24 Books to Christmas – Day 13

baublesMy love for graphic novels began when I moved to France 29 years ago.  I have always been a fan of comic strips left over from my young days of scrambling for the the comic section every Sunday morning.  But, graphic novels have added something else a little special to my reading.  Today’s recommendation is The Arab of the Future:  A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984: A Graphic Memoir by Riad Sattouf.

So what’s a graphic novel?  It’s a story that is presented in comic-strip format and published as a book.  It’s usually lengthy in size.  The Arab of the Future is a graphic memoir, which is a comic or sequential art that tell an autobiographical story. Graphic memoirs are sub-genres of graphic novels and comics.  Examples of comics would be Black Panther and Saga.  The Arab of the Future consists of 4 volumes originally written in French, and they are translated into 21 languages.  Surprisingly, it has not been translated into Arabic because only the first volume was ordered by publishers.  Sattouf refused to accept that his graphic memoir wouldn’t be integrally published in Arabic, so it hasn’t happened.

Riad Sattouf has taken the time to recount his coming of age and family life while moving between Libya, Syria, and France.  He’s blatantly honest about his experiences and at times it can be painful to read.  This being said humor is what he does best.  Through his simplistic, but expressive drawings with colorful backgrounds each color representing a country; he takes us on an emotional rollercoaster we are not ready to forget.  It’s interesting to see culture in Syria and Libya in the late 1970s to mid 1980s.  If you start reading volume 1 make sure you have all the others so that you don’t have to stop reading.

I recommend this series of graphic novels to readers who like reading them (because this one is easy to follow), are interested in learning about culture in Syria and Libya, and enjoy graphic novels in series.  I can’t wait for the release of volume 5 (in French) which is slotted for October-November 2020!  You my have to wait a year or so for the translation into English.  Check out the video below where Riad Sattouf speaks about The Arab of the Future. 🙂

Overview:

“In striking, virtuoso graphic style that captures both the immediacy of childhood and the fervor of political idealism, Riad Sattouf recounts his nomadic childhood growing up in rural France, Gaddafi’s Libya, and Assad’s Syria–but always under the roof of his father, a Syrian Pan-Arabist who drags his family along in his pursuit of grandiose dreams for the Arab nation.” (The Arab of the Future, book cover)

 

 

The Arab of the Future: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984: A graphic Memoir – Riad Sattouf

Publisher:  Metropolitan Books

Pages:  288

My rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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24 Books to Christmas – Day 12

baublesEpic novels are my jam.  This epic novel, I’m recommending today, I had the pleasure of reading for a second time this year.  That’s The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.   This story is told from multiple points of view – Orleanna, Nathan Price’s wife , and their four daughters.  We never hear the voice of Nathan Price, an evangelical Baptist preacher.  Novels told from multiple points of view can often be overwhelming, but as this novel goes on you won’t have any trouble distinguishing the different voices.  Kingsolver writes them seamlessly.  The rich descriptions of life in 1959 Congo add to the authenticity of the story.  Nathan Price’s evangelistic assault on a Congolese village parallels the Congo’s fight for independence from Belgium.  As the Congo is fighting for independence so do Price’s daughters.

I recommend The Poisonwood Bible to people who love epic novels,  are interested in learning  about the political struggle of the Congo in 1959, love reading historical fiction, enjoy reading multiple view points, and enjoy reading family stories.  Don’t be put off by the size of the book.  It is engrossing and would make an excellent book club pick. Pleasebible check out the review below from Khia Comments.  It’s extremely enlightening!

Overview:

“The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it — from garden seeds to Scripture — is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family’s tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa.” (The Poisonwood Bible, inside flap)

 

 

The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver

Publisher:  HarperFlamingo

Pages:  541

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!

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24 Books to Christmas – Day 11

baublesThe first James Baldwin novel I read was Giovanni’s Room and I really enjoyed it. I marveled over his ability to write a novel with so many layered themes. I also was wondering why it had taken me so long to finally read one of his novels.

I notice that this is often the first novel that readers online seem to flock to by Baldwin and then they don’t pick anything else up by him and if they do they’ll read The Fire Next Time but not any of his other novels.  So my recommendation today is Another Country.  This is hands down my favorite Baldwin novel so far.  It is a must read.  However, I haven’t got to Just Above My Head yet, but it’s on my 2020 TBR list.

