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#5 On My TBR – Green 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 celebrates the beginning of Spring and St. Patrick’s Day– the color GREEN.

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

So let’s get to it!

#1 – Love is a Revolution

From New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Rene Watson comes a new YA–a love story about not only a romantic relationship but how a girl finds herself and falls in love with who she really is.

When Nala Robertson reluctantly agrees to attend an open mic night for her cousin-sister-friend Imani’s birthday, she finds herself falling in instant love with Tye Brown, the MC. He’s perfect, except . . . Tye is an activist and is spending the summer putting on events for the community when Nala would rather watch movies and try out the new seasonal flavors at the local creamery. In order to impress Tye, Nala tells a few tiny lies to have enough in common with him. As they spend more time together, sharing more of themselves, some of those lies get harder to keep up. As Nala falls deeper into keeping up her lies and into love, she’ll learn all the ways love is hard, and how self-love is revolutionary.

In Love Is a Revolution, plus size girls are beautiful and get the attention of the hot guys, the popular girl clique is not shallow but has strong convictions and substance, and the ultimate love story is not only about romance but about how to show radical love to the people in your life, including to yourself. 


#2 – Wow, No Thank You

A new essay collection from Samantha Irby about aging, marriage, settling down with step-children in white, small-town America.

Irby is turning forty, and increasingly uncomfortable in her own skin. She has left her job as a receptionist at a veterinary clinic, has published successful books and is courted by Hollywood, left Chicago, and moved into a house with a garden that requires repairs and know-how with her wife and two step-children in a small white, Republican town in Michigan where she now hosts book clubs. This is the bourgeois life of dreams. She goes on bad dates with new friends, spends weeks in Los Angeles taking meetings with “skinny, luminous peoples” while being a “cheese fry-eating slightly damp Midwest person,” “with neck pain and no cartilage in [her] knees,” and hides Entenmann’s cookies under her bed and unopened bills under her pillow.


#3 – Black Women in the Ivory Tower 1850 -1954: An Intellectual History

Evans chronicles the stories of African American women who struggled for and won access to formal education, beginning in 1850, when Lucy Stanton, a student at Oberlin College, earned the first college diploma conferred on an African American woman. In the century between the Civil War and the civil rights movement, a critical increase in black women’s educational attainment mirrored unprecedented national growth in American education. Evans reveals how black women demanded space as students and asserted their voices as educators–despite such barriers as violence, discrimination, and oppressive campus policies–contributing in significant ways to higher education in the United States. She argues that their experiences, ideas, and practices can inspire contemporary educators to create an intellectual democracy in which all people have a voice.


Among those Evans profiles are Anna Julia Cooper, who was born enslaved yet ultimately earned a doctoral degree from the Sorbonne, and Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of Bethune-Cookman College. Exposing the hypocrisy in American assertions of democracy and discrediting European notions of intellectual superiority, Cooper argued that all human beings had a right to grow. Bethune believed that education is the right of all citizens in a democracy. Both women’s philosophies raised questions of how human and civil rights are intertwined with educational access, scholarly research, pedagogy, and community service. This first complete educational and intellectual history of black women carefully traces quantitative research, explores black women’s collegiate memories, and identifies significant geographic patterns in America’s institutional development. Evans reveals historic perspectives, patterns, and philosophies in academia that will be an important reference for scholars of gender, race, and education.


#4 – No Heaven For Good Boys

Set in Senegal, this modern-day Oliver Twist is a meditation on the power of love, and the strength that can emerge when we have no other choice but to survive.

Six-year-old Ibrahimah loves snatching pastries from his mother’s kitchen, harvesting string beans with his father, and searching for sea glass with his sisters. But when he is approached in his rural village one day by Marabout Ahmed, a seemingly kind stranger and highly regarded teacher, the tides of his life turn forever. Ibrahimah is sent to the capital city of Dakar to join his cousin Etienne in studying the Koran under Marabout Ahmed for a year, but instead of the days of learning that Ibrahimah’s parents imagine, the young boys, called Talibe, are forced to beg in the streets in order to line their teacher’s pockets.

