Friday, December 18, 2015

#BookReview: WHEN BALDWIN LOVED BRENDAN by Electa Rome Parks

If you miss the 90s, an era where black ensemble films were the norm and not an anomaly, When Baldwin Loved Brendan is the book for you. Remember your college days where you struggled to find your crew, but once you found them, they became your world? What parties you were going to, where you were hanging out, sometimes what classes you took all depended on what everyone in your clique was doing. Centered on the lives of four former college friends that come together to send another friend off, When Baldwin Loved Brendan tells the story of forgiveness and redemption.

Each member of the clique has a role to play and within their clique, Rihanna was the peacemaker. A plus-sized beauty with a heart of gold (I know, so cliché), Rihanna played the role of confidante to her friends. While the friends have drifted apart since graduation, Rihanna has stayed in contact with each of them, holding them dear to her heart. As the group assembles in Rihanna’s home in the days leading up to her funeral, the book takes on a 30 Years to Life/Lovejones/The Wood feel. Told through a series of flashbacks, combined with present day, we learn the role each played in the group and why they fell out.

A playboy, Christopher could have any woman on campus he wanted, but he wanted Baldwin. Unfortunately, Baldwin’s heart belonged to another member of the group, Brendan. Bria’s heart belonged to no one in college. Too busy bedding her next conquest; she didn’t want to be tied down to any man. Watching the friends come back together, their roles then and now are easily identifiable. Although they’ve aged and matured some, they’re still very much the people they were back in the day.

The author ties their stories together well and while you think you know how things are going to play out, she does a good job of throwing in a twist here and there. However, the biggest twist she threw in came in the final pages and really made me pause because, girl, what? I think the author thought she was giving readers a big a-ha moment, but it was unnecessary and added nothing to the story line. In fact, I found myself a bit annoyed by it because it seems as if she did it simply to shock the reader. Had she thrown this twist in earlier in the book, there would have been time to explore the implications. By waiting until the last minute, the shocker fell flat and left me feeling a little let down. A very good read turned into a very okay read.

260 p.
Published: January 2013

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

New Books Coming Your Way, early January 2016

Bricktop's Paris: African American Women in Paris between the Two World Wars by T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting
398 p. (Non-fiction)
Publication date: January 2, 2016

During the Jazz Age, France became a place where an African American woman could realize personal freedom and creativity, in narrative or in performance, in clay or on canvas, in life and in love. These women were participants in the life of the American expatriate colony, which included F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, and Cole Porter, and they commingled with bohemian avant-garde writers and artists like Picasso, Breton, Colette, and Matisse. Bricktop’s Paris introduces the reader to twenty-five of these women and the city they encountered. Following this nonfiction account, T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting provides a fictionalized autobiography of Ada “Bricktop” Smith, which brings the players from the world of nonfiction into a Paris whose elegance masks a thriving underworld.

Purchase from: Amazon | B & N | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Kindness of Enemies by Leila Aboulela
320 p. (Fiction)
Publication date: January 5, 2016

It’s 2010 and Natasha, a half Russian, half Sudanese professor of history, is researching the life of Imam Shamil, the 19th century Muslim leader who led the anti-Russian resistance in the Caucasian War. When shy, single Natasha discovers that her star student, Oz, is not only descended from the warrior but also possesses Shamil’s priceless sword, the Imam’s story comes vividly to life. As Natasha’s relationship with Oz and his alluring actress mother intensifies, Natasha is forced to confront issues she had long tried to avoid—that of her Muslim heritage. When Oz is suddenly arrested at his home one morning, Natasha realizes that everything she values stands in jeopardy.

Told with Aboulela’s inimitable elegance and narrated from the point of view of both Natasha and the historical characters she is researching, The Kindness of Enemies is both an engrossing story of a provocative period in history and an important examination of what it is to be a Muslim in a post 9/11 world.

Purchase from: Amazon | B & N | Book Depository | IndieBound

The Family Tree: A Lynching in Georgia, a Legacy of Secrets, and My Search for the Truth by Karen Branan
304 p. (Non-fiction)
Publication date: January 5, 2016

Harris County, Georgia, 1912. A white man, the beloved nephew of the county sheriff, is shot dead on the porch of a black woman. Days later, the sheriff sanctions the lynching of a black woman and three black men, all of them innocent. For Karen Branan, the great-granddaughter of that sheriff, this isn’t just history, this is family history.