Another Country is a story that is beautifully written and full of complexity.  It’s starts innocently but slowly the story confronts the reader with the difficulties for blacks and whites to coexist.  The themes of white liberalism and sexual freedom are both prevalent subjects as well today.  Another Country will make readers contemplate current and past US race relations.  You’ll definitely want to speak to someone about it once you’re done.  It would be great for a book club discussion.  I recommend Another Country to readers who enjoy Baldwin’s writing, like reading books with heavy themes on race relations in the US, and enjoy reading books set in 1950s New York.  Check out my review video below.

Overview:

“Set in Greenwich Village, Harlem, and France, among other locales, Another Country isanother country a novel of passions–sexual, racial, political, artistic–that is stunning for its emotional intensity and haunting sensuality, depicting men and women, blacks and whites, stripped of their masks of gender and race by love and hatred at the most elemental and sublime. In a small set of friends, Baldwin imbues the best and worst intentions of liberal America in the early 1970s.” (Another Country, back cover)

 

 

Another Country – James Baldwin

Publisher:  Penguin Classics

Pages:  448

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!

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24 Books to Christmas – Day 10

baublesToday’s recommendation is one of our ReadSoulLit read along books from a few years ago called Some Sing, Some Cry.  This epic multi-generational family saga written in tandem by two sisters Ntozake Shange and Ifa Bayeza tells the story of an African- American family of women from Reconstruction to just before the beginning of the 21st century.  Strong characters and great pacing, Some Sing, Some Cry is full of rich language and will keep readers engrossed. The Mayfield family sees it all. It’s very hard to put this book down.  It’s just over 500 pages but really you won’t even notice its size.  The only thing this book is missing is a family tree.  Although I have a sneaky suspicion it was left out on purpose to maintain an element of surprise.  It was also really cool having real life people being mixed into the story with made up characters.  That added an excellent authentic touch and an excellent way to instruct readers who may not be familiar with them.

I recommend this book to readers who enjoy reading multi-generational stories, stories that contain music, stories that contain amazing characters, and historical fiction.img_4688

Overview:

Opening dramatically at  Sweet Tamarind, a rice and cotton plantation on an island off South Carolina’s coast, we watch as recently emancipated Bette Mayfield says her goodbyes before fleeing for the mainland. With her granddaughter, Eudora, in tow, she heads to Charleston. There, they carve out lives for themselves as fortune-teller and seamstress. Dora will marry, the Mayfield line will grow, and we will follow them on a journey through the watershed events of America’s troubled, vibrant history—from Reconstruction to both World Wars, from the Harlem Renaissance to Vietnam and the modern day.

 

Some Sing, Some Cry – Ntozake Shange and Ifa Bayeza

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press

Pages:  558

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!

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24 Books to Christmas – Day 9

baublesPeople are always looking for epic novels that keep them engrossed throughout the the read.  Someone asked that in the live chat we had last night on The Count of Monte Cristo.  Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese is one of the books that immediately popped into my mind.  It always comes up when I talk about excellent books.

A while back I did a video on books based on the continent of Africa and I realized that North East African stories were largely missing from my book shelves.  This is one I mentioned and made a note to try to find more.

I learned lots on the political and historical situations of Ethiopia.  In addition I learned a lot about practicing medicine in a place where there isn’t very much.  The story will have you riveted from beginning to end.  I would love to read another fiction book by this author.  This would definitely make an excellent gift because it’s going to take the reader on quite the adventure while they learn some interesting things.  I recommend it to readers who are interested in Ethiopia, medical procedures (especially performed incutting places with the minimum), historical information on North East Africa.  And who can resist a book that starts with a map! Love!

First line:  “After eight months spent in the obscurity of our mother’s womb, my brother, Shiva, and I came into the world in the late afternoon of the twentieth of September in the year of grace 1954.”  (Cutting for Stone, p. 3)

Overview:

An unforgettable journey into one man’s remarkable life, and an epic story about the power, intimacy, and curious beauty of the work of healing others.

 

 

Cutting for Stone – Abraham Verghese

Publisher:  Vintage Book

Pages:  534

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!

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24 Books to Christmas – Day 8

baublesStarting our second week already and I’ll be talking about another one of my favorite books that I rave about all the time and that’s Jam on the Vine.  Jam on the Vine is LaShonda Katrice Barnett’s 2015 debut novel.  This is another novel that literally flew right under the radar at its release.  People I don’t understand why!  This book has everything that could interest avid readers like us.

