November 29, 2020

Series Sunday: Before Her

(Amazon Original Stories) 


Series Sunday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Read an installment of a series.
  • Share your review/recommendation below.
  • Include the title, author and series name.

"Living, loving, and dying. A circle unbroken." ~ pg. 11

My Series Sunday pick is Before Her, a short from Amazon Original Stories, by Jacqueline Woodson. It is part of the collection called The One. Sometimes you find the One and sometimes you chase the One. It could be that the One isn't enough. 

In this super short memoir, Jacqueline Woodson traces the relationships in her past that led to the love of her lifetime. She was very open and left readers with a message. Every lover we encounter bends the path of our life and shape the person you are today. It is a true love story!

These Amazon Original Stories are perfect for when you steal a few minutes to read. I actually read this while waiting in line at Target. Yes, that quick! So grab your Kindle and enjoy this eShort!

Title: Before Her
Author: Jacqueline Woodson
Published: July 2019
Pages: 17
Edition: eBook
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

   

November 27, 2020

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 began writing this book shortly after the end of my presidency—after Michelle and I had boarded Air Force One for the last time and traveled west for a long-deferred break."

~ A Promised Land by Barack Obama ~ My Live Read

November 26, 2020

The Wide Circumference of Love

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

   

November 25, 2020

Punching the Air


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

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

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

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

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

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

November 24, 2020

Confessions in B-Flat


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

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

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

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

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

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

November 22, 2020

Series Sunday: Graceful Burdens

(Amazon Original Stories) 


Series Sunday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Read an installment of a series.
  • Share your review/recommendation below.
  • Include the title, author and series name.

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

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

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

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

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

November 20, 2020

First Lines Friday *BONUS*


First Lines Friday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Grab your current read(s).
  • Share the first line(s).
  • Include the title and author.


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

~ Deadly Cross by James Patterson

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

   

November 19, 2020

The Meaning of Mariah Carey


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 18, 2020

The Butterfly Effect


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

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

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

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

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


 

November 17, 2020

Here is the Beehive

"But there is little meaning in the slant of words unless a listener replies." ~ pg. 276

It's lonely living in a secret, as Sarah Crossan reminds us in Here is the Beehive. Estate lawyer, Ana Kelly, is used to death. It's her job to plan for it. A large part of her day is speaking with next of kin. But a phone call from her lover's wife is the last thing she's prepared to handle. The widow calmly explains that Connor was killed in an accident. Well that's news to Ana!

Ana secretly dated for Connor for three years. He was married. She was married. They spent weekends away in hotels and were very careful to not get caught. But she had no idea he died. It takes every bit of professional demeanor to help console the widow and settle Connor's estate. In a strange and sometimes funny way, Ana gets through it.

"I turn a page, though I have been reading the same paragraph for two weeks." ~ pg. 179

Here is the Beehive is so original. Never have I read such a storyline with a scenario that could happen in real life. It really isn't far-fetched! I enjoyed reading through Ana's grief, memories, jealousy and bitterness. Though at times, she was a bit dramatic to be the side-chick. It would have been nice to read an alternate point of view from Connor's wife. How much did she really know? What was their marriage really like? It left a lot unanswered.

I know a book is good when I don't realize how many pages I've read or how long it really is. Maybe because it is told in verse but it did not feel like 330+ pages. There was no filler. No unnecessary words. No drawn out descriptions or dialogue. It was just right for the content. 

Here is the Beehive is an example of why I love reading Sarah Crossan's writing style. Soooooo, can we get a sequel with the wife as narrator? *hint hint*

Happy Pub Day, Sarah Crossan! Here is the Beehive is now available.

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

Title: Here is the Beehive
Author: Sarah Crossan
Published: November 2020
Pages: 339
Edition: Galley
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

 

November 15, 2020

Series Sunday: Zikora

(Amazon Original Stories) 


Series Sunday is a bookish meme hosted by Literary Marie. I encourage all of my fellow book bloggers and bookhearts to play along.
  • Read an installment of a series.
  • Share your review/recommendation below.
  • Include the title, author and series name.

