May 31, 2018

There Are More Beautiful Things Than BeyoncΓ©


"But one day your shit will be unbelievably together." ~ pg. 76

Let me be the first to admit: I judge books by its cover. I also judge books by its title. So when I came across There Are More Beautiful Things Than BeyoncΓ© in my Goodreads feed, I immediately became curious. Call it a stan reflex. When the order arrived, I read the blurbs first. Very convincing! And it won a literary award in 2017. But it was the inside flap language, with a touch of blasphemy, that made me dive into this book of poetry.

"The only thing more beautiful than BeyoncΓ© is God, and God is a black woman sipping rosΓ© and drawing a lavender bath, texting her mom, belly-laughing in the therapist's office, feeling unloved, being on display, daring to survive." 

There are 42 poems meant to evoke emotion, hurt, pride and unity. I could relate to some, while others read like a riddle. Nevertheless, this collection is a celebration of Black American womanhood.

Title: There Are More Beautiful Things Than BeyoncΓ©
Author: Morgan Parker
Published: February 2017
Pages: 85
Edition: Paperback
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

 

May 30, 2018

Whiskey & Ribbons


"My life used to have color. Now it's monochromatic." ~ pg. 110

Life continues after loss. We may not feel it is possible at the time of grief. We may not want to move on. But the world does not stop; loss is a major part of life that cannot be avoided. Heal the best way you know how.

Told in three points of view, alternating between past and present, is a story set in contemporary Louisville, Kentucky. Evi is a trained ballerina, nine months pregnant and snowed in during a blizzard. Her husband, Eamon, prepares for fatherhood and grapples with his dangerous profession as a police officer. He is killed in the line of duty on a hot morning in July. Now it is winter again and Eamon's brother moves in with Evi to help raise the six-month-old baby.

"And now I was burdened with a secret that was never mine. A secret on loan." ~ pg. 174

Leesa Cross-Smith, may I have a word with you? The audacity to invade my literary life and take my imagination away from the real world to focus on characters you created. The dialogue and descriptive scenes demanded my undivided attention. Certain chapters forced me to think about how I handled losses I'd experienced; questioning whether I really moved on. Oh, the power you had over my time while slowly turning the pages of this well-written book! Taking in every sentence.

No, it was not a page-turner. No, I did not rush reading. I haven't read a book this slow in ages! I took the advice of my bookhearts (#PrissInBooks, #ReadInColour, Keyona Chocolate-Covered-Pages and Author D.L. White) and savored every word. Thanks for the recommendation, y'all! And thank YOU, Leesa Cross-Smith for gifting readers with Whiskey & Ribbons. I know it's only May but this is the best book I've read this year!

I don't drink whiskey but I definitely advise bookhearts to 1) read Whiskey & Ribbons at your leisure and 2) sip your favorite adult beverage while reading this novel. It is meant to be consumed at a slower than normal pace; savor the flavor. Put everything else on hold to discover what it means to really heal.

Title: Whiskey & Ribbons
Author: Leesa Cross-Smith
Published: March 2018
Pages: 259
Edition: Hardcover
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

 

May 29, 2018

Raising Kanye


"I always wanted my son to feel free to express himself." ~ pg. 78

Donda West is the deceased mother of hip-hop superstar and fashion designer, Kanye West. This book, Raising Kanye: Life Lessons from the Mother of a Hip-Hop Superstar, was published six months before she passed away. It is about lessons she learned being a single mother in a black community and raising a son with strong moral values. She even explains his reputation as a "mama's boy" and excuses his outbursts. I get the idea she was the type of mother who thought her child did no wrong. In fact, this book was moreso how Kanye helped shape Dr. Donda to be the woman she was.

So why did I pick up this book eleven years after it's been published? Well, I wanted to get more insight into Kanye given his recent erratic actions. Was his childhood privileged or a struggle? Did he always speak before thinking? Did his arrogance start at a young age or when fame and fortune hit? A few of my questions were answered but mostly, I got a sense of his upbringing. The year spent in China, living in Chicago and the separation of his parents was discussed in detail. As were his experiences in the music industry. Donda West did not skimp on the inside scoop.