To make it back home, Etienne and Ibrahimah must help each other survive both the dangers posed by their Marabout, and the darker sides of Dakar: threats of black-market organ traders, rival packs of Talibe, and mounting student protest on the streets.

Drawn from real incidents and transporting readers between rural and urban Senegal, No Heaven for Good Boys is a tale of hope, resilience, and the affirming power of love.


#5 – The Hole

Winner of the Akutagawa Prize, The Hole is by turns reminiscent of Lewis Carroll, David Lynch, and My Neighbor Totoro, but is singularly unsettling.

Asa’s husband is transferring jobs, and his new office is located near his family’s home in the countryside. During an exceptionally hot summer, the young married couple move in, and Asa does her best to quickly adjust to their new rural lives, to their remoteness, to the constant presence of her in-laws and the incessant buzz of cicadas. While her husband is consumed with his job, Asa is left to explore her surroundings on her own: she makes trips to the supermarket, halfheartedly looks for work, and tries to find interesting ways of killing time.

One day, while running an errand for her mother-in-law, she comes across a strange creature, follows it to the embankment of a river, and ends up falling into a hole—a hole that seems to have been made specifically for her. This is the first in a series of bizarre experiences that drive Asa deeper into the mysteries of this rural landscape filled with eccentric characters and unidentifiable creatures, leading her to question her role in this world, and eventually, her sanity.

*All synopses were taken from Goodreads.*

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#5 On My TBR – Retellings

Hello Everyone! I know I haven’t done one of these in a while but I’m back to join in on the fun. This week’s theme is retellings. Ever since watching The Wiz as a kid I have had a soft spot in my heart for books that capture the essence of beloved classics.

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 let’s get to it!

#1: These Violent Delights

From GoodReads: “The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.


#2: Sansei & Sensibility

From GoodReads: “In these buoyant and inventive stories, Yamashita transfers classic tales across boundaries and questions what an inheritance―familial, cultural, emotional, artistic―really means. In a California of the ’60s and ’70s, characters examine the contents of deceased relatives’ freezers, tape-record high-school locker-room chatter, or collect a community’s gossip while cleaning the teeth of its inhabitants. Mr. Darcy is the captain of the football team, Mansfield Park materializes in a suburb of L.A., bake sales replace balls, and station wagons, not horse-drawn carriages, are the preferred mode of transit. The stories of traversing class, race, and gender leap into our modern world with wit and humor.”


#3: Legendborn

From GoodReads: “After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC–Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape—until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus.

A flying demon feeding on human energies.

A secret society of so called “Legendborn” students that hunt the creatures down.

And a mysterious teenage mage who calls himself a “Merlin” and who attempts—and fails—to wipe Bree’s memory of everything she saw.

The mage’s failure unlocks Bree’s own unique magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that Bree knows there’s more to her mother’s death than what’s on the police report, she’ll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn as one of their initiates.

She recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn with his own grudge against the group, and their reluctant partnership pulls them deeper into the society’s secrets—and closer to each other. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur’s knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she’ll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down—or join the fight.”


#4: The Wife Upstairs

From GoodReads: “Meet Jane. Newly arrived to Birmingham, Alabama, Jane is a broke dog-walker in Thornfield Estates––a gated community full of McMansions, shiny SUVs, and bored housewives. The kind of place where no one will notice if Jane lifts the discarded tchotchkes and jewelry off the side tables of her well-heeled clients. Where no one will think to ask if Jane is her real name.

But her luck changes when she meets Eddie Rochester. Recently widowed, Eddie is Thornfield Estates’ most mysterious resident. His wife, Bea, drowned in a boating accident with her best friend, their bodies lost to the deep. Jane can’t help but see an opportunity in Eddie––not only is he rich, brooding, and handsome, he could also offer her the kind of protection she’s always yearned for.

Yet as Jane and Eddie fall for each other, Jane is increasingly haunted by the legend of Bea, an ambitious beauty with a rags-to-riches origin story, who launched a wildly successful southern lifestyle brand. How can she, plain Jane, ever measure up? And can she win Eddie’s heart before her past––or his––catches up to her?”

