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Throwback Thursday 4/15

Black Out Poetry by Moi – This is how I do my BuJo thang!

In tribute to poetry month, I decided to highlight an anthology that is near and dear to my heart. Edited by Mahogany L. Browne, Idrissa Simmonds and Jamila Woods, the second volume of The BreakBeat Poets introduced me to several talented Black Women Poets that I continue to follow today. The review below was originally posted on GoodReads on February 7, 2018.


The BreakBeat Poets, Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic

I remember when I first heard Sonia Sanchez speak – the cadence of her voice, the punctuated rhythms of her staccato verse. Like a full bodied wine, the flavor of her words lingered. My body hummed. Somehow she knew my story. She was a griot dispensing a herstory of resilience, defiance and strength. The black woman instead of being confined to one singular definition was appreciated as a diaspora of resplendent colors each owning her individual experience. I walked away that day feeling as if the mantle of power had been passed.

Nikki Giovanni, Audrey Lorde, Rita Dove, June Jordan, Ntozake Shange, bell hooks, Sapphire, Maya Angelou. Reading their words is like a baptism of water and fire. I am cleansed. I am renewed. I am filled.

Black Girl Magic is written in this rich tradition. Edited by Mahogany L. Browne, Idrissa Simmond and Jamila Woods, this anthology continues where Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip Hop left off. This second volume addresses the oversight of African-American women’s contributions to the art that is Hip Hop and fills this void with resounding pieces that rejoice in the splendor and beauty that is the Black woman. These new voices declare that our story is not history but a glorious future filled with hope and promise.


Brief But Spectacular by Mahogany L. Browne

Instead of my usual photograph, please enjoy this living testament of Black Girl Magic:

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Throwback Thursdays 2/25

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

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

My Thoughts

This was a group read for the Mystery/ Thriller Team for Blackathon 2021. It also satisfies the prompt for set in a country outside Europe and the U.S.

In this first installation to the Darko Dawson series a nurse who has been educating people about AIDS has been found dead in the bush. He’s called in from the city to give an outside perspective. We realize quickly how necessary Darko is when the rural police prove themselves to be incompetent and brutal. An innocent man is held for the crime based off of the word of one witness. He is interrogated for hours and beaten as the authorities call for him to assume responsibility for the crime. Even his parents plead with him to confess. They feel this is the only way the abuse will stop. In their minds a jail sentence is better than a death sentence. It doesn’t help that he has a reputation and the witness is of standing in the community.

This case proves very personal for Dawson as it takes place in the town where his mother disappeared many years ago. He also has his own way of handling things. I kept catching myself calling him Detective Desmon by accident. Gave myself quite a laugh as that is my cousin’s name. But I have to believe my cousin would not be upset. Darko is the kind of man who beats men he catches beating on women. When someone abuses his child in the name of faith healing he takes matters into his own hands (quite literally). He makes sure they know NEVER even dare think of touching his son again.

In the end, Darko is tested as the case hits fairly close to home. Wife of the Gods was fast-paced and engaging. I wish I could delve right into the rest of the series now. But alas, work and ARCs are calling my name.


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Artist Cbabi Bayoc, 2012

This week I decided to highlight a painter. Cbabi Bayoc’s 365 Days with Dad is a beautiful tribute to fatherly love. You can purchase his work through his Society 6 page.

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Throwback Thursday 12/24

Merry Christmas Everyone!

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.

For this week’s Throwback Thursday I decided to highlight one of my all time favorite authors – Maya Angelou. I remember when my teacher placed I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in my hands. That book came to me at a point in my life when I needed it most. Then I had the pleasure of meeting Maya Angelou when she came to speak at my local library. Here I was this young girl and I was in awe of her. She seemed larger then life. Her presence filled the whole room. She exuded much grace as her bright smile radiated across her face and alighted upon each and every person in the room. Even in that sea of faces you felt seen, special. There will never be another like her.


Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas

Synopsis

This third book in Maya Angelou’s captivating autobiographical series continues the fascinating saga that has touched and inspired so many readers. In it she recounts her first years as an entertainer that led to a role as Ruby in Porgy and Bess, her failed marriage to a white man, her early motherhood, and her sensitive relationship with her young son.

I picked this one because it had “Christmas” in the title. But you want to start with the first book – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.


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Maya Angelou in Porgy & Bess, 1950s

Maya Angelou, born Marguerite Ann Johnson April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri, was an American poet, memoirist, actress and an important figure in the American Civil Rights Movement. In 2001 she was named one of the 30 most powerful women in America by Ladies Home Journal. Maya Angelou is known for her series of six autobiographies, starting with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, (1969) which was nominated for a National Book Award and called her magnum opus. Her volume of poetry, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘Fore I Die (1971) was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

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Throwback Thursday 12/17

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

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

This week I looked toward my December Get It Done goals and decided to read a book that has been on my TBR for over a year. The Girl Made of Clay has been on my GoodReads shelf since August 29th 2018. I won it in a GoodReads giveaway and don’t even remember why I never got around to reading it. But here I am cleaning up my messes and making good on my promises if albeit I am a day late and a dollar short.

Synopsis

An emotional exploration of the frayed bond between a father and daughter…and what it takes to mend it.

After Sara’s father, famous sculptor Thomas “TR” Harlow, is badly injured in a fire, she’s suddenly forced to care for a man who is more of a stranger than a parent. Once known as his muse, Sara long ago lost her father to his desire to live the celebrity life.

Now TR’s abrasive and unpredictable presence in her home is reopening old wounds—and causing the rift in her already-strained marriage to deepen. As her young son begins bonding with the grandfather he never knew, Sara must decide if she can find it within herself to forgive the man who broke her heart all those years ago. Will she walk away from a chance to rebuild what was lost, or will she find, by bringing her father back to health, that healing can come in many forms?

My Thoughts

I won Girl Made of Clay in a GoodReads giveaway. I’m reading it as part of my December “Get It Done 2020” challenge where I am working towards completing reading tasks and tidying up my TBR.

This story opens up with a terrible fire in which TR Harlow, famous sculptor and artist, is burned over a significant part of his body. But he has burnt all of his bridges and he’s lost most of his money. Instead of living this celebrity life that he’s led in his heyday he’s now pretty much by himself. We also get the sense that he is not telling the authorities the truth about how the fire got started. It’s obvious that he is hiding something. When he’s asked who will come to the hospital to retrieve him and act as his caretaker, in a medicated stupor, he gives the name of his estranged daughter. These opening moments are tense as Sara is unsure of what to do. She hasn’t seen her father in years. When he left the family when she was young and vulnerable. She was his muse. And yet he left her with a mother who suffered from mental illness. Most of her formative years were in distress. If her mother didn’t abuse her, in the very least she neglected her. Knowing this, how could TR simple walk away? For her there are deep wounds. And each time she saw him celebrating his successes it felt like he was purposefully rubbing salt into these wounds.

Sara is not sure if she can forgive TR for her lost childhood. She had to grow up really fast and usually her mother’s needs came first. Now in her present life as a wife and a mother she still puts herself last. She still is finding herself in a position where other people aren’t putting her first either.

Does she leave the past to rest and reconcile with her father? How does she express the pain and abandonment issues she has to this stranger who shares her blood? Can she trust him enough to be vulnerable and open up her heart to a second chance?

Meier takes her time showing us this emotional journey. We get to see how these past transgressions affect both father and daughter and the long lasting ripple effects these wounds have on their current relationships. Personally, I feel like there should have been more said by TR. I don’t feel as if his explanation was enough or that his character was held accountable for his actions in the past or the present. I also feel as if Sara’s husband was lacking as well. I truly think that Meier took the easy way out with these men, oversimplifying their behaviors and not holding them to task.


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Audrey Hepburn Photographed by Richard Avedon 1953

Signing off. Hope we get to talk books soon!

