Surviving Home by Katerina Canyon Book Review

Book Description

Concisely arresting and challenging the beliefs of family and the fantasies of tradition, the poems in Surviving Home show that home is a place that you endure rather than a place where you are nurtured. With unyielding cadence and unparalleled sadness and warmth, Katerina Canyon contemplates the prejudice and limitations buried in a person’s African American heritage: parents that seem to care for you with one hand and slap you with the other, the secret desires to be released from the daily burdens of life, as well as the surprising ways a child chooses to amuse herself. Finding resilience in the unexpected, this collection tears down the delicate facades of family. 

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I’ve been reading quite a bit of poetry lately so I was glad to get a chance to read this book. Each of these poems is filled with so much emotion and there were so many poems that I really enjoyed. So many of these poems captured the author’s love for their parents while also feeling betrayed by them, and expressing how those mixed emotions shaped her childhood and upbringing. There were two poems that really stood out to me and those were “My pain is sculpted into art for you to consume” and “I left out “bells and whistles” written with a little help from Webster’s dictionary”. I found that these two poems were really powerful pieces and a great addition to her story.

Writing Style: I like that Canyon used poetry to express her feelings about a lot of things from her childhood and what being Black means to her now and what it meant to her then. I like that while we are hearing about her childhood at no time do you believe that this could be told from a child’s perspective but it is rather an adult writing from painful memories. I really liked how this went from early years to later years and it took you through those moments in a chronological order. I think while each poem elicits different emotions and is a roller coaster ride, the story is tied together well.

Author Information

Katerina Canyon is an Award Winning Poet, Best Selling Author, civil rights activist, essayist, and poet. She grew up in Los Angeles and much of her writing reflects that experience.

Her first book of poetry, Changing the Lines, was released in August 2017. This work is a conversation between mother and daughter as they examine what it means to operate within the world as black women.

Katerina Canyon is a 2020 and 2019 Pushcart Prize Nominee. Her stories have been published in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and Folks. Her poetry has been published in CatheXis Northwest, The Esthetic Apostle, Into the Void, Black Napkin, and Waxing & Waning. From 2000 to 2003, she served as the Poet Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga. During that time, she started a poetry festival and ran several poetry readings. She has a B.A. in English, International Studies and Creative Writing from Saint Louis University and a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University.

Katerina moved to Seattle three years ago. She is currently running a civil rights campaign against police brutality. More information can be found at www.vdaycampaign.org.

Patient Zero: A Curious History of the World’s Worst Diseases by Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen Book Review

Book Description

A very timely history of disease outbreaks, from the authors of Quackery: stories of outbreaks (and their patient zeros), plus chapters on the science, culture, and cures for different types of epidemics and pandemics. Popular reading on a timely topic.

Review

I received a free copy from Workman Publishing in exchange for a free and unbiased review.

Thoughts and Themes: As this is a non-fiction book there won’t be a section to discuss the characters because there really isn’t any. The minute I saw this book as an option for the Workman Publishing ambassador program, I knew i had to get my hands on it. I read anything and everything related to viruses and diseases as they are my special interest. I was a little weary though as Covid-19 has made these topics not so fun for me but this book reminded me why I love science and in particular virus and diseases.

This book has so many tabs on it of passages I enjoyed, questions that arose as I read, and passages where I learned something I didn’t know and wanted to share with others. I hugged this book so much every time I was sharing information from it with others. There was so much things that I didn’t already know which is rare especially when I read about Ebola since I thought I had absorbed all there is to know about that virus.

I really enjoyed how there were sections in each of the chapters of the book in which fun facts were included in their own way. I liked those pieces that didn’t fit into the actual section so they were separated by colorful pages because they still added to the information that was being discussed in that section. Most of my tabbing in this book is included in those sections as they include things I hadn’t thought about before. I especially loved learning about the plagues from the bible and how science can explain each of them, as well as learning about the tick that could make someone allergic to meat, I would never want to meet that fellow.