With delicious suspense, incisive wit, and a fresh, feminist sensibility, The Wife Upstairs flips the script on a timeless tale of forbidden romance, ill-advised attraction, and a wife who just won’t stay buried. In this vivid reimagining of one of literature’s most twisted love triangles, which Mrs. Rochester will get her happy ending?


#5: The Bird and the Blade

This one is a retelling of an Italian Opera – Turandot by Giacomo Puccini.

From GoodReads: “As a slave in the Kipchak Khanate, Jinghua has lost everything: her home, her family, her freedom … until the kingdom is conquered by enemy forces and she finds herself an unlikely conspirator in the escape of Prince Khalaf and his irascible father across the vast Mongol Empire. On the run, with adversaries on all sides and an endless journey ahead, Jinghua hatches a scheme to use the Kipchaks’ exile to return home, a plan that becomes increasingly fraught as her feelings for Khalaf evolve into a hopeless love.

Jinghua’s already dicey prospects take a downward turn when Khalaf seeks to restore his kingdom by forging a marriage alliance with Turandokht, the daughter of the Great Khan. As beautiful as she is cunning, Turandokht requires all potential suitors to solve three impossible riddles to win her hand—and if they fail, they die.

Jinghua has kept her own counsel well, but with Khalaf’s kingdom—and his very life—on the line, she must reconcile the hard truth of her past with her love for a boy who has no idea what she’s capable of … even if it means losing him to the girl who’d sooner take his life than his heart.”

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Teaser Tuesdays 2/23

The Teaser

Giles leaned back in his chair. Relief washed over him. Oliver had come through after all. And his timing couldn’t have been better. Old university chums always came in handy. Even old university enemies.

p. 186

Without Prejudice

by Nicola Williams

Synopsis

A gripping, propulsive courtroom thriller following barrister Lee Mitchell as she uncovers the dark secrets of London’s obscenely rich

Lee Mitchell is a thirty-year-old barrister from a working-class Caribbean background: in the cut-throat environment of the courtroom, everything is stacked against her.

After she takes on the high-profile case of notorious millionaire playboy Clive Omartian – arrested along with his father and stepbrother for eye-wateringly exorbitant fraud – the line between her personal and professional life becomes dangerously blurred. Spiraling further into Clive’s trail of debauchery and corruption, she finds herself in alarmingly deep waters.

Can she survive her case, let alone win it?

‘A highly-charged and fast-paced page turner’ Irish Times


Without Prejudice is part of Bernardine Evaristo’s Black Britain Writing Back series. This collection highlights previously published books that exemplify the diversity of the black experience in Britain. In the author’s words – “these books will take the reader from 18th-century London to 1920s Trinidad; from inside the heads of women in the mental health system to inside the life of a working-class Black woman barrister making her way in a white, middle-class, male profession; from the ethics of stolen African artefacts in British museums and into a family home haunted by past that lingers in the present.”

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Teaser Tuesday – 2/9

The Teaser

Even if she wanted to move, she cannot, so firmly do these memories hold her still, so that when a stinging lash falls across her back and her eyes fly open with her mouth in the surprise of pain without origin, Lala considers that the true source of her pain is not the current cruelty, but the fact that she cannot do anything to avoid it, even if she wanted to.


How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House

by Cherie Jones

Synopsis

A debut novel in the tradition of Zadie Smith and Marlon James, from a brilliant Caribbean writer, set in Barbados, about four people each desperate to escape their legacy of violence in a so-called “paradise.”

In Baxter Beach, Barbados, moneyed ex-pats clash with the locals who often end up serving them: braiding their hair, minding their children, and selling them drugs. Lala lives on the beach with her husband, Adan, a petty criminal with endless charisma whose thwarted burglary of one of the Baxter Beach mansions sets off a chain of events with terrible consequences. A gunshot no one was meant to witness. A new mother whose baby is found lifeless on the beach. A woman torn between two worlds and incapacitated by grief. And two men driven by desperation and greed who attempt a crime that will risk their freedom — and their lives.


How many books by debut Black authors have you read or plan to read this Black History Month?

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WWW Wednesdays 2/3

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 Read

The Down Days

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

My Review

The Dreamers

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Girlhood: Teens from Around the World in Their Own Voices

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Blog Tour February 5th

The Project

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Summer Frost

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Surge

Rating: 5 out of 5.