"And in a society where our legacy is surely the love of our forefathers but also the hate of slave masters, it is imperative that parents consciously teach the love of self, the courage of Malcolm, the wisdom of Martin, the tenacity of Marcus." ~ pg. 85

I won't speak ill of an angel; so let's just say I now understand the origin of Kanye's views. Sadly, I also understand how close Kanye was to his mother. They were best friends. I cannot imagine the pain and heartache. The absence of conversating (it's now a real word!) with a like-minded person must feel lonely. Holding onto thoughts until he bursts into a rant that the general public does not understand. Reading Raising Kanye did not stop my side-eye but I now have patience with Kanye's antics. It is coming from a sincere place on a level not everyone understands. Bookhearts, let us not write him off just yet. I hope he finds peace and stability.

SideNote: Dare I say that I like four out of seven songs on Kanye West's new album, ye.

Title: Raising Kanye: Life Lessons from the Mother of a Hip-Hop Superstar
Author: Donda West
Published: May 2007
Pages: 237
Edition: PDF
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

 

May 28, 2018

US vs. UK


The UK is my hometown glory but I live in the US. And it is our Memorial Day! The US vs. UK bookish meme compares book covers published in the two countries. Enjoy the battle of the book covers!

US vs. UK
  • The Family Lawyer ~ Both covers show a person running away. But the UK version looks like an actual lawyer running to court versus a random lady at a boat dock. UK wins πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§
  • A Spark of Light ~ Again a similar concept but the US cover most fits the spring/summer season. It reminds me of cotton candy or tie-dye. US wins πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ
  • Barracoon ~ This is such an easy choice. Of course I pick the book cover with the larger picture of the last slave. A fine example of Black Don't Crack. US wins πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ

Total: US 41; UK 39

May 27, 2018

Series Sunday: Tempest

(Old West #3) 

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 Tempest, the third and final book in the Old West series by Beverly Jenkins. Greeting your husband-to-be with a bullet is probably not the best idea. But it was an honest mistake. Mail-order bride, Regan Carmichael, is an independent woman with plans to marry a man she's never met. Widower Dr. Colton Lee is seeking a wife not for love but to care for his daughter. He doesn't expect a fierce beautiful woman that can literally shoot her shot. Tempest is the story of making this match a true union. 

"The United States was only twenty years past the horrors of slavery, and although his father's side had been free before Emancipation, his mother's side had been free for only a generation." ~ pg. 284

Funny how I am not a history buff. Nor do I like westerns. And I especially do not like cheesy book covers. But damnit if I do not love this Old West series by Beverly Jenkins. In true Cass Technician fashion, Jenkins is thorough in her research, providing readers with history education and a love story worth swooning over. Tempest was the best ending to the trilogy. I wish there was more!

Title: Tempest
Author: Beverly Jenkins
Published: January 2018
Pages: 348
Edition: Paperback
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

May 25, 2018

First Lines Friday - Memoir Memorial Weekend


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.

"After two weeks of intensely working out, I had lost not one fucking pound!"

The Mother of Black Hollywood by Jenifer Lewis



"On March 6, 2000, I stepped to the podium at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City to accept Earth, Wind & Fire's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In my acceptance speech, I told the audience that establishing the band's place in history had been a hard road, but a good road."

My Life with Earth, Wind, & Fire by Maurice White



"He was about seven months old when I first noticed it."

~ Raising Kanye by Donda West

May 24, 2018

Barracoon


"I want to look lak I in Affica, 'cause dat where I want to be." ~ pg. 113

In late 1927, Zora Neale Hurston conducted a series of interviews with the last known surviving African of the last American slaver. Oluale Kossola, also called Cudjo Lewis, was 86 years old at the time. He recalled memories of his childhood in Takkoi, the attack of female warriors, seeing jawbones snatched and decapitated heads of his family and townspeople. He was held at the barracoon, enslaved in America, then lived through the Civil War and Jim Crow to tell about it. He trusted and shared his life story with Zora Neale Hurston over the span of three months.

Look at the book cover above and let this fact sink in. Of all the millions of people captured and transported from Africa to America, Cudjo Lewis was the only man left. His illegal journey from Africa to Alabama, United States was aboard the fastest slave ship called Clotilda under the guise of shipping red palm oil. It would turn out to be the last voyage. The thought alone makes me shiver.