Branan spent nearly twenty years combing through diaries and letters, hunting for clues in libraries and archives throughout the United States, and interviewing community elders to piece together the events and motives that led a group of people to murder four of their fellow citizens in such a brutal public display. Her research revealed surprising new insights into the day-to-day reality of race relations in the Jim Crow–era South, but what she ultimately discovered was far more personal. As she dug into the past, Branan was forced to confront her own deep-rooted beliefs surrounding race and family, a process that came to a head when Branan learned a shocking truth: she is related not only to the sheriff, but also to one of the four who were murdered. Both identities—perpetrator and victim—are her inheritance to bear.

A gripping story of privilege and power, anger, and atonement, The Family Tree transports readers to a small Southern town steeped in racial tension and bound by powerful family ties. Branan takes us back in time to the Civil War, demonstrating how plantation politics and the Lost Cause movement set the stage for the fiery racial dynamics of the twentieth century, delving into the prevalence of mob rule, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and the role of miscegenation in an unceasing cycle of bigotry.

Purchase from: Amazon | B & N | Book Depository | IndieBound

Junot Díaz and the Decolonial Imagination edited by Monica Hanna, Jennifer Harford Vargas & José David Saldívar
464 p. (literary criticism)
Publication date: January 8, 2016

This interdisciplinary collection considers how Dominican-American writer Junot Díaz's aesthetic and activist practice reflect an unprecedented maturation of a shift in American letters toward a hemispheric and planetary culture. Career spanning, the essays examine the intersections of race, Afro-Latinidad, gender, sexuality, disability, poverty, and power in Díaz's work.

The first sustained critical examination of the work of Dominican-American writer Junot Díaz, this interdisciplinary collection considers how Díaz's writing illuminates the world of Latino cultural expression and trans-American and diasporic literary history. Interested in conceptualizing Díaz's decolonial imagination and his radically re-envisioned world, the contributors show how his aesthetic and activist practice reflect a significant shift in American letters toward a hemispheric and planetary culture. They examine the intersections of race, Afro-Latinidad, gender, sexuality, disability, poverty, and power in Díaz's work. Essays in the volume explore issues of narration, language, and humor in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, the racialized constructions of gender and sexuality in Drown and This Is How You Lose Her, and the role of the zombie in the short story "Monstro." Collectively, they situate Díaz’s writing in relation to American and Latin American literary practices and reveal the author’s activist investments. The volume concludes with Paula Moya's interview with Díaz.

Purchase from: Amazon | B & N | Book Depository | IndieBound

My Time with the Kings: A Reporter's Recollections of Martin, Coretta and the Civil Rights Movement by Kathryn Johnson
Publication date: January 12, 2016

"Let Kathryn in," said Coretta Scott King to authorities.

Three simple words that provided Kathryn Johnson, a reporter for The Associated Press's Atlanta bureau, unprecedented access to the grieving widow in the days following her husband's death.

Johnson was on her way to a movie date when word came from Memphis that Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated. She immediately headed for the King home where, despite resistance from authorities on the scene, she was the only reporter allowed inside. Johnson's many years covering King and his family had earned her the trust to be a discreet, observant witness to the aftermath of a defining moment in American history.

Kathryn Johnson covered the civil rights movement across the South in the 1960s, often risking her own safety to observe first-hand the events of this great era. Her stories took her from witnessing the integration of the University of Georgia by dressing as a student, to hiding unobserved under a table near an infamous schoolhouse door in Alabama, to marching with the massive crowd from Selma to Montgomery.

Purchase from: B & N |IndieBound

The Drowning Eyes by Emily Foster
144 p. (fiction, fantasy)
Publication date: January 19, 2016

When the Dragon Ships began to tear through the trade lanes and ravage coastal towns, the hopes of the arichipelago turned to the Windspeakers on Tash. The solemn weather-shapers with their eyes of stone can steal the breeze from raiders' sails and save the islands from their wrath. But the Windspeakers' magic has been stolen, and only their young apprentice Shina can bring their power back and save her people.