My Review


What I’m Reading

Wife of the Gods

I am reading Wife of the Gods as part of Blackathon, an annual read-a-thon that highlights black authors.

Introducing Detective Inspector Darko Dawson: dedicated family man, rebel in the office, ace in the field—and one of the most appealing sleuths to come along in years. When we first meet Dawson, he’s been ordered by his cantankerous boss to leave behind his loving wife and young son in Ghana’s capital city to lead a murder investigation: In a shady grove outside the small town of Ketanu, a young woman—a promising medical student—has been found dead under suspicious circumstances. Dawson is fluent in Ketanu’s indigenous language, so he’s the right man for the job, but the local police are less than thrilled with an outsider’s interference. For Dawson, this sleepy corner of Ghana is rife with emotional land mines: an estranged relationship with the family he left behind twenty-five years earlier and the painful memory of his own mother’s inexplicable disappearance. Armed with remarkable insight and a healthy dose of skepticism, Dawson soon finds his cosmopolitan sensibilities clashing with age-old customs, including a disturbing practice in which teenage girls are offered to fetish priests as trokosi, or Wives of the Gods. Delving deeper into the student’s haunting death, Dawson will uncover long-buried secrets that, to his surprise, hit much too close to home.


The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

I am reading The Secret Lives of Church Ladies as it was a finalist for the National Book Awards and also on the Tournament of Books longlist.

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.


Just My Luck

My Blog Tour stop for Just My Luck is April 9th.

It was supposed to be the lottery win they’d always dreamed of…

For fifteen years, Lexi and Jake have played the same six numbers with their friends. Over drinks, dinner parties and summer barbecues, the three couples have discussed the important stuff—kids, marriages, careers—and they’ve laughed off their disappointment when they failed to win anything.

But then the unthinkable happens. There’s a rift in the group. Someone is caught in a lie. And soon after, six numbers come up that change everything forever.

Lexi and Jake have a ticket worth millions. And their friends are determined to claim a share.

#1 Sunday Times bestselling author Adele Parks returns with a riveting look at the dark side of wealth in this gripping tale of friendship, money, betrayal and good luck gone bad…


What’s Next

How to Build a Heart

  • Young Adult/ Romance
  • Hardcover, 352 pages
  • Published January 28th 2020 by Algonquin Young Readers

Blood Grove

  • Mystery/Thriller; Easy Rawlins series
  • Hardcover, 320 pages
  • Published February 2nd 2021 by Mulholland Books
Featured

#5 On My TBR – Recced by Friends

Hello All and welcome to my blog! This week our theme for #5 On My TBR is books recommended by our friends. As I have a whopping TBR – 1861 books! – with over 400 on my shelves I chose my selection from the last 5 books that were gifted to me. I have arranged them in alphabetical order by title.

So what is #5 on My TBR you ask?

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 let’s get to it!

#1: A Fall off Marigolds

A beautiful scarf, passed down through the generations, connects two women who learn that the weight of the world is made bearable by the love we give away….

September 1911. On Ellis Island in New York Harbor, nurse Clara Wood cannot face returning to Manhattan, where the man she loved fell to his death in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Then, while caring for a fevered immigrant whose own loss mirrors hers, she becomes intrigued by a name embroidered onto the scarf he carries…and finds herself caught in a dilemma that compels her to confront the truth about the assumptions she’s made. Will what she learns devastate her or free her? 

September 2011. On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, widow Taryn Michaels has convinced herself that she is living fully, working in a charming specialty fabric store and raising her daughter alone. Then a long-lost photograph appears in a national magazine, and she is forced to relive the terrible day her husband died in the collapse of the World Trade Towers…the same day a stranger reached out and saved her. Will a chance reconnection and a century-old scarf open Taryn’s eyes to the larger forces at work in her life?


#2: Fledgling

Fledgling, Octavia Butler’s new novel after a seven year break, is the story of an apparently young, amnesiac girl whose alarmingly inhuman needs and abilities lead her to a startling conclusion: She is in fact a genetically modified, 53-year-old vampire. Forced to discover what she can about her stolen former life, she must at the same time learn who wanted – and still wants – to destroy her and those she cares for and how she can save herself. Fledgling is a captivating novel that tests the limits of “otherness” and questions what it means to be truly human. 


