#MarchMysteryMadness

#MarchMystery Madness has been in full swing since March 1st and I decided to participate for the first time.  I’m also doing #ReadingBlackout this month for the second time.  January was a #ReadingBlackout month and February was of course #ReadSoulLit, specifically in honor of African-American writers.

March Mystery Madness is giving me the opportunity to explore mystery crime novels specifically written by African-American writers.  I started 2018 discovering the Easy Rawlins series written by Walter Mosley.  In January I read Devil in a Blue Dress, February I read A Red Death, and I’m currently reading White Butterfly.  The series starts in the late 1940s and each novel moves on in time.  So, once you get to White Butterfly the series will have already moved to 1956.  There’s a lot to say about this addictive series, which has a strong group of recurring characters, set in Los Angeles, and an ambience that will draw you in and won’t let you go.  The additional bonus is that the Easy Rawlins series gives you the authentic historical background while you’re trying to figure out whodunnit.  Reading this series so far has been like meeting up with an old friend.

The first book I read this month was Icognegro – a graphic mystery written by Mat Johnson and artwork by Warren Pleece.   Johnson examines the idea of “passing” (=the ability for a fair-skinned black person to move in society as a white person because of his/her light skin color) through the storyline involving a journalist from the New Holland Herald newspaper.  Zane Pinchback, alias icognegro,  travels south as a “white” man from New York to report on lynchings. However, his last incognegro story almost goes wrong and he barely escapes when he is recognized as being black.  He makes it back to New York to the unfortunate news that his brother has been arrested in Mississippi for brutally murdering a white woman.  And the story unfolds……

Incognegro is a good mix of mystery and history.  Johnson gives you the facts about the horrors of lynching and the troubled race relations between whites and blacks.  The story takes place in the early twentieth century so the setting and ambience drag the reader into a very dark place.  I was on edge from page one and it got worse and worse as the story moved on.  I couldn’t put it down.  Beautifully executed and there was even some humor in there believe it or not.  The artwork complemented the story perfectly and the black and white images help accentuate the brutality of the time period.  Check out the video below where you can hear Mat Johnson talking about how he got the idea for this ingenious graphic novel.

 

 

 

The second book I picked up this month for March Mystery Madness was called Blanche on the Lam by Barbara Neely. This is the first book in the Blanche White cosy mystery series.  It contains three other books, Blanche Among the Talented Tenth, Blanche Cleans Up, and finally Blanche Passes Go.  This one was a big surprise to me because it is definitely an atypical mystery novel.  Blanche on the Lam begins with Blanche standing in front of a judge for writing bad checks for the second time.  The judge decided to condemn her to spend some time in jail and that’s when Blanche’s bladder starts to nag her.  You’ll just have to read the book for the rest of the details.  Anyway, this novel will appear to be slow-moving but Neely is giving you the clues and information with her detailed storytelling, which may appear to be off the subject.  It’s not. The reader follows the story through Blanche’s eyes and through her thoughts.  She is hysterical but mostly she’s very intelligent and intuitive to people’s behavior.  Neely uses the story to astutely talk about racism, sexism, and classicism.  It’s brilliant! I can’t wait to pick up book 2 Blanche Among the Talented Tenth.  You can already see from its title that it will be as vivid if not more than Blanche on the Lam.  You can check out the video below where Barbara Neely talks about using her writing as a way to talk about her activism. There’s one thing I’d like to know and that’s where is Barbara Neely these days.  Why hasn’t Neely hasn’t Neely written anything else since the Blanche White series?  Her writing is a breath of fresh air in this genre.  The Blanche White series is a must read.

 

Incognegro – Mat Johnson, hardcover, 136 pages (Berger Books)

Blanche on the Lam – Barbara Neely, Kindle edition, 304

White Butterfly – Walter Mosley, paperback, 309 pages (Washington Square Press)

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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 28 #ReadSoulLit Wrap Up

 

 Unbelievable I stuck to a TBR!😅 Sadly Black History Month will soon be over but luckily #readsoullit can continue on.  Hope you all had a good one and have discovered some new authors and new books to read throughout the rest of 2018. My #readsoullit stack was pretty good. No duds and I managed to read 7 books. Wish I could have gotten in a 400+ page book so it looks like that will be a priority for next month. Happy continued #readsoullit reading and Thanks to you all for participating!  Please check out the video below of Frank X Walker, a great Affrilachian poet from Kentucky.  The best works I read this month were from him.  Buffalo Dance and When Winter Come are two excellent poetry collections – MUST READS!

What did I read this month:

Tar Baby – Toni Morrison, paperback, 306 pages (Vintage) ****

Buffalo Dance The Journey of York – Frank X Walker, paperback, 69 pages (The University Press of Kentucky) *****

When Winter Come The Ascension of York – Frank X Walker, paperback, 115 pages (The University Press of Kentucky) *****

A Red Death – Walter Mosley, paperback, 312 pages (Washington Square Press) ****

Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore – Walter Mosley, hardcover, 265 pages (Doubleday) ***

The Mighty Miss Malone – Christopher Paul Curtis, hardcover, 307 pages (Wendy Lamb Books) ****

Halsey Street – Naima Coster, hardcover, 320 pages (Little A)

I’m an affiliate for The Book Depository. It would be much appreciated to click the link below if you’re interested in picking up any of my recommendations. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing.
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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 27 A Book To Cosy Up With

 

  This was the first book I read by J. California Cooper and I was forever hooked on her captivating and life lessons-filled short stories. They were Wonderful stories, especially since I’m not a fan of short story collections. Homemade Love changed all that for me. So if you haven’t tried J. California Cooper this short story collection would be a great place to start.

