April 10, 2019

Nonstop

Let's take a pause from book and migraine talk.

Remember the old days of recording on VHS tapes? Then upgrading to DVR with the ability of fast-forwarding through commercials? Technology has spoiled us. Instead of watching a TV show week-to-week, waiting seven whole days for a cliffhanger to be addressed, streaming services have taken over. We can binge-watch whole seasons! We can sit for hours watching episode after episode, lifting a finger only to click "yes, I am still watching."

Below are shows I am enjoying this spring season and consider binge-worthy.

What do you watch nonstop?

  • The Good Fight ~ I love and hate CBS. Love that a non-censored legal drama features a majority black cast starring the intelligent Cush Jumbo, the striking Audra McDonald, coming into her own Rose Leslie, Nigerian actor Nyambi Nyambi, sassy Sarah Steele, Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart and THEE Delroy Lindo. Hate CBS for charging an access fee to watch exclusively online. It is worth every bit of ratings and gives no fucks when it comes to politics, current events and language. This show needs more exposure for its greatness! 
  • The Resident ~ I may call Conrad "Cary Agos from The Good Wife" but he has single-handedly made this new medical show a favorite. The cast is colorful too with Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Manish Dayal and Shaunette RenΓ©e Wilson.
  • Shameless ~ Season 9 just wrapped and I already miss this shameless family. The heavy themes include alcohol addiction, mental illnesses, teenage pregnancy, abandonment, imprisonment, interracial relationships, lesbian/gay relationships, entrepreneurship, parenthood, sibling reliability and anything else you can think of. 
  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel ~ My timeline is responsible for half of the shit I watch. If it weren't for the online buzz, I would not have started watching this hilarious, set in the 1950s web series.
  • Grey's Anatomy ~ The longest running medical drama for good reason. New episodes still steal my breath away and hold my attention.
  • This Is Us ~ The evolution of Randall and Beth's relationship is probably the best episode yet. I am guaranteed an hour of good TV whenever this show airs.
  • 9-1-1 on Fox ~ The emergencies are ludicrous and sometimes so fake it is comical. But the personal lives of the rescue and police team are what make this show a must-watch.
  • American Gods ~ So good that we podcast it: Sistah Speak: American Gods
  • Black Monday ~ I will watch anything with Don Cheadle. Periodt.
  • Game of Thrones ~ What are you doing on 04.14.2019 at 9pm ET?
  

April 9, 2019

Before We Were Wicked


"When the sun went down, the needs came out to breathe." ~ 5%

One moment can alter the course of your life. Ken Swift is out hurting people for cash to pay his way through college when he lays eyes on Jimi Lee. He playfully claims to be her boyfriend on the first chance meeting but the intention is a one-night stand. He has college to finish and Jimi Lee is heading for Harvard after a gap year in native land. Neither have time for a committed relationship. But their sexual chemistry is too strong. When Jimi Lee becomes pregnant, their different worlds become forever entwined leading to a cultural clash, passion, infidelity and raw emotion.

This is what a prequel looks like! Before We Were Wicked is a full introduction to Ken Swift. No guesswork; this character is fleshed out well. It begins in the 90s when pagers were a means of communication and internet chat rooms were a thing. It flows right into the first page of Bad Men and Wicked Women which was released exactly one year ago.

Eric Jerome Dickey is known for writing expertly from a woman's point of view. But this prequel is a reminder that the author can write just as well in a male's voice. In fact, it gave me insight into a man's inner thoughts while in a relationship. For that alone, Before We Were Wicked is worth reading.

"People never talked about the stress a man felt when he was trying to keep the ship from sinking, when he felt like he was on the Titanic throwing water out with a teacup, and no one was helping him keep what he had afloat. It felt like for every cup of water I threw away, someone threw in two gallons of piss." ~ 72%

Bookhearts, you have exactly one week to gather your coins. Reserve a weekend to read this star-crossed love lust novel because you will not put it down.