#3: The Kindest Lie

A promise could betray you.

It’s 2008, and the inauguration of President Barack Obama ushers in a new kind of hope. In Chicago, Ruth Tuttle, an Ivy-League educated Black engineer, is married to a kind and successful man. He’s eager to start a family, but Ruth is uncertain. She has never gotten over the baby she gave birth to—and was forced to leave behind—when she was a teenager. She had promised her family she’d never look back, but Ruth knows that to move forward, she must make peace with the past.

Returning home, Ruth discovers the Indiana factory town of her youth is plagued by unemployment, racism, and despair. As she begins digging into the past, she unexpectedly befriends Midnight, a young white boy who is also adrift and looking for connection. Just as Ruth is about to uncover a burning secret her family desperately wants to keep hidden, a traumatic incident strains the town’s already searing racial tensions, sending Ruth and Midnight on a collision course that could upend both their lives.

Powerful and revealing, The Kindest Lie captures the heartbreaking divide between Black and white communities and offers both an unflinching view of motherhood in contemporary America and the never-ending quest to achieve the American Dream.


#4: Song of the Crimson Flower

From the acclaimed author of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns comes a fantastical new tale of darkness and love, in which magical bonds are stronger than blood.

Will love break the spell? After cruelly rejecting Bao, the poor physician’s apprentice who loves her, Lan, a wealthy nobleman’s daughter, regrets her actions. So when she finds Bao’s prized flute floating in his boat near her house, she takes it into her care, not knowing that his soul has been trapped inside it by an evil witch, who cursed Bao, telling him that only love will set him free. Though Bao now despises her, Lan vows to make amends and help break the spell.

Together, the two travel across the continent, finding themselves in the presence of greatness in the forms of the Great Forest’s Empress Jade and Commander Wei. They journey with Wei, getting tangled in the webs of war, blood magic, and romance along the way. Will Lan and Bao begin to break the spell that’s been placed upon them? Or will they be doomed to live out their lives with black magic running through their veins?

In this fantastical tale of darkness and love, some magical bonds are stronger than blood.


#5: The Sum of Us

One of today’s most insightful and influential thinkers offers a powerful exploration of inequality and the lesson that generations of Americans have failed to learn: Racism has a cost for everyone–not just for people of color.

“This is the book I’ve been waiting for.”–Ibram X. Kendi, #1 New York Times bestselling author of How to Be an Antiracist

Heather McGhee’s specialty is the American economy–and the mystery of why it so often fails the American public. From the financial crisis to rising student debt to collapsing public infrastructure, she found a common root problem: racism. But not just in the most obvious indignities for people of color. Racism has costs for white people, too. It is the common denominator of our most vexing public problems, the core dysfunction of our democracy and constitutive of the spiritual and moral crises that grip us all. But how did this happen? And is there a way out?

McGhee embarks on a deeply personal journey across the country from Mississippi to California to Maine, tallying what we lose when we buy into the zero-sum paradigm–the idea that progress for some of us must come at the expense of others. Along the way, she meets white people who confide in her about losing their homes, their dreams, and their shot at better jobs to the toxic mix of American racism and greed. This is the story of how public goods in this country–from parks and pools to functioning schools–have become private luxuries; of how unions collapsed, wages stagnated, and inequality increased; and of how this country, unique among the world’s advanced economies, has thwarted universal healthcare.

But in unlikely places of worship and work, McGhee finds proof of what she calls the Solidarity Dividend: gains that come when people come together across race, to accomplish what we simply can’t do on our own.

The Sum of Us is a brilliant analysis of how we arrived here: divided and self-destructing, materially rich but spiritually starved and vastly unequal. McGhee marshals economic and sociological research to paint an irrefutable story of racism’s costs, but at the heart of the book are the humble stories of people yearning to be part of a better America, including white supremacy’s collateral victims: white people themselves. With startling empathy, this heartfelt message from a Black woman to a multiracial America leaves us with a new vision for a future in which we finally realize that life can be more than zero-sum.

