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#5 On My TBR – Nonfiction

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

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

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

#2 – The Fact of a Body

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

#3 – Feel Free

From GoodReads: “Gathering in one place for the first time previously unpublished work, as well as already classic essays, such as, “Joy,” and, “Find Your Beach,” Feel Free offers a survey of important recent events in culture and politics,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

#4 – What Your Eyes Don’t See

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

#5 – I Am These Truths

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

Spell the Month in Books

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

O is for One Night in Georgia

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

Rating: 5 out of 5.

C is for Conjure Women

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

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

T is for The Talking Drum

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

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

Check out my interview with Lisa Braxton here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

O is for The Other Americans

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

Rating: 5 out of 5.

B is for Banned Book Club

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

Rating: 4 out of 5.

E is for Empire of Wild

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

Rating: 5 out of 5.

R is for The Revisioners

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

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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

WWW Wednesdays

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

The Three Ws are:

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

What I’ve Read

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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

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


What I am Reading

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

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


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


What I Will Read Next

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

Corona Chronicles: Day 22

Being under quarantine can make it difficult to connect with people outside your home especially if you are enjoying loving up on your family. But I found that it is still important for me to reach out to the other readers. Although overwhelming at first, some aspects of virtual life have proven to be easier to navigate than I thought. Let’s not talk about BlackBoard and Connect right now. I still have a steep learning curve there but never fear –help is on the way. (If only McGraw Hill had capes for their tech support.) But I digress. Back to the books. This week I have found my sanity in the virtual book world. Purchase links for all books mentioned can be found below.

Here are some of the awesome events I have “attended”:

My VLF Virtual Literary Festival

MyVLF is a free online literary event space. It is more than just your everyday book club. Here readers get to explore small presses, attend genre specific festivals and chat live with authors. This past week I had the chance to watch a live interview with Maggie O’Farrell author of Hamnet. Listed on the 2020 Women’s Prize Longlist, this is the story of Shakespeare’s marriage, his wife Agnes and the loss of their son. It has been speculated that this tragedy is the inspiration for Hamlet, one of the Bard’s most famous plays. After seeing this interview with Maggie O’Farrell I am even more motivated to read this book. Release date in the US is July 21, 2020. But those of you who are anxious like me can purchase your copy now through Book Depository.


Bethlehem Area Public Library

Online Reading

BAPL patrons were giving the opportunity to meet acclaimed author Stephanie Powell Watts from the comfort of their couch. Ms. Watts was open and friendly with the audience. She talked about what inspires her stories and characters and described her writing process. In light of most of us living under self imposed quarantine Ms. Watts read stories about what it means to be home from her short story collection No One is Coming to Save Us. Moderated by librarian Kate Racculia, the question and answer session that followed the reading was upbeat and engaging.

In addition to book readings Bethlehem Area Public Library is offering online ESL and language study groups, exercise classes and writing workshops. Check with your local library to see what virtual activities are on their event calendar.


Reading With Family

It’s Not All Downhill From Here by Terry McMillan

From the Blurb: After a sudden change of plans, a remarkable woman and her loyal group of friends try to figure out what she’s going to do with the rest of her life—from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Waiting to Exhale.

My sisters and I are reading It’s Not All Downhill From Here together and discussing it over the phone. It’s a shame it took something like the Covid 19 to get us to do a Buddy Read but so glad that we can connect in this way.


Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson

From the blurb: A timely and powerful story about a teen girl from a poor neighborhood striving for success.

During the quarantine I have been having my teenage son choose a book to read each week. Each Friday at dinner we discuss the book and go over what he liked about it and what insights he has gained. What he especially liked about Piecing Me Together was that it taught him an aspect of history (Lewis and Clark expedition) from a perspective he never considered before. He learned that sometimes you have to be open give things a chance lest you miss out on an amazing opportunity.

Where to Purchase