Check out below my review of Homemade Love and another video with J. California Cooper talking about her story writing.

Homemade Love – J. California Cooper, paperback, 175 pages (St. Martin’s Griffin)

I’m an affiliate for The Book Depository. It would be much appreciated to click the link below if you’re interested in picking up any of my recommendations. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing.
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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 26 Book and Music

Here’s another book that is on my 2018 TBR by an African-American writer called Jedah Mayberry.  It’s a coming of age story. “It’s a lushly told reflection on a young man’s passage into manhood.” (back of The Unheralded King of Preston Plains Middle)  Check out the video below with an interview with Jedah Mayberry talking about the inspiration he had for this book.

 

The Unheralded King of Preston Plains Middle – Jedah Mayberry, paperback, 315 pages (River Grove Books)

I’m an affiliate for The Book Depository. It would be much appreciated to click the link below if you’re interested in picking up any of my recommendations. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing.
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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 25 First Letter of Your Name

It wasn’t easy finding a title that starts with the letter D in my collection of books.  In the end, I found two, Dust by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor was one of them.  I decided to go with Daughters of the Stone by Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa, which is on my TBR for this year, since I’ll be focusing on reading what’s on my shelves. This was Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa’s debut novel published in 2009 and is apparently her only novel to date. Daughters of Stone follows five generations of Afro-Puerto Rican women through their physical and spiritual journey, starting in the 1880s.  Check out the video below where Llanos-Figueroa reads an except from her novel and talks about how and why she wrote it.

Daughters of Stone – Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa, hardcover, 323 pages

I’m an affiliate for The Book Depository. It would be much appreciated to click the link below if you’re interested in picking up any of my recommendations. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing.
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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 24 #ReadSouLit TBR in March

I’m going to do my best to stick with these, although I might change something. I’m so difficult about sticking to TBRs.  My reading goals for March are to read for #marchmysterymadness and for #readingblackout.  There are a few new ones on this stack I need to get to, especially The Obama Inheritance, which I’ll be buddy reading with Morgan Gayle.  A big Thank You to Three Room Press for sending it to me for review. Another big Thank You to Dutton Books for sending me an ARC of Bad Men and Wicked Women too. I will also be buddy reading White Butterfly with Monica from Monlatable Book Reviews. She has an excellent blog you should definitely check out.  I’m so happy Freshwater arrived today because I’ve been anticipating it.  Are you planning on reading some mysteries next month? If so, which ones?  Check out the video below with Margaret Wilkerson Sexton reading an excerpt from her debut novel A Kind of Freedom.  Below that is a short clip of Attica Locke introducing her latest book Bluebird, Bluebird.

I’m an affiliate for The Book Depository. It would be much appreciated to click the link below if you’re interested in picking up any of my recommendations. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing.
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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 23 Cool Shoes and a Book

I just received this special edition of The Darkest Child last week. This new cover is perfect. I’ve been hearing so many people rave about this book as well as saying how mad it made them. It’s a book that’s going to put us through a lot of emotions. Sounds like a book for me. I’ll definitely be reading this one this year. Oh and those cool shoes are my daughter’s platform Converse.

Delores Phillips was born in Georgia in 1950 and sadly died in 2014.  She graduated from Cleveland State University with a bachelor of arts in English.  However, she worked as a nurse in psychiatric hospital in Cleveland.  The Darkest Child was her debut novel.

The Darkest Child – Delores Phillips, paperback, 387 pages (Soho Press) This special edition has an introduction written by Tayari Jones.

 

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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 22 Book and a Drink

Black No More has been on my TBR for quite a while. It’s on my list of #SundayShorts to read this year. Black No More is a Harlem Renaissance Classic that explores race in an unexpected way, that will spark much thought and deep conversation. « What would happen to the race problem in America if black people turned white? Would everybody be happy? These questions and more are answered hilariously in Black No More, George S. Schuyler’s satiric romp. »(back cover of Black No More) Of course there’s tea in this picture because that’s what I’m usually drinking when I’m reading. What do you usually drink when you’re reading?

Black No More – George S. Schuyler, paperback, 180 pages

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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 21 Published in you 21st year

 

    

I was 21 years old in 1987 when this great American literary novel was written, Beloved.  I read it for the first time in 1988 in a black women writers class.  All I can say is unbelievably well written and unforgettable.  I should definitely reread it sooner than later.  Who knows maybe this year?  I’m anxious to see if I’ll love Beloved even more than the first time I read it.  Thank you @tonimorrison__ 👑 for continuing to write books that inform us but most of all make us reflect on the human condition.  Oh and this is the beautiful @foliosociety edition I invested in a few years ago. It’s beautiful! 😍

Beloved – Toni Morrison, hardcover, 304 pages (Folio Society)

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#ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge Day 20 Middle Grade

I had to choose this one especially since I finished it a few days ago.  The Mighty Miss Malone is my first Middle Grade read of 2018.  Hope it won’t be my last.  I can see why its author Christopher Paul Curtis won the Newberry Medal. This was not my first read from Curtis.  I read and enjoyed The Watsons Go to Birmingham -1963 a few years ago.  Christopher Paul Curtis is an author who writes historical fiction very well  for young people.  As you know I’m usually not a fan of YA but for some reason Middle Grade just warms my heart.  Do you like to read Middle Grade and/or YA if so why and what titles have impressed you the most? Check out the video below of Christopher Paul Curtis talking about his writing and how he got started.  It’s inspiring!

The Mighty Miss Malone – Christopher Paul Curtis, hardcover, 307 pages

 

I’m an affiliate for The Book Depository. It would be much appreciated to click the link below if you’re interested in picking up any of my recommendations. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing.
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