"How does one sleep with such memories beneath the pillow?" ~ pg. 16

Barracoon has elements of folklore, traditional storytelling and historical data. But it is told in a way that is not up for interpretation. It is Cudjo Lewis' life story as told by himself. Thanks to the dialogue written as Cudjo pronounced it, I can picture Zora Neale Hurston eating sweet Georgia peaches and ice cold watermelon* as Cudjo gets lost in thought and shares details from a cargo's point of view. Most times it was hard to understand but about halfway through, I picked up on certain words (de=the; Afficka=Africa; doan=don't; astee=ask). *Please note this is not a stereotype that I threw in my review. They really did commune over watermelon under the shade of his China-berry tree.

"My folks sell me and yo folks (Americans) buy me." ~ pg. 68

I have to be careful reading books like this. The ways of our good ole' country and its treatment of blacks usually rile me up. But surprisingly, it was not the content that made me angry. Barracoon was completed back in 1931. How this story of the last "black cargo" took so long to find a taker and be published is beyond me. It's been nearly a century! Perhaps because there is no sugar-coating that Africans were not only victims, but participants, of the slave trade. Yeah, go ahead and swallow that pill. This nugget of truth is just one of many that makes Barracoon a hard read. Alice Walker says, "We are being shown the wound."

At the risk of sounding like a school book report, I will now end this review with a recommendation. Bookhearts drawn to black history, nonfiction and a good word from novelist/folklorist/anthropologist, Zora Neale Hurston, will appreciate this new release.

Title: Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo"
Author: Zora Neale Hurston
Published: May 2018
Pages: 171
Edition: Hardcover
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

 

May 23, 2018

The Perfect Mother


"Don't they know how hard this all is? The pressure of just keeping these babies alive. The task of loving someone like this, and how easy it is to fuck this up, the way we're sure our mothers did." ~ pg. 176

Author Aimee Molloy did a great job in identifying a mother's worst nightmare. She explored the pressures of being a good mom, of making sure your baby reaches all the necessary milestones, and of keeping up appearances in social circles. Some new mothers take extra precaution while others follow the advice of parenting newsletters. What works for one mother is not necessarily the right route for another. Because of Molloy's characterization, it made it hard to decide whom I empathized with as the story unraveled.

Fourth of July was meant to be a fun night out for the May Mothers—a group of new moms whose babies were born in the same month. They get together a couple times a week to share stories, let the babies bond, and for much-needed adult time. But on this particular holiday night, they go out for drinks at a neighborhood bar in Brooklyn. It all goes terrifyingly wrong when one of the six-week-old babies is taken from the crib. Who took Baby Midas?

I was tempted to stop reading just before I reached 50 pages. Enough with the mundane details of the May Mothers Club. All characters were introduced at this point yet nothing major happened yet. Thank goodness for the Prologue offering a glimpse into fourteen weeks later. It garnered enough interest for me to continue and build to that point. The Perfect Mother is the type of psycho-thriller that slowly reaches the climax. If you can hang in there, it is worth it until the surprising ending.

"At once wonderfully nuanced and compulsively readable, it keeps you guessing at every moment up until the very end. I could not be prouder to be bringing this thriller to the big screen." ~ Kerry Washington

The Perfect Mother was picked up for a movie adaptation back in February 2017 and it was just published earlier this month. Obviously others had high hopes before it even hit the shelves. I cannot see Kerry Washington as the lead role; perhaps because it will take a while to not see her as Olivia Pope. However, I am looking forward to seeing this on the big screen and *fingers crossed* the movie will be good as the book.

Title: The Perfect Mother
Author: Aimee Molloy
Published: May 2018
Pages: 317
Edition: Hardcover
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

 

May 22, 2018

Gate 76


"Look too far into anything and you'll find something you're not supposed to know. And that's the first step toward getting involved." ~ 1%

Retired professional heavyweight boxer, Freddy Ferguson, is now an investigator working for a private entity. He has no clue at first that the mysterious woman seen boarding the wrong plane is in danger. It is not until her face and name appear in connection with a fatal crime that Freddy begins his nationwide search to find her. She could be the only living witness but pursuers might silence her for good.

