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#5 On My TBR – Shorties

Hello Everyone! I hope that you had a wonderful time this Thanksgiving and that you were able to spend that time with your family and loved ones. My holiday was a quiet one spent with my husband and children. We were blessed to be able to prepare the meal together and decorate for Christmas afterwards. It really is hard pulling myself away from them to get back into the work grind but I am grateful for the time and the cuddles.

So on to today’s post:

5 On My TBR is a weekly meme that gets you digging into your massive TBRs to find five special books. Created by E@LocalBeeHuntersNook this meme centers on a new prompt each Monday. This week’s theme is Shorties. This couldn’t come at a better time as many are trying to finish off the year strong and hit all of their reading goals. For those of you interested in participating in #5 On My TBR you can find additional info and future prompts here.


#1 – The Beadworkers

From Goodreads: “Beth Piatote’s luminous debut collection opens with a feast, grounding its stories in the landscapes and lifeworlds of the Native Northwest, exploring the inventive and unforgettable pattern of Native American life in the contemporary world.”

“Told with humor, subtlety, and beautiful spareness, the mixed-genre works of Beth Piatote’s first collection find unifying themes in the strength of kinship, the pulse of longing, and the language of return.”

“Formally inventive, witty, and generous, the works in this singular debut collection draw on Indigenous aesthetics and forms to offer a powerful, sustaining vision of Native life in the Americas.”


 #2 – The Haunting of Tram Car 015

From Goodreads: The Haunting of Tram Car 015 returns to the alternate Cairo of Clark’s short fiction, where humans live and work alongside otherworldly beings; the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities handles the issues that can arise between the magical and the mundane. Senior Agent Hamed al-Nasr shows his new partner Agent Onsi the ropes of investigation when they are called to subdue a dangerous, possessed tram car. What starts off as a simple matter of exorcism, however, becomes more complicated as the origins of the demon inside are revealed.


#3 – Let’s Tell This Story Properly

From Goodreads: “How far does one have to travel to find home elsewhere? The stories in Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s collection attempt to measure that distance. Centered around the lives of Ugandans in Britain, Let’s Tell This Story Properly features characters both hyper-visible and unseen—they take on jobs at airport security, care for the elderly, and work in hospitals, while remaining excluded from white, British life. As they try to find their place, they drift from a home that feels further and further away. In an ambitious collection by the critically acclaimed author of Kintu, Let’s Tell This Story Properly explores what happens to those who leave.”


#4 – The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

From Goodreads: “The Secret Lives of Church Ladies explores the raw and tender places where black women and girls dare to follow their desires and pursue a momentary reprieve from being good. The nine stories in this collection feature four generations of characters grappling with who they want to be in the world, caught as they are between the church’s double standards and their own needs and passions.”


#5 – A Phoenix Must First Burn

From Goodreads: Sixteen tales by bestselling and award-winning authors that explore the Black experience through fantasy, science fiction, and magic.

Evoking Beyoncé’s Lemonade for a teen audience, these authors who are truly Octavia Butler’s heirs, have woven worlds to create a stunning narrative that centers Black women and gender nonconforming individuals. A Phoenix First Must Burn will take you on a journey from folktales retold to futuristic societies and everything in between. Filled with stories of love and betrayal, strength and resistance, this collection contains an array of complex and true-to-life characters in which you cannot help but see yourself reflected. Witches and scientists, sisters and lovers, priestesses and rebels: the heroines of A Phoenix First Must Burn shine brightly. You will never forget them.

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Throwback Thursday 11/26

I discovered Throwback Thursday on my friend Carla Loves To Read page.

Throwback Thursday meme is hosted by Renee@It’s Book Talk and is a way to share some of your old favorites as well as sharing books that you’re FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on your TBR list while you continue to pile more titles on top of them! These older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board and connect back to Renee’s blog.

This week I decided to stick with Nonfiction that brings a smile. I read this book back in 2017 and it still makes me happy just to think of it.

My Original Review

I first came across this delightful memoir while reading The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry for my local book club. At the time I didn’t realize that it was an epistolary book. I only knew that its focus was on the love of books. Being quite the bibliophile myself, I couldn’t resist picking this one up. What starts off as a simple request from Helene Hanff to find a second-hand book evolves into quite a friendship. 84, Charing Cross Road contains over 20 years of correspondence between Helene Hanff and her booksellers in which they share not only their love of books, but also discussions about their favorite sports teams and politics. Although most of her letters are addressed to Frank Doel, her wry wit and her generosity move the other booksellers, his neighbors and family to write her as well. 84, Charing Cross Road is a really charming and sweet read.


Throwback Pics

Charing Cross Road, 1937; Photographer: Wolf Suschitzky Milkman
Anthony Hopkins in 1987 film adaptation of 84 Charing Cross Road

Signing off. Hope we get to talk books soon!

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Teaser Tuesday 11/24

Welcome to Teaser Tuesday, the weekly Meme hosted by The Purple Booker. It’s super easy and anyone can join in the fun!

1: Grab your current read
2: Open to a random page
3: Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

For the last few years I have been participating in the Tournament of Books hosted by The Morning Call. This year 77 – that’s right a whopping 77 books made the longlist! So far I have only read 18 and thankfully have 9 on my shelves.

Piranesi by Susana Clarke has been getting lots of buzz and rave reviews. How many of you have read Piranesi? What are your thoughts about the book?

Synopsis

From the New York Times bestselling author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, an intoxicating, hypnotic new novel set in a dreamlike alternative reality.

Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.

There is one other person in the house—a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.

For readers of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and fans of Madeline Miller’s CircePiranesi introduces an astonishing new world, an infinite labyrinth, full of startling images and surreal beauty, haunted by the tides and the clouds.


Teaser

“I realised that the search for the Knowledge has encouraged us to think of the House as if it were a sort of riddle to be unravelled, a text to be interpreted, and that if ever we discover the Knowledge, then it will be as if the Value has been wrested from the House and all that remains will be mere scenery.”

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Nonfiction November #5

Black Futures, edited by Kimberly Drew + Jenna Wortham

Black Futures uses cultural references and mixed media to talk about the Black experience.

Black is not one dimensional nor monolithic. Black transcends time and space –

Therefore editors Jenna Wortham and Kimberly Drew decided against a linear approach to the book. Instead Black Futures is arranged to be consumed more organically. Within each section we are given a table of contents and also a guide to related entries so the topic may be explored in more depth.

Black Futures begs the question “What does it mean to be Black and alive right now?”

Kimberly Drew and Jenna Wortham. Photo by Naima Green

Although the book opens with Black Lives Matter and social activism it goes on to examine the Black collective. How are those on the fringes included and embraced in Black society and how can we uplift them?

In a Google Hangout with Shawne Michealain Holloway, Tiona McClodden talks about being identified as a member of the BDSM community and what this meant for her. She felt vulnerable in that moment, yet free, because she was finally being seen.

”I was really concerned about how people saw the mask. And that mask, in particular sense, was not a mask to hide. It was a mask to reveal.”

This idea of being seen is emphasized by the editors through pictures and artwork and even Twitter exchanges. The authors stress the need for personal archival and give explicit directions on how to document your life so that future generations will know your lived experience.

Cultural inheritance is not just about what we have learned from the past, but how that legacy is passed on to our children. In the section entitled ‘Black to the Land’ Leah Penniman talks about the history of hiding rice and other seeds within African traditional hair styles and how today cooperatives like Soul Fire Farm train Black families sustainable farming practices.

My favorite part of the book was the section on Black Joy which delves into self-care and love. Highlighted here was rejuvenation through worship, relaxation and play and healthy food practices.

Black Futures is a collection of Black excellence. It is a testament to our past struggles and a beacon of hope for the future.

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#5 On My TBR – Nonfiction

5 On My TBR is a weekly meme that gets you digging into your massive TBRs to find five special books. Created by E@LocalBeeHuntersNook this meme centers on a new prompt each Monday. This week’s theme is Nonfiction. For those of you interested in participating in #5 On My TBR you can find additional info and future prompts here.

#1 – Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted

From GoodReads: A searing, deeply moving memoir of illness and recovery that traces one young woman’s journey from diagnosis to remission and, ultimately, a road trip of healing and self-discovery.”

#2 – The Fact of a Body

From GoodReads: “An intellectual and emotional thriller that is also a different kind of murder mystery, The Fact Of a Body is a book not only about how the story of one crime was constructed―but about how we grapple with our own personal histories.”

#3 – Feel Free

From GoodReads: “Gathering in one place for the first time previously unpublished work, as well as already classic essays, such as, “Joy,” and, “Find Your Beach,” Feel Free offers a survey of important recent events in culture and politics, as well as Smith’s own life. Equally at home in the world of good books and bad politics, Brooklyn-born rappers and the work of Swiss novelists, she is by turns wry, heartfelt, indignant, and incisive–and never any less than perfect company. This is literary journalism at its zenith.”

#4 – What Your Eyes Don’t See

From GoodReads: “Secrets within a family can have devastating effects for those involved directly and indirectly. This story details how one woman’s choices as a result of family secrets changed the course of her life forever.”

#5 – I Am These Truths

From GoodReads: “The Emmy Award winner, co-host of The View, and ABC News senior legal correspondent chronicles her journey from growing up in a South Bronx housing project to becoming an assistant U.S. attorney and journalist in this powerful memoir that offers an intimate and unique look at identity, intolerance, and injustice.”

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Throwback Thursday 11/19

I discovered Throwback Thursday on my friend Carla Loves To Read page.

Throwback Thursday meme is hosted by Renee@It’s Book Talk and is a way to share some of your old favorites as well as sharing books that you’re FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on your TBR list while you continue to pile more titles on top of them! These older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board and connect back to Renee’s blog.

My choice this week is A Message to Garcia, a little known gem whose wisdom has withstood time.

My Original Review

This motivational classic was written one winter night in 1899. A Message to Garcia is a pithy volume of only 17 pages. Written in just one hour it is chock full of pearls of wisdom. It centers on the real life story of Major Andrew S. Rowan who traveled the harsh terrain across the island of Cuba to meet with rebel force leader General Calixto Garcia. In doing so he infiltrated enemy lines and secured information that led to the success of the United States Army during the Spanish American War. Hubbard tells this tale to beseech us to act promptly without excessive deliberation – “To stand still is to retreat.” or questioning – “things that chew cud do not catch anything.”

Other lessons that can be gleaned from this book:

The meaning of success –
“Get rid of the savage fallacy that success lies through sacrifice . . . Success implies joy in your work . . . The man who can lose himself in his work is the one who will succeed best . . . No success is final . . . Every success is a preparation for greater success just ahead.”

The definition of Genius –

“A genius is a man who takes the lemons that Fate hands him and starts a lemonade stand with them.”

Failure does not exist. One who is successful is too busy putting effort into the work that they do not even know that they stand on the thin line between success and failure.”

“Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped.”

The value of education – Hubbard believes that education should teach you to DO something. Too much time, he believes is wasted on telling students how to think when by the time they reach college age they should be productive members of society. A college education is therefore a waste of time according to Hubbard.

To see Colonel Rowan’s account go here:
http://www.foundationsmag.com/rowan.html


Throwback Pic

Paul Leroy Robeson wore many hats: singer, actor, activist, athlete, lawyer. Here he is as Brutus in the film The Emperor Jones—the first film to feature an African American in a starring role. This picture taken by photographer Edward Steichen first appeared in Vanity Fair on August 1st 1933.

Signing off. Hope we get to talk books soon!

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WWW Wednesday 11/18/20

Hello and Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was created by Miz B formerly of shouldbereading and currently hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

The Three Ws are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What I’ve Read

  • Three Women by Lisa Taddeo
  • Case Studies/ Sociology
  • Hardcover, 304 pages
  • Published July 9th 2019 by Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster
  • Nonfiction November
  • Popsugar Challenge
  • Life of a Book Addict Pick It For Me
  • Mem by Bethany C.Morrow
  • Science Fiction
  • Kindle Edition, 189 pages
  • Published May 22nd 2018 by The Unnamed Press
  • PopSugar Challenge
  • 52 Weeks of Women Color
  • Spell the Month in Books

What I’m Reading

This is my second time trying to read this one. The first time I was listening to the audiobook and it just did not click with me. This time reading on the Kindle. Not quite where I was the last time but more of the plot is sinking in and I am connecting more So maybe this time I will finish it.


What’s Next?

  • White Ivy by Susie Yang
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • Hardcover, 368 pages
  • Published November 3rd 2020 by Simon & Schuster
  • 52 Weeks of Women of Color
  • Tattoo by Jenna Cosgrove
  • Young Adult
  • Kindle Edition, 448 pages
  • Published March 27th 2016 by The 8 Percent
  • Goodreads Giveaway
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Nonfiction November #4

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

When I read the synopsis of this book billing it as “desire as we’ve never seen it before” I had a totally different impression of what it would be. In my mind a book that talked about the sex lives and desires of three women would be a liberating piece that showcased women who were confident and sure of themselves. Just imagine Cardi B’s WAP but for a married Christian woman LOL. But seriously though, I expected a sober piece of journalism that allowed women to reveal what they wanted and how they got it.

While Three Women is indeed sobering, it is not refreshing. In fact I found it heartbreaking. I was so troubled by my response that I ended up reading parts of it aloud to my husband so that I could get his take.

Here’s what we agreed upon:
None of the women are getting what they truly desire.
— Maggie wants someone she can trust and talk to.
— Lina wants to feel safe and wanted.
— Sloane wants to like herself.

Three Women shows how these desires manifest themselves in these women’s sex lives. All of these women have been abused. Maggie is groomed by her teacher after confiding in him. He takes advantage of her dysfunctional family and fragile state to molest and rape her. Lina’s rape in high school leads her to choose a “safe prospect” in a husband. The only problem is there is no passion in their marriage. She gives up and looks elsewhere after a psychologist says that it is perfectly normal for her husband not to want to kiss her and that she shouldn’t expect that of him. Sloane childhood abuse has led her to have body dysmorphia. She is compulsive about her weight and looks and strives to do everything in her power to please her husband. even if this means that she has to sleep with other people of his choosing.

I would argue that none of these women are acting on their own desires, not even Lina. They are all submitting to a man’s desire.

The book is written from alternating viewpoints. Although I have seen this in fiction I do not see what purpose it served here. I found it quite disruptive to the flow of the book and in some cases Taddeo was repetitive. My husband and I both agree that there were points where Taddeo was dramatic, if not melodramatic in her descriptions. I guess she was going for the nonfiction that reads like fiction sort of thing. But unfortunately it has the impact of making the stories less plausible. There was a level of precision in setting the scene that I thought could not have been recalled by the subjects after such long periods of time. My husband felt that Taddeo was trying to insert herself into the studies. For me, some of the metaphors were quite cringe worthy. Just think gearshifts and ghost shaped emissions here.

I was surprised at the transparency and honesty that these women showed. It was awfully brave of them to share their experiences with such candor. Especially since society is so quick to judge them for immorality while the men involved are given a reprieve.

This review first appeared on my GoodReads page.

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Teaser Tuesday 11/17/20

Welcome to Teaser Tuesday, the weekly Meme hosted by The Purple Booker. It’s super easy and anyone can join in the fun!

1: Grab your current read
2: Open to a random page
3: Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

This week I struggled to find a Teaser for this meme. So I begged help from my tribe of bookworms. My middle son picked the page number (64) and my little ones decided the color. One said yellow and the other pink an Voila! This is what we came up with:

Synopsis

From GoodReads“Twin sisters Bibike and Ariyike are enjoying a relatively comfortable life in Lagos in 1996. Then their mother loses her job due to political strife, and the family, facing poverty, becomes drawn into the New Church, an institution led by a charismatic pastor who is not shy about worshipping earthly wealth.”

“Following their fate over the course of two decades in Nigeria, this debut novel tells the story of each sibling’s search for agency, love, and meaning in a society rife with hypocrisy but also endless life.”


Teaser

When you’re the youngest in the family, everyone tries to protect you. They lie to you, they cover for you. You learn to do your own investigating. You have to be both persistent and invisible. Sometimes it seemed like there was a duvet of silence over all the important stuff about our family. There was no one willing to lift it for me, to let me see for myself what it was all about.

pg. 64

For those of you with siblings, how much do you think your birth order has affected your personality?

