Featured

WWW Wednesdays 1/20

Happy Humpday Everyone! It’s that time of week again. Time to take an inventory of our reading.

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

I have not read one of these in a while. I stopped because my NetGalley shelf was getting out of control with all of my requests. But now that I have gotten past the 80% feedback ratio I figured that I would try to get the jump on some of the hot releases this season.

My Review

I cannot believe that my request for this book came in so early from my library. But I was so excited to read/listen to it that I literally stayed up all night until I finished it. Both Angie Thomas and Dion Graham get all the stars!

This is a coming of age novel written in verse. Our protagonist faces many odds but she learns how to deal with the loss of friendship and how to stick up for herself in a male dominated arena.

This is the prequel to Ladee Hubbard’s The Talented Ribkins. Here me meet the family’s patriarch and learn what made him The Rib King. Full of historical references and social commentary this one sometimes rings quite close to our present.

This book is best approached without any spoilers. It is a mystery, fantasy perhaps even mythology that has us examine science, religion, and isolation.

This is Roxane Gay’s first graphic novel. That’s right. That Roxane Gay. Illustrations are done by artist Ming Doyle.


What I’m Reading

I am continuing with my yearlong challenge for both 52 Weeks of Women of Color and 2021 Pop Sugar Challenge.

I still have not finished this one. Not anything wrong with the book but my anxiety is getting the best of me these days so I have been trying to find something lighthearted and humorous to read.

I’m not far into this but so far I like Frankie’s voice.

I am listening to a full cast production of this title while cleaning and setting up for my daughter’s birthday.


What’s Up Next

  • Literature/Short Stories
  • Paperback, 192 pages
  • Published September 1st 2020 by West Virginia University Press
  • 52 Weeks of Women of Color
  • 2021 Motley Reading Challenge
Featured

52 Weeks of Women of Color 2021 #1

Last year I participated in a year long challenge to read more diversely. Specifically to read books from women of color. Check out the original challenge in Daily Kos here. There were plenty of awesome titles highlighted by Barbee that I think you will love.

At first I was not sure how I was going to put this challenge into practice. Did I have to always have a book by a woman of color in my hands? For 365 days of the year? Did I have to finish one title each week? Or was it enough to just complete 52 books by the end of the year? In the end I decided that each week I would complete a book by a woman of color.

So how did I do?

2020 Statistics

  • 49 weeks
  • 93 books
  • 26 countries
  • 68 “New to Me” Authors

Even though there were 3 weeks that I did not finish a title, I would say that overall it was a success. By the time that I started blogging about my challenge I just had too many titles to cover in the last weeks of the year and was overwhelmed at the prospect of doing so during finals. Here it is a fresh start, a new year, my favorite challenge.


My Goals For 2021

  • Complete Margaret Busby’s Daughters of Africa Volumes 1 and 2.
  • Read books from women of color across all 7 continents. (For Antarctica use Decolonized map that indicates closest indigenous populations.)
  • Read more books in translation.
  • Read more books from small presses.
Antarctica Decolonized

January 2021

Daughters of Africa

This is an anthology that not only includes excerpts of writing, but also gives historical background on each author. In part I will be using these volumes to discover more incredible authors of color and read more books from the classic Afro/Caribbean/American canon.

Read 93 out of 1089 pages

I am definitely learning a lot from this book. There were some familiar names but many fascinating women that I had never heard of. Here is a partial list of the biographies and extracts that I have read so far.

  • Queen Hatshepsut
  • Makeda, Queen of Sheba
  • Lucy Terry
  • Phillis Wheatley
  • Old Elizabeth
  • Mary Prince
  • Zilpha Elaw
  • Sojourner Truth
  • Nancy Prince
  • Maria Stewart
  • Mary Seacole
  • Harriet Adams Wilson
  • Harriet Jacobs
  • Ann Plato
  • Harriet Tubman
  • Henrietta Fullor
  • Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Week One (1/2)

Week Two (1/9)

Week Three (1/16)

Progress Report

So far I am on target to complete Daughters of Africa by year’s end. I have read 3 new authors: Ruhi Choudhary, Glynis Guevara and Danielle Geller. Of the 9 authors, four are African-American, one is Indigenous United States, two live in Canada and three hail from the Caribbean (The Moulite family is from Haiti and Glynis Guevarra is from Trinidad & Tobago)


Meet the Queens that Have Brought All of this Awesomeness

Queen Mahogany L. Browne

Queen Ruhi Choudhary

Queen Danielle Geller

Queen Glynis Guevara

Queen Ladee Hubbard

Queen Bernice L. McFadden

Queens Maika & Maritza Moulite

Queen Angie Thomas

Featured

Blog Tour: The Woman Inside

Buy Links:

Synopsis

Daisey Garrett wakes up in a hospital bed. She remembers her boyfriend has left her for another woman but she doesn’t remember what happened to her. The night she was attacked in her own home.

