July 21, 2017

First Lines Friday


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

"Of course I held the key."

~ The Fifth of July by Kelly Simmons 

July 20, 2017

Tender Wings of Desire


"He looks like a vanilla biscuit." ~ 2%

I have my Twitter bookhearts to thank for bringing this novella to my attention. I immediately downloaded for comedy purposes. But to my surprise, the synopsis actually sounded okay. Lady Madeline Parker is perfectly happy with being a spinster all her life. She has no dreams to marry well. So of course she runs away from a loveless arranged marriage. Looking for anything but love, she runs into the arms of a handsome sailer named Harland.

I didn't have high hopes for a Colonel Sanders novella. But I was most disappointed not by the storyline or characters, but for the lack of fried chicken references! For goodness sakes—the title is Tender Wings of Desire. πŸ—£ THERE IS A BUCKET OF FRIED CHICKEN ON. THE. COVER! But nann mention of a chicken wing, thigh or breast in the whole book. I was really looking forward to reading some chicken love.

Title: Tender Wings of Desire
Author: Harland Sanders
Published: May 2017
Pages: 96
Edition: eBook
Challenge: Popsugar—A Book About Food
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€

July 19, 2017

The Story of Big Brother

So I can't get one season...πŸ—£ONE GOTDAMN SEASON of Big Brother US without racism, production interference and a highly manipulated cast of houseguests?

There was a time when my short-term goals were to compete for half of a million dollars on Big Brother. Every season I would download the long ass application, attempt to complete it and provide references. I even contacted previous HGs for tips.

But in most recent seasons, it has become apparent that casting has their own agenda. Still Big Brother.

  

July 16, 2017

Series Sunday: The Pain of Others

(Letty Dobesh Chronicles #1) 

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.


My Series Sunday pick is The Pain of Others, the first novella in the Letty Dobesh Chronicles/Good Behavior series by Blake Crouch. Letty is a gorgeous petty thief fresh out of prison and back to her old tricks. Her first "adventure" is burglarizing suites at a luxury hotel in North Carolina. Just her luck, as she is leaving the last room of the day, she hears the unmistakeable sound of a key card in the door. EEK! She grabs her duffle bag full of stolen cash, minibar bottles, laptops and tablets to hide in the closet. What happens next changes her life. Letty overhears a hitman being contracted to murder a wife. Should she save a life or go about her business? Morality is put to the test.

"It was like the pain of others attracted her. Filled her up with this black joy." ~ pg. 36

What a joy it is to read a book that has been adapted to TV/film in a satisfying way. Good Behavior is a prime example of when an author is fully involved the process of adaptation. The short story and pilot episode are parallel until the final chapters. For those unfamiliar, the show was pitched to networks perfectly by the author: "Bonnie and Clyde from Bonnie's perspective." Well damn said! The producer and directors are also to thank for adapting 46 pages of novella into a pilot script. Letty Dobesh is now a character that has earned a spot in my mind. Easily one of my favorite fictional characters and grifters of all time.

Good Behavior is the complete collection of all three (3) Letty Dobesh novellas. After each novella, author Blake Crouch adds commentary about the show and additional content. I need my Letty fix so this is the perfect way to tide me over until season two. Bookhearts, I highly recommend this novella series and the television series (aired on TNT) starring Michelle Dockery. A shoutout to my bestie Damey for recommending I spend an entire weekend binge watching OnDemand. Color me hooked!

"...long days and nights to help us make ten hours of television about a meth-addicted grifter who meets a contract killer and discovers that he may actually be her path to redemption." ~ pg. 7

Stay tuned for my upcoming reviews of the other two (2) novellas in the Letty Dobesh Chronicles: Sunset Key and Grab.

Author: Blake Crouch
Published: January 2011
Pages: 46
Edition: eBook
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

July 14, 2017

First Lines Friday: Oprah's Book Club Selection


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

"He'd never been asked to wear a suit to a job interview. Never been told to bring along a copy of his resume. He hadn't even owned a resume until the previous week when he'd gone to the library on Thirty-fourth and Madison and a volunteer career counselor had written one for him, detailed his work history to suggest he was a man of grand accomplishments: farmer responsible for tilling land and growing healthy crops; street cleaner responsible for making sure the town of Limbe looked beautiful and pristine; dishwasher in Manhattan restaurant, in charge of ensuring patrons ate from clean and germ-free plates; livery cabdriver in the Bronx, responsible for taking passengers safely from place to place."

~ Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue 

   

July 12, 2017

Summer Breeze Reads

Today I am sharing some of my summer breeze reads. I gave up on my mission to save light reading for the summertime. It never works out. So instead I am pacing myself with reading both fun mindless books and serious page-turners.  
  • The Fifth of July ~ The title alone screams summer read! Island setting. An accident. Multiple points of view. Frightening questions. No easy answers. Color me hooked at the second chapter. No doubt this is my page-turner of the summer.
  • American Gods ~ Yes, I am still reading this thick ass book. I acknowledge it will take me months to finish at my current reading pace of a few pages here and there.
  • Behold the Dreamers ~ The 2008 financial crisis affects my coins to. this. day. I'm curious to see how, or if, an immigrant couple achieves the great American dream and if their employers recover from the worldwide financial collapse. This novel is the current selection for Oprah's Book Club so I am participating in the online group discussions as I read along.
  • Detective Cross ~ At less than 140 pages, this BOOKShot is the perfect-sized book to carry around. I can whip it out anytime I have a few minutes to spare. Plus the story features one of my favorite fictional characters of color.
  • The Perfect Find ~ I struggled to choose just one chick lit book to read this summer. Something with a little romance and LOL scenes. So many on my TBR but this one seemed like, well...the perfect find.

What are your summer breeze reads?

 

July 11, 2017

The Mango Season


"We don't do that here." ~ 4%

It has been seven years since protagonist Priya Rao visited home (India). She escaped arranged marriage by enrolling in a master's program in the United States and then conveniently found a job in Silicon Valley. But now Priya is out of excuses. So what better time to visit home than during mango season. While she was growing up, summer was all about ripe, sweet mangoes. Maybe the dripping juice will be a distraction from the news she dreads telling her family.

Priya is engaged to (gasp!) an American man. Her family will not approve. He is not Indian and certainly not Telugu Brahmin. In fact, they are all arranging her marriage to a nice Indian boy. Before it goes too far, Priya has to spill her secret. The best time to tell everyone is while making mango pickle with her parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. She has to choose love or family.

"Family never came in neat little packages with warranty signs on them." ~ 26%

As an American, I am not familiar with the traditions of marrying in the same caste or having a spouse chosen with no say in the matter. Here in the United States, it is quite common to mesh cultures. So I enjoyed reading this book about a culture so different from my own. I like how author Amulya Malladi explained the Indian culture and let readers see this world from our Americanized eyes.

No worries if you didn't read The Mango Season when it was first published in 2003. I didn't either. But you can fix that now by reading the recently published edition. Grab a sweet piece of fruit, preferably mango, and settle in for a good read on a hot sticky summer day.

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 honestly my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

Title: The Mango Season
Author: Amulya Malladi
Published: May 2017
Pages: 240
Edition: Galley
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

Journeys


"A child who carries a book with a bookmark in it is in two places at the same time." ~ 7%

We all know that books change lives. And if you are a longtime bookheart, you know that I started as a very young reader and give credit to certain authors for shaping my youth with colorful stories. Well finally we have a book to prove it: Journeys: Young Readers' Letters to Authors Who Changed Their Lives. This collection is 52 letters from the Library of Congress' Letters About Literature contest.

There is nothing like sharing thoughts about a book you and a friend have read. It is an automatic connection with another human being; the written word is a powerful thing to have in common. Reading this collection brought a smile to my face and a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that the same books I read in my youth also had an effect on today's young readers. It was enlightening to read letters by students in grades four to twelve tell how their lives changed.

"Learning to read in America would never be the same." ~ 25%

For example, The Long Winter made a student understand what it feels like to worry about not having enough food. It wasn't always easy as going to the store. Another student related to Shades of Black because she is the "gingery brown in a cookie" and knows that diversity is a good thing. And most of all, one student had the same thoughts as me when I read Lord of the Flies in the eighth grade: stand up to the Jack in your life. If not, it can lead to group mind. Let us not forget the classic authors, Dr. Seuss and Judy Blume, whose work also impacted young readers.

I highly recommend this book for middle to high school students, teachers and parents. It is a great reference to discovering authors you, or your child, might not have read. It is especially a great guide for parents (like mine) who encouraged summer reading. Gift this to the young bookheart in your life and challenge him/her to write a letter of their own. Encourage young bookhearts to put down the game console, TV remote and iPad. Pick up a book and read.

