ALL THINGS BOOKS
Books that I absolutely adore!!
My 5 🌟 recommendations for you
I have sooooooo many favorite books and it's really hard to narrow down a list but I tried my best to share the ones that I've been drawn to reading multiple times. Here Goes!!!
Before I Let Go
Kennedy Ryan has yet again, given us another stunner! A beautiful, raw, passionate, pearl clutching, stunner in Before I Let Go. This book & all its characters have left me in a chokehold since I devoured it days ago. Still all in my feelings!
My takeaways..... is that grief and grieving is hard. It's hard, it complicated, it does not work with anyones timetable, it takes work that sometimes not even love can fix. I love how Yas gave herself the chance to recognize that her healing and recovery are primary & necessary, not for the kids, not for Si but for her!
Black love is powerful man...there's a soul deep connection between Yas and Si in this book that will capture your heart & bend it. A connection that will want you to reach into the pages and either hug them or shake the life out of them.
Therapy works...we have Dr. Musa and Dr. Abrams here to thank for it. Black men have historically avoided therapy because its a sign of weakness and we need to do more in our communities to change that misconception.
This book details some of the most authentically written scenes about therapy in action that I've read, dare I say, across both fiction and nonfiction genres. I genuinely find this story powerful enough to change lives to those who are open minded.
I love how we saw how the divorce and transitions affected the children. Often times their needs are overlooked in the midst of adult crisis and I think Deja showed us that well. Was she bratty and needed some good old fashioned discipline? Yes, yes she did. But Deja was also coping the best her teenage mind knew how to.
This is more than just a romance book, its the realistic look at a family in crisis. A look at how trauma is complex enough to shutter the mind & body, how time seems irrelevant to what this family is going through & how they will get through it but growth, its growth that will prevail. More than anything, this book is about forgiving yourself for not knowing what you didnt know until you had to learn it.
The Grip Trilogy
Make no mistake, this book is an ode to love like I've NEVER read before but at its core, its a dedication to all the innocent incarcerated Black men, suffering at the hands of a broken justice system, systematic racism, unchecked biases and preconceived notions about who we think people are.
Its holding on to your lifelines in the time of insurmountable grief, when life gets so dark and you have to crawl your way out of the depths of hurt. It's love, it's joy, it's family, it's deep and raw and intense, it's sexy as hell and it's knowing that no matter where you are from, you can always dwell in possibilities.
I dont know when I'll be able to put together a coherent string of words to adequately desribe how this book made me feel.
Ms. Ryan. I THANK YOU! I cannot thank you enough for the work you did here!💕 the ID absolutely my favorite book of 2022!
This is one of my favorite books of 2022!!! Prepare to have your mind blown! I 100% recommend that you read this book!
Happy Monday Booksta Friends! How are you all doing?
I've been over here grieving the end of Mr. Loverman since I finished it a few days ago! Barry should be bookstagrams favorite grandpa.
There's nothing I can say about Mr. Loverman that hasn't been said already. I loved this book, I enjoyed every single page and everything that each character brought to it. Barry is not your average guy ok. He's funny, he's charming yet shallow and fiesty, he's incredibly flawed and he has a way with words that makes you want to sit and have deep conversations with him. He's that Caribbean grandfather that has a lot to say when given a glass of rum.
He's also masking alot under that self-deprecating way he perceives his life and sexuality. Barry is at a cross roads between his loveless marriage and the life he dreams of with his long time gay lover. Had it not been for the humorous undertone weaved into this story, it would've been a rather sad one. Post-partum depression, homophobia, infidelity, complex parent child dynamics just touches the surface of what we get in this book.
I did not expect Barry and Morris' relationship to be written in this way. I went in expecting it to be an exploration of what could be but found that Morris was indeed already an active, consistent presence! It was bold, it was brave and I loved it considering the colonial, anti queer Caribbean upbringing of these two men. As much as Barry had to say about his overly progressive daughter and grandson, guess who became his most trusted allies!?
I pitied Carmel and as her story unfolded, I couldn't help but think that sometimes secrets aren't always secrets, they're just things we choose not to see. I admired the choices she later made for herself. My only regret with this book? That I didn't read it sooner! Also, I will never be able to listen to Mr. Loverman by Shabba the same way again, ever after that scene! IYKYK.
You are going to want to pick this one up! Reading this felt like sitting on a Verandah listening to Ma Taffy impart words of wisdom. This book hits so close to home with current events. Read it!
The Love Songs of W.E.B Du Bois
I used to laugh and roll my eyes at The Love Songs of W.E.B Du Bois posts that said: "you're going to fly through this book" or "you're going to want more when you're done."
Umm, how? Do we not have the same size thickum? I was so intimated by the size of this book y'all. The longest books I've read was the entire Outlander series and that took me years! I wasn't ready to go down that road again.
But...I started this beauty yesterday and I've since humbled myself with the eye rolling because you all were right, I AM flying through this book! It is as captivating and gripping as everyone says so it flies by at a decent pace. I'm not rushing it though, this is a story to be savored so I'll be settling in with this one for the rest of the month.
Update: 5 star read, all time favorite. You SHOULD read this book!
You Made A Fool Of Death With Your Beauty
Click the link for all the tea on this story!
Seven Days In June
I've found my new favorite fictional couple. The synopsis did not prepare me for the feelings and experiences this book gave me. Every character sprung to life and I adored it. Shane and Eva were everything! This story showed how important it is to work on ourselves, committing to the journey of overcoming everything life has thrown at us to be our best selves, whatever that might look like.
Relationships with ourselves, families, spouses and friends take hard, transparent work and is not always hearts and flowers but can and should still be joyful. I'm writing this on a whim and really can't explain yet how much this story meant to me. It tackled some heavy issues but enjoyable, sexy, hopeful and refreshing none the less. I wouldn't mind getting more of Shane, Eva and Audre, especially Audre in the future.
I'm excited to know your thoughts if you've read this! And if you haven't, I hope it's on your tbr!
Butter Honey Pig Bread
This will be your next 5 star read. You're welcome.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
This is one of the best memoirs I've read. Deeply personal, relatable and in true Obama fashion, very classy
Caste By Isabel Wilkerson
This book is everything we need to learn in high school, college, at the dining table, in the church halls, on the streets. Filled with rich, well thought out racial and social justice history and pure brilliance.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
This book took my breath away. Prepare to be on a rollercoaster ride of emotions and mouth-left-hanging-wide moments. Get this book.
The Girl with the Louding Voice
The book will consume you and take your heart and soul, in a good way. You will love Adunni, who goes through some things Breathtakingly painful yet resilient, brave, courageous and heartbreakingly humorous.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
One of the finest historical fiction novels of our time. This book takes survival and bravery to the next level. Get this book.
Genesis Begins Again
YA novel with female protagonist learning to love and accept her dark skin and herself. Powerful themes of colorism, poverty, substance abuse and family resiliency explored
Book Reviews —
My Book Thoughts & Reflections
Olga Dies Dreaming
Well this book was not at all what I expected!
First of all, huge appreciation for the Puerto Rican history and representation in this book! I learned and enjoyed so much from it!
But.......Olga, oh Olga! What are you doing girl? To give some context, Olga, in a lot of ways reminded me of Queenie (if you've read that book you know) and that surprised me!. I found myself simultaneously rolling my eyes, yelling and championing for Olga.