"Ours was an ancient story, the woman wants the baby and the man doesn't want the baby and a middle ground does not exist. What would a middle ground be? We couldn't have half a baby." ~ pg. 13

My Series Sunday pick is Zikora, a short from Amazon Original Stories by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Zikora is a DC lawyer from Nigeria. When she tells her equally high-powered lover that she's pregnant, he ghosts her. Abandoned like they never even met! Zikora struggles with dignity when her demanding mother comes to town for the birth. Unlike other mothers, she is anything but comforting and supportive during labor. But everything happens for a reason as Zikora begins to realize. Oh, what a moving story this is at only 35 pages! It was direct, to the plot point and impactful with its message. 

AND WHY AM I JUST DISCOVERING AMAZON ORIGINAL STORIES?!?! Free for Prime members too. Now excuse me while I go on a download spree!

Title: Zikora
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Published: October 2020
Pages: 35
Edition: eBook
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

November 13, 2020

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.

"There are musicians, and then there's Kendrick Lamar Duckworth."

~ The Butterfly Effect: How Kendrick Lamar Ignited the Soul of Black America by Marcus J. Moore

November 11, 2020

Home Before Dark


"Nor did you need to do all that haunted-house shit." ~ pg. 316

Maggie Holt returns to a house made famous by her father's bestselling horror memoir. Baneberry Hall is supposedly haunted and dangerous. They spent only three weeks living there before fleeing. Maggie was too young to remember the ghostly happenings and spirits but she doesn't believe a word of her father's book anyway. 

After her father's death, Maggie inherits Baneberry Hall and plans to renovate it before putting up for sale. Yup, you guessed what happens next! She starts to experience strange occurrences and is living a chapter right out of her father's book. Maybe it really was more fact than fiction.

Le sigh. Home Before Dark has all the makings of a good fictional horror. Yet I am underwhelmed. It was just okay. It was fine. That is how I describe Riley Sager's newest release. It was not gripping like his other novels. In fact, it is better as a Halloween spooky read rather than a page-turning thriller.

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

Title: Home Before Dark
Author: Riley Sager
Published: June 2020
Pages: 397
Edition: eBook
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€

   

November 10, 2020

Every Body Looking


"Except here everybody's black or brown and I'm not the only one who looks like their parents gave them a name not everyone can pronounce." ~ pg. 75

Like most young adults, when Ada leaves home for college it is the first time she's been far from family and first time making decisions on her own. Freshman year at an HBCU is a bit of culture shock. Ada struggles to make it to class and study groups while exploring sexuality and finding a new passion for dance. As if that is not enough, the author takes us into the past when Ada's mother was an addict and her Nigerian father tried making a home for his coming-of-age daughter.

First of all, the book cover is stunning and colorful. Very obvious it is by a person of color about a person of color for a person of color. Read that again if you must. I can appreciate how the author and publisher chose to display this story to the public. Definitely in my top book covers of 2020!

"Dad says having money brings peace." ~ pg. 13

Now on to my review; Every Body Looking is a soft no for me. There was no direction, no climax, no line of poetry that stood out and the verse did not flow. I've been on a prose reading kick lately and Every Body Looking did not impress me. Perhaps if one of the sub-characters had a deeper character dive then I would have been more interested. But young Ada didn't carry the story alone. 

According to the description, Every Body Looking is a coming-of-age story meant to be inspiring, dealing with the weight of others' expectations and shaping your own life. Did I pick up on that message? Nope. In fact, I was left with more questions because of a couple issues not being resolved. Maybe I am totally missing the point here. Bookhearts, care to enlighten me?

Title: Every Body Looking
Author: Candice Iloh
Published: September 2020
Pages: 408
Edition: eBook
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ 

November 8, 2020

Series Sunday: Kamala Harris Biography

(University Press Biography Series) 


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.

"Harris has a flawless campaign history, winning every position for which she has run." ~ pg. 27

My Series Sunday pick is Kamala Harris: The Biography, a short book in the biography series by University Press. I haven't yet found the time to read Vice President Elect Kamala Harris' memoir but I wanted a CliffsNotes version of her life. I wanted an accurate telling of her upbringing, early career, political beliefs, qualifications and what lead her to today. 