Writing Style: Something that I enjoyed about this book is the way that it is structured. I liked that there were portions where we are introduced to the virus/disease/bacteria through patient zero. I liked that there was also information about vaccines, zoonosis, politicization of viruses/disease, explanation of previous and current outbreaks, and more. I liked learning about patient zeros and also about

I loved that this book is easy for anyone to understand regardless of if you have a science background or not. I think this was what kept me invested in the book as it didn’t feel like I was reading another textbook and there were times that I forgot I was reading non-fiction. There were moments that I thought “this couldn’t be real, it has to be taken straight out of a movie,” and those are the moments in which I had to put the book down because it became a horror book instead of a non-fiction book.

Author Information

I love salt more than chocolate. I’m somewhat small, yet deceptively strong. Sort of like an ant.

I’m a part time doc, full time family member, and if you offer me snacks, I’ll be a friend for life.

My adult fiction centers around historical mysteries in New York City, with splashes of forensics, anatomy, apothecary medicine, and chemistry! A BEAUTIFUL POISON takes place in 1918 at the height of the influenza epidemic; THE IMPOSSIBLE GIRL centers around the illegal grave robbing world; and forthcoming in July 2020 is OPIUM AND ABSINTHE, with–you guessed it–opium and absinthe. And possibly vampires!

I have a nonfiction adult book written with Nate Pederson entitled QUACKERY: A Short History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything, coming in 2017 (Workman).

My most recent YA novel is TOXIC, a space opera about a created, teen girl who’s abandoned on a biological spaceship, and the mercenary boy doomed to die on it. I’ve also written THE NOVEMBER GIRL, set on a remote island on Lake Superior. A girl with violence running through her veins meets a boy running away from an abusive home life. Both from Entangled Teen/Macmillan.

I’m also part of the new anthology, COLOR OUTSIDE THE LINES, with Soho Teen coming in 2019!

My YA sci-fi novel, CONTROL, debuted December 2013 (Dial/Penguin). The sequel, CATALYST, released March 2015 (Kathy Dawson Books/Penguin). I released a short story in the dark YA anthology, AMONG THE SHADOWS October 2015.

Nate Pedersen is a librarian, journalist, and historian in Oregon. His website is http://natepedersen.com 

Pink, Blue, and You! by Elise Gravel with Mykaell Blais Book Review

Book Description

Pink, Blue & You!: Questions for Kids about Gender Stereotypes by Elise Gravel

Genre: Children’s Picture Book

Publishing Date: March 8, 2022

Synopsis:

Simple, accessible, and direct, this picture book is perfect for kids and parents or teachers to read together, opening the door to conversations about gender stereotypes and everyone’s right to be their true selves.

Is it okay for boys to cry? Can girls be strong? Should girls and boys be given different toys to play with and different clothes to wear? Should we all feel free to love whoever we choose to love? In this incredibly kid-friendly and easy-to-grasp picture book, author-illustrator Elise Gravel and transgender collaborator Mykaell Blais raise these questions and others relating to gender roles, acceptance, and stereotyping.

With its simple language, colorful illustrations, engaging backmatter that showcases how appropriate male and female fashion has changed through history, and even a poster kids can hang on their wall, here is the ideal tool to help in conversations about a multi-layered and important topic.

Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Book Depository ~ Indigo ~ Indiebound

Tour Schedule

Review

The first thing that stood out to me about this book is the style in which it is written. This book is written as questions to children who you may read this to along with factual information about gender, sexuality, and sex. I really liked that this book is written this way because it opens up the conversation for children and shows them that it is okay to question things that they may have learned from society.

I know that this is going to be a book that conservatives have issues with just because of the way it opens up these conversations. I believe that this book is acceptable for children as young as 4 because it is a great introduction to these topics in a way that they would understand. I shared this book with my mom who works with young children and she said it was a great book.

Something that I enjoy about this book is how it frames the concept of family and the diversity that it shows in the families that are displayed. I love how throughout the book there is a diversity in the images that are drawn and in the examples that are given. I think that was an important part that was included because so many children will be able to see themselves in this book.

Author Information

I was born in Montreal in 1977 and I started drawing not very long after I was born. In kindergarten I was popular because I was able to draw princesses with long spiral hair. Then, in high school, the girls would ask me to draw their ideal guy in their diary. I became very good at drawing muscles and hair, which I used later when I illustrated my book The Great Antonio . On the other hand, I am always just as bad when it comes time to use a diary correctly.