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#5 On My TBR – Black Covers

5 On My TBR is a weekly meme that gets you digging into your massive TBRs to find five special books. Created by E@LocalBeeHuntersNook this meme centers on a new prompt each Monday. This week’s theme is Black Covers. If you think “reading the rainbow’ is a fun idea, please join our group’s monthly color challenge over on GoodReads. Next month the colors are green and red. For those of you interested in participating in #5 On My TBR you can find additional info and future prompts here.

#1 – The Future is Yours

  • Science Fiction; Time Travel
  • Hardcover, 352 pages
  • Expected publication: February 9th 2021 by Del Rey Books

From GoodReads: “Two best friends create a computer that can predict the future. But what they can’t predict is how it will tear their friendship—and society—apart.”


#2 – Let Me Hear a Rhyme

  • Young Adult/ realistic Fiction
  • Hardcover, 380 pages
  • Published May 21st 2019 by Katherine Tegen

From GoodReads: “In this standalone novel, Tiffany D. Jackson tells the story of three Brooklyn teens who plot to turn their murdered friend into a major rap star by pretending he is still alive.”


#3 – Thick and Other Essays

  • Nonfiction/Social science
  • Hardcover, 248 pages
  • Published January 8th 2019 by New Press 

From GoodReads: “Smart, humorous, and strikingly original thoughts on race, beauty, money, and more—by one of today’s most intrepid public intellectuals.”


#4 – Ten Women

  • Contemporary Literature, in translation
  • Kindle Edition, 251 pages
  • Published January 7th 2014 by AmazonCrossing

From GoodReads: “Nine Chilean women with divergent life stories come together to talk about their triumphs and heartaches . . . They all have one person in common, their beloved therapist Natasha who, though central to the lives of all of the women, is absent from their meeting.”

“Despite their differences, as the women tell their stories, unlikely bonds are formed, and their lives are transformed in this intricately woven, beautifully rendered tale of the universal bonds between women from one of Latin America’s most celebrated novelists.”


#5 – Dread Nation

  • Young Adult/ Historical Fiction / Horror
  • Hardcover, 455 pages
  • Published April 3rd 2018 by Balzer + Bray

From GoodReads: “Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.”

“But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.”

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52 Weeks of Women of Color Post 3

I came across the 52 Weeks of Women of Color challenge late last year. When I jumped aboard I had no idea just how wonderful my reading experience was going to be. More than half of these books were from new-to-me authors and they span a gambit of genres.

As this month is #NonfictionNovember here is My post“Nonfiction Works by Women of Color.”

Book #19 – Hitting A Straight Lick With a Crooked Stick

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My Review


Book #20 – The Talented Ribkins

Rating: 4 out of 5.

From Goodreads“Inspired by W. E. B. Du Bois’s famous essay “The Talented Tenth” and fuelled by Ladee Hubbard’s marvelously original imagination, The Talented Ribkins is a big-hearted debut novel about race, class, politics, and the unique gifts that, while they may cause some problems from time to time, bind a family together.”

I enjoyed this family and their hijinks. My favorite part was when Johnny was teaching Eloise about their family history. The moral of the story was knowing who you are and what your gift is. That everyone has a special spark or super power to brighten the world.


Book #21 – Breathe: A Letter to My Sons

Rating: 5 out of 5.

From GoodReads: “Emotionally raw and deeply reflective, Imani Perry issues an unflinching challenge to society to see Black children as deserving of humanity. She admits fear and frustration for her African American sons in a society that is increasingly racist and at times seems irredeemable. However, as a mother, feminist, writer, and intellectual, Perry offers an unfettered expression of love–finding beauty and possibility in life–and she exhorts her children and their peers to find the courage to chart their own paths and find steady footing and inspiration in Black tradition.”

So glad I had access to both the audio and the hard copy. I liked hearing the author’s words and experiences in her own voice. Yet I felt that what she was saying was so important that I had to see the words, mark them down. Absorb them.


Book #22 – Who Put This Song On?

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is a semi-autobiographical YA novel about a young girl that struggles with anxiety and depression. Written by poet Morgan Parker, it rings true and is very relatable. Parker captures the aughts (2000s), its music and a young black girl’s struggle with fitting in with humor and grace.


Book #23 – This Is Just My Face Try Not To Stare

Rating: 4 out of 5.

FUNNY! I would definitely recommend listening to the audiobook for this one. Sidibe narrates it herself and will have you in stitches! Who would have known that Precious was so funny?


Book #24 – Split Tooth

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My GoodReads review


Book #25 – The Revisioners

Rating: 4 out of 5.

From GoodReadsThe Revisioners explores the depths of women’s relationships—powerful women and marginalized women, healers and survivors. It is a novel about the bonds between a mother and a child, the dangers that upend those bonds. At its core, The Revisioners ponders generational legacies, the endurance of hope, and the undying promise of freedom.


Book #26 – Know My Name

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This was a heartbreaking memoir. Chanel Miller recalls her attack by Brock Turner and describes the anguish she went through in the days after and during the trial. I applaud her strength in coming forward and telling her story as a victim, then a survivor and now an activist.


Book #27 – The Queen’s Assassin

Rating: 4 out of 5.

From GoodReadsPerfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas and Red Queen, this is the first novel in a sweeping YA fantasy-romance duet about a deadly assassin, his mysterious apprentice, and the country they are sworn to protect from #1 NYT bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz.

The books showcased in this post were all read in February this year.

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Nonfiction November #3

The Purpose of Power: How We Come Together When We Fall Apart by Alicia Garza

The Purpose of Power is not your typical memoir.  Yes, Alicia Garza pours her personal experience into these pages but her focus is on building community.

  • She talks about the definition of empowerment and explains how it is different from power
  • She walks us through the historical aspects of movements including the civil rights movement
  • We learn the difference between having a following and a having a base and what it takes to mobilize that base during a movement.

While Garza dispels the idea that black lives matter is a hashtag, she also criticizes those who have co-opted the movement for their own personal and political gain.  These individuals were never part of BLM nor were involved in its founding.  One case in point is the lawsuit brought about by a Baton Rouge police officer.  During the 2016 protest against police brutality the officer was struck upon the head and suffered brain injuries.  He sued the three founders of Black Lives Matter. The judge ruled against him citing that you cannot sue a social movement.  Furthermore, the protest was not organized or promoted BLM. DeRay McKesson was the organizer of that event. He is a community activist but is not, nor has he ever been, a member of Black Lives Matter.

There have been several instances where the media has credited him and other men as having leading roles in the organization. Oftentimes, these men fail to correct them. In McKesson’s case he has met with politicians and dignitaries on behalf of Black Lives Matter.  Hillary Clinton even sat down to meet with him during her presidential bid after Garza, Cullors and Tometi declined to align themselves with either campaign.

Garza stresses that the vision for the Black Lives Matter movement came to fruition through the hard work and dedication of three black and queer women.  So why don’t we hear more of them? Simple, she says women are invisible in this society especially those that are marginalized.

Despite recognizing the importance of this intersectionality, she stresses that we must find common ground.  What is the one purpose that you all have?  Work towards that aim.  Garza admits that there will always be things that people disagree about and that not everyone is going to value the same things. But if you stay focused on that one thing that ties you all together you can see measured success.

On a personal note, she called me out and I’m sure she called out a bunch of you guys too, when she was going over empathy.  If someone is telling you that they are suffering from something, they are not expecting you to tell them of your experience with the same thing.  They just want you to listen and to be heard.  You may tell them you feel for their pain.  It was funny because there was a guy who posted something about being distracted with reading and I went on to respond that I too had been distracted during the Covid pandemic instead of just saying that I understood. I could have just shared my support.  Perhaps give suggestions.  It may seem like a minor issue, but I think we are more aware of our reactions to big issues.  These small moments occur every day and we often don’t realize what we are doing.  If we are going to come together as a nation we need to start learning how to put ourselves in each other’s shoes and try to see things from other people’s perspectives.  We also have to be able to find that common ground so we can heal as a nation.

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Throwback Thursday 11/12

I discovered Throwback Thursday on my friend Carla Loves To Read page.

Throwback Thursday meme is hosted by Renee@It’s Book Talk and is a way to share some of your old favorites as well as sharing books that you’re FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on your TBR list while you continue to pile more titles on top of them! These older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board and connect back to Renee’s blog.

This week my choice is Samantha Irby’s We Are Never Meeting in Real Life. I figured if you guys were as wound up as I have been it would do you well to have some humor in your lives. Samantha Irby dishes up just that. And guess what? —– Humor counts as Nonfiction! So you can add another one to the books if you are participating in Nonfiction November 😉


This was rip roariously funny. I know I’m making up words here but Ms. Samantha had me in stitches. I can’t believe that I had this title sitting on my shelf since 2017 and it was only the monthly color challenge that had me cull this book from my massive TBR.

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life could probably be swallowed whole in one sitting but it served me well in small doses of joy served up like cups of sweet coffee – a little bit here to kick start the day, a little bit there to get past the doldrums of work and the ho hum of everyday chores.

This review originally appeared on my GoodReads page April 7, 2019


Throwback Pic

“Beatles Pillow Fight, Paris” was taken in 1964 by Scottish born photographer Harry Benson. His work and iconic photography have been immortalized in the 2016 film Harry Benson: Shoot First.

Signing off. Hope we get to talk books soon!

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WWW Wednesdays 11/11

Hello and Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was created by Miz B formerly of shouldbereading and currently hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

The Three Ws are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What I’ve Read

Rating: 4 out of 5.

See my stop on The Forgotten Sister Blog Tour.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Here’s My Thoughts.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

See my Review Nonfiction November #2


What I’m Reading

Currently I am focusing my energy on cutting down my NetGalley pile while incorporating some Nonfiction titles. Black Sun and The Purpose of Power are ARCs. Three Women is a book club pick from GoodReads.

  • Science Fiction/ Epic Fantasy
  • Hardcover, 454 pages
  • Published October 13th 2020 by Saga Press
  • Nonfiction/ Political Memoir
  • Hardcover, 336 pages
  • Published October 20th 2020 by One World
  • Nonfiction
  • Hardcover, 304 pages
  • Published July 9th 2019 by Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster

What’s Next

“A dazzling debut novel about a young woman’s dark obsession with her privileged classmate and the lengths she’ll go to win his love.”

“You judge me when you look at me because of the tattoos that cover my body—but that’s only because you don’t understand what they mean…….”

“You judge me because my tattoos make me look strange, dangerous. But there’s more to them than that. To understand the way I look, you need to know where I came from. To understand me, you need to know my story…”

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52 Weeks of Women of Color Post 2

This year I have taken on the challenge of reading 52 books by women of color. Simple enough – every week pick a book written by a woman of color from any genre, any time period, any place in the world. I have taken on many challenges but this one has been the most rewarding. Over this past year I have been introduced to many new authors and new perspectives.

I was supposed to post this last Friday but I am running behind my own schedule and thought it most important to get my Blog Tours up in time.

Book #10 – In the Dream House

Rating: 5 out of 5.

From Goodreads: “For years Carmen Maria Machado has struggled to articulate her experiences in an abusive same-sex relationship. In this extraordinarily candid and radically inventive memoir, Machado tackles a dark and difficult subject with wit, inventiveness and an inquiring spirit, as she uses a series of narrative tropes—including classic horror themes—to create an entirely unique piece of work which is destined to become an instant classic.”


Book #11 – Optic Nerve

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My GoodReads Review


Book #12 – Such a Fun Age

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Book #13 – Remembrance

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

From Goodreads: Remembrance…It’s a rumor, a whisper passed in the fields and veiled behind sheets of laundry. A hidden stop on the underground road to freedom, a safe haven protected by more than secrecy…if you can make it there.

Ohio, present day. An elderly woman who is more than she seems warns against rising racism as a young woman grapples with her life.

Haiti, 1791, on the brink of revolution. When the slave Abigail is forced from her children to take her mistress to safety, she discovers New Orleans has its own powers.

1857 New Orleans—a city of unrest: Following tragedy, house girl Margot is sold just before her 18th birthday and her promised freedom. Desperate, she escapes and chases a whisper…. Remembrance.


Book #14 – Small Island

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Book #15 – The Remainder

Rating: 3 out of 5.

From Goodreads: “Santiago, Chile. The city is covered in ash. Three children of ex-militants are facing a past they can neither remember nor forget. Felipe sees dead bodies on every corner of the city, counting them up in an obsessive quest to square these figures with the official death toll. He is searching for the perfect zero, a life with no remainder. Iquela and Paloma, too, are searching for a way to live on. When the body of Paloma’s mother gets lost in transit, the three take a hearse and a bottle of pisco up the cordillera for a road trip with a difference. Intense, intelligent, and extraordinarily sensitive to the shape and weight of words, this remarkable debut presents a new way to count the cost of a pain that stretches across generations.”


Book #16 – The Girl With the Louding Voice

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

My Review


Book #17 – Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My Review

Book #18 – Little Gods

Rating: 4 out of 5.

From Goodreads: “On the night of June Fourth, a woman gives birth in a Beijing hospital alone. Thus begins the unraveling of Su Lan, a brilliant physicist who until this moment has successfully erased her past, fighting what she calls the mind’s arrow of time.

When Su Lan dies unexpectedly seventeen years later, it is her daughter Liya who inherits the silences and contradictions of her life. Liya, who grew up in America, takes her mother’s ashes to China, Liya’s memories are joined by those of two others: Zhu Wen, the woman last to know Su Lan before she left China, and Yongzong, the father Liya has never known. In this way a portrait of Su Lan emerges: an ambitious scientist, an ambivalent mother, and a woman whose relationship to her own past shapes and ultimately unmakes Liya’s own sense of displacement. “

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Blog Tour: The Forgotten Sister

Synopsis

In the tradition of the spellbinding historical novels of Philippa Gregory and Kate Morton comes a stunning story based on a real-life Tudor mystery, of a curse that echoes through the centuries and shapes two women’s destinies…

1560: Amy Robsart is trapped in a loveless marriage to Robert Dudley, a member of the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Surrounded by enemies and with nowhere left to turn, Amy hatches a desperate scheme to escape—one with devastating consequences that will echo through the centuries…

Present Day: When Lizzie Kingdom is forced to withdraw from the public eye in a blaze of scandal, it seems her life is over. But she’s about to encounter a young man, Johnny Robsart, whose fate will interlace with hers in the most unexpected of ways. For Johnny is certain that Lizzie is linked to a terrible secret dating back to Tudor times. If Lizzie is brave enough to go in search of the truth, then what she discovers will change the course of their lives forever.


Review

The Forgotten Sister by Nicola Cornick is an historical fiction novel about the life and death of Amy Robsart. Lady Robsart was the wife to Queen Elizabeth I’s favorite guy, Robert Dudley. From historical accounts we know that Robsart died under mysterious circumstances and although quite a salacious tale at the time it seems as if history has erased her. When Cornick visited Cumnor Place she realized that Amy’s tomb was not to be found. This made her story the more intriguing and Cornick decided to bring her back to life.

In The Forgotten Sister Cornick utilizes a dual time frame between present day and Tudor England. Throughout time, parallel characters are cursed as history repeats itself.

When you first meet Amy and Lizzie you see how these women defined by the society’s expectations of women. Amy is bound to a loveless marriage and must suffer the public shame of being cuckolded. Lizzie is defined by how society thinks she should be responding to men. The platonic nature of her lifelong friendship with Dudley is questioned and at the same time, she is criticized for being virginal and sexless. Both of these women manage to find ways to rebel against the system and find their own path.

With romance, time travel and the paranormal Cornick weaves an unforgettable story that reminds us the value of women and that history is not to be forgotten or ignored.


Meet the Author

USA Today bestselling author Nicola Cornick has written over thirty historical romances for Harlequin and HQN Books. She has been nominated twice for a RWA RITA Award and twice for the UK RNA Award. She works as a historian and guide in a seventeenth century house. In 2006 she was awarded a Masters degree with distinction from Ruskin College, Oxford, where she wrote her dissertation on heroes.

Where You Can Find Her

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Teaser Tuesdays 11/10

“She was dazzling, radiant, not simply to my eyes but somehow to my soul as well. I saw her and recognised her worth.”

63%

Rating: 4 out of 5.

One woman’s secret will shape another’s destiny…

With romance, time travel and the paranormal Cornick weaves an unforgettable story that reminds us the value of women and that history is not to be forgotten or ignored.

Stop by my stop on The Forgotten Sister blog tour for the rest of my review! 😀

If you are a woman, what does it mean for YOU to be SEEN? Men, what are ways in which you can see the true essence of the women in your lives?

