November 30, 2021

Lit to Movie Review: Passing


"To pass successfully is to perform so seamlessly that nobody appreciates your craft." ~ pg. 12

Picture this: New York City in the 1920s. Hot summer day. A refined woman seeks breezy refuge in the grand tearoom of Drayton Hotel. Across the room, a blond woman stares her down. A bold re-introduction and a unique laugh reunite the women. 

Childhood friends Irene and Clare are both light-skinned Black women. One of them has chosen to cross the color line while the other woman is passing. Irene lives as an upper-middle class Black woman with her husband and dark children in Harlem. She is very active in the community and embraces her culture. While Clare is married to a racist white man who has no idea of her Black heritage. In fact, he jokingly calls her "Nig." Oh, if he only knew!

The story in Passing is moreso about the women forced to re-examine their relationships: with each other, with their respective husbands, with fear and with the truth. Nella Larsen penned a novel that earned her a place in the Harlem Renaissance. And nearly a century later, the story and its themes are so relevant that it is now a major Netflix movie. 

How appropriate that the Passing movie is filmed in black and white. It was a constant reminder of the stark contrasts among the characters and their state of mind. Images of the beautiful modern actresses Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga, oh-so-handsome actors Alexander SkarsgÃ¥rd and André Holland, and the striking backdrop of New York City draw your interest to the screen. 

Although we live in a time when passing is a thing of the past, it is still a touchy subject to read about and discuss. The effects of passing and a light complexion weigh heavily on the Black community and continue to fool whites' perception. Passing isn't just about skin tone either. It's about seeing clearly and, well...you'll have to read/watch to learn more. Both the book and movie carry a sad tone that leads to a shocking "what just happened" ending.

What a timeless novel and wonderfully shot film! Needless to say, I recommend both to all Bookhearts. Then watch the very first episode of But Have You Read the Book? featuring host Uzo Aduba to see how this story went from book to screen.

Title: Passing
Author: Nella Larsen
Director: Rebecca Hall
Cast: Tessa Thompson (Irene); Ruth Negga (Clare); Alexander Skarsgård (John); André Holland (Brian)
Book Published: April 1929
Movie Released: November 2021
Pages: 121
Movie Time: 1 Hour, 38 Min
Edition: eBook
Book Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤
Movie Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 

November 28, 2021

Series Sunday: Under Color of Law

(Trevor Finnegan #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.

"I make being a police officer sound storybook—the sanctified knight gallivanting through the countryside, facing down the dire and dark. It's some potent panty-peeler, but it couldn't be further from the truth." ~ 5%

My Series Sunday pick is Under Color of Law, the first book in the Trevor Finnegan series by Aaron Philip Clark. This new main character is a good cop but hasn't been a good man in a long while. He doesn't show emotion. He knows the department has a diversity problem. Yet he somehow climbed the ladder fairly quickly. And why is that?

Black rookie cop Trevor "Finn" Finnegan wants to become the top-ranking officer in the LAPD. His goal is to fix the broken department. So his fast-track promotion to detective in the coveted Robbery-Homicide division puts him closer to achieving his goal. 

The city of Los Angeles calls for police accountability. In the midst of racial justice protests and senseless killings by cops, the body of a Black police academy recruit is found. Of course, Finn is tasked to investigate the murder. The suspenseful story spins into a web of corruption, violence, race and cover-ups.

"The only thing that separates a cop and a convict is getting caught." ~ 69%

First of all, I fell in like with Finn when he drank his second cup of Earl Grey. Now this is a character that knows his tea! I liked him even more when he realized the burden of knowledge is crushing. Do you know how long it takes people IRL to figure this out? Yet we have a fictional man of color that is in tune with his intellect and faults. Hello, Under Color of Law and the Trevor Finnegan series!

Aaron Philip Clark, I am your new fan. Your description of a warm night's air is so detailed that I could feel the summer energy through my Kindle. Your creation of a strong Black character is solid. And most of all, your depiction of cops and police departments is what most of us are thinking but not saying aloud. Thank you for not making this first book in series the end of Finn's career or life. We need him in the book series world.

