Audacious August Staff Picks
Awaiting an audacious anecdote? August’s staff picks have an excellent selection of books for you to browse.
This thought-provoking novel shows the impact racial identity has on the life you live. Desiree and Stella are twin sisters, living in their southern black community. They run away together at the age of 17, hoping to find their independence. After several years, Stella leaves Desiree, and never looks back. She took advantage of her olive-colored skin to easily slip out of one life and into another, becoming a “white” woman in a white world. After many years the twins’ stories intersect through their own daughters, who are living their own racial identity; one white and one black. This novel is a real eye-opener!
When Alix Chamberlain, a white blogger and motivational speaker, calls her black babysitter, Emira, to come to take her daughter for a few hours, she could not have anticipated that Emira would be accused of kidnapping the little girl by a grocery store security guard. Or that it would be caught on camera. But it happened, and while Emira would just like to move on with her life, Alix, and Emira’s new boyfriend, Kelley, just won’t let it go. The story quickly pivots from the racial discrimination Emira faced at the grocery store to the insidious “white savior” relationship between Alix and Emira. One of those books that you can’t put down until you’re done!
How does one persist in an oppressive society that includes disparity and injustice, ignoring your worth as a human? Twenty-two-year old Jivan made a life-changing mistake when she submitted a post on Facebook concerning a recent terrorist bombing. Society is screaming for the blood of someone to punish, so they set their focus on innocent Jivan, because she is poor, a Muslim, and from a slum. Her life does not appear to matter in this Indian society comprised of a caste system that still lingers today. The Indian press twist their stories to tell half truths, inciting blame and hate with no interest in learning the truth. Corrupt politicians lie, bribe, and coerce to achieve sentences they want so they’ll gain votes, power, and wealth.
Is this beginning to sound similar to our American society? Though set in contemporary India, the thoughts, feelings, and issues are the same truths that are reflected in today's Black Lives Matter movement.
Megha Majumdar probably had no idea how current and relevant this novel would be. It takes place in India and centers on the hopes, frustration, and activism of India’s youth. This novel addresses political unrest, homegrown terrorism, police brutality, racism, and transgender issues in India. Following a young working girl falsely accused, the trans woman she tutored and her former PE teacher. Written with humor and heartbreak, the pacing won’t let you put this fast read down.
Dragons are rising once again, political powers are destabilizing, nations are isolating. It’s not a great time to live, but it is a great setting for a story #ourlivesrightnow. Samantha Sharron weaves together an epic story from a diverse array of perspectives. Her worldbuilding is 3 dimensional and includes deeply detailed and deeply different cultures. Her characters are written with care and I can’t think of one character that is shallow.
This is the perfect book for a fantasy lover. If you liked The Broken Earth trilogy, Game of Thrones, or Dune, I think you will love this.
Looking for a classic haunted mansion story, this is the perfect escape into a spooky story with an unlikely heroine. Noemi is a debutante who loves fashion, her convertible, music and parties. She is called to check on her cousin who wrote a disturbing letter from her home with her new husband in the mountains. Atmospheric, complete with fog, creaking stairs, madness, and rich history this book will take you away.
Mexican Gothic is everything a really great gothic story should be. Set in 1950s Mexico, it has the genre staples of an ominous mansion and forever misty countryside. Cemeteries, foreboding visions, and no small amount of romance twist through this novel like a snake through the undergrowth. At the center of the story is Noemi, who is sent to High Place Manor after receiving a strange and haunting letter from her cousin Carolina, after she married into the family. There, Noemi, who is used to the high society parties and the fast-paced life of Mexico City, is confronted with strict rules, more locked doors than she knows what to do with, and finds her cousin fading in and out of a fugue state that has her alternating between clarity and madness. Faced with this mystery, and increasingly drawn to her cousin’s enigmatic husband and the overall strangeness of High Place, Noemi resolves to find answers but is hindered by the residents of her new home, haunting dreams, and often it seems, the house itself. One thing is sure, High Place is not what it seems, and if Noemi is to save Carolina, and herself, it’ll take no small amount of cunning and plenty of raw courage. This is perfect for fans of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, or Rebecca Makkai’s The Hundred-Year House.
Available in Audio and Ebook
This is one of the best teen books I’ve read that portrays the inequality and prejudice of the judicial system today! It’s as if there are different sets of rules; if you are Black, poor, disadvantaged, you are guilty until proven innocent, and if you have no money to defend yourself, you’re out of luck! It appears that “an AK-47 in a white hand has more rights than a Black kid with a bag of skittles.” The injustice made me want to scream and hurl the book across the room!