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Review: Shuggie Bain

My Thoughts

This book brought tears to my eyes. I cried for Shuggie and I cried for Agnes. Trapped in the dysfunction of her alcoholism she allows herself to be taken advantage of and abused by men. Her children – for as much as they love her – seek escape from the neglect, the embarrassment, and the disorder of their lives. As the older children flee young Shuggie is left behind to fend for himself and take care of their mother. He has this enduring hope that he can save her from herself but every time she relapses he feels at fault.

Raymond Depardon, Glasgow 1980

Although he finds a friend in Leeann, Shuggie does not fit in with the normal crowd. He talks posh and carries himself differently than the other boys. As he comes to terms with his sexuality he is bullied and battered.

There were times that I had to put this one aside. Sad for sure and authentic to Glasgow during the Thatcher era, Stuart’s characters call out to you. Excellent debut! Wishing Shuggie Bain and Douglas Stuart the best of luck in its bid for the Man Booker and National Book Awards.

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Nonfiction November #2

Sisters in Hate by Seyward Darby

Special thanks to Jess at Little, Brown and Company for my copy of this book.

When I first read the synopsis I thought in my misguided way that these women would have been born within the movement. Taught to hate as children; their voices getting louder as they reached adulthood. Although this does happen, this was not the case here. All of the women featured in this book are in their forties and joined the white separatist movement as adults.

Hate is far more complex than what we see on the surface.

Like Ibram Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas, Darby looks at the frameworks and ideologies from which racist sentiments arise. What is unique about Sisters in Hate is that it examines hate from a different angle- as a White woman looking in.

One assumption that Darby highlights is the “women-are-wonderful effect“. Basically we as a society look at women and automatically classify them as sweet little girls or nurturing moms. Either way, women are considered harmless, fragile beings that need to be protected. The KKK capitalized on this ideology on its rise to prominence after the premiere of The Birth of a Nation. Instead of being perceived as terrorists they were knights in white-robed armour; gentlemen guarding the purity of the white woman, the mother of the Aryan race.

Historically, Darby cites the “postwar fable of the apolitical woman.” The egregious acts committed by women in the Third Reich have been documented. It has been shown that Nazi women were just as culpable as the men. They too had blood on their hands, but often escaped prosecution. Instead, being of the fairer sex, these women were labeled as victims of their circumstances. So instead of being rightfully vilified, they became victimized. You see this same pattern in other points in history including the antebellum South, the Civil Rights Movement and even in today’s news. Fragile White women, dubbed “Karens” by social media, feel it’s their inherent right to call the police on Black people doing everyday things. They feel threatened by Black people barbecuing, bird-watching, studying in their dorm . . . and are quick to manipulate this framework to the disadvantage of black and brown people.

The Alt-Right has realized that they can use this “women-are-wonderful effect” to their advantage. Kind of like a Trojan Horse, no one would expect a bomb to be dressed as a flower. A woman can be a weapon because she doesn’t look like a threat and because not much is expected of her. In fact, the exponential growth that we’ve seen is due in part to the recruitment measures of women. As mothers – soccer moms, PTA, mommy bloggers – they have access to a market that men don’t. They put a happy smiling face on the movement. With their traditional values, homespun ways and beautiful corn-fed babies, they help to normalize the movement and make it seem benign.

Out of this sacred motherhood, Darby shows these women get a sense of purpose and belonging. They feel important and embrace the movement out of this personal need for self-affirmation. This is by far a scarier notion of hate and signals that much work will be required to dismantle White Nationalism and move towards healing as a nation.

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#5 On My TBR – Friendship

5 On My TBR is a weekly meme that gets you digging into your massive TBRs to find five special books. Created by E@LocalBeeHuntersNook this meme centers on a new prompt each Monday. This week’s theme is Friendship. I think this is a timely topic as we are all leaning on our friends, their understanding and compassion right right now. If you are interested in participating you can find additional info and future prompts here.

#1- Dessa Rose

Dessa Rose is an African American classic set in the antebellum South. It is about two women forging a friendship against all odds.


#2 – The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society is an epistolary novel. A treasured book leads to friendship and romance against the backdrop of WWII.


#3 – In Five Years

From Goodreads: “Brimming with joy and heartbreak, In Five Years is an unforgettable love story that reminds us of the power of loyalty, friendship, and the unpredictable nature of destiny.”


#4 – The Great Believers

Makkai’s book is centered on the late 1980s when HIV was raging. Here she shows how friends within the gay community banded together and became family for those who were all alone.


Three Things About Elsie

I automatically bought this book after reading Joanna Cannon’s The Trouble With Goats and Sheep which totally warmed my heart.

From Goodreads: “A novel set in England about eighty-four-year-old Florence, a resident in a nursing home, who has fallen in her apartment, leading her to think about her childhood friend and the secrets of their past that are about to come to light”

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Throwback Thursday #3

I discovered Throwback Thursday on my friend Carla Loves To Read page.

Throwback Thursday meme is hosted by Renee@It’s Book Talk and is a way to share some of your old favorites as well as sharing books that you’re FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on your TBR list while you continue to pile more titles on top of them! These older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board and connect back to Renee’s blog.


This week I decided to choose a nonfiction book – The World Between Two Covers – as this is Nonfiction November. What excited me about this book was that it broadened my horizons. It made me purposely search out books in translation and from different perspectives. Back then over 90% of my reading was mystery/thrillers from older white men. This year 90% of my books read were women and POC.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My Review

When I first picked up this book I was excited about the concept of reading texts from all across the world. I could already envision myself with sails cast traveling figuratively to unknown lands. In my mind’s eye I saw clearly the vast array of colors that enveloped the people; could almost taste the exotic food as the aroma of culinary delights wafted into my nose. From looking at the cover, I expected Ann Morgan, “Blogger Extraordinaire”, to include us on her literary adventures. I expected this book to delve into the “The 196 ( . . . AND Kurdistan)” with delightful anecdotes of far-away lands. I supposed it might be a foray into ethnic studies reminiscent of my cultural anthropology classes in college. Ah but alas – One should never judge a book by its cover. What a found between these two covers (pun intended) was a thorough research endeavor in which Morgan painstakingly sought out, found, and was gifted texts from around the world. Indeed some texts had not yet been translated into English and others not even published.


In this global economy that we live in where we can Skype with someone clear across the other side of the world, one might think that Ann Morgan’s endeavor were a simple feat. Over the course of 12 chapters she outlines why we are not as globally minded as we might think we are and the obstacles that stand in the way of authors and readers alike trying to connect across cultures. From the Eurocentrism evident not only in our choice of literary canons, but also in our construction of maps that color how we perceive the world — to the “translation bottleneck” that determines which books even have a chance of reaching the Anglophone reader, Morgan’s thorough analysis is both eye opening and soul searching.

This review originally appeared on my GoodReads page August 4, 2015


Throwback Pic

This photo, Frida Kahlo on White Bench, was taken by Hungarian photographer Nickolas Muray in New York, 1939. The pair are said to have had a decades long love affair.

Signing off. Hope we get to talk books soon!

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WWW Wednesdays 11/3

Hello and Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was created by Miz B formerly of shouldbereading and currently hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

The Three Ws are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What I’ve Read

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

#52WeeksOfWomenOfColor #76

Samantha Rajaram’s background with sex trafficking law is what started her on the path to writing this book. Set in 1600s Amsterdam and Batavia The Company Daughters highlights the real life experience of poor indigent women who were sent to the Dutch colonies and married off to settlers.

For my thoughts on the book visit my blog tour stop.


Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

First off I must admit that I do not like dystopian novels. I read this one for the Tournament of Books Super Rooster as I have been participating in their challenges for the last 5 years.

For the most part the book was engrossing. It kind of lost my attention around the 2/3 mark. In Station Eleven’s opening scene the lead actor dies on stage while in the middle of his performance. The theater is packed and in the chaos that ensues afterward we learn of the Georgia flu. Gripping right? My mind started racing trying to figure out if our King Lear is patient zero and if Jeeves would emerge as the hero who saves the world. But Station Eleven is more sophisticated than that. Kirsten emerges from the shadows as St. John Mandel takes us on a journey through this afterworld. Shifting time frames between the before and the after, we get to watch Arthur as he reflects on his life and reevaluates his values. And because “survival is insufficient,” we watch as people learn to appreciate what remains of their lives after disaster.


Rating: 4 out of 5.

#52WeeksOfWomenOfColor #77

A solid addition to the scholarship on Malcolm X’s life. See my post Nonfiction November #1 for a full review.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

#52WeeksOfWomenOfColor #78

I received this book WAAY back in February and although I was very excited as you know all he!! broke loose when Coronavirus hit. So here I am 9 months later finally getting to this awesome book. If you would like to read my review stop by my GoodReads page.


What I’m Reading

I probably will be wrapping this one up by the end of the day but I have to say that it has been an eye-opening experience. I walked into this book with so many misconceptions. Although I have not found any of the women featured here endearing I appreciate that the author is like-minded and holds them accountable for their actions.

What’s Next

The Forgotten Sister is an historical novel set during the Tudor era. It involves time travel, a curse and romance. Please check back here on Tuesday, November 10th for my stop on the blog tour.

Those of you who visited my WWW post last week might remember this title. I have not gotten to it yet but will make a concerted effort to get to it soon. With all of the debates and election coverage I got sucked into the TV and social media. Obviously, I have some catching up to do on my reading.

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Teaser Tuesday 11/3/20

Welcome to Teaser Tuesday, the weekly Meme hosted by The Purple Booker. It’s super easy and anyone can join in the fun!

1: Grab your current read
2: Open to a random page
3: Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

This week’s featured book is Sisters in Hate: American Women on the Front Lines of White Nationalism by Seyward Darby. I am reading this book during Nonfiction November to get insight into how “the other side” thinks. I have my reasons for why I think people become racists because we all know they weren’t born that way. But I wanted to hear it from the horse’s mouth so to speak and Seyward Darby has afforded me this option.

Synopsis

After the election of Donald J. Trump, journalist Seyward Darby went looking for the women of the so-called alt-right–really just white nationalism with a new label. The mainstream media depicted the alt-right as a bastion of angry white men, but was it? As women headlined resistance to the Trump administration’s bigotry and sexism, most notably at the women’s marches, Darby wanted to know why others were joining a movement espousing racism and anti-feminism. Who were these women, and what did their activism reveal about America’s past, present, and future?

Darby researched dozens of women across the country before settling on three: Corinna Olsen, Ayla Stewart, and Lana Lokteff. Each was born in 1979 and became a white nationalist in the post-9/11 era. Their respective stories of radicalization upend much of what we assume about women, politics, and political extremism.


The Teaser

Corinna never tried the shallow end of anything. She didn’t see the point, when the deep end was right there, waiting.

pg. 34

What do you think drives people to hate? Are there any remedies for racism?

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#5 On My TBR – Death

5 On My TBR is a weekly meme that gets you digging into your massive TBRs to find five special books. Created by E@LocalBeeHuntersNook this meme centers on a new prompt each Monday. This week’s theme is Death. El Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday that celebrates the souls of loved ones departed. It follows the Aztec tradition of honoring the dead by setting up family altars, enjoying your loved one’s favorite foods and visiting their graves with marigolds and gifts. The Day of the Dead is held November 1st and 2nd this year. If you are interested in participating you can find additional info and future prompts here.

#1 – Men We Reaped

From Goodreads: In five years, Jesmyn Ward lost five men in her life, to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that can follow people who live in poverty, particularly black men. Dealing with these losses, one after another, made Jesmyn ask the question: why? And as she began to write about the experience of living through all the dying, she realized the truth–and it took her breath away. Her brother and her friends all died because of who they were and where they were from, because they lived with a history of racism and economic struggle that fostered drug addiction and the dissolution of family and relationships. Jesmyn says the answer was so obvious she felt stupid for not seeing it. But it nagged at her until she knew she had to write about her community, to write their stories and her own.

Jesmyn grew up in poverty in rural Mississippi. She writes powerfully about the pressures this brings, on the men who can do no right and the women who stand in for family in a society where the men are often absent. She bravely tells her story, revisiting the agonizing losses of her only brother and her friends. As the sole member of her family to leave home and pursue high education, she writes about this parallel American universe with the objectivity distance provides and the intimacy of utter familiarity. 


#2 – Death in Her Hands

From Goodreads:

A novel of haunting metaphysical suspense about an elderly widow whose life is upturned when she finds a cryptic note on a walk in the woods that ultimately makes her question everything about her new home.

While on her normal daily walk with her dog in the forest woods, our protagonist comes across a note, handwritten and carefully pinned to the ground with a frame of stones. “Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn’t me. Here is her dead body”. Our narrator is deeply shaken; she has no idea what to make of this. She is new to area, having moved her from her longtime home after the death of her husband, and she knows very few people. And she’s a little shaky even on best days. Her brooding about this note quickly grows into a full-blown obsession, and she begins to devote herself to exploring the possibilities of her conjectures about who this woman was and how she met her fate. Her suppositions begin to find echoes in the real world, and with mounting excitement and dread, the fog of mystery starts to form into a concrete and menacing shape. But as we follow her in her investigation, strange dissonances start to accrue, and our faith in her grip on reality weakens, until finally, just as she seems be facing some of the darkness in her own past with her late husband, we are forced to face the prospect that there is either a more innocent explanation for all this or a much more sinister one – one that strikes closer to home.

A triumphant blend of horror, suspense, and pitch-black comedy, ‘Death in Her Hands’ asks us to consider how the stories we tell ourselves both guide us closer to the truth and keep us at bay from it. Once again, we are in the hands of a narrator whose unreliability is well earned, only this time the stakes have never been higher.


#3 – Dog Flowers

From Goodreads:

A daughter returns home to the Navajo reservation to confront her family’s troubled history and retrace her mother’s life—using both narrative and archive in this unforgettable and heart-wrenching memoir.

After Danielle Geller’s mother dies of a withdrawal from alcohol during a period of homelessness, she is forced to return to Florida. Using her training as a librarian and archivist, Geller collects her mother’s documents, diaries, and photographs into a single suitcase and begins on a journey of confronting her family’s history and the decisions she’s been forced to make, a journey that will end at her mother’s home: the Navajo reservation.

Geller masterfully intertwines wrenching prose with archival documents to create a deeply moving narrative of loss and inheritance that pays homage to our pasts, traditions, heritage, the family we are given, and the family we choose.


#4 – Monkey Beach

From Goodreads:

Five hundred miles north of Vancouver is Kitamaat, an Indian reservation in the homeland of the Haisla people. Growing up a tough, wild tomboy, swimming, fighting, and fishing in a remote village where the land slips into the green ocean on the edge of the world, Lisamarie has always been different.

Visited by ghosts and shapeshifters, tormented by premonitions, she can’t escape the sense that something terrible is waiting for her. She recounts her enchanted yet scarred life as she journeys in her speedboat up the frigid waters of the Douglas Channel. She is searching for her brother, dead by drowning, and in her own way running as fast as she can toward danger. Circling her brother’s tragic death are the remarkable characters that make up her family: Lisamarie’s parents, struggling to join their Haisla heritage with Western ways; Uncle Mick, a Native rights activist and devoted Elvis fan; and the headstrong Ma-ma-oo (Haisla for “grandmother”), a guardian of tradition.

Haunting, funny, and vividly poignant, Monkey Beach gives full scope to Robinson’s startling ability to make bedfellows of comedy and the dark underside of life. Informed as much by its lush living wilderness as by the humanity of its colorful characters, Monkey Beach is a profoundly moving story about childhood and the pain of growing older–a multilayered tale of family grief and redemption.


#5 – In Cold Blood

From Goodreads: Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best nonfiction books of all time.

On November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues.

Five years, four months and twenty-nine days later, on April 14, 1965, Richard Eugene Hickock, aged thirty-three, and Perry Edward Smith, aged thirty-six, were hanged for the crime on a gallows in a warehouse at the Kansas State Penitentiary in Lansing, Kansas.

In Cold Blood is the story of the lives and deaths of these six people. It has already been hailed as a masterpiece.

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Nonfiction November #1

The Dead Are Arising by Les & Tamara Payne

The Dead Are Arising is the collaborative effort of Les Payne and his daughter Tamara. For the heralded columnist this is his opus, a thirty year labor of love. For Tamara Payne it is a testament to her father as much as it is to Malcolm.