"The results of the background check show up about two minutes before my plate of brisket. Think about that the next time you think there's such a thing as privacy in the internet age." ~ 45%

It is not often that I cancel all plans for an entire day to finish reading a book. Sure I have lazy moments when all I do is read. But Gate 76 was worthy of actually postponing all I had planned just because I could not focus on anything else until the story was done. Calling Gate 76 unputdownable is a statement you can take to the bank.

It has a very strong start with the mysterious woman pulling a switcheroo at Gate 76; minutes before the plane she was supposed to board crashes with a full flight of passengers. The plot takes readers through Freddy fighting his own internal battle while trying to protect a stranger. The ending was fitting. Do I have your attention yet? Trust me, bookhearts. This new release is intended for readers that love suspense and great character development.

Gate 76 has put author Andrew Diamond on my radar. I really wish he would grant my wish and make this into a series; I need more Freddy Ferguson in my life.

Happy Early Pub Day, Andrew Diamond! Gate 76 will be available Friday, June 1.

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

Title: Gate 76
Author: Andrew Diamond
Published: June 2018
Pages: 320
Edition: Galley
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

May 20, 2018

Series Sunday: A Sin Such as This

(Love Lies Beneath #2) 

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 A Sin Such as This, the follow-up book to Love Lies Beneath by Ellen Hopkins. Tara has gone from a rich single woman to a suburban housewife. Her niece, Kayla, moves into the home and immediately hooks up with the seductive stepson. As if that is not enough family drama, Tara's sister is going through marital issues. Then we have Sophia, a gorgeous ex-girlfriend found murdered. All of the main characters had motive but only one is suffering the sins of others. Whew—this is a bit much! Crazy beget crazy.

"You are like rain, forecasted to quench a summer's thirsting, thirst grown beyond easy need, to life or death." ~ 31%

Let's look at the cover first. There is something about calming waters and a landscape that puts me at peace. Maybe too much. I fell asleep the first two times I started reading it. Then one chapter was really interesting and I saw promise for this novel. But it went downhill after that one chapter.

"Even a small bed is too big, alone." ~ 47%

Here we are three years later with a sequel to Love Lies Beneath. I expected this follow-up novel to be better than the first book. It is largely because I am conditioned that Ellen Hopkins writes in beautiful prose. Not the case for traditional book format. The characters and the story itself fell flat, making it a struggle to finish. I found myself only looking forward to the few poems that separated sections. They told far more about the plot than dialogue and paragraphs did. Putting the format aside, I still did not care for A Sin Such as This as much as Ellen Hopkins' other works. Please go back to the beloved old writing style!

Happy Early Pub Day, Ellen Hopkins! A Sin Such as This is available Tuesday, May 29.

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

Author: Ellen Hopkins
Published: May 2018
Pages: 384
Edition: Galley
Rating: πŸ–€

May 18, 2018

First Lines Friday


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.

"Those who love us never leave us alone with our grief. At the moment they show us our wound, they reveal they have the medicine."

Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo" by Zora Neale Hurston

May 17, 2018

Bring Me Back


"Once you were back, you became the most important thing in my life, to the exclusion of everything and everyone else." ~ pg. 49

A young couple is on holiday in France. They are driving around and stop at a shady looking gas service station. The guy runs to the bathroom and insists his girlfriend lock the car doors behind him. But when he returns, the passenger side door is wide open and the car is empty. No one ever sees the girl again.

Fast forward ten years and the guy has moved on. New life, new wife-to-be, new job. All is well until he comes home one day to find his fiancΓ© sitting on the sofa with a puzzled look, twiddling with an object. In an instant, the past comes back. She is holding a Russian doll—an object only significant to the missing girlfriend.

I love an author that can make me question the integrity of the main character. Is he genuine? Is he lying to us, and even himself? Is he just telling the police things to make it look better? Can I trust this narrator's point of view? All of these questions went through my mind while reading Bring Me Back. All were answered...but too many pages later. Again I found myself trying not to skim through and get to the good part.

So is it a good or bad thing when only one thought lingers after reading a novel? Because never have Russian dolls seemed so haunting.

Happy Early Pub Day, B.A. Paris. Bring Me Back will be available Tuesday, June 19.

