Read Soul Lit Photo Challenge – Day 7 & 8

Day 7 – Current Read

My current reads are keeping me glued to the pages.  The Last Thing You Surrender byimg_2064 Leonard Pitts, Jr is the Read Soul Lit 2020 Read Along pick.  It is captivating everybody.  So glad to discover another interesting black American writer that I hadn’t read before.  I’ll definitely be combing the rest of his backlist, starting with Freeman which I’ve heard a lot of good about.  It’s not too late to join us in reading and discussing it on Goodreads  It’s called ReadSoulLit Readalong 2020 – The Last Thing You Surrender. Those first fifty-five pages knocked me on my ass! The accuracy of his descriptions are downright accurate and undeniably moving.  It’s as if the reader is there.  It’s a 500-page novel that reads very quickly, so those that have difficulty reading long books you won’t have any trouble getting through this one. I’ve already started trying to cast the characters in my mind for a movie or a Netflix series.  Who do you see playing Luther?  How about Kofi Siriboe from Queen Sugar?

The second book I’ve just started is called Seeds of Deception by Arlene L. Walker.  This book came across my Instagram timeline last year and its cover attracted me immediately.  With it’s striking cover and storyline pitch I was sure this one would be for me.  I’ve only just started but it’s promising first line has got me very curious.  “If poverty was slavery, then wisdom was wealth.” (Seeds of Deception, p. 1). This book contains a family secret, Cherokee Indians and their former African slaves, and a protagonist called Spit Louie McClendon.  Sounds like a winner to me.  Will keep you posted on what I think about this one.  Check out the video below of Leonard Pitts, Jr talking about race and The Last Thing You Surrender.


Day 8 – Delightful Dish & Book

img_2069Today’s book post was Tar Baby by the Queen Toni Morrison who I still can’t believe is gone.  Tar Baby was one of the first few novels I read by Morrison and one that I remember sparked much conversation in my college course on black women writers.  Tar Baby was our 2018 ReadSoulLit Readalong.  And our live discussion was lit.  We had so many ideas about the ending, discussing the characters, the setting, etc. For such a short book Tar Baby is dense with ideas and meaning.  One of the best scenes in this novel is the dinner scene.  Morrison really said a lot in that scene and it’s one I could read over and over.  As for the food in the picture, it’s a simplistic meal, a bit of grilled chicken and some Swiss chard and mushrooms cooked in garlic and olive oil – a sain meal low in calories.  I’m trying to eat healthier in 2020 and beyond…..


If you’d like to pick up a copy of any of my recommendations or just shop for yourself please consider clicking my affiliate link for The Book Depository.  It would be much appreciated. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing. Thank you!


ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge – Day 5 & 6

Day 5 – It’s a family affair!  

I have quite a few possibilities on my shelves with this theme but the book that came to my mind first was The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips.  Now to be honest, this book3ebb6c26-a471-4606-b63b-0b93d6b555e1 has been sitting on my shelves for over 2 years. Why? Because I’m not sure I can bear reading the abuse that I imagine it contains and that my followers on Instagram have subsequently confirmed.  However, every single person has said they loved the book and that I should read it, even though it’s emotionally challenging.  So that gives you an idea on whether you should pick it up if you haven’t already.

The author of this book Delores Phillips passed away suddenly in 2014.  This special edition pictured contains an introduction by Tayari Jones and an excerpt from the author’s unfinished sequel called Stumbling Blocks.  So I recommend Deloresyou pick up this edition (ISBN: 9781616958725).  The Darkest Child also won the Black Caucus of the ALA Award and was a nominee for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.  An interesting tidbit about The Darkest Child is its beginnings, a long form poem written over a four-year period.  In the end, Phillips decided to make it into a novel seeing that it counted several hundred pages.

Day 6 – Author on the Come Up

C.P. Patrick is definitely the author on the come up!  I was introduced to her writing when I picked up her debut novel called The Truth About Awiti.  What a creative, CPoriginal fashion to recount a slave narrative.  I highly recommend this one to people who have given up on reading about slavery.  This story has just the right amount of spirituality to keep the reader engrossed until the end.  With its mysterious cover, The Truth About Awiti definitely follows in the footsteps of the great Octavia E. Butler.