Daisey shouldn’t be alive but against all odds, she’s survived an ordeal most would never recover from. And her new friend and roommate Iris will help her get back on her feet.

But Daisey’s mind is broken. She’s on edge, drinking too much and as she sits across from her cheating ex, Luke, in the beautiful home they once shared together, she can’t shake the feeling that she is being watched.

Yet tiny fragments of Daisey’s memory are starting to come back to her.

The missing pieces of that fateful summer night are beginning to surface…

The lies she told the police.

The lies Luke told her.

Iris will help her find the truth, won’t she?

A tense, twisty, addictive page-turner, The Woman Inside takes you within the tangled mess of people’s lives and the dark secrets they hold close. Perfect for fans of Gone Girl, Before I Go to Sleep and The Wife Between Us.


Review

The Woman Inside is the fourth book in the DI Dan Riley series. I instantly took to Detective Inspector Riley. I did not feel as if I lost anything coming into the series midway. The book definitely stands alone and is well written so that you have enough context to get the backstory on Dan, our victim Daisey and the killer. The book does goes through flashbacks showing critical scenes in the past that affected our killer better known to the press as “The Rose Petal Ripper”. This name is earned by the serial killer’s MO of leaving fresh roses on the bodies of the victims.

Daisey Garrett is our killer’s third victim but she is the first to survive leaving DI Dan Riley with his only witness. The problem: she suffers from traumatic amnesia and cannot remember most of the events of that night. And what she can remember she does not want to tell out of embarrassment and misplaced loyalty. These lies and half truths color the evidence. Will DI Riley be able to discern the facts in the case before the killer comes back to finish what they started?

One way that I rate my mysteries is to see if I can solve the case before the big reveal. In this case I was partially right though Weatherly did throw in a few curveballs.

One thing that I noticed was that Daisey’s memory loss was attributed to trauma to the prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain is primarily involved with rational thought, decision making and impulse control*. It’s the justification for setting the drinking age at 21 because this part of the brain is still developing through your teenage years. Basically, it’s that part of the brain that keeps us from doing stupid stuff. Lawyers have used damage to the prefrontal cortex to explain away the depraved behavior of their clients as it plays a critical role in governing personality and emotions.

Why do I say all of this? Because this type of injury is more in tune with the killer than the victim. We also don’t see too many unexplained behaviors with Daisey after the attack. Her personality seems to stay pretty much the same. Understandably, she has a greater sense of fear but at her core she is a good person. To her detriment, she still wants to believe in the goodness of the next person.

Despite my little quibble, (I’m a Biology teacher. No one else is going to care.) I enjoyed the book and read it over 2 days. For the most part the medical aspects made the mystery more interesting. Great police procedural! And DI Riley is as good as they come.


Meet the Author

Anna-Lou began her career as a dancer but a moped accident in Ibiza put paid to those aspirations and so she went back to her first and one true love – writing! She re-trained as a journalist, specialising mainly in women’s interest and celebrity, becoming the Editor of J-17 and Smash Hits as well as writing for a host of women’s magazines.

Anna-Lou has written three Adult Fiction titles – Vengeful Wives and Wicked Wives, both published by Avon in the UK and Bookouture in the US and Canada and Pleasure Island published by Bookouture.

Where You Can Find Her


*The prefrontal cortex controls what is known as semantic memory; things like colors, shapes and other basic facts not tied to personal events or emotions. The limbic system of the brain connects emotions to memory. It’s not so much a physical part of the brain as it is a functional part. If one had to pinpoint Daisey’s memory loss from that night most likely the amygdala would have been damaged as it controls memories based in fear.

Featured

WWW Wednesdays 1/12

Hey Everyone! Hope you had a wonderful week of reading! Personally, I got side-tracked by my allergies. But I am trying to get back on track. I am hoping that with the children returning back to school this week that I will be able to steal more time to read.

For those of you new to WWW Wednesdays: 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

Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My Review

Their Frozen Graves by Ruhi Choudhary

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Blog Tour

Black Beach by Glynis Guevara

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My Review

Dog Flowers by Danielle Geller

Rating: 3 out of 5.

