I have definitely been reading more slowly this month because the world is on fire and it’s hard to function like normal with everything that’s going on. Plus, work has been really tough since court opened back up more. But I have read some things that I’ve really loved so I’m excited to talk about those. Before we get to that though, I wanted to spotlight an organization called Black Trans Advocacy Coalition in light of it being Pride month, J.K. Rowling being Umbridge about trans people, and also the fact that Black trans women keep being murdered AND misgendered. There’s a lot of work to be done to make the world a safer place for trans people, especially Black trans people, and so I was excited to learn about this advocacy group. I hope you’ll look into their program, but for now, let’s talk about books.
Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall
book was incredible. I like to think that my feminism is intersectional and that I’ve done a lot of work to get to this point. But then I read this book and my mind was blown. Kendall does a remarkable job of making you think about things in a way that I just haven’t, all throughout my women and gender studies minor in undergrad through law school to real life. I can’t recall a time where the point was so clearly drawn that poverty and hunger are feminist issues in the way that Kendall does. I know that we were taught that statistically, single mother households are most likely to be under the poverty line, but there was no class, no article I read, that did a better job of hammering home the incredible importance of paying attention to all poverty issues and treating them as feminist issues as this book. And the educational piece? A similar thing. When we talk about feminism and education, I think about STEM rather than basic access to schooling in America (because I have the luxury of turning a blind eye to unequal access because I always had good academic choices) or the complexities of the school to prison pipeline. I know about the school to prison pipeline, of course, but again, I never really thought of it as a feminist issue. And that’s just wrong. So, in case it wasn’t clear, I loved this book. I learned so much. It’s going to be a book I have to return to over and over again.
Also, final note, we have GOT to do something about the maternal mortality rate in the US, especially for Black women. It is HORRIFYING that we live in a “developed” country and have a maternal mortality rate this high. HORRIFYING. Also, also, the author of this book is a Black woman.
40-Love by Olivia Dade
I loved this so much, which is no surprise given how much I’ve loved everything by Olivia Dade that I’ve read. I think she writes beautiful characters and stories in the sense that I always get swept up and I feel cared for in the way she deals with her people. I am now desperate for a story about Belle, Tess’ best friend because she deserves an HEA. I am so happy Olivia Dade writes prickly heroines with big hearts and trust issues because it is so very relatable. I’m so grateful Olivia was kind enough to give me an ARC to read early because this book was a balm to my soul. There is just honestly not enough good fat rep in the world and Olivia makes me feel so safe with her writing. My ARC review of this book was posted on Tuesday so you can check that out for more coherent thoughts. Both characters in this romance are white.
Forbidden Lust by Karen Booth
The premise of Forbidden Lust is that our couple, who have known each other since childhood because Zane is Allison’s brother’s best friend, winds up on vacation on an island in the Bahamas at the same time and Allison is determined that now is the time and she’s going to make it happen. But Zane has a lot of guilt about going for Allison because of Scott, his bff/Allison’s brother. Fortunately, they fall in love anyway. This book has a compressed timeline and so it just moved a bit quick for my personal taste. But it wasn’t bad, just not the perfect book for me. I received an ARC from Harlequin through Netgalley and the review post is up if you want more thoughts. I think both characters in this are white, but I also feel like Harlequins do not describe their characters? Is that just me?
The Secret by Julie Garwood
You’ll see more of my thoughts on this book on Saturday in the next When Old Meets New post from mine and Dani’s latest adventure. The Secret was the historical romance we read this time and I was so nervous because of my DNF of For the Roses, but I was so pleasantly surprised by The Secret. Basically, this is a Scottish historical where these two friends promise to always be there for one another. Well, when Francis Catherine is about to have her baby, she convinces her husband that she has to have her best friend, Judith, present. So the Laird, FC’s BIL, goes off to get Judith and sparks fly. I loved almost all of this book (there’s some sex stuff that was just, not it) and it actually made me want to read more Garwood. This romance features all white characters.
Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory
Another ARC (thanks to Berkley and Edelweiss) where you can read a more comprehensive review in Tuesday’s post, but I also think it’s important for you to know that I actually pre-ordered this one from Loyalty Bookstore as well. I think with the influx of political books right now, it’s both understandable and easy to write them all off because white authors are bending over backwards to give us some sort of unity narrative, which, for obvious reasons, is not great. So I want to make this incredibly clear from the get go. Jasmine Guillory’s politics in this book are VERY much left leaning and there is no meeting in the middle. There is Olivia Monroe (a Black woman) meeting a cute guy in the bar, discovering later that the cute guy is a (white) Democrat senator whose one goal appears to be getting his criminal justice reform bill through Congress, and him being totally in love with her. There is so much cake and pie involved in this book, which is equally delightful and Olivia getting settled into LA by finding somewhere to volunteer and it’s just so… Great? The building of a community in a big city is just as important as it is when you settle into small town life and I absolutely loved to see that. And Max being super cute and super in love with Olivia was obviously equally great. I had one issue with a sex scene that felt like it came out of absolutely nowhere, but otherwise, I really liked this. I even really liked the reason behind the dark moment and the way that it was resolved. So I definitely recommend.
Sweet Talkin’ Lover by Tracey Livesay
This romance follows a big city woman, Caila Harris (Black), who is determined to make partner at a sales company when her life is thrown slightly off-kilter because her grandfather dies. (CW for grief for sure) She messes up a little bit at her job and they’re hateful so they send her to this small town in Virginia to write a report about this factory that will justify them closing it. So, she goes to this small town and sparks fly between her and Mayor Bradley (aka Mayor McHottie). It took me some time to fall into it, but once I did, I really enjoyed my time with it. There were a couple of things I didn’t like, which were the dirty talk in the sex scenes just did not work for me at all (but there is one sex scene where they also make use of a vibrator and I know some people really like seeing sex toys used in romance) and there were a few too many comments about running to make up food consumed and one comment about how the Homecoming Court was overweight. That said, I’m really looking forward to the next book! (And thanks to Avon, I have an ARC!)
What books have you read and loved during the first half of June? Let me know!