Tazir has seen more than her share of storms and pirates in her many years as captain, and she's not much interested in getting involved in the affairs of Windspeakers and Dragon Ships. Shina's caught her eye, but that might not be enough to convince the grizzled sailor to risk her ship, her crew, and her neck.

Purchase from: Amazon | B & N | Book Depository | IndieBound

Friday, December 11, 2015


Originally posted Dec. 24, 2009

A visit to Philadelphia his sophomore year at Princeton, and an unlikely friendship with three Quaker brothers, starts the young man on the path to question the morality of slavery. Though he's managed to avoid facing his parents, returning home for Christmas can't be avoided. Agreeing to assist with the Underground Railroad proves to be the biggest challenge he's faced in his 19 years, especially when he finds out that his assignment places him in direct conflict with his family. With assistance from an unlikely source, Fletcher works to right the wrongs that his family has perpetuated for generations.

At just 112 pages, this is a very quick read. I received this as a gift in 1991.  The detail given to characters like those that appear in other Haley novels is not as evident here. I suppose if it had been, the story would have been more memorable without re-reading it. Nonetheless, it was fairly enjoyable.

112 p.
Published: November 1988

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

#BookReview: I HEARD A RUMOR by Cheris Hodges

I didn’t read the first book in the Rumor series, Rumor Has It, but the author provides enough background that it’s not really necessary to do so unless you’d like to. In Rumor Has It, Chante Britt, an up and coming attorney at a Charlotte law firm, falls for congressional candidate, Robert Montgomery. Robert’s indiscretions with ladies of the night leaves Chante humiliated not only at work, but in the media. When Robert tells the media that Chante has forgiven him and will be joining him on his new quest to become mayor of Charlotte, the southern belle dips out for some quiet time and recovery with her nana in South Carolina.

Stella got her groove back and so did nana. By the time Chante arrives on her door, she’s setting sail on a cruise with her long time “friend” turned lover and her house is being renovated. Instead of hanging with her favorite girl, Chante finds herself at a cozy bed and breakfast where she runs across Zach Harrington, the perfect distraction from all of the chaos in her life.

Zach Harrington also came to South Carolina for a break from the scandal in his life. He’s not looking for love. In fact, after dealing with his crazy soon to be ex-wife, it’s safe to say that getting involved with any woman is far down on his list of things to do. When Chante walks into his hotel’s restaurant, all bets are off.

I Heard a Rumor skips the typical cat and mouse games you see in most romance novels. From the time they meet, the spark is ignited between Chante and Zach and, while Chante is a bit resistant at the beginning, that only lasts a few hours. But they’re grown and as Mary Jane Paul says, “grown people are going to do what grown people do.” I appreciated the lack of cat and mouse, but I could have done without so many sex scenes. I understand that a lot of people read romance novels for this exact purpose; I’m not one of them.

I’m also nitpicky about details, so I found myself asking, “girl, what?” when Hodges described an outfit Zach was wearing as a sleeveless undershirt (i.e., wife beater) and linen pants for a night out. Do men wear that? I can’t envision any form of that ensemble that doesn’t sound tacky as hell. What restaurant are you strolling into looking like that?

I also had a problem with timing. Zach’s assistant, Tia, was pregnant with twins. In one chapter she delivered the babies. In the next chapter, which was supposed to be a week later, Zach called and assigned her tasks. Ma’am! The woman just pushed out two babies the week before. She’s not working. She’s not even thinking about working. Perhaps if Zach owned a small, one man business that might make sense, but he owned a big company. A temp or floater from another department would have been filling in for Tia. She definitely wouldn’t be answering calls about anything unrelated to formula, diapers and getting some sleep.

If you can overlook minor details like that, and I suspect most people can, give I Heard a Rumor a try. The secondary characters are entertaining and Hodges has done her research on both the North and South Carolina locales. If nothing else, you’ll find yourself longing for the food and beaches mentioned throughout the book.

Published: November 2015
Disclaimer: Copy of book received from publisher, opinions are my own.

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Friday, December 4, 2015

#ColourfulChristmas: Personalized Book Recommendations

It's the time of year when reviewers are posting their top 10 or top 20 books of 2015 and I'll get to that in a week or so. Today, I want to focus on book recommendations. I'm often asked on Twitter to recommend books to people and I try to do that with the information I'm given. Most of the time, I'm spot on. Occasionally, not so much. At any rate, if you're buying books for the people in your life this season and aren't sure of what books or genres they might enjoy, hit me up in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Instagram and I'll do my best to help you find what you're looking for.  I'll also post requests and recommendations in the Read In Colour weekly newsletter.