Happy Early Pub Day, Eric Jerome Dickey! Before We Were Wicked will be available Tuesday, April 16. You're welcome for the love and turkey bacon. πŸ˜‰

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: Before We Were Wicked
Author: Eric Jerome Dickey
Published: April 2019
Pages: 368
Edition: Galley
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

   

April 7, 2019

Series Sunday: The 18th Abduction

(Women's Murder Club #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 The 18th Abduction, the 18th book in the Women's Murder Club series by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro. Five years ago, Detective Lindsay Boxer teamed up with husband Joe Molinari to protect San Francisco from an international war criminal. A case of three missing teachers turn into murder, prostitution, strippers, steakhouse and more.

"Schoolteachers doing double duty as naughty girls." ~ pg. 291

It usually takes the entire Women's Murder Club to solve a mystery but not this time. Reporter Cindy Thomas still takes any surprising revelation she can get on the record. Yuki is only present during customary beer/lunch breaks and one brief chapter. But Claire, as Medical Examiner, plays a key role. Other characters to the forefront in The 18th Abduction are Lindsay's partner Conklin, boss Jacobi and husband Joe. It's just Lindsay and the guys!

Listen. I read this book in one day. Patterson & Paetro used all the writing tools for this new release: suspense, action, realistic crime, multiple settings, reader engagement and trademark short chapters. Good thing I didn't have any plans except to take cold meds, nap, read, eat soup, repeat.

"I wasn't yet convinced that the dots, in fact, connected."
 ~ pg. 200

Fans of the Women's Murder Club series will be pleased with this new release. It is definitely good enough to hold us until the next book is released later this year. You may not like how the Club takes a backseat to Joe Molinari but it is worth it in the end. I enjoyed every page! It earned a spot on my top series reads of the year already. Yeah, that good!

Side Note: Why are books often available in the UK before the US? For example, The 18th Abduction was released on March 7 there but will not be published until April 29 here. And as evidenced in the US vs. UK bookish meme, the covers are different and sometimes better. I'm just saying...

Author: James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
Published: March 2019
Pages: 348
Edition: UK eBook
Challenge: Keeping Up with Patterson
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

  

April 5, 2019

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.

"Everyone hated a fat woman, but none more than she hated herself."

~ Waisted by Randy Susan Meyers 

 

April 3, 2019

The Confessions of Frannie Langton


"A novel is like a long, warm drink but a poem is a spike through the head." ~ 3%

Frannie Langton is known as "The Mulatta Murderess." In London 1826, Frannie Langton goes on trial for the murder of Mr. and Mrs. Benham. She was their house-girl, maid, slave, seductress, servant, whatever claim fits best. The testimonies are damning. But the mind of the accused is what drew me in; Frannie cannot confess what she doesn't believe she's done.

Then begins a story of a young girl learning how to read on Paradise Plantation, Jamaica. The year is 1812. Thirteen years later, she is moved to a grand house in London. Her duty is caring for Madame Benham and guarding secrets from the Mister. For years she waits to be freed. Until one day she wakes up in Madame's bed, covered in blood, with no recollection of what happened.

"Now, it's a case of gobbling backwards. As if I spent my whole life putting those words in, and now I'm spitting them back out." ~ 12%

How best can I describe the reading experience of The Confessions of Frannie Langton? Hmmm, long. Not long as in the time it took to finish (5 days). Not long as in page length (352). Long as in the unfolding of the story.

There was a lot of background information leading up to the present time at Frannie's trial. Perhaps I was misled by the first line, thinking this would be a fast-moving read full of testimonies and maybe a couple flashbacks. Instead the author took us back in time. And I do understand the author's purpose. Readers had to learn if, or why, Frannie Langton was on trial for murder. No one act happens without reason. I get it. But damn, it was long.

The main character, Frannie Langton, is well fleshed out. So much so, that I felt her anxiety and hopes rise. Just like she waited for freedom, I waited for something to happen soon too. Because maybe then, the story would move along. Get on with the events leading up to the night in question!

"Cut this long tale of yours short, Pears." ~ 92%

Yet this new novel fits comfortably in the historical fiction genre. It is the reason, along with the promise of courtroom drama, that I wanted to read an advance copy. I like how it revealed slaves were taken from Jamaica and the conditions of England in the 1800s. I also like the acceptance of her being able to read and scribe. Her masters did not feel threatened by Frannie's intelligence. In fact, Madame encouraged Frannie to read and often had discussions about book plots. So rare during this era!

