LeVar Burton Reads

levar burton

Originally published in:  2017

What it’s about: A brand new podcast featuring LeVar Burton reading short fiction.

What made me tune in: This is basically Reading Rainbow for the adults who grew up with it.

My favorite things: Primarily featuring science fiction and fantasy, Burton’s enthusiasm for the stories he reads is contagious. The voices and sound effects used in each episode are engaging and fit the stories so well that they almost go unnoticed. I love the way he takes the time to explain why he chose each story and what aspects of it he likes the best. So far, each episode has been under an hour and fits nicely into a day’s commute.

Who it’s great for: Anyone who grew up on Reading Rainbow. Fans of audiobooks looking for something shorter to try.

Abby’s rating: five-shells

Find it for free wherever you access your podcasts.


Whatever Happened to Interracial Love by Kathleen Collins

interracial love

Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: A previously unpublished collection of stories by the multitalented late writer Kathleen Collins on love, family, and relationships.

What made me pick it up: I’d heard good things about the collection and it was nice and short so I knew I could get through it quickly and easily.

My favorite things: Collins seamlessly moves through different voices and perspectives, lending each an air of honesty and authenticity. Her stories sometimes heart-wrenching, sometimes mundane, but always moving

Who it’s great for: Readers looking for stories about love and relationships that don’t ignore the complexities of race, gender, class, and sexuality.

Abby’s rating: four-shells

Pick up a copy of this book at Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.

Podcast Review: Harry Potter and the Sacred Text


This one is a little bit different. I’m a dedicated follower of a few podcasts and March is Trypod month. As in, Try (a) Pod(cast) Month, a time to encourage others to try favorite podcasts. I’d like to share one of my favorites: Harry Potter and the Sacred Text

Podcast began in: 2016

What it’s about: Religion and spirituality are a big part of many lives, and nonexistent in others. Hosts Vanessa and Casper seek to fill that void with something that they, along with their listeners, feel very strongly about: Harry Potter. Each week the hosts read a chapter and interpret it using a specific spiritual practice. Essentially, they are reading Harry Potter as though it were a sacred text, which is not too far from how many of us feel about it.

What made me pick it up: It feels like I’ve been waiting for this since Harry found out he was a wizard.

My favorite things: This podcast is the perfect length. Each episode is about half an hour long so I know I can get through the latest chapter on my way to work. The hosts take their task seriously and are able to find profound meaning in the simplest of scenes. I might not always agree with their interpretations of character’s words and actions or the significance of certain scenes, but they always find a way to reflect back on their own lives and look for ways to implement what they’ve learned.

Who it’s great for: Harry Potter fans who: a) love podcasts; b) want to give podcasts a try; or c) really just can’t let go and are up for anything Potter related.

Abby’s rating: five-shells

Women in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky


Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: Notable female scientists throughout history.

What made me pick it up: I think I saw it on Twitter. It was about women scientists and I placed a hold immediately because I immensely enjoyed Lab Girl and Headstrong. 

My favorite things: This book is like a good mixed drink: smooth, flavorful, and designed to be sipped slowly. I only read a few pages a day so I could savor the unique illustrations and layouts as well as the mostly new-to-me knowledge of these amazing scientists. The message is empowering for girls of any age and the colors are fabulous. It’d make a great gift for any young devotee of STEM in your life.

Who it’s great for: Those interested in women’s contributions to science. Readers of all ages. Fans of great illustrations. Graphic novel readers who want a nonfiction book. Girls, girls, girls.

Erica’s rating: four-and-a-half-shells

Pick up copies of the books mentioned above at Amazon using our affiliate links: Lab Girl; Headstrong; Women in Science or look for them in your local library.


Movie Review: A Man Called Ove


Originally premiered in: 2016

What it’s about: A curmudgeonly old man tries to move on after losing his wife and his job in quick succession.

What made me watch it: A woman in my book club mentioned it was as good as any huge fan of the book could hope (and I am one!). When the library got a copy I checked it out.

How it stacks up to the book: This was nicely done. It was missing some of the humor that comes from the ability to hear(read) a character’s inner monologue, but still had its moments. Some plot points were rearranged and timelines were condensed, which is to be expected. Overall the characters and relationships are as crisp and powerful as they are in the book and the tugs on your heartstrings just as pronounced. I could watch it over again.

Who it’s great for: Fans of the book. Lovers of foreign films (it’s in Swedish). Viewers looking for a heartfelt story and a sincere and masterful translation from page to screen.

Erica’s rating: four-shells

Get the film or the book from Amazon (affiliate links) or check for them in your local library.

What Erica Has on Hold

To Download

And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer by Fredrik Backman because I love everything he writes.
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor because John Green recommended its sequel on Twitter.
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney because it is well reviewed.
Nine Women, One Dress by Jane L. Rosen. I don’t even remember why, but the cover is engaging.
The Nowhere Man by Greg Hurwitz which was recommended on Twitter.
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison because Junot Diaz said it was required reading.
Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life by Helen Czerski because I enjoyed Seven Brief Lessons on Physics but on audio because it turns out it’s long and this might be the only way I get through it.
Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver because it’s lovely and I didn’t finish it before my first check out expired.
You Can’t Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson because I’m on a racism reading tear.

In Print

Am I Alone Here: Notes on Living to Read and Reading to Live by Peter Orner because reading.
Books for Living by Will Schwalbe because I enjoyed The End of Your Life Book Club immensely.
Go Figure: Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know from The Economist because I enjoy economics-explains-the-world books like Freakonomics.
The Private Life of Mrs Sharma by Ratika Kapur because it’s short.
Super Sushi Ramen Express by Michael Booth because I enjoyed a similar book about China.
Teacup by Rebecca Young because it was on a list of books for children about refugees.