What books are you hoping to receive for Christmas?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

#BookReview: A TREASURE OF GOLD by Piper Huguley

I love good historical fiction, especially when it features people of colour. I "discovered" Piper Huguley's work earlier this year and fell in love with her characters almost immediately. Like Beverly Jenkins, the queen of historical fiction, Huguley does her research, recreating towns and characters of days gone by. Fans of her Migrations of the Heart series might think it strange that I start my review of the series, thus far, with book #3, but its story line is the one that has drawn me in the most.

The Bledsoe sisters are well known in their neck of the woods in rural Georgia. Just as her sisters Ruby and Pearl have done before her, Nettie leaves the country and heads for the big city, Philadelphia, Set before the depression in 1923, A Treasure of Gold is a delightful story that can either be read as part of the overall series or as a standalone book.

The most devout of her sisters, Nettie arrives in Philadelphia to help care for Mags (aka Pearl) who is due to have a baby any day. While she awaits the birth of her newest niece or nephew, she stumbles upon an injured man right outside of Ruby's door. Since Ruby's husband, Adam, is a doctor, it would only seem right that he doctor on the handsome stranger. But Adam and Ruby both have an adverse reaction to their new patient, Jay. Nettie's Christian duty won't allow her to turn a cold shoulder to Jay or his young daughter, Goldie, and before she knows it, she's taking care of both of them and the tongues down at the local church are wagging.

So this is the part that threw me, and had it not seemed so out of character for the characters I'd come to know and love, I wouldn't have questioned it. Jay is a numbers runner, not necessarily an honorable profession, but he wasn't a gangster either. With Ruby and Mags both coming from humble beginnings, and Ruby herself being subject to judgement and ridicule back home, I expected more of them. Both were rigid in their dislike of Jay, as were their husbands. On the flip side, Mag's mother-in-law, who was so cold in A Most Precious Pearl that ice wouldn't melt in her mouth, loved Jay. I also didn't care for the way Nettie's whole family treated her like damaged goods. It was all very strange, almost as if the author either forgot the character's personalities or decided to create completely new personas for them.

That aside, I loved this book for a number of reasons. As I said before, Huguley does her research. She captures the essence of Philadelphia during the Roaring Twenties. I found it to be much more interesting than the small town country living previously featured in the series. I also like that while she makes no secret of her character's being Christians, she doesn't try to beat readers over the head with it as some Christian authors are wont to do. And lastly, her romances involve actual courting. No one is jumping into bed with anyone any time soon. If that's your thing, you're going to want to find another author. But if you appreciate reading about a couple taking time to discover each other, Huguley is for you.  Definitely give this series and her Home to Milford College series a try.

340 p.
Published; November 2015

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

#BookReview: PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE by Renee Swindle

I read Renee Swindle’s most recent titles, Shake Down the Stars and A Pinch of Ooo La La, and was blown away by both of them. Had I read Please, Please, Please first, it’s likely that I would have dismissed her as another fly by night author. Written in 2000, there’s a 13 year stretch between Swindle’s first book and Shake Down the Stars. The amount of growth that her writing underwent in the meantime is apparent. And that’s not to say that Please…isn’t a decent a read, but it was a bit lacking in the depth that readers find in her latter works.

Babysister, the lead character, is a spoiled brat. A witness to her mother’s death at a young age, she has used it to her advantage. All she has to do is bring a tear to her eye or invoke the name of her late mother and her father caves. Her best friend, Deborah, has been by her side since childhood and bends to Babysister’s wishes just like her father. What Babysister wants, she gets and when she wants Deborah’s new boyfriend, Deborah is just enough of a doormat to let her have him.

I got sick of Babysister’s antics early on in the book, but I was just as tired of her family and friends. Her brother was annoying as hell. If Twitter had existed when this book was written, he would have been a founding father of Hotep Twitter, just wrapped up in misogyny, homophobia and being loud, proud and wrong about everything. Darren, Deborah’s boyfriend, is trifling as hell, no matter how fine the package he’s wrapped in is. And Deborah is just stupid. No matter how many times and how deeply Babysister stabs her in the back, she keeps coming back for more.

