November 13, 2018

Becoming: A Live Read

Happy Pub Day, Michelle Obama!

Hi, bookhearts! If you follow me on Twitter, you are familiar with my live tweeting of television and award shows. I sometimes live tweet my reactions while listening to new music too. So I figured, why not do the same thing for books?

I am going to "live read" Becoming, a memoir by Michelle Obama. She needs no introduction but deserves all the recognition: Former First Lady of the United States, mother of two down-to-earth daughters, wife to the first black President of the United States, one of the most iconic women of our era, initiator of a more active and healthy nation, advocate of women and girls worldwide and proud South Side Chicagoan. And she can dance too! Becoming is Michelle Obama's revelatory story in her own words, on her own terms.

I am settled in with the new hardcover edition, a cup of hot Lady Grey tea sweetened with raw honey and a touch of creamer, Walkers shortbread cookies and snug in my faux fur throw with the fireplace lit. I am in my reader's element excited to begin reading. I encourage buddy reading so here's the Reading Guide for book clubs and others reading along with me. Bookhearts, revisit this page to see my live updates and final book review.

11.14.2018 I have the hardcover and the eBook so I can read on-demand.

11.16.2018 First Lines Friday: "When I was a kid, my aspirations were simple." It is only the Preface and already I relate to Michelle Obama. As kids, we have simple thoughts as to what our future should be. Think about it—not once has a child said they look forward to paying bills, working overtime, dating or infertility. Common answers are doctor, lawyer, mother or sports player. So it really is one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child—What do you want to be when you grow up?

11.18.2018 Clearly I am taking my time reading this one. Absorbing every word because there are lessons to be learned within her reflections. For example, Chapter 1 is a story of her first piano recital. She was used to practicing on an old piano. So when seated in front of a sparkling baby grand piano, she was hesitant. Where to place her fingers? Where is the middle C key? There will be a time in our lives when we are taken out of comfort zone. Take a breath. Focus. And excel.

11.20.2018 "It takes energy to be the only black person..." I work in an industry dominated by older white men. Sixteen years in this career and I am sadly used to being the only meatball in the rice. As I move deeper into the industry and expand my professional circle, I am the only poppy seed in a bowl of salt. A young black chick is the last person expected in the room. So when Michelle Obama broke down how it takes energy to be the only black person...whew! I felt that. This is turning into a blogmoir post, let me get back to the book.

11.21.2018 "I'm not raising babies. I'm raising adults." It seems Mama & Daddy Robinson had the same parenting method as my parents.

11.22.2018 Since I am not behind the wheel, I am back-seat reading while en route to spend Thanksgiving with family. Ah, it is the little things in life that I am thankful for.

11.23.2018 The BECOMING ME section was very informative. Well-paced and set the stage for rest of the book. As I begin reading the second section, BECOMING US, a thought hits me. I could be missing out on "my" Barack! When Michelle met him, he didn't have a car, smoked cigarettes, was not fully settled in profession, and other things that are on my dealbreaker list. I need to ditch my box-checker mentality. I could be blind to a whole husband! Let this be the reason I open my eyes and "let my insanely high standards slip."

11.24.2018 "He'd get dinged up and stay shiny, like an old copper pot." Now that's #goals! I am halfway through the book where Barack Obama was chosen to speak at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. That 17-minute speech was a pivotal moment, with Michelle by his side. I am forced to reflect myself. Where did my own story take a turn? Have I even reached that moment yet? Or am I too stuck in expectations and following the path of a To Do list? For sure this memoir is teaching me to ditch unhappiness in any situation that is not fulfilling. Throw my hands up and let the roller coaster do its thing. Reach continuously toward a better me. (I am aware this live reading is turning into a long ass journal entry or blogmoir post. You will deal!)

11.25.2018 The storytelling is truly mesmerizing. A working-class black girl from the South Side of Chicago became the best First Lady of the United States. Read that sentence again; I'll wait.

11.29.2018 "I'm an ordinary person who found herself on an extraordinary journey." And oh, what a journey it has been. Reading Michelle Obama's memoir is a must. It is not an option. It is more than a mere suggestion. Consider it required reading for every dignified minority whose voice should be heard and whose existence should be known.

Color me invested in the Obamas. I downloaded Barack Obama's memoir, Dreams from My Father. And I am catching up on all of the book promotion interviews, starting with Carpool Karaoke. Jam along with us by pressing play below. 🎡This is for my girls🎡

11.30.2018 Seventeen days. It took me seventeen whole days to finish a 400+ page book. Why? Because I did not want the story to end. Because I soaked up every syllable. Because I took my time reading and related each chapter to my own life experiences. In fact, all of my bookish buddies are taking their time with this one. Let me attempt to explain why.

Becoming is like a homemade meal. You are excited while grocery shopping for the ingredients (checkout in your online cart or purchasing in a brick and mortar bookstore). You get home and lay everything out on the counter (admire the book, read the description again as if it even matters at this point. Change your social media status to "currently reading.") Start preparing the meal and cooking (crack open the book and read a few chapters). Once the meal is finished cooking and you smell the aroma, your mouth is watering. You've waited for this moment of tasting your home-cooked dish. Closing your eyes in ecstasy on the first bite. But you don't want to rush it! Take your time eating (reading) until the last forkful (page). Look down at your clean plate (closed book) with a smile. What a satisfying meal (book)! Now pass on the recipe (recommendation) to friends, co-workers, loved ones, or gift a fellow American.