Walking in the footsteps of storytellers like Toni Morrison and Alice Walker, Barnett’s writing is rich and full of life.  She isn’t just telling us a story; she’s bringing us along with her characters.  This passionate story follows the lives of two African-American women journalists at the beginning of the twentieth century and of the existence of African-American newspapers.  I was immediately wrapped up in the how and what of black American newspapers and its importance at this time period.  Barnett doesn’t just woo us with a good story, she gives us information about this traumatic period in America of Jim Crow and depicts the importance and difficulty for blacks to be journalists and to print newspapers.  Jam on the Vine made me want to read The Defender How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America by Ethan Michaeli.  I haven’t read it yetjam but it’s definitely on my nonfiction must reads list, even though it’s a little over 500 pages.  It will be a challenging read but one of necessity to know more about black American history.

I recommend this book to readers who appreciate excellent writing, a bit of sensuality, great food descriptions, historical fiction novels, interesting characters, and stories set in the beginning of the twentieth century.

Overview:

“Ivoe Williams, the precocious daughter of a Muslim cook and a metalsmith from central-east Texas, first ignites her lifelong obsession with journalism when she steals a newspaper from her mother’s white employer. Living in the poor, segregated quarter of Little Tunis, Ivoe immerses herself in printed matter as an escape from her dour surroundings. She earns a scholarship to the prestigious Willetson College in Austin, only to return over-qualified to the menial labor offered by her hometown’s racially-biased employers.” (Jam on the Vine, inside flap)

 

 

Jam on the Vine – La Shonda Katrice Barnett

Publisher:  Grove Press

Pages:  316

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!

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24 Books to Christmas – Day 6

baublesToday’s recommendation for 24 Books to Christmas is The Healing by Jonathan Odell.  I first became acquainted with this book on Denise’s YouTube channel ArtBooksLife. My curiosity was immediately peaked when I heard her talking about it. I couldn’t resist. I immediately purchased it but didn’t get around to reading it until 2016. I had the pleasure of buddy reading it with another Booktuber, Pretty Brown Eye Reader.  We had an excellent time discussing the story and marveled at the complexity and originality that is found in it.

The Healing is a slave narrative set in the back drop of Pre-Civil War South. It’s a story not at all like most we are used to reading in this genre.  From character development to story pacing to themes , Odell took the time to make sure this story was written in the most authentic way possible. In his Notes to the Reader Odell said, “Through writing The Healing and by stitching together my own family history, I have discovered the truth in the old saying “Facts can explain us, but only story will save us.”  Granada alias Gran Gran and Polly Shine are the best characters in the book.  You’ll surely find Polly Shine the healingintriguing and charismatic.  Both of these characters are unforgettable.

Overview:

“Seventy-five years later, Granada, now known as Gran Gran, is still living on the plantation and must revive the buried memories of her past in order to heal a young girl abandoned to her care. Together they learn the power of story to heal the body, the spirit and the soul.” (The Healing, cover flap)

I recommend The Healing to readers who appreciate slave narratives and to readers who don’t like slave narratives because they feel they are repetitive and never bring anything new to the table.  This would also make a great Christmas gift to those who might enjoy a book that they probably haven’t heard of, since this book was virtually not talked about enough when it came out.  Check out the video below of Jonathan Odell talking about race. It’s an excellent video to understand better Odell’s background and why he writes what he writes.

 

 

The Healing – Jonathan Odell

Publisher:  Nan A.Talese/Doubleday

Pages:  330

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!

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24 Books to Christmas – Day 5

baublesThis year I chose this next 24 Books to Christmas book for the February ReadSoulLit Readalong in honor of Black history Month – Unforgivable Love by Sophfronia Scott.  Wow! This was such an interesting modern retelling of the 18th century French classic novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos.

Scott did an excellent job by placing this modern day retelling in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance with all black characters.  As the original classic is written in epistolary format, Scott chose to write it in prose/novel format.  That was not an easy feat but she managed to develop all the characters well and to tell the story while choosing the most import scenes to highlight .

Most of the readers who participated in this readalong loved the messiness between the characters.  It made us shake our heads, laugh out loud and gasp.  Scott’s astute fashion writing dialogues was that fine line between humor and seriousness at times.  The readers who didn’t like the book felt that the characters were being mean just to be mean and that wasn’t interesting to them. This being said it is a retelling so Scott can’t change the story.  It just wasn’t for those few readers.

Overview:

“Heiress Mae Malveaux rules society with an angel’s smile and a heart of stone. She made up her mind long ago that nobody would decide her fate. To have the pleasure she Lovecraves, control is paramount, especially control of the men Mae attracts like moths to a flame.