Overall The Confessions of Frannie Langton is a good read, appropriate title, interesting characters, but not-so-good pacing. If you pick up this book, get comfortable and know it will take a while for this slow-moving train to reach the station.

Happy Early Pub Day, Sara Collins! The Confessions of Frannie Langton will be available on Tuesday, May 21.

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: The Confessions of Frannie Langton
Author: Sara Collins
Published: May 2019
Pages: 352
Edition: Galley
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

   

April 2, 2019

Hollywood Black


"All the black actors worked hard to make use of their screen time, and usually they succeeded, with indelible sequences that linger in the moviegoer's mind long after the film has ended." ~ 26%

I am not a movie person. I don't buy advance tickets to new releases. I don't plan events around a new movie. I do not rewatch movies unless it is an all-time favorite (gut-wrenching Imitation of Life, my kind of musical Purple Rain, or the prize-fighting Rocky series). I cannot quote lines from classic movies such as Color Purple, Coming to America, Friday and such. I can't tell you which actor played in what movie. Like I said, I am not a movie person.

But I do love black history. Hence my enthusiasm to read a new book release titled Hollywood Black: The Stars, The Films, The Filmmakers which spans from the early years of 1905 to the new Millenium. What an outstanding book cover too! This is the definition of a coffee-table, conversation-starter piece. The black and white images and colorful film posters within are just as eye-catching and support the content. I plan to gift this book to a couple friends that will appreciate the true story it tells.

We have all heard the household names like actor Sidney Poitier, actress Dorothy Dandridge, songstress Lena Horne, filmmaker Spike Lee, Claudine or cool cat Shaft. However, Hollywood Black expertly points out lesser known black stars that paved the way. There are a ton more actors, actresses, writers, directors and producers that have been glossed over and deserve recognition. From the era of blackface to modern-day Jordan Peele/Viola Davis and the breaking of stereotyped roles, Hollywood Black serves as a guide.

"The Negro Problem Pictures indicated there was a race problem in the country and led the way to others that would come in the next decade." ~ 38%

To say I learned a lot is an understatement. I gasped while reading about how far blacks have come in the film industry. I had no idea there were films titled as bold as The Dancing Nig. While other movies like my favorite, Imitation of Life, is a tearjerker example of rejection, colorism and white advantage. The funeral scene is still one of the most moving ever! Eddie Anderson went from being paid a measly $35 to earning $100,000/year and was the highest paid black actor. Women like Hattie McDaniel were larger and browner offering mammy-ish comfort on screen to white heroines. Now look...black men and women of all shapes and shades are stars in film both on and behind the camera!

I highly recommend Hollywood Black: The Stars, The Films, The Filmmakers to movie buffs and fellow lovers of black history. If anything, you will be left with a world of knowledge and a long "To Watch" list. May I suggest you begin with blaxploitation cinema? Spring is upon us so get a head start, rent old black films and continue supporting new black films until this Turner Classic Movies book is released in your hands.

Happy Early Pub Day, Donald Bogle. Hollywood Black will be available Tuesday, May 7.

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: Hollywood Black: The Stars, The Films, The Filmmakers
Author: Donald Bogle
Published: May 2019
Pages: 264
Edition: Galley
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

March 31, 2019

Series Sunday: The Passage (Part 2)

(The Passage #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 Passage, the first book in trilogy of same name by Justin Cronin. The Fox TV adaptation aired on Mondays and is available OnDemand or via streaming. Please read Part One of this review before continuing.

"OBE. Overcome by events. That was what was happening now. The world—the human race—had been overcome by events." ~ pg. 260

Welcome to Part Two: The Year of Zero! As said before, Special Agent Brad Wolgast goes rogue and protects Amy from a terrifying government experiment. This entire section of the book is dedicated to Agent Brad protecting Amy and securing a new hidden life. The best place to hideout and allow Amy to recover is an old campsite. It has been abandoned for years and is secluded. He sets up house and keeps a low profile. Amy only goes outdoors at dusk or nighttime while Agent Brad works outside in the daytime. They settle into a comfortable routine until trouble comes knocking.

A glimpse of this part of the book is shown on the Season One finale. It is boring but necessary to the plot. I am anxious to read further and get to more action!