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

Title: Bring Me Back
Author: B.A. Paris
Published: June 2018
Pages: 256
Edition: Galley
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€

May 16, 2018

All We Ever Wanted


"An inside racist joke?" ~ 9%

In the world of social media, it didn't happen if there is no picture to prove it. But some pictures are better left unposted. One photo snapped in a drunken moment at a party spreads like wildfire. Lies and scandal force three people to choose between family and values.

Lyla is a seemingly happy teenager until the consequences of her underage drinking is caught on camera. Her father is beyond angry and reports it to the high school; surely the boy who snapped and shared the photo should be blamed. The racist caption alone is damning. But his parents have another agenda. This novel is basically 400 pages of the consequences of a photo posted on social media. I guess this is relevant in our generation but did we really need a whole book about it?

"Because sometimes you can't see the things that are the closest to you." ~ 95%

Some authors are automatically added to my TBR off their name alone. I don't need a book title. I don't need a cover reveal. I don't even need a synopsis. Emily Giffin has proven to be such an author. So when I received the advanced copy of All We Ever Wanted, I read the summary only for brief context before beginning the book. It didn't sound all too interesting but I brushed it off because, hey this is Emily Giffin so why not read it anyway.

I guess every all-star has a bad performance. I am not saying All We Ever Wanted was downright bad but it is definitely least liked of all her books (and I have read them ALL). One of the charms of reading an Emily Giffin book is her ability to make me root for the bad girl. But in this book here? Not even one character was likeable. Only thing I rooted for was the end. 

All I wanted was a good read from All We Ever Wanted. It was a bust but maybe the author's intention worked; I am left with questions that make me think: Should a parent always side with their kid? Do we excuse learned behavior? πŸ€”

Happy Early Pub Day, Emily Giffin. All We Ever Wanted will be available Tuesday, June 26.

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

Title: All We Ever Wanted
Author: Emily Giffin
Published: June 2018
Pages: 400
Edition: Galley
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€

May 15, 2018

Ayiti


"My parents were born in Haiti, the first free black nation in the world. It is an island of contradictions." ~ 69%

First published in 2011, Ayiti is a collection of short stories exploring the Haitian experience. A married couple seeks boat passage to America. A young woman uses a voodoo love potion on a childhood classmate. A mother takes in a foreign soldier. While another woman flees a horrific massacre. None are impressed with Americans and their huge cruise ships that frequently pull into the port. All varying stories though none really stuck with me.

I will consume almost every written word of Roxane Gay's. I cannot get enough of her strong writing and opinionated tweets. She needs to be on everyone's radar. So this collection of short stories to be re-released is a joy. Hopefully it captures new readers and gives us old fans something to read while waiting for more new literature. I personally prefer her fiction novels but Ayiti satisfied my fix for now.

Happy Early Pub Day, Roxane Gay! Ayiti will be available Tuesday, June 12.

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

Title: Ayiti
Author: Roxane Gay
Published: June 2018
Pages: 320
Edition: Galley
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€

May 13, 2018

Series Sunday: INCOMPLETE AF


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 is focused on series that fell off the earth. Incomplete AF!

Title: A Teeny Taste of Scandal
Author: Michael Lee West
Status: January 1, 2020 supposedly.

Title: Whatever You Need Part 2
Author: Maureen Smith
Status: Part One took forever and a day. Part 2 nowhere in sight.

Title: RAW Rebirth #3
Author: Belle Aurora
Status: Three years and waiting...

May 11, 2018

First Lines Friday


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.

"Mother's Day. May 14. I wake, feverish. The skylight above me pulses with rain, and I spider my fingers across the sheets, remembering I'm alone. I close my eyes and find my way back to sleep, until I'm woken again, engulfed by a deep, sudden pain."

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy

May 10, 2018

Ever After


"She didn't have the luxury of choosing her battles; she needed to eliminate every potential conflict in her life so that she could focus on the seismic one currently gripping her." ~ 49%

Do you remember the exact moment you created a secret? When the truth is revealed, you may wonder back in time to that moment. How you could have prevented it. Whom you should have told. So when Josie borrows her husband's phone and sees nine words that shatter her seemingly happily ever after marriage, she looks back at such moments. Then Josie goes to far lengths to uncover more secrets before determining if her marriage is worth saving.