My Review

Loving Donovan by Bernice L. McFadden

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This year I have committed myself to reading the works of three authors: James Baldwin, Bernardine Evaristo and Bernice L. McFadden. Loving Donovan is the first novel that I have read for this challenge this year. It is the third book that I have read from Ms. McFadden and one commonality that I have found in her books is that they get to the heart of human emotion. Her characters and their backstories have so much depth and are complex. You can’t help but identify with their pain and their joy. Even if you don’t see yourself in her pages you feel as if you know someone just like that. Her writing is just brilliant.


The Incredible Nellie Bly by Luciano Cimino

Rating: 3 out of 5.

My Review


What I’m Reading

Daughters of Africa edited by Margaret Busby

This anthology includes biographies and writings from women all across the African diaspora. It is arranged chronologically starting with Traditional African poems. This is part of a yearlong project for me. So far I have 1500 BC – 1820’s. (So about 90 pages. Ha! Ha!) I enjoy learning about these incredible women in history. Oftentimes I find myself stepping away from the book to research them further.


The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enriquez

This is a short story collection by Argentine author Mariana Enriquez. All of these stories have a bit of the macabre. I am not sure whether I would classify them as magical realism or horror. But will say is that I have been absolutely captivated by this collection. Each story touches upon some human element that is typically ignored. Her writing is utterly original and I find that I cannot help myself but to read the stories over back-to- back so that I can glean more from them. I actually started journaling about each story. Who knows by the time I finish my notes may be longer than the book. LOL


The Woman Inside by Anna-Lou Weatherley

The Woman Inside is an intense emotional thriller about a woman left for dead. When questioned she cannot remember anything from the day of the attack. DI Dan Riley needs her to gain her memory back in order to catch the serial killer. I’m super excited to read this one. My Blog Tour review will be live tomorrow morning. So check back here for all the juicy details!


What’s Next?

Your Corner Dark by Desmond Hall

  • Contemporary/ Young Adult
  • Hardcover, 384 pages
  • Expected publication: January 19th 2021 by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
  • NetGalley

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw

  • Literature/Short Stories
  • Paperback, 192 pages
  • Published September 1st 2020 by West Virginia University Press
  • 52 Weeks of Women of Color
  • 2021 Motley Reading Challenge
Featured

Blog Tour: Their Frozen Graves

Buy Links

Synopsis

Two women are dead. They both look like you.

The giant stretch of frozen river was melting and the light made the lake glitter like crystals. The women lay side by side on the shore, eyes open and glassy. Their long, dark hair was like tangled rope, their faces a reflection of each other…

When two bodies are found dumped in one of the vast lakes in Lakemore, Washington, Detective Mackenzie Price is first on the scene. She identifies one of the victims as Katy Becker, a local known for her work helping the community. The other victim looks strikingly similar.

Still grappling with a shocking revelation from her past, Mack is only too happy to throw herself into the case. But when she goes to break the news to Katy’s husband, the investigation takes an unexpected turn: Katy is very much alive, and has never met the women who resemble her so closely.

Now the race is on to find the killer before Katy becomes the next victim. But when Mack unearths a disturbing connection to a sixteen-year-old suicide, she realizes they could be hunting someone whose crimes span decades – and there are more lives than just Katy’s at stake.

Addictive, pulse-pounding and packed full of jaw-dropping twists, fans of Lisa Regan, Angela Marsons and Karin Slaughter will love Their Frozen Graves.


Review

Their Frozen Graves opens up with three murders. That’s right – you saw that correctly. Three murders within the first three chapters. The first of which is Detective Mackenzie’s father 20 years ago. Was it a dream or a mirage? Because somehow he is standing before her in the flesh right now. This one storyline would have been enough to keep me hooked but Choudhary turns up the heat by dropping two more bodies on the shore. The two women are almost identical in appearance. Mackenzie is sure that one is local activist Katy Becker until she and her partner Nick go to Becker’s home to give the notification of death. In front of them is Katy Becker alive and well. How could this be? Who are these other women and why do all three look so much alike? One thing is clear. Katy Becker is not safe.

This second book in the Mackenzie Price series was fast paced and gripping. There were a few twists that caught me off guard, but they were realistic and believable. Even though this is my first time reading this series I instantly took to Mackenzie Price’s character. She’s been through some things but she’s come through the fire burnished with determination. I was as fascinated by her backstory as I was with the case. I certainly am curious to see her life unfold in future installments of this series.