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Throwback Thursday 12/10

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.

All the Bad Apples is one of those titles that fell off of my radar as my TBR bloomed. I rediscovered it when prompted to read a book with apple in the title for a December reading challenge on GoodReads.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis

The day after the funeral all our mourning clothes hung out on the line like sleeping bats. ‘This will be really embarrassing,’ I kept saying to my family, ‘when she shows up at the door in a week or two.’

When Deena’s wild and mysterious sister Mandy disappears – presumed dead – her family are heartbroken. But Mandy has always been troubled. It’s just another bad thing to happen to Deena’s family. Only Deena refuses to believe it’s true.

And then the letters start arriving. Letters from Mandy, claiming that their family’s blighted history is not just bad luck or bad decisions – but a curse, handed down through the generations. Mandy has gone in search of the curse’s roots, and now Deena must find her. What they find will heal their family’s rotten past – or rip it apart forever.

My Thoughts

At first I thought this book was a YA fantasy about a family of women that were under a curse. That if it was deemed by the rest of the family that they were bad apples that they would suffer this doomed fate. I didn’t quite get what the specific details of that fate would be beyond visitation by banshees, broken bone combs, bodily scratches and the ghost of a bull. Was she going to die? Be tortured mercilessly? Be trapped in purgatory? I just wasn’t sure. But as the book opens up with a teenaged girl Deena on the verge of her 17th birthday coming out to her sister we get a sense that whatever this fate is, it will befall her. Especially after her father walks in on her revelation. And certainly after both of her sisters reactions. They implore her to remain quiet about her sexuality and emphasize how important it is for her to appear to be a “good girl”, a normal nice good girl.

I was kind of surprised that with this storyline that this book is set in 2012. But as the story goes on you learn more about Deena’s family history and how the curse came about, you come to realize that bad apples include women who were deemed to be too pretty, women who spoke their mind, women who had boyfriends, women who were raped.

The afterword by Moira Fowley-Doyle gave me more insight into the crux of the book and why she why she chose to use these women to represent this time frame. In it she talks about the Magdalene houses in Ireland and how up until 1996 they operated without much oversight. Because there was no separation of church and state thousands of women were sent to these homes for anything construed as being deviant behavior. She explains how abortion was illegal until 2019 and punishable by 14 years in jail. How she was compelled by the death of Savita Halappanavar to tell this story. Halappanavar had suffered an incomplete miscarriage and was denied surgery to remove what remained in her womb. As the physician explained, her request went against Irish Catholic law. On October 28, 2012 Savita died from sepsis,one week after being admitted to the hospital.

Fowley – Doyle also talks about how two school boys discovered bodies that were buried in a mass grave near Tuam, County Galway. It was excused away at first as being from the famine. It turns out that more than likely these bones were the bones of children who were born at the Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home.

Research was conducted by Catherine Corless who pulled up the records of all of the children born into this home and found there were 796 children, babies whose bodies were unaccounted for. They were not buried in any of the local cemeteries. The Bon Secours Mother and Baby home was open from 1925 – 1961. Using this figure Corless estimated that one child died within those walls every two weeks. One baby every two weeks. 796 children unaccounted for.

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Eartha Kitt – Gordon Parks 1952

Signing off. Hope we get to talk books soon!

Throwback Thursday 11/26

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

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

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

My Original Review

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


Throwback Pics

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

Signing off. Hope we get to talk books soon!

Throwback Thursday 11/19

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

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

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

My Original Review

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

Other lessons that can be gleaned from this book:

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

The definition of Genius –

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

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

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

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

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


Throwback Pic

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

Signing off. Hope we get to talk books soon!

Throwback Thursday 11/12

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

Signing off. Hope we get to talk books soon!

Throwback Thursday #3

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

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


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

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My Review

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


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

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


Throwback Pic

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

Signing off. Hope we get to talk books soon!

Throwback Thursday #2

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

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


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

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

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

Signing off. Hope we get to talk books soon!