This past Friday I had the pleasure of seeing Tamara Payne interviewed on Politics and Prose. In discussing the direction of The Dead Are Arising she explained how our love for the man clouds our vision of him. That we tend to see him in a vacuum. He is this myth of a man and we forget that he is a man who had a family. These extensions of himself that are still grounded here. His legacy lives on in them and although we as a public want to claim him, he really isn’t ours to own. In expressing these sentiments she could have been talking about Malcolm or her father Les Payne. In completing this book, one of Payne’s chief aims was to be true to her father’s voice. As his daughter, this book was her gift to the rest of his family; her hope that they would hear his voice as they read its pages.

The Dead Are Arising is the culmination of hundreds of interviews with the people who knew Malcolm best. While reading the book I found it hard not to compare it to The Autobiography of Malcolm X. This was in part because I read it directly before delving into this work, but also because the authors refer to it throughout. As a scientist, I considered this a natural part of being a researcher where your role is to verify the validity of the data presented to you. In some cases The Autobiography is supported. In others it is refuted.

Within its pages we get a new perspective of his early life and family dynamics. The previous claim that Malcolm’s father was murdered by the Klan is challenged. More attention is paid to the structure and the founding of the Nation of Islam. Most revelatory for me was the passages that detailed Malcolm’s meeting with the Ku Klux Klan in 1961 and the coverage of his assassination.

Payne is very protective of her subject. In fact fans of Marable’s book have criticized The Dead Are Arising for being too generous towards Malcolm’s legacy. His criminal activities are not as extensive or terrible as they appear in his autobiography. Miss Payne accounts for this difference by claiming that the purpose of exaggerating Malcolm’s street life in The Autobiography sets the stage for his origin myth. The more despicable a picture you paint of your past, the greater the redemptive value of your religious conversion.

The Dead Are Arising was an engrossing read. A vivid portrait, it gives insight into Malcolm Little, the child and El Hajj Malik Shabazz, the man. I believe Tamara Payne has done what she set out to do – amplify the voices of both her father and Malcolm.

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Blog Tour: The Company Daughters

Buy Links

Synopsis

Wanted: Company Daughters. Virtuous young ladies to become the brides of industrious settlers in a foreign land. The Company will pay the cost of the lady’s dowry and travel. Returns not permitted, orphans preferred.

Amsterdam, 1620. Jana Beil has learned that life rarely provides moments of joy. Having run away from a violent father, her days are spent searching for work in an effort to stay out of the city brothels, where desperate women trade their bodies for a mouthful of bread. But when Jana is hired as a servant for the wealthy and kind Master Reynst and his beautiful daughter Sontje, Jana’s future begins to look brighter.

But then Master Reynst loses his fortune on a bad investment, and everything changes. The house is sold to creditors, leaving Jana back on the street and Sontje without a future.

With no other choice, Jana and Sontje are forced to sign with the East India Company as Company Daughters: sailing to a colonial Dutch outpost to become the brides of male settlers they know nothing about. With fear in their hearts, the girls begin their journey – but what awaits them on the other side of the world is nothing like what they’ve been promised…

Based on true history, this is a beautiful and sensual historical novel, perfect for fans of The Girl with the Pearl EarringThe Miniaturist and The Indigo Girl.


Review

“I’ve spent most of my life in pursuit of respectability, and the one time I refused it, I finally felt free.”

Jana Biel has led a hard life. On her own at an early age she has been judged and defined by her circumstances. She has learned how to survive against the odds and make the most of her situation. Work hard, keep your head down, keep your past to yourself. At all costs protect your heart.

Over the course of the novel we see her growth and to some extent Sontje’s as well. The two women experience many hardships, but through it all there is light in Rajaram’s words. I was moved by the subversive text and the colorful descriptions of nature. Rajaram, although dealing with themes of oppression, kept reminding the reader of the beauty found in the everyday things in life.

To describe how ravenous Jana was – “She turns to fetch him while I wait on the doorstep next to the blue, open-mouthed crocuses. Hungry, just like me.”

On hope – “Helena once said the stars were like eyes watching us, winking like old friends, I always thought the stars protected us, reminded us that darkness is never complete.”

Comfort comes in the cadent song of the waves lapping onto the shore. Guidance is given by the unfurling branches of a tree.

Her descriptions of place make both Amsterdam and Batavia come alive. Careful attention is paid to the many layers in which people are oppressed. Through Jana’s narration we not only learn about this historical period but are provided a prism of compassion. We learn what it is like to be an orphan, a women of no means, queer in the 17th century. We are asked to consider the plight of the slave. Jana is flawed, human. But she is also empathetic and able to see outside herself. So when she falters she eventually recognizes, admits and tries to correct her mistakes. Her character and this book will stay with me for quite a while. Great debut!


Meet the Author

Samantha Rajaram spent most of her childhood in Gillette, Wyoming, where she and her family were the first Indian-Americans to live in the community. As a law student, she focused on social justice and international human rights law with a focus on female sex trafficking.

She is now an educator, and currently teaches composition at Chabot College in Hayward, California. She lives in the California Bay Area with her three children.

Where You Can Find Her

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Spell the Month in Books

Spell the Month in Books is a fun challenge created by Jana @ Reviews from the Stacks. The idea is to spell the month using the first letter from books you plan to read during that month.  As we are approaching the end of the year I am using November to catch up on challenges and Netgalley ARCs.

So here goes nothing.

N is for Nectar in a Sieve

I received my copy of this book in a care package especially curated for me by Caveat Emptor Used Books. Named Notable Book of year in 1955 by the American Library Association, Nectar in the Sieve is the story about a child bride in India.

Challenge: 52 Weeks of Women in Color, Shelf-A-Thon


O is for On the Come Up

I’ve had this book on my shelf for a while now. Found the Hate You Give absolutely riveting so I just have to read this one.

Challenge: 52 Weeks of Women in Color, 2020 PopSugar Challenge, Shelf-A-Thon


V is for Victories Greater Than Death

I never thought of myself as a science fiction fantasy reader but my I guess I am going to rethink my labels and I have Charlie Jane Anders to thank in part for that. When I read All the Birds in the Sky for the 2017 Tournament of Books I surprised myself by liking it as much as I did. So of course I put in my wish for this book when it popped upon NetGalley.

Challenge: NetGalley


E is for The End of the Day

I tried to listen to this audiobook while doing my daily exercise but it couldn’t hold my attention. I do not know if it was the story line or the narrator (Bill Clegg himself) but I had to put it down. I will be revisiting this book in print with the hope of clearing my NetGalley shelf.

Challenge: NetGalley

M is for Mem

I came across this book while trying to find a title that fulfilled the “Set in the 1920s” task for the 2020 PopSugar Challenge. This debut novella by Bethany C. Morrow is highly rated among my GoodReads friends and has received many accolades. Her YA book A Song Below Water was a 5 star read for me.

Challenge: 2020 PopSugar Challenge; 52 Weeks of Women of Color


B is for Black Futures

Black Futures is a collaborative effort between Jenna Wortham New Your Times culture writer and Kimberly Drew art curator. A mix of essays, photos, poetry about the Black experience . . . I was intrigued when I received the widget for this book.

Challenge: 52 Weeks of Women of Color, NetGalley, Nonfiction November


E is for The Emissary

I remember when this book was nominated for the National Book Awards and everyone on my GoodReads page was raving about this book. Then Voila! It went on sale and I snatched it up.

Challenge: Shelf-A-Thon, 52 Weeks of Women of Color, 2020 PopSugar Challenge

R is for Red Island House

This book was recommended by a member of The Black Bookcase on GoodReads.

Challenge: 52 Weeks of Women of Color, NetGalley, Life of a Book Addict Color Challenge

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52 Weeks of Women of Color

This year I have taken on the challenge of reading 52 books by women of color. Simple enough – every week pick a book written by a woman of color from any genre, any time period, any place in the world. I have taken on many challenges but this one has been the most rewarding. Over this past year I have been introduced to many new authors and new perspectives.

As I have not been posting my challenge as I went along I decided to recap my year with women of color thus far. Each Friday from now through January 1st I will showcase a few of the books I have completed during this challenge.

Book #1: Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“A powerful and taut novel about racial tensions in LA, following two families—one Korean-American, one African-American—grappling with the effects of a decades-old crime”


Book #2: The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom

Rating: 4 out of 5.

“A book of great ambition, Sarah M. Broom’s The Yellow House tells a hundred years of her family and their relationship to home in a neglected area of one of America’s most mythologized cities. This is the story of a mother’s struggle against a house’s entropy, and that of a prodigal daughter who left home only to reckon with the pull that home exerts, even after the Yellow House was wiped off the map after Hurricane Katrina. The Yellow House expands the map of New Orleans to include the stories of its lesser known natives, guided deftly by one of its native daughters, to demonstrate how enduring drives of clan, pride, and familial love resist and defy erasure. Located in the gap between the “Big Easy” of tourist guides and the New Orleans in which Broom was raised, The Yellow House is a brilliant memoir of place, class, race, the seeping rot of inequality, and the internalized shame that often follows. It is a transformative, deeply moving story from an unparalleled new voice of startling clarity, authority, and power.”


Book #3: Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat

Rating: 4 out of 5.

“Rich with hard-won wisdom and humanity, set in locales from Miami and Port-au-Prince to a small unnamed country in the Caribbean and beyond, Everything Inside is at once wide in scope and intimate, as it explores the forces that pull us together, or drive us apart, sometimes in the same searing instant.”


Book #4: Sabrina and Corina: Stories

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The stories in this collection speak to the indigenous Latina’s experience. Dark, yet luminous, Sabrina and Corina are heart aching stories. The common thread – a glimmer of hope in the face of loss and violence.

This review originally appeared on my GoodReads page.


Book #5: On Beauty by Zadie Smith

Rating: 3 out of 5.

This critically acclaimed novel deals with racism, classism, the patriarchy and elitism in academia. Loosely based on Howards EndOn Beauty pays homage to one of Smith’s favorite authors, E. M. Forster. Although there are parallels between the two novels, Smith’s aim was more so to emulate Forster’s style of writing. In an interview with Thalia Book Club, Smith said that what she admired most about Forster was how he did not pick sides in an argument. In On Beauty the opposite sides of the coin are represented by the Kipps and Belsey families.

Monty Kipps and Howard Belsey are arch nemeses. Revered in their field, their rivalry is protracted and well known. The Kipps are an affluent West Indian family living in Britain. They are deeply religious. Their political viewpoints are ultra-conservative and right wing. The Belseys are an interracial couple who are left leaning and decidedly atheist. Howard comes from a fairly modest background. He knows what it means to go without. A “pull yourself up from the bootstraps” type of guy, he is the first in his family to get a college degree.

Smith is very descriptive in painting well developed pictures of this dichotomy. And yes, she manages to remain impartial, exposing both sides as morally flawed.

Although Smith incorporates the aesthetic as a measure of beauty with cultural references to music, art and the physical form, her emphasis is on character. The world that she paints is not black and white but a kaleidoscope of colors.

One painting mentioned in the novel that spoke to me was that of the Maitresse Erzulie. The Haitian spirit of beauty, Erzulie may take the form of a woman or a man. Their character is a two-edged sword. On one hand they are representative of love, goodwill and fortune. On the other they bring about jealousy, vengeance and discord. The warning here is clear: we cannot be so binary in our thinking. The world is not a collection of opposites but is populated by people who are both good and evil. Our focus therefore should not be on harboring grudges based off of our differences, but be on cultivating that goodness that is within each of us.

This review originally appeared on my GoodReads page.


Book #6: Saudade by Suneeta Peres da Costa

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Saudade is a feeling of melancholy brought on by the sense of absence and a longing to return to what was lost and can never be regained.

This sense of yearning ripples throughout this novella as a young Goan emigre struggles to find her self and her place during the Angolan Civil War. A daughter of Portuguese sympathizers she comes to realize that their existence, albeit of a privileged class, is that of outsiders. Yet they no more belong in Goa than they do in Angola. She does not recall her ancestral home and her parents cannot fathom how to return to a “life they have forgotten”. Peres da Costa eloquently captures this feeling of displacement across characters and experiences. Saudade is applied not only to the immigrant experience but to intimacy and coming of age.

This review originally appeared on my GoodReads page.


Book #7: Mouthful of Birds by Samanta Schweblin

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I fell under Schweblin’s spell when I read Fever Dream for the Tournament of Books. I remember being haunted by her prose. This story collection has that same eery quality. Although Schweblin uses magical realism in her stories there’s something about the way she conveys her message that makes her plots ring frighteningly true. My favorites from this collection include tales about deserted women who grasp a chance at freedom, children who are transformed into butterflies and an old storyteller in a bar.

This review originally appeared on my GoodReads page.


Book #8 Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This book had me raging. Medical Apartheid is a detailed account of the atrocities that African Americans have faced at the hands of the medical profession and the scientific community. Most of us are familiar with the government funded Tuskegee Syphilis experiment but many do not realize how extensive and pervasive these egregious practices are currently. In today’s world children of color are more likely to be targeted for studies of a non-therapeutic nature. Men of color are rounded up for random DNA fingerprinting, infringing upon their legal and personal rights. The poor are exploited as a free resource for experimentation when they enter emergency rooms for care. Black employees are unknowingly tested for hereditary and social diseases. Their DNA profiles are then used to discriminate against them.

This does not even touch upon all that is covered in this book. Although Ron Butler does a fantastic job narrating this book, I would behoove you to get a physical copy. There was so much information here that I felt I should be highlighting and taking notes on. I found this hard to do in the audio format. For me Medical Apartheid is a book that I need to own. It is the type of book that you come back to time and again, each time gleaning more information.

This review originally appeared on my GoodReads page.


Book #9: Viva Durant and the Secret of the Silver Buttons by Ashli St. Armant

Rating: 10 out of 10.

Even when I told her that the most stars she could give this book was 5 stars, my baby insisted it get all the stars! 100 stars from my little princess. (She thinks 100 is the highest number.😃)


If you would like to discover a new author check out my original post on the Mocha Girls Read blog: Debut Novels by Women of Color.

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Throwback Thursday #2

I discovered Throwback Thursday on my friend Carla Loves To Read page.

Throwback Thursday meme is hosted by Renee@It’s Book Talk and is a way to share some of your old favorites as well as sharing books that you’re FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on your TBR list while you continue to pile more titles on top of them! These older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board and connect back to Renee’s blog.


This week’s selection was taken from my “Best Book of the Year” shelf where I try earnestly to pick my ultimate favorite book out of 100 or so books I’ve read that year. A daunting task for sure but it gives me a bit more time to spend with the books that touched my heart. Hanya Yanigihara’s A Little Life was one of two books in 2015 that made it on to my list. To read this book is to viscerally, with your whole body and heart, experience another person’s life, loves and tragedy. This is one of those books where I ugly cried. But it is also one of the most tender and moving and strangely hopeful books I’ve ever read. You can find the following review and more on my GoodReads page.

It took me quite a while to get through this book. Not because of the 700+ pages but because of the intense themes (addiction, self-mutilation, abuse in its many forms) that run throughout the book. Please don’t get me wrong I loved this book. It was so beautifully written, the characters were so thoughtfully developed. Yanagihara held nothing back as she praised their gifts; exposed their weaknesses and flaws. I felt as if I personally knew JB, Jude, Willem and Malcolm. Despite how seemingly different my life was from theirs, I still found myself identifying with each of them, crying real tears as they faced their trials and endured the unthinkable. Despite the dark undercurrents of this book, I found it to also be a love story between friends, the definition of family and the sacrifice of lovers.

Throwback Pic

In this photo of Jimi Hendrix taken in 1968 for the album cover of Electric Ladyland, photographer David Montgomery set an actual fire on the set. Yet look at Jimi’s serenity. Despite the chaos behind him he seems at peace. Altogether it makes for an awesome shot don’t you think?

Signing off. Hope we get to talk books soon!

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WWW Wednesdays 10/28

Hello and Welcome to WWW Wednesday! Forgive me for being a little late today but my hubby and I are celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. He’s so cute and attentive. He’s taken the whole week off and has been spoiling me at every turn. So back to today’s post: This meme was created by Miz B formerly of shouldbereading and currently hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. Now let’s get to it!

The Three Ws Are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What I’ve Read

Rating: 4 out of 5.