Title: The Passage
Author: Justin Cronin
Published: December 2018
Pages: 273 of 854
Edition: TV Tie-in Paperback
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€

March 29, 2019

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.

"My trial starts the way my life did: a squall of elbows and shoving and spit."

~ The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins 

March 27, 2019

Bad Girls Throughout History


"To be a bad girl is to break any socially accepted rule." ~ 1%

Women Rock! Bad Girls Do What They Want, Not What They're Told! Good Girls Gone Bad for the Culture! Behind Every Successful Man is a Woman! Who Run the World? Girls! All of these clichΓ©s are fitting to the nonfiction book, Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World. Just read the first lines!

Exactly 100 women are highlighted and illustrated. Not just any women but bad girls—in the best sense of the word. They challenged the status quo, influenced law and became leaders of society. They did amazing things despite personal flaws. Spanning through places all over the world and chronicled by eras, this book makes it easier to see progress and change. The best part is the author's watercolor portraits (as shown on the cover) that accompany each woman's essay.

To name a few:
  • Sally Ride ~ first known LGBT astronaut
  • Margaret Sanger ~ pioneer of birth control
  • Marie Curie ~ first woman to win the Nobel Prize
  • Dorothy Dandridge ~ redefined blacks in Hollywood
  • Aphra Behn ~ wrote prose model for the English novel
  • Madame C.J. Walker ~ first female self-made millionaire
  • Empress Wu Zetian ~ first and only female Emperor of China
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe ~ wrote book that started The Civil War
  • Sojourner Truth ~ delivered famous "Ain't I a Woman?" speech

"Find a way." ~ 74%

Admittedly, I did not know half of the women listed in the book. I know, I know. 🀦🏽‍♀️ What a shame! But to my credit, the academic grade school I attended (Bates Academy for the Gifted and Talented) focused on minority figures of history. We learned about lesser-known yet impactful people of color. While there is a few Black, Asian and Latina women in Bad Girls Throughout History, there could have been more for balance and recognition purposes. Regardless, it is the perfect read for International Women's Month (March 1-31).

It is evident that Ann Shen did her research. I appreciate the brief profiles so the focus stayed on the bad girl without getting too wordy. Very inspiring! I hope the author has plans to publish a follow-up featuring fearless women of today, such as the iconic BeyoncΓ©. In her words, "We run this mutha!"

I recommend Bad Girls Throughout History for every badass chick!


Title: Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World
Author: Ann Shen
Published: September 2016
Pages: 216
Edition: eBook
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

 

March 26, 2019

My Lovely Wife


"But I keep my mouth shut, because that's what friends do. We don't point out each other's faults unless asked." ~ pg. 44

Man meets woman. They fall in love, marry, have two kids and live in the suburbs. They appear to be your normal neighbors, acquaintances, and parents' of your kid's schoolfriend. Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing screams danger. The whole scene seems boring, unless you knew their dark secret to keep marriage alive: getting away with murder...together.

"The night is much busier than normal, in part because the next day is Friday the 13th." ~ pg. 106

My Lovely Wife is on some Mr. and Mrs. Smith shit! What a debut thriller! It kept me reading simply to see what this couple would try—and get away with—next. This husband and wife duo went to the extremes adding spice to their 15-year marriage. This story is twisted AF!

Title: My Lovely Wife
Author: Samantha Downing
Published: March 2019
Pages: 235
Edition: eBook
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

   

March 24, 2019

Series Sunday: Murder with Collard Greens and Hot Sauce

(Mahalia Watkins Soul Food Mystery #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 Murder with Collard Greens and Hot Sauce, the third book in the Mahalia Watkins Soul Food Mystery series by A.L. Herbert. We are back in Maryland for a beauty industry trade show. Business is booming at Mahalia's Sweet Tea restaurant. Customers are looking to satisfy their appetite after spending the day surrounded by beauty styles. Unfortunately, the moment fades when a beauty mogul/pop culture icon is found shot to death. The list of suspects is long! Mahalia and her trusty sidekick cousin, Wavonne, multi-task with solving the murder and keeping slow-cooked collard greens moving out of the kitchen. Hilariously, they are the black version of Daphne and Velma looking for clues.

