author events.
The first author event that I attended was...
Yes, it is Bookstore Romance Day! I just found out about this event last night and immediately got excited for it.
So what is it all about?
Per their website:
Bookstore Romance Day is a day designed to give independent bookstores an opportunity to celebrate Romance fiction—its books, readers, and writers—and to strengthen the relationships between bookstores and the Romance community.
I saw this weekly feature over at All the Book Blog Names Are Taken and I figured, why not?
In the tradition of The Arabian Nights, a beautifully illustrated tapestry of folk tales and myths about the secret legacy of female storytellers in an imagined medieval world.
In the Empire of Migdal Bavel, Cherry is married to Jerome, a wicked man who makes a diabolical wager with his friend Manfred: if Manfred can seduce Cherry in one hundred nights, he can have his castle--and Cherry.
But what Jerome doesn't know is that Cherry is in love with her maid Hero. The two women hatch a plan: Hero, a member of the League of Secret Story Tellers, will distract Manfred by regaling him with a mesmerizing tale each night for 100 nights, keeping him at bay. Those tales are beautifully depicted here, touching on themes of love and betrayal and loyalty and madness.
As intricate and richly imagined as the works of Chris Ware, and leavened with a dry wit that rivals Kate Beaton's in Hark! A Vagrant, Isabel Greenberg's One Hundred Nights of Hero will capture readers' hearts and minds, taking them through a magical medieval world.