As you can see from the rating, I enjoyed this science fiction thriller slash moral quandary. I found it interesting how Gilmartin managed to have so much happening in such a confined space. Would recommend for readers who appreciate suspense with a bit of character depth. For more of my thoughts and an excerpt visit my blog tour stop for this book.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was my second time reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X and I took home a considerable bit more than the first time. I know age factors into this but I also feel that the current political climate had me looking at his life and his opinions through a different lens.


What I’m Reading

Currently on page 205/333

I usually don’t like post-apocalyptic fiction so I am surprised by my response to this book especially during the middle of this current pandemic. I am reading Station Eleven as part of the Tournament of Books Super Rooster where it got knocked out in the opening round. But I am invested now and truly want to know what happens to the characters so I will read on merrily.


Currently at 84% in ebook

In this book Payne is trying to give a more personal look at Malcolm X’s life by including interviews of the people closest to him. So far I am the most intrigued by his secret meeting with the Ku Klux Klan back in 1961.


What I’ll Read Next

Goodreads: From the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Resistance Reborn comes the first book in the Between Earth and Sky trilogy, inspired by the civilizations of the Pre-Columbian Americas and woven into a tale of celestial prophecies, political intrigue, and forbidden magic.

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Teaser Tuesday 10/27/20

Welcome to Teaser Tuesday, the weekly Meme hosted by The Purple Booker. It’s super easy and anyone can join in the fun!

1: Grab your current read
2: Open to a random page
3: Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

The book I am featuring today is Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Although I have been avoiding books about pandemics, Station Eleven is part of the Tournament of Books Super Rooster competition.

  • Dystopian/Post-apocalyptic
  • Paperback, 333 pages
  • Published 1st 2014 by Knopf

Synopsis

Set in the days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time—from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as the Traveling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains—this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet.


The Teaser

He’d felt a vertiginous giving-way, the cliff crumbling beneath his feet, but held to sanity by sheer willpower. He wasn’t well, but was anyone?

pg. 189

How has your reading been affected by the pandemic? What type of books have you found comforting to read during this time?

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Blog Tour: The Mirror Man

Buy Links

Synopsis

Meet Jeremiah Adams. There are two of him.

The offer is too tempting: be part of a scientific breakthrough, step out of his life for a year, and be paid hugely for it. When ViGen Pharmaceuticals asks Jeremiah to be part of an illegal cloning experiment, he sees it as a break from an existence he feels disconnected from. No one will know he’s been replaced—not the son who ignores him, not his increasingly distant wife—since a revolutionary drug called Meld can transfer his consciousness and memories to his copy.

From a luxurious apartment, he watches the clone navigate his day-to-day life. But soon Jeremiah discovers that examining himself from an outsider’s perspective isn’t what he thought it would be, and he watches in horror as “his” life spirals out of control. ViGen needs the experiment to succeed—they won’t call it off, and are prepared to remove any obstacle. With his family in danger, Jeremiah needs to finally find the courage to face himself head-on.


My Thoughts

Mirror Man is being billed as a science fiction thriller. But I feel that Gilmartin spends more time addressing the moral dilemma of human cloning. Jeremiah has the benefit of being an outsider looking into his life. He sees a lot that he does like and grows to understand how his circumstances and his limitations are the result of his own decisions. As time passes he becomes more judgmental of himself while learning to be more empathetic towards his clone and his family. Unfortunately, this moment of reflection comes after he has experienced irreversible losses. Kudos to Gilmartin on a debut that not only has a dynamic plot but also probes humanity and ethics. I also would like to give a special nod to Louie and his infinite wisdom.


Meet the Author

Jane Gilmartin has been a news reporter and editor for several small-town weekly papers and enjoyed a brief but exciting stint as a rock music journalist. A bucket list review just before she turned 50 set her on the path to fiction writing. Also checked off that list: an accidental singing career, attending a Star Trek convention, and getting a hug from David Bowie. She lives in her hometown of Hingham, Massachusetts.

Where You Can Find Her


Excerpt

Charles Scott glared down at him with a glint in his green eyes that felt like a warning, and Jeremiah replayed in his head the man’s ambiguous threat during their first meeting several weeks before.

“You now know as much about this project as anyone else involved,” he’d said. “It wouldn’t do to have too many people walking around with this kind of information. Our investors have a tendency to get nervous.”

Although Scott had quickly followed that remark with the matter of Jeremiah’s substantial compensation, there was no mistaking the implication: the moment he’d been told about the cloning project Jeremiah was already in. That first meeting hadn’t been an invitation so much as an orientation, and the contract he’d later signed had been a formality, at best. And the entire thing had done nothing but gain momentum from that moment on.

Dr. Pike continued to affix the wires to Jeremiah’s head. Jeremiah focused on the man’s gleaming black hair and the deep brown of his sure, professional hands, and he struggled to remember the allure of the $10 million payout he’d get at the end of the whole thing. That kind of money could fix a lot of problems. It would change things. The prospect of that
fortune had been enough to make him turn away from principles he thought were unshakable. Every man has his price, he supposed.

Somewhere in the back of his mind he also acknowledged the real temptation of a twelve-month sabbatical from his own life. It had seduced him every bit as much as the money had. Maybe more. Between a job that had already begun to make him question his own morals, and a marriage that felt increasingly more like a lie, stress was eating him alive. And into his lap fell a chance to just walk away from all of it—without consequence
and without blame. A free pass. He could simply walk away without anyone even knowing he was gone. There isn’t a man alive, he told himself, who would have refused. Despite the ethical question, despite that human cloning was illegal the world over, it would have tempted anyone.

Dr. Pike injected the clone with Meld and then turned wordlessly to Jeremiah with the second syringe poised above his left shoulder.

Jeremiah closed his eyes and rolled up his sleeve.

After the initial stab of the needle, he felt nothing. Which is not to say he didn’t feel anything; he literally felt nothing. Seconds after the injection, he became aware of a total emptiness, like a towering black wave that threatened to sink him into an immeasurable void. The experience was unlike anything he’d ever known. He imagined an astronaut suddenly untethered from his ship, floating helplessly into unending darkness. Without thinking, he immediately felt his body recoil. His mind screamed against it.

I’m dying!

From impossibly far away, he heard Dr. Pike say something about a heart rate and felt the slight pressure of a hand on his shoulder. He couldn’t see anything of the hospital room anymore. He was drowning in the blackness. His chest felt suddenly constricted. He fought just to find his breath.

“This is all perfectly normal, Mr. Adams. You have nothing to worry about. Concentrate on the sound of my voice. Nod if you can hear me.”

With considerable effort, Jeremiah managed what he hoped was a nod of his head. He was suddenly gripped by the alarming certainty that if he couldn’t communicate somehow, he’d be lost—swept away forever.

“Good. Good. Listen to my voice. It will keep you grounded.” Pike still sounded far away, but Jeremiah nodded again and struggled to focus. “What you are experiencing is to be expected. Do you remember when you took the Meld with Dr. Young? Do you remember the way you could feel her thoughts for the first few minutes?”

He nodded. It had been an unnerving thing to perceive her consciousness mixing with his like that. Flashes from her mind—odd, alien things like the feel of a blister on the back of her right heel, the familiar gleam in the eye of an old man he’d never seen—had swirled into the very structure of his own mind and fought for a place to settle. He had railed against that, too, and she had grounded him by flashing a penlight in his face, making him focus on that while the Meld took effect. Afterward, once he had sunk in, it had been easier.

“This is no different than what you experienced then,” Pike said. “This time, though, you are connected to an empty mind. There’s nothing there. But the more you resist, the longer this will take. You need to relax, Mr. Adams. Give in to it.”

Jeremiah nodded again and then shook his head with as much grit as he could muster. How does one give in to this? He didn’t think he could do it.

“Once your thoughts begin transferring into the mind of the clone it will be easier for you,” Pike urged. “Focus on a memory, as I suggested. Something vivid. It will help to fill that void you’re experiencing now. It will give you something to hang on to.”

Without the benefit of his full faculties, Jeremiah had little choice but to grab the last thing he’d been thinking about—his initial conversation with Charles Scott, the day all of this began.

He’d been surprised when he’d received an invitation to lunch from ViMed’s head of Engineering. The man was an icon in the science world, and although he’d quoted him a hundred times for the company, Jeremiah had never actually met him. He’d been intrigued enough to accept the invitation, especially when Scott had told him it involved a “proposition
that could make him a very wealthy man.”

Flashes of that encounter and snatches of conversation now flitted through his mind like so many fireflies. He fought to catch them. “We’ve been watching you, Mr. Adams.”

“All we ask is one year of your life. Isn’t that worth $10 million?”
“We can do this. The science exists. And with Meld, the clone will even share your thought patterns… Your own mother won’t know the difference.” “This is sanctioned by powerful people—we have millions in secret federal backing. There are billions more in eventual funding… There’s no need to be so suspicious, Mr. Adams.”

From somewhere far away, Jeremiah heard Dr. Pike repeating his name. He had been so engulfed in his efforts to hold on to the memory that he’d almost forgotten where he was. As soon as he realized it, the void loomed again in his mind.

“Mr. Adams,” Pike said, “you’ve got to listen to me. The clone cannot pick up on any memory of the experiment. What you’re thinking about is not going to help. You need to think about something else, some memory that won’t be filtered. His mind is still empty.”

Jeremiah panicked. He couldn’t think. And now that he wasn’t focused on anything, the blackness began to take over again, creeping closer and threatening to swallow him. He fought for breath.

“Relax, Mr. Adams,” Pike said. “Think about your job here at ViMed. Remember something the clone can actually use. Something he’ll need to know.”

He felt a dull jab at his shoulder.
“This should help. I’ve given you a mild sedative. Take a few deep breaths. Concentrate on your breathing.”

With everything in him, Jeremiah tried to turn his mind away from the void that seemed to be all around him. He inhaled deeply and tried to focus on the rise of his own chest. Exhaled, and he felt his chest fall.

“Very good, Mr. Adams. Very good. Pulse is returning to normal. Deep breaths. Now, think about a typical day at work. Something ordinary and mundane.”

Inhale. Exhale. After a moment, Jeremiah began to relax and, as the sedative took hold, he found he could let his mind wander without the frantic thought that he’d never get it back. An oddly comforting fog seemed to expand in front of him, pushing the blackness away slightly, and Jeremiah retreated into it.

He began to think about the morning of the Meld fiasco—the day the New Jersey housewife had killed herself. The press had been circling. He’d arrived at his office with a terse mandate from his superiors to “get these fuckers off our back” and no idea how to accomplish that. It hadn’t been lost on him that not a single soul seemed bothered enough to stop and feel sorry about it, and he’d taken a quick moment behind his office door to offer silent condolences. It wasn’t thirty seconds before someone had come knocking, pushing him to get something done.

Weeks before, he’d heard talk of Meld being used to detect brain activity in a sixteen-year-old football player who had been comatose for nearly six months. Time to cash in. He tracked down the doctor somewhere in Delaware and the man started gushing about Meld, calling it “magical,” “a godsend” and “the most important medical advance of a generation.”

“After so many weeks,” he said, “the parents were hopeless.”
Meld was a last resort before pulling the plug, and it gave them the first clear signs of neural activity in the boy.

“Not only was he aware and awake in there, but he was cognizant of everything that was going on around him—including the fact that his parents were losing hope. He even heard them talking about funeral arrangements at one point. The kid was scared, terrified. He was begging for his life in there. That’s what I saw when I took the Meld with him. Meld
absolutely saved his life. There is no doubt in my mind.”

Jeremiah had almost smiled. It was pure gold. A few hours later, the story was in the hands of every major news outlet, and that doctor was spending his fifteen minutes of fame touting Meld as “a medical miracle.”

Jeremiah focused on that now. Maybe Meld did have some silver lining, after all, he thought. Maybe it was miraculous.

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5 On My TBR: Halloween

5 On My TBR is a weekly meme that gets you digging into your massive TBRs to find five special books. Created by E@LocalBeeHuntersNook this meme centers on a new prompt each Monday. This week’s theme is Halloween. I chose books from my physical shelf that spoke of monsters and hauntings. The books are arranged based on the date that they were added to my TBR. If you are interested in participating you can find additional info and future prompts here.

#1 – Ill Will

From GoodReads: Two sensational unsolved crimes—one in the past, another in the present—are linked by one man’s memory and self-deception in this chilling novel of literary suspense from National Book Award finalist Dan Chaon.

“We are always telling a story to ourselves, about ourselves,” Dustin Tillman likes to say. It’s one of the little mantras he shares with his patients, and it’s meant to be reassuring. But what if that story is a lie?

A psychologist in suburban Cleveland, Dustin is drifting through his forties when he hears the news: His adopted brother, Rusty, is being released from prison. Thirty years ago, Rusty received a life sentence for the massacre of Dustin’s parents, aunt, and uncle. The trial came to symbolize the 1980s hysteria over Satanic cults; despite the lack of physical evidence, the jury believed the outlandish accusations Dustin and his cousin made against Rusty. Now, after DNA analysis has overturned the conviction, Dustin braces for a reckoning.

Meanwhile, one of Dustin’s patients gets him deeply engaged in a string of drowning deaths involving drunk college boys. At first Dustin dismisses talk of a serial killer as paranoid thinking, but as he gets wrapped up in their amateur investigation, Dustin starts to believe that there’s more to the deaths than coincidence. Soon he becomes obsessed, crossing all professional boundaries—and putting his own family in harm’s way.

From one of today’s most renowned practitioners of literary suspense, Ill Will is an intimate thriller about the failures of memory and the perils of self-deception. In Dan Chaon’s nimble, chilling prose, the past looms over the present, turning each into a haunted place.


#2 – A Monster Calls

From GoodReads: An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting – he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth.

From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd – whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself – Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.


#3 – My Favorite Thing is Monsters

From GoodReads: Set against the tumultuous political backdrop of late ’60s Chicago, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is the fictional graphic diary of 10-year-old Karen Reyes, filled with B-movie horror and pulp monster magazines iconography. Karen Reyes tries to solve the murder of her enigmatic upstairs neighbor, Anka Silverberg, a holocaust survivor, while the interconnected stories of those around her unfold. When Karen’s investigation takes us back to Anka’s life in Nazi Germany, the reader discovers how the personal, the political, the past, and the present converge. Full-color illustrations throughout.


#4 – Unbury Carol

From GoodReads: Carol Evers is a woman with a dark secret. She has died many times . . . but her many deaths are not final: They are comas, a waking slumber indistinguishable from death, each lasting days.

Only two people know of Carol’s eerie condition. One is her husband, Dwight, who married Carol for her fortune, and—when she lapses into another coma—plots to seize it by proclaiming her dead and quickly burying her . . . alive. The other is her lost love, the infamous outlaw James Moxie. When word of Carol’s dreadful fate reaches him, Moxie rides the Trail again to save his beloved from an early, unnatural grave.

And all the while, awake and aware, Carol fights to free herself from the crippling darkness that binds her—summoning her own fierce will to survive. As the players in this drama of life and death fight to decide her fate, Carol must in the end battle to save herself.


#5 – The Year of the Witching

From GoodReads: The Handmaid’s Tale for a new generation . . .

In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy.

The daughter of a union with an outsider that cast her once-proud family into disgrace, Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol and lead a life of submission, devotion and absolute conformity, like all the women in the settlement.

But a chance mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood that surrounds Bethel – a place where the first prophet once pursued and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still walking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the diary of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.

Fascinated by secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realises the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her . . .


Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? To whom would you recommend them?

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Spell the Month in Books

Spell the Month in Books is a fun challenge created by Jana @ Reviews from the Stacks. The idea is to spell the month using the first letter from books you plan to read during that month. When I saw it on Susan’s page I decided I would jump in on the fun but as October is nearly over I decided to instead highlight books from another challenge I am participating in called 52 Weeks of Women of Color.

O is for One Night in Georgia

“Set in the summer of 1968, (One Night in Georgia) a provocative and devastating novel of individual lives caught in the grips of violent history—a timely and poignant story that reverberates with the power of Alice Walker’s Meridian and Ntozake Shange’s Betsey Browne.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

C is for Conjure Women

Conjure Women is a magical debut that vividly captures America after the Civil War. A compulsive read, it emphasizes the importance of community, the resilience of women and knowing your power.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

T is for The Talking Drum

The Talking Drum examines gentrification and its impact on the black community was what drew me to this book. With the beating of the drums as an undercurrent throughout the book, Braxton reminds the reader of our connection to the ancestors and spirituality. That rhythm is our collective heartbeat. It symbolizes that all within the diaspora are of one blood despite our divisiveness.