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WWW Wednesdays 1/27

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

The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enriquez

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Your Corner Dark by Desmond Hall

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Mr. Loverman by Bernardine Evaristo

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Buzz Books: Great Reads Spring/Summer 2021 by Publisher’s Lunch

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Follow Me To Ground by Sue Rainsford

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Dispossession by Tayari Jones, narrated by Gabrielle Union

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Prodigal Son by Gregg Hurwitz

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

What I’m Reading

Daughters of Africa, Edited by Margaret Busby

I have fallen behind schedule on my reading of Daughters of Africa. But if I double up over the course of the next few days I should be back on track.

Girlhood: Teens Around the World in Their Own Voices by Masuma Ahuja

At first I started reading this one with my daughter thinking about how awesome it was to see other girls, their dreams and their aspirations. But I do not think she is ready yet to process everything within this book. This book is tailored to a slightly older audience as the statistics sections talk about prevailing attitudes towards women, including abuse and femicide. So I have started to read ahead and preview the stories before hand which I should have been doing in the first place.

Right now I am about halfway through and feel that this is a wonderful anthology. Not only do you get to see the commonalities, but you also get to see the struggles that women in other countries experience. It allows you to see that however hard our road may be we are still fortunate.

The Down Days by Ilze Hugo

I am reading this title for the 2021 Tournament of Books. I had quite a few starts and stops. Not that there was anything wrong with the book but because in my anxiety I was avoiding anything concerning epidemics and quarantines. But now that I have given this book the chance that it deserves I am enjoying it immensely. For those of you participating in a reading around the world challenge, The Down Days is set in South Africa.


What’s Next

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

The Project by Courtney Summers

  • Young Adult/Mystery/ Thriller
  • Hardcover, 352 pages
  • Expected publication: February 2nd 2021 by Wednesday Books
  • 2021 Motley Reading Challenge

Surge by Jay Bernard

  • Poetry
  • Paperback, 58 pages
  • Published June 20th 2019 by Chatto & Windus
  • Life of a Book Addict Color Challenge
Featured

#5 On My TBR – Challenging Reads

Hello Everyone! When I saw this week’s topic – Challenging Reads – I had to stop and pause. What makes a read challenging? I’m going to assume that challenging means different things to each and every one of us. For me, challenging could be something that is very emotional; that will rip my heart raw. It may also be a book with an unusual story ARC or one with a lot of wordplay. Certainly a book that has met with controversy would fit the bill as I would be challenged to keep an open mind.

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 let’s get to it!

Unusual Story Arcs

#1 – Same Same

In the shifting sands of the desert, near an unnamed metropolis, there is an institute where various fellows come to undertake projects of great significance. But when our sort-of hero, Percy Frobisher, arrives, surrounded by the simulated environment of the glass-enclosed dome of the Institute, his mind goes completely blank. When he spills something on his uniform—a major faux pas—he learns about a mysterious shop where you can take something, utter the command “same same,” and receive a replica even better than the original. Imagining a world in which simulacra have as much value as the real—so much so that any distinction between the two vanishes, and even language seeks to reproduce meaning through ever more degraded copies of itself—Peter Mendelsund has crafted a deeply unsettling novel about what it means to exist and to create . . . and a future that may not be far off.


#2 – Killing Commendatore

In Killing Commendatore, a thirty-something portrait painter in Tokyo is abandoned by his wife and finds himself holed up in the mountain home of a famous artist, Tomohiko Amada. When he discovers a previously unseen painting in the attic, he unintentionally opens a circle of mysterious circumstances. To close it, he must complete a journey that involves a mysterious ringing bell, a two-foot-high physical manifestation of an Idea, a dapper businessman who lives across the valley, a precocious thirteen-year-old girl, a Nazi assassination attempt during World War II in Vienna, a pit in the woods behind the artist’s home, and an underworld haunted by Double Metaphors. A tour de force of love and loneliness, war and art—as well as a loving homage to The Great GatsbyKilling Commendatore is a stunning work of imagination from one of our greatest writers. 