The background cultural context and her complex relationship with her family and mother made me understand what drove some of her decisions. But that didn't stop me from wanting to shake her a time or two.
Speaking of mother, I've added this book to the list of the most toxic parent-child books I've read; Olga and Prieto's mother Blanca, a central focus of this story, had zero redeeming qualities about her but that also made me wonder if that's my own judgment towards Blanca's decisions at play, rather than just accepting the woman for who she is; one that accepted her calling and lived her life on her terms regardless of who got hurt in the process. Even if it meant abandoning her children.
This book shows how even as adults, despite years of generational trauma, we never stop needing our parents' affection and attention.
Prieto, my heart hurt for Prieto. An all around great guy who's trying to save his community, his family, his relationship with his mother, his identity and he loves fearlessly, to a fault. He did not deserve the cards that were dealt to him.
I'm not one to read politically themed books but I must say the politics was infused really well here and gave light to real life issues (gentrification, LGBTQ stigma in the Caribbean community, political exploitation, AIDS taboo), they all felt totally relatable.
I didnt care much for Olga's love interests and was more invested in her family dynamics and there was no shortage of drama there!
You definitely should pick this one up. Overall a solid read that will give you a range of emotions!
Just going to keep this short and sweet. This is my third CoHo book and at this point there's nothing that she writes that I won't read, nothing!!!! She stays on my autobuy list. Tate, Rachel and Miles were everything! Everything!
A Caribbean Heiress in Paris
Listen!!! I am in desperate need of more Luz Alana, Lord Evan and The Leona's!! There was not one thing not to love about this book! Luz was a force that fiercly defended and represented her Caribbean family history and her country! This Dominican Hieress was not to be played with...in the bedroom or in the "boardroom" and she made that fact known! I'm utterly in love with this book! The research, the romance, the frienships, the rivalry, the family drama, the banter between Luz and Evan was quite entertaining! It's everything I look for in a well written HF book and y'all....the best part? I was not ready for all that steam!!!!!!! You better go read this book. I'm on high already for book 2s release.
The Dating Playbook
This book was pure, swoon worthy fun! I loved Taylor and Jamar! They both went through so much fighting their own demons but what excited me the most was their vulnerability individually and as a couple. Give me a fine ass man that is not afraid to let a woman know exactly what he wants and beg for it if he needs to!!! Jamar did that! And their connection and chemistry felt so genuine and real. I'm not generally a fan of fake dating trope but I must say, I stood behind this one! And the frienships!!! Let's talk about these ladies in this book because is this frienship goals or what??? Women who keep it REAL real with each other, show genuine support emotionally and tangibly and not afraid to check each other when boundaries are pushed....I loved it!! Ate up all of this. I read The Boyfriend Project last year but this is my favorite of the two. I cannot wait to dive into London's story next. Read this book!
Half Blown Rose
I had a love/hate relationship with this book. It was equally pleasurable and infuriating for me. Here's what I enjoyed:
•The writing!!! Beautiful and very representing of the characters geographic locations in the book. It's very dreamy and magical and blunt.
•The Paris and Europe travels! They were romantic, intimate, beautiful, descriptive and I enjoyed every moment of Loup & Vincent's travels. I really felt like I was there star gazing on a warm summer night by the canal or leisurely people watching at the side walk cafe!
•I enjoyed the family get togethers. They written so much joy and tenderness.
•Loup. I loved Loup & all his quirkiness. He can be sexy, intense, passionate, sometimes immature but very romantic and I loved him!
•the characters are funny! I had a few genuine laugh out loud moments, especially during some weird conversations.
What I didn't like?
•I did not care for the husband, Cillian. There's something about him that made him the Villain for me.
•I understand that Vincent felt betrayed and while I don't care for her husband, she dragged the whole situation much further than she needed which made parts of the story slow and annoying.
•Vincent wanted the best of both worlds, i think. She wanted her marriage & her lover and I think her indecisiveness was grossly unfair to both men who were deeply in love with her.
•she used Cillian's betrayal as justification for her affair. As much as she denied it, that's what happened and girlfriend was wrong for doing that.
OMG! Black Love at its finest! This is the last book I read in 2021 and to say I ended the year with a bang in the romance genre, would be an understatement!
I shared in my stories that since reading Seven Days In June Seven months ago, I've been searching high and low for a Black romance story that can give the same feels. That search ended December 31st.
This book is exquisite. Neevah and Canon, Dessi and Cal's story is love in motion. The chemistry is jarring and not only in the romance scenes but especially when Neevah had to confront estranged family tension and reconcile. Raw, real, passionate, enduring. It's everything, really. The steam!!!!! 🍆🍆🍆🍆🍆
Romance lovers and friends looking to dip into the romance genre this year, pick this one up. I'm just gonna put myself out there and say you will not regret it!
The Thing Around Your Neck
The Thing Around Your Neck~ A short story collection that I would love to see more of in this space.
Set in Nigeria, UK and US, each story gives fresh perspective on navigating life in Nigeria and immigrants facing uncertainties of living in a foreign country.
From experiences with custom officers to cold basement apartments to white college campuses, Chimamanda did what Chimamanda always does in her books; lay it all out there, raw and transparent.
My favs from the 12 story collection:⬇️
💫On Monday of Last Week~ A recent Nigerian immigrant lands her first job in America and is questioning whether her feelings for her female boss is respect....or love.
💫The Thing Around Your Neck~ A young Nigerian woman finds herself in an interracial relationship where cultures clash and glaring truths about racism are revealed. "the trick was to understand America, to know that America was give and take. You gave up a lot but you gained alot too". This story reminded me of something my grandmother always said; this country can make you or break you.
💫The American Embassy~ A grieving mother seeks asylum after her only child is killed and husband is sent into political exile abroad. Mothers tend to sacrifice everything to save their families but in the end are rarely the heroes. This story was heartbreaking.
💫In The Shivering~ A young woman grieving the end of a relationship has lost herself and asks of her ex, "how can you love somebody and yet want to manage the amount of happiness that person is allowed." My thoughts as I read this? You gotta love yourself first baby girl!
Yinka Where is Your Huzband
Yinka, Yinka, Yinka!!!! This book was so entertaining and relatable! I've never felt so seen in a story! 15 year old me could relate, 20 year old me could relate, 30 year old me could relate. I'm now older and wiser and still can relate! Obviously, I'm not a Nigerian woman but so much of what Yinka has been through is common across many cultures.
Imagine having everything you think you wanted in your life but damn family and societal standards tell you, it's not enough!? Forget what you've accomplished, it means nothing if you dont have a Huzband?!! Isn't it hard enough being Black and a Woman?
As I read about Yinka and her family all I could think of was how I'm waiting for the day that Yinka throws that whole wig away and start showing herself some love!
Did Yinka make some questionable, irrational choices in her pursuit of love? Of course she did! But I didn't find her to be desperate (ok, maybe her google searches were a bit extreme but still, i get it😅), she had a need, a void to be filled that could only come from herself. I wanted her to realize that she'll find the best things in life when she stops looking, stop selling herself short by trying to be who the world says she should be.
Whewwww, Yinka love, I cheered for you, I really did and I'd love to read about an older Yinka to see how things unfold. Also, I liked Donovan but dare I say this was more about Yinka finding herself, navigating family and friendships rather than a romantic connection?
