March 1, 2015

Series Sunday: Blanche Among the Talented Tenth

(Blanche White #2)


Series Sunday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Read an installment of a series.
  • Share your review/recommendation below.
  • Include the title, author and series name.

My Series Sunday pick is Blanche Among the Talented Tenth, the second book in the Blanche White series by Barbara Neely. Blanche and her kids are invited to Amber Cove, an exclusive all-black resort. She gets a lesson on color and class divisions within the black community. As if keeping an eye on her children while dealing with the resort guests aren't keeping Blanche busy enough, a fatal accident and suicide happens. It is up to Blanche to figure out if the events are connected and what really happened.

"The maid with a maid was not your usual situation." ~ pg. 99

Main character Blanche is still funny and smart as a whip in the second installment of this mystery series. Although I did not enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed the first book. I read them back-to-back continuing my momentum of reading a mystery with a woman of color as lead. But for some reason, I couldn't get into the story as quickly. Maybe it was the actual mystery that didn't grab my interest. I will eventually finish this series because there are only two more books. However, there is no rush.

DISCLAIMER: This book was received directly from the publisher for review purposes only. In no way does it influence my review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Title: Blanche Among the Talented Tenth
Author: Barbara Neely
Published: February 1993
Pages: 246
Edition: Galley
Challenge: Diversity on the Shel
Rating: ♥♥♥

 

February 27, 2015

First Lines Friday


First Lines Friday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Grab your current read(s).
  • Share the first line(s).
  • Include the title and author.

"Louis Ward walked across the Green Hill Mall parking lot in Southdale, Minnesota, reading the back cover of the Seinfeld: The Complete Series DVD box set that he had just purchased. He did not notice that black van with dark tinted windows creeping up behind him."

~ Forty Acres by Dwayne Alexander Smith

 

February 24, 2015

Wench


The Tawawa House is a resort in Ohio. Like American resorts, it provides a nice retreat with comfortable living quarters, spacious grounds and private structures. Privacy is the main reason Southern white men frequent the resort every summer: to vacation with their black enslaved mistresses. The place is an open secret.

Lizzie, Reenie and Sweet are regulars at Tawawa House. They've become friends and look forward to reuniting every summer. The dynamic of their friendship changes when newcomer Mawu comes to the resort, reminding them of Tawawa House's location (on free territory) and questions freedom. Running away is more than a notion. More than just their lives are at stake. There is family and children still South to consider leaving behind. For one mistress in particular, running away means breaking the emotional bond with her master. One tragedy sets off a string of events and immediate decisions must be made.

"He not your man, you know." ~ pg. 15

Before I delve further into my review, let's take a look at the beautiful cover. It has caught my eye since it released about five years ago. I specifically remember seeing copies during the Borders closeout sale. I read this book in hardcover format and carried it around. The cover image and one-word title makes you take notice. Oh, the looks and questions I got!

"WENCH:
(c. 1290): A girl, maid, young woman; a female child.
(1362): A wanton woman; a mistress.

UNITED STATES:
(1812; 1832): A black or colored female servant; a negress.
(1848): A colored woman of any age; a negress or mulattress, especially one in service."

Wench is one of the better debut novels I have read. Sometimes authors take risks on their first novel and other times they play it safe. Author Dolen Perkins-Valdez did a great job of exploring the relationship between a slave owner and his mistress. I'm glad she tackled a subject not well-covered while showing how women in the same slavery situation react differently. Per the Author's Note, Wench is fiction but the Tawawa Resort did exist in Ohio. Wow. It took a creative mind to write a story following the lives of four women that visited this resort. Dolen Perkins-Valdez has impressed me with this debut novel and I look forward to reading her new release Balm (expected publication in May 2015).

Watch the video below of the author reading from Wench then accept my recommendation to read this novel.


Title: Wench
Author: Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Published: January 2010
Pages: 293
Edition: Hardcover
Challenge: Diversity on the Shelf; New Authors; Popsugar One-Word Title
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♡

 

February 22, 2015

Series Sunday: Blanche on the Lam

(Blanche White #1)


Series Sunday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Read an installment of a series.
  • Share your review/recommendation below.
  • Include the title, author and series name.

My Series Sunday pick is Blanche on the Lam, the first book in the Blanche White series by Barbara Neely. I heart series so I was happy when I got the opportunity to review the re-release of the first and second book in this mystery series. Plus the main character is a woman of color! Perfect Series Sunday pick for Black History Month. It starts off with Blanche in court—not as the good girl. She was being sentenced for writing bad checks. Escaping the courtroom through the ladies' restroom, she hides out working as a maid. When murder disrupts the wealthy household of her employers, middle-aged Blanche becomes the domestic worker/sleuth.

"If Diana could move from the welfare and the housing projects of Detroit to the top of the music charts and starring roles in movies, certainly Blanche could get herself out of this mess she was in, just as black women had been getting themselves and their people out of messes in this country since the day the first kidnapped African woman was dragged onto these shores." ~ pg. 76

Main character Blanche is funny, smart and a southern nosy charmer. She is a character you cannot help but like. I was skeptical of her character from the opening scene but the author did a good job of making readers like and trust Blanche. I will definitely continue reading this series.


DISCLAIMER: This book was received directly from the publisher for review purposes only. In no way does it influence my review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Title: Blanche on the Lam
Author: Barbara Neely
Published: February 1993
Pages: 204
Edition: Galley
Challenge: Diversity on the Shelf; New Authors
Rating: ♥♥♥

 

February 20, 2015

First Lines Friday


First Lines Friday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Grab your current read(s).
  • Share the first line(s).
  • Include the title and author.

"The size sixteen shorts slipped easily over her hips. Blanche gathered the excess material at her waist and admired the contrast between her deep-black skin and the nearly colorless cloth."

~ Blanche among the Talented Tenth by Barbara Neely

 

February 17, 2015

Poisoning the Pecks of Grand Rapids


"What if everything he read in the papers was true?" ~ pg. 67

Scandalous murder plot. True life mystery of 1916. A poisonous plan. A trial that gained attention around the United States. Poisoning the Pecks of Grand Rapids is the nonfiction story of how a man with boyish looks charmed a wealthy young woman into marriage with plans to hijack her inheritance.

The Grand Rapids Herald called it "one of the subtlest...most daring poison plots that the criminal history of the country has known." But Arthur Warren Waite seemed anything but subtle. Quite obvious and sloppy in covering up his tracks. What he believed to be a grand scheme in gaining his wife's inheritance turned out to be a flawed plan.

Writing books based on a true story can be iffy. I am a reader that prefers fiction; however, I occasionally like to read true stories. Sometimes they reel me in like a Lifetime movie. Other times, not so much. Poisoning the Pecks of Grand Rapids reads like an extra long news article and court transcript summary. It states the facts in a choppy style. I recommend reading Poisoning the Pecks of Grand Rapids to support a local author if you are in the Midwest or for history buffs.

Title: Poisoning the Pecks of Grand Rapids
Author: Tobin T. Buhk
Published: September 2014
Pages: 203
Edition: Paperback
Challenge: New Authors; Popsugar Based on a True Story
Rating: ♥♥

 

February 15, 2015

Series Sunday: Black History Month Recommendations


Series Sunday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie of Precision Reviews. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Read an installment of a series.
  • Share your review/recommendation below.
  • Include the title, author and series name.
My next Series Sunday pick can be your choice! Please recommend your favorite series by a black author. Thanks in advance, bookhearts.