"Sista was murdered. Iced. Kevorked. Whacked—" ~ 44%

I have waited on this third book for what seems like forever! So imagine my delight when I saw an advance reader's copy was available for my review. To get in the zone, I fried a couple pork chops, smothered rice in gravy and onions, with collard greens and hot sauce on the side. My meal was just as good as the novel, but not the best.

The first two books earned 5-heart ratings. I was hooked when I read Murder with Fried Chicken and Waffles. A strong follow-up was Murder with Macaroni and Cheese. So of course, I expected nothing short of page-turning in Murder with Collard Greens and Hot Sauce. 

"Sisters might forgive lying, stealing, cheating with their husbands, but if you screw up their hair you better get out of town and find a good witness protection program." ~ 59%

Instead, the book was not very well-paced for a mystery. The murder didn't happen until almost halfway in. It didn't leave much time for Halia and Wavonne to sleuth, especially with so many suspects thrown in the mix. Still at 80%, I was ready for any character to just admit it already! Yes, it was entertaining but I wish the focus was more on solving the murder and less on background info/events leading up to the climax. 

Nevertheless, the Mahalia Watkins Soul Food series is recommended for readers that like a cozy foodie mystery. It is a good worthy read! As a bonus, there are recipes sprinkled throughout the novel for collard greens, Purple Rain iced tea, and smothered pork chops. One of these days I will try a recipe. But in the meantime, I will keep reading and using black haircare products!

Author: A.L. Herbert
Published: March 2019
Pages: 288
Edition: Galley
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

March 22, 2019

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.

March 20, 2019

Love-Lines


"Sometimes, she would look in the mirror just to point out the little lines to me. I told her they were my love-lines. As they would deepen, so would my love for her." ~ pg. 50

If only finding your true love was simple as reading between the lines! Single mother, Fordham Price, juggles her job, ten-year-old daughter and mother. She would love to be in a relationship but who has the time? Especially since Fordham is stepping in for a pregnant co-worker. She is tasked with delivering the company's reality read.

Everything happens for a reason! It was divine timing for Fordham to discover a submission from a widower. His words catch her attention and gives all the feels. She wants a love like this! But like many modern working women today—myself included—is it possible?

"I'm celebrating love. It is so much better the fourth time around." ~ pg. 6

First of all, let us admire the cover. It is definitely the most modern cover I've seen in a while. It features what almost every woman carries in her handbag daily: iPhone, iPad/tablet, eyeglasses and a cute shade of lipstick. Good look!

Every part of a book is important. From the book cover to the carefully worded synopsis to the names chosen. It has an impact on the reader. Unfortunately, it was hard for me to adjust to the main character's name. I stumbled as I read along because while Fordham is a unique name for a fictional character, it does not roll off the tongue or match the femininity of her personality.

I did however like the romantic misadventures of web-crawlers and funny submissions. It gave the story a light comical feel with the balance of seriousness. So I forced myself to finish reading to see if, or when, it would hook me in. Nothing in particular stood out after reading the last page. But do not let this discourage you from reading Love-Lines. It may be the kind of slower paced contemporary romance novel you like to read in between intense books.

Disclaimer: This book was received directly from the author's management company 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: Love-Lines
Author: Sheri Langer
Published: Febuary 2019
Pages: 281
Edition: eBook
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€

March 19, 2019

Run Away


"You work hard. You save. You plan. There are virtually no major life decisions you make that are not in some way based on your finances." ~ 12%

Imagine losing your daughter to drugs and an abusive boyfriend. She does not wish to be found, but you cannot help but look. Then by chance, you see her in Central Park. Hardly recognizable but you know this is your daughter and that she is in trouble. So like any parent, you beg her to come home. Of course, she runs away. And of course, you follow; not knowing it will lead to danger, murder, hard decisions and tough love.

I usually love any and everything Harlan Coben writes. So I was super disappointed when I settled in with a piping hot cup of chai black tea to read an advance copy of his new release, Run Away. My tea ran cold as I struggled through the first couple chapters. Maybe I was just tired and losing focus. So I paused reading and picked it up again later. This time it was even harder. I could not connect with the main character, let alone empathize with his situation. The storyline jumped all over the place without a smooth transition. It fell flat. In fairness, maybe the book got better but I did not finish (DNF).