Please, Please, Please had a very 90s R & B feel to it, if that makes sense. I could totally see Babysister riding around listening to Rumpshaker and wearing Cross Colours. By the way, I hated her name, like seriously hated it. I kept hoping that at some point her real name would be revealed, but nope. Every last person from her coworkers at the bank to customers at the restaurant called her Babysister, which was just a little weird and a smidge creepy.

There were good characters and good storylines in the book. Please don’t skip over the book just because of a few annoying people. I’m just glad to see the progress Swindle has made from 2000 to now.

336 p.
Published: June 2000

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Friday, November 13, 2015

#BookReview: YEAR OF YES: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

The thing about Shonda Rhimes is I love her TV shows (OK, sometimes Grey’s Anatomy not so much and that one show about hot doctors on a beach was hot garbage), but overall I really like what she puts out. But I’ve never really liked her. When I would see her on TV she always came across as stiff and uncomfortable with a fake smile on her face. I know that smile because it’s the one I use when I’m stiff and uncomfortable. But we expect people in the spotlight to be different, right? She’s practically a superhero in the television arena, so we think that should carry over into her personal life. Again, not so much.

What Shonda did in a little over a year was life changing and it all started with six words, “You never say yes to anything.” A phrase mumbled by her sister as they prepared for Thanksgiving dinner stuck in her craw. She didn’t say anything right away, didn’t even acknowledge that it bothered her or that her sister was right. But weeks later, it hit her like a ton of bricks and woke her up at 4 a.m. And what does the woman that created Olivia Pope do at four in the morning when she needs to sort things out? She drinks red wine.

That morning Rhimes realized that while she had the career she wanted and the children she wanted and was surrounded by family and friends, overall she was unhappy. In fact, she says she was miserable. She made the decision to stop shutting herself in the house and to stop saying no to interview requests and speaking appearances and all of the other things that she’d been hiding from over the years.

Those frozen stiff appearances she used to give? They were because she was nervous. While she presented a perfectly poised persona, the woman who once accidentally threw a chicken bone across the room while making her point was terrified that she would have the same mishap at an industry event. Even though she’d been interviewed by Oprah a number of times, she couldn’t remember any of those interviews because, “chicken bone, Janet Jackson boob, fear-snot” – all of things that she thought could go wrong. So she fake smiled her way through it and declined invitations right and left.

The year of yes brought about a lot of changes: saying yes to speaking engagements and college commencement speeches; yes to playing more with her children; yes to difficult conversations; yes to losing weight; yes to dancing it out in the sun; yes to badassery; and yes to being her authentic self. When you see her giving interviews now, when you see on her red carpets, the change in her physical being is apparent and, as she emerges from her cocoon, the change in her mental being is just as apparent. The woman who once froze on a speaker’s panel now easily controls the conversation. The woman that once let her body merely serve as a container for her brain while wearing whatever her stylist put on her has become a fashionista. All of those sentences that she created for Christina Yang to say on her behalf, she says them for herself now.

Rhimes’ tone throughout the book is very conversational. It feels like sitting on the couch with your best girlfriend, shooting the breeze and drinking red wine and eating popcorn while she fills you in on what she’s been doing since you last saw her. I tore through the book in less than 24 hours and was sorry to see it end, but I came out of it with a healthy appreciation of the woman formerly behind the mask. I'm already planning to start dancing things out when life gets too stressful. And I just might start saying yes to a few things myself.

336 p.
Published: November 2015

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

#BookReview: BECOMING BEYONCÉ: THE UNTOLD STORY by J. Randy Taraborrelli

J. Randy Taraborrelli has made a living off of tell all books about celebrities. He promises to give you the juicy details behind their rise to fame and glimpses into their everyday lives. The truth is, he can only give readers what insiders are willing to share. Fans of Beyoncé know that the bedazzled queen of onesies holds things close to the vest. According to Taraborrelli, she mastered her poker face at a young age and has only perfected it as she’s gotten older.

The Beyhive won’t learn much about present day Bey, but people who knew her when she was just getting her start in Houston were more than willing to spill the tea. I won't bore you with all of the details, but I will point out a few things that made me clutch my pearls. If you don't want any spoilers, stop reading now.