Lovely debut, highly recommend.
I loved the writing and I enjoyed these characters! The women of Memphis are the epitome of strength, surviving racism and civil war era South. Hazel, Ms. Dawn, Miriam, August, Joan; I wanted more!
The book is told from multiple point of views spanning three generations of women, past and present. If there's ever a book that showed what it means to show up for family (blood or otherwise), this would be it; in the good times and in times of incredible hardship and pain.
Miriam's actions as a mother showed the difficult decisions one has to make as a parent, running from one demon to protect your child and running straight into another.
I loved Joan fiercly! How traumatic that must have been for her to return to her mother's childhood home. The strength it took for her to not only face her pain head on but to pursue her passion regardless of who believed in her.
There are difficult themes in this story: rape, domestic violence, racism, death of a loved one, but there's also joy and hope and love. My favorite parts were Joan and Mya. I would love a novel focusing on Mya, her spirit and personality came to life on these pages. The book captured the essence of the South so distinctly and the writing is incredible.
Solid debut, pick this one up if you haven't yet.
Book Review: The Girl with the Louding Voice ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Adunni took my whole heart and soul! This book broke me for so many reasons but mostly because there are still so many Adunni's out there, living the reality of this fictional character. So many times I kept thinking, can't this girl catch a break?!! The words that came up for me throughout the book are; resiliency, bravery, fate and heartbreakingly humorous. I've always believed that just enough humor or "positive vibe" can get you through the impossible and this, along with her determination is what I think carried Adunni through.
As for Big Madam, what I see is this; hurt people hurt people. Big Madam is both an abuser and a victim in so many ways and she coped in the most vicious way possible. I absolutely loved every detail of this book. The author's description of Nigerian culture felt so intimate, I could almost feel myself walking through the markets during that scene in Lagos. Yes, I wanted to know so much more about the family reconciling and so one but anyway, if you haven't picked up this book yet, what are you waiting on?
The Unhoneymooners 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟When was the last time that you absolutely fell in love with a book character? This happens to me quite often but #theunhoneymooners really left me smitten with Olive and Ethan. Two polar opposite and longtime nemesis who pretend marriage on a honeymoon trip after the actual newlyweds weren't able to go. This isn't your typical, predictable love story. I had sooooo many LOL moments you will love this one well after the last page!!
❇⭐⭐⭐⭐❇ Who else read and fell in love with Such a Fun Age? This book was so unexpected and even though it left me wanting a little bit more, the storyline is so neccessary right now. The overt and subtle racial charges and microagressions will leave you reeling. Emira and her girl crew are squad goals, Briar stole my heart with all her adorableness and Alix is just creepy and needs to be checked. Overall, while I didnt get the ending I hoped for, this was a good read! Also, I wore my #girlpower shirt today because the system ain't shit and needs to be reminded!
When No One is Watching
When No one is Watching is a story about the reality embedded in many American neighborhoods today. The book tells the story from two POV, a Black woman who's witnessing the gentrification of her neighborhood and fights to prevent it and a White man who's living the benefits of it. What makes the book scary for me is that there is so much truth in this story. The cause and effect of social injustice, racism, classism, substance abuse crisis play an important role in how gentrification is experienced. The topics are very well researched and relevant but the execution was slow; all the action was in the last quarter of the book and sometimes I almost DNF to be quite honest. Also, I was disappointed in the unrealistic feel of the ending, considering the book highlighted so much rich historical context that has been the lived experience of so many people.
My Sister the Serial Killer: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Wow, here's a book I love! What a story! This booked lived up to the hype for me. It's a solid, fast paced and unpredictable read that will leave you torn between two sisters. It's amazing the lengths that one can go for the sake of protecting family...or protecting oneself under the guise of protecting family. As I read, I kept asking myself, what would I do if I were Korede? And what the hell is really going on in Ayoode's mind? More importantly though, are the subtle and overt highlights of trauma, mental illness, domestic violence and how these impact the sacrifices we make for the ones we love. I absolutely loved this book and would recommend it!
The Voting Booth Review
The Voting Booth is a cute, timely and relevant YA that i recommend for the young adults in your lives. What I liked was that the book not only focused on the voting process but also realistic challenges that will be important for young adults to recognize as they make their decisions at the polls. The story is told from Marva and Duke's POV. They are strangers who form a connection while voting but Duke has issues casting his ballot and Marva comes to the rescue. They experience first hand voter suppression when voting centers are closed unexpectedly or run out of ballots. Marva is an advocate and a fighter. She does not take no for an answer and im impressed with her leadership qualities. The book describes the power of white privilege and how easy it is to make a decision not to vote when the issues at hand does not affect you. I love how the book described the nuances of interracial marriage and relationships both from the young adult and the adult perspective. I appreciated how the author showed trauma and grief being experienced differently within the same family. The topics are heavy but doesn't take away from the cute teenage romance scenes that pops up.
While this was a good book with some seriously heavy and necessary topics, what I didn't like is that it felt overly packed with said issues for a YA novel. It could have easily been overwhelming. The book would have been just as impactful with less triggering issues being explored all at once.
Overall, its a cute, romantic and hopeful book that I'd recommend for the young adults in your life.
The Secret Lives of Church Ladies
"There's book smart and there's life smart," she said. "If you was life smart, you wouldn't try and be anything like me."
I've read and reread this book this week and I'm still left in awe. There's nothing I can write here to give the author justice for her creativity on these pages. I felt completely transported. These ladies are raw, vulnerable, fearless and real as they battle between faith, sexual desires and family. There are times when I'm so engrossed in a story and my thoughts are back at my grandmother's dining table or at my cousins backyard barbecue or reliving my younger testy teenage days. I'm also fascinated with how the church is viewed as a system that's comforting and healing for some while completely repressive for others. These stories will transport you beyond the words on the pages and if you have not read it yet, you definitely should. My only complaint, I wanted more!
My Favorite: Peach Cobbler
My Alter Ego: Instructions for Married Christian Husbands
Book Review: Ayiti⭐⭐⭐⭐
Trigger warning: Trauma, sexual assault
Roxanne Gay does it again with her talented collection of short stories. The stories are as real, they are gripping and they are hopeful. There's a perfect balance between tragedy and humor that Gay is well known for. Her writing describes the characters vascillating between past and present, navigating the immigrant experience as they search for an American dream that they cannot find. The horrors and sacrifices that they endure for the sake of a better life are heartbreaking. Even then, I admired the determination to hold on to their autonomy, culture and respect which is so easy to lose over time as an immigrant. The yearning for home is real and is felt on every single page. As I read these stories, I was reminded of my own experience walking off of that airplane at JFK as a child thinking, well this is not how it looks on TV! Overall, I loved these stories. The characters are moving and easy to connect with, these are real stories for many immigrant families. This is a book I definitely recommend for your tbr!
My favorite: Sweet on the Tongue
Memorial by Bryan Washington
I really wanted to love this book but it in the end it turned out just ok for me. What is left unsaid is heard clearer than what is said in this story. Ben and Mike are cute, their personalities are catchy but communication is severely lacking in their relationship and it makes you wonder how and why they bother to tolerate each other. They navigate life and love in an ebb and flow of unspoken emotions and expectations as they manage complicated relationships, grief, family dynamics, acceptance. This missed opportunities to expound on these issues were frustrating and felt incomplete. Food plays an important role and might be the best vehicle through which the families communicate and bond. I wouldn't consider this a page turner but it randomly surprises and holds you until you think you're going to get more but I personally felt like I was left hanging.