The take home message from The Talking Drum was about community and of people holding steadfast in their convictions and weathering the storm together.

Check out my interview with Lisa Braxton here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

O is for The Other Americans

The Other Americans is a multilayered novel. It is all at once a family saga, a mystery, social commentary and a love story. Told from the perspectives of the victim, his immigrant family, neighbors and police, The Other Americans not only provides a clear lens for racial and class tensions, but also allows insight into the burdens our protectors carry. Although the book description focuses on the hit and run accident that claimed the life of patriarch Driss Guerraroui, at the forefront of this novel is love: self-love and acceptance, the love between a parent and child, sacrifice and romantic love. Not a syrupy sweet fairy tale romance, but a soul stirring love with real people, real issues and real emotion.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

B is for Banned Book Club

Banned Book Club is a graphic novel set during South Korea’s Fifth Republic. One aspect of the book that I liked was that it shows throughout history how books and art were used as a form of protest. The author not only declares books as political, but goes further to address the reasons why those in power censor books. The reason is not just because of possible messages of dissent, but rather that they can see themselves as the villains of these novels. Their fear that others may recognize this is what drives them to ban books. They want to control their image, to control the political narrative.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

E is for Empire of Wild

Dimaline’s Empire of Wild is a love story. It is about family, tradition, the gift of our elders. It is also a social commentary on the dispossessed, on capitalism and the perverting of religion for financial gain. The horror of this story is not the Rogarou, but big business and their manipulation of legal loopholes to trample on indigenous people and the land.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

R is for The Revisioners

The Revisioners explores the depths of women’s relationships—powerful women and marginalized women, healers and survivors. It is a novel about the bonds between a mother and a child, the dangers that upend those bonds. At its core, The Revisioners ponders generational legacies, the endurance of hope, and the undying promise of freedom.”

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Check out my GoodReads page to see my full reviews and more suggestions of diverse reads!

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Throwback Thursday #1

I discovered Throwback Thursday on my friend Carla Loves To Read page.

Throwback Thursday meme is hosted by Renee@It’s Book Talk and is a way to share some of your old favorites as well as sharing books that you’re FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on your TBR list while you continue to pile more titles on top of them! These older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board and connect back to Renee’s blog.


I have to admit that it was kind of fun going through my old reviews and visiting some of the books I enjoyed in the past. It was tough to pick one so I let GoodReads list sort it out for me. Sarah Winman’s Tin Man was a gem of a book. I hope you get the chance to read it. You can find the following review and more on my GoodReads page.

My Review

Although I read this short novel in just one sitting it has taken me some time to come to grips with how I feel. The blurb on the back of this book states:
“This is almost a love story. But it’s not as simple as that.”
I feel this sums up Sarah Winman’s Tin Man accurately. There is certainly nothing simple about how this book moves you. And I am not sure that any words I put to paper can accurately capture its essence. Tin Man is about first and lasting loves. It is about friendships that endure. It is about grief. Tin Man is a story rendered with beautiful prose that manages as novelist Matt Haig so astutely observed, to “break your heart and warm it all at once”. 

Throwback Pic

I’ll leave you with this throwback image of Madonna taken by Herb Ritts in 1990.

Signing off. Hope we get to talk books soon !

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WWW Wednesdays

Hello and Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was created by Miz B formerly of shouldbereading and currently hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

The Three Ws are:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What I’ve Read

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Set back 100 years in time – 1920s Georgia – this world feels eerily like the world that we are in now. The historical references embedded into the novel provide a framework that makes it seem more realistic. The world building was so carefully crafted and the imagery so intense that I was immediately sucked into the book. I did not put it down until I was finished. I really appreciated P. Djeli Clark’s nod to the Gullah tradition as that is part of my family history. Especially since the women were so loyal and exuded such power and wisdom. Watching them come together and slay these demons was so exhilarating. I literally shed both tears of joy and sadness.

My full review of Ring Shout can be found on my GoodReads page.


What I am Reading

What would you do if you were offered 10 million dollars to walk away from your life for a year?

There is no need to worry about explaining yourself to family and friends as a clone will be living life in your place. In this sci-fi thriller, Jane Gilmartin has us look at the moral implications of human cloning.


I snatched this edition of The Autobiography of Malcolm X up as soon as I saw that Laurence Fishburne was narrating. Although this is a reread for me I am picking up so much more this second time around. As an adult I am seeing things quite differently and am more critical in my analysis of the work. I am hoping to gain a fresh perspective before reading my next book The Dead Are Arising which also follows the life of Malcolm X.


What I Will Read Next

Les Payne, the renowned Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative journalist, embarked in 1990 on a nearly thirty-year-long quest to interview anyone he could find who had actually known Malcolm X. He died before he achieved that mission. Picking up the mantle of what would be her father’s opus Tamara Payne completed the biography. Where this volume fits in the annals of time and how it speaks to Malcolm X’s legacy has yet to be determined. But I am certainly looking forward to reading this work and excited by all of the starred reviews it has received.

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Teaser Tuesdays

Welcome to Teaser Tuesday, the weekly Meme hosted by The Purple Booker. It’s super easy and anyone can join in the fun!

1: Grab your current read
2: Open to a random page
3: Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

The book I am featuring today is The Mirror Man by Jane Gilmartin.

  • Science Fiction/Thriller
  • Hardcover, 352 pages
  • Available October 20th 2020 by MIRA

Synopsis

Meet Jeremiah Adams. There are two of him.

The offer is too tempting: be part of a scientific breakthrough, step out of his life for a year, and be paid hugely for it. When ViGen Pharmaceuticals asks Jeremiah to be part of an illegal cloning experiment, he sees it as a break from an existence he feels disconnected from. No one will know he’s been replaced—not the son who ignores him, not his increasingly distant wife—since a revolutionary drug called Meld can transfer his consciousness and memories to his copy.

From a luxurious apartment, he watches the clone navigate his day-to-day life. But soon Jeremiah discovers that examining himself from an outsider’s perspective isn’t what he thought it would be, and he watches in horror as “his” life spirals out of control. ViGen needs the experiment to succeed—they won’t call it off, and are prepared to remove any obstacle. With his family in danger, Jeremiah needs to finally find the courage to face himself head-on.

The Teaser

“Maybe it’s better to never know how the world sees you. Maybe no one should see themselves like that.”

How do you feel about human cloning? Do you find the prospect thrilling or horrifying?

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Blog Tour: Foreshadow

fore·shad·ow
/fôrˈSHadō/
verb
to predict something or to give a hint of what is to come.

Foreshadow was originally an online literary project that featured new and emerging authors from marginalized groups. Each of their stories is introduced here by some of the most highly recognized and beloved voices in YA today. Following each tale is a brief glimpse into the writer’s mind:

  • What myths are incorporated into their stories and why?
  • Why the story is narrated in first person or second person voice and how does this change how the audience views the characters?
  • The importance of humor in driving the story.

At the end of each tale editors Emily X. R. Pan and Nova Ren Suma add their analysis. This look into the writing process and how it informs the writing style is eye-opening and adds another depth of understanding to the work. Foreshadow goes further to include writing prompts for the audience based on some of the stories.

This anthology had a vast array of genres and facets of life. Overall Foreshadow was clever and magical and uplifting. I personally found it refreshing to see girls and women given so much freedom to be who they are and exercise their power and gifts. I can see and would hope that high school teachers would include this book as part of their curriculum. I hope that the authors and editors realize their goal of “foreshadowing” where the landscape of YA fiction is going. We certainly need more of these new voices and their stories.


Meet the Editors

Nova Ren Suma is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling The Walls Around Us, which was an Edgar Award finalist. She also wrote Imaginary Girls and 17 & Gone and is co-creator of FORESHADOW: A Serial YA Anthology. She has an MFA in fiction from Columbia University and teaches writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts and the University of Pennsylvania. Originally from the Hudson Valley, she spent most of her adult life in New York City and now lives in Philadelphia.

Emily X.R. Pan is the New York Times bestselling author of The Astonishing Color of After, which won the APALA Honor Award and the Walter Honor Award, received six starred reviews, was an LA Times Book Prize finalist, and was longlisted for the Carnegie Medal. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. Visit Emily online at exrpan.com, and find her on Twitter and Instagram: @exrpan.

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Blog Tour: Confessions on the 7:45

Synopsis

Bestselling and award-winning author Lisa Unger returns with her best novel yet. Reminiscent of the classic Strangers on a Train, Confessions on the 7:45 is a riveting psychological thriller that begins with a chance encounter on a commuter train and shows why you should never, ever make conversation with strangers.

Be careful who you tell your darkest secrets…

Selena Murphy is commuting home from her job in the city when the train stalls out on the tracks. She strikes up a conversation with a beautiful stranger in the next seat, and their connection is fast and easy. The woman introduces herself as Martha and confesses that she’s been stuck in an affair with her boss. Selena, in turn, confesses that she suspects her husband is sleeping with the nanny. When the train arrives at Selena’s station, the two women part ways, presumably never to meet again.

But days later, Selena’s nanny disappears.

Soon Selena finds her once-perfect life upended. As she is pulled into the mystery of the missing nanny, and as the fractures in her marriage grow deeper, Selena begins to wonder, who was Martha really? But she is hardly prepared for what she’ll discover.

Expertly plotted and reminiscent of the timeless classic Strangers on a Train, Confessions on the 7:45 is a stunning web of lies and deceit, and a gripping thriller about the delicate facades we create around our lives.


Review

“Sometimes a stranger was the safest place in your life.”  

And sometimes there is danger lurking in the unknown.  


When working mom Selena confides her suspicions with a stranger on the train she feels a momentary release from the burden of her secret.  Oddly, she feels a connection to this woman even though she she doesn’t quite understand why.  Her brief meeting leaves her feeling uneasy especially after the woman starts texting her.  But Selena has bigger problems to deal with.  Her nanny has gone missing and the police are asking questions.  Questions that if answered truthfully could put her and her husband in hot water.


The twists in Confessions on the 7:45 come early and hit hard.  For a moment you are both intrigued and unsettled.  You may not yet have a clue as to where the novel is headed, but you are certainly anxious to find out.  Loosely based on Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train, Confessions reminds us how much of our lives are on display for the world to see and how this technology may be used against us. 


In Confessions on the 7:45 Unger delves into those liminal spaces where things are neither black or white.  People are not all good or all bad.


The found family trope takes on new meaning when you have a psychopath at its center.  For each character Unger shows how they were shaped by their childhood experiences.  Family secrets are not just burdens for those who hold them; their price can be meted out upon the heads of those kept in the dark.

Adding to this mystery are the layers of metaphor Lisa Unger weaves into her writing.  People are like pine seedlings on a forest floor.  They appear to be refuse, litter to be consumed by fire. But instead that pressure and heat is the spark they need to blossom and flourish and start on their path in life.  This sentiment is repeated with the myth of the phoenix rising out of the ashes to fly unburdened into the sky.

Confessions on the 7:45 is my third Lisa Unger book. I find her work to be intelligently written with much thought given to the development of her characters. Readers are pulled in to the stories because her characters are relatable. They can be you or me or someone we know. Their past lives are given enough attention that you understand what makes them tick.

The plot is full of twists and turns and plenty of salacious details. I was riveted to my seat all day long.

Highly recommended for thriller and mystery fans.


Meet the Author

Lisa Unger is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of eighteen novels, including CONFESSIONS ON THE 7:45 (Oct. 2020). With millions of readers worldwide and books published in twenty-six languages, Unger is widely regarded as a master of suspense. Her critically acclaimed books have been voted “Best of the Year” or top picks by the Today showGood Morning AmericaEntertainment WeeklyAmazonIndieBound and others. Her essays have appeared in The New York TimesWall Street JournalNPR, and Travel+Leisure. She lives on the west coast of Florida with her family.


Buy Links

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Series Saturdays: Myrtle Hardcastle Mysteries Blog Tour

Who is Myrtle Hardcastle?

Our Myrtle does not fit into the mold that English society believes is becoming of a little lady. She is precocious and asks a lot of questions. With an interest in both her late mother’s science background and her father’s legal background, Myrtle has what some feel is a morbid curiosity with death and murder. This passion for forensics however makes Myrtle one hell of a sleuth. The problem is that at 12 years old none of the adults in her life, save for her governess Miss Judson, bother to listen to her.


Book 1: Premeditated Myrtle

When her next-door neighbor, a wealthy spinster and eccentric breeder of rare flowers, dies under Mysterious Circumstances, Myrtle seizes her chance. With her unflappable governess, Miss Ada Judson, by her side, Myrtle takes it upon herself to prove Miss Wodehouse was murdered and find the killer, even if nobody else believes her — not even her father, the town prosecutor.

Book 2: How to Get Away With Myrtle

This second book in the series finds Myrtle Hardcastle and her beloved Miss Judson on a train ride along the English countryside. It’s supposed to be a relaxing holiday. Perhaps one that Myrtle was dreading because she would be under the watchful eye of her stern Aunt Helen. But not before long Myrtle finds herself thrust into another mystery. A priceless tiara is stolen and one of the passengers is murdered — with her Aunt Helen’s sewing shears! Our plucky young protagonist must race against time to prove her aunt is innocent. But can she get the local authorities to listen to her?


My Thoughts on the Series

I was excited to read these books because I grew up reading Nancy Drew. I was hoping that I could find a series featuring a strong female character that my daughter could be inspired by. Like Nancy Drew, Myrtle Hardcastle is quite the detective. But Myrtle has more obstacles to overcome. Her mother is deceased having succumbed to a disease. As the local prosecutor, her father’s job demands much of his time. Living in the late 19th century England she is expected to be a charming little lady honing her domestic skills. Because she is younger any pleas that she may have to discuss a case are often thwarted.

As I read the series I couldn’t help but be reminded of Harper Lee’s Scout. Both of these characters defied convention. Both have special relationships with their fathers where they know and love their daughter’s differences, even if at times their natures get them into trouble.

The Myrtle Hardcastle series is cleverly formatted. Myrtle is not just the narrator, but the writer of the story often taking time to address her dear readers personally. Throughout both books Bunce treats us to footnotes that serve as cute anecdotes and tidbits of trivia. Many of the chapters in this series also begin with blurbs from Myrtle’s books that sets the stage for that chapter. I feel that this format will make the Myrtle Hardcastle series more appealing to its target audience – middle grade readers. But I do feel that this cozy mystery series has something for adults too. Besides good characterization and an engaging style of writing each novel deals with issues of feminism and racial representation. The mysteries in and of themselves are craftily devised and have enough meat to sustain an adult’s attention.


Mom’s Verdict

I enjoyed the Myrtle Hardcastle series a lot but at 8 years old my daughter may not be quite ready for this series. I would say that 12 may be the ideal age to introduce her Myrtle Hardcastle. But I look forward to when that time comes and hope that my daughter is as excited to read about this plucky heroine’s adventures as I was. In the meantime she’ll have to settle on relishing eating the famous Stansberry pie from Premeditated Myrtle.


Meet the Author

From the Elizabeth Bunce’s website: “I am a fan of all things fantastical, mysterious, spooky, and old. I write historical fantasy, mysteries, and ghost stories for young readers, and discerning not-so-young readers. My books are inspired by real places and cultures of the past, often with otherworldly or magical elements.”

“I’m a native Midwesterner, living in the tall grass prairie near Kansas City with my husband and our feline supervisory staff. When I’m not writing, you’ll usually find me Making something—cosplay, needlework, historical costuming, quilting… but not cooking.”

From Goodreads: “Her first novel, A Curse Dark as Gold, won the inaugural William C. Morris Award for a young adult debut novel and was named a Smithsonian Notable Book. Her high fantasy Thief Errant series includes the novels StarCrossed, A Chicago Public Library Best of the Best book for 2010, and Liar’s Moon, one of Kirkus Blog’s Favorite YA Novels of 2011. StarCrossed and A Curse Dark as Gold have appeared on Oprah’s Kid’s Reading List. Her novels have been named to the ALA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults list, and she is a three-time Kansas Notable Book winner. An accomplished needlewoman and historical costumer, Elizabeth lives in the Midwest with her husband, her cats, and a boggart who steals books.”

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Series Saturday: Lucas Page

Who is Lucas Page?