Wordplay

#3 – The Liar’s Dictionary

An exhilarating and laugh-out-loud debut novel from a prize-winning new talent which chronicles the misadventures of a lovelorn Victorian lexicographer and the young woman put on his trail a century later to root out his misdeeds while confronting questions of her own sexuality and place in the world.

Mountweazel n. the phenomenon of false entries within dictionaries and works of reference. Often used as a safeguard against copyright infringement.

Peter Winceworth, Victorian lexicographer, is toiling away at the letter S for Swansby’s multivolume Encyclopaedic Dictionary. His disaffection compels him to insert unauthorized fictitious entries into the dictionary in an attempt to assert some sense of individual purpose and artistic freedom.

In the present day, Mallory, a young intern employed by the publisher, is tasked with uncovering these mountweazels before the work is digitized. She also has to contend with threatening phone calls from an anonymous caller. Is the change in the definition of marriage really that upsetting? And does the caller really intend for the Swansby’s staff to ‘burn in hell’?

As these two narratives combine, both Winceworth and Mallory discover how they might negotiate the complexities of the often nonsensical, relentless, untrustworthy, hoax-strewn, and undefinable path we call life. An exhilarating debut novel from a formidably brilliant young writer, The Liar’s Dictionary celebrates the rigidity, fragility, absurdity, and joy of language.


Emotional

#4 – Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror

Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror documents EJI’s multi-year investigation into lynching in twelve Southern states during the period between Reconstruction and World War II. EJI researchers documented 4075 racial terror lynchings of African Americans in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia between 1877 and 1950 – at least 800 more lynchings of black people in these states than previously reported in the most comprehensive work done on lynching to date.

In 2017, EJI supplemented this research by documenting racial terror lynchings in other states, and found these acts of violence were most common in eight states: Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, and West Virginia.

Lynching in America makes the case that lynching of African Americans was terrorism, a widely supported phenomenon used to enforce racial subordination and segregation. Lynchings were violent and public events that traumatized black people throughout the country and were largely tolerated by state and federal officials. This was not “frontier justice” carried out by a few marginalized vigilantes or extremists. Instead, many African Americans who were never accused of any crime were tortured and murdered in front of picnicking spectators (including elected officials and prominent citizens) for bumping into a white person, or wearing their military uniforms after World War I, or not using the appropriate title when addressing a white person. People who participated in lynchings were celebrated and acted with impunity.

The report explores the ways in which lynching profoundly impacted race relations in this country and shaped the contemporary geographic, political, social, and economic conditions of African Americans. Most importantly, lynching reinforced a narrative of racial difference and a legacy of racial inequality that is readily apparent in our criminal justice system today. Mass incarceration, racially biased capital punishment, excessive sentencing, disproportionate sentencing of racial minorities, and police abuse of people of color reveal problems in American society that were shaped by the terror era.

No prominent public memorial or monument commemorates the thousands of African Americans who were lynched in America. Lynching in America argues that is a powerful statement about our failure to value the black lives lost in this brutal campaign of racial violence. Research on mass violence, trauma, and transitional justice underscores the urgent need to engage in public conversations about racial history that begin a process of truth and reconciliation in this country.

“We cannot heal the deep wounds inflicted during the era of racial terrorism until we tell the truth about it,” said EJI Director Bryan Stevenson. “The geographic, political, economic, and social consequences of decades of terror lynchings can still be seen in many communities today and the damage created by lynching needs to be confronted and discussed. Only then can we meaningfully address the contemporary problems that are lynching’s legacy.”


Controversial

#5 – Blood Heir

In the Cyrilian Empire, Affinites are reviled. Their varied gifts to control the world around them are deemed unnatural–even dangerous. And Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess, is one of the most terrifying Affinites.

Ana’s ability to control blood has long been kept secret, but when her father, the emperor, is murdered, she is the only suspect. Now, to save her own life, Ana must find her father’s killer. But the Cyrilia beyond the palace walls is one where corruption rules and a greater conspiracy is at work–one that threatens the very balance of Ana’s world.

There is only one person corrupt enough to help Ana get to the conspiracy’s core: Ramson Quicktongue. Ramson is a cunning crime lord with sinister plans–though he might have met his match in Ana. Because in this story, the princess might be the most dangerous player of all.

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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
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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