Patrick has also written Dear Ancestors: poems and reflections on the Arican Diaspora which is a piece written in verse about the Middle Passage.  It too recounts the img_2059history of slavery in all its emotion and accuracy.  Each word has been chosen carefully to convey particular images and meaning.  It’s brilliant and surprisingly celebratory!  It weighs in only at 75 pages so you can read it in one sitting or even twice in a row like I did.

Patrick is also working on series of children’s books the first telling the important stories of our history(Each book features an important person from history like Harriet Tubman and Joan of Arc) and the second series is called Ana & Andrew.  She’s been touring elementary schools talking about history.  If you’re interested in learning more about her writing for children, go to her Instagram page, @afrominimalist to follow more of her writing journey. 


If you’d like to pick up a copy of any of my recommendations or just shop for yourself please consider clicking my affiliate link for The Book Depository.  It would be much appreciated. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing. Thank you!



ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge – Day 3 & 4

img_2010Day 3 – Roots and Books made me start looking deeply into my shelves.  Having started this year with the powerful memoir, Heavy by Kiese Laymon.  I felt like roots had to be taken figuratively and literally.  Combing my shelves I fell upon How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America.  I forgot I had that one. This is a collection of essays by Laymon where he covers race, family, coming of age in Mississippi, violence, etc.  I’m sure this is going to be another powerful read that will continue on from the depth of Heavy.  So if I manage to get through my hefty TBR this month I’ll be adding this one to round off my Black History Month reading.  Have you read this one?  Frankly I’ve seen no one talk about it.  I’m so tempted to throw something off my TBR just so that I can read it.  I can’t really do that because the Booktube Prize books are calling. I’ll just be watching a lot less Netflix this month, in hopes that that will give me the ample time necessary to finish this massive TBR.  Check out this video with Kiese Laymon discussing How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America and Long Division.


Day 4 – Black Book Stack was easy to choose for the photograph. I grabbed all the black books I had in my reach.  What did I find?  Of course three Octavia E. Butler novels (Parable of the Sower, Parable of the Talents, and Fledgling), the second J. California IMG_2050Cooper I read A Piece of Mine, and a few others.  I can solidly recommend A Piece of Mine and Water Street.  If you’ve never picked up books by J. California Cooper or by Crystal Wilkinson you don’t know what you’re missing.  Both of these short
story collections are soulful gems and must reads.  A Piece of Mine draws on a common theme which plays on the collection’s title. You can check out my review here.  Water Street is one of the extraordinary backlist short story collections from a black author writing from Appalachia. I highly recommend you check out my review here.








ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge 2020: Day 1 & 2

Black History Month is finally here and has taken off with a blast!  Here’s where the photo challenge is at the moment for me:

Day 1: ReadSoulLit TBR

I’m a Booktube Prize judge this year and will be judging the first round which is happening this month.  This won’t deter me from picking up these three novels I’ve chosen to honor reading black American authors during Black History Month.  The Last Thing You Surrender is by seasoned writer Leonard Pitts, Jr.  This is the ReadSoulLit Readalong pick for February.  This is the first book I’ll be reading by Pitts, Jr.  I’m really looking forward to it.   This time period (the 1940s specifically World War II era) is one I find most interesting to read about in fiction novels.  If you’re still interested in joining the read along group on Goodreads click this link to join us.  It’s not too late.  I’m sure the reading is going to be engrossing and the discussions thought-provoking.

The second book on my TBR is a debut called Stateway’s Garden by Jasmon Drain. IMG_1989 Gifted to me by Penguin Random House, whom I thank graciously, I look forward to seeing how this memoir compares to the poignant, unforgettable, and brilliantly written Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon that was my first read of 2020.  Stateway’s Garden takes place in a housing project on the south side of Chicago.  It’s set in the mid-eighties and is a collection of linked short stories.