This memoir is so well done. Thank you for sharing your unique story with such grace, Michelle Obama.

Title: Becoming
Author: Michelle Obama
Published: November 2018
Pages: 426
Edition: Hardcover
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

November 11, 2018

Series Sunday: S is for Silence

(Kinsey Millhone #19) 

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.

"Every little bit helps. It's like working on a jigsaw puzzle without the picture on the box." ~ pg. 86

My Series Sunday pick is S is for Silence, the 19th book in the Kinsey Millhone alphabet series by Sue Grafton. Thirty-four years ago, Violet Sullivan headed to the annual fireworks display. She was never seen again. Some say she ran off with a lover. Some say her husband killed her. But it was never explained for Daisy, the 7-year-old daughter she left behind. Now Daisy wants closure. What really happened to her mom?

"Oh, do tell. I love irony." ~ pg. 112

S is most certainly not for "superb" as critics claim. S is for Silence is possibly the worst in the series. No suspense. Mundane dialogue. Boring case. I hope it is not downhill from here. Especially considering the author passed away before finishing the alphabet series with Z

Author: Sue Grafton
Published: January 2005
Pages: 309
Edition: eBook
Challenge: Perpetual Kinsey Millhone
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€

November 9, 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.

"Shadow had done three years in prison. He was big enough, and looked don't-fuck-with-me enough that his biggest problem was killing time."

~ American Gods by Neil Gaiman 

This book is a perpetual read. I don't want to read further than where the television series is. No spoilers and no prior knowledge before I see the scenes played out. I am so looking forward to its return in 2019 along with the Sistah Speak: American Gods podcast. 

November 8, 2018

Lit Tidbits: Pithy Picks

Author: Maurice White
Published: September 2016
Pithy ReviewMaurice White charts the rise of his legendary music band. Like their music filled with horns, vocals and stage presence, this band is solid in their unity. Music remained a priority in Maurice White's life and it showed with every song. After reading this memoir, it is evident why Earth, Wind & Fire remains the best concert I ever attended, continues to lift moods and inspire artists still today.

AuthorMaureen Smith
PublishedNovember 2016
Pithy Review: I waited years (no exaggeration) for this book and was quite disappointed when it released as Part One with the promise of Part Two in 2017. Well, guess what? It is damn near 2019 and no Part Two in sight. And the romance was lackluster at best when I finally made it around to reading this. So I am done with this series and this author for a good little while. Serialized novels are a gimmick and I want no parts...pun intended.  

TitleBurial Rites
Author: Hannah Kent
PublishedSeptember 2013
Pithy Review: Inspired by a true story, this novel is about the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in the 1820s. She awaits execution surrounded by a priest and farmer's family. I unfortunately DNF because of the writing style and subject. I somehow purchased two (2) copies of this book so send a message if interested and I will mail you the hardcover edition. 

AuthorJane Green
PublishedJune 2017
Pithy ReviewI cannot fathom having to watch someone intentionally die. Yet the "sunshine sisters" are set to task when their disinterested, often absent mother invites them over as a final wish. She stockpiled pills and is ready to take her last breath surrounded by jazz and her three daughters. Jealousy, illness and secrets fill the room. This novel is an example of judging a book by its cover; it is nothing like the sunny beach scene shown.

AuthorJenny Lawson
Published: April 2012
Pithy ReviewI literally LOL'ed a few times in the beginning of this book. Like shake-my-head-this-girl-is-nuts-but-funny type of laugh. But somewhere in the middle it lost its appeal. Maybe it was too many jokes bound into one book. It started to seem forced like a comedian losing touch with a live audience. But I like Jenny Lawson's tactic in trying to find humor in every situation.

TitleBad Mommy
Author: Tarryn Fisher
Published: December 2016
Pithy ReviewI would normally not read a book with such an un-relatable title. I am not a mommy and mine is certainly not bad. But it caught my attention when the author released a new cover and title. I Can Be a Better You is the type of psychological title that brings pause. Fig Coxbury buys a house on West Barrett Street. Not because it's her dream home in a nice neighborhood. But because everything she desires is right next door: the husband, the child and the life. EEK!

TitleThe Sock Wars
AuthorMaia Sepp
Published: December 2012
Pithy Review: This Top 100 Digital Bestseller sat on my NOOK long enough. Lucy is a workaholic financial planner. She is thrown out of routine when her aunt dies in a car accident. With no remaining family alive, a ticking biological clock and a milestone birthday approaching, she moves into an inherited house. As she settles into a life of sock thievery, she realizes too much time was spent fixing other people's lives and not fully living her own.