Under Color of Law is so. damn. good! I am looking forward to Blue Like Me late in the new year.

Author: Aaron Philip Clark
Published: October 2021
Pages: 298
Edition: eBook
Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤

November 26, 2021

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.

"When people say 'terminal', I think of the airport."

~ The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin 


November 21, 2021

Series Sunday: The Russian

(Michael Bennett #13) 


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.

"A signature that distinctive risks inviting copycats." ~ 40%

My Series Sunday pick is The Russian, the 13th book in the Michael Bennett series by James Patterson. My favorite widower with ten children is back and he's getting married! Longtime love, Mary Catherine, is soon to be his bride. But in the midst of wedding planning and jitters, there is a series of gruesome murders in New York City, Atlanta and San Francisco. The book description claims that a killer crashes Detective Michael Bennett's wedding but not quite. 

"Numbers were logical. People were not." ~ 5%

The Russian is told in Patterson's signature short chapters but it was a struggle read for me. At the halfway mark, it was finally a piece of the puzzle and we didn't even get to the wedding part. At 68% through the book, I was ready to give up it was so slow. What bothered me most was I didn't understand the title and how it related to the story. That always grinds my gears! Finally there was action at 81% through The Russian. Far too late in my opinion!

Would I pay over $20 for a new hardcover? Hardly! Is it worth $15 for the eBook? Nope. Best borrow this one from the public library, Bookhearts. 

Author: James Patterson & James O. Born
Published: January 2021
Pages: 369
Edition: eBook
Challenge: Keeping Up with Patterson
Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤

November 16, 2021

Rare Danger


"Fine-as-frog-hair jet pilots. Missing old folks. Town cars. Suspect foreigners." ~ pg. 46

There's a misconception that librarian's lead a quiet life. In Rare Danger, this theory is put to the page-turning test as book curator, Jasmine Ware, is led on an adventure of suspense, murder and romance. Jasmine has an exclusive clientele and her work is her passion. Until an old friend of the family, a dealer of rare books, goes missing and his partner is murdered. Jasmine is drawn deep into a plot that could cost her life.

Torr Noble is a handsome Air Force veteran now working private security. He is used to adrenaline-pumping situations. Through a recommendation for his private library, he meets the intriguing Jasmine Ware. Soon their connection turns sexy hot and high stakes as they work together to find the missing book dealer. Their attraction leaps off the pages!

Romance AND mystery...what a treat! My one gripe is I wish it were longer. As a result, the romance was a bit rushed. A novella was simply not long enough with these memorable characters. Fingers crossed they make a cameo in upcoming releases. Not too many authors have the writing skill to develop characters, tell a full story and create suspense in as little as 100 pages, yet Ms. Bev Jenkins masterfully does the job in Rare Danger

Many thanks for playing in the romantic suspense sandbox and for the perfect setting of Detroit, Michigan. We Hustle Harder!

Happy Pub Day, Ms. Bev Jenkins! Rare Danger 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: Rare Danger
Author: Beverly Jenkins
Published: November 2021
Pages: 112
Edition: Galley
Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤

November 14, 2021

Series Sunday: Dial A for Aunties

(Aunties #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 Dial A for Aunties, the first book in the Aunties series by Jesse Q. Sutanto. There seems to be a curse in the family. The men are all gone but daughters never leave. Hence it is no surprise when Meddy Chan accidentally kills her blind date. Another man gone! Meddy calls her meddling mom who then calls her even more meddlesome aunties for help. All of this chaos in the midst of working a billionaire wedding for the family business.