Later, I studied graphic design at Cegep and that’s when I understood that I wanted to do illustration. After my first book, the Catalog des Gaspilleurs , I wrote and illustrated about thirty others . One of my books, The Wrench , won the Governor General’s Award in the Illustration category, and since that time I have a big head and I brag all the time.

I live in Montreal with my two daughters, my husband, my cats and a few spiders. I am currently working on various projects in Quebec, English Canada and the United States. My books are translated into a dozen languages. I hope to live a long time so that I can still make lots and lots of books because I still have lots and lots of ideas.

Website ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Goodreads ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Reddit

Bad Fat Black Girl by Sesali Bowen Book Review

Book Description

Growing up on the south side of Chicago, Sesali Bowen learned early on how to hustle, stay on her toes, and champion other Black women and femmes as she navigated Blackness, queerness, fatness, friendship, poverty, sex work, and self-love. 

Her love of trap music led her to the top of hip-hop journalism, profiling game-changing artists like Megan Thee Stallion, Lizzo, and Janelle Monae. But despite all the beauty, complexity, and general badassery she saw, Bowen found none of that nuance represented in mainstream feminism. Thus, she coined Trap Feminism, a contemporary framework that interrogates where feminism and hip-hop intersect.

Notes from a Trap Feminist offers a new, inclusive feminism for the modern world. Weaving together searing personal essay and cultural commentary, Bowen interrogates sexism, fatphobia, and capitalism all within the context of race and hip-hop. In the process, she continues a Black feminist legacy of unmatched sheer determination and creative resilience.

Bad bitches: this one’s for you.

Review

I had waited to listen to this book, and I don’t know why. I love reading anything on body positivity because it makes me rethink what I’ve been taught about beauty and women’s bodies. Thank you to libro.fm for the advanced listening copy of this book.

I find it hard to rate memoirs and review them because there isn’t a way to rate someone else’s life. Instead I talk about the portions that stood out to me and the structure in which they are written. In the case of this memoir, I really enjoyed many of the subjects that Bower touches upon and I love the way that it is organized since it keeps you wanting to learn more about her life.

This book talks about not just being a fat woman but being a fat, Black women with other marginalized identities as well with the backdrop of Trap music. Sesali Bower focuses on what being in different circles was like for her as a Fat, Black, Queer woman. She doesn’t discover her Queer identity until later on so there are some moments in which she navigates her life thinking that she is straight.

I really enjoyed the way that this book is structured and how each section is separated. This book goes over many different parts of Sesali Bower’s life from her youth up until now. In those different areas the book is further separated into different portions of her life that impacted the person she is now.

Something I enjoyed about this book is how direct the author is about her life and how vulnerable she gets with the audience. I listened to the audiobook that is recorded by the author so you could hear the anger in certain portions as she retells her story to us.

Author Information

SESALI BOWEN is a writer who curates events, writes for film and television, and creates elevated pop culture correspondence. Bowen is the former senior entertainment editor at Nylon magazine and senior entertainment writer at Refinery29. Focusing on Black pop culture, she helped launch Unbothered, R29’s sub brand for Black women. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times and Feministing. Bowen lives in New Jersey.

The Wake Up: Closing the Gap Between Good Intentions and Real Change By Michelle Mijung Kim Book Review

Book Description

Waking Up to Our Capacity to Transform Ourselves and the World 

As we become more aware of various social injustices in the world, many of us want to be part of the movement toward positive change. But sometimes our best intentions cause unintended harm, and we fumble. We might feel afraid to say the wrong thing and feel guilt for not doing or knowing enough. Sometimes we might engage in performative allyship rather than thoughtful solidarity, leaving those already marginalized further burdened and exhausted. The feelings of fear, insecurity, inadequacy are all too common among a wide spectrum of changemakers, and they put many at a crossroads between feeling stuck and giving up, or staying grounded to keep going. So how can we go beyond performative allyship to creating real change in ourselves and in the world, together?