Wow, no thank you by Samantha Irby
Wow, no thank you:⭐⭐⭐⭐
I have a deep appreciation for people who has been through everything that's meant to break them but still do not take themselves too seriously. If you can identify with that statement, I'm taking tips! It takes a different kind of skill to master self deprecating humor without coming off too pitiful. Samantha Irby shows us just how to do that. If you're in the mood for a book that feels like a light hearted conversation with your blunt bestie then these essays are for you. Her writing carries an easy, lyrical flow and says all the things that you're thinking but is either too embarrassed to say or can't find words to properly describe. In her essays I hear someone who has turned hardship and flaws and made it work for her in her own unique way, social norms be damned! She is just that real. To give you some context without spoiling too much, there's an entire essay titled: Yes, sex is nice, but have you ever.....? Need I say more? Pick this one up if you haven't!
Royal Holiday Review
This was the perfect book to start my holiday season. Royal Holiday is sweet, it's delightful and Vivian and Malcolm will leave you will both suspense and hope. I love the different take on this story from previous Guillory novels. This story follows a middle aged couple navigating life after divorce, long distance love, cultural differences with the right touch of charm. I loved it!
Genesis Begins Again Review
Genesis Begins Again
Let me start by just getting to it. I absolutely loved this book! All five stars for this beautiful story that's made for all our Black girls who were ever told that you are invisible, less than, not light enough, won't be good enough because of the color of their beautiful black skin. I read this book from two perspectives; an adult parent and my 13 year old self and the connections were astounding. In this middle grade book, Genesis represents the young girl who sought validation over self love and who required validation for self love. The young girl who tries to make sense of the senseless decisions of adults by watching poverty, alcoholism, trauma and colorism determine your place in society and even within your own family. Imagine what it feels like to think; if only I was a little lighter Daddy would pay the rent! So many times I caught myself yelling at Genesis; NO, just stop! But I got it, I understood her and her why.
This book is written for every black girl who just wants to belong, to be seen, to be understood, to be known as just as good as and also finding friendships in the most unlikely places!! It's for the parents who have ever been caught between a rock and a hard place because guess what? Self fulfilling prophecies are real. When people keep telling you the same negative things and question your decisions over and over again, gradually, unconsciously your behaviors begin to reflect the same negative things while simultaneously trying prove that they are wrong! I read Genesis's parents' strory and thought about myself as a parent and how important it is for me to unlearn alot of what I learned as a child in order to be a better parent.. whewww chile!!
Most of all, this story was really about survival.. because until you really find yourself, especially as a young Black girl or woman, that's what you're really doing. Surviving. When I tell you this book connected! It connected. I'm incredibly happy that my daughter is alive in a time when representations like these are being written.
In a Holidaze ⭐⭐⭐💫
I promise you this was not a case of Bookstagram made me do it. I've been fascinated with this author duo after reading The Unhoneymooners and binging their Beautiful series over the summer so my expectations were high for this book and in the end it came together. After wrapping my head around the dizzying time traveling saga I started to find a few things that I liked about this story. Not to take anything from Mae, but can we just give it up for Uncle Benny? The man just always comes through! I also chose this book because its the holiday season and wanted books that matched my love for all things Christmas. This book resonated in that way. I appreciated the family connections, traditions and even the willingness to shake things up a bit when it comes to family norms. Usually, by the time we get to Christmas there are a lot of elephants sitting in our dining rooms and this story showed how the holidays can overcome the most uncomfortable moments and still stay connected. The characters were cute, funny and entertaining and offered a satisfying romantic escape. Was this my favorite Christina Lauren novel? Probably not but I'd still say give it a go just because...after all, it's the holiday!
A Million Aunties- Review
"Lose a mother, gain a million aunties"
One of the best things about reading is being able to get so immersed in the characters on a personal and cultural level that just connects. I chose this book for this reason, the title and premise gave a good hunch that this story would be relatable and also, if you grew up with a family like mine, every adult family friend was Aunty! Imagine my delight when my hometown was highlighted as a setting in the story and the mentioning of familiar landmarks, foods, cultural practices and values really held me.The story is told from multiple pov but follows the pratoginist Christopher as he journey's through his healing process after a tragic loss. There was a lot that was unpacked in this tiny book. It tackles complex family relationships, the long lasting impact of death and how grief manifests itself in a variety of ways. Colorism, LGBTQIA representation and gender stereotypes linked to career choices are explored and the thing that binds these pieces together; Art. Throughout these challenges, the characters show up for each other in friendships and communities, very reminiscent of the "it takes a village" practice even well beyond our childhood years and hence the million aunties in the context of this book. This book is unbearably tragic but just as heartwarming and entertaining. It presented in the form of a short story rather than a novel to me and because of this I felt like I didn't get as much from these beautiful characters as I would have liked. Overall, I enjoyed this book and certainly would recommend it.
Homegoing Review ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
There was a meme floating around recently that said an author can take you on a magically journey and also break you. Homegoing did just that as it followed a family lineage from slavery to freedom, across continents from the Tribal compounds in Africa to the cotton fields and post civil war North America. Each characters' experience is tragic, its sorrowful and packed with raw unmatched emotions and as a reader, i felt all of that. Simultaneously sad, enraged and hopeful.
From Effia, Aku, James, Quay, Esi, Sam, Kojo, Pinkey, Abena, H, Yaw, Willie, Sonny, Marjorie came stories so brilliantly and flawlessly written, I couldn't help but get immersed in their minds. I got everything I needed from each characters' story to understand them, their loss of opportunities to discover the richness and beauty of their land, their ancestry and even themselves. Their suffrage and sacrifices are well beyond physical and emotional pain and blood relations means little or alot when it comes to survival and loyalty. Can we talk about the women in this book! I lost count of the number of times babies and children were ripped from the arms of their mothers; a sure way to guarantee that hurt, control and power was felt and known. In part ll, freedom is earned but is it given? I think Marjorie and Marcus' story answers that question well. Families try to flee the Jim Crow South but sometimes running only creates a physical distance, not a mental one.
As I read this book I couldn't help but reflect on the lyrics of the great Bob Marley that said "emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds" but how do you free your mind from the mental scars of violation, oppression, supression, capitalism, white privilege, the invisible yet ever present enemies of slavery and history? Fiction as this book might be, these stories are very real and boy is there still more work to be done! I don't have enough stars to give this book. It's a masterpiece. Please read it.