"I can't believe my aunt's rivalry with each other is jeopardizing us getting away with murder." ~ 46% 

The characters are so colorful! The narrator, Meddy, is so darn likable. A Podunk sheriff drunk on power, a handsome clueless romantic interest and meddling aunties that speak a flurry of Mandarin, Indonesian and English. They are all essential to the family business: Meddy is the talented photographer that captures all of a wedding's best moments, Big Aunt makes delicious towering cakes, Second Aunt creates complicated hairstyles and flawless makeup, Fourth Aunt provides dynamic performances and Meddy's mom makes gorgeous flower arrangements. Best of all, Dial A for Aunties is a celebration of mothers and daughters.

What a debut! The author managed to write a hilarious mystery/rom-com. I see the hype. I see why Dial A for Aunties was a finalist in the 2021 Goodreads Choice Awards. I see why there are over 25,000 positive reviews. I SEE YOU, Jesse! You have earned yet another fan of your new series. I am looking forward to the next installment in which I was granted an advance copy...yay! Look for my next review in March 2022. Now excuse me while I go dial one of my umpteen aunties just to say hey!

Author: Jesse Q. Sutanto
Published: April 2021
Pages: 267
Edition: eBook
Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤

November 9, 2021

Midnight Hour


"The flames sputtered hot and large. They licked the sides of the pot as if they would be able to sustain that level of passion forever." ~ 48%

Midnight Hour is a new anthology of crime fiction by 20 authors of color. Yes, twenty!

It is a good introduction to authors I'd never read; although, I preferred the short stories by authors I am already familiar with such as Abby L. Vandiver and Tracy Clark. The stories are all about crime committed around midnight. Grisly murders, guns, duped investors, damaged women and intended victims fill the pages. Different cultures are featured. Several writing styles are within. However, none of the stories were memorable enough to call a favorite.

Perfect for readers that like short story collections and those interested in discovering new crime fiction authors.

Happy Pub Day, Abby L. Vandiver and contributing authors! Midnight Hour 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: Midnight Hour
Editor: Abby L. Vandiver
Authors: Various
Published: November 2021
Pages: 336
Edition: Galley
Rating: 🖤 🖤

November 7, 2021

Series Sunday: Body and Soul Food

(Books & Biscuits #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.

"A killer comes to your house and takes a book." ~ 21%

My Series Sunday pick is Body and Soul Food, the first book in the Books & Biscuits Mystery series by Abby Collette. Fraternal twins Koby and Keaton track down a killer while preparing to open their new bookstore and soul food café, Books & Biscuits. (I need this place in real life!)

Introducing Koby Hill and Keaton Rutledge! Twins with different last names?! Orphaned at age two, they were separated but their bond lingered. Years later, they reunite and decide to open a business capitalizing on their shared interests: books and soul food. But with just a week to go before the grand opening, Keaton finds Koby's foster brother murdered.

I love new cozy mysteries and this new series fed my soul! Matter of fact, I am going on the record to say Koby and Keaton are my new favorite storybook siblings in a series. Of course they have twin vibes but their chemistry is strong! Collette writes their dialogue in a way that strengthens their character development. Readers can learn a lot through conversations and less setting the stage in lengthy paragraphs. Well done!

"Tangential reference." ~ 42%

The thing with cozy mysteries are they literally fall into the character's lap (or kitchen). The main character either owns the restaurant (scene of the crime) or is the main suspect. But in Body and Soul Food, it is different than the norm. The victim is family. The murder takes place on public transit. The police are more useless than useful. And the main characters—though they are possible suspects—are trying to solve the murder for reasons other than clearing their name.

I've read a lot of Abby's books so trust when I say this series is her best...so far. Treat your body to a little soul food and pre-order this new cozy mystery featuring characters of color. I am sure you will enjoy it, Bookhearts. 

Happy Early Pub Day, Abby Collette! Body and Soul Food will be available Tuesday, November 9.

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.

Author: Abby Collette 
Published: November 2021
Pages: 336
Edition: Galley
Rating: 🖤 🖤 🖤 🖤

November 5, 2021

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.

"They cut off his hands!"

~ Rare Danger by Beverly Jenkins