Author: Brad Meltzer
Published: March 2001
Pithy Review: I saved the best for last. On a random day, I was conversating (it's a word now...look it up!) with a colleague. Somehow books came up and we started trading recommendations. I asked him to let me borrow one of his favorite books ever. A book that held his attention and didn't drag like most books over 500 pages sometimes do. The very next day, a thick paperback was sitting on my desk with a sticky note simply saying, "Enjoy but I want my book back." After promising to return his paperback in pristine condition, I started reading. Setting: White House. Themes: murder, secrets, drugs, cut-throat antics. Characters: extremely interesting but can't trust worth a damn. Rating: every bit of 5 stars. This book caught every second of my attention. I kinda want to add it to my own collection but promises to bookhearts cannot be broken.

Bookhearts, I hope you enjoyed these pithy reviews. This is what happens when the end of year is approaching and I clean my TBR list (which is down to 85 books. Go me!) Whether you like fiction, comedy, memoirs, chick lit or thriller, there are recommendations here for everyone. Happy Reading! 

November 6, 2018


Before you read any further, did you vote yet?
If not, logoff. G O  V O T E  N O W!
If yes, please continue reading.

Thank you for using your voice in this midterm election. Your life is on the ballot. You did your part. You have every right to complain about laws or support the changes that are made.

It is impossible for anyone to be 100% satisfied with election results. So please do not feel discouraged if the results are not in your favor. Cause an uproar if you must. But if the results are favorable, go ahead and brag that you exercised your right to vote and it worked.

Do more than just post your "I VOTED" sticker on social media. Encourage others to vote too. Support your favorite candidates. Be loud about proposals. Bring positive change to the community you work and live in. Continue to show up and show out to the polls. And again, thank you!


November 4, 2018

Series Sunday: R is for Ricochet

(Kinsey Millhone #18) 

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 R is for Ricochet, the 18th book in the Kinsey Millhone alphabet series by Sue Grafton. She is hired for a simple task: drive Reba Lafferty home from her incarceration at the Californian Institute for Women. But Kinsey is soon fighting to prevent rebellious Reba from breaking parole. In the midst, Kinsey discovers that Reba isn't 100% guilty. She actually took the fall for her boss/lover in a money laundering scam. Has Reba learned her lesson or is she out for bitter revenge?

"Revenge is your hurt me and I grind you underfoot until you wish you were dead. Getting even restores the balance in the Universe." ~ pg. 327

It doesn't even bother me that us readers only know the basic deets about main character, Kinsey Millhone. They are repeated in the first chapter of every single book in the series. Yet it remains all we know. Divorced, 30-something single woman, no immediate family. Just a lone PI, thoroughly accomplished liar that manages to get involved in sticky situations. And you know what? I am totally okay with that now. It makes the mystery stand out even more.

"I was beginning to see that operating in high gear was a means of protecting myself." ~ pg. 237

I am so glad I've stuck to this series and committed to reading them all. I am even more pleased that I don't have to wait over a year for the next installment. Cheers to hopping on the bandwagon late!

Author: Sue Grafton
Published: July 2004
Pages: 352
Edition: Hardcover
Challenge: Perpetual Kinsey Millhone
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

November 2, 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.

"I'm afraid of heights, snakes, normalcy, mediocrity, Hollywood, the initial silence of an empty house, the enduring darkness of a poorly lit street, evil clowns, professional failure, the intellectual impact of Barbie dolls, letting my father down, being paralyzed, hospitals, doctors, the cancer that killed my mother, dying unexpectedly, dying for a stupid reason, dying painfully, and, worst of all, dying alone. But I'm not afraid of power–which is why I work in the White House."

~ The First Counsel by Brad Meltzer


November 1, 2018

Harley & Rose

Girl loves boy.
Boy is not in love with girl.
Girl wants to marry boy.
Boy is marrying another girl.
Other girl leaves boy at altar.
Girl picks up the pieces.

"It's better this way for both of us, even if it feels as if my chest has been flayed open, my ribs pulled apart, and my heart smashed into a bleeding, broken pulp." ~ 40%

Thirty-year-old Rose dreamed of this wedding day. Marrying Harley and being carried over the threshold into a honeymoon suite. And it's happening! But only because Harley was just left at the altar. Why should a paid honeymoon go to waste? So they trade San Francisco for paradise. But what happens on the beach doesn't stay there.

I am not on Facebook, but I imagine this relationship status would be "it's complicated." Author Carmen Jenner wrote this story at a great pace. Not too rushed, not too eye-rolling slow. It was a pleasure reading how Harley and Rose's relationship goes from friend zone to possibly something more. As I read along, I realized this novel is more than just about unrequited love. It is also about hope, acceptance and moving on.

"Well, it hurts like a motherfucker." ~ 24%

With current year releases read, I had time to browse eBooks I already purchased but never got around to reading. Harley & Rose was a random buy because it was on sale for a couple bucks and the synopsis sounded good. Now here I am two years later discovering an author whose voice is so relatable and easy to read. I give Carmen Jenner credit for hooking me in, setting me up for an awww love story, then sucker-punching me in the throat.

Try reading Harley & Rose if you are into romance that will make you blush at the sex scenes, smile at the cute dialogue, then make your face wet with unexpected tears

Title: Harley & Rose
Author: Carmen Jenner
Published: October 2018
Pages: 316
Edition: eBook
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€