Transcendent Kingdom Review
Brilliantly written. I knew the exact moment I fell in love with this book; after Gifty contemplates the Bible verse "pray without ceasing" and her mother says to her "live your life as if its a prayer". That whole chapter was an aha! moment. Gyasi explores where the lines where mental health, science and religion intersect. The lines get blurry and it's possible that one can begin to question the validity of everything they've been taught, as Gifty constantly does in this novel. Another blurred line appears with the issue of substance use versus substance misuse and it makes me wonder when exactly does this shift happen and why? What makes something that's meant to heal you, harm you and what happens to self control and restraint when you cross that line. Gifty's on a quest to understand her mother's and brother's disease while growing into and out of her faith. Predictably and logic is what she depends on for unanswered questions since emotions are unreliable and the Bible is interpreted subjectively. Her science experiments mirrors real life, parallels all the questions she's seeking to answer but somehow, unofficially already knew from her own family experiences. I appreciated the transitions between time spans that follows Gifty and Nana throughout their developmental stages. It allowed me to easily follow the characters' development navigating immigration, cultural assimilation, racism, grief, the sacrifice and compromises that comes with the "American Dream", all while fighting the invisible enemy of mental illness. Also, that surprise ending! I wasn't ready for that little heart-tugger in the end and I loves it. I have a deep appreciation for this story. As a social worker, this story resonates professionally as I watch individuals battle with the conflict of science that does not lie, treatment that is hard to accept and faith that ebbs and flows. It is not an easy feat. That said, I loved this book and Yaa Gyasi is on auto buy for me.
This is my first book by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi and it certainly will not be my last. I was completely immersed in rich Ugandan culture and I devoured it like I was physically there. Manchester Happened is a short story collection that immaculately details the period of great migration from Uganda to Brittain. The writing flows seamlessly and in no time I was captivated by each characters story, I even enjoyed the references made in Luganda language that I had to research to keep up to speed with the conversations. Here, we're introduced to Ugandan culture, cultural assimilation in Britain, the nuances of migrating for a better life. The characters' experiences challenges their mental and physical ability to survive a new country, but among all of this is hope and resilience. In these stories we meet international students navigating an immigration system compared to a war zone, wives giving in to submission because what's the alternative when changing your identity is easier that being deported on the next flight home. If Katura and Malik is not an example of all of this, I don't know what is. The value of a passport is sometimes worth more than life itself. In the second part of the book, Ugandan residents return home and the culture shock is entertaining. We learn about the significance of rights of passage (isn't Masaabe a hero? ), marriage rituals, ethnic foods and Jennifer gives surprising twists and turns with family drama that makes this book a solid page turner. I assure you, you've probably either experienced or heard one of these stories in real life. If you haven't picked this one up yet, you should, I loved it.
My Favorite: Honestly, all of them, but "Let's Tell This Story Properly stole my heart.
Everything Inside ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
These are the most sobering story collections I've read in a while. You know those stories that gives you that warm feeling from each character? Especially when it relates to family togetherness, love, compassion and overcoming obstacles. Dandicat gives us all the emotions even while families balance unspeakable grief, family conflict, deceit, loyalty or lack thereof, in such a way that makes these stories feel like a warm hug. Make no mistake, most of these stories are tragic and difficult to digest but it's so brilliantly put together and real that it makes even the pain and tragedy ok, bearable, understood. In my favorite story, she wrapped up post-partum depression and dementia in such an intimate way that I had to put my kindle down and breathe a long breath. I appreciated the writing from a dual cultural perspective, Haitian vs Haitian-American. As an immigrant myself I can understand how these cultural experiences are similar but also very different depending on where you were born, the family you were born into, even the political climate that influences family values and decisions. Dandicat ties this up well, showing how the end goal of a better life is the same but the journey there can be very, very different.
Crosshairs p.93, 130, 159
This book was hard to read, not in the way it was written because there's nothing I can say that will give Hernandez credit for her creative, brilliant story telling. The content though, is heavy. I marvel at how vivid and raw the scenes are. This is a dystopia novel set in modern day Canada and follows multiple characters through a resistance movement. The novel is written in a non-linear format and alternates between younger and older Kay and told in the form of a letter from Kay to his lover. It details the atrocities experienced by "The Others." This is what makes the content disturbing. The Others are any minority member of society that you can think of; Black, Brown, Indigenous, LGBTQ+, individuals with varying abilities, immigrants. There's a new political party that's aiming to "Renovate" The Others, make them into better people but what actually happens can only be described as concentration camp style interventions disguised as work opportunities for those who aren't killed. There's a group that's fighting this oppression and their actions appear well intended as they've also skirted around being an "Other" but also a member of a dominant society that gives them security; AKA gay white individuals. For people like Kay, who's Queer and unable to disguise his mixed race, there's nowhere to hide, so they stay on the run. It's what happens when they're on the run though, that's beyond your wildest imaginations. White supremacy wreaks havoc on their daily lives but the Others fight like hell and I have never been so anxious to get to the end of a book. I had a hard time reading this book. I started and stopped three times and I summed it up to it being the wrong timing to digest these themes, with our country going through this unprecedented attack and the truemeaning of what this attack meant, but I digress. I will not turn this into a political post but while the experiences of the Others in this book was entirely fictional, it still paralleled so much of what minority groups experience on a daily basis, in reality, today. This novel will make you tense, it will give you chills and make you uncomfortable but if you don't come out on the other side with compassion, I'm judging you.
Your Corner Dark
Your Corner Dark
Frankie, Frankie, Frankie. As I turned the pages of this book, I kept wondering, when will Frankie catch a break? Here's an ambitious high school senior being raised by a poor single father and has high hopes of escaping the Jamaica you do not see on tourist pamphlets; the Jamaica riddened with poverty, corruption and gang violence. Frankie is smart, he exels academically and earns himself a prestigious scholarship in the U.S. but an ill fated tragedy puts his plans on hold. We find the true test of family loyalty, sacrifice and even some deception coming into play as Frankie is forced to make some unimaginable decisions. The life he's running from is the life he's forced into by the people who should be helping him to have a better future. This made me reflect on the reality that being family or close friends is never a promise of good intentions. I cursed Uncle Joe and Bradford so many times throughout this book, I had to remind myself they were fictional characters. What's remarkable about these characters though, is the stark similarity to much of life as we know it. Unfortunately, politics breeds violence and corruption and innocent voters are still caught in the midst of this. The criminal justice system is corrupt and children continue to slip through the cracks of the education system daily. As an immigrant and a school social worker, I see the injustice. I enjoyed the cultural aspects introduced in the scenes; playing dominoes, eating bully beef sandwich under a tree, carrying water in a bucket, an adult who is always trying to give you cerasee tea, going to Hellshire Beach are all things that are embedded in Jamaican childhood experiences. I loved that Frankie embraced these as a part of who he is even while striving for better. Frankie is a fighter. Well, he's more than a fighter but I won't give too many spoilers. He's an inherently good young man who is punished for putting the needs of others before himself. For me, the pacing was a bit slow and I would've liked more of my raw, uninhibited patois but overall strong character development and there were some surprising twists that I didn't see coming.
This Close to Okay
questions some more". After reading the premise and reviews of this book, I knew I had to read it. It helped that I didn't go in with the expectation of getting a mental health thesis. This book was incredibly sad, heavy on the issues of mental health but as someone who has been on both sides of the couch myself, I appreciate that the author did not make it a crash course in a fiction novel. We got to meet two beautiful characters In all their vulnerability, fragility, bareness, grief, despair. One is a suicidal man and the other is a therapist who spend an unexpected weekend healing each other. I guess that's why I started this review with that quote; alot of getting to know someone is letting go of your own agenda and listen to the person, then asking the right questions and listening some more. We didn't always get that in this novel, I sometimes felt like Tallie was pushy but it helped to peel away the layers of so much that is suppressed on the regular. Racism, bipolar disorder, PTSD, incarceration, infertility just scratches the surfaces on what remains unseen to the outside world.. Both Tallie and Emmitt showed us incredible patience and love in their most vulnerable and heartbraking moments, trying and sometimes failing to get past these issues. Two seemingly perfect all American families who had their lives upended in the blink of an eye. And this novel constantly reminded me, life is so so very fragile and fleeting. There's a fine line between content and tolerance. Grief is complicated, chaotic and multifaceted. I did not expect the twisted turn of events from these characters and it often made me equally angry and empathic. The characters are intertwined in ways that made this a solid page turner as the story evolves, written with candor and compassion. I did not get the bow tie wrap up I anticipated in the end but sometimes that the point in life, things don't always turn out the way we expect. Nevertheless I LOVED this novel.