Lucas Page is a retired FBI agent. During his tenure he survived a horrific blast that claimed his eye, an arm and a leg. He struggles with PTSD and suffers flashbacks from the incident. Understandably, he is a bit of a curmudgeon and does not warm up to people easily. Yet he has a heart of gold, which is evident by his opening up his heart and home to several adopted children. Having been a foster child himself family means everything to him. To say that Page has a brilliant mind would be an understatement. By day he works as an astrophysicist and university professor. By night he solves crimes no one else can.


Why Do We Like Him?

I just loved Page’s wry sense of humor. His dry wit kept me laughing even though instances where people had died in the book. His relationship with Whittaker was a special one. They seemed to understand what the other one was thinking without having to say anything.

Page is an overcomer. We are given enough details to know that he had a hard childhood but we see him giving back rather than dwelling on the past. He pushes through his flashbacks and his pain. He never makes excuses. Instead he searches for a means to work around his problems. Page has an uncanny, perhaps supernatural, ability to see patterns amidst chaos. His analytical mind can map out a space in seconds and quickly recreate crime scenes.

Book 1: City of Windows

During the worst blizzard in memory, an FBI agent in a moving SUV in New York City is killed by a nearly impossible sniper shot. Unable to pinpoint where the shot came from, as the storm rapidly wipes out evidence, the agent-in-charge Brett Kehoe turns to the one man who might be able to help them–former FBI agent Lucas Page.

Book 2: Under Pressure

On a beautiful October evening, New York City’s iconic Guggenheim Museum is closed for a tech company’s private gala. Until an explosion rocks the night, instantly killing 702 people, including every single attendee—yet the damage to the building itself was minimal.

An explosion of that precision was no accident and, in response, the FBI mobilizes its entire team — but the sheer number of victims strains their resources. Were all 702 victims in the wrong place at the wrong time, or was there only one target and 701 unlucky bystanders? With too many victims and no known motive, the FBI turns once again to Dr. Lucas Page.


My Thoughts on the Series

This series was brought to my attention by Joseph Bresnan from Minotaur books. I enjoyed both books in this series and would recommend them to fans of Gregg Hurwitz’s Orphan X series. I appreciated Pobi’s representation of a disabled character and how he showed readers his challenges but also allowed us to see his talents. Throughout the books there were several extremely clever plot twists and as a woman in STEM I liked how he incorporated the science and technology.


Meet the Author

I found Lucas Page to be such a curious character I really had to find out more about the man who created him. Pobi seems to be quite a recluse and likes to have a bit of mystery surrounding him:

From Pobi’s author page: “He lives in the country, but spends most of the summer and fall months at his cabin on a lost lake in the mountains. He does not have telephone, internet, or television at the cabin; if he needs to check email, he has to drive eight miles to a tiny town hall for the free wifi at the picnic table inhabited by a gang of octogenarian chain smokers. When the cold starts chewing on the trees, he heads to a place he has on the beach, where his nearest neighbor—a retired cop who shares the same first name—makes the best whiskey sour he has ever tasted.” 

He writes at a desk that once belonged to Roberto ‘God’s Banker’ Calvi, and has (or definitely doesn’t have) a small collection of shrunken human heads (known as tsantsas in anthropological and collector circles) that continually weird out his housekeeper. He owns too many fountain pens and is constantly making notes in old-school Mead marble composition books.”

From Goodreads: “ROBERT POBI has fished for great whites off Montauk, chased coyotes with a dune buggy in the Mojave, and spelunked caves in the former Yugoslavia. He is a renowned expert in English period furniture and makes a mean coq au vin.”

Featured

Blog Tour: The Orphan of Cemetery Hill

Buy Links

Synopsis

The dead won’t bother you if you don’t give them permission.

Boston, 1844.


Tabby has a peculiar gift: she can communicate with the recently departed. It makes her special, but it also makes her dangerous.

As an orphaned child, she fled with her sister, Alice, from their charlatan aunt Bellefonte, who wanted only to exploit Tabby’s gift so she could profit from the recent craze for seances.

Now a young woman and tragically separated from Alice, Tabby works with her adopted father, Eli, the kind caretaker of a large Boston cemetery. When a series of macabre grave robberies begins to plague the city, Tabby is ensnared in a deadly plot by the perpetrators, known only as the “Resurrection Men.”

In the end, Tabby’s gift will either save both her and the cemetery—or bring about her own destruction.


My Thoughts

The Orphan of Cemetery Hill is my first Hester Fox novel. I found her writing to be very atmospheric. I was easily transported back in time. Tabby’s character resonated with me. I was scared for the child abandoned and happy for the girl who found a home. She was resilient and despite the trauma she endured she still was a compassionate and loving person. Despite the fact that I usually gravitate towards kick a$$ females I could appreciate the fact that Hester Fox’s characterization of Tabby as a “little woman waiting to be rescued by her knight in shining armor” was true to the way women in that era were treated. I still don’t like Caleb though and was a bit skeptical about his professions of love. But I digress.

Overall, The Orphan of Cemetery Hill was an enjoyable and engaging read. I was taken in by the mystery and loved that the book was loaded with history. I also enjoyed how Hester Fox handled both Tabby’s and Alice’s supernatural gifts. It was just the right amount of the paranormal: enough to keep me intrigued and not too much where the story would be unbelievable. Definitely picking up Hester Fox to read again.

Historical Perspective

The Orphan of Cemetery Hill takes place in Boston before the abolition of slavery and the establishment of equal women’s rights. Set in 1844, many slaves had escaped to the North for freedom but did not have much protection under the law. The Seneca Falls Convention has yet to happen but the Suffragettes are organizing and increasing their numbers.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Harvard was a burgeoning medical center and its numbers of medical students were rapidly increasing. The one or two cadavers that the school would obtain each year meant that the entire class would be sharing and dissecting a specimen for the full year. With the Paris Method of teaching hands on being the definitive instruction method this meant that there were simply not enough cadavers to meet the needs of the anatomy classes.

Legally, medical schools would be given the bodies of the indigent and executed criminals. Bodies of slaves were also sold, stolen and given over to the schools for experimentation. At Harvard Medical School a secret student society called the Spunkers formed to meet the rising demand for bodies.

Their means of procuring cadavers – grave robbing. In some cases they were quite clever. Some members would go to funerals and blend in with the mourners so that they knew where the fresh graves were. They would pull up the casket by the head slipping the body out through a small opening and returning the casket to the grave. If anyone were to stumble across the grave it would appear undisturbed. They also were quite deliberate about whose grave they would rob. If they disinterred bodies from slave burial grounds they knew there would be no legal ramifications.

Body snatching was so widespread that people started to take extra precautions when burying their loved ones. Family members would vigilantly guard the grave for weeks. Special cages were erected around the grave. The most extreme measures were perhaps the grave guns and coffin torpedoes that were attached to caskets, primed and at the ready.


Meet the Author

Hester Fox is a full-time writer and mother, with a background in museum work and historical archaeology. Most weekends you can find Hester exploring one of the many historic cemeteries in the area, browsing bookshops, or enjoying a seasonal latte while writing at a café. She lives outside of Boston with her husband and their son.


Where You Can Find Hester Fox

Featured

Blog Tour: Skunk and Badger

Synopsis

Wallace and Gromit meets Winnie-the-Pooh in a fresh take on a classic odd-couple friendship, from Newbery Honor author Amy Timberlake with full-color and black-and-white illustrations throughout by Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen.
 
No one wants a skunk.
 
They are unwelcome on front stoops. They should not linger in Important Rock Rooms. Skunks should never, ever be allowed to move in. But Skunk is Badger’s new roommate, and there is nothing Badger can do about it.
 
When Skunk plows into Badger’s life, everything Badger knows is upended. Tails are flipped. The wrong animal is sprayed. And why-oh-why are there so many chickens?
 
Nooooooooooooooooooooo!”
 
Newbery Honor author Amy Timberlake spins the first tale in a series about two opposites who need to be friends.
 
New York Times bestselling author/illustrator and Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen completes the book with his signature lushly textured art. This beautifully bound edition contains both full-color plates and numerous black-and-white illustrations.
 
Skunk and Badger is a book you’ll want to read, reread, and read out loud . . . again and again.


My Take

“Adventure and Science made the best stories.”

Skunk and Badger represent these two opposites but show that joy is to be had by embracing both of these principles. Adventure is fun but things get messy. (Beware of rocket potatoes!) Science has structure and discipline but its very essence is magic. Timberlake captures this very well in her story of Chicken Little the Mighty.


What Geralyn Liked Best

My daughter’s favorite character was Skunk. She liked him because he seemed like a lot of fun. She used his jumping on beds as her example. Most importantly for her was that he could COOK. Yes! With a capital C! And Lord knows my girl likes to eat. It may be her favorite pastime. LOL I mean no harm. I am a foodie too 🙂 But my girl was coming up with ideas. Skunk is putting this Momma to work! I have to be honest and say that those strawberry cinnamon muffins sounded delish. We’ll be savoring all of their goodness this weekend. Here’s the recipe in case you guys would like to share it with your kiddos as well.

Strawberry Cinnamon Muffins


For my part I have to admit that I sound a lot like Badger these days. Working from home is challenging and it’s hard to find a quiet place to work without interruption. Oh how I envy Skunk though. That moon room sounds like the ultimate reading nook.

Artwork by Jon Klassen

What We Learned As a Family

  • Everyone must contribute. “It’s a Law of Nature.”
  • “The fastest way to win a kingdom is by being kind and gentle instead of using violence and cruelty.”
  • It’s easier to make friends when you show a genuine interest in getting to know them, their likes and dislikes.
  • Sincere Sorrys do not come with “Buts”. (But this . . . But that)
  • You should get to know someone first before making judgments about them. It is wrong to lump groups of animals (or people) together and assume they all act the same way.

Family Fun Ideas

  • Go rock hunting! Explore some of our local national parks to see how many different types of rocks we can find.
  • Learn more about rock properties using a rock testing kit.
  • Make our own gem bracelets.
  • Grow a potato at home.
  • Make PEEP kebobs.
  • Write and illustrate our own retellings of Chicken Little.

Meet the Author

From her website: “Amy Timberlake grew up in Hudson, Wisconsin. She attended Mount Holyoke College and majored in History. She also holds an M.A. in English/Creative Writing. Most of the time, she can be found in Chicago, where she lives with her husband. But on especially good days she can be found walking on a long, long trail.”


Meet the Illustrator

From Goodreads: “Jon Klassen received the 2010 Canadian Governor General’s Award for his illustrations in Caroline Stutson’s CAT’S NIGHT OUT. He also created illustrations for the popular series THE INCORRIGIBLE CHILDREN OF ASHTON PLACE and served as an illustrator on the animated feature film Coraline. I WANT MY HAT BACK is the first book he has both written and illustrated. Originally from Niagara Falls, Canada, he lives in Los Angeles.”

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Blog Tour: The Last Story of Mina Lee

Buy Links

Synopsis

THE LAST STORY OF MINA LEE (on sale: September 1, 2020; Park Row Books; Hardcover; $27.99 US/ $34.99 CAN). opens when Margot Lee’s mother, Mina, doesn’t return her calls. It’s a mystery to twenty-six-year-old Margot, until she visits her childhood apartment in Koreatown, Los Angeles, and finds that her mother has suspiciously died. The discovery sends Margot digging through the past, unraveling the tenuous and invisible strings that held together her single mother’s life as a Korean War orphan and an undocumented immigrant, only to realize how little she truly knew about her mother.

Interwoven with Margot’s present-day search is Mina’s story of her first year in Los Angeles as she navigates the promises and perils of the American myth of reinvention. While she’s barely earning a living by stocking shelves at a Korean grocery store, the last thing Mina ever expects is to fall in love. But that love story sets in motion a series of events that have consequences for years to come, leading up to the truth of what happened the night of her death.


Review

The first time I heard about this book was by Russell on Ink and Paper blog. So when I got offered the chance to read it for the blog tour I was super excited. Indeed, I had very good reason. This book was an emotional tug that gave me insight into immigrant life.

Margot returns home after a long absence to find her mother dead. As she makes arrangements for her mother’s funeral she tries to sort out the pieces of her mother’s life. She soon comes to realize that a child never really knows the whole of their parents.

As a mother, Mina has had to make sacrifices and put aside pieces of herself in order to guarantee the best for her child. As the child, Margot was oblivious to her mother’s struggles and the secrets she kept to protect her. As a child, she judges her mother for her otherness and blamed her for her own insecurities of not fitting in.

As a woman looking back over that time, she realizes how strong her mother was and how much she must have loved her to make the decisions she did. Margot comes to understand how hard it must have been for her mother to survive as an immigrant in America.

“What did this country ask us all to sacrifice? Was it possible to feel anything while we were all trying to get ahead of everyone else, including ourself?”

Margot learns what it meant for Mina to be held at arm’s length from the American dream. Separated through poverty, by language and living in insular neighborhoods formed from common threats and fears.

In her mother’s death Margot learns not only the pieces that made her mother, but her heritage and herself.

Although The Last Story of Mina Lee may be considered a mystery, I was drawn to the characterization and the process by which Margot comes to know her mother.

There were so many powerful passages that stayed with me and kept me thinking not only of Mina and Margot but of immigrants, women and mothers and daughters.

Did stories keep us alive or kill us with false expectations? It depended on who wrote them perhaps.

With The Last Story of Mina Lee, Nancy Jooyun Kim has written an intimate, richly layered and moving portrayal of Korean immigrant experience. I look forward to reading more of her stories and cannot wait to see what she comes up with next.


Meet the Author

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Nancy Jooyoun Kim is a graduate of UCLA and the MFA Creative Writing Program at the University of Washington, Seattle. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Guernica, The Rumpus, Electric Literature, Asian American Writers’ Workshop’s The Margins, The Offing, the blogs of Prairie Schooner and Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. Her essay, “Love (or Live Cargo),” was performed for NPR/PRI’s Selected Shorts in 2017 with stories by Viet Thanh Nguyen, Phil Klay, and Etgar Keret. THE LAST STORY OF MINA LEE is her first novel.

Where You Can Find Nancy

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Blog Tour: When I Was You

BUY LINKS:

Thank you to MIRA/ Harlequin Press for including me on this tour. I apologize for this post being so late. Between e-learning and getting sick I have fallen behind on nearly everything. But I really enjoyed this book and still wanted to give it the attention it deserved.

Synopsis

YOU meets FATAL ATTRACTION in this up-all-night psychological thriller about a lonely empty-nester’s growing obsession with a young mother who shares her name.

It all begins on an ordinary fall morning, when Kelly Medina gets a call from her son’s pediatrician to confirm her upcoming “well-baby” appointment. It’s a cruel mistake; her son left for college a year ago, and Kelly has never felt so alone. The receptionist quickly apologizes: there’s another mother in town named Kelly Medina, and she must have gotten their numbers switched.

But Kelly can’t stop thinking about the woman who shares her name. Lives in her same town. Has a son she can still hold, and her whole life ahead of her. She can’t help looking for her: at the grocery store, at the gym, on social media. When Kelly just happens to bump into the single mother outside that pediatrician’s office, it’s simple curiosity getting the better of her.

Their unlikely friendship brings Kelly a renewed sense of purpose, taking care of this young woman and her adorable baby boy. But that friendship quickly turns to obsession, and when one Kelly disappears, well, the other one may know why.


Review

Kelly Medina is lonely. An empty-nester, she has time on her hands particularly since her husband spends so much time away for work. Her only reprieves are her outings with her best friend Christine. So when she gets a call from her son’s pediatrician to remind her about her upcoming appointment she is intrigued by the prospect of another Kelly Medina. A younger woman with an infant son. She seeks her out. Stalks her even as she becomes obsessed with this other Kelly’s life.

This part of the book did not really spark my curiosity. My name is rather common and although I grew up in a relatively small town there was another young lady who shared my name. I was always having to sort people out between me and the other Michelle. So the very premise of this story was not as intriguing for me as it may have been for other readers.

What did pique my interest was learning about the emotional strain the older Kelly was going through. I kept trying to figure out just how mentally unstable she was and to determine whether the younger Kelly was real or a figment of her delusional mind. Either way the story played out When I Was You was shaping up to be a rather pulse-pounding dangerous ride.

Will our Kelly make it out alive and mentally sound? Garza serves up plenty of twists and turns to keep us guessing until the final moments. And oh how I LOVED that ending!

When I Was You was my first Amber Garza book but I am really looking forward to delving into her other novels. First up – the Prowl Trilogy.