  • Mathew’s cheating began almost as soon as he married Tina. He still proves to be about that trifling life. He's never met the son he had during a two year affair and, while he has remarried, he had another child with a much younger, different  woman during that marriage.
  • Mathew & Tina separated during Bey’s tween years for at least two years. Mother Tina didn't skip a beat during the separation, moving Bey, Solange and Kelly into a townhouse while she continued raising them and running her own salon. Up until that point, Bey had been a daddy's girl, but seeing how strong and determined her mother was swayed her to Miss Tina's way of seeing things and a feminist was born.

  • Solange has always had a fighter’s spirit and has been sticking up for her sister since they were kids.
  • Bey dated Lyndall for 10 years, but he didn’t get himself together until after he & Beyonce broke up. He cheated on her and wouldn’t get a real job. He's now a chef.
  • Early in her solo career, Bey and cousin Angie would count totals at the end of the night and make sure she received every penny she had coming to her. She's a serous businesswoman who sued her own father when she found out he'd been stealing money from her.
  • Kelly Rowland and Bey have been tight since childhood. That's not shocking, but did you know that they teamed up to put Latavia out of the group when they were still in Girls Tyme? The two are about their business and anyone that's not willing to put in the work to become a success had better move out of their way.

  • Jay had to tell Bey that he wasn’t her father so there was no need to bend to his will and that she should be independent and make her decisions not based on his opinions.  Bey had spent so many years trying to please her demanding father while keeping control of her career. Being with Jay has allowed her to flourish as a woman and an artist. They balance each other out.

  • Her record company and critics didn’t think there were any hits on B’day (how wrong were they?) and thought I Am Sasha Fierce was a much better album (how wrong are they?)

  • Critics think Etta James in Cadillac Records was her best role. They hated Fighting Temptations and Obsessed. Though she was disappointed that her role as Deena in Dreamgirls didn't garner much praise, she's not jealous of Jennifer Hudson.

  •  A young Keke Wyatt opened for Girls Tyme when they were still looking for a record deal. She was nervous and had a meltdown on stage.

464 p.
Published; October 2015

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Friday, November 6, 2015


Darkowaa at African Book Addict! tagged me in on the TBR (to-be-read) tag. It’s been awhile since I’ve participated in blog shenanigans, so I’m happily joining in.

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?
I read publisher’s catalogs weekly. I try to use their online system to keep track of upcoming books to request and be on the lookout for, but I really use Goodreads for everything. Occasionally I run into books that aren’t in their system yet, but it’s easy to add them. I also like that I can scan the barcode with their mobile app and add books to any of my shelves.

Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?
I’m not sure. I just add books and read them as they’re available, either through print or e-book.

How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?
It depends on my mood. Since my list is so lengthy and my local library has a huge catalog, I can get just about any published book on my list as an e-book or request it in print and get it within a few days.

A book that has been on your TBR the longest?
This Child’s Gonna Live by Sarah E. Wright (since Nov. 5, 2009)

A book you recently added to your TBR?
Cold Creek Running by Zelda Lockhart (added Nov. 3, 2015)

A book on your TBR strictly because of its beautiful cover?
The Secret of Magic by Deborah Johnson

A book on your TBR that you never plan on reading?
The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an IKEA Wardrobe by Romain Puértolas - I love the title, but it’s not likely that I’ll read any time soon or ever.

An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for?
Before We Visit the Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, The House with No Windows by Nadia Hashimi (no cover yet) and The Mother by Yvette Edwards (no cover yet)

A book on your TBR that everyone recommends to you?
Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

A book on your TBR that everyone has read but you?
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

A book on your TBR that you’re dying to read?
Glory over Everything: Beyond The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

How many books are in your Goodreads TBR shelf?
I’m almost embarrassed to admit, but 492 as I write this. By the time it posts, there will probably be 506. I’m always adding to it.

I'm tagging some of my fellow book loving bloggers:

Marie at Literary Marie
Nakia at ZoraToniMaya
Maya at The Reading Diva
Dominique at The Sweet Escape

and whoever else wants to join in.  What books are on your TBR list?