In The Wake Up, Michelle MiJung Kim shares foundational principles often missing in today’s mainstream conversations around “diversity and inclusion,” inviting readers to deep dive into the challenging and nuanced work of pursuing equity and justice, while exploring various complexities, contradictions, and conflicts inherent in our imperfect world. With a mix of in-the-trenches narrative and accessible unpacking of hot button issues—from inclusive language to representation to “cancel culture”—Michelle offers sustainable frameworks that guide us how to think, approach, and be in the journey as thoughtfully and powerfully as possible. 

The Wake Up is divided into four key parts:

Grounding: begin by moving beyond good intentions to interrogating our deeper “why” for committing to social justice and uncovering our “hidden stories.”

Orienting: establish a shared understanding around our historical and current context and issues we are trying to solve, starting with dismantling white supremacy.

Showing Up: learn critical principles to approach any situation with clarity and build our capacity to work through complexity, nuance, conflict, and imperfections.

Moving Together: remember the core of this work is about human lives, and commit to prioritizing humanity, healing, and community.

The Wake Up is an urgent call for us to move together while seeing each other’s full and expansive humanity that is at the core of our movement toward justice, healing, and freedom.

Review

Thank you to Hachette Books for providing me with an advanced copy and finished copy of this book. I winded up listening to this one on audio and really enjoyed it in that format. It is one that I hope to re-visit either on audio or through physical book because one read through isn’t enough to take in everything that was taught in this book.

As someone who went into education because I want to cause change, and I am continuously educating myself on social justice efforts, I found that this is a great book to introduce people to this topic. I thought this was a good introduction text as it was easy to follow and answered a lot of questions that I had.

Something that I found valuable in this book was the author’s identities, it was important that it was an author with multiple marginalized identities being included in diversity, equity, and inclusion work. Often times I see the same voices being uplifted in DEI work and I want to hear a variety of voices and opinions when it comes to this work. I was very pleased to have multiple intersectional identities be addressed throughout this book.

Something else that I loved about this book was the way that it was organized throughout different chapters. I liked that the book was separated into different sections that talked about different topics because it made it so that you can put the book down and return to it at a later time. I liked the four parts that this book separates things into because of what each portion focuses on.

I also really liked that within each chapter there is a way to pause and return later to a chapter so that you have time to reflect on that portion of the book.

Author Information

Michelle MiJung Kim

Michelle MiJung Kim (she/her) is a queer immigrant Korean American woman writer, speaker, activist, and entrepreneur. She is the author of The Wake Up (Hachette, Fall 2021). She is CEO and co-founder of Awaken, a leading provider of interactive equity and inclusion education programs facilitated by majority BIPOC educators, where she has consulted hundreds of organizations and top executives from Fortune 500, tech giants, nonprofits, and government agencies to spark meaningful change. Michelle has been a lifelong social justice activist and has served on a variety of organizations such as the San Francisco LGBTQ Speakers Bureau, San Francisco Human Rights Commission’s Advisory Committee, LYRIC nonprofit’s Board of Directors, and Build Tech We Trust Coalition. Michelle currently serves on the board of Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality (AACRE). Her work has appeared on world-renowned platforms such as Harvard Business Review, Forbes, The New York Times, and NPR, and she has been named Medium’s Top Writer in Diversity three years in a row. She lives in Oakland, California.

Flowers grow on broken walls by Farena Bajwa Book Review

Book Description

Flowers Grow on Broken walls is a unique collection of poems and prose that talks about healing and finding yourself in a world that constantly tells you that’s who you shouldn’t be.

The poems/story goes over our everyday human emotions; from being heartbroken and questioning our self-worth in a world of judgment and scrutinizing social media, to finding ourselves and appreciating those really important in our lives – especially our inner, true selves. It is a story that is everyone’s story at one point or the other.

The collection displays a raw and honest portrayal of an artist who cannot help but create something beautiful in the midst of the ugliness she has been put through, and who continues to hope against all odds, as she lets go of what she has been told is important and finds herself in one truly is.

The story that starts with heartache ends with healing, it starts with rejection from someone but ends with self-acceptance, which is the only way for true healing.

Review

I really enjoy reading poetry books so I was excited to get a chance to read this collection of poems. I really enjoyed how this poetry collection takes you through a range of emotions and experiences, and how relatable each of those moments is. This collection of poetry also ranges in the lengths of each piece with some prose also being included which is something that I liked. I think that varying lengths of pieces made you feel that certain moments took up more time and also space in the author’s mind.