Tracy’s father is on death row awaiting execution for a murder he clearly did not do. Her family must be “perfect” so as not to call attention to themselves since they are Black and considered “outsiders” in their conservative community. Then Tracy’s brother Jamal is accused of killing a white classmate, and their lives fall apart. Tracy and her high school friends band together to find a way to defend her family, but they must be oh so careful. The strength, loyalty and perseverance described in this novel will uplift you, and help you understand the importance of being a vocal bystander. Let your own voice be heard!
Available in Audio
This is a story about friendships, online and in the real world, and how important friends are when you are also facing doxing, online harassment, and sexism all inside the game and outside in the real world.
Gaming is still very much an ‘old boys club’ group and Divia is trying to overcome these challenges with her friend Rebecca and her new online friend Arron.
Aaron faces his own challenges with the job he has writing for a gaming company and his family.
While it has some tough topics Eric Smith does a wonderful job of helping his characters with these personal hurdles.
This is so worth the read!!!!
Available in Audio
Michael has been navigating life as a Greek- Jamaican man, never feeling quite like either. As he grows up in a single-parent household and grows into his gay identity, things become even more confusing. Michael finds clarity in performing drag and cultivating the persona of the Black Flamingo.
The Black Flamingo is a beautiful story of identity, growth, and finding community.
Available in Audio and Ebook
Tavia is hiding in plain sight, Effie is haunted by a tragic incident from her past, and the gargoyle is back on the roof. A Song Below Water is a tale of two young women coming of age in a world that is set on silencing them. The story is interesting and the characters are relatable. I enjoyed this book immensely and found that it compliments the contemporary political climate.
If you’re like me and got hooked on the Avatar: The Last Airbender series during quarantine, you’ll be pleased to know that the story continues in graphic novel form! The Promise picks up exactly where the series left off, with Aang and the gang figuring out how exactly to pick up the pieces that the tyrannical Fire Nation left behind. Also, there’s plenty of good Aang/Katara content! In these stressful times, sometimes you just want to climb in your hammock and read about a flying boy and his pet flying buffalo.
Although 10-year-old Bea is filled with anxiety when her parents divorce, she knows one thing for sure; her parents love her! Moving between two homes, she learns to be flexible, very flexible! When Bea learns that her dad plans to remarry, but to another man, her anxiety soars. Thank goodness for her counselor, Miriam, who teaches Bea how to worry. She shares her heart, soul, and every thought with Miriam. Bea is a realistic, lovable, vulnerable character that will touch the heart of any reader!
Available in Audio and Ebook
Paola is a scientist with no time for her mother’s ghost stories and tarot cards. That is until her friend Emma goes missing by the allegedly haunted Gila River. She and her best friend Dante embark on an adventure that takes them through the work between ours and the supernatural. Armed only with a flashlight, some Florida water, and a magic chancla, the fight off monsters, join an army, and try to find Emma.
This is another fine addition to the Riordan Presents collection.
Available in Audio
Hike is a beautiful mostly wordless picture book about a father and son that take a hike in the mountains. There are so many things to talk about on each page, ranging from what to pack to what kinds of things you could see in the forest. The illustrations are spectacular!! This book will take you on so many adventures!!
Children are never too young to talk about anti-racist ideas, and this beautiful picture book is the perfect tool to do so! Although it is intended for young children, I believe we can all learn and reflect on the nine easy ways for building a more equitable world presented in this book. I believe this book can be used as a relevant springboard for family discussions.
Sheep loves their fluffy woof, but it is getting too long and falling in their face! Sheep Dog suggests getting sheared, but Sheep doesn’t want to give up their wool yet, so they spend the entire day running and hiding from Sheep Dog. When Water Chicken says the wool grows back though, Sheep feels read for a shear. Now it’s Sheep Dog who needs a cut! This is the cutest little picture book for kids who love animals, and is ideal for kids who are reluctant to get a haircut! A perfect bedtime story for a finicky sleeper or bedtime routine fighter!
A Brave Knight’s foe, the Dragon, is on vacation, so The Knight cannot finish his story! No fear, though, the One-Stop story shop has all sorts of stories The Knight can finish! From the deep sea to the jungle, The Knight searches for the perfect story to finish.
This is a great book for kids who get sick of a story halfway through a book or kids who like to laugh at a silly book.
Everyone should take at least one true camping trip in their lives, tents, sleeping on the ground and all. This is a story of young girls, one of which has never done this before. There are so many things to think about on a camping trip. And so many things to see and do.
This delightful book for children, as well as parents, is a fun way to teach empathy, nurture kindness and promote a positive environment. Our invisible bucket holds all of our good thoughts and feelings. Learn how to fill the buckets of children and show children simple ideas on how to BE a bucket filler as well. I love this visual, tangible concept. It holds such positive power!