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

#BookReview: THE WOMAN WHO WALKED IN SUNSHINE No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (16) by Alexander McCall Smith

Synopsis: Business is slow at the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, so slow in fact that for the first time in her estimable career Precious Ramotswe has reluctantly agreed to take a holiday. The promise of a week of uninterrupted peace is short-lived, however, when she meets a young boy named Samuel, a troublemaker who is himself in some trouble. Once she learns more about Samuel’s sad story, Mma Ramotswe feels compelled to step in and help him find his way out of a bad situation.

Despite this unexpected diversion, Mma Ramotswe still finds herself concerned about how the agency is faring in her absence. Her worries grow when she hears that Mma Makutsi is handling a new and rather complicated case. A well-respected Botswanan politician is up for a major public honor, and his reputation is now being called into question by his rivals. The man’s daughter has contacted the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency to investigate these troubling claims, but, as in so many cases, all is not as it seems. In the end, the investigation will affect everyone at the agency and will also serve as a reminder that ordinary human failings should be treated with a large helping of charity and compassion.

Review: I've loved Mma Ramotswe and her sidekick, Grace Makutsi, for a long time. Their adventures have always entertained me. Unfortunately, it may be time to bid Mma Ramotswe, Mma Makutsi & JLB Matekoni a fond farewell.

It's rare that I continue reading a book that hasn't caught my attention by page 50. Since I read this on my trusty Kindle, I wasn't sure of how far I was into it when I realized it wasn't holding my attention. To my surprise, I was almost halfway through the book and was fighting hard to keep from nodding off. Mind you, I wasn't reading in bed late at night, I was on my lunch hour. That should give you some idea of just how slow moving and uninteresting the first 40% of the book was.

Eventually things picked up and I was treated to Mma Ramotswe's meddling ways and Mma Makutsi's always ruffled feathers, but even that wasn't enough to save the overall story line. The men that work in JLB's car repair shop always provide a dose of humor, but their antics were lacking and they were sorely missed by this reader. All good things must come to an end and, at book 16, perhaps it's time for Smith to turn his focus to one of his other series and let Mma Ramotswe and friends peacefully fade away.

224 p.
Published: October 2015

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Friday, October 30, 2015

New Books Coming Your Way, November 2015

The 'Colored Hero' of Harper's Ferry: John Anthony Copeland and the War against Slavery by Steven Lubet
282 p., (non-fiction)
Publication date: Nov. 1, 2015

On the night of Sunday, October 16, 1859, hoping to bring about the eventual end of slavery, radical abolitionist John Brown launched an armed attack at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Among his troops, there were only five black men, who have largely been treated as little more than 'spear carriers' by Brown's many biographers and other historians of the antebellum era. This book brings one such man, John Anthony Copeland, directly to center stage. Copeland played a leading role in the momentous Oberlin slave rescue, and he successfully escorted a fugitive to Canada, making him an ideal recruit for Brown's invasion of Virginia. He fought bravely at Harpers Ferry, only to be captured and charged with murder and treason. With his trademark lively prose and compelling narrative style, Steven Lubet paints a vivid portrait of this young black man who gave his life for freedom.

In His Own Words: Houston Hartsfield Holloway’s Slavery, Emancipation, and Ministry in Georgia by Houston Hartsfield Holloway
320 p. (non-fiction)
Publication date: Nov. 2, 2015

Houston Hartsfield Holloway (1844-1917) was born enslaved in upcountry Georgia, taught himself to read and write, learned the blacksmith trade, was emancipated by Union victory in 1865, and served as an ordained traveling preacher in the African Methodist Episcopal Church from 1870 to 1883. He devoted the remainder of his life to his family, his blacksmith trade, and his local church. Holloway's 24,000-word autobiography offers a rare working-class perspective on life during some of the most transformative years of US history.

An Introduction to Womanist Biblical Interpretation by Nyasha Junior
176 p. (non-fiction)
Publication date: Nov. 3, 2015

An Introduction to Womanist Biblical Interpretation provides a much-needed introduction to womanist approaches to biblical interpretation. It argues that womanist biblical interpretation is not simply a byproduct of feminist biblical interpretation but part of a distinctive tradition of African American women's engagement with biblical texts. While womanist biblical interpretation is relatively new in the development of academic biblical studies, African American women are not newcomers to biblical interpretation.