I found that so much of these poems were relatable and I loved how they grow from heartbreak, identity formation, hitting your breaking point, and ultimately healing from all of that. I highly recommend not speed reading through this book just because it is easy to do that, you need to give yourself some time to let each piece sink in and feel the emotions that they elicit.

Something else that I really enjoyed about this book was all of the images that go along with the poems. I thought that each of those images went perfectly with what the poems were trying to portray and I loved how some were on darker sheets of paper because that changes the way you read a piece. I thought that some of the poems elicited certain emotions from the reader just based on the image that was included.

Author Information

Farena Bajwa is a talented poet, storyteller, actor, filmmaker, and voice-over artist. Even though she studied Marketing Management, her creativity comes from her heart. Whether it’s filmmaking, voice-over, or acting, she owes it to her life philosophy: ‘’learning by doing’’. ‘’Flowers Grow on Broken Walls’’ is Farena’s first written collection of poetry that speaks about the journey to self-healing after experiencing the loss of someone, but mostly, the loss of yourself. She wants to inspire her readers using her power of words to make them feel less alone and to let them know that no matter what they go through, healing is just around the corner, cheering for you.

A Carnival of Snackery: Diaries 2003-2020 by David Sedaris Book Review

Book Description

There’s no right way to keep a diary, but if there’s an entertaining way, David Sedaris seems to have mas­tered it.
 
If it’s navel-gazing you’re after, you’ve come to the wrong place; ditto treacly self-examination. Rather, his observations turn outward: a fight between two men on a bus, a fight between two men on the street, pedestrians being whacked over the head or gathering to watch as a man considers leap­ing to his death. There’s a dirty joke shared at a book signing, then a dirtier one told at a dinner party—lots of jokes here. Plenty of laughs.
 
These diaries remind you that you once really hated George W. Bush, and that not too long ago, Donald Trump was just a harm­less laughingstock, at least on French TV. Time marches on, and Sedaris, at his desk or on planes, in hotel dining rooms and odd Japanese inns, records it. The entries here reflect an ever-changing background—new administrations, new restrictions on speech and conduct. What you can say at the start of the book, you can’t by the end. At its best, A Carnival of Snackery is a sort of sampler: the bitter and the sweet. Some entries are just what you wanted. Others you might want to spit discreetly into a napkin. 

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I’ve read a couple of things by David Sedaris in the past so I was pleased to be able to listen to an advanced listening copy of this book. Once I saw how many pages this book was I was even happier to be able to listen to it on audio.

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did but I found that there were moments that I did find funny. As a warning though many of Sedaris’ jokes are offensive so sometimes I didn’t really care for them.

I loved how honest Sedaris’ is in these diary entries and how you can tell they weren’t really edited in terms of content. I love that things are a train of thought that you could see him having at the moment as these things occur. I liked that these feel like a found diary that we aren’t supposed to be reading but have decided to read anyway.

Something else that I enjoyed about this book was how when current events are brought up within the U.S. I remember being in those moments. The years that this book covers are ones that I can remember living through which was nice to remember. This book reminded me of my journal during the pandemic and how all over the place it was without trying to make meaning of anything going on.

Writing Style: This book is a collection of diary entries from Sedaris written in 2003-2020. A large portion of the book is read by Sedaris but there are also moments that Tracy Ullman is reading the book. I actually didn’t really mind the switch in who was reading the story and found that it didn’t really take away from the book once you kept in mind that this whole book is Sedaris’ diary entries.

Something about this book that did throw me off was how there wasn’t any transition when we were in a different country. I was quite confused at times as we suddenly we’re somewhere else without being told where we were. I also wish that there was more of a theme to some of these as some felt like filler rather than really adding to anything.

Author Information

David Sedaris is a Grammy Award-nominated American humorist and radio contributor.

Sedaris came to prominence in 1992 when National Public Radio broadcast his essay “SantaLand Diaries.” He published his first collection of essays and short stories, Barrel Fever, in 1994. Each of his four subsequent essay collections, Naked (1997), Holidays on Ice (1997), Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000), Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (2004), and When You Are Engulfed in Flames (2008) have become New York Times Best Sellers.