The third book in my stack is called Seeds of Deception by Arlene L. Walker.  This is another debut novel which was released last summer.  I don’t remember hearing a thing about it but after I caught a glimpse of the cover on the author’s Instagram page I was immediately interested.  “A clash between Cherokee Indians and their former African slaves come to a head in the tribal town of Feather Falls.” (back cover Seeds of Deception).  How could I pass on a story like this.  I’ll be keeping you informed once I’m finished on what I think about Seeds of Deception in an upcoming review.


Day 2:  Sci-fi High

If you’ve been following me for a while you all know that me and sci-fi just don’t get along when it comes to reading. I’m fine with it if it’s a film but for some reason I have IMG_2002-1trouble absorbing all the world building that goes along with the enjoyment of complex sci-fi stories.  In spite of this, last year I had the pleasure of reading the Xenogenesis series by Octavia E. Butler and really enjoyed it.  In particular I enjoyed Dawn which is the first book of the trilogy.  Dawn was mysterious, psychological, and sociological with just the right amount of science fiction to keep me interested throughout.  Lilith is a character that the reader can immediately relate to and root for.  The mystery in Dawn is at an all time high and will keep you riveted to the pages.  I highly recommend it.  Check out the video below of N.K. Jemisin talking about Dawn and her reactions to reading it for the first time.


If you’d like to pick up a copy of any of my recommendations or just shop for yourself please consider clicking my affiliate link for The Book Depository.  It would be much appreciated. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing. Thank you!

ReadSoulLit 2020

Black History month is nearing and I’m writing today to let you know about what I have planned to celebrate it literarily.  Of course I’ll be hosting the 2020 #ReadSoulLit Photo Challenge over on Instagram.  Get your books and picture ideas ready.  This is one of the best moments to get book recommendations of black American authors.  It’s a blast and it promises to be very Lit!  Check out the monthly challenge below.  If you don’t have Instagram don’t worry you can follow what I post over there here on the blog as well.




Next I want to mention the ReadSoulLit 2020 Readalong.  This February we’ll have the honor of reading The Last Thing I Surrender by Leonard Pitts, Jr.  I can’t wait!  I’ve wanted to check out a book by this author for a while now.  It’s great giving attention to an author that seems to have been unnoticed by the book blogger community.   the lastHopefully this read along will get people interested in Leonard Pitts, Jr’s backlist.  If you’re interested in reading with us you can join the Goodreads reading group, under the rubric Community, called ReadSoulLit Readalong 2020 – The Last Thing You Surrender.  You just have to request to join and I’ll confirm you.

There’s also another group you can join over on Goodreads called ReadSoulLit 2020.  This group operates all year long where people can exchange over books from the diaspora. #ReadSoulLit focuses on black American authors in February, black British writers in October, and the entire diaspora the rest of the year.

Hopefully this February you’ll enjoy the videos, photo challenge, and discussions in the reading groups on books by African-American authors.  There will surely be more surprises so I urge to follow me closely on here, on YouTube, and Instagram.   Let’s have fun!



24 Books to Christmas – Day 24

baublesToday’s my last day of recommendations before Christmas and for the year 2019!  Bravo! If you’ve stuck with me until the end.  I really appreciate it.  My last recommendation is another really big favorite and it’s by one of my favorite authors too.  I’m going to be talking briefly about Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat.

Krik? Krak! is a short story collection exploring life on the island of Haiti and what happens to be people when they try to immigrate to other places. Each short story is told with such authenticity readers won’t be able to put the book down. Danticat’s rich writing and relatable stories remind us of the difficulty of life, being an immigrant, being a woman, and being left behind.  Krik? Krak! will give you a lot of food for thought.  This book would make an excellent book club pick and would be a great place to start reading Danticat’s works.  I recommend Krik? Krak! to first time readers of Danicat, die hard fans of Danticat, lovers of short story collections, and readers searching for Caribbean lit titles.  Check out the video below where they are trying to make a film adaptation of the short story, Caroline’s wedding, in Krik? Krak!.Krik  I’m going to also link their website here where they are tying to get donations to be able to finally finish the film.


