November 26, 2020

The Wide Circumference of Love

On this Give Thanks Day, let's be grateful for our wits, our memory, our intuition and voluntary actions. November is National Alzheimer's Awareness Month and I purposely saved Marita Golden's award-winning novel, The Wide Circumference of Love, for my leisure read this month. 

It is a moving story by a woman of color about characters of color in a strong black family. Their acceptance, adaptation and unconditional love is well told when the head of the family is faced with Alzheimer's disease. The Wide Circumference of Love is more than the ordinary black family tale. Slice a piece of Thanksgiving pie and settle in for this review!

"Cancer fights fair compared to Alzheimer's. And African Americans? We've got a 50 to 70 percent greater risk of developing it than anybody else, because of our higher rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol." ~ 37%

"This love was a country to which she was ready to pledge allegiance." ~ 81%

Diane and Gregory Tate have been together for decades. They didn't plan on facing early-onset dementia in their 60s yet here they are. Diane is a family court judge and Gregory was a successful, high-demand architect. But his memories are slipping away. Through carefully placed chapters, readers can see his decline in health from his own point of view. 

We also get Diane's side of the story and her struggle with placing him in an assisted-living facility. We also hear from their daughter, Lauren, who is following in her father's professional footsteps and their prodigal son, Sean, who tries to finally forge a relationship with his father before it's too late. As if this isn't enough to tug at your heart strings, you may feel it slightly break when Gregory finds love with another resident in the memory care unit.

"In the novels she loved, the march of life was relentless, the shocks and surprises unfolded right up to the last page." ~ 91%

The Wide Circumference of Love carries us from 1960 to 2016. History and the present are perfectly intertwined to tell the story and get you vested in the Tate family's lives. Caring for an ill relative can tear the closest family apart. Marita Golden did such a great job writing on the effects of Alzheimer's to the spouse, children, elderly parents and the person affected too. Though this novel is fiction, I learned a lot about the horror of Alzheimer's. It claims lives and takes a toll if you cannot accept and adapt early on. Learn to love what is left.

Bookhearts, we don't have our whole lives ahead of us. Spend every day how YOU choose to. Because we only have today. We've got now to enjoy the wide circumference of love! 

Title: The Wide Circumference of Love
Author: Marita Gold
Published: March 2017
Pages: 300
Edition: eBook
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€


November 25, 2020

Punching the Air

"I hope all the books I've read will save my life." ~ pg. 93 

Herein lies the review of a story about the system. A system that is designed to strip people of color; a system that is unjust more than it is fair. A system that fails young adults and makes it hard for them to maintain humanity. Yet we still fight for the truth in both real life and in fiction.

Told entirely in verse, Punching the Air tells a moving story of a young artist named Amal Shahid. He is involved in an altercation one fateful night in a gentrified neighborhood. It escalates into a tragedy. Now 16-year-old Amal's bright future is snatched and exchanged for a conviction of a crime he didn't commit. No more art school; hello, prison where Amal's only weapon are his words.

"A butterfly's wings can change the path of a storm." ~ pg. 225 

It is November; I'm calling it. Punching the Air is the BEST literary collab of 2020. The poetry of Ibi Zoboi along with the real-life experience of Exonerated Five member, Yusef Salaam, makes this novel-in-verse so powerful. Young adults, prison reform activists and poetry readers at heart will absolutely want to read this novel. Thank me later for putting it on your radar!

Title: Punching the Air
Author: Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam
Published: September 2020
Pages: 386
Edition: Hardcover
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

November 24, 2020

Confessions in B-Flat

"Because injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." ~ 59%

Love thy neighbor. Jason is new to the city of New York; he arrived to help spread the message of his mentor, Dr. MLK, Jr. Meanwhile, Anita Hopkins believes the teachings of Malcolm X, that freedom is "by any means necessary." Opposites attract. Even more-so when Jason sees Anita perform poetry at the iconic B-Flat lounge, he is mesmerized. Can love be enough or will their differences get in the way?

A love story set in the civil rights movement. The makings of a wonderful novel. But the setting took center stage and drowned out the characters. I was more interested in the references to Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Harlem and the fight for equality. That is what kept me reading. 

Happy Pub Day, Donna Hill! Confessions in B-Flat is now available.

Disclaimer: An advance copy was received directly from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

Title: Confessions in B-Flat
Author: Donna Hill
Published: November 2020
Pages: 400
Edition: Galley
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€

November 22, 2020

Series Sunday: Graceful Burdens

(Amazon Original Stories) 

Series Sunday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie. 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.

"The librarians never asked why their patrons needed to check out a baby." ~ pg. 3

My Series Sunday pick is Graceful Burdens, a short from Amazon Original Stories by Roxane Gay. Imagine a nightmarish world where women may be deemed unacceptable to procreate. Meanwhile, there are other women whose only purpose is to mate with screened men to raise genetically optimal children.