Meet the Author

Ruhi Choudhary discovered her passion for writing when she was seven years old and wrote her first Star Trek episode. Being a fan of the dark and twisted, she found her calling in crime thriller.

She likes to write stories that make you a little uncomfortable and characters that you struggle to make up your mind about but stay with you.

She lives in Toronto and spends her days training to be a scientist and wishing it rained more often!

Where You Can Find Her

Featured

Blog Tour – Find Me In Havana

Buy Links

Synopsis

A novel based on the dazzling story of one of Hollywood’s most celebrated Hispanic actresses and her daughter’s search for closure.

Cuba, 1936: When Estelita Rodriguez sings in a hazy Havana nightclub for the very first time, she is nine years old. From then on, that spotlight of adoration–from Havana to New York’s Copacabana and then Hollywood–becomes the one true accomplishment no one can take from her. Not the 1933 Cuban Revolution that drove her family into poverty. Not the revolving door of husbands or the fickle world of film.

Thirty years later, her young adult daughter, Nina, is blindsided by her mother’s mysterious death. Seeking answers, the grieving Nina navigates the troubling, opulent memories of their life together and discovers how much Estelita sacrificed to live the American dream on her own terms.

Based on true events and exclusive interviews with Nina Lopez, Estelita’s daughter, Find Me in Havana weaves two unforgettable voices into one extraordinary story that explores the unbreakable bond between mother and child, and the ever-changing landscape of self-discovery. 


My Review

Find Me In Havana is a historical fiction based on the life of actress Estelita Rodriguez. Despite her career its focus is not on her life in film. We are given insight into the Cuban revolution when Castro came to power. But this book is not really about that either. This book is about a mother and a daughter.

It is written in an epistolary style with chapters alternating between letters from Estelita and her daughter Nina. It is interesting to see their feelings and mindsets. How each of them experiences these different life events. You get to see how their perception differs. For example when Nina is kidnapped by her father she feels as if her mother has sent her away. That she has once again chosen her career or someone else over her. But Estelita feels rejected as well, not sure if Nina chose to leave.

Here you have a woman who performed with the likes of Desi Arnaz, starred in films opposite John Wayne and hung out with Sammy Davis Jr. But Estelita and Nina did not have a glamorous life. Besides the kidnapping, there’s molestation, rape, domestic violence and substance abuse. The two were not close to their extended family. Their support system consisted of Estelita’s mother. Despite her devotion, all Nina wanted was to be alone with her mother. Just the two of them for once. No grandma. No husbands. No admirers. Just her and her mom.

As much as Find Me In Havana is about that mother-daughter bond, it does capture the time period vividly. In some cases with shocking revelation which prompted me to do my own web sleuthing. Whenever I read an historical fiction I want to know where the line between fact and fiction lies. And I want to know how much creative license was used. But in all my searching I couldn’t find too many facts about Estelita’s life. Even on websites dedicated to her, there were scarce details about her personal life outside her four marriages. There was also a lot of mystery surrounding her death. Some sources said it was influenza. Others said that the cause of death was undetermined.

I was happy when I stumbled upon an interview with Estelita’s daughter Nina Lopez where she is talking with author Serena Burdick. She was pleased with the end result of the book. Not only did Burdick present a true picture of her mother and their life together, but she was able to capture the essence of Nina’s feelings and her inner thoughts. She confirms that there is truth in these words. But for some reason Nina seemed sad to me. When I finished the book I was hopeful for her. Part of my combing the internet was to find her. To find what had become of her. Had she found her place in the world? Was she getting the attention she so desperately craved as a child? Does she feel full, sated with all that life has to offer? I guess this is a testament to Burdick’s writing, as I feel as if I know Nina personally and why I am invested in her actual life story.

Find Me In Havana is my second novel by Serena Burdick. The common thread that I see with Burdick is looking at women in history and telling those stories that have been lost or forgotten. Here she is to say that these women lived. That these are there stories. That there truths will not be buried, nor their memories forsaken.


Meet The Author

Where You Can Find Her

Featured

Throwback Thursday 1/7

Happy New Year!

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.

Synopsis

Running. That’s all that Ghost (real name Castle Cranshaw) has ever known. But never for a track team. Nope, his game has always been ball. But when Ghost impulsively challenges an elite sprinter to a race — and wins — the Olympic medalist track coach sees he has something: crazy natural talent. Thing is, Ghost has something else: a lot of anger, and a past that he is trying to outrun. Can Ghost harness his raw talent for speed and meld with the team, or will his past finally catch up to him?