Happy Early Pub Day! Journeys: Young Readers' Letters to Authors Who Changed Their Lives will be available on August 1, 2017.

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 honestly my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

Title: Journeys: Young Readers' Letters to Authors Who Changed Their Lives
Editor: Catherine Gourley
Published: August 2017
Pages: 240
Edition: Galley
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo




Evelyn Hugo is a classic film actress born in 1938. By 1955, she became Hollywood elite and remained in the spotlight for three decades. Her life has been in tabloids and on the tongues of gossipers. Everything from the risks she took, the loves of her life, her many marriages and career is newsworthy. Finally she is ready to tell the truth in her own words. But only to one person: an unknown magazine reporter named Monique Grant.

"And if I'm being honest, there is something very inspiring about having a black woman running things." ~ 1%

Why her? No one, including Monique, knows why Evelyn Hugo chose her to report such a glamorous and scandalous life. Most importantly, Evelyn is ready to reveal a secret to the public...through Monique only. Meanwhile, Monique is going through a tough personal time. She is undervalued as a journalist and recently split from her husband. Writing a biography is just the distraction she needs, especially if it jumpstarts her career.

Through interview/writing sessions at Evelyn's Upper East Side apartment, Monique learns all about the Hollywood star from her early start in the 1950s to her current life and the seven husbands along the way. Monique begins to feel a connection with Evelyn but doesn't realize how much their lives really intersect.

"If only they gave out Oscars for this shit." ~ 48%

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is like a soap opera in literary form starring a biracial main character. Immediately a certain real life actress came to mind but through Taylor Jenkins Reid's words, I totally fell into the unique events and world of Evelyn Hugo. I was all in, turning pages faster than they would flip. I knew a big reveal would come toward the end but it was nothing like I expected. The way Evelyn Hugo's personal storytelling resonates with Monique and encourages decision-making was well done. The story is well-paced and hardly holds any unnecessary scenes. Even the stunning cover is fitting! I can appreciate good writing...all 400 pages worth. Bookhearts, you will too.

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 honestly my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published: June 2017
Pages: 400
Edition: Galley
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

Atlanta Noir


Detroit Noir was briefly on my radar to read. Chicago Noir...meh. But Atlanta Noir edited by thee Tayari Jones? Download ARC now! I am all for reading short stories set on Peachtree, at a local Waffle House or Hartsfield-Jackson airport.

Atlanta is one of America's fastest-growing cities. It was my hope that this collection would reflect on the setting and showcase diverse authors. Talented writers who know the city inside and out tell gripping stories. Some stood out more than others but all were worth reading.

Happy Early Pub Day! Atlanta Noir will be available August 1, 2017.

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 honestly my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

Title: Atlanta Noir
Authors: Tayari Jones, Tananarive Due, Kenji Jasper, Dallas Hudgens, Jim Grimsley, Brandon Massey, Jennifer Harlow, Sheri Joseph, Alesia Parker, Gillian Royes, Anthony Grooms, John Holman, Daniel Black, David James Poissant
Published: August 2017
Pages: 280
Edition: Galley
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

The Hate U Give


"That's the problem. We let people say stuff, and they say it so much that it becomes okay to them and normal for us."

Starr Carter is a 16-year-old girl living in two worlds: the poor black neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. She has a childhood best friend, Khalil, and a different best friend at school. It takes skill to balance both worlds. But they collide when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of an unarmed Khalil at the hands of a police officer. It soon becomes a national headline.

Some people around school are calling Khalil a thug. Some even suggest he had it coming because he was a gangbanger. But Starr knows the truth. And when it becomes clear that the police choose to not investigate, protesters turn the neighborhood into a war zone. Starr has to determine whether to stay out of it or possibly endanger her life by telling what really happened that night.

"There's Them and then there's Us."

I could totally relate to Starr in how she essentially had to live a double life. I didn't grow up in a poor black neighborhood but did not attend the same school as other kids on my block did. I traveled across town to attend a school for the "talented and gifted." A school that was mixed race, college-prep and for the elite students of Detroit. While everyone else shared stories of what happened in school on a particular day, I was too busy doing homework and hanging out with my "smart friends." I was so far removed from the goings-on at the neighborhood school but was still respected and recognized as a girl from the East side. Either the author, Angie Thomas, had a similar situation growing up in Mississippi or she knew someone because it was perfectly depicted in this unflinching honest debut novel.

"Same shit, different century."

