Review of Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor, by Layla F. Saad

I borrowed an e-copy of Layla F. Saad‘s Me and White Supremacy through the library. I read while out doing my solo protest.

Description from Goodreads:

Me and White Supremacy teaches readers how to dismantle the privilege within themselves so that they can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on people of colour, and in turn, help other white people do better, too.

When Layla Saad began an Instagram challenge called #MeAndWhiteSupremacy, she never predicted it would spread as widely as it did. She encouraged people to own up and share their racist behaviors, big and small. She was looking for truth, and she got it. Thousands of people participated in the challenge, and over 90,000 people downloaded the Me and White Supremacy Workbook.

The updated and expanded Me and White Supremacy takes the work deeper by adding more historical and cultural contexts, sharing moving stories and anecdotes, and including expanded definitions, examples, and further resources.

Awareness leads to action, and action leads to change. The numbers show that readers are ready to do this work – let’s give it to them.

Review:

While reading this book, I had to remind myself of being taught to study (many long years ago) and being told to be judicious with my highlighting. If you highlight too much, it deletes the purpose of marking particular passages to be found again. I thought of this because I’m quite certain I highlighted at least half of this text. There is a lot here to unpack and a lot of it doesn’t lend itself to a single, simple reading.

Having said that, I wasn’t able to engage in the book in quite the manner it suggests. It is intended to be read and engaged in one chapter a day, over 28 days. I only had access to it for about two weeks. (It’s a library book.) So, my reading was perhaps a little more rushed than I’d have liked. But I still got a lot out of the book. I think it will be particularly useful for people who want something that lays out all the definitions and how the ideas of white supremacy, white exceptionalism, tokenism, visual allyship, etc all build on and relate to one another. It would be especially good for someone just starting the anti-racism work to firmly establish that this stuff is real. It’s not soft science or butthurt fealing, it’s real and affects people all day every day.

In the beginning, I admit to being a little wary since the author isn’t American. I won’t pretend we’re the only country in the world with racism. But I felt like a non-American author couldn’t quite do the subject of the American experience justice for an American reader. I was wrong (and there is probably some bullshit national exceptionalism buried in the initial assumption). So much of what is addressed in this book isn’t tied to nationalism. It’s simply anti-black and global. This is actually one of the subtler lessons I took away from reading the book.

All in all, I found this well worth the time.

Review of The Time of Contempt (The Witcher #2), by Andrzej Sapkowski

I borrowed an e-copy of Andrzej Sapowski‘s The Time of Contempt through my local library. (Links to my reviews for The Last Wish and Blood of Elves are below.)

Description from Goodreads:

Geralt is a witcher: guardian of the innocent; protector of those in need; a defender, in dark times, against some of the most frightening creatures of myth and legend. His task, now, is to protect Ciri. A child of prophecy, she will have the power to change the world for good or for ill — but only if she lives to use it.

A coup threatens the Wizard’s Guild.
War breaks out across the lands.
A serious injury leaves Geralt fighting for his life…
… and Ciri, in whose hands the world’s fate rests, has vanished…

Review:

I have to be honest, if I’d started this series here I wouldn’t be continuing. I liked the short stories (The Last Wish) and enjoyed book one (Blood of Elves), but I struggled to finish this book. I found the writing really stiff. I don’t know if that’s the fault of the author or the translator, but it was no fun to read. I struggled to keep the characters and locations straight and there was too little indication of changing POVs. So, I often didn’t know what was happening, since I didn’t know we’d changed characters. Then to top it all off, the last quarter starts in on all the cliched man-writing-fantasy BS. Suddenly it’s wench this and rape that, etc. And it ends on a cliffhanger. I will give this series one more book because I’m interested in the overarching storyline. But if it doesn’t improve (at least to the quality of book one) I’m calling it done.

Review of Death’s Dancer & Dancer’s Flame (Grace Bloods #1&2), by Jasmine Silvera

I purchased copies of Death’s Dancer and Dancer’s Flame (by Jasmine Silvera) through Amazon.

Description from Goodreads:

Isela Vogel has the power to attract the favor of the gods for anyone who can pay her fee but struggles to hide the degenerative hip condition that will end her career. Then she’s offered a job that will set her and her family up for life. Though her prospective patron is a formidable necromancer with a heated and infuriating gaze, she can hardly refuse the payday.
 
The Allegiance of Necromancers is powerful but not omnipotent, and when someone starts murdering his kind, Azrael must enlist a human in order to track down the killer. But why does she have to be so frustratingly stubborn–and intriguing? Azrael can make the dead walk, but he can’t make the very much alive Isela toe any line. 

Isela is thrown into a world of supernatural creatures–demons after dark, witches in the shadows, shifters running wild in city parks–where the grace of gods can truly infuse the blood of the most mortal-seeming dancer. As the danger increases with each thrilling discovery, trusting Azrael may be the only way to survive a conspiracy to destroy the fragile peace of a broken world. 

But the greatest threat is their growing attraction. Dancers and necromancers don’t mix for a reason–it turns out there are fates worse than death. 

Review:

I truly enjoyed this. Isela stood her ground no matter what the immortals threw at her. Azrael was large and in charge, without ever being an asshole about it. Isela’s interactions with the side characters (Gregor especially) amused me. In fact, I laughed out loud several times while reading the book. I appreciated the diverse cast (though I thought Kyle was maybe a little close to the cliched gay best friend).

I did feel that Isela didn’t react anywhere near enough when she found out her family’s secrets. And most of the side characters introduced at the Acadamy are just thrown at the reader too quickly. All in all, though, I can’t wait to continue the series.


Description from Goodreads:

With the help of a god, Azrael and Isela exposed a conspiracy and altered the world’s balance of power. But for Azrael, victory comes with dangerous new powers he can’t control. Will accepting his future mean losing everything he’s gained — his allies, his territory, and his consort?

Isela’s found a home, purpose and power. But if accepting her new role means giving up the life she’s worked for will the price be too high?

When an impossible creature shows up in Prague bearing a dire warning, the search for answers divides them. Now Isela must forge a bond with the power within her while Azrael fights to keep from tearing himself apart. And time is running out. Gods don’t forget or forgive, especially a betrayal from one of their own.

Review:

Since this is a second in a series and continues from book on, as opposed to a standalone story, I only have a brief review.

Another winner from Mrs. Silvera! I continue to appreciate Isela and Azrael’s growth as people and their city’s increasing sense of family and community. Like the previous book, I thought this one could use a tad more copy editing. But it’s not going to distract me from continuing to binge the series.