Nevertheless, Happy Pub Day, Harlan Coben! Run Away 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: Run Away
Author: Harlan Coben
Published: March 2019
Pages: 400
Edition: Galley
Rating: DNF

March 17, 2019

Series Sunday: The Passage (Part One)

(The Passage #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 Passage, the first book in trilogy of same name by Justin Cronin. The Fox TV adaptation airs on Mondays 9/8c. I had no clue this book existed before the television series started. I stay away from the undead and science fiction genre. I admittedly rolled my eyes when friends insisted, "But this is different!" Nine (9) episodes and 232 pages in...color me hooked!

What really won me over is a video that young actress, Saniyya Sidney, posted to Instagram. I felt her humble excitement as she discovered her face on the cover on bookstands. How awesome is that! So I ordered the TV Tie-in paperback edition immediately, added the show to my DVR schedule then posted my own Instagram video.


"How long would a human being live if there were no cancer, no heart disease, no diabetes, no Alzheimer's? And we've reached the point where we need, absolutely require, human test subjects." ~ pg. 46

I don't want to get spoiled in the TV series and the paperback is a thick book at almost 900 pages. It is separated into five (5) sections that I will use as guidelines to post reviews. Therefore, each part will have its own rating. So welcome to Part One: The Worse Dream in the World! The theme is survival. Amy Bellafonte is an orphan, abandoned by her mother at age six. She is pursued and imprisoned to be a key player in a government experiment. Special Agent Brad Wolgast senses something endearing about the young girl when he tracks her down. Instinct tells him to abandon his bosses' mission and protect her from the shadowy bad guys. But the experiment, like a show, must go on.

I absolutely love the chemistry between Amy Bellafonte and Special Agent Brad Wolgast (played by Mark-Paul Gosselaar). The book goes into more detail as to the lengths Agent Wolgast goes to save Amy's life. There are tear-jerker moments and also times when I cheer aloud for a small victory. The two-hour television finale was nothing short of amazing, as is first section of the book. 

Title: The Passage
Author: Justin Cronin
Published: December 2018
Pages: 232 of 854
Edition: TV Tie-in Paperback
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

 

March 15, 2019

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.

"This is a book about women. This is a book about girls who had a ton of fear and personal flaws and faced insurmountable obstacles but did amazing things anyway. This is a book about those who came before us, who knocked up against that glass ceiling and made a tiny fissure or a full-on-crack."

~ Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World by Ann Shen 

Perfect Read for International Women's Month (March 1-31) 

March 13, 2019

A Piece of Cake


"I had been learning in 'street' rooms, while other children were learning in classrooms." ~ pg. 465

My goal was to read a good—no, captivating—memoir this month of March. Instead of spending more money buying a book when I have tons unread on my physical and eBook shelves, I browsed through my Kindle/NOOK library and found A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown. My purchase date was over 10 years ago! Oh, there were petty reasons why I never cracked the eBook seal. The content was too heavy. The book was too long (over 500 pages). I was not in the mood for non-fiction...blah blah blah. But no more excuses! I cleared my palette and finally read A Piece of Cake.

La'Vette went by many names. Her momma called her Cup. Her daddy called her Punkin. Everybody else called her Vette. Her real birth name, though, was Cupcake. And she lived a hard knock life after finding her mother dead. Since that moment, her life was fucked up. She was taken away from the only father she knew, thrown into the foster care system, forced to prostitute at age eleven, joined a gang just to belong to something, and succumbed to drugs and alcohol. She was brutally and involuntarily thrown into tough maturity. Need I remind you this is a memoir?

"Nobody wants to get struck by lightning, so everyone's afraid of it. Who the fuck's afraid of a cupcake?" ~ pg. 135

So many emotions while reading this true story. I wanted to choke the adults harming this abandoned black girl. I hated that her childhood was stolen; forced to fend for herself at an unbelievable age. I wanted to hug her and reassure it would get better. I wanted to pimp slap her when she gave into temptation. I needed Cupcake to be alright. But most of all, I wanted to see Cup win. I wanted A Piece of Cake to end on a good note telling a helluva testimony. And that it did!