A Moment of Silence: Midnight III by Sister Souljah
544 p. (fiction)
Publication date: Nov. 10, 2015

Handsome, young, Muslim, and married to two women living in one house along with his mother, Umma, and sister, Naja: can Midnight manage? He is surrounded by Americans who don't share or understand his faith or culture, and adults who are offended by his maturity, intelligence, or his natural ability to make his hard work turn into real money. He is calm, confident, and cool, Ninja-trained and powerful, but one moment of rage throws this Brooklyn youth into a dark world of dirty police, gangs, guns, drugs, prisons, and prisoners. Everything he ever believed, every dollar he ever earned, and all of the women he ever loved—including his mother—are at risk.

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes
336 p. (non-fiction)
Publication date: Nov. 10, 2015

She’s the creator and producer of some of the most groundbreaking and audacious shows on television today: Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder. Her iconic characters—Meredith Grey, Cristina Yang, Olivia Pope, Annalise Keating—live boldly and speak their minds. So who would suspect that Shonda Rhimes, the mega talent who owns Thursday night television (#TGIT), is an introvert? That she hired a publicist so she could avoid public appearances? That she hugged walls at splashy parties and suffered panic attacks before media interviews so severe she remembered nothing afterward?

Before her Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes was an expert at declining invitations others would leap to accept. With three children at home and three hit television shows on TV, it was easy to say that she was simply too busy. But in truth, she was also afraid. Afraid of cocktail party faux pas like chucking a chicken bone across a room; petrified of live television appearances where Shonda Rhimes could trip and fall and bleed out right there in front of a live studio audience; terrified of the difficult conversations that came so easily to her characters on-screen. In the before, Shonda’s introvert life revolved around burying herself in work, snuggling her children, and comforting herself with food.

And then, on Thanksgiving 2013, Shonda’s sister muttered something that was both a wake up and a call to arms: You never say yes to anything.

The comment sat like a grenade, until it detonated. Then Shonda, the youngest of six children from a supremely competitive family, knew she had to embrace the challenge: for one year, she would say YES to everything that scared her.

This wildly candid and compulsively readable book reveals how the mega talented Shonda Rhimes, an unexpected introvert, achieved badassery worthy of a Shondaland character. And how you can, too.

Frantz Fanon: Toward a Revolutionary Humanism by Christopher J. Lee
264 p. (non-fiction)
Publication date: Nov. 15, 2015

Psychiatrist, philosopher, and revolutionary, Frantz Fanon is one of the most important intellectuals of the twentieth century. He presented powerful critiques of racism, colonialism, and nationalism in his classic books, Black Skin, White Masks (1952) and The Wretched of the Earth (1961). This biography reintroduces Fanon for a new generation of readers, revisiting these enduring themes while also arguing for those less appreciated—namely, his anti-Manichean sensibility and his personal ethic of radical empathy, both of which underpinned his utopian vision of a new humanism. Written with clarity and passion, Christopher J. Lee’s account ultimately argues for the pragmatic idealism of Frantz Fanon and his continued importance today.

The Emperor of Sound: A Memoir by Timbaland
240 p. (non-fiction)
Publication date: Nov. 17, 2015

In The Emperor of Sound, Timbaland offers fans an unprecedented look into his life and work, taking them backstage with 50 Cent and live on-stage with Justin Timberlake. Completely uncensored and totally honest, he reveals the magic behind the music, sharing the various creative impulses that arise while he’s producing, and the layering of sounds that have created dozens of number one hits. Cinematically written, full of revealing anecdotes and reflections from today’s most popular music icons, The Emperor of Sound showcases this master’s artistry and offers an extraordinary glimpse inside this great musical mind.

A Bad Character by Deepti Kapoor
256 p. (fiction)
Publication date: Nov. 24, 2015 (paperback)

Our narrator is ’twenty and untouched’ when her mother dies. Sent by her absentee father to live with a relative in a modest Delhi apartment, she is ill-equipped to resist the allure of the rich and rebellious young man from a different social class who approaches her one day at a cafe. As they drive around Delhi—eating, making love, falling apart—he introduces her to a gritty, thrilling India that she never knew existed…and will never be able to forget. A Bad Character is an astounding book, an intimate and raw exploration of female transformation in contemporary India.

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