Wednesday, January 6, 2016


It took me a minute, but I was reading right up until and through New Year's Eve, so I didn't want to put out a list too early and miss telling you about any amazing reads. The books below are my favorite reads from 2015. Some I reviewed, others I didn't. Unlike previous years, I have a self-help/non-fiction book, which I rarely read, and a cook book - because the recipes are that damn amazing. Enjoy!

God Loves Haiti by Dimitry Elias Leger
262 pages
Published: January 6, 2015
Read: 1/8/2015

In the aftermath of a devastating earthquake, the president of Haiti, his wife and her lover try to reconnect with each other.  I can't remember why I didn't review this on the blog, except that it was so overwhelmingly good that words failed me when I tried to describe it to someone so my post would have been a bunch of gobbledygook. But trust me, read it.

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

Stick Fly by Lydia Diamond
Audio: 1 hour, 50 minutes
Published: February 1, 2008
Listened: 2/26/2015

No one does bougie like black people on the east coast! When two adult sons bring their current girlfriends to meet the parents at their family's summer home on Martha's Vineyard, nothing is off limits. I listened to this because Audible offered it free for Black History Month. Such a great play. The actors and the story line were superb. I never gave much thought to "listening" to plays, but I'm definitely planning to do it again.

Purchase: Amazon | B & N | Book Depository | IndieBound | Recorded Books

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy
352 pages
Published: April 14, 2015
Read: 3/30/2015; Review

I hate to compare books, especially ones that are really well written in their own right, but this reminded me of Ayana Mathis' The Twelve Tribes of Hattie. The thing that made it better, in my opinion, is that the characters are tied together. In The Twelve Tribes, even though the characters are siblings, their stories are written in such a way that they can stand alone and there's little interaction between the siblings as adults. So while we see them interact as children, once they move into the adult world, there's very little dialogue among them - stand alone stories. While The Turner House doesn't delve deeply into the lives of all the Turner children, Flournoy gives us a good sense of how their lives have turned out based on the adult children's whose lives she chooses to explore.

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

'Til the Well Runs Dry by Lauren Francis-Sharma
400 pages
Published: April 22, 2014
Read: 5/23/2015

OMG, I don't even know what to say about 'Til the Well Runs Dry. Set in Trinidad and the United States from the 1940s through 1960s, it's the story of a young seamstress who's raising two boys and falls for a policeman. Their marriage and lives together and apart are happy and twisted and tortured, but this was an absolutely amazing read. I'm just sorry that it took me so long to getting around to read it.

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

The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson
304 pages
Published: June 30, 2015
Read: 7/6/2015; Review

Touted as a coming of age story, Star Side follows two sisters, Dionne and Phaedra, who are uprooted from their life in Brooklyn and transplanted in Barbados. And while coming of age usually implies that someone is growing up or entering adulthood, I would argue that all three of the main characters, Hyacinth included, come of age in this well crafted novel. I can't remember the last time a book made me laugh AND cry. Loved, loved, LOVED the characters in this book.

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

The Blue Between Sky and Water by Susan Abulhawa
304 pages
Published: September 1, 2015
Read: 9/13/2015; Review

Grounded in reality and a bit of mysticism, The Blue Between Sky and Water is the story of four generations of women in Gaza and America, connected by family ties. Not nearly enough people read this amazing book. But you? You go read it, now!

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

Only the Strong by Jabari Asim
288 pages
Published: May 12, 2015
Read: 9/18/2015; Review

I loved Only the Strong partially because it was set in St. Louis, so the landmarks were familiar to me, as were some of the characters.  But I also loved it because those characters were so well written. I was drawn into their story lines and was sad to see them end. I'm hoping the author will give us a sequel or recycle some of the characters into his next work.

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

Lazaretto by Diane McKinney-Whetstone
352 pages
To be Published: April 12, 2016
Read: 9/23/2015

It's kind of unfair of me to add this to the list since you won't be able to read it until April, but it's amazing. It's like nothing Diane McKinney-Whetstone has written before. All of her other books are good, but this? This is some other level stuff.

Pre-order: B & N | Book Depository

Untwine by Edwidge Danticat
320 pages
Published: September 29, 2015
Read: 10/17/2015; Review

I don't typically read YA (young adult) lit, but I'll always make an exception for Edwidge Danticat. Sixteen year olds aren’t supposed to die, but sometimes they do. Giselle and Isabelle Boyer are as alike and different as twins can be and the author explores those differences in Untwine.

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

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes
336 pages
Published: November 10, 2015
Read: 11/13/2015; Review

Oh Shonda Rhimes, you better work! Year of Yes spoke to the introvert in me and convinced me that I too could become a bad ass like Shonda. 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.

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

A Real Southern Cook: In Her Savannah Kitchen by Dora Charles
272 pages
Published: September 8, 2015
Read: 11/25/2015

Miss Dora drops all kinds of tea on Paula Deen in her cookbook and after working with her for 22 years, you know she knows what she's talking about.

I checked out the Kindle version of this from the library & spent the evening reading the stories and recipes. I thought I might find a recipe or two to try but the book is full of them! I'm definitely buying a hard copy of this to add to my cookbook collection and I've already tried a few of the recipes. Look, my sour cream pound cake was just okay before, but using Miss Dora's recipe? Honey, hush!

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

Ghost Summer: Stories by Tananarive Due
335 pages
Published: September 8, 2015
Read: 12/8/2015

I always have to read Tananarive Due stories in broad daylight, preferably early morning so that between the time I read them and go to sleep, plenty of other things have happened to fill my brain.  Otherwise, they subconsciously creep up on me and I scare the living daylights out of myself.   Ms. Due has outdone herself with the shorts in Ghost Summer. Some are longer than others and some are way too short for my taste. The stories definitely left me wanting more. I would love to see fully fleshed out novels of a lot of these shorts.

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

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