Get a Life Chloe Brown
Book Review: Get a Life, Chloe Brown
I. AM. SOLD. I am sold. Talia Hibbert is my 2021 auto buy author. Get a Life Chloe Brown was the pause, reset and refresh I didn't know I needed. I laughed so hard while reading about Chloe and Red that my sanity was questioned and I'm not sorry If I made some folks uncomfortable because of a good book. Chloe is on a mission to get her life after a medical diagnosis leaves her with debilitating health. She's learning to move past her insecurities,embrace her disabilities and face her fears with a "get a life" list of things she hopes to accomplish. In walks Red, and the two forms a love hate relationship that gives you some butterflies, racing hearts, throw the book across the floor moments and I can't stand it!! ( I'm kidding, I'm here for it all). Red kinda needs to get his life in check too, and what I loved about this novel is how both Chloe and Red inadvertently become allies on their healing journey. There were some important issues that were touched in the most fun, lighthearted and romantic way. I appreciate a fiction romance novel that allows a male character to explore and take responsibility for his own mental health especially when it involves relationships. But that's not all that I really loved. What I could not get enough of was these sex scenes! Not only the raw, candidness with which they were written, because honeyyyyy Hibbert did not hold out on us!!! But the intimacy that lead Chloe and Red to be open and vulnerable with their needs and emotions was a heart-tugger. Still, Chloe was not ready and neither was I. Loved this one!
The Gilded Ones
YA Fantasy fans!!!! This one is for you! I want to scream with joy during and after this book! Girl power, feminism, Black girl magic is in full force in every scene but it doesn't come easy. Deka is a 16 year old who's cast out of her community after being found impure during her ritual ceremony. She ensures heartbreaking trauma, physical and emotional abuse from her community but is rescued and trained to fight against enemies that are attacking the very community that casted her out. Deka's faces many adversities while fighting to over power a patriarchal system and help her ancestors get back their power. Sexism, misogyny, racism, bigotry, manipulation are just a few of the things Deka and her friends are forced to mentally and physically confront. One major theme that stood out for me is the concepf of family, specifically that family does not need to be the group of people you're born into but the people you choose, the people who remain loyal to you when they have every reason not to, the people who won't judge you by your flaws but by your heart. The writing is brilliant and the plot is well executed and holds you. I'm waiting on this novel to hit the big screens as it deserves.
The Kindest Lie Review
This book is heartbreakingly beautiful. Even after reading the synopsis before starting the book, these bold, very relatable and human themes took me on a wild ride of emotions. It begs you to question, how far would you go for love? What happens in a child's mind who's dealing with very adult problems? While reading Ruth and Midnight's story, the word sacrifice kept jumping out at me on every page which made me really pause and reflect on how much we give up involuntarily and voluntarily, from the cotton fields to an Obama Era White House. This book was about more than Ruth and Midnight though and what kept me intrigued was the way each characters' story intertwined and impacted each other. Children and adults alike navigate a life rooted in systemic racism. Microaggressions are felt in the classroom and in the boardroom. Black American success comes at a price that makes one forever indebted to their debtors. Multigenerational secrets and lies that will forever impact how families view each other made the title of this book the most appropriate I've seen in a while. With all that said, this review doesn't even begin to cover the depth and layers in this book and that's OK, as long as it inspires you to pick this book up!
The Boyfriend Project Review
I enjoyed this book but surprisingly not as much as I anticipated that I would. The storyline that followed Samia and Daniel were fascinating, predictable but fascinating none the less. I wouldn't day this was an intensely, sexy, romantic build up and I could've done without some of Daniel's work scenes that dragged on and on to the point of repetition. What I really enjoyed more was the friendship and sisterhood built by the women in this book. Do you even have a girlsquad if a Taylor is not in it? Love me some Taylor! They all showed up with their broken hearts and flaws and created a surprising bond, challenging and holding each other accountable for their own happiness. That's not always easy to do especially as us women get older but the author gave solid established squad goals that's to be admired. The representation of women in STEM and the challenges faced in a male dominated field was heavy and Samia made sure it was not overlooked and I love it!
Dear Haiti Love Alaine
I'll be the first to admit, this book was hard to get into. The writing style and vascillating between generational timelines made the plot slightly difficult to follow in the beginning but I stuck through and I'm glad I did. It actually wasn't until the last few chapters that I grew to appreciate how the the story evolved.
In Dear Haiti, Love Alaine we find a 17 year old girl on a mission to overthrow a generations old family curse to save her mom from a terminal illness and repair their estranged relationship. Alaine is witty and sarcastic if not privileged as well (this annoyed me a little as well in the beginning) and it took me some time to understand that her behaviors weren't ill intended consequences of her privileges but a young girl caught in a post divorce rift of upper class Haitian parents. Alaine so desperately craves the attention of her high profile mom.
Alaine makes a mistake in school and is shipped off to Haiti where it's hoped that she learns a valuable lesson about her culture and humility. She immerses fully into the Haitian cultural experience and the reader gets the intimacy and symbolism of it all. There's the cute, fun YA banter and flirtatious moments but not without some profound themes from Alaine's journey. I enjoyed the highlights and dispelling of myths and facts around poverty, curroption, magic, the hidden beauties and issues around classism in the country that's not usually shown in mainstream media and the lengths that people will go to believe the impossible for the sake of helping family. Overall, I enjoyed this book and would certainly recommend it
His Only Wife
this book had my attention from page 1.The opening line says: "Eli married me in absentia". When I read this, I closed the book, took a deep breath and and prayed that the next line would say "Afi ran the hell outta there"! But I'm glad she didn't, or we wouldn't have been blessed with this beautiful story. I also made sure to do my own research of Ghanaian traditions to make sure that I am being culturally sensitive and not overly dramatic with my judgments and wtf moments here. And yes, I'm fully well aware it's a fictional novel.
Where do I start. I have so many thoughts about this book. First, I have a deep appreciation for the building of these characters and the plot. In my opinion, it was magnificently written. And I knew that after examining the strong emotions that each character evoked from me.
But I'd like to move on to this Ganyos family and their nerve to drag Afi into their controlling manipulative mess, then constantly reminding her to be grateful when she tries to establish boundaries with them! The nerve!
Eli. Now I'm not saying Eli did not grow to love her in a twisted way but he never meant to love her the way Afi wanted and that was clear. The man is a classic example of a mama's boy with dependency issues who uses money and power as his weapon. He clearly knew who was His Only Wife, only sad his wife didn't. The nerve!
Uncle Pious. I'm STILL cursing him and knocking his and Yaya's head together. What an audacity!! Let's leave that there.