Hadley is unlicensed for motherhood but there's a nifty baby library where women can "check out" babies for a two-week loan. Yes, just like borrowing books! What is intended to be a temporary balm leads to a permanent journey.

True to my last review, I went on a download spree on the Amazon Original Stories and came across this goodie. Graceful Burdens is part of a collection called Out of Line, hopeful stories of women's empowerment and escape. What it means to be a woman! So click the title link below, grab your Kindle and read/listen in just one sitting.

Author: Roxane Gay
Published: September 2020
Pages: 21
Edition: eBook
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

November 20, 2020

First Lines Friday *BONUS*

First Lines Friday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie. 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.

"Devon Monroe tore his eyes off the two dead bodies in the powder-blue Bentley convertible, top down, idling not twenty yards away, and glanced at his best friend."

~ Deadly Cross by James Patterson

*BONUS* Click the title link above to read/listen to the first six chapters and view virtual events.


November 19, 2020

The Meaning of Mariah Carey

"The whole world is pink yet lavender when you're in a good swirl, and we were in a sweet swirl (a swirl is the opposite of a spiral)." ~ 79%

I heart Mariah! In my head, we go back like babies and pacifiers. So I have anxiously awaited the publication of her memoir. Finally her personal life is shared in her own words, to her own recollection. No rumors. No speculation. The truth behind the diva with no concept of time. Deep background info and hopefully true to the title, The Meaning of Mariah Carey. 

The well-known American award-winning singer/songwriter of Black and Irish ancestry found the courage to tell her story. In the new memoir, The Meaning of Mariah Carey, she shares triumphs and traumas, debacles and dreams, ups and downs that contributed to the woman we see today. No single magazine article or TV interview or behind-the-scenes reality snippet reveals as much. So I literally brewed a cup of tea and began to read...and read...and read...for nearly a month.

"Music and humor have been my two great releases—they have been how I survived all the anguish in my life." ~ 42%

Mariah Carey states that writing this memoir was incredibly hard, humbling and healing. I can see why to a certain extent. She shared memories from early childhood and gave a detailed family tree. Lambs like myself already know about her home life, cultural background and early singing career. This was an opportunity to share more yet she only gave us a peek before closing the stage curtain. 

Which is why I am so very disappointed in The Meaning of Mariah Carey. In particular, the lack of mentioning her diagnosis of bipolar disorder. To not include such a major battle seems suspect. It almost invalidates what she did share within 400+ pages and quite honestly, makes me side-eye her transparency. 

Sharing her experience of living with bipolar disorder could help someone else cope. Instead it may show it's okay to be ashamed and feed into the mental illness stigma. Suuuuure, go ahead and blame tiredness, not sleeping, roaming the halls of "Sing Sing" and other manic behavior on just working a lot. That's like not acknowledging your many Grammys! How do you just leave that part out?!

"This book is a testimony to the resilience of silenced little girls and boys everywhere: To insist that we believe them. To honor their experiences and tell their stories. To set them free." ~ 3%

I never feel comfortable rating or reviewing a memoir. How do I rate someone's real life experience? Who am I to essentially judge the telling of their own life story? How do I know what is credible or what may be fabricated for entertainment purposes? And how could I possibly review the writing style if 9 times out of 10, the author is everything but a professional author? 

Then the copyeditor in me rationalizes that the memoir most likely has a co-author, editor and major publishing house to help the celebrity figure tell essays. As the general public/fans, we are not owed any explanation. But if you're gonna write "unfiltered" then πŸ—£WRITE THAT SHIT! Tell it all! Pour the whole kettle of tea!

In an Oprah conversation, Mariah Carey says she feels "freer" after releasing this memoir. How free can one really be if still holding back? I already know fellow Lambs are going to read—or already read—this new release from our beautiful talented songstress regardless of my two cents. This review is more-so for regular readers or curious folks. You may get more out of reading Mariah Carey's lyrics than the pages in this memoir, daaahling.

Title: The Meaning of Mariah Carey
Author: Mariah Carey
Published: September 2020
Pages: 415
Edition: eBook
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€

November 18, 2020

The Butterfly Effect

"Thank God, it's about to get uncomfortable for people." ~ pg. 163

Music critic and journalist, Marcus J. Moore, pens the first biography of Kendrick Lamar. It is an account of the rap superstar's coming-of-age as an artist, his unique genres and impact on the racially intense America.

The Butterfly Effect is very in-depth and written proof of how Kendrick Lamar's lyrics are the voice to our generation and state of the world. Some parts are repetitive but mostly it is well-researched essays that fans will appreciate.

The K-Dot to my L Dot. Kung Fu Kenny. Man Man. King Kunta. Thee Kendrick Lamar Duckworth. Keep bending the culture, brother!

Title: The Butterfly Effect: How Kendrick Lamar Ignited the Soul of Black America
Author: Marcus J. Moore
Published: October 2020
Pages: 272
Edition: Hardcover
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€