“When Haitians tell a story, they say “Krik?” and the eager listeners answer “Krak!” In Krik? Krak! Danticat establishes herself as the latest heir to that narrative tradition with nine stories that encompass both the cruelties and the high ideals of Haitian life. They tell of women who continue loving behind prison walls and in the face of unfathomable loss; of a people who resist the brutality of their rulers through the powers of imagination. The result is a collection that outrages, saddens, and transports the reader with its sheer beauty.” (Krik? Krak!, Back cover)




Krik? Krak! – Edwidge Danticat

Publisher:  Vintage

Pages:  224

My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

If you’d like to pick up a copy of No Place To Call Home or any of my other recommendations please consider clicking my affiliate link for The Book Depository.  It would be much appreciated. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing. Thank you!

24 Books to Christmas – Day 20

baublesI often hear people say that they no longer care to read fiction novels about slavery.  I personally don’t have a problem with that, especially if I can read one that’s really good.  Today’s recommendation is Family by J. California Cooper.  This is a novel you should definitely put on your 2020 TBR if you haven’t read it yet.

Family explores slavery through the generations while stressing how each generation survives and flourishes in spite of difficulty.  Family is more than a story of slavery, it is one of hope and the unfolding of the generations to come. That’s all I’m going to say because I don’t want to give anything away.

One of the best things about Family is the emotion it provoked in me. It had been a while since I felt so overwhelmed by a book.  It actually almost made me cry and that’s saying something because I don’t cry easily when reading.  If you haven’t read J. California Cooper yet you might want to start with this full length short novel.  Furthermore, she wrote many short story collections which are full of lively language and inspiring stories about everyday people.  Her short stories are optimistic and enjoyable.  You might want to try one of my favorites called Homemade Love.  I recommend FamilyFamily to new readers of J. California Cooper, readers who don’t mind reading slave narratives, and readers looking for a short novel that packs a punch.


“In this wise, beguiling, beautiful novel set in the era of the Civil War, an award-winning playwright and author paints a haunting portrait of a woman named Always, born a slave, and four generations of her African-American family.” (Family, back cover)



Family – J California Cooper

Publisher:  Anchor

Pages:  240

My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

If you’d like to pick up a copy of No Place To Call Home or any of my other recommendations please consider clicking my affiliate link for The Book Depository.  It would be much appreciated. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing. Thank you!

24 Books to Christmas – Day 18

baublesI had only read one excerpt from Alexandre Dumas’ writing in French many years ago, but this past October and November we all had the pleasure of reading in full The Count of Monte Cristo.  I say all for those of you that joined in on my read along of this 1,276 page mammoth novel.  Full of humor, intrigue, and large doses of shadiness, The Count of Monte Cristo kept me engrossed.  So much so that I couldn’t be bothered to read very much alongside it.  Beautiful writing that eases the reader into the period, the well constructed storyline, and the marvelously developed characters symbolize top reasons why the novel is so enchanting.   It’s lovely to see how the rope of revenge tightens slowly and accurately over all the right people, at the right time, and without too much work.  That’s the beauty of fiction.

This 19th century French classic has stood and will continue to stand the test of time.  There’s something to say for a novel that uses themes that will always remain relevant – jealousy, revenge, affairs, business deals gone bad, etc., but more importantly they need
to be used in the right way.  I recommend The Count of Monte Cristo for readers who enjoy reading the classics, French classics, and stories of revenge. Not to mention, this Penguin Clothbound edition pictured below would make a wonderful Christmas gift!

I was so proud once I’d finished this huge book.  I also kept thinking about how interesting a modern retelling of this story would be.  Now that I can scratch one book off my list of books to read by Dumas, I’m looking forward to picking up The Three Muskateers next, hopefully in 2020, which is the first book in the series called The d’Artagnan Romances.  Check out the live chat below where I discuss The Count of Monte Cristo with Musical Tati and Michael Reads!  We had a great time and Loved the book.  I’d like to give a big Thank You to those of you who took the time to catch us live on YouTube and participated in the discussion.  I also urge you to go to Youtube and Count of Monte Cristocheck out these two Booktubers, who make superb videos. 🙂



“Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantès is confined to the grim fortress of the Château d’If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and becomes determined not only to escape but to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration.” (The Count of Monte Cristo, Goodreads description)



The Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

Publisher:  Penguin Classics

Pages:  1,296

My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

If you’d like to pick up a copy of any of my recommendations please consider clicking my affiliate link for The Book Depository.  It would be much appreciated. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing. Thank you!