Evelyn. Girl. You are the bomb! Evelyn seems to have deeper issues that she needs to address but for the purposes of this story, Evelyn beat everyone at their own game enough to even teach the lessons she learnt. Had it not been for her, Afi would still be in that flat cooking akple till the well runs dry!
Afi. Afi, Afi, Afi. Left me feeling conflicted. At one point I became impatient with her impatience. Hear me out. I, by no means ever advocate for accepting less than one deserves but at one point I was convinced there was a turning point ahead with Eli and Afi's impatience was going to jeopardize it. Yes, now I know better. And now I give Afi all her praises for building herself using her own innate skills and common sense to make a life for her and her child. I was truly happy with her and her persistence and her decision.
In closing; the Ganyos is a clear example of what happens when you don't establish boundaries with families who do not mind their business.
Tiernan is a 17 year old who is orphaned even before her wealthy, high profile parents passes away. Tiernan is incredibly wealthy but vulnerable, grieving, lonely, broken, oh so gullible but also surprisingly brave! When her parents passes away, she sent to live with an estranged step-uncle and his two adult sons in a remote area of Colorado. They are locked in for months at a time due to impassible roads in the winter season. Tiernan adjusts to her new life with some hesitancy until she she finds herself fully immersed into a life with three adult men, all beautifully broken, flawed, grieving, soul searching men, who genuinely put Tiernan's needs before anything. So what could go wrong, you might ask? My answer, everything and nothing!
Whewwwww chile! I was warned. Time and time again, I was warned that I would not be ready for the wild ride (literally) that is Tiernan, Jake, Kaleb and Noah. If it's steam you're looking for, then smut you're going to get! I devoured this book in two nights and these characters will not leave my heart and mind anytime soon. Douglas gave us beauty out of brokenness mixed with a whole lot of sex. There were parts of this book that I had to re-read twice and three times then come up for air and ask myself, did I just read that? There were scenes that made me, a full grown woman, super uncomfortable to read, especially in public areas but in the end I understood the need for these scenes to unfold the way it did. Often times there is nothing linear about the way we discover self love and love for others, and that my friends, is Okay. If I could pair this book with a song, it would be Rhianna's We Found Love in a Hopeless Place.
Patsy: by far the best book I've read this year! This story connected with my soul and deserves a dissertation type review that I'm not qualified to write. @ndennisbenn wrote the hell out of these characters and gave us brilliance! The immigrant experience, sexual identity, complex mother-child relationship, homophobia, resiliency, mental health stigma, the choices one makes for love (insert side eye at Patsy) all intertwines and gives us well rounded, fully fleshed out characters.
For the record, I did not like Pasty (the MC) at all, none, zero empathy. My heart lives for Tru and her Pennyfield crew! This is true immigrant representation and could've well been a non-fiction story! I am a Patsy, you are a Patsy, your neighbor is a Patsy, you hot fren weh mek it a farrin is a Cicely, Ducky hiding in Whole Foods is so and so son, your neighbors daughter is a Tru!
As immigrants, we all have a story to tell. The grass is not always greener and Patsy tells it with transparent, unfiltered honesty. I LOVED IT!!!
Of Women and Salt
Of Women and Salt takes us on a multigenerational journey with a Cuban family from the sugar plantations in LA Havana to present day Miami. There are family secrets as there are family treasures that are guiding these Women's life decisions even without them knowing it. I'm almost finished reading this book and it's certainly not what I expected. We get bits and pieces from each character, some are fighting deportation and I marvel at the lengths and sacrifices one makes to achieve the American dream, running from lives that they cannot forget fast enough. Characters fight internal battles, the use of drugs becoming the answer to dealing with years of abuse and trauma. The misogyny targeted towards working women on the plantation is not surprising but still startling. This book is emotionally heavy and hard to read at times and these tragic moments hits you hard, unexpectedly. You cannot help but to keep turning the pages to see what comes next, hard as these experiences are to digest. So far I'm not seeing how any of this trauma is explored. There's tragedy that just seems to build up on tragedy and I hope there's a light at the end of the tunnel or else this would be a deeply depressing book. My full review will be on goodreads but if you're looking for a fiction novel that takes a dive in Cuban history with multigenerational family saga, this might be for you!
There Eyes were watching God
One thing that will remain true about Zora Neal Hurston is that her writing will always reflect a literary mastermind. It's filled with ranges of expressions of emotions that can leave a reader breathless. I could easily visualize myself in each scene of this story being an observer of Janie's growth. From the banters at the storefront, to working the cane fields, the dice games, the communal gatherings, there's an easy familiarity that's developed with each and every character. And we get characters in all their jovial, loving, fearless, racist, complex forms. I was also comforted by the Southern dialect (when I got used to reading it) and it's similarities with Caribbean lingo. The dialect is written with intent and meaning with no partiality to feelings. Some parts will make you uncomfortable.
When I started this book I thought, hmmm, three Husbands, Janie is either going to be incredibly brave or incredibly naive. My question was answered clearly by the end of Janie's story but only in that unpredictable way that love often presents itself in our lives; with complicated choices, enduring sacrifices and split second decisions that can sometimes change the course of life. I think Janie's marriages taught her what she needed to learn at each stage of her life, good or otherwise.
But as Janie herself said to Pbeoby in the end, "you got tuh go there to know there. Love ain't sometin' lak uh grindstone dat's de same ting everywhere and do de same ting to everything it touch. Love is lak de sea. It's uh movin' thing but still and all, it takes its shape from the shore it meets, and it's different with every shore."
Take a Hint Dani Brown
Here's the thing I find about books with a lot of hype, I expect to go all in with steam, plot, characters etc from the get-go without being patient for these things to develop. This was my experience with Take a Hint Dani Brown. I had such high expectations for the book that I wanted steam from page one and Talia Hibbert humbled me with some patience, then delivered!!!!! I lost focus with the pace half way through but I stayed hopeful and was not disappointed.
I'm sure we can appreciate the hilarity we get from the Brown sisters and Dani did not hold back on those true laugh out loud scenes. More than that though, I loved the unconventional way mental health was explored from a male perspective, especially triggered by grief. Hibbert challenged all the stigma from both Dani and Zaf's POV and flipped it on its head! Key takeaways that made this book adorable for me:
It's ok to feel, process and talk about loss and grief.
Everyone processes their loss in their own way.
Let's continue to teach our young men that it's ok to be open and vulnerable with their feelings.
Noone is perfect but there's a perfect person for you.
Everyone is fighting a battle you might not know about.
And of course you can't finish a Brown sister book without mentioning the steam!
Simone Breaks All the Rules
I just love when I come across a good YA book that I can shove into the hands of my students. Simone Breaks All the Rules will be one of them. It's cute, it's sweet and funny with the right touch of YA romance. It's an immigrant story that I know a lot of young folx will relate to. Y'all, I loved this book! I was cheesing like a giddy teenager during the last two chapters.. The title would suggest that we're getting a rebellious, defiant teenager and maybe she is in a subtle way, but Simone is also growing into herself, wants to have a little fun and just want to take control of planning her own prom. She refuses to have her independence suppressed and earns her parents' trust in a round about way. She orchestrates a series of activities with her HomeGirls that are completely forbidden in their strict immigrant households. Let me tell you, Simone is a helleva lot braver than I was as a teenager with immigrant parents. HomeGirls took some serious risks but friendships were formed and the girls had fun! This is truly an authentic immigrant story experience. Make sure you put this one in your young adults' hands and if you're a YA lover like me, give it a shot!