When a book is really good, it takes me quite a while to post a review. Why? Because I want to be sure the story sticks with me long enough to warrant a 5-heart rating. I wait even longer for popular books to see if the hype is right. Upon immediately finishing The Hate U Give, I knew it was excellent. A story that could happen in real life yet well written in fictional form. It is gripping and powerful from beginning to end. A debut novel deserving of awards and film rights. Angie Thomas, high five!

I recommend The Hate U Give for young adults and grown folks. It is age appropriate for the high-school student in your life and should be recommended reading in English or Social Studies classes. It addresses issues of racism, the community, violence, stereotypes and the story behind popular hashtags. The Hate U Give will force readers to see things from another point of view and make you go hmmm. At the minimum, it will be a conversation starter because of the bold cover. Look at it; how could you not pick this up and read?

Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Published: February 2017
Pages: 444
Edition: Hardcover
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

Lit Tidbit: A Game of Thrones Graphic Novel


Author: George R.R. Martin
Artist: Tommy Patterson
Adaptation: Daniel Abraham
Published: March 2012
Pages: 240


Description: Winter is coming. And so is season seven of the HBO hit series, Game of Thrones. I have to admit since attending the Con of Thrones and moderating a panel (Game of Thrones from a Sistah's Point of View), it has sparked excitement for the upcoming season. So while binge watching S6 (because it is obviously the dutiful thing to do while waiting for next season of Dem Thrones), I browsed through the graphic novel. 

Lit Tidbit: I don't have time to read the long ass series so the graphic novel is the next best thing. I downloaded the Kindle version of Volume 1 when it was on sale for only a few bucks. What a treat it was to browse! The direwolves are a sight to see, both on television and within the pages. The characters are drawn very well and, at times, just as graphic as the show. Beware of nudity! And my homeboy Bran's bob is just as flawless on paper than it is on screen. The battle scenes do not seem as brutal because illustrations cannot show the precise slice of a sword but fans get the point. Disappointingly, the Iron Throne is noted as a challenge in the graphic novel because it was drawn to match George's vision versus the HBO-type throne. The end result was not visually pleasing for me but fit the author's description best. 

So overall does it have my stamp of approval? Yes, A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel Vol. 1 is recommended, especially for comic book lovers and Winterfell fantasy residents.

4:44

Miss me, bookhearts?

πŸ™ŒπŸΎ  In the spirit of HOV, I realize I have been away longer than expected. So to make up for my absence, stay tuned for a slew of book reviews to be posted throughout the day.

The tip jar is in the form of Cash app, Paypal or Ticketmaster gift cards. πŸ˜‰

July 9, 2017

Series Sunday: Sin of a Woman

(Reverend Curtis Black #14) 

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.

My Series Sunday pick is Sin of a Woman, the 14th book in the Reverend Curtis Black series by Kimberla Lawson Roby. Starring in this latest installment of the bestselling series is Raven Black, ex-wife of Dillon Black. He has done everything to discredit her, yet Raven is bouncing back. Too bad it is down a path of destruction.

"There's a huge difference between true Christians who love and honor God and those who I refer to as 'lukewarm church people.'" ~ 12%

It is easy for me to put aside my feelings for a character I dislike for the sake of a series. In standalone novels, I have no desire to read about a character I hate unless it is clearly the author's purpose. But Raven? She is one character that I could not stand in this series, now she is the main character. Le sigh. It did not make reading Sin of a Woman an enjoyable experience.

Normally, I am geeked to read a new Reverend Curtis Black book of his antics. Now? Dare I say this series should come to an end soon and very soon. Time for this cast of characters to see The King. Enough of sub-characters getting whole books. No more cheating lying scandals in the church. Not another character getting vengeance. This series has run its course. I would rather it end now before it becomes ridiculous and placed on the DNF shelf.

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 honestly my own and would be the same if I spent my hard-earned coins.

Author: Kimberly Lawson Roby
Published: June 2017
Pages: 320
Edition: Galley
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€

  

July 7, 2017

First Lines Friday


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

"Unreliable witness': that was the phrase a member of the Special Committee in the Lower House of the United States Congress who was investigating the assassination of John F. Kennedy used to discredit me when I gave testimony in 1978 under the protection of an order for immunity from prosecution. I was a witness to events, and more. I was close to the people and places that marked a turning point in political life in the second half of the twentieth century."

~ Marita: The Spy Who Loved Castro by Marita Lorenz