"Many of the positions she has held have been marked as firsts—first woman, first African American, and first American of Indian descent." ~ pg. 5

Kamala Harris is the first of many! Born to a mother from India (Shyamala) and a father from Jamaica (Donald), she grew up in a Baptist church and built a reputation for being tough on crime. As a District Attorney, she targeted crime and fought for justice from inside the system. Cousin-in-my-Head Kamala has a strong background and this biography is a good brief portrait of our new Vice President of the United States.

Author: University Press
Published: August 2020 
Pages: 37
Edition: eBook
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€ πŸ–€

November 6, 2020

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.

"All through the night my mother sat near me but never touched me."

~ Zikora by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

   

November 3, 2020

11.03.2020

It's a Vote

Saying you are
A citizen

Folks were lynched
Folks were shot
Folks' communities were gerrymandered
Folks who believed
In the Constitution were lied to
Burned out
Bought and sold
Because they agreed
All Men Were Created Equal

Folks vote to make us free

Good for the Folks
Good for Us

~ Excerpt from "VOTE" featured in Make Me Rain: Poems & Prose by Nikki Giovanni

November 1, 2020

Sistah Speak Sunday: ASK THE SISTAHS


It's time for another podcast episode of Ask the Sistahs! Send us your questions about anything holiday-related and we will advise from a Sistah's point of view. The deadline is November 21 so plenty time to think about it!  

@SistahSpeakCast on Twitter
Sistah Speak Productions Official Website

Visit our social media pages. You can find me in them Twitter streets at @_SistahLM  

October 30, 2020

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.

"Daddy, you need to check for ghosts."

~ Home Before Dark by Riley Sagar

   

October 28, 2020

All This Time


"You just...pretended?"

The writing duo of bestseller and movie adaptation Five Feet Apart is back with a new collab titled, All This Time. It almost slipped by my radar because of the damn near identical book cover. It's just as beautiful! However, after a closer look the story is definitely different.

Kyle and Kimberly are high school sweethearts until their breakup on graduation party night. Their car crashes; Kyle has a brain injury and Kimberly is dead. No one can possibly understand what Kyle is going through.

Then he meets Marley, a girl suffering from her own loss that she blames herself for. The same pain reflects in their eyes. Their feelings are the same yet unspoken. Their wounds begin to heal each other. And I don't know what happens next because I did not finish.

It is hard to read a love story when you dislike the characters. Kyle is the master of projecting his feelings on others and obsesses over Marley to the point where it's annoying. Their co-dependency (an issue I diagnosed as a reader and not purposely portrayed by the author) was the last straw for me. This couple was heading down a toxic rebound road and I didn't care to ride along.

Is this 30-fine-year-old black chick over the YA romance genre?!

Authors: Mikki Daughtry & Rachael Lippincott
Published: September 2020
Pages: 336
Edition: Hardcover
Rating: DNF

 

October 27, 2020

Love Your Life


"The End, I type carefully, and feel a knot of tension unravel deep within me." ~ 85%

Ditch the dating app and go on a writer's retreat! This is what Ava decides since she believes in feelings, not algorithms and filters. After a dating app debacle, she escapes to coastal Italy to finish writing the novel she dreams about. At the retreat she meets a man nicknamed "Dutch" and the two begin a whirlwind love affair. But when they return to London, both realize their real lives are way different. Not compatible at all! They love each other but not each other's lives.

"Life, huh? It's a shitshow." ~ 98%

I'm not over Sophie Kinsella. I'm really not over Sophie Kinsella. I am not over Sophie Kinsella. 

Her writing is often funny, heartwarming and light. Usually chick lit fiction helps me to escape reality. What better form of entertainment than a cute British read, right? But with a global pandemic and racial unrest surrounding me, it seemed too cute. It certainly did not help that the main character was unlikable throughout. There are times the novel jumps months and no kind of character growth is shown. You'd think I could relate to a single woman opting for a writer's retreat...but nope. 

I only finished reading on the strength of my being a Sophie Kinsella fan, having read all of her works and will continue to do so. Either bad timing or my own state of mind, Love Your Life was just okay overall. Nevertheless, if you can separate reality from fiction enough to lose yourself in a cute romance, Love Your Life is it!

Happy Pub Day to the Sophie Kinsella! Love Your Life is now available.

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

Title: Love Your Life
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Published: October 2020
Pages: 432
Edition: Galley
Rating: πŸ–€ πŸ–€