As of 2008, his books have collectively sold seven million copies. Much of Sedaris’ humor is autobiographical and self-deprecating, and it often concerns his family life, his middle class upbringing in the suburbs of Raleigh, North Carolina, Greek heritage, various jobs, education, drug use, homosexuality, and his life in France with his partner, Hugh Hamrick.

The Wreckage of my Presence by Casey Wilson Book Review

Book Description

Casey Wilson has a lot on her mind and she isn’t afraid to share. In this dazzling collection of essays, skillfully constructed and brimming with emotion, she shares her thoughts on the joys and vagaries of modern-day womanhood and motherhood, introduces the not-quite-typical family that made her who she is, and persuasively argues that lowbrow pop culture is the perfect lens through which to understand human nature.

Whether she’s extolling the virtues of eating in bed, processing the humiliation over her father’s late in life perm, or exploring her pathological need to be liked, Casey is witty, candid, and full of poignant and funny surprises. Humorous dives into her obsessions and areas of personal expertise—Scientology and self-help, nice guys, reality television shows—are matched by touching meditations on female friendship, grief, motherhood, and identity. 

Reading The Wreckage of My Presence is like spending time with a close friend—a deeply passionate, full-tilt, joyous, excessive, compulsive, shameless, hungry-for-it-all, loyal, cheerleading friend. A friend who is ready for any big feeling that comes her way and isn’t afraid to embrace it.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: I like reading collections of essays especially by people who I am not familiar with as well as on audio. I find these really interesting when I don’t know the person since I don’t have any expectations when I go into the book. This book read a lot like a memoir and I really enjoyed each of the essays and Casey’s thoughts on several of the topics that she addresses.

Some of the essays in this book were filler pieces but those fit in quite well and I still found those easy to get through. As for the other pieces of this book, there were moments in which I was laughing and then there were moments in which I was tearing up. Something else that I like about the collection of essays that this one does well is the way it can easily go from one topic to the next at the end of the essay without requiring a transition.

I really liked how Casey discusses different topics, both serious and simple in the same manner. I liked how she managed to insert humor in all of the essays including ones that you could tell were more painful to write and read.

Author Information

Casey Wilson is an actress, writer, director and podcaster. She can be seen in Apple TV’s upcoming limited series The Shrink Next Door, starring alongside Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd and in season three of Showtime’s Black Monday. She was recently featured in the HBO comedy Mrs. Fletcher, opposite Kathryn Hahn. Casey was a featured player on Saturday Night Live for two seasons and a series regular on the sitcoms Marry Me and the critically acclaimed Happy Endings. Casey’s recent television credits include Atypical, Tig Notaro’s Amazon series One MississippiCurb Your Enthusiasm, and Black-ish. Film credits include Gone GirlThe Disaster ArtistAlways Be My Maybe and Julie and Julia.

Alongside her longtime collaborator, June Diane Raphael, Wilson co-wrote and co-stars in the movie Bride Wars as well as the movie Ass Backwards, which premiered at Sundance.

Together with Danielle Schneider, Casey co-hosts the cult favorite podcast, Bitch Sesh, which was nominated for a Critic’s Choice Award in 2019.

Casey’s directorial debut, Daddio, which she also co-wrote and starred in, premiered at TIFF and South by Southwest in 2019.

Pussypedia by Zoe Mendelson and María Conejo (Illustrator) Book Review

Book Description

Written by the creators of the popular website, this rigorously fact-checked, accessible, and fully illustrated guide is essential for anyone with a pussy.

If the clitoris and penis are the same size on average, why is the word “small” in the definition of clitoris but strangely missing from the definition of penis? Sex probably doesn’t cause yeast infections? But racism probably does cause BV? Why is masturbating so awesome? How hairy are butt cracks . . . generally? Why is labiaplasty on a global astronomical rise? Does egg freezing really work? Should I stick an egg-shaped rock up there or nah?

There is still a shocking lack of accurate, accessible information about pussies and many esteemed medical sources seem to contradict each other. Pussypedia solves that with extensive reviews of peer-reviewed science that address old myths, confusing inconsistencies, and the influence of gender narratives on scientific research––always in simple, joyful language.  