Meet the Author

Amber Garza has had a passion for the written word since she was a child making books out of notebook paper and staples. Her hobbies include reading and singing. Coffee and wine are her drinks of choice (not necessarily in that order). She writes while blaring music, and talks about her characters like they’re real people. She lives with her husband and two kids in Folsom, California, which is—no joke—home to another Amber Garza.


Where You Can Find Amber

Author Website: http://www.ambergarza.com/

TWITTER: @ambermg1

FB: @ambergarzaauthor

Instagram: @ambergarzaauthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5582891.Amber_Garza

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Tour the World in 30 Books Blog Tour: Sharks in the Time of Saviors

Hello Everyone and Welcome to my stop on Tour the World in 30 Books.

This blog tour is hosted by Sammie @ The Bookwyrm’s Den in support of increasing access to more diverse books. The CCPL—a small, rural library in an area with a high poverty rate and a very homogeneous population, where people rarely have the means to travel or experience new perspectives. However, the library doesn’t believe that should stop people from learning more about the world around them, so they’re running a Diverse Book Drive through the month of September in an attempt to bring the rest of the world to the county instead. With a focus on MG and YA books, the CCPL aims to expose especially its young patrons to new and diverse perspectives and cultures.


Sharks in the Time of Saviors

Kawaii Strong Washburn

Sharks in the Time of Saviors is so far my favorite book of 2020. The story was moving, the characters memorable and the language was oh so beautiful. This is a book that will stay with me a long time and I will return to many times over.

Here are the top 5 reasons why you should read this soul stirring book.

Importance of Place

The Hawaii in Sharks in the Time of Saviors is not a place filled with tourists but one of a family with roots extending through the generations. It is beautiful and lush but Washburn focuses on the value of tradition and the price paid for modernity.

Legend

Hawaiian Legend of the Night Marchers

Legend in Sharks in the Time of Saviors is both mystical and miraculous. It is part of the family’s heritage as well as their future. The book opens up on the night of Noa’s conception with a sighting of Hawaii’s Night Marchers. By the end of the first chapter Noa becomes a living legend when he falls into the sea and is delivered back to safety in the mouth of a shark. He goes on to perform miracles.

As the family hero Noa struggles to save the world without losing himself, while his siblings try to assert themselves to remind others that they still exist.

Family

Family plays an important role in the book. Washburn spends a lot of time with the siblings and how they adjust to their new familial roles after the tragedy. Throughout the book he uses rotating perspectives to amplify their different voices. The characters are drawn with such depth that even through their flaws each of them has the power to carve out the family’s existence and save the others.

Beautiful imagery

Pele, Hawaiian Goddess of Volcanoes

“I’d dream of what must have been Hawaiian gods. Women as large and distant as volcanoes, their skin dark like pregnant soil, dolphin-kind bodies thick and slick and full of joyful muscle. Their hair tangled and tumbled down into the trees until I couldn’t tell the vines from their locks and their eyes golden or blue or green without white and smoldering. Everywhere they touched the land, the land grew into them, skin blending with earth, until you couldn’t find where one ended and the other began.”

Faith

Hina, Hawaiian Goddess of the Moon

We can put our faith in the supernatural or in each other. Here, faith extends from the gods to family and to our connection to the land. Salvation comes in the form of returning home and melding the present with the traditions of the past.


My Favorite Quote

“If a god is a thing that has absolute power over us, then in this world there are many. There are gods that we choose and gods that we can’t avoid; there are gods that we pray to and gods that prey on us; there are dreams that become gods and pasts that become gods and nightmares that do, as well. As I age I learn that there are more gods than I’ll ever know, and yet I have to watch for all of them, or else they can use me or I can lose them without even realizing it.”


How Can You Help?

Casey County Public Library Wishlists

You may also purchase one of the books featured on this tour from the wishlists below. Hardbacks are preferred but not required.

(If you order something from the Book Shop wishlist, please DM @srbetler on Twitter or email sammie@thebookwyrmsden.com, because I don’t believe that site automatically removes books from the wish list.)

Need more ideas? The library has a general Amazon wish list with suggestions too.


Blog Tour Schedule

Please take the time to visit these other stops on the tour. It’s a great way to show your support for this great cause and who knows you might just find your next great book love in the pages of these awesome books.

✦ September 1 ✦
Sammie @ The Bookwyrm’s Den – Introduction, Paola Santiago and the River of Tears
Leelynn @ Sometimes Leelynn Reads – Dating Makes Perfect

✦ September 2 ✦
Lauren @ Always Me – The Epic Crush of Genie Lo

✦ September 3 ✦
Toya @ The Reading Chemist – Felix Ever After

✦ September 4 ✦
Michelle @ Carry A Big Book – Sharks in the Time of Saviors

✦ September 5 ✦
Shenwei @ READING (AS)(I)AN (AM)ERICA – The Astonishing Color of After

✦ September 6 ✦
Maria @ A Daughter of Parchment and Paper – Patron Saints of Nothing

✦ September 7 ✦
Bri @ Bri’s Book Nook – True Friends (Carmen Browne)

✦ September 8 ✦
Bec @ bec&books – Lobizona
Jorie @ Jorie Loves A Story – diverse TTT

✦ September 9 ✦
Sienna @ Daydreaming Book Lover – Loveless

✦ September 10 ✦
Kerri @ Kerri McBookNerd – Raybearer

✦ September 11 ✦
Noly @ The Artsy Reader – The Name Jar

✦ September 12 ✦
Jacob @ The Writer’s Alley – Forest of Souls

 September 13 ✦
Keri @ Are You My Book – The Tea Dragon Society

✦ September 14 ✦
Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight – The Space Between Worlds

✦ September 15 ✦
Melissa @ Ramblings of a Jedi Librarian – Girl in Translation

✦ September 16 ✦
Livy @ Shelves of Starlight – Clap When You Land

✦ September 17 ✦
Crystal @ Lost in Storyland – American Born Chinese

✦ September 18 ✦
Lili @ Lili’s Blissful Pages – A Wish in the Dark

✦ September 19 ✦
Leslie @ Books Are The New Black – The Poppy War

✦ September 20 ✦
Noura @ The Perks of Being Noura – Love From A to Z

✦ September 21 ✦
Crini @ Crini’s – A Pale Light in the Black

✦ September 22 ✦
Rachelle @ Rae’s Reads and Reviews – Dear Haiti, Love Alaine

✦ September 23 ✦
Dini @ DiniPandaReads – Wicked As You Wish

✦ September 24 ✦
Madeline @ Mad’s Books – Spin the Dawn

✦ September 25 ✦
Tessa @ Narratess – Brace Yourself

✦ September 26 ✦
Kimberly @ My Bookish Bliss – Truly Madly Royally

✦ September 27 ✦
Rena @ Bookflirting 101 – Anna K: A Love Story

✦ September 28 ✦
Susan @ Novel Lives – Burn the Dark

✦ September 29 ✦
Arina @ The Bookwyrm’s Guide to the Galaxy – A Song of Wraiths and Ruin

✦ September 30 ✦
Maya @ Awesome Reads – Jackpot

Featured

Blog Tour: Punching the Air

Synopsis

From award-winning, bestselling author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five comes a powerful YA novel in verse about a boy who is wrongfully incarcerated. Perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds, Walter Dean Myers, and Elizabeth Acevedo.

The story that I thought

was my life

didn’t start on the day

I was born

Amal Shahid has always been an artist and a poet. But even in a diverse art school, he’s seen as disruptive and unmotivated by a biased system. Then one fateful night, an altercation in a gentrifying neighborhood escalates into tragedy. “Boys just being boys” turns out to be true only when those boys are white.

The story that I think

will be my life

starts today

Suddenly, at just sixteen years old, Amal’s bright future is upended: he is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and sent to prison. Despair and rage almost sink him until he turns to the refuge of his words, his art. This never should have been his story. But can he change it?

With spellbinding lyricism, award-winning author Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam tell a moving and deeply profound story about how one boy is able to maintain his humanity and fight for the truth, in a system designed to strip him of both.


Review

I can remember vividly the days surrounding the Central Park jogger case. I remember the collective fear that held New York City in a vice. The way the press preyed on our emotions with descriptions of roving gangs of teens “wilding out”. Five teens — black and brown — were accused of this depraved act. They were villainized. Trump took out a full page ad in the New York Times demanding the death penalty in their case. In the days the followed one person stood out for me. Yusef Salaam’s mother. Because of her stoicism. She never faltered. In the heat of the frenzy she boldly proclaimed her son’s innocence across her chest.

In the end the five would spend 6-13 years behind bars for a crime they did not commit.

Punching the Air is a collaboration between award winning author Ibi Zoboi and Exonerated Five member Yusef Salaam. It tells the story of a teenage boy Amal who has been wrongfully convicted of a crime. The book is a beautifully rendered piece that delves into the disenfranchisement of young black men.

“Locking you up isn’t enough
for them They will try to crush your spirit until
you’re nothing but —

Dust
we both say
together”

Written in verse, Punching the Air shows Amal whose name means hope draw strength through creativity. His poems and art are glimpses of freedom that give him hope to carry on.

” And what does dust do, Amal?
What did Maya Angelou say about dust?
Umi asks
It rises, I whisper”


“It was this one dude
who said that’s why we’re always
fucking up, we’re always making
mistakes
because ain’t no butterflies in the hood

See, if there were butterflies
we would have what’s called
the butterfly effect

A butterfly’s wings can
change the path of a storm

Something so small
can change
one big thing in the world
one big thing in the universe

If there are no butterflies here
no pretty little wings flapping in the
hood
then we can’t change a thing, he said

We’re the butterflies, I said
and the things we do are like wings”


Meet the Authors

Ibi Zoboi

Ibi Zoboi was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and holds an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her novel American Street was a National Book Award finalist and a New York Times Notable Book. She is also the author of Pride and My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich, a New York Times bestseller. She is the editor of the anthology Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America. Raised in New York City, she now lives in New Jersey with her husband and their three children.


Dr. Yusef Salaam

Dr. Yusef Salaam was just fifteen years old when his life was upended after being wrongly convicted in the “Central Park Jogger” case, along with four other boys who are now known as the Exonerated Five. Their story has been documented in the award winning film The Central Park Five by documentarians Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon and in Ava DuVernay’s highly acclaimed series When They See Us, one of Netflix’s most-watched original series of all time. Yusef is now a poet, activist, and inspirational speaker who lives in Atlanta, Georgia. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from President Barack Obama.

Featured

Blog Tour: Impersonation

Synopsis

Allie Lang is a professional ghostwriter and a perpetually broke single mother to a young boy. Years of navigating her own and America’s cultural definition of motherhood have left her a lapsed idealist. Lana Breban is a high-profile lawyer, economist, and advocate for women’s rights with designs on elected office. She also has a son. Lana and her staff have decided she needs help softening her image in the eyes of the public and that a memoir about her life as a mother will help.

Allie struggles to write Lana’s book as obstacles pile up: not enough childcare, looming deadlines, an unresponsive subject, an ill-defined romantic relationship on the verge of slipping away. Eventually, Lana comes to require far too much of Allie and even her son. Allie’s ability to stand up for herself and ask for all that she deserves will ultimately determine the power that she can wield over her own life.

With the satirical eye of Tom Perrotta’s Mrs. Fletcher and the incisiveness of Meg Wolitzer’s The Female Persuasion, acclaimed writer Heidi Pitlor tells a timely, bitingly funny, and insightful story of ambition, motherhood, and class. 


Review

Ghostwriter Allie is used to stepping into someone else’s shoes and wearing their identities for months at a time. This level of method acting or getting into her subject’s head is required for pulling off a convincing read in someone else’s voice. Unlike actresses however, Allie never gets to take the credit for her work. Some charismatic headliner or successful business woman gets to put their pretty picture on the cover of her books and watch their faces climb the best seller lists. But Allie does not care for the accolades. She just wants to make a good enough living to support her son Cass.

Writing for condescending and sometimes sexist stars can make her job frustrating at times, but Lana Breban, feminist advocate, might be her most challenging client yet. Known for her blue cropped hair and no-nonsense style, Lana is an immigrant who has made her place in the world and has fought for the rights of other women. Allie looks up to her but as she tries to gather personal information for her book, Lana is not very forthcoming. Now that Lana is running for Senate she is not sure if her brand of motherhood appeals to the masses. As she tries to soften her public image Allie’s humble life and experiences seem more of the stuff that voters would like.

Impersonation asks a lot of questions not just about politics, but how we view women and how we judge mothers. Pitlor does start the conversation about modeling feminism for our younger generation in the hope to raise more compassionate and loving men for tomorrow. In the book, Allie tackles with the limits imposed on children by the genderization of babies. She strives to raise Cass in a gender-neutral setting offering him traditionally “feminine” toys like dolls to play with alongside trucks and cars. She also allows Cass to wear clothing of different types and colors but recognizes that other parents are not so open to little boys in pink. Nor will these parents chastise their children for being cruel. Bad behavior is usually explained away as “boys will be boys”.

Although I do not not think everything about motherhood is a feminist discussion, I do feel that oftentimes people feel they have the right to assert themselves in personal matters that are none of their business.

To breast feed or bottle feed? Which is right is a decision made between that mother and that child. I’ve breastfed four children. One I was able to feed on demand. With another we only lasted two months before switching to formula only. A third child was nibbling on chicken bones by 4 months old. The last took to bottle and breast equally. It made him no nevermind how he was eating as long as he had some type of food in his mouth.

What is the right way to disciple your child? Do you give them time out, take away privileges or use rewards as incentive for good behavior? What works with one child does not always work with the next. Nor does it work with the same child day in and day out. Whether she has one child or five, every mom needs to be quick witted and carry many tools in her arsenal.

Impersonation is in part an ode to the many hats that women wear as we make our way through American society. Daughter. Wife. Single mother. Career woman. Sometimes we wear a multitude of titles and they all carry a heavy weight loaded with the expectations of others. Ultimately, it is up to us to decide what works best for our own happiness and learn to advocate for what we want. Don’t apologize for who you are just because it does not fit the definition of who someone else wants you to be.


Meet the Author

Heidi Pitlor is the author of the novels The Birthdays and The Daylight Marriage. She has been the series editor of The Best American Short Stories since 2007 and the editorial director of Plympton, a literary studio. Her writing has been published in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Huffington PostPloughshares, and the anthologies It Occurs to Me That I Am America: New Stories and Art and Labor Day: True Birth Stories by Today’s Best Women Writers. She lives outside Boston.


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Blog Tour: A House is a Body

Synopsis

INTRODUCING A DAZZLING NEW LITERARY VOICE

In two-time O. Henry-prize winner Swamy’s debut collection of stories, dreams collide with reality, modernity collides with antiquity, myth with true identity, and women grapple with desire, with ego, with motherhood and mortality. In “Earthly Pleasures,” Radika, a young painter living alone in San Francisco, begins a secret romance with one of India’s biggest celebrities. In “A Simple Composition,” a husband’s moment of crisis leads to his wife’s discovery of a dark, ecstatic joy and the sense of a new beginning. In the title story, an exhausted mother watches, distracted and paralyzed, as a California wildfire approaches her home. With a knife blade’s edge and precision, the stories of A House Is a Body travel from India to America and back again to reveal the small moments of beauty, pain, and power that contain the world.

Review

A House is a Body is an intimate collection of stories that explores a range of human emotions, conditions and relationships. It is tender and riveting. The prose is simple yet searing. Even though each story embodied a different soul, together these stories came together to reveal a humanity that is full of beauty, hope and pain.

“She was like hearing your own heartbeat. If you stop for a minute and are entirely still you can hear it. All along she’s with you, but you never notice until you think to notice.”

In this passage Swamy is talking of mothers but in her intuitive way her female characters call to attention many nuanced perspectives of looking at the world.

“When he lifted his eyes to me for a moment I felt the wind knocked out: I was a bell, and he’d rung me.”

A House is a Body using electric prose and imagery to bring both the realistic and surreal alive. It is definitely worth your time to pick this book up and steep in its well of emotions.

Meet the Author

From the author’s website: “The winner of two O. Henry Awards, Shruti Swamy’s work has appeared in The Paris Review, the Kenyon Review Online, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. In 2012, she was Vassar College’s 50th W.K. Rose Fellow, and has been awarded residencies at the Millay Colony for the Arts, Blue Mountain Center, and Hedgebrook.

She is a Kundiman fiction fellow, a 2017 – 2018 Steinbeck Fellow at San Jose State University, and a recipient of a 2018 grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation.”

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