Tuesday, October 16, 2018

I Can't Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I've Put My Faith in Beyoncé

Rating: ★★★ + .5 | 6 hrs and 9 min | Simon & Schuster | Memoir/Essay Collection | 07/24/2018

This memoir caught my eye because well . . . how can you bypass a book with a subtitle like that? I wasn’t familiar with Arceneaux before, but he is a prolific pop culture writer who often writes about the intersection of being Black and gay.

 I've been kind of meh on memoirs by millennials lately*, particularly the ones around identity, because they feel like they are written specifically for the gaze of White liberal progressives. But Arceneaux’s stories are messier and have a personal authenticity that I enjoyed.

My favorite essays were the ones he wrote about his relationship to Catholicism and the importance of R&B music in his life. At first, it seemed like Beyoncé's name was put in the title just to get clicks but once you get to his essay about Beyoncé it fell into place. 

Arceneaux reads the audiobook, and it didn’t 100% work for me. While it was great to hear his particular southern accent, his affect was flat and stilted at times.

I also just admire Arceneaux’s hustle to become the media personality he’s become. While he doesn’t address it directly,  there is an ongoing thread in the background of his essays about the years of hard work he put into building his career.

Arceneaux offers something new to the gay/pop culture essayist genre and I’m sure there will be many more books from him in the future.

*This review of Morgan Jenkins' This Will Be My Undoing hits on a few  the issues I have with some of these millennial memoirs about indentity

Sunday, October 7, 2018

A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas (Lady Sherlock #1)

Rating: ★★★ | Release Date: 10/08/16 | Historical Mystery | 323 Pages | Berkley Books

In this reimagining of Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective Sherlock Holmes is the pseudonym of Charlotte Holmes, an overly practical and hyper-observant member of the gentry who doesn’t quite fit into society's standards. She spends her time solving everyday mysteries via letters, but when scandal strikes and Charlotte’s life is turned upside down, she finds herself solving her biggest mystery yet--a murder.

This is a fun origin story and functions as a kickoff for the rest of the series. All of your favorite Sherlockian characters are present but are introduced in new and interesting ways that I don’t want to spoil. Thomas gets into the nitty-gritty of the kinds of hoops a Victorian woman would have to go through to get to do any kind of detective work. There is definitely a feminist thread throughout the series, particularly when you look at how the circumstances of the main mystery are changed from the original story.

This is my first foray into the mystery genre and hopefully not my last.

Can we talk about how Sherry Thomas is slaying everything? She writes award-winning historical romances, YA fantasy and mystery all in English--which is her second language! There are lot of romance authors who write more than romance, but she seems to be the only one to have a name for herself in so many genres.


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