Through over 30 chapters, Pussypedia not only gives the reader information, but teaches them how to read science, how to consider information in its context, and how to accept what we don’t know rather than search for conclusions. It also weaves in personal anecdotes from the authors and their friends––sometimes funny, sometimes sad, often cringe-worthy, and always extremely personal––to do away with shame and encourage curiosity, exploration, and agency.

Review

Thoughts and Themes: When this book first arrived at my doorstep I was a little bit worried about reading it. I decided to put a hold for the audiobook with the library so I could listen to it and follow along with the physical book. I’m really glad that I did this because I think this is a book everyone should read at least once regardless of if you own a Pussy or not.

From the intro of this book I was really pleased with the gender neutral language that they used and how they pointed out understanding that there wasn’t a gender/sex binary. I like how this book addresses Trans and Non-binary people rather than keeping them separate. I thought it was great that they brought up the disparities that Trans people face in the medical world and how they continue to say that there is more information needed regarding this population.

Writing Style: This book is separated into different sections that discuss different aspects of a pussy. In each of these sections there are different art pieces that are included which I think really add a lot to the book. I listened to it on audio and followed along with the physical book so that I could see the images and also see how things were separated within each chapter.

I really liked how the author of the book doesn’t pretend to know everything about each of the topics that are discussed in this book. I liked that the author interviewed other people if it was a topic that she felt someone else would know more than her. I also liked that other books and studies were referenced throughout the book so that facts could be double checked or someone could go to those resources to learn more.

Author Information

Journalist, information designer, content strategist. Her writing has appeared in Fast Company, WIRED, Hyperallergic, Slate, Next City, the LA Times. Her projects have been covered by The New York Times en Espanol, New York Magazine, CityLab, PBS, Univision, and Buzzfeed. Previous projects include official emojis for Mexico City, a data narrative about drones, and a civic-engagement platform for nihilist millennials. Mendelson studied at Barnard College in New York City.

Her Honor Book Review

Book Description

In Her Honor, Judge LaDoris Hazzard Cordell provides a rare and thought-provoking insider account of our legal system, sharing vivid stories of the cases that came through her courtroom and revealing the strengths, flaws, and much-needed changes within our courts.

Judge Cordell, the first African American woman to sit on the Superior Court of Northern California, knows firsthand how prejudice has permeated our legal system. And yet, she believes in the system. From ending school segregation to legalizing same-sex marriage, its progress relies on legal professionals and jurors who strive to make the imperfect system as fair as possible.

Her Honor is an entertaining and provocative look into the hearts and minds of judges. Cordell takes you into her chambers where she haggles with prosecutors and defense attorneys and into the courtroom during jury selection and sentencing hearings. She uses real cases to highlight how judges make difficult decisions, all the while facing outside pressures from the media, law enforcement, lobbyists, and the friends and families of the people involved.

Cordell’s candid account of her years on the bench shines light on all areas of the legal system, from juvenile delinquency and the shift from rehabilitation to punishment, along with the racial biases therein, to the thousands of plea bargains that allow our overburdened courts to stay afloat―as long as innocent people are willing to plead guilty. There are tales of marriages and divorces, adoptions, and contested wills―some humorous, others heartwarming, still others deeply troubling.

Her Honor is for anyone who’s had the good or bad fortune to stand before a judge or sit on a jury. It is for true-crime junkies and people who vote in judicial elections. Most importantly, this is a book for anyone who wants to know what our legal system, for better or worse, means to the everyday lives of all Americans.

Review

Thank you to Celadon Books for the gifted copy.

Thoughts and Themes: I was a bit worried when I got this book because the law doesn’t really interest me but I grabbed it on audio and am so glad that I did. This book covers so many different topics within the judicial system and also walks you through her journey through different roles.

I really enjoyed learning about the different laws that govern our country and also liked learning about the history of some of these laws. I think that each section in this book taught you something different.

When I think about this book there is so much to talk about because of all that I learned while listening to this book. I had to pause at moments to follow along with a physical copy of the book to make sure I was understanding what was being said. I also paused at moments since there were some funny cases and there were also some cases that warmed my heart. I loved hearing her thoughts on the name change cases that she worked on and how she handled Transgender name changes in a different manner than others for the protection of the individual and to spare them the embarrassment. I loved learning that Judge Cordell saw her cases as people and not just a case that was coming through her court.

