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254: Natasha Bowen's SKIN OF THE SEA - May 2023 Book Club

Episode Image with Natasha Bowen's SKIN OF THE SEA Book Cover

Are you looking for a compelling reimagining of The Little Mermaid? For our May 2023 Unabridged Book Club pick, we're discussing Natasha Bowen's Skin of the Sea ( | Jen and Ashley share our thoughts about this YA lit fantasy book.

We share our book pairings, including Tomi Adeyemi's Children of Blood and Bone ( | and Rivers Solomon's The Deep, with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes ( |

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Bookish Check-in

Ashley - Dean Atta’s The Black Flamingo ( |

Jen - Marlon James’s A Brief History of Seven Killings ( |

Our Book Club Pick

Natasha Bowen’s Skin of the Sea ( |

Our Pairings

Ashley - Tomi Adeyemi's Children of Blood and Bone ( |

Jen - Rivers Solomon's The Deep, with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes ( |

Give Me One - One Book on Your TBR

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Bookish Check-in

Ashley was reading...

Book Cover of Dean Atta's The Black Flamingo

Dean Atta's The Black Flamingo ( |

From the Publisher:

"A fierce coming-of-age verse novel about identity and the power of drag, from acclaimed poet and performer Dean Atta. Perfect for fans of Elizabeth Acevedo, Jason Reynolds, and Kacen Callender.

"Michael is a mixed-race gay teen growing up in London. All his life, he’s navigated what it means to be Greek-Cypriot and Jamaican—but never quite feeling Greek or Black enough.

"As he gets older, Michael’s coming out is only the start of learning who he is and where he fits in. When he discovers the Drag Society, he finally finds where he belongs—and the Black Flamingo is born.

"Told with raw honesty, insight, and lyricism, this debut explores the layers of identity that make us who we are—and allow us to shine."

Jen was reading...

Book Cover of Marlon James’s A Brief History of Seven Killings

Marlon James’s A Brief History of Seven Killings ( |

From the Publisher:

"In A Brief History of Seven Killings, Marlon James combines brilliant storytelling with his unrivaled skills of characterization and meticulous eye for detail to forge an enthralling novel of dazzling ambition and scope.

"On December 3, 1976, just before the Jamaican general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert to ease political tensions in Kingston, seven gunmen stormed the singer’s house, machine guns blazing. The attack wounded Marley, his wife, and his manager, and injured several others. Little was officially released about the gunmen, but much has been whispered, gossiped and sung about in the streets of West Kingston. Rumors abound regarding the assassins’ fates, and there are suspicions that the attack was politically motivated.

"A Brief History of Seven Killings delves deep into that dangerous and unstable time in Jamaica’s history and beyond. James deftly chronicles the lives of a host of unforgettable characters – gunmen, drug dealers, one-night stands, CIA agents, even ghosts – over the course of thirty years as they roam the streets of 1970s Kingston, dominate the crack houses of 1980s New York, and ultimately reemerge into the radically altered Jamaica of the 1990s. Along the way, they learn that evil does indeed cast long shadows, that justice and retribution are inextricably linked, and that no one can truly escape his fate.

"Gripping and inventive, shocking and irresistible, A Brief History of Seven Killings is a mesmerizing modern classic of power, mystery, and insight."

Our Book Club Pick

Book Cover of Natasha Bowen’s Skin of the Sea

Natasha Bowen’s Skin of the Sea ( |

From the Publisher:

"A way to survive.

"A way to serve.

"A way to save.

"Simi prayed to the gods, once. Now she serves them as Mami Wata — a mermaid — collecting the souls of those who die at sea and blessing their journeys back home.

"But when a living boy is thrown overboard, Simi goes against an ancient decree and does the unthinkable — she saves his life. And punishment awaits those who dare to defy the gods.

"To protect the other Mami Wata, Simi must journey to the Supreme Creator to make amends.

"But all is not as it seems. There's the boy she rescued, who knows more than he should. And something is shadowing Simi, something that would rather see her fail....

"Danger lurks at every turn, and as Simi draws closer, she must brave vengeful gods, treacherous lands, and legendary creatures. Because if she fails, she risks not only the fate of all Mami Wata, but also the world as she knows it."

Our Pairings

Ashley recommended...

Book Cover of Tomi Adeyemi's Children of Blood and Bone

Tomi Adeyemi's Children of Blood and Bone ( |

From the Publisher:

"In Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut.

"They killed my mother.

"They took our magic.

"They tried to bury us.

"Now we rise.

"Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

"But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

"Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

"Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers - and her growing feelings for an enemy."

Jen recommended...

Book Cover of Rivers Solomon's The Deep, with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes

Rivers Solomon's The Deep, with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes ( |

From the Publisher:

"The water-breathing descendants of African slave women tossed overboard have built their own underwater society - and must reclaim the memories of their past to shape their future in this brilliantly imaginative novella inspired by the Hugo Award-nominated song 'The Deep' from Daveed Diggs' rap group, Clipping.

"Yetu holds the memories for her people - water-dwelling descendants of pregnant African slave women thrown overboard by slave owners - who live idyllic lives in the deep. Their past, too traumatic to be remembered regularly, is forgotten by everyone, save one - the historian.

"This demanding role has been bestowed on Yetu.

"Yetu remembers for everyone, and the memories, painful and wonderful, traumatic and terrible and miraculous, are destroying her. And so, she flees to the surface, escaping the memories, the expectations, and the responsibilities - and discovers a world her people left behind long ago.

"Yetu will learn more than she ever expected to about her own past - and about the future of her people. If they are all to survive, they’ll need to reclaim the memories, reclaim their identity - and own who they really are.

"Inspired by a song produced by the rap group Clipping for the This American Life episode 'We Are in the Future,' The Deep is vividly original and uniquely affecting."


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