"I didn't realize how silent silence was." ~ pg. 421

So why only 4 out of 5 hearts? There were chapters upon chapters dedicated to her excessive drug usage lifestyle. Maybe the repetition was purposefully to show that Cupcake got drunk, went to work, got high, went to sleep, got drunk, went to work, got high, went to sleep, got drunk, went to work, damn near overdosed, skipped sleep... It was a bit overkill after 50 or so consecutive pages of this routine. However, the overall themes are what's important: survival, addiction, and trust (whether it is trusting God, family, friends or self-esteem). Heavy topics, I know. What a deep book that kept it all the way real.

Title: A Piece of Cake
Author: Cupcake Brown
Published: January 2006
Pages: 534
Edition: eBook
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

 

March 12, 2019

Daddy Was a Number Runner


"'It's a shame,' Daddy said, 'the way the racketeers can change a number anytime they want to as if the thousand to one odds against hitting ain't enough for them.'" ~ 40%

Daddy Was a Number Runner is a classic fiction account of a year in the life of a 12-year-old black girl growing up in Harlem during the Great Depression (1934). Francie Coffin feels trapped by race and class. She lives in an urban ghetto yet she strives to experience life outside the streets of Harlem. Within the city, it is survival of the fittest. Everyone, including Francie and other children, play the numbers. Small winnings keep their hope alive to hit big and move. That hope is what keeps people going, making it another day to spend another dollar.

This coming-of-age story has its funny moments but is mostly sad. As readers, we see that small glimmer of hope just isn't enough. We see their dreams not being fulfilled. We see their days blend into one big routine. And it hurts when the book ends with a simple yet powerful word spoken by Francie herself: "Shit."

"But that sweet feeling hung on and I loved all of Harlem gently and didn't want to be Puerto Rican or anything else but my own rusty self." ~ 79%

I had no idea Daddy Was a Number Runner, with a Foreword by James Baldwin, existed until it was mentioned in My Mother's Life in the Detroit Numbers. Thank goodness it was. I had the pleasure of buddy-reading it with Chickadee during our flight travels. We share the same overall review: The philosophy behind the plot could have been explored more. It was good while reading, but nothing stood out days after turning the last eBook page. 🀷🏽‍♀️

Title: Daddy Was a Number Runner
Author: Louise Meriwether
Published: December 1970
Pages: 240
Edition: eBook
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

   

March 10, 2019

Series Sunday: American Gods (Part One)

(American Gods) 

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 American Gods by Neil Gaiman. This international bestseller is adapted to a television series starring Ian McShane, Ricky Whittle, Yetide Badaki, Emily Browning, Gillian Anderson, Pablo Schrieber, Orlando Jones and more. Quite the cast! No wonder 94% of viewers like the show.

Mere days before his release from prison, Shadow's wife, Laura, dies in a compromising position in a car crash. Shadow meets an interesting character on the plane ride home. The man introduces himself as Mr. Wednesday and claims to be a former god. He offers Shadow a job—quite convincingly since no one is likely to hire a convicted felon and Shadow has no one to go back home to. Together they embark on a strange yet profound journey all across America while a storm is brewing.

"Charms can be learnt." ~ pg. 96

American Gods delves into the soul of America. The good, the evil, the addictions, the greed, the trust. We are all victims of such gods as social media, entertainment, religion and passion. As I read along, I am surprised by how we are sucked in to the various gods and why they are at war.

I don't want spoilers in the TV series or get too far ahead for the Sistah Speak: American Gods Podcast. Also, the paperback edition is thick AF with 750 pages. It is separated into four (4) sections that I will use as guidelines to post reviews. I may very well take months to finish so hop along for the ride!


The battle between Old Gods and New Gods continue. Whose side are you on? I am rolling with Mr. Wednesday and 'nem! Tune in to the Season 2 premiere tonight and every Sunday on Starz channel.

Author: Neil Gaiman
Published: July 2001
Pages: 291 of 750
Edition: TV Tie-in Paperback
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

March 8, 2019

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.

"'Okay, spill.' Fordham Price was determined to get answers, and she wasn't about to relent without a struggle."

~ Love-Lines by Sheri Langer