Writing Style: This is a non-fiction story and the audiobook is read by the author which is something that I always enjoy. I really enjoyed how this book gives us parts of Judge Cordell’s cases but also informs us of the laws pertaining to those cases that are being discussed.

Author Information

From Judge Cordell’s website:

A 1971 graduate of Antioch College and a 1974 graduate of Stanford Law School, LaDoris Hazzard Cordell was the first lawyer to open a private law practice in East Palo Alto. In 1978, she was appointed Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at Stanford Law School, where she implemented a successful minority admissions program.

In 1982, Governor Jerry Brown appointed Ms. Cordell to the Municipal Court of Santa Clara County, making her the first African American woman judge in northern California. In 1988, Judge Cordell won election to the Superior Court of Santa Clara County. 

After 19 years on the bench, she retired and began employment at Stanford University as Vice Provost & Special Counselor to the President for Campus Relations until 2009.

In November 2003, Judge Cordell, accepting no monetary donations, ran a grassroots campaign and won a 4-year term on the Palo Alto City Council. 

Judge Cordell has been an on-camera legal analyst for CBS-5 television and a guest commentator on Court TV, The Week with Joshua Johnson on MSNBC, and The Mehdi Hasan Show on MSNBC. She has also interviewed several public figures before live audiences at the Commonwealth Club and at Stanford University. Her interviewees have included rapper Talib Kweli, reality TV star Kim Kardashian, New York Times columnist David Brooks, consumer advocate Ralph Nader, tennis star Billie Jean King, Professor Anita Hill, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, President Obama’s Senior White House Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes, Caitlyn Jenner, and Jesse Jackson.  

Judge Cordell was the Independent Police Auditor for the City of San Jose for five years (2010-2015), having been appointed to that position after a national search. Under her leadership, that office gained national prominence.

In 2014, Judge Cordell chaired the Task Force on Racial Discrimination at San Jose State University in the aftermath of the racial bullying of an African American student. The Task Force made numerous recommendations to improve the racial atmosphere at the university.

In 2015, Judge Cordell was appointed Chairperson of the Blue Ribbon Commission that reviewed the conditions in the jails in Santa Clara County. Under her leadership, the Commission put forward several recommendations to improve the operation of the jails.

In 2015, Judge Cordell served on a Blue Ribbon Panel that reviewed operations of the San Francisco Police Departments and made recommendations after the racist texting scandal involving several San Francisco Police officers came to light.

In 2020, Judge Cordell conducted an audit of the Public Safety Services Department of Santa Clara University in the aftermath of a racial incident that went viral, involving a Black female professor and campus officers. All of her recommendations to improve the Public Safety Services Department were adopted by the university.  

In 2020, Judge Cordell was appointed to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Innocence Commission to review cases of individuals who claim to have been wrongly convicted.

Judge Cordell and the ACLU of Northern California led the successful fight to lift the residents-only restriction for admission to the City of Palo Alto’s Foothills Park. She is the co-founder of CA Parks for All:https://www.caparksforall.org/advocate

She was inducted into Stanford University’s Multicultural Hall of Fame in 2016 and received the Chief Justice Earl Warren Civil Liberties Award from the ACLU of Northern California. In 2017, Judge Cordell was inducted into the Silicon Valley Black Legends Hall of Fame and received the Crystal Gavel Award from the California Association of Black Lawyers’ Judicial Section.

Judge Cordell was featured in The Resistance issue of SF Magazine, February 2017: https://medium.com/@sanfranmag/the-resistance-2716cbd2fa24#.1t1jifkdc

She is the co-founded the African American Composer Initiative whose mission is to bring the music of Black composers, past and present to the world, and is a vocalist, pianist, and artist: www.aacinitiative.org

On October 5, 2021, Judge Cordell’s memoir titled Her Honor will be released by Celadon Books; a division of Macmillan Publishing: https://celadonbooks.com/book/her-honor

Judge Cordell is the mother of two daughters. She resides in Palo Alto with her partner Florence O. Keller.