My Thoughts

This book was read as part of my 2020 Pop Sugar Challenge. It qualified for the prompt of “A book with the same name as a movie that it’s not related to.” It was also one of the books I acquired during BookCon 2019 so I also had the pleasure of meeting Jason Reynolds which made me more excited to read this book. I have to say that I enjoyed it enough that I went on to listen to the rest of the series narrated by Guy Lockard and Heather Alicia Simms.

Each of the books in the Track series is named after one of the track members and is told from their perspective. Reynolds uses their life experiences to show how they have overcome. We get to see what the sport means to them and how people like Coach and have positively impacted their lives and helped these kids grow and flourish. The whole concept of “community” is exemplified here and it’s wonderful to see the kids lean on each other as members of their village.

I would whole heartedly recommend this series to middle grade children but found myself entertained as an adult. Other books by Jason Reynolds that are worth reading are Long Way Down*, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You and For Every One.

*1/4/21 – Long Way Down is currently free through Kindle Unlimited.


Throwback Pic

Young boy attending Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech, 28th Aug 1963. I have not been able to find the name of the photographer to credit.

Featured

WWW Wednesday 1/6

It’s been some time since I have done a WWW post. But I realized that not only was it fun to see what you all were reading, but it also gave me a moment to pause and consider what I had read over the week. So WWW Wednesday will be one of the memes I continue throughout 2021.

So what is 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.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was a poignant and emotional memoir. I recommend listening to the audio which George Johnson narrates himself.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This epic retelling of the Trojan War is told from the women’s points of view. Haynes begs the question what makes someone a hero during war. How many lives you vanquish? Or how many lives you touch and nurture?


What I’m Reading

This book will be part of an ongoing process and will be included in my 52 Weeks of Women of Color challenge for 2021. As the second volume came out, together these two (at 1841 pages) will count towards my 2021 Pop Sugar Challenge for “The longest book on your TBR.” So far I have been enjoying reading a few pages each morning while I sip on my coffee. There is something about starting your day off with a good book that warms my soul. I also have been journaling my thoughts and writing up additional info that I come across while researching these women.


So far I like the character’s voice and am expecting this to be a 5 star book. Somehow though I got sidetracked watching the election yesterday (and today) so I might not finish this one until tomorrow. Not a good way to start off the year — reviewing days after publication but all I can do now is get it in as soon as possible.


What’s Next?

I have three blog tours coming over the next week:

1/8 – Find Me in Havana

I have already and reviewed this title. The link will be open at midnight Pacific time January 8th. Link to Blog Tour


1/10 – Their Frozen Graves

  • Mystery/ Thriller
  • Kindle Edition, 381 pages
  • Expected publication: January 7th 2021 by Bookouture
  • 52 Weeks of Women of Color
  • NetGalley

1/14 – The Woman Inside

  • Mystery/ Thriller
  • ebook, 331 pages
  • Expected publication: January 13th 2021 by Bookouture
  • Bookopoly Challenge
  • NetGalley
Featured

Teaser Tuesdays – 1/5

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

One of the Good Ones

You’re the kind of girl you fight wars for. You’re the kind of girl you fight wars with.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
  • Young Adult/ Realistic Fiction/ Mystery
  • Own Voices
  • Hardcover, 384 pages
  • Release Date: January 5th 2021 by Inkyard Press

The premise behind the book is about how we judge people and their worth. Are they good students? Star athletes? Involved in community service? Are they beautiful? Talented? Are they considered “special” enough for their lives to matter and for us to fight for them when they encounter injustice? In their sophomore novel, the Moulite sisters show how dangerous the well intentioned term “one of the good ones” can be.

Featured

Review: River Bodies by Karen Katchur

A body washes up in a remote area of Pennsylvania. The man has been murdered. Shot. That’s alarming but what is most chilling is the discovery of the rest of his body. Dressed as it were a deer kill. This is the second body to be found along the river. The first was many years ago when Becca was a teenage girl.

When Becca returns home it rekindles both memories and feelings. Can she reconcile with her father? Will the secrets of the past hinder her romance with her old flame? More importantly and of more pressing concern, will her memories and her father’s secrets put her very life in danger?

One of my resolutions for 2021 is to read more of my own books and reevaluating my book subscriptions. I acquired this title from Kindle Unlimited and it has been sitting on my phone for over a year. This was the first book that I completed this year and it was a good ride. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Lauren Ezzo.

Rating: 4 out of 5.