Valiant Jackson always gets what he wants—and he’s wanted Mae for years. The door finally opens for him when Mae strikes a bargain: seduce her virginal young cousin, Cecily, who is engaged to Frank Washington. Frank values her innocence above all else. If successful, Val’s reward will be a night with Mae.

But Val secretly seeks another prize. Elizabeth Townsend is fiercely loyal to her church and her civil rights attorney husband. Certain there is something redeemable in Mr. Jackson. Little does she know that her most unforgivable mistake will be Val’s greatest triumph.” (Unforgivable Love, back cover)

I’m linking below the Unforgivable Love Live discussion for anyone who may have missed it but has read the book. this video is full of spoilers so if you’re concerned about that don’t watch until you’ve read the book.  However don’t miss out on this discussion because it was very lively and full of a lot of insight. Moreover, Sophronia Scott joined in on the live where we had the pleasure of discussing the book, talking about creative writing, and Scott working on a black modern version of Jane Eyre. I can’t wait!

 

Unforgivable Love – Sophronia Scott

Publisher:  Harper Collins – William Morrow

Pages: 506

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!

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24 Books to Christmas – Day 3

baublesToday I’m proposing something a little different.  I’ve recently got back into journaling last month with Comfy Cozy Up‘s #ajournalmood writing challenge over on Instagram. We journaled every day  in November to a different prompt word. We then posted a short video of ourselves journaling or of a picture of our journal page for the day along with some great music to match.

This was such a wonderful idea.  I couldn’t believe how well my writing flowed.  But, most of all I was surprised at how much I looked forward to each new prompt word to write on each day.  I highly recommend it for beginners who are trying to get into the mood of journaling.

So this all gave me the idea to suggest The 52 Lists Project: A Year of Weekly Journaling Inspiration.  This book was recommended to me by Leslie from Folklore and Literacy blog.  She suggested I pick it up to get into journaling because the premise is simply to make lists weekly on various subjects year round. For example, you could make lists on your favorite characters from books, movies, etc., list your favorite quotes, the difficult moments in your past that have shaped you for the better, the things you would change in your life right now if you could, your quirks, etc.

The book is separated into 4 sections. Each section is represented by a season, with thethe 52 first season being Winter. There are 13 lists to be made in each section.  I’ve decided to add this to my daily journaling in 2020 to see what extra will come out of my journaling. I won’t be writing in my beautiful hardcover copy because I’d like to keep it in case I’d like to redo this list making in a few years.

This book would make an excellent gift. It’s something different for people who like to put pen to paper or people who would like to try but they are feeling intimidated.  I foresee this as something interesting and easy to follow since it’s a list per week and not everyday. Not to mention, img_1665each page is lined in case you’d like to write directly in the book.

The 52 Lists Project: A Year of Weekly Journaling Inspiration – Moorea Seaol

Publisher:  Sasquatch Books Seattle

Pages: 143

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!

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24 Books to Christmas: Day 1

baublesI know it’s been a while since I’ve been on here but my life took quite the turn mid-June and through me off the track of a lot of the things I had planned to do, in particular here on the blog. So let’s get on to the positive. What is 24 books to Christmas? 24 Books to Christmas is my chance to introduce you to 24 books I think you’d like and that you could even give as a gift for Christmas or any other celebratory moment.  So let’s get started with the first book:

Born on a Tuesday is going to be the first book I’m recommend.  I had the pleasure of rereading it last week to participate in a literary event that took place on Saturday in Paris hosted by Book and Brunch Paris and La Cene Littéraiare.  Elnathan John, winner of Le Prix les Afriques, was there answering our questions and speaking passionately about Born on a Tuesday, Be(com)ing Nigerian, and on the importance of black authors telling their own stories.

Born on a Tuesday is a coming-of-age story of Ahmad alias Dantala.  The story begins with Dantala hanging with a gang of street boys in Bayan Layi.  We continue to follow is growth as he changes while Islamic fundamentalism is growing in the very mosque that is his home.  this story is perfectly written in an endearing first person and Elnathan John leaves no stone unturned concerning the character development and storyline.

I recommend this one for lovers of Nigerian literature, coming-of-age stories, and stories img_1643that delve into culture and religion.  The book does contain some sexual content and violence neither of which are gratuitous.  I’d say it’s one of the best books I’ve read this year and in 2017 when I read it the first time.

Born on a Tuesday by Elnathan John

Publisher: Cassava Republic

Pages: 261

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!

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