24 Books to Christmas – Day 16

baublesToday’s recommendation I discovered in the spring of 2015.  Water Street was one of the first few short story collections I had read in a long time that I thoroughly enjoyed.  Fourteen connected  short stories set in Stanford, Kentucky in the black community.  I was amazed  to see how well Wilkinson linked each character and unveiled their secrets.  Water Street has that southern literary flair that I love to read.  The style of writing is through short narratives and monologues.  You’re probably thinking that this makes the short stories feel unfinished but in fact they are full of impressions and feelings that are familiar.

Crystal Wilkinson is a wonderful writer who develops her stories through her characters.  She doesn’t need an excess of pages to make the reader understand something.  I envy her capacity to shape the story with the minimum means.  It’s a gift in writing.  I strongly urge you to check out this author who should be praised more.  I also recommend three of her other works that I enjoyed just as much as Water Street, Blackberries, Blackberries (short story collection), The Birds of Opulence (short water streetnovel), and Holler (short story).

I recommend Water Street to readers who enjoy short story collections, African-American literature, and southern literature.  Check out Wilkinson in the video below talking about her writing and where her inspiration comes from.  She has quite the personality and you should follow her over on Instagram at crystalwilki.



On Water Street, every person has at least two stories to tell. One story that the light of day shines on and the other that lives only in the pitch black of night, the kind of story that a person carries beneath their breastbones for safekeeping. WATER STREET examines the secret lives of neighbours and friends who live on Water Street in a small town in Kentucky. Assured and intimate, dealing with love, loss, truth and tragedy, Wilkinson weaves us in and out of the lives of Water Street’s inhabitants.



Water Street – Crystal Wilkinson

Publisher:  Toby Press

Pages:  179

My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

If you’d like to pick up a copy of any of my recommendations please consider clicking my affiliate link for The Book Depository.  It would be much appreciated. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing. Thank you!

24 Books to Christmas – Day 14

baublesContinuing on with graphic novels, today I’m suggesting the Aya de Yopougon series (Aya Yop City in English).  These graphic novels are colorful and well illustrated.  The best thing about them is that they are about people in the Ivory Coast who live in the city and are living their lives.  The series contains 6 books and is full of drama and humor.  Marguerite Abouet, the author, has based these graphic novels on some personal experiences living in the Abidjan where she’s from and that’s what makes them so authentic.

It has been turned into a movie which you can watch below, although I wasn’t able to find it in English.  Even though it’s in French you can get a sense of the liveliness of the characters and story.  I recommend Aya to readers who like to read stories set in Africa and enjoy reading graphic novels with light themes.


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“Ivory Coast, 1978. Family and friends gather at Aya’s house every evening to watch the country’s first television ad campaign promoting the fortifying effects of Solibra, “the strong man’s beer.” It’s a golden time, and the nation, too–an oasis of affluence and stability in West Africa–seems fueled by something wondrous.  Who’s to know that the Ivorian miracle is nearing its end? In the sun-warmed streets of working-class Yopougon, aka Yop City, holidays are around the corner, the open-air bars and discos are starting to fill up, and trouble of a different kind is about to raise eyebrows. At night, an empty table in the market square under the stars is all the privacy young lovers can hope for, and what happens there is soon everybody’s business.” (Aya – Aya #1, back cover)



Aya (Aya #1) – Marguerite Abouet, Clément Oubrerie (artist)

Publisher:  Drawn and Quarterly

Pages:  112

My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ / ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

If you’d like to pick up a copy of any of my recommendations please consider clicking my affiliate link for The Book Depository.  It would be much appreciated. It will help fund my incessant book buying, reading, and reviewing. Thank you!