Anna K Away
My head is still spinning from Anna K Away. This is the sequel to Anna K but I read it as a stand alone and did not feel lost. This is a multi generational Korean-American family saga with some entertaining and cringe-worthy moments. So much goes on in this book as they navigate heartbreak and self discovery. Manhattan meets Greenwich meets Hamptons with these wealthy teenagers and well, they do what some wealthy teenagers do. The casual sex, drugs, partying only scratches the surface of their shallowness and privilege. What is not seen from the outside are the insecurities, shame, grief, broken marriages and discontent that are masked by these behaviors. What money cannot teach you is how to love and we get that clearly with these characters. I found it fascinating but not surprising that the adults and teenagers who showed an inkling of good judgment and compassion were the ones from less privileged and modest backgrounds. Overall this was an entertaining read, I didn't love it but I didn't hate it and probably won't run to see what I missed in Anna K.
Reading Concrete Rose felt like putting a final piece on a puzzle. After reading thug and now getting the backstory on Mav, a child facing the plight of raising a child out of poverty, it all connected. Running from a life where working multiple jobs, gunshots ringing at your window, loved ones being murdered, mediocre education and criminal justice systems becomes the norm and harsh reality of Black folks. Concrete Rose shows a vicious cycle of The System vs Me, death or jail for survival. In those times when it seems like he could just not catch a break, I just wanted to give Mav a hug and tell him it's going to be OK. I loved the strong sense of community, the supportive characters showed up well, take Mr. Whyatt for example and Moe. I admired Mav's growth; his vulnerability and ability to discern who and what was right for him did not come easy, especially as a youth being thrown into the responsibilities like he was. Lisa challenged the teen mom stereotype but also showed that she is not ride or die, she's ride or get your ish together and I loved it!
All Tilla wanted was to be loved, to be given a chance to be seen, guided and accepted as any young adult should. She got anything but. This book left me with a mix of emotions as I followed Tilla's journey from Canada to Jamaica. While on a summer vacation meant to reconcile her relationship with her father who's minimally involved in her life, Tilla learns some valuable life lessons. One thing leads to another and Tilla is forming questionable relationships with neighborhood friends, some of which earns her a reputation as she tries to find her place among people who thinks she's not good enough. Or maybe too good?
Here is where things got tricky for me. I understand the father daughter disconnect that can influence misguided decisions as a young woman. But there's also common sense and I think Tilla could've been developed with more of that. How many times did I find myself screaming, pickney just stop! Often times I had to remind myself that she's a teenager going through the cycle of making mistakes and learning. We get tragedy building up on tragedy and a big revelation in the end, which in and of itself was an okay lesson on forgiveness, self love and resiliency but what I didn't get was how this process evolved throughout Tilla's experiences.
There's alot left to explore from the strong complex characters, the vivid imagery, experiences and spirit across the island. The way poverty, colorism, sexuality and bullying is depicted is not so far fetched and shows a realistic perspective of the other side of paradise. The toxic relationship with family members seemed a little extreme at times but I get it, badmind is alive and well and often times we don't have to look to far to see it. That being said, even though I didn't love this story as much as I thought I would, I was immersed in the areas that I could personally identify with, especially with the setting taking place in the Parish that I will always call home, Manchester represent!
Hellshire, Blue Lagoon, the experience of living through a hurricane (if you lived through hurricane Gilbert we're dating ourselves!) the simplicity of walking to "shop" are the scenes in the story that truly captured my heart. Surprisingly, the most memorable moments for me were with Tilla and Andre, where I'm able to see more of Tilla's growth.
Love in Color
Love in Color:
This book is the epitome of Love. It's so uniquely written and once I found my groove with the writing style, it became an absolute pleasure to read. So aptly named, we get to explore Love in all its complexities, fierceness and power. Black Love; it's in the doing, the making, the accepting, the questioning, the messiness, the unequivocal understanding that Love is multifaceted and can mean so many things, represented in many different ways. We get all of that here.
In Love in Color we find 13 short story romance collections described as magical folktales and mythology. These stories are filled with crafty, ingenuine twists that you do not see coming. We meet characters who give up their livelihoods, challenge societal norms, fight patriarchal standards, showing that love is more of the doing than the saying. We see how girlfriends show up and show love for each other (if you don't have a Letsha in your girl squad, get a new squad).
It's going to be really hard for other short story collections to capture my attention the way this one did, it's truly exquisite. I hate to do this, because these stories were all unique in their own right but if I should choose a favorite it would be my girl Siya! Psyche was also a badass and leaves no question about what female empowerment should look like, then there's Naleli who resurfaced all my teenage butterflies and showed us that the greatest love of all is self love. You see where I'm going with this?
BLACK GIRL MAGIC
BLACK LIVES MATTER REQUIRED READINGS
Anti racist book Recommendation
In this book, Kendi weaves together an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science, bringing it all together with an engaging personal narrative of his own awakening to antiracism. How to Be an Antiracist is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable society.
Anti racist book Recommendation
In So You Want to Talk About Race, Editor at Large of The Establishment Ijeoma Oluo offers a contemporary, accessible take on the racial landscape in America, addressing head-on such issues as privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the "N" word. Perfectly positioned to bridge the gap between people of color and white Americans struggling with race complexities, Oluo answers the questions readers don't dare ask, and explains the concepts that continue to elude everyday Americans.
Anti racist Recommendation
Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, anti-racist educator Robin DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what can be done to engage more constructively.
Anti racist recommendation
Walk into any racially mixed high school and you will see Black, White, and Latino youth clustered in their own groups. Is this self-segregation a problem to address or a coping strategy? Beverly Daniel Tatum, a renowned authority on the psychology of racism, argues that straight talk about our racial identities is essential if we are serious about enabling communication across racial and ethnic divides. These topics have only become more urgent as the national conversation about race is increasingly acrimonious. This fully revised edition is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the dynamics of race in America.
Black History Month Stack
Read, support and buy black every day!!!
Read Caribbean Favs
Read Caribbean Picks
Read Caribbean 2022 picks!
Click the link below to see my 2022 read Caribbean plans and find other fabulous Caribbean Bookstafriends
YA Read Caribbean
Queer Caribbean Reads
YA Read Caribbean
Books From Different Caribbean Islands
YA Read Caribbean
YA Read Caribbean
YA Read Caribbean
Follow my book loving journey at these author events!
Before I Let Go
My favorite romance read of 2022
Long Past Summer
A swoon worthy second chance romance that is much more than romance. It's two people finding themselves while not settling for less than what they deserve. It will leave you frustrated, hopeful, cheering and utterly in love with Makayla and Cameron. It was a pleasure listening to the author share her inspiration behind the story!
By The Book with Jasmine Guillory
Click the link below to find out about my event experience!
You Made A Fool of Death With Your Beauty
Tap the link below to find out more about my experience at this event! You don't want to miss this!
Love Radio by Ebony Ladelle
Tap the link to find out about this Black Girl Magic experience!
This is by far my favorite author event/reading!! If you haven't read the book Pleasantview, you should!