I am a fan of Sarah Pekkanen's earlier novels. They are quality women's literature with real issues and intriguing storylines. So I expected her usual in new release Ever After. And it is. But unfortunately, I was disappointed and had to fight the urge to not skim. Perhaps because I could not relate to the marriage difficulties which were the focus. Or maybe it was the lengthy passages that were too wordy and unnecessary. Either way, I could have passed on Ever After but you may think differently. Like Pekkanen's other novels, there are more than a few women out here that can connect to her stories.

Happy Early Pub Day, Sarah Pekkanen. Ever After will be available Tuesday, June 5.

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

Title: Ever After
Author: Sarah Pekkanen
Published: June 2018
Pages: 272
Edition: Galley
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€

May 9, 2018

Fresh Ink


"More often than not, if I ran across a character who shared my race and gender in a book he was a gross stereotype, comic relief, token sidekick, or, depending on genre (I'm looking at you, science fiction, fantasy, and horror), there to die so the real hero could fight another day." ~ 3%

We Need Diverse Books partners with thirteen of the most popular diverse authors in the Young Adult genre. Walter Dean Myers, Nicole Yoon and Jason Reynolds are just a few of the contributors to this well-written anthology. It features ten short stories, one graphic novel-type story and a one-act play.

There is a representation of almost all diverse groups within these pages. Every reader will feel a connection to at least one character. I recommend Fresh Ink: An Anthology to young readers looking for diversity in literature. This collection will inspire to color outside the lines while painting your life.

Happy Early Pub Day! Fresh Ink will be available Tuesday, August 14.

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

Title: Fresh Ink: An Anthology
Editor: Lamar Giles
Published: August 2018
Pages: 208
Edition: Galley
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

May 8, 2018

Moonrise


"What possible comfort could any words have?" ~ 80%

Seventeen-year-old Joe hasn't seen his brother in ten years. Why not? Because Ed is on death row. Regardless of what people think and whether Ed is guilty or innocent, does not stop Joe from spending the last month with his brother.

I will probably be in the minority here, but Moonrise was close to being deemed DNF (Did Not Finish). The writing did not help me empathize with either brother or his situation. I expected more from a novel focusing on death and forgiveness. Ah well.

Happy Pub Day, Sarah Crossan! Moonrise is now available.

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

Title: Moonrise
Author: Sarah Crossan
Published: May 2018
Pages: 400
Edition: Galley
Rating: πŸ–€

May 6, 2018

Series Sunday: Murder with Macaroni and Cheese

(Mahalia Watkins Soul Food Mystery #2) 

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 Murder with Macaroni and Cheese, the second (and hopefully not the last) book in the Mahalia Watkins Soul Food Mystery series by A.L. Herbert. Welcome to Mahalia's Sweet Tea—the finest soul food restaurant in Prince George's County, Maryland. The owner, affectionately nicknamed Halia, has her hands full cooking, frying, and solving another murder with her curvy loud cousin Wavonne.

Halia agrees to cater her upcoming high school reunion. She didn't even plan to attend due to being so busy at the restaurant but the organizing committee really needs her help at the last minute. Like most high school reunions, it is bittersweet. Some ex-classmates have blossomed while others have not changed, like mean girl Raynell Rollins. When Raynell is found dead the morning after the reunion, Halia starts picking possible suspects. Nearly everyone had a reason to want the manipulating, insulting bitch dead. Even though the police believe it was an accident, Halia and Wavonne prove otherwise.

"Some indulgences amass calories. And I guess certain other indulgences burn them." ~ pg. 103

I love how the murder doesn't happen until halfway through the book. It sets the stage for fuller character development and lets readers get to know the possible suspects way beforehand. It also lets readers develop their own opinion of the victim; at only 23% into the book, I was ready for Raynell Rollins to be killedt...yes, with a T. Quite clever pacing, actually. And most of all, it doesn't feel like the mystery is dragging on forever.

Soul Food + Mystery x 2 = Fictional Greatness Leftovers. Once again, I recommend this short series if cozy foodie lit is your thing. There are great recipes inside as a bonus. Now excuse me while I go stalk the author for info on book #3.

Author: A.L. Herbert
Published: August 2016
Pages: 266
Edition: Paperback
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