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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

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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
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#5 On My TBR – Graphic Novels

Good Morning Everyone! Hope all is well. I know I am late with my post but with good reason. Over the last couple of days I was besieged by the worst case of hives. I have absolutely no idea what I ate that gave me such a reaction. All I know is that Benadryl is now my new best friend.

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. For those of you interested in participating in #5 On My TBR you can find additional info and future prompts here. This week’s theme is Graphic Novels – just perfect for a girl who needs rescuing.

So let’s get into this week’s 5 on my TBR before I start scratching again.

#1 – March

“March is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis’ personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement.”


#2 – Persepolis

“Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq.”

#3 – The Banks

“The women of the Banks family are the most successful thieves in Chicago, but during the heist of a lifetime, they must band together to avenge a loved one taken too soon.”


#4 Black Panther

“A new era begins for the Black Panther! MacArthur Genius and National Book Award-winning writer T-Nehisi Coates (BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME) takes the helm, confronting T’Challa with a dramatic upheaval in Wakanda that will make leading the African nation tougher than ever before. When a superhuman terrorist group that calls itself The People sparks a violent uprising, the land famed for its incredible technology and proud warrior traditions will be thrown into turmoil. If Wakanda is to survive, it must adapt–but can its monarch, one in a long line of Black Panthers, survive the necessary change? Heavy lies the head that wears the cowl!”


#5 – The Incredible Nellie Bly

“A visual biography of the groundbreaking investigative journalist.”

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

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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.

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#5 On My TBR – 2021 Releases

Happy Happy New Year! How many of you are as excited to greet this new year as I am?

With a new year comes new resolutions, new plans and this week’s focus — new releases!

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. For those of you interested in participating in #5 On My TBR you can find additional info and future prompts here.

So here are 5 of my most anticipated releases of 2021.

#1 – Chlorine Sky

I have read Mahogany’s Browne’s Black Girl Magic and the anthology The BreakBeat Poets and was moved. So when I saw that she had a novel-in-verse coming out this year I got goosebumps.

She looks me hard in my eyes
& my knees lock into tree trunks
My eyes don’t dance like my heartbeat racing
They stare straight back hot daggers.
I remember things will never be the same.
I remember things.

With gritty and heartbreaking honesty, Mahogany L. Browne delivers a novel-in-verse about broken promises, fast rumors, and when growing up means growing apart from your best friend.


#2 – Concrete Rose

International phenomenon Angie Thomas revisits Garden Heights seventeen years before the events of The Hate U Give in this searing and poignant exploration of Black boyhood and manhood.


#3 – Blood Grove

Walter Mosley is my favorite author and this is his 15th installment in the Easy Rawlins series.


#4 – 400 Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019

An epoch-defining history of African America, the first to appear in a generation, Four Hundred Souls is a chronological account of four hundred years of Black America as told by ninety of America’s leading Black writers.


#5 – Harlem Shuffle

From two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead, a gloriously entertaining novel of heists, shakedowns, and rip-offs set in Harlem in the 1960s.

Blog Tour: Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder

Buy Links

Synopsis

The letter was short. A name, a time, a place.

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder plunges readers into the heart of London, to the secret tunnels that exist far beneath the city streets. There, a mysterious group of detectives recruited for Miss Brickett’s Investigations & Inquiries use their cunning and gadgets to solve crimes that have stumped Scotland Yard.

Late one night in April 1958, a filing assistant at Miss Brickett’s receives a letter of warning, detailing a name, a time, and a place. She goes to investigate but finds the room empty. At the stroke of midnight, she is murdered by a killer she can’t see―her death the only sign she wasn’t alone. It becomes chillingly clear that the person responsible must also work for Miss Brickett’s, making everyone a suspect.

Marion Lane, a first-year Inquirer-in-training, finds herself drawn ever deeper into the investigation. When her friend and colleague is framed for the crime, to clear his name she must sort through the hidden alliances at Miss Brickett’s and secrets dating back to WWII. Masterful, clever and deliciously suspenseful, Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder is a fresh take on the Agatha Christie-style locked-room murder mystery, with an exciting new heroine detective.


Review

“A snitch, stabbed with a snitch.”

Michelle White knew just about everybody’s secrets. And she knew how to use them to her advantage. So it is no surprise when she turns up dead killed by the instrument of her snooping. But who killed her? Just about everybody had equal motive. In a room full of spies there are many secrets worth killing for.

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder reminded me a lot of Harry Potter. With its underground labyrinth hidden behind the facade of an innocuous bookstore and all of the gadgetry it was a fun book to read.

From Times of Malta article “History at end of the tunnel – detailed map of Valletta tunnels being compiled”

The maze of tunnels was inspired by the cities of London and Valleta, Malta which both used underground passageways for defense during the second World War. What T. A. Willberg does to bring them alive is make them ever-changing with doors sealing off passageways and tunnels shifting direction.

Marion Lane is a new Inquirer and is trying to establish herself amongst this elite and almost mythical organization. As a woman in 1950s London, it is hard to break the mold and get out from under her grandmother’s thumb to live the life she wants for herself. Willberg does a great job of incorporating this into a story and I wonder what plans she has for Marion Lane.


Meet the Author

T.A. Willberg was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and holds a chiropractic masters degree from Durban University of Technology. MARION LANE AND THE MIDNIGHT MURDER is her debut novel and launch of her detective series. She currently lives in Malta with her partner.

Where You Can Find Her

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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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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.