Saturday, June 29, 2019

We Set The Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia




Rating: ★★★ | 9 hours 54 minutes| Dystopian YA  | Harper Audio | Release Date: 2/26/2019
On the island of Medio, young women are trained to take up positions as sister wives to the island's highest ranking men. 17-year-old Daniella Vargas is paired with her bully Carmen and the two are married to Mateo Garcia--a boy being groomed to become president of their island country.

Dani’s life looks picture perfect but she has a secret. She's an illegal immigrant and was bought over from the wrong side of Medio’s border as a child. This secret makes her vulnerable to the resistance group La Voz, who begin blackmailing her for information to help their cause. As Dani embarks on this new life full of discovery and danger she begins to understand her own privilege and that there is more to life than what she ever imagined--including her feelings for her sister wife, Carmen.

This book feels a lot like the dystopian YA we were getting in the early 2010’s but the Latinx setting and f/f relationship make it modern and unique. That type of inclusivity is just not a thing we’ve seen in this type of YA before. This book has gotten rave reviews and a lot of media attention but….*it didn’t work for me*

Thematically I get it but I never felt connected to Dani as a character and the world of Medio never felt fully formed. I don’t understand what Medio looks like or how it exists outside of Dani's perspective. A big part of the story is Dani being blackmailed by the resistance group La Voz, but we don’t really know much about La Voz or it's members. I just wanted so much more context and world building. This book gets billed as a fantasy sometimes which I think it interesting because there are no fantastical or science-fiction-y elements. Like at all.

I listened to a majority of this on audio and narrator Kayla Garcia was a delightful discovery. She has a great voice for YA and I’ll have to check out some of the other books she does.

We Set The Dark on Fire is a timely story and a gateway for teens to talk about privilege, power, and citizenship.


Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Interview With Award Winning Audiobook Narrator Bahni Turpin




For more than a decade actress Bahni Turpin has dazzled audiobook listeners with her vibrant performances. This year, Turpin received a lifetime achievement honor and has become one of AudioFile Magazine’s Golden Voices. I had an opportunity to interview Turpin about her life as an award-winning narrator, actress and community organizer.


Matt Flatow
Turpin fell into the world of audiobook narration while working as an actress—a career path she chose at the age of nine.

“The day [my mom] told me that I was going to take acting classes I was nine. I said ‘Okay!’ and I walked away and I was just sort of skipping up to my room and. . . . I remembered stopping on the landing of the stairs and saying that’s what I’ll do! ….the decision was made at nine. I never changed mind.”

In addition to acting on stage Turpin has appeared in several iconic TV shows and films including the HBO film O.G alongside Jeffrey Wright, a film that was shot inside an Indiana state prison.

 Max Flatow
Turpin was introduced to audiobook narration by an actress she was working with in a play. Turpin auditioned and began working with Random House, one of her early audiobooks was A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown.

“I thought it was fun”, said Turpin, “and then one day a director I had worked with on The Help called me and she said ‘Oh I just wanted to call you and let you know that you won! You won!”

That was how Turpin first found out she won an Audie for The Help.

“I didn’t know what an Audie was… I didn’t know there were awards for this.”

Since then Turpin’s accolades have been non-stop, with performances that have been highly reviewed
as lively, skillful and energetic. Her backlist contains hundreds of audiobooks spanning children’s,
fiction, non-fiction, and young adult.

This summer Turpin and a team of narrators will bring 131 books in the classic Baby-Sitter’s Club series to audio for the first time. Turpin will be narrating eleven-year-old Jessi, a ballet dancer and one of the junior officers of the club.

“I’m interested to see how girls today will receive them, they are a bit dated…they don’t have phones. They had to meet in Claudia’s room because she was the only one with a phone line/"

On the acting front, Turpin just wrapped up a play with Cornerstone Theater Company and is starting on a full-cast audio project. In addition to acting and narrating Turpin is also the founder and board member of the SoLA Co-op.

Are there any books you are reading to or listening to right now that you’d recommend?
I just listened to The Murmur of the Bees narrated by Xe Sands, what a unique voices Xe has…It’s beautiful very beautiful.

If you had the opportunity to narrate any book from your childhood what would it be?
James and The Giant Peach. I loved that book and I loved the original illustrations so much that I had to buy it on eBay to get the old version.

If you could choose anyone to narrate your life story who would it be?
It would have to be me!
For readers who want to dive into your backlist of audiobooks where would you suggest they start? Do you have any favorites?
The True Meaning of Smeck Day, that was a classic Bhani Turpin audiobook that won an Odyssey award. The Darkest Child, If Beale Street Could Talk, Allegedly and Children of Blood and Bone. I really really loved [Children of Blood and Bone] and I was really proud of it.

In addition to being an actress and audiobook narrator, you are also the founder and board member of the SoLA Food Co-op. Can you tell us more about that?
I started SoLA food coop about eight years ago I had purchased a home in South L.A. in 2010 and having lived in Hollywood for 16 years before that I used to having a lot of different options in buying [organic] food and down here not so much. They didn’t really stock organic foods in the grocery stores at that time and then shortly after a couple of the main conventional grocery stores closed. Still holding the dream of being an actress I didn’t want to open a grocery store, but I did get the idea of a cooperative…so I started doing that with no experience in community organization whatsoever. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I love it. Our goal is to open a full-service health food store in Southern L.A.








Monday, June 17, 2019

Book Review : The Care and Feeding of Ravenous Girls by Annisa Gray


Rating: unrated | 304 pages | Berkley | Adult Fiction | Release Date: 02/19/2019

I like a book with a really long title. Just throwing that out there.

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls is this blend of African-American, Women's and Literary fiction that I'm starting to find myself drawn to more.

This is a very human story of the Butler siblings who are brought together after their seemingly perfect elder sister, Althea, and her husband Proctor are convicted of a crime that shakes up their small lakeside town.

Everyone in this book has something to work through. Althea and her husband are trying to get through their prison sentences with their strong loving bond intact and without losing their teenage daughters, who are now being raised by Lillian, the youngest butler sister--who is also taking care of her ex-husband's grandmother. At 36 and newly single this was not the life she was prepared for. The prodigal daughter and academic, Viola, returns home after separating from her wife and falling back into the clutches of her eating disorder.

Together these sisters navigate the pain of their childhood, the closely held secrets they have buried and the ways their father let the family down.

I like reading books about Black families that takes place in locations we don't often see Black people in the media. This is a story about three Black women trying to find their way that doesn't involve getting a man, getting a promotion or rubbing their fingers on their temples. It was about more interior things and (as Iyanla Vanzant would say) doing the work and coming out whole on the other side. This is like the novel version of those episodes of NPR (which are not my favorite) where reporters re-examine moments from their childhood and look for answers and meaning.

Orange Is The New Black meets Queen Sugar in this solid debut about women finding their way through the unexpected.

Check out the audiobook review on Audiofile!



I was really shocked to discover that Anissa Gray is a career journalist, this is the kind of book that I expected from a life-long fiction writer. I can't wait to see what she write next.

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