Reading Challenge Update: June 2020

Hi friends! In the month of June, any funds I receive through my Ko-Fi will be donated to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. That’s right, all of it. 100%. You can either click the “buy me a coffee” button to the side or the “Ko-Fi” link at the top.

Welcome to June, friends! It’s hard to believe this hellacious year is halfway over. I hope you’re all staying in when possible, wearing your masks when you go out, and staying six feet away from others.

This month, I read three books, getting me to 20/30 books for the year. It’s crazy to think I’m already two thirds of the way done, and the year is only halfway over! As always, I receive no compensation for reviewing these books or you purchasing them. I’ve included links to purchase the books on Amazon, but feel free to support your local library (if they’re open, or you can find it as an ebook) or bookstore (if you can order it). But please, don’t go out if it isn’t safe!

Murder at Yappy Hour by Diana Orgain

Maggie has just moved to the town of Pacific Cove, California, after leaving a hustle and bustle life in New York City. Things go haywire when her sister, Rachel, texts her out of the blue asking her to watch over her bar for the next week, and then a body is found in the bar! With Rachel looking like a likely suspect, Maggie is racing to find the real killer. This book was fun, but kind of a let down. It felt very unrealistic to me in little details. I don’t know a single adult who would say “I’m not a doggie person.” If they weren’t a dog person, they wouldn’t call them doggie. I’m pretty sure it’s also against the law to 1. leave someone without a bartender license in charge of your bar for creating and serving drinks, and 2. just allowing your friend to jump behind the bar to help out when things get busy. This book is nice light reading.

You can purchase this book here.

Black God’s Kiss by C.L. Moore

This book is a short story anthology (well, kind of–these stories are NOT short! But I don’t think they’re novella length, and definitely not novel length) featuring the heroic Jirel of Joiry, a French warrior in the 1500s. She is fearless and literally goes into Hell TWICE, she defeats a sorceress, she survives a night in a haunted castle with some very strange people, and she defeats a wizard with the aid of a spaceman from 3000 years in the future. I know, it all sounds strange, but Jirel is the first strong female written in fantasy. Jirel was groundbreaking, and thanks to the contribution of C.L. Moore, we have more strong female characters in fantasy today than ever, and we have more women writers in fantasy than we did previously. While I’m not usually a fan of the sword and sorcery flavor of fantasy, I liked this book. The language took some time to get used to (it was very heightened to me), there were some great lines in there–one of my favorites was “The soul can be lost but once.”

You can purchase this book here.

The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton

This book was difficult to read, but I highly, HIGHLY recommend it to anyone. Anthony Ray Hinton was unjustly accused and convicted of murder and spent 30 years on Alabama’s Death Row. His cell was the one closest to the death chamber, so over his time there he watched 54 of his friends walk by his cell to die. Thanks to the US Supreme Court unanimously ruling he’d been given an unfair trial all around (Even Scalia, he notes), his case was reviewed with greater scrutiny by the state, and they eventually dropped all charges and he went free. During his time on It was incredibly eye-opening to me, and I’m not talking about only the horrors of our judicial and prison systems. I knew the prison system was bad, but I didn’t know it was this bad. The biggest thing for me was how he managed to stay so positive in light of what was going on. He had three years where he never spoke a word to anyone else except his friend Lester (who never missed a single visiting day in the whole 30 years) and his mother. After those three years, he realized he’d let hate consume him and he had a choice to either live with love or live with hate–he chose love. As a result, he did amazing things for the Alabama Death Row. He started a book club (though it was short-lived), and because of that inmates were now allowed two non-scripture books along with a book of scripture. Previously, they were only allowed a bible or the scripture for whatever faith they were. The afterword was a gut punch to me. It listed, as of time of publishing, a complete list of inmates on death row for every state. They said “read every name, and with every name, say innocent.” Statistically, that’s true. And when you do this, you see how many innocent people are on death row, and it’s horrifying. Now that Hinton is out of prison, he’s worked with Bryan Stevenson on the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal group that, according to their website, “works to end mass incarceration, excessive punishment, and racial inequality.”

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